By Omar Mamoon
By Kate Williams
By Pete Kane
By Molly Gore
By Lou Bustamante
By Anna Roth
We wanted mussels and cassoulet, foie gras and sweetbreads, scallops and monkfish – and received a backhanded compliment from our server, who congratulated us on ordering like French people, rather than going for chicken or salmon. At the first meal, I'd been perfectly happy with snails, rabbit, and steak, but tonight only my father was lucky. Two wheels of rich foie gras with a superfluous bit of sweet glaze were propped up on cool chopped green beans — a nice touch. The sweetbreads, a double order of what the menu proffers as a starter (i.e., four small lobes rather than two), were gently cooked, and served with a heap of buttery baby spinach leaves in a bit of rosemary jus.
Moules marinière, heaped in a casserole, came with a scant inch of salty broth and had a slightly bitter edge. By contrast, the cassoulet was full of liquid (the driest mussels I've ever had, followed by the wettest cassoulet), and included a nice duck leg confit, coins of good sausage, and sad, dry little bricks of pork, along with white beans. Neither dish was well seasoned; as far as I was concerned, there was a serious lack of garlic. My starter was pretty much a disaster: an inexplicable dish of tiny button scallops wrapped like cigars in a browned but limp potato slice, and then four such concoctions mired in mashed potatoes, all three ingredients tasteless on their own and in combination. Then I had roasted monkfish, three rather dull chunks of it on a heap of more interesting sautéed cabbage generously larded with salty and assertive bacon.
San Francisco, CA 94131
Region: Twin Peaks/ Glen Park
334-3235. Dinner: 5:30-10:30 p.m. nightly. Brunch: Saturday and Sunday 9:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. Reservations accepted. Wheelchair-accessible: yes. Parking: street, difficult. Muni: 23, 26, 35, 44. Noise level: moderate to high.
Escargots $7 a half-dozen, $13 a dozen
Moules marinière $9
Foie gras $14.50
Ris de veau (sweetbreads) as starter $9.50
Lapin façon Normande $17
Entrecôte bordelaise (ribeye steak) $20
I liked the cozy setting more than the uneven food at Le P'tit Laurent, but my last couple of visits to Paris have shown that it's now easy to get indifferently prepared French food there, too, making the combination somewhat authentic. In Glen Park, at least you don't have to deal with an unfavorable exchange rate.