Sunday, April 1, 2007

A good bread basket ...

does not a great meal make. Though it sure made me think my impending meal at the Presidio's barn of a wine bar-cum-global/eclectic tapas restaurant Pres a Vi could be a tasty one.

Well, the seared foie gras and dayboat scallop with rhubarb wasn't bad, though it was a tad underseasoned and barely lukewarm. Hmmmm ....

The next 2 small plates, duck buns and rock shrimp 'n avocado lumpia, didn't do much to dazzle either. The soft, springy buns and shredded duck dressed in hoisin were pleasant enough, but the lumpia was a tad overseasoned and again only lukewarm. Truth be told, the deep-fried avocado rolls at the Cheesecake Factory are 10 times better (crispier, zestier ... just plain yummier). As far as I could tell, there was nothing really pinoy about this plate; and mind you, I grew up with my mom—the deep-frying diva—making mad lumpia (she having learned how to make them from her filipina friends).

The paella was salty and kinda mushy, the shrimp a bit fishy. It was nothing like the dish I'd fallen in love with 3 times over: once in Nice, France; a second time in Monterey, CA; and a third over a home-cooked meal in Berkeley. We tried a few other things, the worst being a cold, undercooked slab of fat, otherwise known as the pork belly (love pork belly, but that was some clammy, chewy, hard fat ... completely inedible); and the best being a humble crabcake, which was loose and crumbly, almost all crab, and well seasoned to boot.

All in all, it was a toss-up. The kitchen is huge, the place fairly new. Maybe they'll get it down in a year. Not sure I'll want to go back even then. Plenty of SF restos that are already getting it right.

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