It’s been a while since I’ve dined with Weeners. The last time was when she still lived in LA and that seems like ages ago. Now, she is proud to call herself a San Franciscan and has really adapted to the hippy dippy lifestyle of those folks up there and she loves it. SF is too cold and gloomy if you ask me, but on those rare occasions when the sun is shining, I will admit the city has its charm. I love visiting, since the food is so derricious, and since I have yet another friend who has relocated up there, Craire (formerly known as CMac Attack). All of us met up at the Italian restaurant of Top Chef Master, Chris Cosentino, winner of season 4. To my shock, he was actually IN the kitchen cooking when I arrived, but moved to expediting by the time we were seated. Expectations were certainly high for me knowing this.
Foccacia Bread olive tapenade
Pretty tasty, even more so because we were pretty hungry by this point.
Handkerchief Pasta rustic pork ragu, sizzled duck egg
A really solid, hearty meat pasta dish. No complaints here.
Smooth, nicely seasoned. I liked the addition of the peaches/nectarines. Usually pate dishes like this are usually paired with a more tart fruit compote jam, so this was a different summery take. As with any pate dish, theres never enough bread served!
Braised Duck Leg peaches, onions, pickled ramps
I don’t think I’ve ever had a good duck dish at a non-Asian place. The meat is usually dry. Here it wasn’t terribly dry, but I wouldn’t call it the juiciest. All the accompaniments were spot on.
Braised Lobster Mushrooms potato, poached egg, summer truffles
We were a bit disappointed in this dish. I think the use of the word “lobster” excited us more than it should have. I guess a lobster mushroom is named due to its reddish orange color that resembles a lobster tail. It was really quite woody and firm, not really soaking up the flavoring as you would expect a mushroom to do. The truffles didn’t add much flavor.
Pork Jowl & Razor Clam Chowder
It seems like the last few dishes were somewhat unimpressive, but this dish makes up for it and more. I guess this is a Rhode Island clam chowder, which means it has a clear broth. I can’t say there was a whole lot of soup going on here, but we didn’t mind at all. The pork jowl was melt in your mouth tender, the fat was rendered to a crisp, the sausage, potatoes, seafood were all delicious on their own as well. The side salad was made of a lot of strange things like chervil, sunflower sprouts, fennel with a red wine vinaigrette. It tasted very weedlike, but went well with the hearty “soup.” The dish really wins for being unique, tasty, and well executed. Derricious!
Sweet Corn Panna Cotta blueberries, honey
Hands down BEST panna cotta I have ever eaten. I don’t know what Chef Cosentino’s secret it, because this was sooo silky smooth. All other chefs need to take note! Oh, and the corn flavor was so sweet and fragrant. Craire and Weeners were equally in love with this dish.
Summer Fruit Cobbler peach pit ice cream
I love cobblers, and this was good, but it was hard to stand up to the AMAZING panna cotta.
If it weren’t for the pork jowl chowder and panna cotta, I think my meal at this Top Chef Master’s restaurant would have been a bit of disappointment. I’ve had good pastas and pates, so it would not have been very exciting if that was all Chef Cosentino had to offer. I think its important to think about what a chef is known for, and he’s a pork guy, if not an offal guy too. So be sure to order something special along those lines. Since the corn panna cotta is obviously something seasonal, I’m not sure if will be able to taste that little bit of heaven, but maybe he will offer other panna cotta dishes in the future. This isn’t the best SF restaurant I’ve ever been too, but it was good, and I would be open to trying it again, no prob bob.