Friday, May 9, 2008

Chicken or Steak? I'll take both.

One of the things I love most about San Francisco are all the dining options available. My palate was apparently spoiled by living in SF so long; I never even realized I am what would be considered a foodie until I moved to chain restaurant hell in the Inland Empire. I'd probably eat out every day in SF if I could on my trips, but my mom takes delight in making me all of the Indian curries I love, but cannot replicate as well in my own kitchen. On this visit I got to hit up two iconic SF restaurants and made a visit to an old favorite as well.

First up was dinner at
Zuni Cafe. Despite passing by it more than a hundred times, I had never gone inside. My dining partner was Valerie. Our mission? To have the legendary roast chicken for two. My first impression of Zuni after walking in was how much bigger it actually is compared to how it looks from the street. It has two levels with hidden nooks and crannies. Zuni Cafe apparently needs all the space it can get, as the restaurant was full on a Wednesday night. Although we hadn't pinky-sworn on it, we followed through on our promise to each other to order the chicken. Since it takes an hour to prepare "the bird" as our waitress referred to it, we started off with fried calamari. The batter was light, crunchy and well seasoned. Our bird lived up to its hype -- crispy skin, juicy interior and accompanied with a fantastic bread salad. Since we did an entree meant for two, we also ordered a dessert designed for two: pistachio ice cream in freshly made mini waffle cones. So freaking good. Not so good was the couple at the table next to us. Within a few minutes of sitting down I could hear the wife say to her husband in a sharp voice, "It's our 19th wedding anniversary; I didn't think we'd be sitting here arguing about getting the cheapest bottle of of wine." Ouch. Things pretty much went downhill from there, with both of them sniping at each other about different things. By the time Val and I left, I couldn't wait to call Eddie and tell him how much I love him.

Friday afternoon I visited one of my old haunts in the FiDi with one of my former co-workers.
Bistro Burger was just as good as I remembered. I think they have expanded their menu since I moved, but I went with an old, familiar favorite. The Paris Burger is topped with brie and sauteed mushrooms. With a side of Frings, I was one happy girl.

Friday night I took my parents to
Harris' steakhouse to jointly celebrate my dad's 74th birthday and Mother's Day. The maitre'd was slightly too stiff and formal when we arrived, which was a little offputting. Fortunately our server was a dream and more than made up for it. My mom and I started off with crab cakes in a beurre blanc sauce, while my dad tackled the gulf prawn cocktail. My family tend to eat family style even when items aren't served in such a fashion, so we all swapped our plates around. The shrimp cocktail was okay; I would have preferred a bit more bite to the cocktail sauce. The crab cakes were totally delish. More crab, less cakey filler and perfectly sauced. For entrees we all had some version of a filet mignon, even my very Catholic mom who we talked out of ordering the salmon. I didn't try my parents' steaks because they prefer it much more cooked than I do, but they seemed pleased. I had the Filet Mignon Rossini, which came with grilled foie gras and a black truffle/cabernet sauce. YUM. For dessert my dad managed to snag one of the last slices of a Meyer lemon tart, while I opted for Harris' take on strawberry shortcake (strawberries and whipped cream on a white chocolate macadamia but scone). Again, YUM.

Stiff maitre'd aside, there was only one thing that really detracted from the entire experience which had nothing to do with the restaurant staff at all. One of the reasons I chose Harris' for dinner with my parents is because it is a upscale place with a generally older clientele. In other words, it's not known for being very loud. Some of the younger clientele however, seem to have never learned about the value of using one's indoor voice. There were two tables in particular on our side of the restaurant that were loud and obnoxious. Some things just aren't appropriate in certain places. Shrieking that startles patrons on the far opposite side of a large, full room is one of them. So is throwing around the f-bomb in conversation at the top of one's lungs. I'm beginning to think that general etiquette should be a required course in either high school or college.

1 comment:

WeezerMonkey said...

I don't screech the f-bomb, but I have been shushed several times in restaurants. Eeks. ;)