Hayes Street Grill
320 Hayes Street (between Gough and Franklin) San Francisco 415.863.5545
On our way to a party in the neighbourhood we stopped at Hayes Street Grill, established as a stalwart pre-theatre dining establishment in Hayes Valley. The clinical unwelcoming decor, bright lighting, old-fashioned mirrors hanging on the wall and unfascinating, sparse, clientelle did nothing to warm us to the place when we first entered. We hadn't really eaten all day so I decided we should share an appetiser. The menu is fish-centric and as F doesn't eat seafood, I chose the Grilled Hoffman Quail Salad with Cherries for $12.50. The waiter kindly served the dish on two plates, with half of the juicy little quail on each. Accompanying frisee salad was well dressed with cherries packing a little extra sweet sharp punch.
For main course, I ordered the Niman Flatiron Steak with Mustard Butter, Balsamic Onions, French Fries ($19.75) whilst F chose House-Made Boudin Blanc Sausages, Arugula and Frisee, French Fries ($16.50). I know there is something drastically amiss with the food when F finds the salad leaves to be the most exciting thing on his plate. He declared that the Boudin Blanc from Safeway was better than the mushy mess of sausage he'd been presented with.
My flatiron steak was so tough I couldn't cut it, even with the special sharp knife they had provided me with. The fries, served separately in a cone, were so hard and crunchy that even after being left to soak up sauce for 15 minutes they hadn't softened, not even slightly. As I tried to stab them with my fork, their crispy surfaces would reject my efforts and they would fly off of my plate at all sorts of angles like bullets, leaving me and the surrounds covered in splatters of sauce.
My waiter was ignoring me so I explained to the busboy who took away my plates that my meal was unacceptable as I literally was physically unable to eat it. I asked him if he could he pass on the message. This didn't happen and so when we were presented with the bill I really felt I had to say something. I have never done this before in my life: actually refuse to pay for a dish. He took my meal off of the check but I would at least have expected him to be more interested in the problem or send out the chef to see me and apologize. I can't believe this place has such a good zagat rating. Maybe all the pre-theatre diners are in such a hurry to get to their performances, they eat so fast that they actually forget to stop and actually wonder how the food tastes.
My summary for Zagat:
Waiting staff have been wheeled out of retirement to preside over this ugly clinical eating space where the steak was tougher than the flatiron it was named after, the fries so hard that even after a 15 minute bathe in the sauce, they still flew across the room when you tried to put your fork in them. The boudin blanc from Safeway tastes better than what you find here. Hayes Street Grill