Friday, October 19, 2007

Fish and Farm: Very Local, Pretty Good

We just heard about Fish and Farm, a restaurant that just opened up a few weeks ago and that claims to source as much of its ingredients as possible from within 100 miles of the front door of the restaurant. We like to eat locally, and we like to try new restaurants, so this seemed like a good bet. When we tried to get a reservation, the only thing left on a Friday night was at 9:45, so we took it. There were some hits and some misses, but the good outweighed the bad as far as food was concerned. And, although they are obviously still working out the kinks as far as service is concerned (the service was really slow), the waitstaff did an admirable job with menu knowledge. The waiter knew the provenance of every ingredient I asked about off the top of his head, except for the rice flour, which he promptly found the answer to.

The atmosphere was casual and fun. The decor consists of bright blue walls, some interesting art, a couple of oars and 2 big, cushy leather banquettes on opposite walls, with tables, a row of chairs and a central walkway in between. The one thing we found a bit off-putting was that there was an overwhelming fishy smell throughout the restaurant. Now, we understand that half the focus of the restaurant is fish, but this was a bit much.

Shaved Fennel with Kalamata Olives and House-Cured Gravlax (gratuit)
This amuse-bouche was well executed, if not particularly inventive. It was a fresh way to start the meal.

Mediterranean Style Sardines $8
These were really tasty. The tender, grilled flesh was served with roasted fennel, olives and a citrus vinaigrette. We did notice, however, when these sardines arrived at the table, that they were the source of the fishy odor that permeated the restaurant.

Fish and Farm Plate $18
This was probably the biggest dissapointment of the night. For the price, we expected about twice as much food and although the fish portion of this dish was tasty, the house-cured meats were sub par. From left to right;
House-Made Head Cheese with Boiled Egg Sauce--Not complex enough for head cheese and cut too thick
House-Made Mortadella--This was awful. It tasted like store-bought bologna.
Sardine Marinated in Champagne Vinegar--This little bite was sitting on a very thin lemon slice and reminded us of tuna tataki. It was quite good.
Escabeche of White Bass--This delicious bite was served fried in rice oil and served with carrots.

Salt Cod Fritters with Stewed Peppers and Onions and a Poached Egg $9
Wow. These were light and airy on the inside and perfectly crispy outside. We could eat these for breakfast any day.

Venison Spareribs with Celery Root Slaw $11
These meaty ribs were very tender and far less gamey than we would have expected. Perhaps they achieved this effect through the brining.

Crayfish, Braised Leeks and Okra with Polenta and Arugula $18
This dish was truly transcendant. All of the ingredients, eaten in a single bite, were more than the whole of their parts. We were skeptical that there were really crayfish within 100 miles of here, but we were informed that the crayfish come from the Sacramento Delta. We were impressed. The polenta was creamy without being gummy, and the sauce was made with Absinthe, one of the only ingredients of the night that was decidedly not from the area. This was a great finish to the night.

Food: 1
Decor: 1
Service: 1

Fish and Farm
339 Taylor Street
San Francisco, CA 94102

Too New for Health Code Violations

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