Thursday, May 19, 2005

Flytrap - Folsom Street - Downtown - San Francisco

Flytrap 606 Folsom Street, San Francisco, CA 94107 (415) 243-0580

photograph picture of wine decanter filled with faux rose

This review, in which I am eating my way around San Francisco in alphabetical order, was published first for SFist and is hence written in their style, using the royal we...

Have you heard any buzz about Flytrap? It is hardly a new restaurant, having been around, in one location or another, since 1898. We first discovered it when we lived just a couple of blocks away. The very first time we visited we were the only two in the restaurant, for the entire evening, and we thought we'd stumbled across a complete dud. But the food and sevice in particular was good enough to draw us back and discover we are not the only ones who like to hang out there. We have been semi-regulars ever since.

Flytrap is classic in style. The yellowed walls are papered with old diagramatic prints separated by faux frames, crisp white cloths adorn the tables, there are fresh flowers everywhere, candles flicker at every setting and unusually-shaped, beautiful white china makes a stunning backdrop for your food. If you are feeling romantic, Fytrap will enhance your mood, especially if you visit between Tuesday and Saturday when live music, courtesy of a grand piano and maybe even a singer, will accompany your meal. Perhaps you will be asked if you would care for a little decoration? As your eyebrows wrinkle up to create a look of puzzlement at the question, handfuls of fresh rose petals are gently scattered on the table in front of you causing you relax into a warm smile. It feels nice here. A basket of tasty hot breads, swathed in a starched white napkin, with a dinky little spheroid of butter, is promptly delivered by the waitstaff who are perfectly turned out, beautifully dressed and some of the friendliest and most accomodating in town.

If you are not currently in the throes of a love fest, do not let these sweet little touches put you off. The clientele is mixed. Single business travellers, familys, groups of friends and co workers from Downtown all meet here to sample the traditional menu in a calm, welcoming atmosphere.

Since we moved away from the neighbourhood we have been literally craving Flytrap's Limestone Lettuce Salad with Pecans and Roquefort well priced at just under the $10 mark. This is our absolute favourite salad in town, bar none. The quality is consistently perfect. Imagine a whole, vibrant, soft buttery lettuce, dressed with a light and transparent lemon vinaigrette then sprinkled with a few toasted nuts and crumbles of blue-veined cheese. The leaves taste so fresh, we've wondered whether they actually grow the the plants in their kitchen. We used to think a Live Gourmet butter lettuce was as good as it could get, but the Flytrap version makes those you can buy in a supermarket taste like an old piece of leather in comparison.

The rest of the menu is a mixed bag. The glass of Bordeaux we always order often has to be sent back for a non-corked version. Less pricey dishes like the cheese tortelloni are small but filling, super-rich and satisfying only if you have complete disregard for your levels of cholesterol. (Luckily we know someone who has such a disregard and he always spares us one glorious, decadent taste of these cheesiest of pasta parcels, if we politely ask). Another dish we opt for often is the rustic, steaming, skillet of pan-roasted mussels and clams in a piping-hot briny, garlicky broth with even more of the unctuous bulb smothering the accompanying toast points. Larger entree dishes such as fish of the day or the steak are less appealing to us. Not only might they make the dinner ultra-expensive, they just never seem to perpetuate the excitement we feel about choosing from the cheaper, more appealing list of appetizers, salads and appetizers. The sides of creamed spinach, unfortunately an extra cost-wise, are a wonderfully moreish and tasty addition to the lighter plates but would probably be too much if you ordered with an entry. In the past some of the specials have been less than stellar, including an heirloom salad made of unripe tomatoes and a piece of sea bass that was more cooked than it should have been.

Eating at Flytrap can get very expensive quickly, but it needn't if you choose carefully. We recently recommended it to some friends who took their baby with them for dinner. We are not sure we would actually recommend this place for babies, but they were thankful, later, we'd suggested somewhere with such understanding employees. Our friends found the food better than average and they had nothing but praise for the staff, who by all accounts sprung into heroic action, when their tiny son decided it would be a good idea to projectile vomit that delicious spinach all over the pristine white table cloth.

Well, what can we say? Stick to the Limestone Salad and you can't fail to go wrong? I am sure if the little lad had been fed our favourite lettuce starter instead, he wouldn't have been letting anyone else get their hands anywhere near it whatsoever!

Lunch: Monday-Friday 11:30 - 4:30 pm
Dinner: Monday-Friday 4:30 - 10:00 pm
Saturday 5:30 - 10:30 pm
Dress Code: Casually Elegant

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Flytrap - Folsom Street - Downtown - San Francisco


  • At 19/5/05 15:33, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Limestone lettuce is divine. Also called Bibb, it's delicate but with a surprising crispness for something so tender. That's why it seems so fresh to you. You have to search for it (and pay more, and the heads are smaller). Ordinary grocery store butter lettuces are usually Boston -- nice, but flabbier.

  • At 20/5/05 06:40, Blogger Sam said…

    thanks cookie crumb. i am going to look for it at the farmers markets tomorrow.

  • At 21/5/05 01:27, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I've had several business lunches at Flytrap, and was very pleased.... it's a swank, old school spot - one of the few places which can spark discussion over the presence of sweetbreads on the menu. (which prompted me to tell the tale of my chinese grandfather who, back in the day, ate the culinary delicacy of live monkey brain)

    Back to the point: Flytrap = good


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