Thursday, June 3, 2010

Chez Spencer

C'est mon favorit. Chez Spencer will always hold a special place in my heart and on my palate. 

We have now dined here for my past 2 birthdays, in addition to other special occasions, as well as a private new year's eve seated dinner in the renovated loft next door.

Drinks: French inspired cocktails with an old school feel. Must try: Saint Germain Infirmary is a refreshing blend of elderflower liquor, cucumber juice, lemon and soda served tall.

I literally have dreams about this appetizer. Sauteed Veal Sweetbreads with sherry vinegar, truffle vinaigrette, watercress and a Parmesan crisp ($17). What are sweetbreads, you might ask? Well, before I tell you, you must promise that it will not deter you from trying it. They are the thymus glands of a young cow, lamb or pig. Chez Spencer's version is lightly pan-fried. They are meaty and somewhat buttery, but not unctuous due to the peppery baby watercress and acidic sherry vinegar dressing.

The Wood Grilled Filet Mignon with Morels in Cream, Shaved Truffles and Truffle Butter ($29). Is there a single word in that sentence that sounds wrong? I think not. The meat was beautifully cooked, and the morels were like small sponges that released an explosion of woodsy deliciousness and cream delicately flavored with truffles.

This is the Arctic Char Papillote with Braised Vegetables and Truffle Emulsion ($28). Honestly if the truffle emulsion had not reared its tempting head under the menu description, I probably would not have ordered this dish. I was disappointed with the lack of flavor. As the veggies and fish steam in the packet, they release an excess amount of moisture which watered down the truffle flavors. Moreover, the emulsion broke/separated with the heat. The fish was also slightly raw in the middle.

I feel like I am criticizing a dear friend, but I honestly was not happy with the presentation either. (However, I suppose there really is no attractive way to plate a piece of fish cooked in a foil packet though!)

We ordered the Steamed Asparagus with Truffle Emulsion and Shaved Parmesan ($11) appetizer as a side. Always a favorite.

For dessert, the Warm Apple Almond Tart with Cider Caramel and Glace au Lait ($8). Flavor was spot on, but I would have liked more apple texture.

Service: Not really fair to say when we personally know one of the servers, but it has always been consistently polite and attentive.

Ambiance: Has always reminded me of a cozy ski lodge. (Chef Laurent's father used to be a taxidermist.) The vaulted ceilings are bolstered by warm wooden beams. As you enter through the gates, you walk through a tucked-away patio area, as if you were entering a secret garden of sorts. A set of heavy drapes separates you from the crackling wood-burning oven within and soulful piano medleys (on Friday evenings). Parting them aside brings you into another world.

Other Must Tries: Pan Seared Sea Scallops with hearts of palm and sauce verte, Foie Gras Torchon with vanilla scented blackberry sauce, Hazelnut Parfait a la Neige, Escargot Puff Lollipop (Spencer on the Go Truck)

82 14th Street
San Francisco, CA

300 7th Street (parking lot)
(at Folsom)
San Francisco, CA

Chez Spencer on Urbanspoon

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