CONFESSIONS OF A                                                                  
A San Francisco Girl's Down and Dirty Adventures in the Culinary Playground

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Out to Pasture (Fish and Farm -- San Francisco, CA)

It may not seem like I love you very much, O readers of mine, but I promise you that the 30 minutes I am taking to write this are the first free 30 minutes I've had in 4 days. I shit you not.

Fish and Farm did not suck ass the first time I went, oh no, it did not. In fact, it was so good that I planned to return on the first* night Jon and I were going out sans Diner #3.

On my first visit to the joint, for a very special lady's birthday, I left Jon & Diner #3 at home with a bottle of boob juice (back when Diner #3 would still take a bottle -- no such luck these days). I liked it enough that I really wanted Jon to try it, so I sacrificed a meal at any number of tried and true favorites to pay a repeat visit. Big mistake.

On my solo trip, I had a poached egg with parsnip puree and mushroom ragout. I'm a sucker for a poached egg, and I enjoyed this one enough that I ordered it again the second time. I then had me some fish and chips because, well, I'm also a sucker for those. They were great, if not as great as the ones at Fish. They also came with a myriad of condiments, which was more fun than your momma on a Tuesday. Plus, who doesn't feel important when their dish has 17 condiments to go with it? My dining companions may have had much classier entrees, but I had the fucking condiments, yo.

We also ordered just about every side on the menu. I was partial to the sweet potatoes -- sliced and spiced, and the Robuchon potatoes -- an homage to Joel Robuchon's dreamy puree.

Side note: some of the lovelies dining with us christened our waiter (who had a pageboy haircut) "Lord Fontleroy." I'm still laughing about it now. Sleep deprivation will do that.

The only thing that really didn't suit me was the "frozen" chocolate pot de creme. Everyone else at the table was cooing over it, but I was not into that shit at all. First of all, it wasn't frozen (on my return visit, the frozen was omitted from the name of the dish, so they get points there), and second the caramel and chocolate was cloying at best. I couldn't even get through a third of it and it had 3 of my favorite things: chocolate, caramel and marshmallows. Quite possibly the biggest disappointment of 2008 so far, aside from Daniel leaving SPQR.

Still, the tally was good enough that I returned. We did the nightly tango that is putting Diner #3 to bed, waved goodbye to the sitter and attempted to hail a cab in this godforsaken town on a Friday night. Seriously, why is it so hard to get a fucking cab? I live at the intersection of Busy St. and Main Artery Ave., so it shouldn't be all that hard. We had a 7:30 reservation, and once in the cab I looked at my phone and saw it was 7:27. So I called F&F and said we'd be about 5 minutes late. In the snarkiest voice possible, the host said "So you mean 5 minutes from NOW?" Um, well, sort of, except I mean 8 minutes from now, and 5 minutes from the reservation time. This wouldn't be so annoying if the following scenario hadn't happened.

Our cab driver was a super duper kickass rockstar and got us there in 3 minutes (it wasn't super far, but still). So we were on time. The host then feels like the dick he was on the phone and stammers a bit while thanking us for calling in the first place (which he could have done when we called instead of being an asshole). Tells us they need to rearrange a table for us and we can go wait in the lounge for 5-10 minutes. So my lateness was going to be a problem because....?

We kick it in the lounge and bump into Alder - that's the good part. The bad part? 20 fucking minutes passes. I'm impatient, having visions of my child in his demonically possessed crying stage with the sitter (he slept the whole time so I need to just chillax already), so I send Jon into figure out the sitchy. He returns and says "well, now I get why it's taking so long -- they are rearranging the whole dining room." Who put who in the what now? Rearranging the dining room? Yeppers -- they cleared everyone out -- at 7:45 on a Friday night -- to rearrange the dining room. Um, OK. Still this gave me time to ponder why, other than alliteration, they've named the restaurant "Fish and Farm." Shouldn't it be "Fish and Meat?" Or "Ocean and Farm?"

By the time we sat down, it was 7:55, or mighty pissed in Restaurant Whore time. But I smile and I sit and we order.

I'm already feeling a bit jackassy since Jon's huckleberry cocktail was awful (Jon's note: no balance, no acidity). Here we are trying to pretend we can still rock it with the cool kids and so far we are experiencing nothing but suckage. I express my apologies to my darling husband, who reminds me that bitching to one another about a sucktastic experience is one of our favorite things to do. True dat.

We start anew by ordering the oyster special: two oysters with a grapefruit granita and two barbecued with a decent kick to them. The bbq bivalves were really great but the chilled ones were hideous. They lacked any sort of harmony whatsoever and just generally would have benefitted from, well, not being there.

