May 27, 2005

Il Buono #1

My parents-in-law-to-be are in town for the holiday weekend. We're eating our way through the best restaurants near the wedding location to select the rehearsal dinner location. Tonight's selection: Pisces. It's been remodeled. It's supposedly better than ever although I never experienced the ever part of that equation. It's definitely impressive in terms of food quality, though.

The tuna tartare was recommended by several people. They were not wrong. The tasting menu, at $55/person is probably one of the best values in the entire bay area for multiple-course, high-quality food. Tonight's courses included the famous tuna tartare, a crab cake sauteed in panko, stewed beef in a red wine sauce with provencale vegetables for which I requested the recipe (our server apologized but the chefs felt the recipe was too simple to write down, just goes to show, some things are earned through experience only--I'll use the same ingredients and follow his instructions, but I guarantee it will not turn out the same), a side dish of your choosing (baby asparagus with pancetta for me), and dessert... wow. I'm not a big dessert person. But this lemon sorbet custard in a hard tart shell over a raspberry reduction, amazing.

And of course, there was wine. We started with a full-bodied, very typical fruit-full and light on the dirty-funk-that-pinot-can-be bottle of Foley pinot noir. It was a good find and I felt like a good California wine guide for the Southern in-laws. The second selection, a bottle of Robert Sinskey pinot noir was very different in style. More complex, more subtle, and a longer finish. I know people who like this type of wine. Unfortunately, none of 'em were at the table and we all prefered the Foley. Oh well, it wasn't bad by any measure, just lighter and difficult to appreciate in the face of rich food and the heavier, fuller, richer Foley. We were in heaven and ready for bed by 9:00 PM. Also, the service was impeccable, and although that may have had something to do with sitting for dinner at 5:45 PM and being the only patrons in the entire restaurant (ahhh... east coast guests), it never went downhill as the courses continued and the restaurant filled up. One bonus: when the restaurant is full, the trains aren't as loud, because although the location in the old train station is quaint, when the place is empty, each passing locomotive is quite an event.

Stay tuned for the remaining restaurants of the weekend.

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