SF: Dinner at SPQR
One of the restaurants I’ve always wanted to check out in San Francisco is SPQR. Every time I went to SF, I never managed to make it but we made it a priority this last trip. SPQR which stands for Senatus Populesque Romanus. It translate to “The People and Senate of Rome.” That said, my dining partner wanted to call it “Spork.” Ha!
We had reservations but our table wasn’t quite ready yet. My friend had a glass of wine at the wine counter while I perused the menu. I picked out a few things and discussed it with our server when we eventually moved to the counter in front of the kitchen. We had decided to give up our table after viewing how intimate the tables were. I like watching the kitchen anyway. The serious, quiet ballet of plating, knives and food with the occasional mumbled “yes, chef” as cooks complied with verbal requests.
We began with the mushroom budino. Like my friend, I thought we would be getting a savory pudding. As it turned out, it was a deconstructed one though our server hated my description as such. Even so, how else would you describe the separate elements of agave, bread, mushrooms, burrata, Brussels sprouts and onion marmalade (marmaletta) on the plate? I say deconstructed it is. It was a great dish and actually, maybe I’d even call it a salad since we had it first and there was also lettuce. Whatever you want to call it, I’d get it again.
Next, we had the pappardelle d’oro which was my favorite dish of the evening. The dish was vegetarian yet somehow the romano bean bolognese tasted like there was meat in it. I kept poking it searching for evidence of pork. What was making it so rich? The amazing flavor just came from vegetables and cheese though and I now need the recipe ASAP since I don’t live in SF and would be heartbroken if I never had this pasta again.
We also got the squid ink spaghettini. Whenever I travel to seafood-centric towns, I make sure to fill up as much as possible. This pasta reminded me a bit of Asian flavor and in particular the broth. Filled with sea urchin, trout roe, gulf shrimp and Manila clams, I was particularly happy. Nothing beats a big bowl of seafood in my book.
Well, except pork of course. Okay fine, give me all your seafood and pork.
The suckling pork came with teeny tiny rib chops, pig’s ear, pork belly and a croquette. I liked the red cabbage and turnips as well. It would be pretty much my last meal along side cocktails and a big bowl of seafood. See, it all comes around to pork and seafood.
I’m always glad when a restaurant lives up to its hype. That pappardelle…
© The Minty 2012