Saturday, August 13, 2011
NoCa & San Francisco Day 4 - Incanto
Monday was a long day at work with lots and lots of meetings and with the jetlag in my bones I felt really exhausted after work, but we had a real highlight planned for the evening:
Dinner at INCANTO
I had tried to plan our team dinner there, but it is incredibly complicated to accommodate about 15 people in San Francisco out of a Munich office and so I had to cancel this project. Instead I went with my manager and my colleague who came over with me from Europe and we had a great night with fantastic food.
Chef Chris Consentino sadly was in Canada that day. So I could not say hello and do my "famous-chef-stalking" ;) but the staff in service and kitchen took care for us perfectly although we had a bit of a rough start. When we arrived in time for our reservation the place was buzzing and all tables occupied. We were asked to wait a little (30 min in the end). Usually the lovely glass of Prosecco and the fun of people watching would have cut time short, but we were tired and hungry and so it got a little long, but once we settled down at our table all was good and we threw ourselves into the dining adventure.
Before I get to the details of the menu I have to apologize to food blog fans who might come around here. I tried to make some pictures, but it is relatively dark at Incanto and using the flash was not an option. First of all I hate flash pictures and additionally it would have been extremely rude towards the other guests to ruin the relaxed atmosphere with acting like a food paparazzi and making pictures with a bright flash. So use your fantasy imagine the great dishes.
One of the big pros of Incanto is definitely the laid back atmosphere. Although you are sitting in one of the best restaurants in California, you can talk, laugh, share your food family style and have fun as much as you want.
Our dinner kicked of with an incredibly tasty duck liver pâté that came as amuse gueule. We all loved it and it made us really excited about the next courses to come.
The three of us went for two starters. We felt like having something fresh and light and went for:
- Charred padrones, cherry tomatoes & aioli
- Tomatoes, melon, purslane & chilli
That sounds like two easy dishes, but the aromas were wonderful and incredibly intense. Padrones are tiny little peppers. We got ours warm and the tasted was slightly sweet and slightly bitter at the same time. They are pretty addictive and you could easily just keep eating these cool little things.
The second starter was very refreshing and summery - exactly what we needed to wake up again. The tomatoes were the best I had ever outside of Croatia.
As entrees we ordered:
- Handkerchief pasta & rustic pork ragù
- Tomato leaf bucatini, cherry tomatoes & garlic scapes
- Pork chop with corn and onions
I chose the pork chop, because Incanto is famous for its high quality meat dishes and mine met my expectations. I loved the balance between the rustic and savory pork and the sweetness of the corn. On top of the meat was a light little, creamy sauce and ... popcorn. Yes popcorn. That sounds like a gag, but actually it was exactly this little details that upgraded a good dish to a fantastic one. I loved the combination of different textures with the structures of the meat, which was tender as butter, the soft-light creaminess of the sauce and the crispiness of the popcorn. Absolutely delicious.
I also tried a little bite of the bucatini. The pasta had itself an intense and surprising taste of its own. A bit strange, but very nice.
I did not try the handkerchief pasta, but I think that is next time my choice I go to Incanto. It looked so delicious. My colleague, who had ordered it, was a surprised how rustic the pork ragout really was. It is nothing for bad eaters - you better come hungry for this extraordinary pasta dish.
After finishing the entrees none of us was really hungry anymore and we thought twice if we would like to order desserts. Finally we decided to do the same like we did with the starters and shared two of pastry chef Julie Antone's deserts between the three of us.
- Blueberry-peach upside-down cake & Douglas Fir ice cream
- Melon sorbet, Benton’s ham & basil
The cake was our safe choice. It was very good, but not so extraordinary. About the 2nd one we had thought a long time. Sorbet and ham? Exciting, but are we brave enough for this?
Our waiter saw our faces and ensured us that it was definitely the right thing to try.
And what should I say? The melon sorbet with crisp ham bits and a little breeze of basil ended up being our favorite dish of the night. The one that makes your eyes become wide and marveling. The one that makes the tastes clash in your brain. Sweet and salty. Soft and crispy. Very unusual on one hand and not so much on the other hand. Think about it ... how often you already had melon and prosciutto di Parma? A couple of times? There you go ...
Along with our dinner we shared a fresh, aromatic Italian (all wines at Incanto are Italian) white wine from Friûl.
All together we had a fantastic night out and enjoyed our dinner a lot. The food was delicious and we liked the "adventure level" ... not too much that you feel insecure if you might end up liking what you ordered but on the other hand extraordinary enough to provide a very special dining experience.
The final thank you goes to our waiter who patiently answered all of our curious questions and helped us with recommendations and encouragement to try some new stuff to make the right choices.
Next time in San Francisco I definitely want to go again and I even have already an idea of who to take with me since I already found some Incanto fans in our local US team.
1550 Church Street
San Francisco CA 94131
415 641 4500
I would strongly recommend to make a reservation if plan to go there.