Tag Archives: SOMA restaurants

Bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin (Fringale SF)

BACON-WRAPPED PORK TENDERLOIN

Bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin (Fringale SF)

Bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin (Fringale SF)

The pork loin at Fringale is about as good as any pork dish I’ve had at a restaurant all year.  Thick, hammerhead-sized slices of tender pork are choked by their semi-crisp bacon muffler and, with a swirl through the braised savoy cabbage and a semi-sweet caramelized onion jus, it’s simple and sumptuous. What a treat to get cabbage when it’s done so miraculously: tender, crunchy, and looks like little bits of braised apple in there to complement the pork. It’s a perfectly balanced dish.

Fringale’s been around for over a generation in restaurant years; doesn’t get the yelpies or real press it deserves; but retains a status as a SOMA neighborhood gem and still serves up awesome dishes like this one. The owner is often there and when he’s not, un autre bon ami amicably fills in, and they are great fun to hang out with at the bar. They’re good storytellers, manage a busy tiny space with calm and grace, and make you want to go back just for an appetizer and glass of wine.

Bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin (Fringale SF)

Bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin (Fringale SF)

And, not for overkill, but if the mood strikes…the potatoes gratin are wicked. See below for your personal ramekin of cheesy potato glory.

Fringale's got wicked au gratin

Fringale’s got wicked au gratin

The Grade: Awesome (highest grade)
The Damage: $19 (great deal for SF)
The Skinny: Fringale restaurant
570 4th St, San Francisco, CA 94107
Phone: (415) 543-0573

Spring Lamb Dinner

Spring Lamb Dinner

What a phenomenal dinner. Coco500 (Chef Mike Morrison and company) recently put on a 4-course lamb dinner, paired with wines from A Donkey & Goat winery. Every dish was fantastic, and each portion of lamb perfectly cooked, smartly seasoned, and sweetly plated. The flavor combinations were subtle, letting the meat be the rightful star.

Course 1: Grilled Lamb Heart

Lamb heart is phenomenal, and should be all over America. Lamb heat has great flavor: primarily with a slightly sweet steak flavor, but it also reveals a more subtle tone of foie gras’ phermone-go-wild fatty passion and a tiny tang of earthy liver. It’s also full of Omega-3, so go get ’em.
Grilled Lamb Heart Salad with cheese & wild fennel pollen

Course 2: Lamb Shoulder Cavatelli

Each portion of this dish–lamb, spring beans, house-made cavatelli pasta–is roughly the same size, making each bite a flavor balance. Soft, juicy, crunchy, chewy, meaty, cheesy work a mouth into bliss; this is an excellent pasta. The peppery pecorino gives a light heat to round it out. I could have eaten a few bowls of this.

Note: Coco500 often has a great meaty pasta or two on their menu, but not always the cavatelli (e.g., lamb shoulder pappardelle). The pasta’s house-made; good stuff.
Lamb Shoulder Cavatelli

Course 3: Lamb Mixed Grill

Another really remarkable dish that displays the horizon-wide range of flavors from various parts of the lamb. The generous cut of lamb loin was bright pink and sweetly juicy; the spicy lamb sausage (mostly shoulder, but some trotters and a bit of liver ground in for texture and flavor) was excellent, as was the lamb roulade (roll). White beans toned down the wallops of various lamb bites well.
Mixed Lamb Grill (showing loin and white beans)

Mixed Lamb Grill (showing spicy lamb sausage and lamb roulade)
Course 4: Cheese Platter

A perfect conclusion to a great meal. Ewe cheese, honey, dates, sliced apple, and nutty bread. The cheese had medium texture with a pale yellow milkiness and just enough edge to work well with the other components of the dessert platter. The honey was fantastic. Worked great with the Roussanne. Ewe Cheese - Dessert Platter

Spring Lamb Dinner Wines: A Donkey and Goat

Big thanks to Tracey and Jared of A Donkey and Goat for such smart pairings with Chef Mike Morrison’s lamb dishes. Their wines were well-balanced and easy to drink; I look forward to seeing more of what they’re doing at their young yineyard (since 2003). They’re based over in Berkeley and have a seasonal newsletter and blogs available from their site.

A Donkey and Goat: WIne Pairings for Lamb

Course 1: A Donkey and Goat – Grenache Rose´

This wine goes in the Rose´ Renaissance that seems to be happening all over this year. A nice light flavor with a cheery, cherry nose, this wine flirted well with the rich lamb heart opening act. Not too sweet but softly floral (more like dried flowers) and fruity enough to tease the palate open.

