Sunday, July 13, 2008

Dinner at Jack Falstaff Restaurant

I had a chef friend, Josh, in town from Denver, and we have been on a Taste of SF—Italian style. We’ve eaten at SPQR and Bar Bambino, and A16, Incanto Restaurant, and Delfina are also on his list. He’s one of the chefs at Denver’s Panzano restaurant and so was doing a bit of inspirational dining (sounds so much better than just plain old research). Well, when trying to think of where else we should go (that wasn’t necessarily Italian), I thought of my friend Jonny’s restaurant, Jack Falstaff. Wise choice. Definitely didn’t regret that decision! Josh and I met up with my friends Jason and Eric and we had our fearless foursome, ready for some serious dining.

Chef Jonnatan Levia was a 2008 San Francisco Chronicle Rising Star Chef, and was even just featured again in the paper today! In any case, Jonny spoiled us. We started off with bubbly, Friend Oysters with Corn Fritters, Grass-fed Bison Tartare, and a Chorizo and Cantaloupe salad. The bison tartare was my favorite, surprisingly tender given how lean that meat is.

Before our main courses arrived, Jonny treated us to fresh oysters as well as his Heirloom Tomato Salad which was served with fava beans and corn with a cresenza cheese. Oh my god. The corn was so sweet (as Josh said, especially for so early in the season!) I could have eaten everyone’s portion and would be perfectly happy eating that salad every day for the rest of my life.

We moved on to our main courses. The table ordered the Pacific Halibut with a Dungeness Crab and Corn ‘Chowder’, the Local Black Cod with Roasted Tomatoes and Zucchini, the Kobe Style Beef Sirloin served with Roasted Bone Marrow, Spinach and Piquillo Stuffed with Morels, and the Heritage Duroc Pork served with ramen and a sunnyside up Partridge egg. Everything was delicious, the crab and corn ‘chowder’ was very good—with a spicy kick! The fish were both prepared perfectly, the beef sirloin was awesome—the spinach was good too.

HOWEVER. The most amazing and perfect dish of the night was the pork ramen. The server poured the ginger-soy broth tableside, and the egg was perfectly cooked. The pork was super tender, the ramen perfectly cooked, and all of the flavors blended very well. I’m disappointed to say, that was not the dish I ordered, and only had a taste. I regret not being able to eat the whole thing for myself. (Reason to go back!)

As if all of that wasn’t enough…we splurged on dessert. As we were still salivating over the dessert menu, the kitchen sent out the Yellow Peach 'Muffin', which was literally like biting into a peach. It was a combination of a peach compote and peach sorbet. And then as I was chatting away with Jonny and not paying attention, the table also ordered the chocolate tasting dessert as well as the Frangelico Root Beer Float. All of it was so good. The chocolate was amazing…and the root beer float I could have finished by myself (and should have just grabbed it…it was a little challenging to share and everyone was being too polite!) I asked chef about the signature doughnut holes, and being the good man that he is, Jonny also had those sent out. Perfectly fried and dipped in cinnamon and sugar, the doughnut holes came with three dipping sauces, a berry one, caramel and crème anglaise. Amazing!! So good.

We literally had to be rolled out of the restaurant and couldn’t eat another bite. Thank you to Jonny and Jack Falstaff for such a memorable meal!

Photo of Jonny with his niece, borrowed from the San Francisco Chronicle

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