Overpriced and underfed
Lunch Sunday at SPQR, a very hoity-toity upscale Italian joint in the lower Pacific Heights area of San Francisco. The food was excellent, what there was of it.
We were there to catch up with eldest granddaughter Tessa, who is celebrating getting a job as general manager of The Commissary, a newish Traci des Jardins restaurant in the Presidio. Tessa is not only smart and competent, she’s gorgeous.
This isn’t a large restaurant, seating maybe 40 or 50 people, including a couple of tables outside in front. Tessa had the table right in the front window, which was about the smallest 4 person table I’ve ever seen–I would not have been able to get into the chair on her side.
Squeezed in, we looked at the inventive, different rustic Italian menu. I ordered the Bucatini “straw and hay” with blue cheese, walnuts and sage brown butter. It sounded great. Then the waitress brought it to the table–and I asked her where the rest of it was.
The pasta was great, the sauce with scented with crispy sage was delicate and delectable. There just wasn’t enough of it, especially for $26.
Gail ordered a different pasta, which I can’t find on the menu posted online. All I know is that it had a serving of burrata on top, and Gail didn’t want to tell us how good it was so she wouldn’t have to share–not that I can blame her, the portion was as small as mine. Also $26.
I had iced tea. When I needed a refill, the waitress brought a tiny pitcher and verrrrry slowwwwwly poured about a half glass. That happened twice because I couldn’t get a decent sized refill the first time. They brought us 3 very good biscuits before the meal, with a miniature cube of butter and a miniscule ramekin of house made jam. This restaurant is stunningly parsimonious with every single bite. If there is ever a world wide famine, they know how to make the smallest amount of raw material go the furthest. Jesus Christ with the miracle of the loaves and fishes had nothing on SPQR.
Still hungry, I ordered dessert. The “peanut and milk chocolate pudding, malt and chocolate gelato” sounded good, and indeed it was. A dessert for $14 ought to be damn good. It was also a decent size–probably as much food as the pasta had been.
SPQR is indeed a very good place to eat. It helps if you have the appetite of a canary and the wallet of Warren Buffett. Lunch for 3 should not be $151 plus tip, and you should not be hungry when you leave. Maybe you ought to stop at Burger King first to take the edge off your appetite.