Saturday, January 06, 2007

Tidbits, Updates and Reconsiderations

I've noticed that quite a few items I've written in the past are sorely in need of an update. And since this blog is the journal of record for all things food in this town, I think it's my duty to set the record straight on a few things.

- I've found chicken that's worthy of adding to my Destination Chicken post from August. farmerbrown has some of the better fried chicken I've ever tasted. And the mac and cheese that comes with it isn't to be sneezed at either. The chicken meat is quite flavorful.

In fact, the restaurant overall is a great find and a great addition to the SF dining scene. First of all, the decor is quite fetching. It's dimly lit without being dark and the tables are arranged in such a casual way as to elicit the good aspect of lounge dining while still having the structure most would want with a good meal. The only complaint I'd have is that writing "farmerbrown" in lights on some of the columns in the dining room feels a little contrived and over-branded.

The cocktails are spectacular, and are a nice departure from both the SF standards as well as the developing trends in to
wn. I had a blood orange margarita (okay, a few of them) that was dripping with fresh fruit and the tumbler was salted with a spicy salt. The food was equally as good, and also very well priced. One highlight was the spareribs appetizer that's done more savory-Southern-BBQ style than the equally good slow-cooked, fall-off-the-bone style.

Lastly, I'm not sure whether to be annoyed or amused that they decided to make "farmerbrown" one word and not capitalize it. You make your own call there. I do know that it feels very awkward to start a sentence with it.

- My opinion of Range hasn't changed one bit, but some of my reasons for liking it so much have.

First of all, I made the mistake of picking out specific staff members, when in reality nearly everyone that works there is exceptional at their job. I haven't met a bartender there that I wouldn't consider in the top 2% of bartenders anywhere (both skill and personality). Every waitperson is completely buttoned-up and uniformly friendly and warm. Credit co-owner Cameron West for great hires.

Second, I love the way that they care about their local clientele and take care of them and make them feel at home (yes, myself included, but also from what I've heard from others). I wish more restaurants did this.

Lastly, I love how since they got their Michelin star they haven't mailed it in one bit. They still have the same top-level commitment to a great dining experience.

- I have a winner for my worst dining experience of the millenium: La Rondalla. I recently went for a birthday and it was so incredibly bad that it's actually a fond memory. It's a special thing when literally every possible aspect of a dining experience comes apart at the seams. From getting seated, to our waitstaff, to our disgusting margaritas, to having to pay for those margaritas at our table separately from our dinner bill in cash right away, to frozen entrees that were only 50% heated up, to being brought water but not enough for the whole table to have some, to disgusting, dirty tables, to etc, etc, etc. You get the picture. It was laughable, and quite memorable.

Sidenote here: La Rondalla makes Puerto Allegre look incredible. Long ago I wrote a mixed review on Puerto Allegre that to this day accounts for an inordinate percentage of the traffic on this site (If you Googled some version of "Puerto Allegre" to find this, raise your hand now... it's uncanny). Well, considering Puerto is competing with La Rondalla, I take back anything bad I wrote about Puerto. In comparison it's a shining star.