Since trying Jamie’s Hot Dog at the SF Street Food Festival last year, I’ve been looking forward to going to Absinthe to have another taste. I finally had the chance one Saturday afternoon when I showed up at my hair place in Hayes Valley and found out that my stylist had abruptly left and no longer worked there. Needless to say, I was a little peeved, but I found the silver lining and headed over to Absinthe, in spite of the fact that my hair was greasy and in desperate need of a cut and color.
They normally don’t serve the hot dog for brunch, but the waiter checked and said they could make the exception. Yipee! The hot dog came with some house-made potato chips which I really didn’t care for mainly because they lacked the crunch of a real potato chip. In addition, the hot dog came with a side of pickled cabbage, but it didn’t have enough of a tangy punch that I would expect from sauerkraut. Unfortunately, the hot dog was not exactly as good as I remembered it being, but I think it’s because it lacked the grilled taste that you get when you throw the dogs on the BBQ. I’m not sure how they cooked it, but it was definitely missing that mesquite/charcoal flavor. In fact, the sausage itself didn’t have a lot of the charred markings that you would expect if it was grilled. It might have been because they weren’t really prepared to serve it at brunch. The ketchup was really good, but sadly, I was a little bit disappointed.
Pdho ordered the Wild Mushroom Omelet which came with a side of potatoes. I believe the omelet was made with a variety of wild mushrooms and gruyere cheese. It was a hefty-sized omelet, thick and chock full of ingredients. It was probably slightly better than the hot dog, much to my disappointment. Although there was quite a bit of gruyere in the omelet, it went very well taste-wise with the mushrooms, and I thought it was well-done. I think it was still a tad bit too heavy for me to really take more than a couple of bites before I was done.
I ended up also ordering a ginger iced tea which did not taste very good at all. I’m not sure what I was thinking, because I dislike ginger, but the waiter kind of made it sound interesting. I was in the mood for something a little more than just plain old ice water. Unfortunately, the ginger flavor was so overpowering that I couldn’t bear to drink more than a couple of sips. Blah! My tongue is still doing somersaults at the memory of the drink’s taste. Blah!
Overall, I don’t think I was that satisfied with my first-time experience at Absinthe. Unfortunately, I don’t think it was very reflective of the food there, but more due to the fact that the experience of eating at Absinthe was going up against my wanting a repeat experience of a very memorably delicious hot dog. I think the kitchen just wasn’t ready to make my hot dog properly (although I do find that to be odd). The omelet was pretty good though, so I know the restaurant must be pretty good. I’ve heard a variety of accolades again and again about the restaurant, so I don’t think my experience is as fair of an assessment as it could be. Maybe I’ll go back and check it out again some day.
398 Hayes Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
PAFO Ratings for Absinthe:
Price 3 ½ stars
Ambiance 3 ½ stars
Food 3 stars
Overall rating 3 stars