Perbacco, San Francisco (January 2009)

Ah, the ever so affluent Financial District houses some of San Francisco’s finest restaurants–One Market, Boulevard, Aqua. Would Perbacco hobnob with the aforementioned heavyweights?

As the host ushered me to a table, she asked if I had ever dined here before. I told her I had not, but mentioned that I had eaten at neighboring Aqua not long ago. This is not like Aqua, she said. Ever so right she was.

Perbacco exudes a brasserie ethos, interested more in turning tables rather than allowing diners to patiently peregrinate through a meal. When the server arrived to take my order, he proceeded to tell me what he would order–crudo, risotto, and the striped bass. I politely thanked him for the advice and went on to order what I wanted to eat.

Before commenting on the food, I ought to describe the interior. A long, narrow path runs from the entrance through to the kitchen with seating areas bordering on both sides. When dinner service starts and men and women strut through the dining room, it looks as if an incondite fashion show is taking place.

The terrine–or libamáj if you are from Eastern Europe–just so happened to be my favorite dish tonight, for it reminded me of childhood lunches at home with libamáj spread liberally on sandwiches. 

Pork liver, gherkins, and grain mustard
Below is another example of the table turning mentality. I ordered two small pasta dishes, yet they arrived in tandem. What a lummox! 
Herb ricotta gnocchi, caramelized onions and wild mushrooms; herb agnolotti filled with braised rabbit
I appreciate that Perbacco makes these sausages in house. I would have appreciated them even more if they tasted good. Seriously, did the kitchen think I hungered for a coprophagy experience? The blood sausage was cloying; the “crispy pancetta,” as stated on the menu, was gelatinous. 
Sausage assortment, escarole and lentils
I opted to forgo pudding–I am using pudding in the British sense–mainly because I do not care for most Italian desserts.
Petit fours

It seems, then, that French-inspired establishments still dominate the upper echelons of gastronomy.


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