Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Range - Valencia - Mission - San Francisco - CA

Range, 842 Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA 94110, (415) 282 8283

Emphasis on Fresh, Seasonal Ingredients, Reasonable Prices, Modern, Stylish Space. < UpsidesNoisier than noisy. Don't come here for a quiet, romantic dinner.
Downsides >

Sleek, modern space where you scream for your supper

photograph picture of Range logo filed under restaurant Review san francisco Because we had read some great things about a new restaurant called Range, in San Francisco's Mission district and because we'd heard the menu would be seasonal, which we thought would fit in quite well with our efforts to eat local, we decided to check it out, with two friends, last Friday. photograph picture of Range logo filed under restaurant Review san francisco We arrived right on time for our reservation, but it was clear that they were busy and would be quite late with our table. This gave us a perfect excuse to check out the lively bar and try a cocktail from their brief list of mixed drinks. I was immediately struck by the beautiful, stylish, huge, retro, glass-fronted fridge behind the serving area, which had the words "Blood Bank" stamped in metal at the top. I asked the tender if it really had been used for blood in its past. She wasn't sure, but she thought it had. Nice design touch.

The restaurant is divided into three sections. The front room, with the bar and and a few tall tables where walk-ins can eat is joined to the back dining room by a long corridor which houses a single row of dining tables. Although brighter and less cosy in atmosphere, the corridor might be the best place to eat, because once you move in to the back dining room the noise is almost unbearable. The main, rear dining room is simply but stylishly furnished with a couple of tables in the middle, where we were seated, banquettes to the right and the rear, plus a couple of 4-seater prime position booths to the left.
photograph picture of Range logo filed under restaurant Review san francisco Our waitress was friendly, smart and helpful, and explained, when asked, that all ingredients, apart from the halibut, were local. (A quick browse of the menu suggests her statement was not entirely correct because non-local items such as hawaiian salt, coffee, pecorino and balsalmic are also in evidence.) I would have liked to converse with her a little further about the food sources, but the ear-deafening din meant that barking our orders to her was about all we could do. The bread was ciabatta and I did find out that the butter came from Gilt Edge Creamery, a San Francisco Dairy that supplies restaurants, hotels, and food service operations with butter, milk, and a variety of cheeses.
Goat Cheese and sorrel stuffed pasta with lime butter and chives $10.00 was a rich but simple, perfectly balanced and utterly delcious starter that led to me further investigating recipes for this less well-known leafy, green, unique-tasting vegetable.
photograph picture of Range logo filed under restaurant Review san francisco Romain hearts, radishes and fried capers with roasted garlic vinaigrette 8.00 sounded like a dish that would show off the best of the season's bounty. Indeed, the vegetables were crispy and fresh, but their personalities were completely cloaked by the over-generous dredging of strong, salty parmesan-like cheese that covered every surface. Disappointingly, nothing of the capers, radishes or roasted garlic shone through. photograph picture of Range logo filed under restaurant Review san francisco The Pepper crusted seared venison with cherry tomatoes, pecorino and rosemary vinaigrette 12.00 was a succulent fan-shaped display of thick-cut rare-cooked meat. The subtle pepper crust added a good flavour but the pecorino, in the form of a couple of very strong, salty 'cheese crisps' clashed with the meat, overpowering its more delicate flavour. Had they not been on the plate, the dish might have been close to perfect.photograph picture of Range logo filed under restaurant Review san francisco Fred was quite pleased with his pan roasted bavette steak with young leeks, spinach and yukon gold potatoes $19.00 but a friend from work who was dining at a different table on the same night remarked that she thought it was disappointing and tough. It was maybe a little thicker than you would normally expect a bavette to be which made it denser but, in Fred's case at least, still tender.

NEWSFLASH: Updated August 16th with some interesting words from the chef/owner of Range, Phil West

Between us we ordered a couple of desserts, all priced at $7 each. The Brillat Savarin souffle with strawberry salad and balsamic reduction was pounced on by my friend who isn't keen on sweet things. For her, the opportunity to eat a more savoury dessert was welcomed. I had to battle it out with the other sweet-tooth for the hazelnut butter creme caramel with toasted brioche and raspberry chambord preserves which had a haunting, unusual flavour that I found intriguing and moreish. Quite delcious, but the texture was a bit baby-foodish and I imagine it would not be to everyones' taste.

The bill worked out at about $65 per head before tip, but we did share two bottles of Pinot Noir between the four of us and indulge in a full round of after dinner drinks too. Overall, we had a fun time at Range. The food was mainly pretty good and the quality of the ingredients shone through, even where the combinations worked less well for us. But, oh, the noise, the deafening racket - it was almost enough to deter us form returning again anytime soon. It really was a problem... along with the girl seated at the table next to us who somehow seemed to think that vacantly chewing gum in a restaurant is quite acceptable behavior these days. Call me old fashioned, but I disagree.


