On my second visit, the solid technique behind Bistro Central Parc's simplest dishes wavered as the dishes grew more elaborate. We were promised medium-rare and served a medium-well duck breast served with a strawberry reduction sauce that was at odds with the asparagus beneath. Partial redemption: a jiggly, custardlike medallion of seared foie gras melting onto the duck, which was all the sauce it really needed.

Jardin's flourishes can come off as cooking school — the precisely placed sprig of parsley, a 4-inch antenna of something crispy sticking out of the beef bourguignon, which I suspected of transmitting data back to the kitchen. The distance between presentation and execution was greatest when it came to dessert. A precise coil of spun sugar perched on the lip of our crème brûlée was impressive, but I'd have been more impressed if the custard underneath wasn't overcooked. A tuille cookie filled with whipped cream and gossamer loops of chocolate piped around our tarte tatin couldn't disguise the fact that both pastry and apples were mushy and not particularly caramelized.

From Marseille to San Francisco comes a classic bouillabaisse.
Lara Hata
From Marseille to San Francisco comes a classic bouillabaisse.

Location Info


Bistro Central Parc

560 Central
San Francisco, CA 94117

Category: Restaurant > French

Region: Haight/ Fillmore


562 Central (at Grove), 931-7272, bistrocentralparc.com. Dinner 5-10:30 p.m. Wed.-Sun., brunch 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Sat.-Sun. Muni: 5, 21.

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Once I dispatched a fussy pitcher of veal-stock reduction sauce, drizzling it over an appetizer of sweetbreads ($10), the dish underneath was exquisite — creamy slices of pan-fried sweetbreads, each the texture of a marshmallow, napped in sautéed oyster mushrooms. There was none of the livery taint of overcooked offal, just the subtler earthiness of the fungi. I'd been missing sweetbreads since they retreated from California-cuisine menus a decade ago. Thanks to the French, who haven't abandoned sweetbreads, they tasted exotic and magical all over again.

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food very good ..

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