The Mystery of Fringale

Dinner at Fringale last night was an inspiration—but not in the way you might think. It inspired me to figure out a new restaurant review rating system. Why? Because the restaurant itself is fantastic. It’s just the lack of vegetarian options that sucks.

I’ve never understood why Fringale doesn’t get more attention in San Francisco. Hell, even I’m guilty of ignoring it. We were looking for a place to grab an early dinner before the Bloc Party show at the Concourse Exhibition Center, and the first place that came to mind was COCO 500. I couldn’t get a table for five though, so I had to figure out another option. Doy! Fringale is right next door. But nobody ever seems to talk about the place. It’s like it doesn’t exist. Why is that? Every meal I’ve had there has been great. And if you eat meat, Fringale is a real gem.

The dining room is small and intimate. The service is top notch. The wine list is terrific. The food is well-executed. And the staff all have adorable French accents. What more could you ask for? (A vegetarian appetizer, or something other than risotto for a main dish, I suppose. You know me. Never satisfied.)

So yeah, I had the mushroom fricasée risotto with fried parsley and white truffle oil. There was nothing else for me to order. It was good, though. They used wild rice, which gave the dish a bit more texture and interest than usual.

There wasn’t even a vegetarian salad on the menu: The closest thing was the butter lettuce with sweet anchovies and mustard vinaigrette. But ordering it without the anchovies would be ridiculous. No anchovies, no salty punch. You’d just be stuck with an $8 pile of lettuce. I guess I wasn’t in the mood for a fuss. I didn’t bother to ask for the chef to dream something up for me.

Which brings me back to the rating system. It needs to have three components, I think. Like, overall restaurant quality, vegetarian selection, and vegetarian execution (meaning, how good was the food I was actually able to eat). What do you think? Am I missing a category? Maybe service?

Broken down this way, here’s how Fringale scored:

Overall Quality: B+
Vegetarian Selection: D
Vegetarian Execution: B+
Service: B+

If my (hypothetical) kid came home with grades like that on her report card, what would I say? “Nice job overall, but no more TV until you bring home at least a C in Vegetarian Selection. Now get your butt upstairs and finish your homework, young lady.” (So much potential, that kid has. I just want to see her try a little bit harder.)

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2 Comments

Filed under Mid-range Meals, Rants, Reviews

2 responses to “The Mystery of Fringale

  1. i think this rating system works for what you’re doing. i don’t consider Service in my ratings unless it was exceptional (good or bad.)

  2. sam

    I know what you mean about Fringale. I went there about 3.5 years ago and had a stellar meal (not veggie of course, but memorable). I still remember what I ate and how wonderful the service was and how much I enjoyed the quiet romantic kind of evening it was.

    And why haven’t I ever been back? I have certainly suggested it a few times but Fred always says ‘I know the food and service was good but it was boring’. We end up at Coco500 all the time instead. You know what, you have shamed me into realising – Fringale really deserves us giving them a second chance, especially on your recommendation.

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