Friday, August 18, 2006

Range - San Francisco, CA
After the long-winded series about Wine Country, I'm reverting back to the ol' routine. Right now, I'm pretty backlogged, but there are a couple restaurants that are more relevant to be reported now since they have a changing menu. A summer menu has less meaning in the fall, though I would also argue San Francisco really has no literal seasons. Anyhoo, I had been talking about going to Range for a long time and finally made it this week.

The restaurant is divided into three sections: the bar area, the middle corridor (where we were seated), and the backroom. We got a good view of the kitchen (as well as patrons heading to the bathroom). The picture above is great for inserting irreverent captions.

We were seated next to a party of decibel-shattering fifty-somethings who were waxing poetic about diversity in San Francisco, among other things. Yeah. That place gets loud.


New England Steamer Clams 11

I was very pleased with this special of the night. The clams were just-cooked and extremely fresh. I started to neglect the celery broth and drawn butter, since I felt the clams were just great in their unadulterated form. I would have liked to have this entree size.

California bass with roasted gypsy peppers, melted fennel, sungold tomatoes and herb vinaigrette 19

The fish was perfectly pan-roasted, but inconsistently (over)seasoned. Any flavor from the fish was masked by the vinaigrette. My favorite were the roasted peppers, which were meltingly-tender, sweet, and smoky. Overall, the bass, though good, wasn't too memorable.

Pan roasted bavette steak with red gold potatoes, early girl tomatoes, broccoli rabe and a horseradish sauce 20

This was a very tender flap steak done just a tad under medium rare--in other words, perfect. Flavorful and meaty, it had a texture I preferred to the flatiron. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised by how soft yet lean the meat was. The bitter greens, the sweet tomatoes and the subtle horseradish all played together well with the steak.

Alaskan halibut with summer beans, chanterelle mushrooms and corn sauce 21

I was expecting the halibut to come out in a Le Creuset pot, so I was mildly disappointed when it didn't. Does anyone know if it's only a winter thing? In any case, the halibut was tender and delicate, its flesh accented with the sweet, light corn sauce. This very summer entree also contained my two favorite things: haricots and chanterelles.

Bittersweet chocolate souffle with cocoa nib creme anglaise 8

The desserts were the standouts of the meal that night; this chocolate souffle was probably my favorite, and I'm not a chocolate fiend. The chocolate was dark and bitter, and the dense, smooth bottom was intensely decadent. The creme anglaise was quite weak though, and contributed minimally in flavor.

Mariposa plum tart with cardamom ice cream 8

This was nearly identical to the tart at Delfina--flaky, buttery crust, tart fruit, and a gingery ice cream.

Fromage blanc filled crepes with balsamic glazed strawberries 8

The crepes themselves weren't so flavorful, but I loved the fromage blanc, which was whipped to a nice ethereal quality with good volume. I would have been fine with just the strawberries and the fromage, since the crepes were so bland. I should've run to Ti Couz to grab a plain crepe to replace it.

Overall, the food at Range made a strong first impression. One notch below Delfina in sophistication, Range's Californian fare is undeniably solid, but not exceptional. Nothing really stood out to me except for the chocolate souffle and the fromage blanc. I do, however, find the items very reasonably priced for the quality. I was pleasantly surprised with our bill; or maybe I just can't do simple mental addition.

842 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 282-8283

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you do those pictures ? If so, top marks. Food photography is an art that's difficult to master. Give my love to the Big Apple Keith in the UK

8/26/2006 12:35 PM  

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