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Rubicon Review


Rubicon, with exceptional service, put forth a decent performance of complex tastes, topped by generally quite good entrees. One person -certainly a minority viewpoint- complained the complexity was over-done -- more complications than necessary to serve good food.


Our dinner started off with an odd visit (see last paragraph), but the first consumable item was the amuse-brioche of duck liver mousse and roasted diced beets on bread. Interesting but not particularly good to any of us, it was described by one person as "Eh ... with liver." The mousse was in such large quantity that many of us only finished half of it with the bread in the amuse-brioche, and finished the rest of it with the regular table bread (which was quite good, by the way).


Most of us stuck with the Dine About Town menu, and all of us that did so chose the grilled calamari as the appetizer. It was fine, with tiny ringlets of squid (not battered as one traditionally thinks of calamari). It also came with a fried item so thin one could see through it (which I'm just mentioning because of its uniqueness, although its lack of mass prevented it from having much flavor). The eater of the one different appetizer that was ordered described it as "yummy."


Many of us ordered the seared Hawaiian tombo (a type of tuna) as our entree; it was good (although the other entrees people selected -mentioned below- were better. The tuna was presented well, topped with tasty onions and mushrooms, and served with a slightly garlic broth that helped (but didn't succeed) in covering the fact that the tuna was dry.


The person that ordered off the regular menu had black cod. He generously gave all of us tastes, and it was excellent, juicy, and buttery.


One person ordering off the Dine About Town menu was adventurous and ordered the pork belly. This was a brilliant move, as it was a terrific dish -- the meat was tender and served as a nice counterpoint to the crispiness of the skin (?). And there was a glaze that added a wonderful sweet and smoky flavor to the dish. One item that came with this dish was polenta; those that tried it remarked they usually didn't like polenta but that this was more interesting than most.


For dessert, many of us ordered a sophisticated chocolate mousse-espresso shortbread. Infused with a tremendously strong anise flavor (so strong it impressed most of us, but the majority liked it), many of us were happy with it. (Although I quite enjoyed it, the general consensus was that it was worse than the entrees and more like the appetizer in quality.) While our previous dishes was conservatively and reasonably sized, this was quite a generous serving. It was also topped with a paper-thin plate of decent quality chocolate which was in turn drizzled with a little salt (odd.. much of us didn't like this feature), and some flavored whipped cream that (after some thought) we realized was infused with orange (rind?). The plate was drizzled with a caramel sauce. All in all, quite a diverse bundle of flavors.


One person ordered a persimmon-based dessert that seemed good and, due to the (unusual) utilization of cooked persimmon, provoked much conversation.


Finally, we had a disappointing cheese plate. Served with five cheeses, none of which were exciting, the items on the cheese plate that induced the most conversation were the non-cheese items: a set of roasted nuts (that after some thought we decided were hazelnuts), the traditional pile of dates, and, requiring the most brainstorming to identify, an apple-fig sauce.


Service was sophisticated and coordinated, heads above most other restaurants to which we've gone. Features included the redundancy (many little butter containers for the table, not just one per table), the subtle (re-folding napkins when one goes to the bathroom), the choreographed (plates are served by many people and so every plate is delivered almost in sync), the cleanliness (new cutlery with every dish), the ampleness (constant re-filling of our bread plates), and the exactitude (the use of a knife to scrape up table crumbs). The only oddity about service was the casualness of the server to us; however, we think that was because one attendee asked soon after we sat down if we could have a jug of water on the table. (The server looked offended and told us not to worry; they'd keep our water glasses full.)


Conversations ranged from the traditional (talking about the food) to the expected (going over what people did during the holidays) to a wide assortment of less conventional topics, including the linguistic evolution of various languages, the growing ranges of certain fruits, the benefits of living in cities and which cities are the best, the odd divots in spoons and knives and how it could relate to the butter/fish knife confusion in India, and various items announced at CES. An especially notable event was as one man, leaving soon after we sat down, stopped by our table on the way out and pointed out a table of some women and encouraged us to send them a bottle of champagne.


Original Announcement


This week begins the SF Dine About Town ( http://www.sfdineabouttown.com/ ) month. Our first restaurant will be Rubicon. Rubicon, serving California and French influenced cuisine, is one of the top and most expensive restaurants in San Francisco. Given that entrees are $30+ and the traditional tasting menu is $75, having Rubicon participate in SF Dine About Town and providing a $32 three-course meal is a real treat! Let's hope the particular lower-priced menu they're serving is good. :) Rubicon is on the eastern side of the financial district; we'll meet there on Wednesday at 8:00pm.



As always, tell me if you are coming!


Comments from Other Attendees


"the butter/fish knife confusion in India". It was actually about the confusion in Hong Kong. At one point I think a few of the posh non-Chinese restaurants appeared to be using fish knives as butter knives. --stong

Feel free to add more remarks here.

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