Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Postrio

Postrio
Prescott Hotel in San Francisco

All summer I've been anticipating the moment I would walk into this dining room. I went through books and books of restaurant themes, design, interiors, etc etc at my father's architectural firm and came across Postrio. The photos alone were enough to make me want to come in there, with their twist on a contemporary interior, fun and mature. The lighting was ideal, with each table lit up by a single candle and the little lamps from the ceiling recreating the intimate atmosphere found of a late light chic-Italian NY restaurant. The notion of an open kitchen exposes its successes and faults as the eager, critiquing eyes glare over at a vulnerable stove consumed with sizzling steaks and fish. I loved it. It's truly Wolfgang Puck's place, and well-reputed as confirmed by myself -- yes, because my opinion counts. Each customer counts.

I snuck into the dining room the day prior and made my reservations after taking a tour around the place. This is officially the mezzanine level, and my mother and I requested a table on this level, though we wanted the balcony deuce, which overlooks the entire restaurant.

It was genuinely the best seat in the house, overlooking the tables below, the kitchen, and comforted by the venetian bronze-like balcony bars, gilded a bit with a soothing, shiny metal and having a life of its own with the swirls and twirls of the iron. I can't tell you enough how ideal this seat is in this restaurant. Our seat really added to the memorable experience, and the staff was sure to make it so, especially since it was my birthday. As you can see, we began the late-night with a glass of champagne, and I must say, my Pommery was quite satisfying...

Pommery, Champagne, "Brut Royal", Reims, NV
For being the most expensive champagne on the menu, this was actually quite a pleasant brut. It was wonderful, really. I love my Schramsburg and Dom Perignon, but this reminded me a bit of the Martinelli apple cider, minus the sweet part. It has hints of apple, but just a hint, and it's subtle, yet with quality. This is a smooth and yummy champagne. A fantastic start to the fine evening.

Domaine Carneros, Brut, Napa Valley, 2003
This was more of a soda-like champagne; mom ordered it. It was still really good though!

Etude, Pinot Noir, "Carneros", 2005
A tasty pinot noir, dry, not fruity, smooth, full-bodied, but still young... surprising because it actually had some light-oak flavor that was quite complimentary as a pairing to our cheese and my squab. The waiter selected it as a pairing first-and-foremost with my squab.

Appetizer Bread Slices:
Olive (left), French (middle), Walnut (right)
The Olive bread on the furthermost left was rather unique with its almost rosemary-like essence. It had olive portions with actual leaves in it and had this fresh olive-leaf flavor and aroma to it. This was not an oily or moist bread. The French bread didn't stand out to me, but was good. The Walnut bread stood out most among these because... how many people make fresh walnut bread? This was a very moist bread (on the furthermost right) and was quite soft and fresh. The flavor was a bit bland, I must add, but had little walnut bits in it which made it special. The walnut nuts were pure and shredded. I thought this showed a little creativity in the bread basket.

Mushroom Soup with Chives & Truffle Oil
Complimentary di Chef

This was rather special. The chef prepared this little mug of mushroom soup for us in a petite, gourmet manner. What a treat. You could taste the quality truffle oil drizzled along the top of this. This was meant to be sipped, holding the mug in a nurturing manner between your fingers like you were holding a hug-mug of hot chocolate. This was yummy and creamy with a delicious and smooth mushroom flavor to it, and the scent was tantalizing. The chives were a true pairing to this soup.

Grilled Paine Ranch Squab
"squab mince, wild rice, shaved fennel, Black Mission figs, Bing cherry-veal sauce"

What a surprising little sucker. This bird sent my mind flying. It's so unusual. It's a bird, true, but the consistency struck me as an incredibly rare Filet Mignon, but with a sharp bird flavor. This bird was light to the stomach, and reminded me a bit of venison. Essentially, it looks like and tastes like red meat in your mouth, and it's chewy. The reduction jus was a little on the subtle side, with it's veal and squab medley. There was also some fresh baby summer squash on the plate under the squab as well as long-sliced zucchini and a bean substitute, since I substituted the rice. Not to mention, there were freshly cut FIGS on the plate. My new favorite fruit! I loved it. The figs were incredible, as always. This is really a weird-tasting kind of bird, and it's not bad; it's actually good, but I wouldn't order it again between the NY steak and a good lamb. You really have to acquire a taste for this "red meat" bird.

Grilled Prime New York Steak
"Parmesan-thyme frites, Stilton coleslaw, sauce au poivre"
Delicious! Absolutely outstanding! Way better than the squab. This was amazingly tender at medium-rare. The fries were drizzled with fine truffle oil and parsley, the perfect touch. These fries were yummy on top of the steak. But, ooooh, the steak could make your mouth water for ages wanting more. The slaw on the side had Stilton cheese on it which was bold and sharp. I liked it, really liked it in fact. Our friend Paul serves this cheese for dessert with port. A fine pair, I dare say. This steak is a star on the menu, and well-sized too. Wolfgang did a terrific job with this baby. It shines among all the steaks I've ever had.

