I’ve been wanting to try Rich Table for some time now, and I managed to nab a reservation for my co-workers and I to check it out one evening after work. The restaurant is the product of husband/wife team Evan and Sarah Rich and first came on to the SF scene in 2012. It’s hard to describe the menu as it doesn’t seem characterized by any particular cuisine so I’d probably call it California American with an SF flair which feels similar to other SF restaurants including Frances and Octavia. I had heard they do pastas quite well so I was really looking forward to tasting those.
It’s a relatively small restaurant space in Hayes Valley with an open kitchen concept and seemed to be packed with people even though it was the middle of the week. We ended up ordering the Chef’s menu for the 5 of us so we could try the best of what the chef had to offer.
We started with some raw oysters which were extremely plump and juicy. They were quite fresh and tasty.
Admittedly, this honey dew melon coated in a mix of sesame, togarashi powder and shiso leaves looked more interesting than it tasted. The contrast between the spiciness of the togarashi and the sweetness of the melon caused some dissonance in my taste buds.
I’ve heard about these porcini doughnuts for some time now. It might have been an unfortunate case of high expectations, but I wasn’t that impressed with them. I did like the fluffiness of the doughnut but I could barely taste any porcini flavor which would have come from the powder sprinkled on them. I was most disappointed by the cheese dipping sauce. It had an odd taste to it.
These balls of breaded batter were filled with brandade and were relatively muted in taste, but the Douglas Fir tartar sauce was interesting.
This was interesting but I wasn’t quite sure what to think. It had the pickled vegetables of a banh mi but the chicken liver was smooth and creamier than what you would find in a Vietnamese sandwich. I liked the individual components, but they didn’t come together as well as I would have hoped. I also would have preferred the toast be crispier.
The halibut was fresh and tasty but with the cucumbers, peppers and buttermilk sauce, it definitely tasted more like a salad.
The burrata cheese was creamy and served as a wonderful canvas to showcase the myriad of flavors and textures of what appears to be a refined take on a deconstructed pizza. I really enjoyed this dish.
There seemed like a lot of interesting ingredients in this dish but the flavors didn’t pop like I was expecting. It was a fine tasting salad, but I thought there would be more flavor.
I liked the South Indian slant of the way this cauliflower was roasted and seasoned, but the pommes aligot which is a fancy name for cheesy whipped potatoes was a tasty, albeit slightly odd, companion to the dish.
Tajarin is a flat pasta kind of like tagliatelle but thinner. The squash blossoms definitely beautified the dish but probably did little for the flavor which I found to be quite light and tasty.
It’s hard to tell from the picture but there is a bed of Chitarra Spaghetti underneath those greens and tomatoes. These little kebabs were on the dry side, and I didn’t care for them but I really liked the texture of the pasta. Like the tajarin, there were a lot of greens which looked very nice, but I didn’t think it added much.
All the pastas were al dente and had a nice texture, but this tagliatelle was my favorite probably because it had a richer, spicier sauce. The soft shell was an interesting addition that I enjoyed.
This was one of the fattiest pieces of rib eye that I’ve tasted which made me simultaneously happy and guilty. The char siu flavor was a delicious way of preparing it.
I was pretty full by the time dessert came around so even though I tried a little bit of everything, none of them were that memorable. The chocolate cake was rich in chocolate flavor so the buttermilk ice cream was a necessary companion.
This was a deconstructed pie with the individual components, strawberries, cream and graham cracker crumbles, all topped with some pieces of caramelized sugar. It was nicely balanced and not overwhelmingly sweet. It was probably my favorite of the desserts.
This was a cucumber sherbert topped with some melon granite and black sesame seeds. It was refreshing, but I didn’t really enjoy this particular flavor profile.
The coconut panna cotta was topped with lime crumble and toasted meringue. This was a little too sweet for my taste buds.
The meal ended up with some white cholate petit fours which I left on the table because I knew it was going to be too sweet and I was absolutely beyond full at this point.
Overall, I really enjoyed the food, in particular the wide collection of appetizers and the pastas. A few dishes failed to impress me on taste, but I really appreciated the concept behind all of them, and none of them were bad. Although it didn’t seem as obvious to me when I was eating the food, there definitely were Asian touches throughout the meal whether it be in the ingredients or flavors. It was quite subtle but apparent in many of the dishes. I would definitely be interested in coming back and bringing Hubster as I think he would enjoy the food here as well.
199 Gough St.
San Francisco, CA 94102
PAFO Ratings for Rich Table:
Ambiance 3 stars
Food 4 stars
Overall rating 4½ stars