By Pete Kane
By Anna Roth
By Lou Bustamante
By Anna Roth
By Max A. Cherney
By Anna Roth
By Alex Hochman
By Anna Roth
Home has always shone in its careful pairing of interesting vegetables with meat and fish, and tonight I loved the combination of still-toothy braised romano beans in fresh tomato sauce and tons of crispy onion shreds that came with the silky, pale halibut slicked with basil oil, and the fat little wild rice pecan pancake and braised green beans that accompanied the sturdy, thick grilled pork chop with its mildly sweet wild cherry sauce. I didn't finish all of my knowingly cooked, luscious Niman Ranch pot roast, but the leftovers came home without any vestige of their sides of gravy-drenched garlic potato purée and tangy horseradish cream -- I'd seen to that. (The menu changes daily; on another occasion, the pork chop was molasses-glazed and came with baked beans, grilled corn on the cob, and a sweet potato pecan biscuit, while the pot roast's accompaniments were buttermilk smashed potatoes, glazed baby carrots, and a roasted onion jus.) My favorite dish of all on the table was the side order of tender sprigs of broccoli napped in a delicious, sticky cheddar cheese sauce. I ate more than my fair share.
We finished with a bright-tasting Home-made melon sorbet served with shortcake cookies and a half-portion of banana bread pudding, returning to the Castro in time to hear the aforesaid Leonard Maltin announce that the Silent Film Festival was, in his opinion, the best place to be on the planet at that moment.
San Francisco, CA 94114
Region: Castro/ Noe Valley
Pot roast $15.95
Fish cakes $7.50
Salmon curry $11.95
Basil pork $7.50
Home, 2100 Market (at Church), 503-0333. Open for dinner Sunday through Thursday from 5 to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday until 11:30 p.m. Open for brunch on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Reservations accepted. Wheelchair accessible. Parking: difficult. Muni: 22, 37, F, J, K, L, M. Noise level: moderate to high.
Thailand Restaurant, 438A Castro (at Market), 863-6868. Open Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday until 10:30 p.m. Closed Tuesday. Reservations accepted. Not wheelchair accessible. Parking: adjacent lot $8 with validation. Muni: 24, 33, 35, 37, F, K, L, M. Noise level: moderate.
I was sufficiently in agreement to return eagerly the next day, when the pace was again set by the first movie, the beautiful tragedy The Goddess, starring the equally beautiful and tragic Ruan Lingyu, whose life, cut short by suicide, was limned by Maggie Cheung in 1992's The Actress. Five hours and two more movies later, I happily followed Hilary and Martine across the street to Thailand Restaurant, a second-floor eatery where they'd booked a table for six. Two extra friends joined the group, which the busy place handled with aplomb: Staffers brought two more chairs, and we all squished in. Ordering was mildly haphazard, as everybody chose a favorite dish to be shared, family-style. When Hilary mentioned twice that the fish cakes were her favorite dish, I added another order, and I was glad I did: The big, pale orange, spongy discs, full of chopped green beans and onions and served with cucumber salad, were the best things we had. I wasn't nuts about the pad thai (we got two versions, one with sautéed pork, the other with tofu), and a more perceptive server might have pointed out that the "bar-b-q chicken" was essentially the same dish as the chicken satay we'd gotten as an appetizer, just a larger portion of the pounded turmeric-yellow chicken breast rather than the on-the-bone bird we expected. But the bright-red salmon curry was unexpectedly succulent and sophisticated in its smooth sauce of cream of coconut, chili, and lemongrass, under a thatch of crispy flash-fried basil; I also loved the pad ga prew -- crumbled pork, onions, and bamboo shoots in another good, highly flavored sauce with lots of garlic, chili, and basil -- and the meaty, slippery eggplant sautéed with bean sauce. The table was covered with dishes, more than we could eat, and we got out for just about $20 a person, all in.
We returned to the fray refreshed and ready to take on Charlie Chaplin in The Circus. I've never been to a more carefully planned, well-run festival (down to the informative cards flashed on the screen during intermissions, offering what amounted to a seminar on the work of the artists we were about to see), and certainly never one where you could be so well fed within minutes of the venue. I'm already looking forward to next July. But I'll be returning to Home or going to Thailand the next time I'm at the Castro. Maybe for meatloaf after seeing Superstar in a Housedress or for garlic calamari and noodles (I'm stretching a bit) after La Dolce Vita.
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