Macaroni and Drunken Spanish Goat Cheese, Grilled Kurobuta Pork Chop with White Beans and Melted Chard, Banana Cream Pie
Occupation: Territory Manager for New York State
Location: San Francisco
Favorite Restaurant: The Blue Plate
Reviewed The Blue Plate: Thursday, January 5, 2006
Blue Plate is one of the best-kept secrets in San Francisco. I cannot say enough about this restaurant. Quietly tucked away in Outer Mission, one might miss it for the only signage it has over its narrow doorway is a NEON blue sigh stating "EAT." From the moment I walked through the door, my mouth is watering. All of the food is prepared in a show kitchen located immediately inside of the door. Surrounded by a diner-style bar, there were people eating on stools while watching the magical cooks at work.
Krisztina and I decided to dine in the enchanting garden. Although it was a brisk SF night, the high walls that provided a wind block combined with the high-power heat lamps, afforded us a very comfortable evening, while we breathed in the sweet smells of Brugmansia, huge hanging yellow flowers that smell of warm spring nights.
Our server appeared after we had time to briefly peruse the wine list. I inquired about a Spanish Tempranillo and a bottle labeled Odysseus. Upon recommendation we opted for the Odysseus. Odysseus, a Grenache-based wine that is blended with Carignon, was well structured and jammy while not being overwhelmingly fruity. I must say this is a GREAT bottle of wine.
As we were waiting for the wine we had time to choose the food. We started with a romaine salad served with Pink Lady apples, Point Reyes Original Blue Cheese, and bacon -- a perfect blend of fruit, greens, and salty meat. I opted for the Duck Rillettes, which was a mixture of duck confit served with toast and the typical additions of pickled roots and veggies. The Flambeau radishes were so good I could have eaten a bowl of them.
As we finished our last bites of the apps, the dishes were courteously cleared and the entrees appeared. Fairly portioned servings that were presented in a perfectly timed manner. My Steelhead trout was a perfect medium (without even being asked how I wanted it prepared -- kudos) served over a chickpea mash with a few mussels and a beautiful saffron broth. This was lovely. Krisztina’s chicken was crispy in the skin and yet still perfectly tender and moist. Although I am not one to order chicken while dining out, I have to say that it is well worth the consideration when dining at Blue Plate. On the side was the mac and cheese, this is a hidden secret on the Blue Plate menu, and in all truth, it is the reason that I keep returning to BP. I tell everyone who dines there that they MUST order it. Served with a crispy top in a sea of Spanish goat cheese, one has to wait for it to cool despite the desire to dig in!
As we were sitting back enjoying the last sips of Odysseus, contemplating what to do next, our plates were cleared and a complimentary serving of Sorbet appeared. The sorbet was a green apple and Prosecco sparkling wine concoction. Simple and sweet. A perfect finish to a perfect meal.
I give Blue Plate 10! Environment, food, service. Everything was great!
Location: Los Altos
Favorite Restaurant: Dishdash
Reviewed The Blue Plate: Wednesday, December 28, 2005
I enjoyed the intimate, unpretentious, masculine, and coarse atmosphere. You can wear anything and come to dinner here. Artwork is not only decorative, but conversational pieces. Music was exceptional and well chosen to match decor. This is potentially a good place, off the beaten track, to take your spouse for a special, relaxed, romantic dinner without the hype and trend factor to consider. A few pieces of decor that I found very cool: The skateboards hanging on wall; the large, colorful, modern art mural; and the old Coca-Cola glass bottles used by chefs to store cooking oil.
The menu consists of classic fall and winter comfort food. Lots of potatoes, herbs, onions, root vegetables for ingredients. The waiter was very approachable and patiently answered all my questions, even though he was the only person serving the first level of the restaurant. He never made me feel rushed.
The food was fair, although I was a bit shocked to see the check. I thought prices were a bit high for what you’re getting. Macaroni and cheese side dish was fabulous -- more like a gratin with creamy sauce and unusual type of cheese (Drunken Goat). Different, but still familiar. Grilled hearts of romaine appetizer had warm caramelized onions and warm dressing, which was a nice contrast to cold lettuce and crisp apples. Different textures and temperatures of ingredients makes this dish interesting. The pork chop was one of the biggest pieces of pork chop I’ve seen in a long time. Simply grilled and served on a "hash" of Brussels sprouts, ham, and sweet potatoes. Comes with applesauce infused with huckleberries -- gives you a red apple sauce!
I enjoyed the overall experience, although I wouldn’t recommend this restaurant to friends or return myself. The fair quality of the food, combined with relatively high prices don’t make this place tops in my mind. In San Francisco, you can do a lot better for your money.
Occupation: Event Planner
Favorite Restaurant: Eric's
Reviewed The Blue Plate: Wednesday, January 4, 2006
I was really looking forward to Blue Plate. I had heard many of my friends tell me how much they enjoyed it. The one thing everyone said was, "You must get the Macaroni and drunken Spanish Goat Cheese, it’s the best." As soon as we walked into the restaurant, we were welcomed by the manager. We were seated in the middle section (the red section, due to the wall color), which was nice, we were able to see everything that was going on in the other two sections. There is a wine station in the red section. We were handed our menus and told that there were no specials that night; I was a little bummed about that. Once I looked at the menu I realized how dark it was -- we had to use the candle at the table read the menu. This was not cozy, it was just poorly lit. The music that was pumped in the dining rooms was from a record player near the wine bar. It felt very San Francisco. I saw a fraternity brother from Chico State at one table and David Byrne from the Talking Heads at another table –- it felt very hip! There was very interesting artwork in the restroom as well; a woman with her shirt pulled up with lit matches on her nipples!
On to the food. For starters we ordered: BBQ Hogg Island Sweet Water Oysters, Marinated Chioggia Beets, and Grilled Hearts of Romaine. The oysters were very good. They are served with really flavorful onion rings. I am not an oyster guy, but I liked these. We were not crazy about the beets; they had a nice texture but they didn’t go well with the ricotta salata that came with it. The Grilled Hearts of Romaine was odd, it was served very warm. I am not sure what I expected but it was not a warm salad –- wilted I get, warm I don’t. The Pink Lady apples and the Point Reyes Original Blue Cheese that came with it were tasty. For dinner we had the Blue Plate Meatloaf and Grilled Kurobuta Pork Chop. The meatloaf was very juicy; it was nice because we got the end piece, and everyone knows the end piece is the best part! The mashed potatoes were creamy and hot. The pork chop was huge! It was grilled very well; it was very dark in the restaurant so I was not able to see how pink it was on the inside. It came with white beans and melted chard. The pork and the chard together were fantastic, they both complemented each other: smoky and earthy. The one thing I did not like was the olive tapenade that was on top of the pork chop. It was too strong and it overpowered the meat. The other thing I noticed was that their steak knives were not sharp, so it was difficult to cut the pork. As a side dish we had the famous Macaroni and drunken Spanish Goat Cheese; it was rich and crunchy. I have never liked homemade mac and cheese, but this was out of this world. It was the best thing on the menu.
The waitress and the busboys were some of the best I have ever had. The waitress was very helpful making recommendation, asked what we liked and didn’t like. Both made sure to check on us often. The busboy was great about bringing us fresh, out-of-the-oven bread. I am not sure I would go back, it was not my type of restaurant; it was too dark and cozy. I don’t know if I would take a group of my friends, I think we would be too loud. I would recommend it to my friends though.