Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Piperade - Battery Street - San Francisco

Classic and Comfortable

A couple of weeks ago I realised I was tired. Tired of trying new restaurants. Tired of places that don't know how to treat their customers. Tired of seeing and being seen. Tired of the constant din of the Ohmygods whose nasal shrieks and incessant squawking seem to be unavoidable at every hot spot in town. I was tired of noise. I just wanted to sit down and have a quiet, tasty dinner, a nice glass of wine and an audible conversation with a couple of my friends. Thankfully such places aren't impossible to find. And one of them is Piperade.

Piperade is only a stone's throw away from both North Beach and The Financial District, but it might as well be a million miles away, so quiet is the street it is on and so easy is the parking there at night. On each of my visits to Piperade, the weather has never been warm enough to request a table outside, but there are several available on the tiny, V-shaped, covered patio that you must cross in order to reach the front door. Maybe the reason I've not yet dined on this terrace, is that Piperade is a restaurant that appeals to me most in the Wintertime. Inside, it is woody and warm and inviting and although the low ceilings means it is anything but lofty, the decor reminds of a ski lodge or somewhere you might go to escape inclement weather.

The hostess could not welcome you with a brighter smile if it were Summer. We are usually amongst the last people to be seated at 9.30pm, by which time the room is full of satisfied-looking diners, deep in conversation, wine flowing. Dare I say it? Piperade seems to be the perfect destination for a grown-up kind of dinner. Am I getting old?

The menu is neither ground breaking, modern, updated often or particularly adventurous but it always provides me with some pleasure. My own favourite dishes can be found in the tipiak, or small plates section: To begin with I might like to wake up my taste buds with the strong, briny flavours of the sea that come from tender slices of Bacalao (salt cod), served sashimi-style and topped with oysters, caviar, chives and creme fraiche. Warm sheeps milk terrine, layered with ham and then cooked until golden and crispy, served with frisee and dribbled with aged sherry is a rich but irresistible dish that makes you wonder why the hell you would ever bother with anything so mundane as a regular grilled cheese ever again. Piperade's foie gras torchon, kissed with vanilla and accompanied by quince paste, plenty of large salt grains and thin slices of toast is a perfect sharing dish to bridge the appetizers and main. Talking of entrees, I haven't gone wrong with any of their succulent lamb dishes to date, or their steak but unlike me, who finds it a bit pedestrian, Fred prefers the eponymous piperade, sauteed pepper slices and serrano served in a cute little skillet and topped with a poached egg.

Piperade is one of those places where I abslutely can't let the desserts pass me by. On my first visit I fell in love with their Biarritz Rocher - a huge ball of dense, crispy, chocolate-covered nuttiness. Imagine, if you will, a giant Ferraro Rocher. I think I haven't been able to resist this sweetest of nuggets on any occasion since. This makes things tricky, because I am also head over heels in love with Piperade's Turron Mousse Cake with Roasted Almonds. The answer to this conundrum is to always make sure to bully a dining companion into settling on one of these two before forcing them to share.

It's a tough job, But someone has got to do it.

PS. Fred stopped me the other day and said, "I want to go back to that place again. I really liked it". He meant Piperade.

I dined at Piperade four times before writing this review.

1015 Battery St
San Francisco, CA 94111
(415) 391-2555

QUESTION OF THE DAY graphic copyright sam breach
?What do you think of Piperade?

Local Bloggers Review Piperade
(Piperade - not reviewed on a local blog since March 2006?)
Piperade by See Us Eat
Piperade on Check Please
Piperade by All In
Piperade by Arthur Hungry
Piperade by Sibilous
Piperade by Vinography
Piperade by Chez Pim

© 2008 Sam Breach
Piperade - Battery Street - San Francisco


  • At 12/2/08 00:36, Blogger ChrisB said…

    The desserts sound good how many points are they!!!

  • At 12/2/08 02:47, Blogger Barbara said…

    I know I'm old 'cos I avoid loud restaurants as much as possible. I'm so over tables of loud women and tables with parents who let their kids run around yelling.