Locavores August Eat Local Challenge 2005

PS. This review was a

Yesterday's eating local challenge went pretty well. We ate out in Marin, for lunch, at a place that features food from the local markets. More about that as soon as they answer my email queries about some of their ingredients. For dinner we shared a Marin Sun Farms New York steak which we cooked on the BBQ and then served with corn from G&S Farms in Brentwood, little gems from Star Route Farms in Marin and tomatoes from Balakian Farms in Reedley.

Here are some other early reviews of Range Yelp - Chowhound - Citysearch


Tagged in
Range - Valencia - Mission - San Francisco - CA

12 Comments:

  • At 3/8/05 09:43, Blogger cookiecrumb said…

    Talk about nice design touch! I love your layout for this post.
    (Also, hadn't heard about Gilt Edge Creamery; must check it out.)
    xo

     
  • At 3/8/05 09:43, Blogger farmgirl said…

    Enjoyed the entire post but could not get past the idea of a dairy in San Francisco. Just where are they hiding these cows? (It's been a long time since I've been in The City; did they plant a field on the top outside level of the Stockton Sutter Garage, perhaps?)Or maybe nobody knows, as my two attempts to link through to their website ended in failure. . .Hmmmm. Or should that be Moooooo?

    (Actually I'm only here doodling around because I can't come up with a clever response to the hysterical comment you just left me regarding my breakfast.)

     
  • At 3/8/05 09:47, Blogger Clare Eats said…

    At least you found out how nice sorrel is ;)

     
  • At 3/8/05 17:35, Blogger shuna fish lydon said…

    I am so happy to see this review! I have sent the link to the chef, Phil West. He is a good egg and I think will appreciate the immediate feedback.

    Gilt Edge is a dairy distributor. Their butter is not fabulous, just less expensive than Clover & Berkeley Farms, their local competitors. On the other hand, Clover is guaranteed to be local & family owned.

    Yes, it is rare that condiment garnishes like oil, vinegar, salt etc. are local. Generally Chefs don't factor in these "ingredients" when they are speaking of ingredients.

     
  • At 3/8/05 17:53, Blogger Sam said…

    Shuna - not as happy as I am to see you!
    Welcome back my deary, making me nervous by sending my words straight to the chef. Of course I would not expect such ingredients to be local. And the menu doesn't make any local claims so this ok - it's just that I am studying the issue this month - as you know which is why I mentioned it. And actually the butter tasted nice because it was served at the perfect temperature.

    cookiecrumb - looks like shuna has the info - but I dont think they sell to the general public from what i can garner

    farmgirl - it would be interesting to know where they get their milk from. I dont think their website is working.

    and clare - yes - sorrel is good! tell your mum!

     
  • At 3/8/05 18:24, Anonymous del4yo said…

    Sorry I ate all the Brillat Savarin souffle. It was just my idea of a dessert and the fisrt time in a year or so I really enjoyed one. Now that I read your post, I carve for sorrel and souffle!

    I completely agree with what you said...And you're not old fashion at all. Acting lady like is always modern.

    I would come back any time to the place, but later in the evening to avoid noisy people...Or with ear plugs!

     
  • At 3/8/05 19:22, Blogger Sam said…

    Del - Maybe they will do something to lessen the noise. I hope so. We should go back again - definitely when the restaurant has had more time to settle beyond the hype.

     
  • At 3/8/05 21:08, Blogger Charlotte said…

    I don't think the gum chewing would have bothered me nearly as much as the noise. If I am spending that much for dinner I would like to exert myself in providing the content (not the volume) of my end of Dinner Conversation. And, of course, enjoying the excellent food.

    I'll have to look for sorrel; I've never had it. That soup you made sounded fabulous.

     
  • At 4/8/05 07:07, Blogger Sam said…

    charlotte - the noise was definitely more bothersome than the gum, its true. It's a shame - the space, although simple, looks cool and the food is definitely a delight. Maybe they can put in some noise-reducing measures.

     
  • At 26/10/05 09:49, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    La Solea Cafe' is one of the Misison little secrets. I went there recently and loved the atmosphere. They are very friendly and warm. The cafe' is down to hearth and offers a lot of dance classess, yoga etc that are geared toward the community. One other great addition worth mentioning is that they started servign East Indian inspired food. The food is really quite good and very reasonably priced for what one gets. If you love the Mission check it out.
    Andy

     
  • At 21/5/06 13:19, Blogger suckafree said…

    I've read the comments on the noise and I read Phil's thoughtful response to it. I actually don't find the specific noise at Range to be obtrusive at all. Rather, while loud, you can still easily hear conversation over it because it isn't tinny in tambor and isn't dominated by the clanking of plates, glasses and silverware.

    It's those types of noises that I find tough to deal with, and they're relatively absent at Range.

     
  • At 21/5/06 13:32, Blogger Sam said…

    Hi Suckafree
    You have probably been to Range since they took steps to alleviate the sound problem - which they did do because there were so many complaints initially. I have been back since and found the noise, whilst still lively, definitely not problematic to the point it was when it forst opened.
    The food and the value are great,and it seems to have fixed the noise problem.
    I love it each time i go and think it is great value and fir sure will revisit again.

     

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