Rickybobby: Mind-(and Body-) Expanding Comfort Food

Rickybobby is a great place for stoners. That's what I was thinking as I sat in the month-old restaurant, surrounded by a kaleidoscope of cartoonish colors and images, half-watching Super Troopers projected on one wall and trying to avoid the glassy stare of a spooky taxidermy calf with two heads. The food seems made for the munchies too — totally filling, but you compulsively eat it anyway because it tastes so good. The remarkable thing about Rickybobby is that it helps you achieve a higher state of being even if your mind isn't chemically altered.

Even in its infancy, crowds are at the Lower Haight restaurant every night because the food's reputation proceeds it. Rickybobby's name comes from the movie Talledega Nights, and is one of the many quirky pop culture references thrown in this new spot from James Moisey and Shane LaValley, the dudes who until recently were serving much the same food at Broken Record, an Excelsior rock and whiskey bar with a restaurant in back. Moisey and LaValley have taken their hits from those days to the new location, and have beefed up the menu with new comfort food dishes that are bound to get their own cult followings.

The most famous Broken Record dish replicated here is the beef and bacon burger, wherein ground bacon is added to two beef patties wedded together with American cheese. It was one of the best burgers I have ever eaten: The kitchen uses just enough bacon to infuse the beef with smokiness and general succulence, but not so much that the grease takes over. It's indulgent, but not overwhelming — an impressive balancing act considering the amount of fat involved.

The impressive lobster mac and cheese (left) sits next to satisfying shrimp and grits.
Lara Hata
The impressive lobster mac and cheese (left) sits next to satisfying shrimp and grits.

Location Info

Map

Rickybobby

400 Haight St.
San Francisco, CA 94102

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Haight/ Fillmore

Details

Beef and bacon burger $10
Lobster mac and cheese $12
Crawshrimp grits $11
Sweet potatertots $5
Shaved apple salad $6
Chicken drumettes $3 each

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That same balance is achieved with the lobster mac and cheese, a new dish that has a creamy cheese sauce with just a hint of tang surrounding soft farfalle pasta, and is punctuated by bits of sweet corn and spinach (one must get one's greens somehow). Lobster mac and cheese is usually a gimmick — the cheese sauce overpowers the scant amount of lobster involved — but this version had large hunks of lobster scattered throughout, enough to make the seafood's presence known, and impressive for the $12 price tag.

A healthy dose of seafood was also found in the crawshrimp grits, another Broken Record favorite. Creamy grits were placed in the bottom of the bowl and covered with a rich sauce containing plenty of hunks of crawfish and bay shrimp, then topped with cheese and bits of house-made chorizo for an almost chili-like effect. It didn't hold up taste-wise to the best versions in the South, or even the version at Brenda's, but on a winter's night it was salty, creamy, warm, and satisfying.

Everyone's favorite is the sweet potatertots, a childhood classic made upscale with sweet potatoes instead of more pedestrian spuds. These were crusty and delicious, smaller than cafeteria tots by about half which made for more crispy surface area, and served with ketchup and a house-made ranch dressing. Ketchup was too sweet a dipping sauce — sweet potatoes have more than enough residual sugar already — but the ranch provided the much-needed saltiness the sweet potatoes lacked.

The interior of the place is an eclectic mix of Americana that fits with the cuisine. The walls are hung with oversize photos — a horse, a seagull, a dalmatian contemplating those rocks from Star Wars on one; a burger cross-section and a photo of a million flocking seagulls on the other. Above the chalkboard menu is aforementioned calf with two heads. The bathroom is graced with a framed print of William Holbrook Beard's 1870 painting of dancing bears known as Wall Street Jubilee — it's all a bit surreal, but it's also charming.

And not everything on the menu conspires to break your diet. A shaved apple salad over greens, showered with mizuna cheese and toasted cashews with a tangy honey vinaigrette, was a well-composed little number. Chicken drumettes with an Asian-inspired glaze weren't healthy, per se, but would do for daintier appetites. Same with the house-smoked salmon, served with daubs of crème fraîche and dill, though the kitchen of course couldn't resist putting them on slices of grilled croissant instead of the traditional rye crackers. The effect of the buttery croissant on the salmon is outstanding.

