Observations on Food in the Bay Area
website - At Battery & Green in SF, this Basque restaurant really suprised me with its quality/price ratio! Going there, I expected in advance that the food would be good, but to come away having only racked up a $400 bill for 7 people, including 2 bottles of wine and a 25% tip, seemed reasonably extraordinary to me given how good it was. (The chef also gave us a free round of drinks at the beginning as a table wasn't ready until 15 minutes or so after our reservation, which was quite nice.)
Anyway, the first thing I have to drool over was the wine. Great wine list! And incredibly reasonably priced. I believe the average cost of a bottle (excluding the 2 pages at the end of Ludicrous Reds) was around $35-40. Nearly astounding at a nice restaurant around here.
Ijalba Graciano '00 Rioja, for only $38 at the restaurant. I described it at the time as medium-dark and earthy, yet with a bright fruity nose with hints of charcoal. A great, warm, wonderfully flavored medium body, fruity (raspberries?), with a hint of spice on the quite long finish. Only moderately tannic.
Here's Wine Spectator's take on it:
VIÑA IJALBA Graciano Rioja 2000 89 $20
Inky in color, rich on the palate, this red spotlights a grape that normally takes a small supporting role. It offers meaty, mineral flavors and very firm tannins, and needs a grilled, dry-aged steak to show best.
Anyway, it was great stuff. Hopefully I can find some somewhere.
On to the food...
Piperade skipped the tapas style and went for a more standard appetizer/main course menu.
The endive salad, dungeness crab salad, and selection of cheeses were quite good.
The prawns and braised oxtail were beyond good. Way beyond good. More like fucking brilliant. Wow. Especially the oxtail. Holy shit.
piperade was very tasty, and the serrano ham was fantastic.
lamb chops were fantastic. perfectly cooked. marvelously tender. very yummy marinade.
veal (one of the specials) was rather astounding. pretty much explained why people like something that's that hideous to contemplate. i've never had cow melt in my mouth like that before.
flat iron steak was very good, but (while certainly not what I'd call tough) the toughest of the 3 meat selections.
we also had a couple white fish plates, whose individual identities I've since forgotten, but both of which were perfectly cooked, and they both shared a very similar (and very tasty) light smoky flavor.
we also got some fries on the side, which were exactly what non-steak cut fries should be: mildly salted, very crispy on outside, and nice soft inside. addictive.
gateau chocolat - dense, rich, and wonderful.
we got something else, but I've forgotten what it was. It was good, too, though. heh.
Anyway, all that is to say that the food was fantastic, the service excellent (which reminds me - really good bread, and fantastically tasty olive oil!) and quite knowledgeable about the largely Basque & European wine list, and the price very reasonable considering the quality. Piperade places VERY favorably when set up next to similarly nice establishments such as Boulevard or Hawthorne Lane.
Yeah, we'll be back.