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What is the story behind reservations at this restaurant? Phenomenal popularity? A secret? For the next month, they show availability for only a handful of weekdays, for seatings near closing time. I have encountered a similar roadblock at Woodberry Kitchen in Baltimore, though at the opening bell it is not that difficult to find something in the bar area. It's discouraging, though. (And making the journey to Spike Gjerde's award-winning kitchen is expensive and not always quite as transporting as it used to be.)
Alison Cook has listed Roost in her Top 100 for a few years now, placing it at 29 in this edition. From reading about the restaurant, Chef Naderi introduces a new menu monthly, highlighting local and seasonal ingredients with little regard for staying in one particular "lane" of cuisine. Cristina and I had a quiet and pleasant dinner the other night. Top-line assessment: Pleasant enough to be a neighborhood fave, but in a sprawling food town like Houston, it would be tough to recommend traveling for a special visit. We started with 2 appetizers: the much lauded fried cauliflower with bonito and miso dressing, and the "bread service" of a Slow Dough giant (GIANT!) pretzel, with 3 spreads (marinara, pimento cheese, and furikake butter). The cauliflower was indeed tasty, reminiscent of takoyaki. The only thing I would say is that after a few bites, they became a little dull (as in, not sharp), and could've used some sort of acidic element to brighten things up (capers maybe? a squeeze of lemon? I don't know). The pretzel itself was massive, warm, buttery, and delicious. The spreads...eh. The marinara was totally off-putting in a way neither of us could put a finger on, but it went completely untouched. The pimento cheese was a totally straightforward take, without any noticeable spice. The furikake butter won out, mainly because it was butter. This dish seemed like an afterthought. I moved on to the "Country Captain" chicken - pan seared, along with deep fried wings, and topped with a vaguely curry-ish sauce with raisins. All in all a nicely cooked, but standard take on a Lowcountry classic. Cristina had fried quail served over black eyed peas and greens. I much preferred this dish, mainly for the delicious peas. Earthy and with just enough bite to them. We drank a South African Cab blend (2013 John X Merriman Stellenbosch) that played well with everything we ordered - medium bodied, with a good amount of earthiness that I enjoy. Roost has a small but nicely curated wine list and a number of local beers on tap. Given that the menu changes monthly, I think it's probably worth another look down the line, but for now I have it in my good-not-great category.
TrelayneNYC posted a topic in San Francisco Restaurants and DiningScenes from this weekend: Enchiladas con mole de pollo - sauce of chiles, chocolate, nuts, shredded chicken, tortillas, onion and queso fresco. Tacos de carnitas - two tacos of braised pork, orange, bay leaf, milk, cinnamon, beer, jalapeño, onion, cilantro and tomatillo salsa. Nopalito 306 Broderick Street (Oak Street) http://www.nopalitosf.com/
We went to Frances for dinner tonight. I can see why this restaurant is consistently ranked in the top 10 establishments in San Francisco. Perhaps we need another visit to compare notes but having said that, neither B nor myself were impressed enough to return right away. The company was wonderful though, and that saved the evening. Applewood smoked bacon beignets, with maple chive crème fraîche.Nice "snack" to start. Light, airy and there was just enough maple in the crème fraîche to be of interest. Watermelon and Early Girl tomato gazpacho, with Gulf shrimp, English cucumber and shiso. Little Gem salad, with heirloom tomatoes, avocado, smoked bacon, pecorino and balsamic vinaigrette. Sounded wonderful on paper, but not in execution. Too much dressing on the lettuce - if I can see it and it's pooling on the bottom of the plate, then someone had better restrain their hand in the kitchen. Croutons were tough. And the balance of flavors clashed against the wine we were drinking. Seared snapper, with fregola, Castelvetrano olives, pistachio fennel slaw. Duck confit, with habañero stone fruit jam, ricotta dumplings, and grilled broccolini. The duck was dry and a touch overcooked, the jam of little interest (barely spicy and nearly sweet enough to be ketchup). The dumplings were just "ok" and the broccolini might as well have been raw. If they were grilled, I didn't detect anything that tasted as if they were cooked that way. And yes, those are also grilled turnips. At least those were prepared well. Roasted cauliflower and Gala apple fondue, Nicasio reserve, pickled grape. The English language has only so many ways to write "mediocrity". Clearly prepared well, but totally uninteresting to me. As if roasted cauliflower needed a cheese sauce. The grapes which were clearly there to lend acidity/contrast were just an afterthought. BTW this "side" which consists of maybe 5 tablespoons of food, cost $10. WTF?!? Blistered Romano beans, pepita and nigella crunch, arugula and sunflower pesto. We were comped this side by the kitchen. I hated the pesto, the crunch didn't contribute anything, and the beans were "ok". There are four elements in that bowl that don't belong there IMHO. Warm apple crumble cake, with butterscotch and cinnamon brittle ice cream. Somewhat better, although B remarked that the cake reminded him of a muffin. He could've been eating breakfast. Lumberjack cake with Medjool dates, Yali pear, apple and muscovado ice cream. Dense, flavorful but not moist cake saved by intensely flavored ice cream. The dates were "fine". They also contributed nothing IMHO. You can detect a trend - too many ingredients that don't make sense together and aren't interesting. But lots of folks like this place so maybe it's just me. My main criticism is - if you're going to charge top dollar with your two most expensive dishes on the menu in the mid-$30s, then you had better damn well make sure that what you're serving is perfect. I wanted to like Frances. I really do. Their style of cooking is market-driven and it's what moves me, but all the little things add up and based on this experience, it'll be a while before we return. Other observations: there is very little sound absorption in the restaurant. In fact, it might be more accurate to say that there is none. It's all wooden surfaces with square tables and wooden benches. Even with the restaurant half full and windows/doors open, prepare to be swallowed up by a wall of sound. We had to lean in against each other in order to be able to make ourselves heard. Frances3870 17th Street (Pond Street)The Castro http://www.frances-sf.com/