Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Cafe du Soleil and Home (Saturday)

Started Saturday morning with a sunny Muni ride out to Lower Haight. Went to one of G. and K.'s favorite cafes, Cafe du Soleil, for coffee and people-watching. I absolutely love this place. It's a little slice of Paris in the middle of San Francisco. I started with a mocha (which comes in a bowl) and an open-faced sandwich. I think these are tartines. I ordered the smoked salmon one, which was served with creme fraiche. I think of creme fraiche as a civilized man's sour cream. Here it is with my mocha in a bowl:

Even though it was breakfast, I had to have a slice of lemon tart. They use the fabulous rectangular tart pans (I must get one!) and serve it in slices. This tart is perfect. The filling was tart and sweet without being too much of either, there was a good lemon glaze on top, and the crust was light, crunchy, and buttery.

The tartine was a bit pricey ($10), but I thought the splurge was worth it.

We didn't really eat for the rest of the day, so we had an early dinner at Home in the Castro. I linked to name to and I'm a little shocked at some of the less-flattering reviews. I'll have to keep them in mind and not go back when it's super-crowded.

We arrived at 6pm and it wasn't crowded at all. In fact, they had a happy hour going, so we had $3 drinks. I had an appletini, which was ok, and decided on tomato soup with a grilled cheese sandwich and mac 'n' cheese. Those dishes are classics, but I'd have to say that Home's made the best versions of them I've ever had. The soup was a fresh tomato puree that somehow didn't manage to seem or taste like tomato sauce. It tasted creamy and sweet, although there wasn't any cream in it. There might have been a small amount, but unlike typical tomato soup, cream is not a significant player.

The grilled cheese was amazing. The bread was thick and moist and while there was a crust on it, it wasn't grilled to the point where the bread was hard. It was a fresh sourdough and filled with a good quality cheddar, so it was cheesy, not greasy. In fact, the absence of greasiness was what put this grilled cheese above the rest. It was, however, a tad too small.

I can write sonnets about the mac 'n' cheese. The chef must totally understand that rich is good, greasy is not. The dish manages to balance the rich creaminess of mac 'n' cheese without the overwhelming heaviness that comes with certain versions of it. It also uses white cheddar, which I like better than regular cheddar. It's also nice and sharp, so the flavors were great. The macaroni was not baked to mush, but probably cooked to pre-al dente and baked so the pasta held its shape and texture.

After dinner, we went to G. and K.'s favorite bar, Mr. Smith's, for fabulous martinis and a ridiculously hot bartender. Sorry, D., I had to say it. We followed that up with a visit to Etiquette, which was pretentious and vaguely ridiculous, although the bartender was a very nice guy. We sat in one of the corner booths that was covered in vinyl. Yes, vinyl. I'm obviously not trendy or bougie enough for this place. The Jessica Rabbit martini is totally fabulous... I don't remember what was in it, except it was a good strawberry martini and it had blue Pop Rocks in it. Hey, when it's your fourth drink of the night, the details get a little foggy.

0 bites:

0 bites