The first time I had escargot, I was still a teenager and I was ready for a double-dog-dare type of gross-out payoff. Instead, it was a dish whose protein base had been all but rendered indistinguishable by butter and garlic, not that that’s the worst thing in the world.
Anyway, Bisou Bistronomy in the Castro is now serving a $10 Escargot Burger. It’s more of a slider, served with aioli, coleslaw, tomato, caramelized shallots, and a demi-glaze sauce. Brock Keeling noted in 7×7 that you can add foie gras, but I didn’t want to gild this particular lily. It was quite good on its own (which is to say, fairly larded up with condiments already).
[jump] Using the maxim about not observing sausage production as my guide, I didn’t pepper Chef Nicolas Ronan with many questions about how he makes his snail patties, although I did learn that he the gastropod mollusks come from Burgundy. From texture to seasoning, I said it resembled a crab cake more than anything, and he didn’t disagree. Still, the entire front-of-house staff seemed a little surprised that I’d ordered one.
I admit that snails aren’t the most appetizing creatures (for Escargots a la Bourguignonne, Larousse Gastronomie instructs us to “Scrape away the chalky substance sealing the shells”), and while the dish has royal connotations in America, snails still sound to me like something a humble vineyard worker would eat after clearing the pests from the fields. But if you’ve ever had grasshopper tacos or cold jellyfish salad, an escargot burger isn’t going to be the weirdest thing you ever ate.
Bisou Bistronomy, 2367 Market, 556-6200.