Sunday, July 31, 2005

Sub-Fabulous: Piperade & Millenium

Piperade and Millenium are the last two restaurants we've tried. We had enjoyable meals at both restaurants, but will likely not return to either.

Piperade's space is actually quite fabulous. The space is warm and elegant with wood beams on the ceilings, wide-planked hardwood floors, and a large communal table at the restaurant's center. The menu is a fun read, including dishes such as a sheep's milk and ham terrine and foie gras sauteed with Monterey squid. Everything on the menu seemed so creative and unusual to us, perhaps because we're very unfamiliar with Basque cuisine. I settled on an apple and calamari salad, steamed pacific snapper with fried garlic, and orange blossom beignets. While my dishes were all fairly tasty, they read better on the menu. We tried a basque white wine, which was really disappointing. It was fairly tasteless and had a effervescence reminiscent of alka seltzer, rather than a sparkling wine. Oh well.

We visited Millenium with a vegetarian-centric group. The atmosphere was perfect for a big group -- we were seated at a large round table. Again, the food was complex, interesting sounding, and fairly good, but nothing superb. I started with a warm spinach salad before moving on to some sort of tamale and a cobbler for dessert. It was nice to see my vegetarian friends have a whole menu from which to select, but I did feel a little bad for the carnivores of the group. While I'm sure they enjoyed the food, I think a nice, meat-serving restaurant would have pleased them more. Again, oh well.

Monday, July 04, 2005

To Our Friends at Sumi!

I think Zagat's ratings are generally right on the money. I like that the ratings are an average of many people's opinions. (The only rating site I favor more than Zagat is Rotten Tomatoes, which provides movie ratings based on an average of critics' ratings). Aren and I found ourselves let down by Zagat this past Saturday when we visited House, a contemporary Asian restaurant in North Beach that is rated 26 for food, a rating equal to Chapeau's. We had read that the atmosphere is cramped and noisy, so we were prepared for a less than romantic evening. We weren't, however, prepared for the disappointing food. The food's main issue was overpowering, not-so-delicious sauces. Aren's black cod ended up tasting like wasabi, and my sea bass' flavor was spoiled by the salty-even-for-soy-sauce soy based sauce. The best part of our meal was definitely the apple crumb pie we had -- odd for an Asian place!

We originally had Sunday reservations at Jack Falstaff, the newest addition to the Plumpjack family (ie, Gavin's family). After our Saturday experience, I cancelled, wanting to go to a place I knew to be reliable and super-cozy -- Sumi. Aren and I have wine coming out of our ears, so we decided to bring a bottle to dinner, paying the very reasonable $15 corkage at Sumi. I had always been embarrassed to do the corkage thing in the past, as I was worried that it would be a slight to the sommelier. I was wrong! We brought the bottle of Chassagne-Montrachet Morgeot
Clos de la Chapelle Duc de Magenta 1998 that we had picked up in France and made sure to offer some to our waiter. Our waiter offered a taste of his taste to his partner who was in the restaurant at the time. His partner turned out to be one of the restaurant's owners and an ex-winemaker. We spent a good part of the evening chatting with him and later Sumi about wine, restaurants, and real estate!

It was really a magical night. It was truly pleasurable to see how wine and the simple act of sharing can bring people together.