Going Public

Venture Frogs

That's when things got interesting. First, the light over our table grew dimmer, then brighter, for no apparent reason. Then, our waiter returned with the same plate of tuna and informed us, quite politely, that it was supposed to be that color. I'd give a hundred bucks to see the look on my face at that moment, and since none of us was too keen on eating gray fish, we sent it back again.

Then the lights dimmed and brightened yet again -- what was happening? -- and then the aforementioned potential mother showed up with the same plate of tuna, explaining at great length that this particular grade of ahi was a different one -- not better, just different -- and had been specially selected by the chef. She was a stubborn one, but we stood our ground and sent the tuna back an unprecedented third time. Then the lights went entirely ballistic -- brighter, darker, brighter, darker! -- as if the restaurant itself was displeased.

"I'm scared," said Michelle.


409-2550. Open daily from 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. (bar open until midnight). Reservations accepted for parties of six or more. Wheelchair accessible. Parking: $1 per hour with validation at 1000 Van Ness, otherwise difficult. Muni: 38, 42, 47, 49. Noise level: moderate.

Priceline Pot Stickers $5.95
Microsoft Minced Chicken in Lettuce Cups $6.95
Benchmark Baby-Back Ribs $6.95
Business 2.0 Wild Mushrooms $9.95
Founders Ahi Tuna $14.95
LinkExchange Flourless Chocolate Cake $5.25
Lycheetini $6

1000 Van Ness (at O'Farrell)

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And so was I: Who was going to show up with the tuna next?

And then, as if to prove that amazing things really can happen anywhere you go, our good friend Massimo showed up with three incredibly fine young Italian females from L.A., and before I knew it I was rubbing elbows with the lovely Elisa -- the absolute last thing I expected to happen at Venture Frogs. After sampling a bite of everything we'd ordered, our new friends selected the cod, the pot stickers, a light, adequate Fast Company Vegetable Fried Rice, and Elisa's delicious Microsoft Minced Chicken in Lettuce Cups. Though I lost Elisa to competing plans shortly thereafter, I wish Massimo could show up every time I step out to eat.

Desserts did their best. We had a rich, gooey, LinkExchange Flourless Chocolate Cake with Tahitian vanilla ice cream, followed by Zappos.com Ginger Crème Brûlée with a perfect caramelized top and an incredibly terrible liquid center. There's no excuse for that, I suppose, but still, when I added it up, 10 out the 16 dishes we tried proved worthwhile or better. In baseball, that would yield a spectacular batting average -- .625. Of course, the restaurant biz isn't quite as forgiving, and something tells me the Venture Frogs won't be quitting their day jobs anytime soon.

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