Birthday Cupcakes:
Carrot (left), Pineapple (middle), Black Forest Chocolate with Cherry (left)
Complimentary di Chef

This was the complimentary birthday special, just for me, from the chef. "Happy Birthday" plus my name was written in chocolate on the plate along with these petite, bite-sized cupcakes topped with divine cream cheese-based frosting with little shavings on top native to each flavor. Not to mention, I got a tall, slender candle that reached for the sky, balancing on the Carrot Cake cupcake. What a cute little birthday treat!

By the way, one person could totally finish this dessert on his own. These are bite-size cupcakes, even smaller than bite-size (more like a quarter diameter with an inch in height)

Carrot Cupcake
This tasted true to carrot cake. I liked it! It was rich and sweet. This was my second favorite among the three.

Pineapple Cupcake
With it's mild flavor of sweet pineapple, I enjoyed this the most, maybe because it was true to the fruit juice and bounced on being too sugary. I appreciated what the pastry chef did to this one. There were also little pineapple shavings on top. What a bundle full of joy! This was my favorite among the three.

Black Forest with Cherry Cupcake
This rich, dark chocolate was flavored with a bit of bing cherry. It was okay, but tasted a bit like store cake mix, I wasn't that impressed with the cake of this one, but the frosting was good, and it was spackled with little cocoa shavings.

Fine Artisan Cheeses
Dessert
Foglie di Noci (upper left) with Dried Figs and Raisons, Montcabrer (middle) with Fig Sheet Crackers and Apricot Chutney, Roaring Forties Blue (lower right) with sugared walnuts and almonds

I honestly didn't think my stomach could handle an entire dessert after this meal, no matter how enticing they all were, and trust me, I was drooling and torn. But ultimately, I decided that since I'd never ordered cheese for dessert ever, and that's kinda the thing you do in wine country, that I would do it before I left. This platter was certainly satisfying not only with the cheese but, ooooh, the chutney! I'm a sucker for fig and apricot chutney, and this one was Apricot.

Foglie di Noci, from Emilia Romagna, Italy
"Sheep's milk, semi-firm, salty and nutty flavors, with a mild earthiness"
Paired with the dried fig and raisins, this fresh, sheep's milk cheese was pretty hard, but in my mouth it surprisingly softened up to a medium softness. It didn't have much flavor to be honest, but it was nutty, so to speak, and the nuttiness didn't have any sharpness to it. It was bland among them all. This was my mom's choice.

Montcabrer, from Catalonia, Spain
"Goat's Milk, semi-firm and ash-covered, with pungent earthy flavors and a creamy texture, slightly tangy finish"
This one was my choice, and it turned out to my favorite :)
With the light fig sheet crackers and apricot chutney as compliments, this was absolutely heavenly. It had the perfect complimentary pairings of crackers and spread. All of these together made the cheese tasty. In the sheet crackers, the fig surely stood out, they were tasty despite their thinness. I'm typically biased against thin sheet crackers because I think most have no flavor, but this challenged my opinion and turned my head. The Montcabrer cheese actually had a bit of blue flavor to it. It was a milder cheese, but moist, and semi-creamy, it looks hard though -- and it's actually soft. The apricot chutney was on the syrupy side and very sweet, but it was so great on the crackers with the cheese! This was a real winner in the selections.

Roaring Forties Blue, from King Island, Australia
"Cow's Milk, full flavored blue with a sweet, slightly nutty character with a smooth and creamy texture"
Boy, this was a strong blue, quality, with a bit of a chardonnay grape flavor to it. This had a refined blue flavor to it that is quite bold and strong. Oh, was this fine! It's true quality, probably an expensive cheese. The pairing of sides were sugared walnuts and almonds. The nuts didn't stand out to me much, but the cheese -- by itself -- was flavorful and unique. This cheese can hold its own.

Desserts

From the balcony, I got a full view of the kitchen, and more specifically, the pastry chef was closest so I snagged this photo. The plate on the upper right is Chocolate Tres Leche Cake with espresso-truffle ice cream, Kahlua creme chantilly, black and white cookies; the lower right is Valhrona Chocolate Chevre Cheesecake with zinfandel-Bing cherry compote, salted pistachios; the upper left is Chamomile Tea Roasted Apricots with amaretto ice cream, warm shortcake, almond Florentine; and the one on the lower left is Birthday Cupcakes for George, obviously.

These were an artisan's masterpiece. They made my mouth water - the chocolate tres leche cake especially! The Cheesecake round with valhrona chocolate chevre looked divine and I watched across the room as a woman savored every single bite of that mooshy dusted-cocoa goodness covered in a blanked of zinfandel-bing cherry compote, oozing down the edges.

Of the restaurants in San Francisco, this is a real find, and next time I need to save room for dessert! You need to sit at a balcony deuce though. You can't beat my experience. The chef de cuisine, Jordan, a real gentleman. I had a memorable adventure here. I recommend it.

Postrio on Urbanspoon

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