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Spruce


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We walked past Spruce on our regular walk last evening. Normally a construction site, the space was lit up and dressed to the nines, literally abuz with staff. We have watched the work progress for months, waiting for a sign to appear or some kind of promo, but it never happened. I couldn't help but go in and talk to the maitre d' who explained that last night was a preview dinner for investors and that this coming week would be its first open to the public.

Opentable explains their focus. A computer glitch prevented them from supplying me a complete menu, but they happily gave me sheets for mains and desserts.

Seared Albacore, sweet corn fondue and braised chanterelles 28

Turmeric Poached Chicken, summer vegetables and garganelli 22

Grilled Bavette Steak, duck fat potatoes and bordelaise 29

Slow Roasted Beef Short Ribs, grilled peach and horseradish subise 27

Honey Lacquered Duck Breast, cinnamon dusted foie gras and plum gastrique 32

Buttered Maine Lobster, golden potato gnocchi, braised lettuces 36

Broiled Mediterranean Sea Bass, tabouleh, cucumbers and tomatoes 29

Monkfish and Mussels Provencial, tender roasted eggplant 28

Charred Berkshire Pork Tenderloin, crispy pancetta and shelling beans 26

All desserts 9

Chocolate and Caramel Fondant, chocolate sorbet and chocolate paper

Charantais Melon Soup, toasted almond and mission fig ice cream

Stne Fruit Bruschetta, vanilla olive oil, lemon verbena ice cream

White Chocolate Creme, hazelnut cake and coffee ice cream

Warm Semolina Cake, Blckberries, honey, mint and frozen Strauss cream

Brioche Beignets, black plum confiture

Large Warm Palmiers

Perhaps its just my taste, but the desserts all suggest more creativity than mains. I'm sorry not to have seen the starter menu, since that is often the section that provides the most interesting plates.

It will also be interesting to see if this new crew can pull off a restaurant in this large space that in the past failed to house a destination dining room. It's only a 5 minute walk from my house, but in the past it has always seemed odd to go out for white tablecloth dining around the corner.

SPRUCE

Sacramento Streeet at Spruce

415.931.5100

eGullet member #80.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Went there for dinner last week, we managed to snag a table at the small room in the back near the kitchen, which was not as interestingly decorated or good for people watching as the main room but had far better acoustics and much more space.

There's been a lot of buzz about the place and I was surprised to find the menu to be pretty generic looking Californian French. We ordered the charcuterie plate ($16), and a watermelon salad with home cured sardines ($10) for our starters. The charcuterie plate was kind of obligatory since they're homemade etc., which is a trend among the Italian restaurants in town but not so much the French, and we got a rather big assortment of items on a plate, perhaps 6 or even 8 types which the waiter quickly explained but I forgot as soon as it was over (didn't take notes or photos). I would've personally preferred quality over quantity in this case: most of the items weren't memorable, the duck liver mousse with port wine in a little ramekin and the chorizo were the standouts. There were a couple of types of pates but they were sad little dry triangles not much bigger than my thumb, perhaps they would have been better ordered alone, which was possible via the bar menu. The watermelon salad was excellent, I like the mild pickling effect of the dressing on the sweet watermelon, there were however only 2 tiny pieces of sardine, perhaps less than a single fillet altogether, which seemed a little meager but the flavors were very good.

For our main courses we got the monkfish and mussels ($28), and the pork tenderloin ($26). Fine fresh ingredients, excellently done monkfish, you could see from the sauce for the pork that someone in the kitchen had mastered veal demi-glace, etc.

For dessert we shared the chocolate and caramel fondant, chocolate sorbet and chocolate paper ($9). Very chocolate-y, professionally done, no complaints.

Wine: they have an impressive wine book. Seriously, seriously impressive, especially if you have the wallet and inclination to drink some old German Rieslings or French Burgundies. There were old Trockenbeerenauslesen for over $1k and ditto for seriously good French reds. The husband started with a glass of rose Champagne ($18), I went for a glass of Riesling Spaetlese ($14), and we continued with a bottle of 2003 Thierry Allemand Cornas ($130). The wines were lovely, the sommelier seemed a little overwhelmed with the size of the cellar, especially when we ordered a glass each of Mas Amiel vintage fortified wine to go with the chocolate dessert, and they weren't able to find the bottle until we were almost done with the food. They did end up taking that off the bill so it was at least professionally handled.

Service was highly uneven but that's probably because the restaurant has barely had time to properly open. We went on a Monday night and the main room looked pretty full. They had a much simpler bar menu (also available to order from the dining room) which had things like burgers, mussels and fries, and a good looking long bar.

In conclusion? Good solid French food with some Californian characteristics, and an amazing wine list. Not sure what the big fuss is about but it's not a bad effort.

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