300 Grove St (at Franklin), San Francisco
Visited: March 18 2007 - Dinner
Jardinière is a restaurant that we’d visited and often passed but never dined at. The exposed brick and beautiful flowing wrought iron ribbon-like railings are complimented by the soft lighting, curved staircase and round balcony which is open in the center to the curved bar below. The restaurant is busy but not loud, and has a nice tone all around. The menu is fresh as is the food. There seems to be a happy spark alive in the kitchen and there are so many interesting choices on the menu it’s hard to settle. We did not have time for the tasting menu on this visit but would consider it on the next. We definitely recommend Jardinière.
Asparagus and Grapefruit Salad with Dungeness Crab and Meyer Lemon Aïoli
Good ingredients but somehow the crab was a bit lost. Asparagus was cut up into small pieces which made them less pleasurable. Aioli was not a big element in the dish. Okay but would order something else next time.
Little Gem Lettuces with French Radish, Cucumber and Fried Kumamoto oysters, Green Goddess Vinaigrette
A salad to be reckoned with. Generally a dish that has too much salt is a disaster – this salad may be the exception. The full leaves required a knife which generally would upset me, but not tonight. Tucked around the perfect leaves were the tiny gems of oysters, cucumber and radish. The Green goddess vinaigrette was almost too spare but pulled all the elements together into one lovely salad. The briny sweetness of the oysters was perfect with the crunch and the slight sharpness of the vinaigrette. A little less salt might make this a better salad for me but it’s probably more of a taste issue than a flaw of crafting. I was willing to ignore the salt and cleaned the plate very happily with some tears of Acme roll.
Bluenose Seabass with Mignonette Potatoes, Braised Leeks and Smoked Bacon, Manila Clam Chowder
The fish was flakey and flavorful. The sauce really showed the bacon and the essence of clam was there but there were no actual clams in the dish. Very good.
Carnaroli Risotto with Wild Mushrooms, Toasted Pinenuts, Treviso and Fontina d'Aosta
The fragrance of this dish was the first introduction. Amazing. A foam around the edges added even more visual beauty to the texture of browns and creams in the plate. I'm usually not a fan of pine nuts, but here they were the crunch to offset the softer rice and the toasting of them pulled together the delicate flavor of the mushrooms to the rice. The cheeses added even more depth. Any fault would be that perhaps the risotto overpowered the delicacy of the mushrooms as perhaps the Treviso tipped the scale of perfect balance. As a whole, I didn’t want this dish to end and I am looking forward to eating it again soon. Highly recommended.
The Cheese Course
Jardinière is known for its cheese and is one of the few restaurants with its own cheese cave. The selection tonight did not disappoint. I asked the waiter to substitute the Red Cloud from Haystack off the tasting menu for the Pierce Pt. from Cowgirl Creamery in the regular line-up, but a misunderstanding ensued and I ended up with a piece of Pierce Pt and Red Cloud alone. I settled on just having the Grotte del Tufo and the La Serena brought. The La Serena was older and therefore firm but no less lovely. I really enjoyed the Grotte del Tufo and would look for it. The Pierce Pt. was perfect. Cheese was served with a lovely walnut and cranberry raisin bread.
Bonne Bouche Platter: Lemon-Vanilla Crème Brûlée, Opera Cake, Petite Tarts, Cookies, Fruit Jellies, Chocolate Truffles and Candies
We opted to take this to go and thereby did not have the crème brûlée. The little gems of cake, tarts, candies and cookies were all enjoyed – but probably the little tarts were the highlight (although the macaroons were quite lovely as well.) As I often use the “cookie” plate as a judge for the talent of the pastry chef, I’d say that based on this platter you are likely in good hands.
Notes on the Wine List:
Jardinière also offers many “tasting flights” of wines and spirits from single malts to eau de vie to Muscat. This is a fun idea to have so many on a menu.
2004 François Chidaine Montlouis Sur LoireLes Tuffeaux
A lovely golden wine with a lively fragrance of flowers. It was fine on its own but truly sang with the food. A great value.
We also had the "German Treasures" tasting flight.
You may notice that we do not give out a lot of praise. Having been to so many high-quality restaurants, it's pretty tough to impress us.
Most of our reviews are based on just one visit. We neither have the time nor the money (or often, the inclination) to visit most restaurants multiple times. So, please keep in mind that a single-visit review is a snapshot - the restaurant may be "on it" that day - or not. If the meal has a calamity involved (foreign objects in the food, wine poured on us, etc.) we try not to let it shade the overall review.
We pay for the food and beverages; restaurants never comp us. We try to be discreet about taking photos so that the staff doesn't notice/get an idea we're going to do a review. We rarely take notes in the restaurant.
Like the rest of our website, we update our restaurant review pages based upon subsequent visits.