Friday, May 6

Universal Cafe

I had a stunning meal last night. Bold words for a foodie snob like myself, but it was really great. Starting with a menu with the day's date printed on it (follow this out to the logical conclusion that the menu changes daily). Organic veggies, sustainably raised meats. We order a Sinskey 2000 Merlot, that was light in body for a merlot, not oaky at all, but with a full taste, very little tanins.

We start with a hearts of romain salad. Typically, I eschew romain, because really it's just one step away from iceberg lettuce. The salad was huge, including an entire heart of romain, still in one piece and therefore only had dressing on the outer most layer, reducing it to my traditionally snubbed, plain lettuce. But the plate was also covered in huges chunks of feta, sugar snap peas and an herbed lemon vinegrette. Personally, I found the vinagrette lacking umph, but the fresh herbs were plentiful, the peas so very sweet and crisp and the chunks of feta tangy compensating for the lack in the vinagrette.

Also, a nice touch was that there was a small bowl (think mis en place size) of coarse salt on the table and when the salad arrived we were given our own pepper grinder. I hate restaurants that are conceited enough to think that everything they serve you is going to be perfectly seasoned to your unique tastes. However, that said, I never touched the salt and used the pepper grinder only on my salad. I appreciate even more that they were there and I didn't have to use them.

Back to the meal. Entrees, braised rabbit for me, pan seared salmon for my date. I hate cooked salmon, so I can't really critique his plate. But it did come with fresh beets, again super sweet bleeding brightly onto his plate and rice and those perfect thin young asparagus. The salmon was cooked to have a nice crust, but this seemed to have resulted in salmon that wasn't as opaque as he'd have wanted. My rabbit also had a nice crust, just a slight crunch as you bite into the super tender meat. This was served with garlicy sauteed artichoke hearts (clearly fresh, not canned, given their color) and hand cut pasta. Dear god, I love homemade pasta and this was among the best I've ever had.

No room for dessert, though of course, I had to see what they offered. One fruit (rhubarb strawberry cobbler), one chocolate torte, an ice cream and a panne cotte. Plus a $2 piece of biscotti. I love that they give you a cheap option for dessert. If I'd have had anymore room, I'd gone with an ice wine and biscotti.

All this said, I hope to return, something I never say about a place. For those of you who'd like to check it out, it's at 2418 19th St @ Bryant, San Francisco.

1 comment:

julims said...

i love the fact that you preface your review with an overall praise, and then you detail the pros and cons of each element. now i know that a stunning meal for you doesn't mean that everything was perfect. i love reading descriptions of meals!