San Francisco, January 15, 2015—YOU MAY NOT SEE them, but nestled below the bacon and the onions there are a few pieces of calf's liver. Liver and onions is a favorite dish of mine; I'll promote it right here to the Hundred Plates. It's best, of course, if it's fegato Veneziana; but good old American liver-and-onions will do in a pinch.
What's the difference? Well, the Italians cut the liver into strips, or (though I think this wrong) even into dice, so that it will all cook evenly (and inn fact almost instantaneously), frying it in butter and splashing white wine into it. We Yankees most often simply fry slices of liver, unevenly cut, so that some gets overcooked: not nearly as pleasant.
We mask the result with strips of bacon, unknown to the Italians. And we omit the white wine: a pity, I think. But at least we don't stint on the sliced fried onions.
(I remember years ago eating at the counter at the lamented Vanessi, on Broadway, and asking the cook on the other side of the counter to just fry up some liver and onions. He'd splash what seemed huge amounts of olive oil and white wine from those unlabelled bottles always at hand, sometimes thumbing the top to control — barely — the amounts. It was always good.)
John's Grill is dependable for its ordinary American-style liver and onions. It's the only dish I've ordered here, I think. It always comes with a baked potato and that typical old-fashioned Italian-restaurant spray of broccoli and carrots, and I usually have a bowl of the creamed spinach on the side.
A decent Martini before, why not; and, for dessert, cheesecake, because my constant companion does not like it, and we never have it at home…
Pinot noir, Annabella (Napa?), a little sweet•John's Grill, 63 Ellis Street, San Francisco; (415) 986-3274
I HAVE BEEN THINKING of linking this blog to a webpage listing the various restaurants we visit, and possible the hotels and motels as well, with a very simple rating guide. If I were to do that, this listing would read, for example,
•John's Grill, 63 Ellis Street, San Francisco; (415) 986-3274. 15 Jan. 2015. OKwhere the restaurant name would link to its website and the date would link to the blog post discussing the place. My three-step rating key would be simply Y; OK; N: standing for Yes, okay; No; perhaps modified by exclamation points. What does anyone think of this idea?