Mr. and Mrs. CAsper have made the sad but not too surprising decision to move down the Peninsula. It will be sad to see them go, but they have promised to come visit the city as often as they can. However, just in case they become engulfed with the trials and tribulations of home ownership (which seems to encompass everyone with the purchase of their first home), Mrs. CAsper suggested we do dinner at one of the many restaurants on our list. Although we shared quite a few of the same restaurants, after checking for reservations, we decided that Quince would be our dining destination for the evening. I have heard some very positive things about this restaurant, so I was a little surprised how easily we were able to get a reservation. It wasn’t until we arrived that I realized this was located in the space formerly housing Myth Restaurant. It was one of the first restaurants I went to with a friend when I first moved to San Francisco. It was a nice restaurant serving French cuisine, but for whatever reason, it ended up closing shop a couple years back. After we got seated, we debated back and forth whether to do the tasting menu or order a la carte, and once we decided on the tasting menu, the girls chose the Fish and Shellfish Tasting menu and the guys went with the Chef’s Tasting menu.
As to be expected at every high end dining establishment, the waiter came out with the amuse-bouche which consisted of a quintet of small yet very different hors d’œuvres. There was a nettle soup, a beet tartare with goat cheese, a fluke of crudo, a cauliflower panna cotta and a lobster fritter. The cauliflower panna cotta interestingly enough, had a distinct taste of cauliflower without being too overpowering. It was light and tasty. I think my favorite was probably the lobster fritter, not because it was extremely different, but when it comes to deep-fried shellfish, I’m just an absolute sucker for it. The lobster flavor was very light, almost non-existent, but it was still quite delicious. The nettle soup was completely green and kind of grainy in texture. I was told it’s a plant or weed of some sort that the Italians absolutely love and put in everything they make. Who knew! Learning something new everyday. Hehe!
The Dungeness Crab Soufflé was the first dish on the Chef’s Tasting menu. It was filled with a lot of crab meat, and the soufflé cake was quite moist and unctuous to the palate.
My first course was the Scallop Carpaccio and Caviar which was served with slices of Churchill Farm Kishu mandarins and Taggiasche olive oil. The scallop carpaccio provided a blank canvas, figuratively speaking, upon which the nice flavor punch from the caviar could be presented. There was quite a healthy serving of caviar, but it was just enough to balance out the the lighter-flavor from the scallop.
Next course on the Chef’s Tasting was the Ravioli Giganti della Casa which consisted of one giant ravioli with 5 different fillings. Starting from middle and going clockwise from the top, there was beets, wild nettles, Chantenay carrots, artichokes and burrata cheese. The presentation was interesting, the foam was a bit superfluous, but the ravioli itself was firm, and all the fillings, for the most part, were interesting if not very good.
The Lobster and Alaskan Halibut Due was next on the Fish and Shellfish Tasting. The lobster was a nice, healthy-sized portion and I enjoyed it much more than the Alaskan halibut which was decidedly quite bland. It was well-cooked, moist and tender, but it really needed more of a kick. I can’t recall exactly what kind of sauce was drizzled across the plate, but it really didn’t help add anything to the flavor profile of the dish.
The Wild Nettle Parppadelle was served with a Devil’s Gulch rabbit ragu. The pasta was al dente, just short of a crunch in texture, and although I wasn’t really expecting much, it didn’t taste too bad. It might have been a tad bit on the salty side, but it was passable.
I really liked the Verrigni Gold Die Spaghetti which was the third course on the Fish and Shellfish menu. The spaghetti was prepared with a very interesting tasting sauce consisting of geoduck and English peas. I’m not usually a fan of geoduck, but the preparation in this dish was different. The sauce was a colorful mix of green and orange and had a distinctly briny seafood flavor which I really liked.
I only took one bite of the Spring Lamb, but it really was very well-prepared. The best indicator of a well-cooked lamb is the lack of gamey flavor which is so characteristic of this particular type of protein that I often fear ordering it. More often than not, I let someone else at the table be the guinea pig, and I end up just taking a bite. I can’t recall all the various components served with the lamb, but they were all quite nice in terms of adding some interesting flavors to the dish as a whole.
The Black Sea Bass, last on the Fish and Shellfish menu, was served on a potato puree with a spot prawn and pork belly served on the side. Although the black sea bass had a nice crispy texture, it still lacked any discernible flavor, much like the halibut from the second course. However, in this dish, I felt the spot prawn and pork belly were the highlights and really added a great deal of flavor to complement the sea bass, resulting in a very well-balanced dish.
The desserts both turned out to be much better than I expected… but then again, I usually don’t have very high expectations when it comes to the sweet part of the meal. A budino is supposed to be a pudding but this Burnt Honey Budino seemed firmer, almost like a pie, particularly because it had a crust made of a sesame friollini crumble. I can’t recall the exact flavor of the sorbetto served on the side, but as a whole, the dessert was surprisingly delicious. The honey flavor was interesting, and I really liked the texture of the budino. I really wasn’t expecting to like the Huckleberry Soufflé, but along with the limoncello sauce, it turned out to be quite tasty without being too sweet.
All in all, it was a pretty delicious meal that left us all satisfied and happy. Most of the dishes were pretty well-executed and although there were some points where some dishes lacked some flavor and others had too much flavor, as a whole, I really enjoyed the food. It was an especially nice evening to spend with the CAspers, and although we’re sad to lose a foodie couple to the Peninsula, we trust that we’ll still see them every so often, especially when it comes to enjoying some good food.
470 Pacific Ave
San Francisco, CA 94133
PAFO Ratings for Quince:
Ambiance 3½ stars
Food 4 stars
Overall rating 4 stars