I had read the reviews before we got there, so I knew we needed to try the gnocchi; everyone raved about it. When it arrived at the table it looked so beautiful, but when I took a bite, it was really gritty. Everyone at the table agreed with me. We liked the truffle in the sauce but the squash was gummy. Then we tried the sunchoke soup, which was bitter and heavy; strike 2. I ordered the burger because most reviews had said that it was the best. Unfortunately it was served on a burnt baguette, and the burger was way too big for its bread. However, the fries were thin and crispy with herbs and lemon; they were the highlight of my evening. My girlfriends both ordered the halibut, which I tasted and decided it was nothing impressive. Each dish came out looking different; one fish was sizably larger than the other. It felt a little uncomfortable. Overall, I really had a disappointing experience.
Location: San Francisco
Favorite Restaurant: Café Tiramisu
Reviewed Wood Tavern: Thursday, April 4, 2013
My wife and I went to the Wood Tavern on a Thursday evening at 6pm. We drove there from the Financial District of San Francisco after work. It was an easy drive and although parking was on the street; we easily found a place right across the street from the restaurant.
We had a very hard time getting a reservation beforehand and we found the place was filling up when we arrived at 5:45pm. The atmosphere is casual, comfortable and relaxed. There is seating for 45-50 including the bar. People eat at the bar as it appears to be a restaurant first with a nice bar as a secondary consideration. The bar had a TV on with a local sports event.
The tables are close together but not necessarily too close. However, the noise level is quite high and distracting. People were not raucous but the room just seemed to amplify voices and laughter.
The meal was wonderful as the quality of the food was very good. My wife and I shared our meals so that we could get a better idea of what was offered. The wine list was extensive and had many wines from California, Oregon, Italy and France. We only ordered by the glass. The Champagne we had was superb and the Pinot was excellent. (see first page)
As a starter we had the grilled asparagus which was over the top in taste, presentation, and most importantly it was perfectly cooked. The sauteed baby octopus was very good too; but was over-shadowed by the incredible asparagus dish. The red pepper flakes in the octopus broth put a very definite bite in the dish but it wasn't too much. Notably, the vegetables in both dishes were perfectly cooked.
We had heard a complaint about the service and wait between dishes for Wood Tavern. We found that the service was excellent and the wait between dishes was just right so that you had time to talk and savor the previous flavors from what you had just finished. We did find it difficult to talk at times due to the noise and occasionally you felt that you almost had to shout.
Now the main courses: The halibut was a dish recently added to their menu. Its presentation was only acceptable but belied the incredible flavor of the dish itself. It should have been served with the clash of cymbals or something. The fish was clearly fresh and moist. It was properly cooked without being overcooked and soft. The crust on top was light and added flavor without detracting from the fish's own good flavor. Again the vegetables were done perfectly and were very tasty.
One of the signature dishes is the pan-roasted half chicken which is boned. The roasted garlic sauce had a very pervasive taste. The dish was very good though I felt the taste of the sauce (confit) detracted from the taste of the chicken itself. The chicken was moist and the skin was toasted perfectly.
The portion sizes were generous but not overly so.
The coffee was too strong for me even though I like dark, strong coffee. We had heard that their profiteroles were very good. Unfortunately, the ones served to us were not. The profiterole cup crust was stale and the filling of ice cream was ordinary.
We met a nice young couple at the table next to us. They are regulars who dine at this restaurant once a week. They gave us some of the history of the restaurant. They mentioned that the staff had remained there from the beginning in 2007 which says a lot about the place, the customers, and the management. They also said that the clientele was mostly from the neighborhood and not many people from outside the immediate community.