Out the Door – 1/10/10

Out the Door
2232 Bush Street
San Francisco, CA 94115

La Boulangerie
2325 Pine Street
San Francisco, CA 94115

For my last lunch meal in San Francisco, my mother and I were very indecisive about where to go. We talked through a number of places but finally picked out this one. Out the Door is the casual sibling of famed Vietnamese restaurant Slanted Door. This is their newest outpost in the up-and-coming Fillmore area.

The best way for me to describe Slanted Door/OTD is probably as “Vietnamese cuisine catered to the Americanized palate.” The menu is a mix of some of the typical dishes you’d find at an authentic Vietnamese restaurant, as well as some more modern creations. Chef Charles Phan does focus on using high quality ingredients including a number of local purveyors, so the prices are higher as well.

crispy imperial rolls, shrimp, pork, mint, rice vermicelli, peanuts

I’ve had these rolls before and enjoyed them. Same story here – they were really crispy with a good filling of pork, cabbage, carrots and herbs.

beef phô, prather ranch eye of round, thai basil, thin rice noodles

My mother was feeling like pho, so she got this bowl. I’m pretty confident you won’t find many bowls of pho with such high quality beef (Prather Ranch, in this case). The broth had a nice, deep flavor and the noodles were good as well. Definitely on the pricier side for a simple bowl of pho, but a really good one.

grilled lemongrass pork over vermicelli noodles, crispy imperial rolls

I liked the tender, meaty chunks of pork here – they were grilled and slightly charred, giving them a little bit of smoky flavor as well. I liked the cool noodles, as well as the crispy carrots for some texture. The restaurant’s fish sauce is definitely less pungent than normal, which I liked here. And…more of those imperial rolls! Yum.

chicken porridge, rau ram, crispy shallots, black pepper

This was the last dish we ordered. This was one of the best (okay, and most expensive) rice porridges I’ve had. It’s a pretty simple dish, but there were a number of different flavors within each scoop – the crispy shallots, the rau ram (like cilantro), and the tender chunks of chicken. It had the perfect amount of salt and the consistency was spot on.

For the flight back to LA, I picked up both “dessert” and “breakfast” for the next morning at one of my favorite bakeries in the city – La Boulangerie of the Bay Bread Co.. It’s just a block away from the restaurant.

The breads are great here, but I really like the croissants. I picked up a chocolate and hazelnut chocolate croissant. Eaten fresh or warmed up quickly in the oven, these were delicious.

I was pretty happy with this meal at Out the Door. It definitely met, and probably exceeded expectations a little. The food was comforting, tasty and executed well. Yes, it’s a little more expensive for Vietnamese, but I thought it was worth it.

Slanted Door – 8/30/10

The Slanted Door
1 Ferry Building
San Francisco, CA 94111

The Slanted Door was one of my favorite restaurants growing up in San Francisco. It’s been at its current location for a while now, in the Ferry Building Marketplace with great views of the San Francisco Bay.

The chef is Charles Phan, who has arguably become the most famous chef of Vietnamese cuisine in the country. Serving upscale Vietnamese food, the restaurant’s been popular ever since it opened in the Mission District in San Francisco in 1995. It continues today as the restaurant was packed for a Monday lunch.

spicy ahi tuna tartare with english cucumber, ginger and toasted sesame

We started with this tuna tartare, which was fairly typical.  I thought the shrimp chips were a nice addition, being the main textural component in this dish.

wild california yellowtail with crispy shallots and Thai basil

I enjoyed the crispy shallots in this dish, adding a nice crunchy sensation to each bite. The Thai basil brightened up the flavors as well.

slanted door spring rolls with shrimp, pork, mint and peanut sauce

This is a classic dish – solid though nothing special. I would compare them to spring rolls you can get at a good Vietnamese restaurant, but these were rather steep at $9.

crispy imperial rolls with shrimp, pork, glass noodles and peanuts

I enjoyed these imperial rolls especially for their delightfully crispy exterior. The pork added a meatier flavor which I always enjoy.

vietnamese crepe with shrimp, pork, bean sprouts and onions

The crepe was thin and very crispy – perfect. Filled with pork and shrimp, I enjoyed this savory crepe. The fish sauce brought it all together.

pho bo vietnamese beef soup with prather ranch london broil and wide rice noodles

Considering Slanted Door’s prices are rather high, I was surprised to see a bowl of pho for $6. However, it all made sense when the bowl came out, as it was about four inches in diameter. Still, a well made pho with a deeply-flavored soup.

caramelized tiger prawns with garlic, onions and chili sauce

The shrimp were overcooked, making them a little mealy. The flavors were good though, with a sweet soy-based flavor and mild heat from the chili peppers.

hodo soy beanery yuba with glass noodles, parsnip, and pioppini mushrooms

I enjoyed these noodles, served warm. The glass noodles have a nice chewy texture to them. The dried beancurd (yuba) added to the lightness of this dish.

grass-fed estancia shaking beef cubed filet mignon, sausalito springs’ watercress, red onions and lime sauce

This is one of the restaurant’s most popular dishes. I’ve tried duplicating this at home using one of Phan’s published recipes, to no satisfaction.  I don’t think this was worth $32, as there isn’t really too much meat. The meat was cooked a medium-well, but with a fantastic crust. There wasn’t a ton of flavor in my opinion, though.

My meal at Slanted Door had its up-and-downs. For the most part, I thought the food was good and nothing was ‘bad.’ In time, I will likely return, but I’m not in a hurry. The Ferry Building Marketplace itself has so much to offer, and I plan to explore more of those stalls first.