A good friend of mine has fallen in love with Scott Howard in recent months. Last night we popped by for dinner, and all I can say is I've got a wig, some pepper spray, and a bag of adult diapers in the trunk of my car, so bring. it. on.
Last night is one of those nights where the service is what prompted me to gush. (The food is gush-worthy, it's just that I eat a lot of good food and I don't write about every bite.) We arrived 30 minutes early with plans to have a drink at the bar. The host slyly let us know whom he'd be seating next so we could hover in the appropriate area and guarantee ourselves a seat. Nice. Then, shortly after ordering my Maker's Mark and ginger, the ginger ale gun went out and I had to wait a few minutes for the bartender to replace it. For sitting patiently all of five extra minutes, he comped both our drinks. And then poured some extra wine for Jeff. I sat there like a wide-mouthed frog for a few seconds before mustering a very sincere thank you. It was so totally unnecessary, except that now I want to scream "I LOVE SCOTT HOWARD" from the rooftops. (Don't be offended, Gary, my voice carries and I can't help it if we live near your restaurant.)
Not long after, the host came by to let us know that it was past 9 and though our table wasn't ready yet, it would be soon. I asked if we could get a bread basket, just something to nibble on, and he said, "I'll see what we can send over." Before long we were sipping the chef's famous carrot broth with chervil sabayon. Just the thing for a cold foggy night -- can a soup taste more like carrots than just plain carrots do? -- and another totally unnecessary, but totally appreciated gift from the kitchen.
When we finally sat down -- 10 minutes late? 20? I don't even know because the inconvenience vanished under the veil of good service -- the parade of goodness began in earnest. The menu is new and improved, a lot shorter and a lot less fancy than it used to be. We dove into the tuna tartare with avocado, chorizo, and espelette pepper. It is on par with Aqua's Moroccan-spiced version, which I think is some of the best tartare in the city. (Bonus points for the theatricality of mixing it tableside.) Next we devoured a tiny roasted quail, then went head to head against moist bacon-wrapped monkfish and rosy-red venison. Dessert was an ungodly buttery brioche French toast (but where the heck did the strawberries come from in November? tsk tsk) and butterscotch pudding, which made me feel six again (even if they do use artificially-flavored butterscotch chips).
Slobbery kisses to you, Scott Howard.
Scott Howard ~ 500 Jackson Street ~ 415.956.7040 ~ scotthowardsf.com