Tuesday, September 12, 2006

I'm back from my blogging hiatus. I am now fully settled, as well as armed with wireless internet in my new apartment. I also have a kitchen with applicances. I've committed myself to cooking, but so far I've cooked one meal and it took a whole two minutes to cook and prep. With school and recruiting in full swing, I'll probably be eating at weird hours, but I'll be eating, photographing, and blogging nonetheless.


The Quest to get into Quince

This summer, I had a list of restaurants to be tried. After my internship ended, I had around two weeks for about a dozen restaurants--some of which required reservations weeks in advance. You can guess by the title of this post that Quince was on my list. I had quite a severe craving for good pasta, and it would be a while before I made it to Manhattan, so it was a do-or-die. The first time I called in, they told me they had an opening on a thursday, a week after I would have left. I called a good many times after, and left my name on the waitlist for every day of the week, except those on which I had other reservations. The difficulty and inconvenience just made me even more determined; they didn't stand a chance. I emailed people, posted on Craiglist, and even hatched a plan that would hypothetically involve a certain Mrs. Doubtfire and/or an Inconvenient Truth.

Well, it didn't come down to that (but what a saga it would have been). After my persistent calling, a spot opened up on a Wednesday night at 6.

Glorious carbs

The meal started off with some delightful bread rolls and sticks. I loved the savory olive oil rolls on the left.

Maine lobster, ruby grapefruit and soy bean salad 16

This was probably one of my favorite courses of the night. The lobster was fresh and tender, and the sweet and creamy sauce was a great accent. The beans were exceptionally fresh and crunchy; the grapefruit and radish were a great combo. This was a great summer dish, with light flavors and fresh fruit and produce.

Sformato of eggplant with slow roasted tomato, basil & Olivestri olive oil 11

I was quite interested in trying the sformato, which was an eggplant foam. While this was good, it was rather subdued in flavor. The distinct flavor of eggplant wasn't pronounced at all, and the overpowering cheese and marinara sauce did not help matters.

Pappardelle with Hoffman Farm hen 17

I had heard quite a lot about Quince's legendary pastas, so we decided to skip entrees and order three pastas instead. They were accommodating and portioned them individually, so we each received a platter of 3 pastas--a pasta tasting, if you will.

The papparadelle with hen was almost perfect, but oversalted. The pasta--textured but ethereal--lived up to the reputation. The hen had a great intense flavor, which I couldn't get enough of. This would have been flawless, if they just lowered the sodium notch a bit.

Gnocchi with monkfish cheeks braised in sweet & hot peppers 18

I'd also heard about the legendary gnocchi, but I ended up being less than whelmed. Once again, the pasta itself was great--meltingly soft and light--but this was just so sweet. I couldn't get over how there was nothing flavorwise to balance the already sweet peppers with the gnocchi. The hard monkfish with soft gnocchi was a great texture contrast, though.

Tagliolini with leeks, white wine, chanterelle & lobster mushrooms 18

I didn't go through all that work to get in without getting an overwhelmingly shroomish dish. This was, hands down, my favorite pasta of the night. The taglioni was, like the other pastas, wonderful as usual. The mushrooms were absolutely divine. Already pungent and earthy, the addition of white wine and truffle oil added even greater depth of flavor. I really couldn't get enough of this one; I would have settled for a whole order or two for myself.

Citrus lace millefloglie with blackberry ice cream & lemon cream 9

While the appetizers and pastas were great, the desserts were really nothing worth noting. Just your run-of-the-mill millfloglie with berry and citrusy flavors.

Middleton Farm raspberry & almond tortino with creme fraiche sherbet 9

Another soporific dessert. I don't remember much of it, except that the tortino was too sweet.

I wish that Quince's desserts would have lived up to the savory courses, but it was a good meal overall. I loved the taglioni so much that I could've been served a Nobu chocolate lava cake and walked away happy. The service was very attentive, but how could it not be, when they have a lookout platform of 5 servers just watching your every move? Example: I reach for the last breadstick, and while my arm is still outstretched, a server immediately brings out a new platter. Bravo.

In terms of value, well, it's expensive. The prices are high, the portions are small, but taste really makes up for it. A word of advice: plan ahead. Though, some ridiculous name-dropping would have been fun.

1701 Octavia St.
San Francisco, CA 94109
(415) 775-8500

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