Friday, June 25, 2010

Quince in a lifetime

When it's so close to summer I get that edgy feeling-- like I'm in school again and playing hooky just feels right.

Usually we have our heads down and face firmly planted in a computer screen, which is how I've been missing all this amazing sunshine we've been having. Well, that and the World Cup schedule, but mostly it's been work.

Today though we decided to get out and go button-shopping and cookware lusting. Don't ask about the buttons-- different project for a different blog.

Cookware lusting though... At Sur la Table: Le Creuset in new colors. I'd like eight, please.

My Omnivore in "Be seeing you!" mode.

Finally we landed at Quince, in their new digs down on Pacific and Montgomery. Quince used to be half a block from us and it made us feel so spoiled to be situated between two spectacular Michelin starred restaurants (bushi-tei is on the other side of us). But then sadly they moved. We like Baker & Banker, the new folks who moved in, but we were very excited to see Quince's new place.

Those of you who remember the previous incarnation of Quince might be amazed at how enormous and kinda modern-sleek-elegant the new Quince is but you'll know right away it's the same place from that familiar warmth of the staff.

We showed up on their doorstep with no reservations or designs on anything more extravagant than a glass of wine (the new wine director, btw, is from Babbo's, which I can say is possibly my favorite restaurant in New York right now.) But right at the door we got a warm welcome from one of the gentlemen handling the front, and when we mentioned that we lived near the old place he asked if we'd like the grand tour.

It started outside, where you can peer through the window and watch the staff work around the massive La Cornue in the kitchen. Inside he showed off some of the large format photographs that line the brick walls on the way back to the wine cellar. The space if lofty and yet not cavernous, punctuated by enormous Venetian glass chandeliers, and the vibe is definitely cozy if not in the same "crowded trattoria" way that the old Octavia Street spot was.

The bar is nicely spacious, though given the attention Quince just got in the Chron, it'll be a fight for one of the plush bar stools. You can sit in the lounge and eat too however, which exactly what we did.

It seems that the whole menu is available and we opted for spritzes (it's still an anomalous drink in SF for some reason and you have to explain how to make it to most folks.) I ordered the tagliatelle with porcinis and fried squash blossoms. It's the end of the season, but the porcinis were fresh and local, which is nice, even though I still dream about the intensely aromatic ones we had in Tuscany.

The pasta though, has always been impeccable at Quince and it still is. My Omnivore opted for trofie, a hand-rolled trumpet of toothsome pasta made with a perfect feeling of "bite." accentuated with mussels and clams, it came in a delicious broth sauce.

Now for the budget-conscious-- of which we are certainly two-- this whole escapade--two plates of pasta, two cocktails and a glass of wine--sets you back around $85 with tax and tip. That doesn't sound much like a bargain, I concede, although I'm hard put not to recommend a little lounging there because the experience was so pleasant. Even though I didn't get a glass of wine, our server poured me a little anyhow and the snacks of bread, puff pastry twists and ridiculously tasty potato chips could've kept me going all night.

So will we do this again? Probably. Even sitting in the lounge will qualify as a splurge, but with food that good, I think it'll be worth the treat every now and then.

Posted from my iPhone

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