Course 2: A Donkey and Goat – Four Thirteen

The name ‘four thirteen’ represents the four varietals in this red blend wine, and denotes the number of varietals (13) required to make Chateneuf du Pape. With the cavatelli, this was superb. I’d love to have this again, with anything. Even getting a third of a Chateneuf du Pape is pretty high up there, like a national grape-hood of bishops.

Course 3: A Donkey and Goat – Syrah (Fenaughty Vineyard)

Hearty meat, hearty wine, and I heart Syrah wines big time. This Rhone blend is strong but not bulging with testosterone from the gym; it really worked well with the lamb sausage and the thick, juicy lamb loin (which was like the little lamb version of prime rib). A bit of pepper after blackberries, a solid player with a nice, long finish.

Course 4: A Donkey and Goat – Tamarindo (Roussanne, El Dorado)

The Roussanne was a perfect touch to end the meal. Great sipping with this, against the platter of honey, dates, ewe cheese, thin apple slices, and nutty bread. A crisp, clean white with citrus and pear notes, just sweet enough but miles from cloying.

Whew; what an awesome dinner!

The Grade: Awesome / Exceptional

(my highest grade)

The Damage: $65

(4-course dinner) + $30 for wine pairings

The Skinny: Coco500

500 Brannan Street (at 4th Street), SF CA 941107
Phone: (415) 543-2222
Hours: Mon – Thurs: 11:30 am to 10 pm
Friday: 11:30 am to 11 pm
Saturday: 5:30 pm to 11 pm
Closed Sundays

Website: http://www.coco500.com

Grilled Lamb Heart (Coco 500, SF)

Lamb Heart  – Grilled Lamb Heart Salad

Grilled Lamb Heart Salad, Coco 500 (SF)

Unless you grow up in a culture that appreciates the many wonderful parts of animals and how to prepare and cook them properly, you might cringe a bit when reading a menu that offers lamb heart. But in the hands of Coco 500 Chef Mike Morrison, this is one of the best lamb dishes you might ever eat.

The heart slices are layered across the long, narrow plate and delicately decorated with arugula, generous smatterings of super-soft cheese, and a sprinkling of fennel pollen.  The fennel pollen is wondrously subtle and plays out as one of those rare, unique ingredients that can integrate various tones and flavors into a harmonious dish.

But the heart is the, uh, heart of the dish.  It is awesome and should be on more menus., if only more people would put their adventure mouth on when dining out.

Grilling Lamb Heart – Flatiron

An entire lamb heart itself is brined, sliced into thirds, flatiron-grilled to a lovely warm rare, and has a fantastic flavor with simple sea salt, ground pepper, and extra virgin olive oil. Lamb heart tastes much like a steak-foie gras hybrid with an earthy hint of liver. The meat has wonderful tones, is absurdly tender, and would be a conversation starter for anyone who can get out of their own prejudices to try it. The foie gras taste is less rich and overwhelming, and the liver is there ever so slightly; heart’s just a great meat. 

Lamb Hearts - Seared by Flatiron - Coco 500 (SF)

The Grade: Awesome / Exceptional (my highest grade)

The Skinny: Coco 500  – 500 Brannan St, San Francisco CA

Phone: (415) 543-2222

Website: http://www.coco500.com

Chef: Michael Morrison

Coco500 on Urbanspoon

Duck Fat French Fries (Orson, SF)

DUCK FAT FRENCH FRIES

Duck Fat French Fries, Orson SF
Duck Fat French Fries, Orson SF

THE DISH: DUCK FAT FRIES

Is duck fat an aphrodisiac? My bet is yes. Man, duck fat is the (wonderful) path of wickedness for French fries. These have to rank among the best (let’s say top 3) French fries in San Francisco. This is the kind of snack you might fantasize about, if you enjoy heart palpitations with your cocktails, and probably worth the trip to Orson alone. The fries are fantastically crispy and slender cut, some lean and sexy potatoes to be sure. Perfectly tanned via a quick fry dip in the duck fat pool, there’s just no competition. And slipping their little starch-toes into the Manolo Blahniks of sauce—an awesome brown butter béarnaise—they are truly the beauty queen pageant winner of all fries. They make your heart race, literally and figuratively. They’re so rich, you probably won’t want dinner.


Makes you want to put all kinds of things in duck fat, though.  

 

THE GRADE: AWESOME (5 out of 5)

 

THE DAMAGE: $7

 

THE SKINNY: ORSON, SAN FRANCISCO CA

508 4th Street (between Bryant and Brannan Streets)
San Francisco, CA 94107

Phone: (415) 777-1508
Website:
http://orsonsf.com/menus.html

Hours: Tuesday – Saturday: dinner menu 5-10pm; bar + lounge 5pm to close



Orson on Urbanspoon