Saturday, August 13, 2011

Duck breast

Eastside Road, August 12, 2011—
DARK POULTRY MUST BE among my favorite things. Roast goose. Braised guinea hen. Duck breast.
Finding ourselves in San Francisco at early supper-time — no point hitting the freeway at that hour; we'd just be crawling — we stopped in at a French restaurant we've been meaning to try. I was immediately pleased to find “Bouillabaisse” on the menu, just like that, in quotes: it's a purée, not a traditional bouillabaisse, the waiter explained; and when I pursued the matter further, he disclosed that there was no shellfish in it at all, with or without legs: no bivalves, no arthropods.

In other words, fish soup. When we asked why they didn't just call it fish soup, he explained that that wouldn't seem French. When it arrived, I was happy to see a perfectly authentic soup de poissons, a reddish-orange bisque with a crouton covered with rouille decorated with a few threads of saffron. I'd been hungering for fish soup for weeks and here it was: and it was tasty.

I ordered a duck-breast salad Lyonnaise, with poached egg, but the waiter and I misunderstood one another and what came instead was a duck entrée, costlier and fruitier than I'd wanted. An honest misunderstanding, though, so I accepted it, swept the fruit aside from the careful presentation, took this photo, and dug in. I understand the point of sweet fruit with duck, but feel it unnecessary; still, this was a well-balanced dish. The spinach was beautifully cooked (in butter), and the little corn-based pancake was fun.
Rosé, Château d'Esclans Domaines (Provence): okay, a little sweet, light (Chez Spencer's list is on the costly side)
Chez Spencer, 82 14th Street, San Francisco; 415.864.2191

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