By Omar Mamoon
By Kate Williams
By Pete Kane
By Molly Gore
By Lou Bustamante
By Anna Roth
The smallest portion of our main courses was a tiny square of seared Atlantic cod, perched atop fat butter beans scattered with parsley and infinitesimal dice of smoky and welcome chorizo. Next to it the dazzling signature dish, the rock cod "Colbert" ($29) ("our version of fish 'n' chips"), presented upright atop coleslaw, its back slit and filled with the rich butter, shallot, and tarragon sauce named after Louis XIV's minister, looked like a whale. It came with a silver, paper-lined cup full of glorious French fries and a container of aioli. An easy-to-eat plate of seared filets of sweet petrale sole ($28) came with deconstructed petits pois à la Française (a baby head of Little Gem lettuce on one side, peas on the other, and some smoked bacon chunks). The best part of the seared walleye pike construction ($29), which came with a chopped date relish and a swirl of tomato reduction, was the beautiful baby multicolored carrots — yellow, white, orange, purple, even green — upon which the square of firm, white-fleshed fish was laid. This is good food, but not dazzling enough for our expectations. We washed down our fish with a lovely Sancerre, chosen from an impressive 25-page list of cocktails, wines, and other liquid temptations.
We've long been fans of pastry chef Emily Lucchetti's work at Farallon, but we found the desserts here well executed but something of an afterthought: a nice gooey bittersweet chocolate pudding cake, a pleasant fresh strawberry tart, Meyer lemon crème brûlée ($9), and a pineapple caramel cake in which, alas, the fruit, caramel, and cake were not cooked together but introduced only on the plate.
284-9922, www.waterbarsf.com. Lunch 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.; dinner 5:30-10 p.m. Reservations accepted. Wheelchair accessible. Parking: valet, $12 at lunch, $10 at dinner. Muni: 14, J, K, L, M, N, T. Noise level: high.
The room had become increasingly, painfully noisy during the meal. As we left, we discovered the true appeal of the main dining room, besides its glamorous deep booths and striking aquariums: You could actually conduct a conversation here. True luxury! We realized we were in a noisy Siberia only at the very end of the evening.