San Francisco, October 4, 2013—YES: WHAT WE have here is a retro restaurant meal, though presented with a stark simplicity no hotel restaurant would have countenanced a few decades ago. We'd read about the place recently, and Cook wanted a day off (well deserved, on any day!), so we gave it a try, and were immediately delighted by the room — big, nicely lighted, with black furnishings and ceilings and let's-eat deep red walls.
Then we looked at the rather simple menu, and were delighted again. We began with Martinis, it being Friday after all, and with them a couple of hard-cooked quail eggs in mayonnaise with crisp-fried celery leaves (tiny ones) and sliced shallot. A dozen of these with a dozen oysters on the half shell and a bottle of Champagne would make a splendid first course on a more festive night.
Cook went on to pork loin, but I, always thinking of Virgil, moved toward the leg of lamb, just the right-sized serving for me, discreetly sprinkled with salsa verde and served with its pitcher of garlicky lamb broth.
On the side, peas and green beans cooked in just a tad too vinegary a butter-sauce, with a judiciously calibrated addition of mint leaves — a perfect companion to lamb.
Lindsey had dessert, a nice velvety chocolate marquise; I was content with a glass of Armagnac. What a pleasant evening. We'll return.
Syrah, Qupé (Santa Barbara), 2011• The Cavalier, 360 Jessie Street, San Francisco; 415.321.6000