Tuesday, July 05, 2005

The Last Supper at La Suite - Brannan - San Francisco - CA

Archive Alert! On this day in 2004, we were in St. Germain, Paris, eating a far more wonderful, real French supper at Bistro d'Henri.

La Suite, 100 Brannan Street at the Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA 94110 (415) 977-0210

photograph picture of La Suite San Francisco filed under restaurant review photograph picture of La Suite San Francisco filed under restaurant review
I can't even describe it as a love hate relationship. When it comes to La Suite, there is no longer any love. The first date showed promise. Fred knows Joceleyn Bulow, the French, San Francisco entrepeneur behind Chez Maman and Chez Papa so we secured an invite to La Suite's opening party which turned out to be a lot of fun. Full of hope for this restaurant, during La Suite's opening week we made a visit which turned out to be a mixed experience. We put it down to teething problems and weren't adverse to giving it another try. Maybe we should have left it there, but we have a couple of French friends who love La Suite. They even go so far as to describe it as going to Paris and back without the jet lag. They dragged us over there one evening ealier this year and we didn't even get around to blogging the visit. On that occasion the sommelier tried to disuade us from ordering a bargain bottle of Cotes de Blaye 2002 which was only $20 a bottle, instead trying to upsell some pricier wines. Luckily our companion's grandparents live next door to the vineyard and so we stuck to our guns and enjoyed a bottle or two without pulling too hard on the purse strings. Although I had an excellent Ciopillini onion tart and Del pronounced her bone marrow appetizer as perfect, two out of the three steak entrees turned out to be so tough they were almost inedible.
photograph picture of oysters at La Suite San Francisco filed under restaurant review photograph picture of foie gras at La Suite San Francisco filed under restaurant review
Perhaps we should have left it at that, but the other evening we were in the area, so foolishly we decided to give it another try. We weren't in the mood to sit down for a meal so we sat at the bar for a quick snack. I ordered half a dozen oysters. They have a huge list to choose from and the bar tender seemed knowledgeable about the selection. I opted for half Humamoto and half Skookum. The Humamotos were so tiny - the smallest I have ever seen, barely as big as a teaspoon. The Skookum were very creamy tasting. Two vinaigrettes were served with the oysters. In addition to the traditional shallot accompaniment there was one that contained horseradish. It was delicious, but overpowered the oysters delicate flavours. Every single oyster bar one was badly shucked, causing me mouthful upon mouthful of shell. Shame on you, La Suite.
Fred wasn't hungry at all until he saw the foie gras, which he then promptly ordered. He thought it was just ok. What was most peplexing was that it was drizzled with mint leaves. Hmmm, mint and foie gras? That's a new one on us, a new one that we hopes goes straight out of fashion.
The bread served with the pate was lousy. In fact, all the bread at La Suite was lousy. The white baguette we were given to begin with tasted overwhelmingly and curiously of lemon washing-up liquid. It was more like bread than cake. Ewwww.
photograph picture of the cheese trolley La Suite San Francisco filed under restaurant review
I would have left it at that but Fred then spied the La Suite's famous cheese trolley. He called it over for a look and then there was no going back. At the cheaper price point you can select three cheeses from their delicious-looking selection which they serve on a plate with apricot compote and honey. No, wait, hold the honey, Fred and I do not want honey mucking up our cheese. We selected a very dry, strong goat cheese which was excellent. The tete de moine, with its irresistable frilly-skirt presentation actually tasted wonderful too, something like a parmigiano reggiano in flavour but smoother and more subtle. The third cheese? We can't remember the name, but it was French and tasty although our least favourite of the three. We already guessed, by this stage, the bread was going to be a let down, and it was. Luckily the cheese was so good it could be enjoyed without any carbs.

There is an interesting wine list at La Suite and Fred chose a glass of 2002 Domaine Pujol Minervois Cuvee Saint Fructeaux Coteaux du Languedoc which was declared to be good enough to make a note of. La Suite certainly is not cheap. If you are thinking of giving it a try, do so at your own risk and preferably on someone else's dollar. There have been such varying reports about the food and the service here, it might be like playing Russian Roulette. If you decide to visit, we sincerely hope you choose the evening when the bullet is not going to target you with a huge bout of disappointment and regret.

PS. This review was

Previous reviews of La Suite on Becks & Posh: The Opening Party, September 2004, Our first meal at La Suite, Spetember 2004 and A revisit October 2004

Other local views of La Suite can be found here
Metro Blogging - Yelp - Gayot - SF Survey - Michael Bauer -Le Blog de San Francisco - SF Weekly - Bay Area Guardian - Arthur Hungry - Chowhound a While Back - more recently on Chowhound

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The Last Supper at La Suite - Brannan - San Francisco - CA


  • At 5/7/05 07:27, Blogger tara said…

    Mouthfuls of shell? For shame is right! For the prices and the seemingly attractive setting, the food sounds terribly disappointing. And please, upselling you on the wine is simply tacky.

  • At 5/7/05 14:34, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Dear Sam,
    I absolutely love tete de moine! Because I don't want to gather each and every kitchen gadget (like a girolle for preparing the tete de moine), I checked out different cheese shops throughout Munich. There are very few which will do you the favour of preparing tete de moine with the girolle, the other shops sell it just sliced - what a loss ;) Sorry for the rather disappointing experience...

  • At 5/7/05 17:26, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I don't know what to say for I'm the lucky one who always has been treated as a queen at la suite...

    My fiance choose this very place to propose, with a dessert specialy made for me. Service was perfect, and the food ideal. It was, really, like going to Paris and back without the jet lag.

    I'm so sorry you were unlucky!

  • At 5/7/05 17:43, Blogger Sam said…

    tara - i agree upselling is tacky. I don't mind if they ask about sparkling water (here the Badoit is $10 a bottle) or have one attempt at 'selling' dessert, but once declined I hope they will cease to persist. The question I ask - if they think the wine is not good enough - then why do they have it on the menu in the first place??

    nicky - i think you deserve a girolle, surely next time you want to treat yourself...?

    del - you know the only I will go back again is if you are to persuade me, because I know it is a special place for you and you must have good vibes there.

    It isn't like Fred and I haven't tried to like it.
    We spent a lot of money on giving them several chances to come through and each time there has been something quite wrong, and the price has always been on the high side too. You must admit that even when we went together - you were lucky with your steak while Presd and Fred had very diappointing meals. But also - I like restuarants where i have had great food, even if Fred hasn't - like Zuni, so I know where you are coming from with your good disposition and thank you for standing up for it here, and stating your own point of view, so readers can get a more balanced opinion.

  • At 6/7/05 09:09, Blogger tara said…

    Excellent point about the wine, Sam! I'll admit I'm not a wine expert, but sometimes there is another reason besides matching behind my choice of wine. Personal response to flavours and even sentimentality can play a part in my choosing! I know that may be gauche and I may not pick the most à propos, or most expensive, but if I've made my choice and am standing by it - then drop it! A gentle suggestion is one thing, but if I'm feeling that this is not an addition to my experience but rather a transaction, then I'm immediately soured. Sorry, rant over.

    And nicky, you do deserve a girolle!

  • At 7/11/08 02:46, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    i love that they have genuine, professional service. However i felt they do not offer enough. Anyways, we had Mussels Mariniere with Fries, Steak Frites, Ahi Tuna, the cheese platter and the Chocolate Souffle.
    Oh and the parking was a nightmare, but isn't that all of San Fran? and then to add on to that the valet cost $10.
    Overall i really enjoyed the food, the service, and the feel of this place!



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