  • At 12/2/08 05:57, Blogger Beccy said…

    It sounds nice, maybe I'll make it there someday.

  • At 12/2/08 07:06, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    enidd was wondering about the points, like chris! did you know weightwatchers have a new diet now - the core plan. eat anything you like from a list of low calorie dense foods, and have some points for treats. sounds more manageable - enidd might try it.

    ps piperade sounds fab. one to try when enidd is over this damn cold.

  • At 12/2/08 08:16, Blogger Sam said…

    the core plan is not the one for Sam because she doesnt like to be limited. On flex she can eat and drink whatever she likes even Pipersde's desserts. It works if course. She has lost 7.5 lbs in 5 weeks. Flex has an extra 35 points a week for treats and that is plenty.

  • At 12/2/08 09:55, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Sam--Welcome to my world. Yes, it's now because I am (literally) older that I prefer the sanity of a place like Piperade, but I have always been that way. I usually avoid "new places" until the fever subsides. This sounds like a welcoming, warm haven where a diner can talk and eat and drink and (dare I say) think during a meal. Thanks for steering me to Fred's "that place"!

  • At 12/2/08 11:07, Blogger subframe said…

    Piperade is wonderful, they provide one of the most comfortable dining experiences I've ever had. I think we'll go back soon, in fact.

  • At 12/2/08 11:55, Blogger cookiecrumb said…

    I went to Piperade on Halloween once, wearing my witch's hat. Gerald thought that was fine, and gave me the cheek-cheek kiss anyway.
    We liked it. Cranky adored the piperade.
    What is "old" about it? There was a snark on CH the other day about that. "A place you could take your parents to." (I'm not takin' mine, BTW!)
    And what is a youthful restaurant? Noisy? Boozy? Oh.

  • At 12/2/08 12:03, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I've had some great meals at Piperade (like Fred, I'm a fan of the piperade...perfectly cozy on a chilly night), but my husband and I spent one Saturday evening there filled with terrible service, indifferent hostess, and a bone-dry pork dish, the memory of all of which has made us avoid the place for the past two years. Word to the wise: don't attempt to dine there on a weekend night! A weekday lunch or dinner is best.

  • At 12/2/08 19:04, Blogger Civic Center said…

    "Dare I say it? Am I getting old?" Yes, Samantha, you are and it's a nice place to tell you the truth, not in every respect, but in matters of wisdom like enjoying "Piperade," definitely.

  • At 13/2/08 10:21, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I love Piperade for the same reasons you do! I used to work right down the street and found it due to a conversation a friend and I were having regarding finding a 'grown-up' place to have a nice glass of wine. Yes I felt oddly mature... but Piperade fit the bill and we left very, very happy.

  • At 13/2/08 10:25, Blogger Owen said…

    I'm with kudzu - maybe even more - I HATE 'in' places. The service is worse. THe food often contrived (obviously not always) and the atmosphere usually horrendous. I don't LIKE the other diners. And I didn't even when I WAS young.

    I find there are two times to visit a restaurant - BEFORE it has been 'discovered' - and after the froo-fra has died down.

    Piperade sounds lovely.

  • At 14/2/08 09:29, Blogger Dive said…

    My boss eats there so often he ought to have his own name plate on a table (actually, he does down at Fog City Diner). He took me there once for a review and we sat next to the husband and wife who own La Folie, who were talking to both Charles Phan and Gerard. It's definitely a foodie scene in there. I've always heard that's where other chefs like to dine when they're not cooking.

  • At 20/9/08 15:01, Blogger the Lumpia said…

    I was looking for a restaurant to celebrate my husband's birthday. After watching my husband ooh and ahh over a Jacques Pepin episode (a mussel and chorizo stew), I knew something from the Iberian peninsula was in order. Thank you for your review of Piperade - it steered us to exactly what we were looking for. The hubby loved Piperade!


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