Housemade Charcuterie, Pan-Roasted Pork Chop with Polenta Cake, Banana-Chocolate Mousse Torte with Peanut Butter Ice Cream
Location: San Francisco
Favorite Restaurant: Postrio
Reviewed Postrio: Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Postrio had been my favorite restaurant for years. I used take my staff and comedians from my comedy show, Kung Pao Kosher Comedy, there after the run ended to thank everyone. The currency I’ve dealt with has been Postrio. I helped friends get an apartment in my building during the dot com craze, and when they offered to take me out to dinner to thank me, I suggested Postrio. I have always described Postrio as, “every single bite is incredible.” When I eat there, I want to stand up and scream, in a good way. But this time I couldn’t, because I was on crutches following knee surgery.
My friend and I arrived separately for our 7:45 pm reservation. Our table was ready, but the hostess took one look at me on crutches and said they would arrange a larger table. So, we waited for 15 minutes, which was OK because we were being accommodated because of my injured paw. Two points.
You descend the stairs (or elevator through the adjoining Prescott Hotel, if you have a need to) into a lovely, vast dining room with an open kitchen and decor of large vases of calla lilies and tasteful hanging light sculptures that look like diaphragms. The service was excellent. The waiter was very attentive. I’ve recently become the person I’d hate to go out to dinner with: I’m newly lactose intolerant. I mentioned this to the waiter, and he kept an eye out for any dishes that had dairy and warned me when necessary.
The food… it’s a given that the portions at Postrio will be small, the bill will be high, AND the food will be excellent. Any place that starts off the walnut bread gets a couple of points in my book (if you’re keeping track, so far that’s two for the crutches and two for the bread).
My friend Lawrence and I shared a salad (Organic Chioggia Beet Salad), an appetizer (Pan Seared Diver Scallops), an entrée (Sesame Crusted Ahi Tuna), a side dish (Sautéed Peas with mint -- not on the menu), and 2 desserts (Chamomile Roasted Apricots and Lemon Verbena Sorbet). The food arrived quickly. We asked for a side of greens, and my friend suggested peas since they're in season. Let’s start with those. YUM-MY. They were fresh and sautéed in butter (olive oil?), and the mint was a delightful treat and gave the dish a nice cool flavor. The beet salad had pistachios, grapefruit, and goat cheese on it. It was light and tasty. The scallops were presented with a red pepper relish. They were very fresh, like buttuh, pan-seared, tasty, and cold. I thought that hot would have made a very good dish an excellent one. The ahi was beautifully presented, as two little leaning mountain peaks. Get out your pads; each bite of this was something to write home about. The ahi was smooth and as delicious as ahi should be. The sesame-crusted outside added a nice flavor and texture. The accompanying potato pearls were tender. And the shitake mushrooms were to die for. The “pulled pork” could be omitted from this dish, making it more palatable to someone who is Kosher or who isn’t a carnivore. While on the subject, I’d like to see more vegetarian options on the menu.
We ordered Chamomile Roasted Apricots (yum-my), and since the rest of the desserts all had dairy in them, our (my) choice was limited. But Mr. Nice Attentive Waiter announced that he would make sure the Lemon Verbena Sorbet was served with both scoops of sorbet rather than one of ice cream, thus giving us another option. The sorbet scoops were…yowza. They were one of those “every bite is amazing” experiences. They were served in a dish with melt-in-your-hands-and-mouth homemade ice cream cones in a Muscat-poached rhubarb and strawberry syrup. Need I say more? The Chamomile Roasted Apricots were delicious but tasted a tad medicinal, but in a good way.
I can’t comment on the wine service because we didn’t order anything to drink besides water (which was fabulous!), because neither of us are really drinkers. The noise level started out OK, and then got a little too loud for my taste, but not unbearably so, like a lot of the new shi-shi, high-ceilinged restaurants. We could still have a conversation. The noise died down as the dining room emptied out. The food at Postrio is very high quality and tasty. If money is no problem, go wild. If it is, go once in a while for a special occasion…and share.
Location: San Francisco
Favorite Restaurant: Old Port Lobster Shack
Reviewed Postrio: Thursday, May 31, 2007
I’ve eaten at several Wolfgang Puck outposts over the years and have had many great experiences. I’ve always thought they were good, but not great, and honestly, my expectations for Postrio were a bit low. I was pleasantly surprised, it was much better than anticipated.
We arrived shortly prior to our reservation time and waited it out in the bar. My first thought was one of shock. It was a bit of scene for 7 pm on a Thursday. The bar was crowded and loud, which is not a bad thing; it actually seemed like a fun place to get cocktails after work. However, it didn't seem quite like the fine dining experience I anticipated. That changed when we were led through the bar to the multi-tiered dining room and to our seat overlooking a small patio. The room was very nicely designed with lots of flowing earth tones. As a typical high-end San Francisco restaurant, it was far from quiet, however, we were able to have fine conversation over the din of noise. Service was excellent, friendly, but not over-bearing and far from pretentious. The cocktails were strong, and the wine list, long and expensive!
