I will never understand why San Franciscans stand in line to eat at any restaurant, but it seemed to me that if you wanted to eat at a highly-regarded place in the Bay area, waiting for a seat was just a given. Everywhere I went, there was always at least ten people ahead of me and another twenty behind. In New York, we have a lot of dining options; a lot of them are mediocre, sure, but we also boast a lot of good eatings that there’s always another option if you can’t get in your first choice. Call me impatient but I found all the queues unacceptable in San Francisco. It didn’t matter if we woke up extra early for Tartine Bakery’s morning buns or opted to eat a later Vietnamese lunch at Turtle Tower–we waited in line.
We arrived at flour + water around 7pm and we were told by the maître d’ that the next spot for two would open up in the next two hours. We left and drove around looking for alternatives but of course, all our other options required the same kind of waiting. We ended up driving back to the same neighborhood where flour + water was. By 8pm, I walked in again and asked if the wait time has changed–we were seated at the bar in less than 10 minutes. Just like that! Now, I don’t know if it was because those ahead of us dropped off or if it was because of the holiday weekend, but trying for prime time worked at flour + water rather than at 7pm.
For appetizers, we started with the steelhead crudo with roe, pickled beets, lemon aioli and potato cracklings. It was an impressive combination of textures and tastes: the fish melted in my mouth like butter and the pickled beets had that perfect touch of tartiness.
The sardines salad had a lot to say with mÃ¢chÃ©, leeks, baby fennel, cauliflower, pine nuts and capers. I kept finding baby vegetables at every bite. I thought it was beautifully crafted.
We loved the crispy trotters shaped like chicken nuggets. The bitterness of the chicory and radicchio offset the richness of the trotters. I thought the squid ink corzetti was subtle in taste. It was definitely a notch down from the saltiness of the trotters with squid, fennel and some chili.
It was also the tail end of San Francisco Beer Week, so we opted for the beer ice cream from Humphry Slocombe which, thankfully, didn’t taste like beer. The honey was stronger than the beer flavor that it almost tasted like vanilla with a touch of lavender.
One thing that I will give San Francisco, though, is that none of the servers I dealt with were in any way sour or bitchy. It was always like: The wait is looking like two hours (smile). Yes, we can make sure that dish is gluten-free and we can substitute the scrambled egg with fried (smile). I never felt bad about asking for anything because I knew that they would be very accommodating. To me, that level of service was refreshing, even if I had to wait for it.
flour + water is at 2401 on the corner of 20th and Harrison Streets. There’s Homestead on Folsom Street for drinks while you wait for a table.