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Trou Normand [San Francisco]

Robert Lauriston May 23, 2014 08:38 AM

New place on the ground floor of the old Pacific Bell building at 140 New Montgomery. Some Bar Agricole connection, chef was the butcher there and before that worked at Adesso.

Amazing charcuterie selection. Pork pâté, rabbit pâté with prunes, and "dry guanciale" (lardo) were standouts. Fried head cheese, peas with guanciale and preserved lemon, also great. Fabulous wine list, full bar. Big booths, would be a fun place to go with a group of 6-8. They were just about ready to open a large patio area in the back.


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    goldangl95 RE: Robert Lauriston Jun 16, 2014 10:04 AM

    Good place to go if one really likes charcuterie. The space is very male and refreshingly different from the current trends (dark brown leather, stone, nudes on the wall). The cocktails are fine (same profiles as a lot of places in the city and not very strong), non-charcuterie food is OK. It all adds up pretty fast though. Nibbling on charcuterie and drinking cocktails - expect to pay about $30 - 50 pp.

    1. eatzalot RE: Robert Lauriston Jun 16, 2014 12:53 PM

      The name (and the venerable, distinctive Norman gustatory tradition it alludes to) suggest some focus or emphasis on Calvados. (As for instance "fee verte" alludes to absinthe culture, slivovotz or rakia to the Balkan peninsula, etc. etc. etc.) But I didn't spot any such focus on the website. Lots of charcuterie and such -- casual fare.

      Would be interested to hear more about the place from someone who's been there, who also has past practical experience with the French Calvados drinking custom.

      6 Replies
      1. re: eatzalot
        Robert Lauriston RE: eatzalot Jun 16, 2014 02:06 PM


        1. re: eatzalot
          goldangl95 RE: eatzalot Jun 16, 2014 02:40 PM

          I must admit to be confused by your post (perhaps I don't know enough about Norman gustatory tradition), but plenty of the cocktails use calvados (and in the alternative cognac or armagnac), and I assume you could sip on it separately if that's what you wanted.

          1. re: goldangl95
            Robert Lauriston RE: goldangl95 Jun 16, 2014 02:47 PM

            A trou Normand is a small glass of Calvados drunk between courses in the middle of a heavy meal. Traditionally it was thought to aid digestion or revive a flagging appetite.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston
              eatzalot RE: Robert Lauriston Jun 16, 2014 02:59 PM

              Yes, by tradition the culinary counterpart of Liquid Plum-R™. As if to burn a hole (le trou) through the food you already et, and make room for more.

              So if you're going to name a whole restaurant that way, I am wondering where's the correspnding theme, the follow-through?

              1. re: eatzalot
                Robert Lauriston RE: eatzalot Jun 16, 2014 03:49 PM

                The menu's more Italian than anything else, though the pâtés tasted pretty French. I didn't see anything Norman except Calvados and cider.

                1. re: eatzalot
                  sugartoof RE: eatzalot Jun 16, 2014 05:47 PM

                  Conceptually the place is pretty half baked, and confusing, but I feel like that's getting to be more and more common.

                  I expected something a little more comfortable considering a pretty rustic menu, a walk up counter for coffee/pastries, and then the A-frame sign inviting take out lunches. The patio is the only refuge from the pretentiousness, and cold sterile feeling. It's like walking into a ridiculous boutique. Unless you really want a drink with charcuterie, I'd stick to Bar Agricole instead.

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            miss louella RE: Robert Lauriston Jun 16, 2014 08:49 PM

            I am getting old and cranky. Clicked on the dinner menu link and got a tiny-font pdf. Sheesh, in 2014? Ridiculous, I know, but unless I hear glowing reports this place will go untasted by me. Maybe some day when I'm less cranky I'll forget about their lousy web site and try it. I can only hope.

            3 Replies
            1. re: miss louella
              wally RE: miss louella Jun 16, 2014 09:35 PM

              If you click on the menu, it expands.

              1. re: wally
                bbulkow RE: wally Jun 16, 2014 11:33 PM

                PDF viewer allows you to zoom. Unlike a paper menu. Benefits to us old people with failing eyes.

              2. re: miss louella
                Robert Lauriston RE: miss louella Jun 17, 2014 08:17 AM

                It's not a PDF, it's a JPEG image. Your browser is set to shrink it to fit the window. Click it and it should appear full size.

              3. Pei RE: Robert Lauriston Jun 17, 2014 09:25 PM

                Cocktails are delightful too. I got a tip to try the Sleepyhead: wow. Super complex and refreshing at the same time. There wasn't a bad drink the two times I've been, but I think Star Daisy is next on my list.

                Any particular strategy when it comes to wine, Robert? Or is it all good?

                1 Reply
                1. re: Pei
                  Robert Lauriston RE: Pei Jun 18, 2014 09:02 AM

                  The bottle list is right up my alley, it was hard to choose. I got a Graziano Lambrusco and a Rovelotti Ghemme, both went very well with the rich, meaty food.

                2. CarrieWas218 RE: Robert Lauriston Jun 18, 2014 06:07 AM

                  I'll add my notes to this thread from last week's visit:

                  Not having reservations, we stood at the bar for 15 or 20 minutes before seats opened up. Ironically, when we did sit down, it was right next to Chris Cosentino who was there, eating through the charcuterie menu! For cocktails, we shared an Algonquin (bourbon, lime, pineapple gum, vermouth) and a Demspey (gin, calvados, grenadine, absinthe). My friend -- who is opening a distillery -- was impressed at the alcohol-forward cocktails, mixologists, and giant, crystal-clear ice cubes. When we finally got seated, we had a small charcuterie plate (pork rillette, rabbit pâté, lonza, and coppa). We were impressed with the house-made butter but a little disappointed that the charcuterie plate did not come with any vinegar component (olive or cornichon). When we asked about it, they told us of the house-made pickles which we ordered. Nice and light, in a Japanese-sort-of-aesthetic. My friend had a second cocktail which I don't recall and - for my birthday - we were comped with a nice taster of Reserve Calvados by Lemorton. I think we would have stayed longer but for the acoustics; those high, concrete ceilings would benefit from some massive textile art to buffer the sound.

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                    Mr_Happy RE: Robert Lauriston Jun 26, 2014 01:30 PM

                    I picked up a pre-made fresh ham sandwich ($10) here at lunch, very good. It was in a soft torpedo like roll with pickled onions, mayonnaise, mustard, and romaine lettuce. The mustard was quite strong, which I liked. Fresh ham was very good.

                    1. RichInMV RE: Robert Lauriston Jun 27, 2014 08:41 AM

                      I had lunch at Trou Normand this week. Sat outside on the patio (large communal tables) and really enjoyed the meal. As Robert and others noted, it's very meat-centric, but quality of all of the ingredients was very high.

                      Just walking through the main dining room to the back patio, we saw two butchers breaking down a huge pile of beef and pork, really impressive to see them working from large pieces.

                      We started with some of the pork belly lardo, which I thought was a bit too bland, but I suspect I don't fully appreciate the subtlety of lardo. We also had the pork pate which I thought was very good, paired with nice (perhaps Acme?) epi bread and a strong whole-grained mustard.

                      For mains, I had the pork belly sandwich, which was fairly lean and quite tasty, served simply with some sauerkraut (mild) on a good quality roll. My friend had the ham sandwich which also looked very good.

                      Aside from wishing that I'd had a salad to cut the richness of all of the meat flavors, I found it to be a good addition to the neighborhood, well priced for the quality of the ingredients, and sitting outside was a welcome change from the typical FiDi or SOMA dining choices.

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