Wednesday, December 25, 2013

San Francisco: Perbacco

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Merry Christmas!  For those of you just joining my live San Francisco food tour, my dad and I had our Chistmas Eve dinner last night at outstanding Italian restaurant in the Financial District called Perbacco.  Just as an aside, we had drinks before dinner at a speakeasy-type craft cocktail bar called The Burritt Room. Yelp led us to this gem right off Union Square, and we never would have found it on our own.  It was on the second floor of a hotel that looked seedy on the outside, but was lovely on the inside.  The bartenders took time to help us pick a flavor profile and craft a cocktail of our liking.  Highly recommended. 

Back to Perbacco.  It being an Italian restaurant, we were hoping for 7 fishes, but got 3 and a duck! Not too shabby. Here is the run down.
We started with an Old Fashioned and a Moscow Mule. Can you guess whose is whose?
After drinks at the bar, we moved to a table in a dining room that had the markings of a modern city place with an exposed brick walk and a fine dining  restaurant with white table clothes.
On the dinner table were breadsticks and a pesto-like dipping sauce that also included parsley, breadcrumbs, and "any herbs lying around the kitchen."
We got two appetizers. The first was a half portion of a pasta dish called Stracci. It included spinach pasta and was toped with a light lamb ragu.  The pasta was al dente and the ragu was flavorful.  Good but not mind blowing. 
The second was roasted octopus in an herb sauce. It was a little on the chewy side, which disappointed me a little, but the flavor was good.
The real star of the night was the entrees.  I ordered black sea bass with a grapefruit and crab sauce.  It was up there with one of the best fish I've ever been served. The pictures can't do it justice, but the skin was crisp on the outside and flakey on the inside.
The sauce was light in texture but extraordinarily complex.  There were at least 5 or 6 components that I could not identify but could taste individually.  They worked together in perfect harmony. There was the acidity from the grapefruit, balanced by a sweeter sauce and a tiny bit of a purée.  With the umame from the fish and crab, it was a symphony. 
My dad got the duck entree, which was also amazing. It was presented as two very large pieces of crispy and slightly sweet duck breast, a crunchy crostini with caramelized onions, and served over kale, turnips and other assorted vegetables. All were perfectly cooked. Most impressive was the lack of fat on the duck- very hard to do and keep the flavor. We loved it!
Even though we were totally full, we sprung for a hazelnut cake with a white chocolate hazelnut sauce that was served with a pear sorbet. Along with some decaf lattes, it was perfection. 

Despite that we were still on East Coast time and were technically eating dinner from 11pm-2am, this was a fantastic meal. Worth seeking out if you're in San Fran!
Today were off to Golden Gate Park and Chinatown. More on what I expect to be an amazing Chinese food dinner later!


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