Now down to the food.
• House-made charcuterie: This was a huge platter of miscellaneous sausages, rillettes, pâté, and other cured meats, served with toast points and a small crock of mustard. This is getting to be a bit of a trendy thing in San Francisco restaurants and this one was quite good. I would put it up with one of the best I’ve had.
• Caesar Salad: We noticed a number of tables eating it, but noticed it wasn’t on the menu. When we asked, we were informed that it could be prepared special. Hoping it was truly something special, we ordered it. Ultimately, it was fair, had a nice light dressing, but other than that, nothing special.
• Soft Shell Crab: This was one of the specials of the night. The crab was deep-fried and delicious, crispy on the outside and perfectly cooked on the inside, and served on a bed of greens.
• Grilled Chicken Breast with Potato Gratin: Basic grilled chicken, well executed, if not a bit dry. The potato gratin was rich delicious and very fattening
• Pan Roasted Pork Chop with Polenta Cake: We all generally agreed that this was the best entrée. The polenta cake contained either currants or blueberries, which, while understood as an attempt at adding a sweeter element to the dish, didn’t work that well. The pork itself however, was very, very good, and in these times where it’s hard to find flavorful pork, this was great. Would order this dish again.
• Braised Lamb Shank: One of my favorite dishes, and this one was quite good. The lamb itself was a bit inconsistent, in that it was dry in portions and moist and succulent in other portions. The accompanying beans were perfectly cooked and tender with just enough bite.
• Bacon Wrapped Quail: My own entrée and by far the smallest of the bunch. One small quail served with a small dollop of corn “pudding”. The quail itself was moist, flavorful, and quite good. The corn pudding was a bit too sweet for my taste, but when eaten in the same bite as the quail, it served as a good foil for the richness of the quail. Just wish it was larger entrée.
At this point in the dinner I was still quite impressed. The food was better than anticipated, and using a very strict curve reserved for restaurants of this type in San Francisco, I would give it a solid B. Dessert, however, was less successful.
For our desserts we split the Banana-Chocolate Mousse Torte with Peanut Butter Ice Cream, and the Brioche Bread Pudding. Both were some of our favorites. However, they weren't both successes. I am generally not a fan of overly sweet desserts, and these desserts weren’t sweet, unfortunately they weren’t all that flavorful either.
The Banana-Chocolate Mousse Tort was a somewhat dry chocolate layer cake with a dollop of banana cream (custard?), neither of which had much flavor. The peanut butter ice cream was fantastic, salty, sweet, and creamy, all together.
The bread pudding was slightly better, warm and moist with an orange-vanilla sauce that embarrassingly reminded me of a Creamsicle (but not in a bad way).
All in all, Postrio is a very good restaurant, by far the best Wolfgang Puck restaurant I’ve been to. However, given its location and price range, it’s in competition with some of the best restaurants in the country and, while good, I would rather go to some of its competitors. Would I go again? I might, but after I’ve returned to or tried other restaurants in its price range.
Occupation: Mystery Shopper and Homemaker
Location: San Bruno
Favorite Restaurant: Cleo's Brazilian Steakhouse
Reviewed Postrio: Sunday May 20, 2007
Walking in, Postrio appeared to be a small dark restaurant. After I gave my reservation information, the lady walked us down the large staircase in the middle of the restaurant that kept going and going, so I was thinking I was glad that I wasn’t wearing heels. We got two floors down to the bottom and arrived in a huge beautiful, bright room with windows looking out to colorful flowers and plants outside. I loved the ambiance and décor of this room. If I were to return, I would request a table at the window.
The service was friendly and professional, just as I would expect from an upscale restaurant like this. We were delighted that they brought some complimentary food items during the meal (although we would have preferred to halve the prices instead of this!). The first one they brought was a mushroom soup with truffle oil in a tiny cup. It was flavorful and very rich. Next came our appetizer, which was the hamachi tartare. It was a small portion to share for the price, but it was tasty and fresh with really great flavors. Next, they treated us to a coconut-lime sorbet, which was interesting in that both the flavors were very distinct. For entrees we had the black cod and New York steak. The fish was cooked perfectly, really moist and flaky, although there was nothing special about it, as far as flavors or sauce. I liked the root vegetable that came with it, but the other sides on the plate were so-so. The rice cake was interesting but a little dense for me, and the other Asian-style pickled vegetables were nothing to rave about. My husband liked the steak -- I sure hoped so for the price of the dish! To me it was just a good steak but nothing “Wow!” about it either. The original sides were Indian-inspired, and were interesting choices to go with steak.
For dessert we ordered the Banana-Chocolate Mousse Torte, the best part of the meal! Normally, I’m not a huge fan of desserts except for ice cream, so to love this was pretty amazing and this was my only genuine “Yum!” moment of the meal. The torte was perfect with banana and chocolate flavors, yet not too sweet. The tiny ball of peanut butter ice cream was to die for, and I could have eaten an enormous scoop.
Overall, it was a nice upscale dinner, but I’m not sure we would return for the dinner prices. I would return if I could go only for dessert though!