Out to lunch in the City
January is a slow time in the restaurant business. People are tired and broke after the holidays, so a little extra promotion is in order.
Opentable.com, where I make most of our reservations, has “dining about town” week, where many of their clients offer prix fixe meal to get customers in the doors. Bob Munson called us and suggested we all try Spruce for their dining about town lunch, and off we went.
Situated in a former Williams-Sonoma building in the Laurel Heights district of San Francisco, Spruce is a beautiful, warm, inviting establishment. The wall are covered in chocolate mohair, with faux ostrich chairs. ( I have no idea what “faux ostrich chairs” are, that’s what they say on their website. They felt good to sit in.) Design is critical in the modern restaurant, and they have left nothing to chance. I noticed a bus boy with a cordless iron pressing the tablecloth after he changed a table. Even the salt and pepper were super chic:
The only real disappointment of the experience was the dining about town menu–there was only 1 choice. It wasn’t a bad choice, in fact that’s what I had. Pumpkin soup, followed by braised short ribs on polenta. Bob and I both ordered it, and enjoyed it. I thought the soup was pretty darned rich, more butter and cream than pumpkin really needs. That didn’t stop me from finishing it, I noticed. The short ribs were marvelous, and at $17.95 the meal was very reasonable.
First, though, I had the house made country paté. Not only was it excellent, but they actually served it with a sufficient amount of perfectly done warm toast. Getting the bread right is often the big problem with patés and cheeses, but not here.
Gail and Nancy, though, went off the reservation, or at least the special menu. Gail ordered the French Omelet. Don’t know what makes it French, but it was good.
Nancy had the rabbit, wrapped in a sheet of pastry. She was surprised to find that the rabbit was ground, but still enjoyed her meal. As seems to be the norm for Spruce, the presentation was spectacular.
The big moneymaker for a restaurant is the wine, not the food. Bob found a California Syrah for $504, and an Austrailian red for over $1,100. I wonder how they arrive at a price like $504. I guess it looks more authoritative than $499. I’m sticking with iced tea and saving my money to actually go to Austrailia.
As you would expect, the service was smooth and professional. And our two lunches, theoretically $17.95 each, ended up costing $90 with tax and tip. Gail had a little wine, I had the paté, it adds up. Still, it was an excellent lunch and a fine experience being out with friends on a day of perfect weather in the City. Glad we went.