In San Francisco less than 24-hours and have had two absolutely terrific meals, lunch yesterday at one of my long time favorites, Swan Oyster Depot
, long lines, even at 2pm, casual atmosphere, and that is stretching the use of the word casual, and absolutely pristine seafood. My bride and our friend Jan had soft shell crab (yes I know, East coast, but that's what they wanted
). which is the only item Swan will cook, and then only if after the lunch rush. John and I split oysters, a couple of crab louie salad with house made dressing and meaty, of the sea flavor clams, best I have ever had the pleasure of eating. Swan Oyster Depot is one of those places that everyone wishes was located in the city where they live.
In the list of types of restaurants I now have to add to the Wish there was one in Chicago
list is Basque. Piperad, which came highly recommended by Jay Veregge, executive chef at The Big Water Grille in Incline Village (more to come on our terrific meal at Big Water
), hit all the high spots, casual, but with great attention to detail, slightly off-beat, in that uniquely San Francisco fashion, atmosphere and interesting wine list.
In addition to peppery olive oil and bread from Acme Bakery four of us shared-
- Haricort vert and fresh fig salad with "Perfect Blondes" Delicious, light dressing, blondes were crisp, lightly toasted whole walnuts. Fig was fresh, quartered, there were 4-walnuts as well.
- Butter lettuce and fresh herb salad. Refreshing palate cleansing, very fresh lettuce with integrity.
- Warm Sheep's milk cheese and ham terrine with aged sherry. thin layers, stacked like a deck of cards, of cheese and ham, then pan fried so crisp and warm. A killer dish.
- Piquillo peppers stuffed with goat cheese, pine nuts and golden raisins. Tasty, but the flavors were a little diffused and the cheese ended up tasting more like a commercial cheese.
- Toy box tomatoes tartlet with basil and moscatel. Tomatoes killed, tartlet tasted a little like premade puff pastry dough, but I am sure it was fresh, or at least in-house, made.
Big Plates (Kandiak):
- Piperade with sauteed serrano ham and poached egg. Pipperade is Basque soffrito like mix of tomato, peppers and garlic, the waitress compared it to Ratatouille. Pipperade base, crisp ham, soft cooked egg, a wonderful mix of flavor.
- Tuesday special; Sauteed calamari in ink sauce "txipiroa" Baby squid loosely stuffed with onion, bread and serrano ham, along with the wee little legs, ringed around a mound of inky black rice. Deep rich, verging on murky flavor, intense, of the sea, powerful, a real stand out. Very black inky, a drop or two on the white table cloth really stained.
- Orange Blossom beignets. Light, but not much orange blossom flavor and a certain dullness that said made advance.
- Warm apple tart with vanilla ice cream. OK, fine, but not great.
- Caramel custard "koka" exactly like a flan, a good flan at that. Not too dense, pool of caramel.
- Chocolate and hazelnut Biarritz Rocher. Deep chocolate flavor, light intense, very solid, hard to cut through, hazelnut crust on bottom. Not to say the hazelnut crust was not delicious, but I think there was a bit of caramel in it to make it very solid. A very tasty dessert.
Fritz pinot noir bought at the winery, Piperad did not charge us corkage, and a bottle of Txomin Etxaniz, Txakolina Gipuzkoa, Spanish white wine, perfect with the initial lighter courses.
- All in all a terrific diner, interesting decor, clientele, artwork, location, meal and Basque to boot.
1015 Battery Street
San Francisco, CA 94111
Swan Oyster Depot
1517 Polk St
San Francisco, CA 94109
The Big Water Grille
341 Ski Way
Incline village, NV 89451
Jay C. Veregge