Occupation: Firefighter-Engineer & Paramedic
Location: San Francisco
Favorite Restaurant: Pisces California Cuisine
Reviewed Pisces California Cuisine: Wednesday, April 7, 2010
So yes, my partner and I live in the Outer Sunset, and we have a little girl, so finding a great upscale casual neighborhood restaurant near our house that is kid-friendly has made this restaurant one of my favorites, but it isn't just that. Pisces is a great first date restaurant, a great one-person-sit-at-the-bar restaurant, a great small family gathering restaurant, and great casual dining restaurant that is kid-friendly with a decent selection of kid options. All of the above is available with enough menu options to spend as little or as much as you want and still have a great, fresh dining experience with a decent bottle or glass of wine, or beer on tap.
I've been here a dozen times or so since Alex was born (we now don't eat out as much anymore). We found this restaurant just on a casual stroll through the neighborhood after our daughter was born. Every meal has been so good and very reasonably priced. Last night was no exception, when we took my partner’s family here to try out this restaurant for their first time. We arrived at 5:45pm, which allowed us to have the option of ordering from the happy hour menu, as well as the regular menu, which included two prix fixe options.
We started with a dozen Washington oysters on the half-shell. So tasty and, at a buck an oyster during happy hour, you can’t beat the price. They were fresh with lots of sea goodness, and the sherry-peppercorn granita added a nice subtle favor to the fresh oysters.
Then the chocolate soft shell crab appetizer was served. This was amazing. I only ordered it because it was so different, and I questioned whether the chef could pull it off. Hands down, this was one of the best surprises I've ever had. My sister-in-law Pauline ordered a nice organic salad that she said was fresh with the perfect amount of honey-mustard vinaigrette. Our 14-year-old nephew, Christian, completely devoured the sizzling shrimp iron skillet dish (and he doesn’t usually like shrimp). The bread that was served while we waited for our appetizers was tasty. Perfectly grilled and delicious.
I ordered the lobster ravioli, which was absolutely one of the best raviolis I’ve ever had. There was a sophisticated depth of flavor without hiding the natural sweetness of the lobster. The softness of the raviolis contrasted perfectly with the crispness of the asparagus and Asian veggies. The rest of my party ordered the Angus burger, the cioppino, the pan-roasted snapper, and the grilled filet mignon. Everyone raved about their dishes. The steak was tender and flavorful. My brother-in-law’s burger was juicy, and he was surprised to find that it came with crispy fries (as it was not noted on the menu). My mother-in-law stated that her fellow senior friends would love this place, as it serves the right amount of quality food for a very decent price. My almost 3-year-old daughter ate her entire fish and chips meal (well, she did give her grandmother a fish portion, which Kay enjoyed as well).
We shared the warm chocolate brownie with vanilla gelato and ganache. My daughter got her own chocolate sundae, as that was included with her meal. They don’t hit it out of the park with their desserts, but it is enough sweetness to finish off the meal. I did ask about the dessert ports, and the co-owner did a great job explaining the differences between the ports; he even allowed me try a sample of what Pisces had to offer. It was a lovely end to another great meal at Pisces without breaking the bank.
Occupation: Teacher & Resources Specialist
Location: Daly City
Favorite Restaurant: Bobo's
Reviewed Pisces California Cuisine: Wednesday, April 14, 2010
When I first looked at the menu at Pisces I noticed that of the 12 entrée items listed, 6 are meat dishes. I did not expect this at a restaurant called "Pisces" and, moreover, I enjoyed my ahi tuna entrée so much that I want to try more fresh fish entrées, but the selection is minimal. They do have some shellfish entrees, but it seems that the fresh fish plates are the stand-out menu items.
Parking: I went on a Wednesday night at 7:00pm and got really lucky because I found a parking space directly across the street from the restaurant. Pisces is very accessible from the N-Judah line that stops either at the front door or a block or two away.
Décor & Atmosphere: Clean dining room with a modern/contemporary style, sparsely decorated. Recessed lighting with very tall paper, Japanese-style lanterns. The walls are painted chocolate brown, and the chairs and tables provided comfortable seating. It has a nice black granite bar, very wide, with a flat screen television on the wall. This type of décor is normally what you might encounter in the South of Market neighborhood, Noe Valley, or Bernal Heights.
Service: There were very few patrons in the restaurant, so it was difficult to assess whether or not the service was good or if it would have been as good if it were packed. But, the service was, in fact, very good. Our waiter even re-folded my friend’s napkin when he left the table to use the restroom. He brought out our food in a very timely manner, and the entire meal was perfectly paced. We were not rushed at all.
Wine: My friend and I ordered a bottle of the 2007 Lockwood Pinot, and it was really good. It paired well with both my ahi tuna dish and his short ribs. It was $32.00, and I thought it was maybe a little on the expensive side, but it was a good wine. Overall, it was a very decent wine list, which is something you can’t find in the Outer Sunset district.
Portion Size: I had the $33.00 prix fixe menu, and the entrée size was not too big but not too small. However, portions for the crab cake and the chocolate brownie were too small for my appetite.
Food Quality: Overall the entire meal was very good. The crab cake was good, but too small. It had a fresh crab taste, and it wasn’t overwhelmed with herbs, onion flavor, and the like. The ahi tuna was excellent, and everything on the plate was cooked to perfection. The textures and the flavors were outstanding. The gnocchi was perfectly chewy and contrasted well with the firmness of the edamame. The mushrooms were awesome, and the wasabi and dashi sauce married perfectly with the ahi tuna. In fact, it totally enhanced its buttery flavor. Awesome entrée!
Minuses: My friend’s salmon was too well-done for his liking. However, it was still tasty. Appetizers and desserts on the prix fixe selections were too small. Maybe not enough fresh fish selections on the menu.
Summary: Above average food with reasonable prices. Good restaurant for the Outer Sunset district. I am looking forward to going again. Also, presentations on most menu items are very good with nice height and execution.
Location: San Francisco
Favorite Restaurant: Tropisueno Mexican Kitchen
Reviewed Pisces California Cuisine: Thursday, April 15, 2010
Thanks to Check, Please! for introducing me to Pisces! Living in South Beach as I do, the Outer Sunset is a bit removed from my regular stomping grounds, but I am thrilled that we made the journey. The restaurant was completely empty when we arrived and, while that caused immediate red flags to go up, we quickly placated by the highly attentive waitstaff. When our waiter could not answer a question about the wine list, he quickly brought over the owner who was able to clearly articulate the differences between their two Viognier offerings. Apparently, the day of our visit was one of their slowest of the year as everyone was off to the post office to mail Uncle Sam his due (we went on tax day, April 15).
The food was excellent and perfectly prepared. The high quality of the ingredients really shined through, especially in the pork belly and short ribs. Platings were done with great attention to presentation, but in some cases the presentation made the entrees a bit difficult to engage. The prize dish was definitely the short ribs, which, after cooking for 3 hours, were succulent, tender, and moist. The desserts, with the exception of the slightly sub-par crème brûlée, were equally awe-inspiring, especially the hot brownie dish paired with a crisp raspberry sorbet.
The prix fixe option was a welcome surprise, as it included an appetizer, entrée and dessert for $23. Not every day do you find three expertly prepared courses for $23!
Overall, we would definitely visit Pisces again and found it to be a great value for a fun dinner out.