Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Dinner at Town Hall, San Francisco, CA

We decided to try out Town Hall today. It constantly listed on the most booked list on opentable.com, so we decided to try it out. The decor was an odd melange of styles. It combined the simple brick of the building, beautiful, spidery chandeliers, home-y style touches like an old country butcher block, and art-deco pieces. Each style was very well done, but the combination didn't gel. The open kitchen looks out on to the bar, wait station and the large noisy dining room.

The service was off. It seemed like they weren't in sync with the kitchen or each other. The food temperature was off, the cold dishes too warm, the hot dishes tepid. It seemed like the dishes probably lingered at the waiting station during the too-long pauses between each course. The waitstaff themselves were personable and nice, but such inefficiency in operation is not acceptable for a restaurant that has been open for over a year. The waitress also had no idea what the soup of the day was, or if substitutions were possible.

The actual food had generous portions (and that was by far the best element of the restaurant), and the menu is Creole influenced American.

Tuna Tartare with Fried Green Tomatoes $12
The batter they used here and on the oysters below was actually absolutely amazing. It was perfectly crunchy but incredibly thin. I need to know how they do that. The tartare itself was certainly decent, with a tabasco-esque flavor, and it had those tiny homemade potato chips on it (the same kind they use at Oola on the seared tuna).

Fondue with Brocolli, Paramasean Breadsticks and Potatos $10
The temperature problem was particulary noticeable here. Fondue is supposed to be served up steamy and hot, and instead this was just warm, instead of Sterno or something hot, they also only used a votive to keep it warm at the table. The texture of the fondue was perfect though, smooth and creamy. Of the dipping options, only the Parmasean breadstick added the right tanginess to the understated flavor of the fondue.

Charred Ribeye with Chanterelle-Crayfish Melange $24
Again, temperature was a problem here. However, they did make an exception for me and served me the melange sans baked potato.

Crab Jumbalaya with Fried Oysters and Sausage. $12
I could have used a bit more heat (both in temperature and seasoning) but the fried oysters were the highlight of the meal for me.

Veal Meatballs $10
The texture was right, the flavor was right, but somehow this dish was missing something.

Brussel Sprouts with Baby Turnips and Bacon $5
Due to a mishap with the ordering this one actually showed up piping hot from the kitchen.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Tart with Carmelized Bananas $8
This was served at room temparture and was mediocre. The crust was not flaky and the side sauce was chalky

Food: 1
Service: 1
Decor: 2

Heathcode Violations

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