We start to notice that other tables are receiving an amuse bouche. I remember this from my previous visit and figure that we'll get ours out of order since the restaurant is obviously a little frazzled this evening. Nope. Not so much. Never got it. It was obviously just overlooked, but after making us wait 25 minutes for a reservation that we were on time for even though we called to say we *might* be late as a courtesy, they really should have paid enough attention to at least given us what everyone else in the damn restaurant was getting.

We also had the grilled squid with citrus and fennel, and that was yummy in my tummy. The warm escarole salad that was clearly dressed by someone who had never heard of acid before (hey, maybe they talked to the bartender!) was lame. Very disappointing. At this point Jon is trying to figure out how to classify the cuisine and asks me what I would call the food. I reply, "hit or miss?" Hilarity ensues.

More Robuchon potatoes, which I still love but Jon proclaims to be "meh." Me, what with my Irish blood an all, means I've met precious few taters that I haven't loved.

Our pork chop arrives and it takes us about five full minutes to figure out whether the chop or the potato gratin is the entree. The chop was teeny and the gratin gargantuan. Not only that but the piggy was overcooked and on the dry side, just all around disappointing. The gratin was OK, not great and honestly, what do these people have against a real vegetable? I think there are 2 green vegetables amongst all of the entrees. Back to the pork: Jon complained about it for days. DAYS.

Service was all over the place. It was like we weren't even there. Food would show up but then not get cleared. It took forever for them to realize we were done and wanted our check (more visions of demonically possessed child). Silverware was brought after food. It generally seemed like a huge clusterfuck and like no one was running the show. It would have been infuriating if it wasn't so funny.

We skipped dessert. When we rose to leave, the host was suddenly all sunshine and roses. Too little, too late loverboy.


"To eat is a necessity. To eat intelligently is an art."
-- La Rochefoucauld

*Except when Jon's mom was here and we gave Diner #3 a little grandma time so we could go see "Juno." He slept then, too. Why doesn't he do that when I'm here? Clearly he is perfecting his ability to break my psyche already.

P.S. I forgot about this.


Blogger Derrick said...

Maybe Fish and Farm are both verbs. You know, "We get our food either by fishing or by farming."

Or perhaps that's too clever. Or not clever enough. :)

3/04/2008 10:07 PM  
Blogger Alice Q. Foodie said...

"Here we are trying to pretend we can still rock it with the cool kids and so far we are experiencing nothing but suckage. I express my apologies to my darling husband, who reminds me that bitching to one another about a sucktastic experience is one of our favorite things to do. True dat." Oh my god we totally do this too - sometimes complaining about a bad meal to each other is almost as much fun as a good meal. Why is that???

3/04/2008 10:26 PM  
Blogger David said...

Sounds like someone at the door, who's a bit to crabby, isn't getting enough boob juice in his life.

Next time, you might want to give him a squirt...

3/05/2008 7:29 AM  
Blogger Sam said...

ewww. david.

3/05/2008 10:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My experiences there have both been good food, crap service. (Though the food is going downhill...) I don't think they're going to get the hang of the service thing and so I'm over it. Especially when there are Bar Jules and SPQR in my life...

3/05/2008 12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like you hit F&F on a crazy night. "Rearranging the dining room? Yeppers -- they cleared everyone out -- at 7:45 on a Friday night -- to rearrange the dining room." What the hell? Are you serious??

3/05/2008 2:47 PM  
Blogger Manda Bear said...

Joy... You're fantastic & I luv your honest truth.. Keep it up :-) Thanks for shring ;-)

3/07/2008 12:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

7:45? Sounds like a theater turn. Aren't they close to the theater?

3/12/2008 10:23 AM  
Blogger Andie East said...

I went to fish and farm a few weeks ago after noticing a mention in your post. And I completely agree, hit or miss. Our amuse-bouche was a not very good cold leek apple soup. Starter was a very good oxtail soup but some of the meat was tough though the ingredients were beautiful. Meat two ways was my husband's pick also very good and he got the chef's fish and farm plate of which I didn't significantly nibble as I was entranced with the soup. Then I got this cracker crusted sole. it was just bad. Overly salted, the puree underneath was not very good, slimy, the crab was stacked willy nilly. It was so bad I sorta thougth I should tell them, sort of give them helpful hints. No dessert was requested as we were ready go to. The sole did not sit well either, leaving a sort of greasy and thick clumpy puree aftertaste. Will not be going there again. But, I see there was potential. So glad to read your post and know it was NOT just me.

3/16/2008 9:57 AM  

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