Food Adventure Team

Exploring San Francisco, one restaurant at a time.

Archive for October, 2008



(In honor of those two
crazy mavericks
for president!)

3316 17th Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

Suggested by Josh S.

In attendance:


Maverick was brilliant.

When we first sat down, the waitress brought us complimentary tiny cups of house-made apple cider (the non-alcoholic, non-bubbly kind). Very spicy-sweet and tasty! There was also nice crusty bread with butter to nosh on while we waited for our appetizers.

To start, we shared:

  • Roasted Monterrey Sardines (candied meyer lemon, herbs, garlic mayonnaise, toast points, watercress, malt vinaigrette) – I’m not a sardine fan so I wasn’t super thrilled by this one. Too fishy, but I think that’s just how sardines are. I could tell that if you like sardines, this would be a really nice dish.
  • Roasted Persimmon Salad (sugar glazed Fuyu persimmon, spiced pecans, Little Gem lettuce, honey mustard vinaigrette) – I’m not big on persimmons either, but I really liked what they were dressed with, and the spiced pecans were awesome.
  • Fried Stuffed Padron Peppers (goat and cheddar cheese stuffed spicy peppers, smoked tomato relish, savoyed cabbage, creme fraiche vinaigrette) – these were nice and hearty (if not a bit messy). Very tasty, though nothing that made me want to sing to the heavens.

Andy ordered us a bottle of red wine that was quite nice, but I don’t remember what it was. I’m not a wine connoisseur so I won’t pretend to try to review it.

Andy and I got the Grilled Liberty Duck Breast (American Fall “Five Spice” rub, sauteed rapini greens, Sunchoke and potato puree, pomegranate seeds, duck jus). This was absolutely incredible. It was one of the tastiest things I have eaten EVER. Beautifully rare duck meat enveloped in a generously seasoned crust of fat. Sunchoke and potato puree was mindblowingly savory. All flavors worked together amazingly; it was a masterful balance of salty, sweet, umami. And the portion size was so generous that I didn’t mind sharing quite a few bites with my dining partners!

Leah and Laurie got the Southern Fried Chicken (Buttermilk soaked Rocky Jr. free range chicken, collard greens with country ham, mashed sweet potatoes, brown chicken gravy). The skin was beautifully crisp and the inside was wonderfully moist. Some of the best fried chicken I’ve ever had. Didn’t try any of the sides, so I can’t comment on them.

Josh got the Braised Long Ranch Pork Cheeks (Roasted pasilla chilies, butternut squash, Garbanzo beans, sweet cippolini onions, Ancho chili pork jus, lime creme fraiche). It was amazing to watch his head explode as he slowly devoured his meal. Eyes wide with wonder, he offered me a bite. A salty, crispy, fatty miracle.

Cricket and Tracey got the Strawberry Mountain Flat Iron Steak (Oregano and rosemary marinated steak, Brussels sprouts, truffle tater tots, parmesan peppercorn sauce, Maverick steak sauce). I didn’t try it so I can’t comment.

We all shared a couple of orders of Mac n’ Cheese. Pretty tasty, though it wasn’t as super amazing as the rest of the dishes. Luka’s mac n’ cheese is better.

For dessert we shared the Pumpkin Pie (Whipped vanilla creme fraiche, star anise caramel sauce) and the Chocolate Bread Pudding (Bi-Rite’s Malted Vanilla Peanut Brittle Milk Chocolate ice cream, spiced pecans, chocolate sauce). Wow, just wow. Best pumpkin pie I’ve ever had, and that star anise caramel sauce was otherworldly. Bread pudding was not what I would normally expect bread pudding to be like — it had more of muffin-like consistency, rather than chunks of bread soaked in batter. No matter; it was completely delcious.

