Sunday, January 22, 2006

La Suite

Tonight, Seppo, Seppo's mom, and I went to La Suite, as a part of the 5th Annual San Francisco Dine About Town event.

Here is the menu from the DAT website:

First Course
Soup of the day
Butter lettuce salad with mustard vinaigrette
Country pate style with cornichons, old fashioned mustard and croutons

Second Course
Oven roasted Monkfish with piperade, yukon gold potatoes, manila clams
Cassoulet with house made sausage, bacon, duck confit and cannelini beans
Slow-braised beef cheek daube with cipollini onions and cabernet wine sauce

Third Course
Pain perdu
Trio of chocolate
Apple tart with crème anglaise

The menu we were presented with was actually different. The second course options were the monkfish, beef cheek, and the "Cider-Brined Pork Tenderloin with Brussels Sprouts, Chestnuts, Pomegranate Glaze" from their regular menu.

The dessert options we were actually presented with were pain perdu, apple tart, and "Chocolate Fondant Cake with Red Currant Port Sauce".

Seppo's mom ordered the salad, monkfish, and apple tart. Seppo ordered the pate, beef cheek, and pain perdu. I ordered off the regular menu (after checking the prices to determine that there was only a small difference in the prix fixe menu), and got their "Bone Marrow Flan with Pepper Cress, and a Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette" and pork tenderloin, and didn't order dessert, with the unspoken intention of ordering from their famed cheese platter at the end.

We had a really odd time with the server. He was... odd. Rather abrupt and impatient, even though our reservations were at the ridiculously early hour of 5:30pm, and the restaurant was still quite empty when we arrived. He recommended various reds to Seppo's mom while not even looking at her, even though she asked for a white recommendation, and was quite flip when he finally gave her a white recommendation, just throwing out a name and not going to any trouble to describe its various qualities so that she may make a more informed judgment.

He spilled ice in front of me, which I normally am not that mindful of, but it was more that he didn't notice or care. For such a high-brow place, he felt really out of place. The people who were bussing the tables, as well as another server that was within view the entire night, were quite professional and pleasant. When Seppo's mom's wine came, he just dropped it on the table and walked off.

The bread and butter were very meh. The bread probably would have been ok, but the butter was just so hard. My bone marrow flan was quite tasty, especially with the lemon-y vinaigrette, which gave it a subtle bright note. It's a unique dish that I've never had anywhere else, and it was delicious, so I give them full credit for that. My pork tenderloin was also flavorful, moist, and had a smokey char around the edges. The sauce it was served in was tasty, if unremarkable. I can't say I could detect any real pomegranite flavor. It was served on a little bed of separated brussel sprout leaves and small chunks of smoked pancetta (I think). I didn't really notice the chestnuts either.

Seppo's mom's fish was really good: light, flakey, moist, tender, with a very subtle combinations of flavors that supported the fish well. She said that her sides were so over-salted that she found it difficult to eat. Her "salad" was literally something like six leaves of butter lettuce and a couple of pieces of sage (I think), with a little dressing on the side. The apple tart was perfect though, with a tender crust and apples that were not too sweet but had a pleasant amount of bite to them.

Seppo's beef cheeks were great, but Seppo felt that while it was tender and the vegetables were perfectly cooked, the flavors didn't really complement each other. The meat and sides simply existed on the same plate, with nothing much to do with each other. Seppo's pain perdu (which is bread pudding) was a perfect temperature. Seppo didn't like that it was very banana-y, but it was ok for me.

I didn't have a chance to ask for a selection of cheeses because our weird server just rushed us through and didn't give me a chance to ask for either that or a dessert menu. Arg. I was really looking forward to the cheese platter because, according to many different websites, this restaurant has one of the best selections of cheeses in the entire Bay Area. They also are known for their wine list, but you know how that went. Oh yeah, I checked the final check and it looks like he just recommended the cheapest wine by the glass. Seppo's mom said it was quite ordinary and not really a good choice. WTF, mister server?!?!

Anyway, I would not return. In my opinion, Seppo's starter and my starter were the best things we ate tonight, but they are not worth going back for.


Blogger casacaudill said...

I've had a couple of bad experiences with wait staff at Dine About Town restaurants the last couple of years, so I've given up going. I've also found the waitstaff at participating restaurants during these times to be, quite honestly, rude and a pain in the ass. The worst was at Le Colonial last year.

I wish Oakland/Berkeley had something similar to DAT so that I could sample more of the high end restaurants here. Sometimes, you just don't want to go in to SF.

5:13 PM  
Blogger ei-nyung said...

I felt a little like Julia Roberts' character in "Pretty Woman" when she walked into the boutique with a stack of cash with the intention of buying "classy" clothes. I wanted to yell, "I have money to pay for my meal! I swear I am a great tipper!" Alas. :-/

5:41 PM  
Blogger ei-nyung said...

I wish Oakland/Berkeley had something similar to DAT so that I could sample more of the high end restaurants here.

I feel like there was some sort of charity dinner in Oakland where a bunch of fancy schmancy East Bay chefs participate by donating their time and food. If only I could remember...

5:43 PM  

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