Thursday, November 15, 2007

Late Review: Fish and Farm

Three weeks ago, we took our show on the road to Sonoma for a wedding. I think I mentioned how we traumatized a perfectly kindly Toyota Prius.

After a weekend of wedding festivities, we drove to San Francisco on Sunday to spend some time with cousins from the other side of the family, the very tall, despicably handsome, Matt and Liz.

After a delightful and touristy stroll around Fisherman's Wharf (this was only my fourth day ever in San Francisco) which involved a truly awesome sea-salt caramel chocolate cupcake at Kara's Cupcakes in Ghiradelli Square and an Irish coffee (or 2) at a bar nearby, we cabbd it over to a new restaurant which had just opened in the Mark Twain Hotel, Fish & Farm.

This was fun. Man of the House's foodie cousins had selected a new, sustainable foodish restaurant for us to all try. It made me like forget my antipathy for California.

We started (clockwise from top-left) with the roast venison and cucumber, grilled Monterrey squid, salt cod fritters, and grilled Monterey Bay sardines. The restaurant
makes every attempt to source its ingredients from within a 100-mile radius and I got tremendous glee from imagining Forex traders weekend warrioring as deer hunters. The venison was the only appetizer not sourced from the sea, and I thought it deserved a try (also I really really like venison). I steered clear of the sardines though I promised myself I would be more welcoming of them in the future, heads and all, but dove into the salt cod fritters with relish. Fried brandade sounds like a brilliant idea to me. The squid was deemed lovely by the squid fans, but I'm still squarely on the side of octopus in the cephalopod wars.

One of our main courses did not photograph well, but the lower right photo is what the smörgåsbord plate looked like (nb: Man of the House hates smörgåsbord plates). I ordered the crayfish with okra and polenta which might have won as favorite main course. The polenta was perfectly cooked and the okra offered a really nice balance to the fish. The pan seared corvina was good, but the accompaniments of sweetbreads and mushroom ravioli was a little watery. I'm not a huge fan of sablefish, but I am quite taken with chanterelles - together with the mustard braised cabbage, they tones down the sablefish and made it a little more savory. Finally, the salmon was cooked beautifully even if the gnocchi they came with could use some sturdiness.

All in all for a restaurant's first week, we thought they succeeded well. There was a spelling mistake on the menu (which they thanked me for pointing out and which I am pleased to see was corrected on the website as well) and the servers were still coming into their own, but the owner was gracious, comping us a bottle of wine when we were nearly finished with our main courses and the bottle we ordered before they arrived still hadn't made it to the table, and asking us several times during the meal if we everything was ok.

Were I to live near a restaurant like this I would be most satisfied. The food was neither simple nor pretentious, the prices were eminently fair, and there was a warmth to the dark room that was conducive to a nice meal with relatives one likes.