They do need a more interesting beer selection. For now, the restaurant is only offering a handful of familiar beers by the bottle like Anchor Steam and Lagunitas, along with house red and white wines. And the service was casual to a fault — it was busy both nights we came, and the kitchen and waitstaff didn't seem prepared for the crowds. But they admirably made up for lags in service with free dessert, and everyone around us at the communal picnic tables seemed to be in a forgiving mood: young and not-so-young, hipster and not-so-hip, sober and not-so-sober. It could have been the buzzy vibe, or the euphoria that comes after eating a day's worth of calories in one sitting, but at the end of the night, it seemed like everyone was having a righteously good time.

 
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2 comments
AimeeP
AimeeP

Warning: a douche fog has descended upon the northwest corner of Haight and Webster, it's named RickyDicky, I mean RIckybobby.

Scenario: My neighbor and I who live across the street go to RB to 'eat for sport'.  We tell the server we're neighbors and excited to eat there, ordering a salad, two mains, and a dessert to share.  Ten/fifteen minutes goes by and the server puts a bowl of grits down between us with one spoon.  I asked if we were getting our salad first, waiter's rudely responds "We don't do that here, but we can take the grits and reheat it for you after your salad" and walks away.  I go up to the line/kitchen/bar to ask for more silverware and small plates from the other waiter and ask "May I have some share plates and silverware please? Do you guys not course your meals here?"  Waiter's rude response "We don't serve food to share.  You should have checked us out on Yelp first".  hen he laughs at me.  I tell him I have lived in the neighborhood a long time, seen five business in this space and have never been treated so rudely.  My neighbor and I leave the place, as we do so the waiters facetiously yell at us across the full restaurant, "Thanks for coming, have a great night, we hope to see you real soon".  Wow.  I'm shocked.  

Later that night I'm walking my dogs, see my other neighbors leaving the place and they wave me over because they wanna see my puppy.  Waiter #2 comes to the door and harasses me, tells me my friends had a great time, and then starts bashing me to the staff inside the restaurant.  Wow.  My neighbors walk away saying "that guy is a douchebag, the food wasn't that good, and we had to ask for silverware".  At this point owner/chef James comes out to talk to me.  He tells me "Food is our priority here"  Neat James, way to reinvent the restaurant wheel, who would've thunk it?  I told him that in order to eat the food one has to be served, this is the restaurant service industry.  And is reheating my shrimp and grits really about the integrity of the food?  Telling me to check out Yelp before I walk into the new restaurant on my block, that's about the food?  The owner didn't get it, kept harping on about 'the food is the priority not the service' blah blah inflated ego blah, oh and they were so successful in their last location (why did they leave then?).  No real apology or acknowledgement of atrocious behavior.

There are yummy places to eat in our neighborhood with attentive staff, better and more varied menus and better drinks and hard alcohol.  Go there, enjoy our hood.  Douche Foggery RickyBobby is not indicative of this neighborhood, or even the amazing world class talented San Francisco food scene.  If you want to enjoy the Lower Haight, please do, but the key is to not engage in the tom foolery douch foggery that is Rickybobby.

anadromic
anadromic

Fuck this place. The service is TERRIBLE. Like shockingly, Seinfeld-episode level bad. We ordered a salad and some entrees. The waiter mumbled at us and brought a bowl of grits, placed it in the center of the table with one spoon and walked away. When we asked for some extra silverware and--you know--maybe some plates? he was very dickish and unconcerned, to say the least, with the fact that we might need utensils to eat the food. But when we asked why we wouldn't get our salad before our entrees, that's when things turned surreal. The manager--I assume--snobbishly advised us to "read the yelp reviews" in advance before coming so that we would know "that's how we do things." Like I said, fuck this place. All my friends, family, friends of friends, strangers on the street will be hearing about this. I hope it shuts down soon.

 
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