Observations on Food in the Bay Area
website - A Greek restaurant, twin to Evvia in Palo Alto, at Front and Jackson in SF. I rapidly begin to realize that all the fancy restaurants are clustered in the Financial District. So there were many, many of us, which we took as a good excuse to order a lot of appetizers. Yum!
First, a brief note about the wine:
3 bottles. Unfortunately, I didn't make notes, and they don't have the list online (even though they have a link to it... someone forgot to make a PDF. Oops.), so in a rough & general sort of way:
Domain Drouhin Pinot Noir (Willamette, OR) - dry, and fairly rich and tasty as I recall. $85
Some Greek Cabernet Sauvignon - suprisingly fruity, and much sweeter in comparison to the pinot. Nice. Got good reviews all around. $50
A Spanish Rioja - back to dry again, and lighter than the previous two. But still good, and plenty of flavor to stand up well to the fantastic lamb. $45
Revithokeftethes (crispy chickpea & feta cakes) - Yum! Kind of like falafel, but not. And definately without the associated over-deep-fried nature often enjoyed as an accompaniment to falafel.
Gigantes (giant beans with tomato sauce, olive oil, feta) - Fantastic. Though, we were all disappointed that they weren't bigger. With a name like "gigantes", well, you expect certain things... But very nice, and the sauce is fantastic. Actually, the sauce pretty much made the dish.
Marithes Tiganites (crispy smelt) - Smelt, if you don't know, are very small fish. So, this was a bunch of deep fried little (whole) fish, which were very salty. Not a fan favorite. Personally, I thought they were too salty, and wasn't a big fan of the slightly crunchy nature of the whole fish. Mmm... crunchy little bones.
Melitzanosalata, Taramosalata, Tzatziki - Tasty spreads with quite possibly the best 'pita' I've ever had. It was really thick, almost more like a pancake or focaccia consistency. Fantastic flavor too; quite rich. The spreads were marvelous. Amazingly, the tzatziki was the least exciting of them to me. The eggplant-based spread was delectable, much like baba-ganouz, but in a completely different way. The one based on caviar was simply astounding. Smooth, creamy, with such an amazing flavor, and none of the overly-salty nature often found in caviars that turns me off.
Loukanika me Prassa (sausage with fig mustard) - Great. Everything sausage is supposed to be, and the fig mustard was a brilliant new take for an anything-but-ordinary mustard.
Arnista Plevrakia (lamb riblets) - Holy shit. The first indicator of just how good the lamb main courses were about to be. I could eat pounds and pounds of these. Perfectly grilled, wonderfully strongly spiced... I haven't enough words of praise for these little marvels.
Kokkari Salata (butter lettuce, pine nuts, currants, goat cheese) - I have to say, the currants, pine nuts, and cheese really made the salad. Just plain very good. Massive, enormous leaves of lettuce. I'm talking really big. Liked this one better than the
Horiatiki (classic Greek salad) - A Greek salad. Actually, somehow less interesting to me than I usually find Greek salad. Maybe it only paled in comparison to the other stuff. Or maybe it was that everything was sliced very large, so it was harder to get the interesting flavor combinations of all the ingredients together.
Well, after all that, only about half of us still wanted more, so we only got 2:
Kokinisto me Manestra (braised lamb shank over orzo with cheese) - Falls off the bone. Literally. And by bone, I mean massive club-like bone that you could assault your fellow table-mates with. 2 people shared this, and couldn't finish it. Huge dish. Very very mellow, not strongly spiced at all, but wonderful lamb flavor, and it really, truly just melts in your mouth. But for all that praise, it wasn't as good as:
Arnisia Paidakia (grilled lamb chops with kokkari potatoes) - Wow. Next to perfectly done chops, with great rich, strong, grilled, spicy charred seasoning all around, plenty of wonderful meat and hardly any fat, and the first of 2 was pefectly medium-rare. Unfortunately, the 2nd one had made it fully into the medium category, and was noticeably chewier. But the flavor was fantastic. Also of note, the potatoes, which appeared to have been grilled and were very strongly spiced, and equally wonderful. This is a dish I'd get anytime. Yum. Not quite as good as the best lamb chops I've ever had (about which restaurant I'll write later, but Lihiara has had them, and they were in the SF Botanical Gardens, amazingly enough).
Rizogalo (rice pudding with strawberry-rhubarb compote) - Pudding was suprisingly bland, almost to the point of having no flavor, and the compote was so uniformly bright red that I almost wondered if the color was somehow fake. It certainly didn't include the green and purple colors I often associate with rhubarb, and it also didn't include any of the equally rhubarby strong, tangy flavors. Rather disappointing overall.
Sokolatina (chocolate butter cream cake, chocolate ice cream) - Great ice cream. Very rich, chocolatey, yummy cake. And it didn't have any of the overly buttery, thick, nasty texture and flavor I find accompanies butter cream frosting. This was definately a good thing.
Baklava - Got great reviews. I didn't get any. Sigh.
Anyway, this concludes our evening. Oh, except for a glass of late harvest Gewurtz, which was quite good, a brandy which tasted like brandy (but I'm told it was good), and 2 possibly different Ouzos, which were suprisingly good. Liquid, alcoholic black licorice. Nutty.
All in all, a fairly reasonably priced meal, considering the cost of wine, after dinner drinks, number of courses, and number of people. It all totalled up to less than $80 each, which for a fancy SF restaurant isn't so bad. Food-wise, I'm inclined to rate it behind Boulevard and Piperade, but those are damn hard restaurants to live up to. Probably better than Zibibbo, though. I need to get back to Boulevard to get a review up here. And also because it's just that good.