Friends, I’m gonna save you some time here and cut straight to the chase.
My partner and I have a tradition. Twice a year, on our dual anniversaries (the day we met and the day we married) we go out for a ridiculous meal. The goal is to have as many courses as possible, with wine pairings, and leave the restaurant drunk and stuffed. For the most part, we’ve been pretty successful at accomplishing both over the past few years. So we decided to go old-school this time around, and hit La Folie in Russian Hill. All the reviews kept hailing its renaissance, so why not?
(I’m about to give you several reasons why not.)
We walked into the place and the space looked lovely, especially on such a crappy, rainy night. The dining room was warmly lit, with reddish-hued walls and a decent-sized crowd of diners. But apparently this room was not for us. Instead, we were ushered to the back room, which was lit more like a hospital, with one other lonely couple in it. Our table was up against the wine cellar, which seemed to be buzzing slightly. Or maybe that was just my ears, buzzing FROM THE SOUND OF SILENCE IN THAT GOD-FORSAKEN, FREEZING COLD ROOM.
But whatever. This was our special night, and I was going to give them the benefit of the doubt.
Luckily, my positive attitude was matched by the staff’s. I have to give credit where credit is due. From start to finish, the service was top notch. Our waitress was nothing short of delightful. Helpful, approachable, and funny in a totally appropriate way. She subtly steered us away from ordering the wine pairings: She said it wasn’t a very good value, and suggested we order a few half-bottles with the help of their sommelier, George, who she claimed was “Very French and not too tedious.” (True on both counts. George was great.)
I ordered the Menu Jardiniere, and my partner ordered the Menu du Marche, with the beef from the main menu as a substitute for the veal. (My stink-eye worked!)
The amuse bouche was a harbinger of things to come. Mine was a spear of asparagus fried in some sort of fuzzy, crispy batter, with a lemon aioli. Very TGIF. What next? A Bloomin’ Onion? My bouche was not amused.
Thankfully the wine arrived. Our first bottle was a Louis Latour Marsannay, 2002. Freakin’ delicious.
Next up, Roasted Spiced Butternut Squash Soup with Squash Sage Ravioli. It was fine. And, in retrospect, probably the best dish of the night. But that ain’t sayin’ much.
The soup was followed by a Goat Cheese and Fourme D’Ambert Terrine with baby pickled beets and a teeny tiny suggestion of Frisee salad. The best I can say here is that the goat cheese wasn’t overpowering. Whee!
I’ll pause now to give props to bottle number two, a Frank Family Vineyards Napa Valley Cab, also 2002. Nicely done, George. You know how to pick ’em.
Then on to my “entree”, the Trio Du Jardinier. Potato, Leeks and Wild Mushroom Cannelloni (burnt), Squash, Eggplant, and Polenta Tomato Lasagne (pedestrian), and a Roasted Vidalia Onion with Curried CousCous (gross). It was all nicely plated, but completely uninspired on the flavor front.
Finally, for dessert, I had the warm Pain de Genes with Toasted Almond Ice Cream and Pear Consomme. I could have fallen asleep eating it, it was that boring.
Normally I would bitch and moan that the chef was giving us vegetarians the shaft, but I can’t even play that card. My partner’s meal was just as dull as mine. Lovely to look at, but a snore past that. Like some pretty Marina girl with nothing between the ears. Sigh. Even the last-bites truffle plate under delivered. They actually managed to make a blood orange pate de fruit without a hint of zing. (Recchiuti, where are you when I need you?)
We made a deal at the end of dinner. Enough f’ing around. Next year, we’re going to Cyrus.