Observations on Food in the Bay Area
EOS Restaurant & Wine Bar
website - at the intersection of Cole and Carl in San Francisco's Cole Valley bases its selection around small plates and an interesting selection of wine. The restaurant is an unusual mix of modern design and old, warm wood architecture, and is unfortunately rather loud as a result of all the hard surfaces. The wine bar is significantly more intimate and subdued, and has less of a noise problem (also due to the fact that it's significantly smaller). They have a good sized wine list, though I actually didn't spend any time perusing it, for once, as we both decided to focus on the by-the-glass selection, which would offer us the opportunity to sample a much larger variety. All their glasses are offered in full size, and 2oz taste portions (with a taste being 1/2 the price of a glass). They also offer a selection of flights, most of 3 or 4 wines, for reasonable prices roughly between $10 and $15 for the flight. Note that the wine list on their website is horribly out of date, and makes their selection look rather expensive; it is not nearly that bad. All in all, I enjoyed 3 of the 4 wines quite a bit, and even the 4th improved somewhat with food. The flights also offer a nice opportunity to try various wines with the various dishes to see what pairs better. Their individual glasses felt a bit overpriced, but since I didn't recognize any of the wines on the menu, I couldn't really tell. Based on the menu they print online, glasses seem to be priced in the neighborhood of 1/2 the retail bottle price, which certainly seems high.
On to the food!
Oven roasted Heirloom tomato, fresh ginger cevre & thai basil bruschetta - very, very tasty. Heirlooms are usually served fresh and uncooked, so the warm, melty, roasted tomatos were an interesting change. Unfortunately they came on a single, largeish slice of bread, which made for a bit of a mess as we had to slice a tomato in half to split it between us, but apart from that, the dish was great, with all the flavors working well together.
Ahi Tuna Tower - impressively presented as a tower of thick slices of seared tuna between what appeared to be potato chips, with tasty bits of white miso sauce and a selection of fresh greens strewn about the plate. This was great. Really, truly flavorful tuna prepared perfectly, and the chips made a great serving platform to enable one to pile on various greens like a mini sort of chip snack. Truly good.
Shiitake mushroom dumplings - these are served in a bowl with some slices of mushroom and a few cherry tomatos in a marvelous sauce that is almost beyond rich. The separate mushrooms and tomatos in sauce were astounding. I have to complain slightly about the dumplings however. I felt that the flavor of the dumpling pastry overwhelmed the mushrooms and sauce within it somewhat. There's a lot of pastry wrapped around reasonably small dumplings, and they could easily trim off some of the excess, which I believe would solve the problem. I also may have been over energetic in consuming my sauce with the extra mushrooms, and simply not left enough over. My girlfriend, however, considers these to be among the best food she's ever had.
Belgium ale marinated angus hangar steak with confit potatos and onion rings - beyond wonderful. The steak was perfectly, perfectly cooked and simply melted in the mouth. The ale-based sauce was sumptious, with overtones of chocolaty malts from the beer, especially brought out by the simple nature of the potatos. My one complaint lies with the onion rings, which were breaded, rather than battered, and had far too little onion. They tasted of dry, salty breading, with almost no onion flavor, and their saltiness even overpowered the flavor of the beef and sauce. This should be fixed. But their easy enough not to eat.
Warm valrhona chocolate-cardamom 'souffle' cake with snicker doodles - served in a cup like a souffle, and with a light fluffy baked top, the entire inside was virtually liquid chocolate. Wonderfully rich, and quite possibly the closest I've come to matching the exquisite wonder on the palate of the former Wild Hare's oozing chocolate cake. I was disappointed that I couldn't detect any cardamom, which I think would have added an interesting flavor component to the chocolate, but the dessert was plenty good. The snicker doodles have nothing on the clean mint ice cream the Wild Hare paired it with, though. *sigh* Will I never meet its like again?
All in all, dinner, dessert, and 2 wine flights for 2 came to a bit over $100, which is par for the course at a good SF restaurant. Service was helpful and friendly, and while in a noisy atmosphere, the meal was fantastic. We'll definately be back.