Service was perfectly acceptable. Waitress mixed up our order a little (didn’t bring one of the sides we ordered, and only brought one bread pudding instead of two– though there was some confusion while we ordered, so it was understandable). It wasn’t a big deal though because we had just the right amount of food as it was. Reservation process was simple and everyone was really nice (you’d be amazed at the number of restaurants that don’t seem to want to help you give them money). Timing of food was impeccable. Ambiance was really nice: Dark, cozy and urban-rustic; modern decor accenting warm dark wood walls.

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398 Hayes St.
San Francisco, CA 94102

Suggested by Heather

In attendance:

Josh S.

Overall, a wonderful culinary experience. High quality, well-prepared food. Fantastic drinks. Totally indulgent. We shared a bunch of appetizers, all of which were to die for, and each got our own entrees. Dessert was semi-shared because we were pretty full by then. Service was excellent. Ambiance was lovely — feels classy without being stuffy or pretentious.

We shared:

  • Escargots in shell, garlic herb butter, crusty bread
    YUM. Better eaten alone, not on the bread (though the bread was good, it masked some of the yumminess of the snails).
  • Antipasti plate, cured meats by Fra’Mani, Zoe’s & La Quercia, olives, pickled vegetables, crostini
    YUM. And those little red peppers are SPICY.
  • 3-cheese plate
    Josh and Besha chose the cheeses so I don’t know what we got. All I know is that they were all amazingly delcious.

Besha got:

  • French Onion Soup
    It looked amazing and full of gooey cheese.
  • Scharffen Berger chocolate Pot de creme, creme chantilly


  • Frisee (baby leeks vinaigrette, house-smoked bacon, fried duck egg, fines herbs, caviar)
  • A cocktail I can’t remember
  • Pan seared black cod, sweet corn sauce, Manila clams, chorizo, wilted chard
  • Fig crostini, fennel ice cream

    I tried the fennel ice cream because it sounded so weird! It was like nothing I have ever tasted. I exclaimed, “HOLY BALLS!” People laughed at me, then tried it and realized that was the only appropriate response. So, so amazingly good.

  • Pillow Talk (?) cocktail (can’t remember what was in it, crazy stuff though)
    I had a tiny sip of this. It was weird. Looked super creamy and thick, but tasted light and fruity.


  • Za’taar spiced grilled scallops, black garlic farro risotto, winter squash puree, pumpkin seeds
    I actually wasn’t super impressed with this. I’m not normally one to complain about portion size because usually restaurants serve enormous portions and I think that’s stupid. But this went too far in the opposite direction. I mean come on, THREE scallops? Though I wasn’t as hungry as I thought I would be when I was done, but I was still a bit disappointed. And aside from the size of the dish, it was just kinda “eh”. Some bites of 2 of the 3 scallops had a kind of off taste– like dirt almost. I wasn’t sure if it was supposed to be like that or not, but it wasn’t very pleasant. The Za’taar spice wasn’t very prominent. The winter squash puree was pretty much just that (although its subtle sweetness nicely offset the scallops’ flavor), and I did enjoy the nuttiness of the risotto and pumpkin seeds. On the whole, I thought the dish was just so-so, which presented a stark contrast to the exquisiteness of the rest of the food we ate. Next time I’ll get the beef cheeks, for I know they are amazing.
  • Kubler Swiss Absinthe
  • Scharffen Berger chocolate Pot de creme, creme chantilly (to share)
    I basically had a heart attack from the yummy of this dessert. It was A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. Super rich and chocolatey, with a generous dollop of whipped cream on top.


  • Red wine braised beef cheeks, smashed potatoes, English peas, roasted baby vegetables, horseradish gremolata
    I tried a bite of this the previous time we went to Absinthe — it is incredible. Fork tender (really!) and flavorful. The sides it comes with are very tasty as well.
  • Kubler Swiss Absinthe


  • Red wine braised beef cheeks, smashed potatoes, English peas, roasted baby vegetables, horseradish gremolata
  • “Absinthe Lemonade” – non-alcoholic, containing ginger syrup, fresh lemon-lime juice, ginger ale and a topping of cranberry juice (I think)

Absinthe at Absinthe. Photo by Ed

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