Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Restaurant Review: 1300 on Fillmore

The lower Fillmore is experiencing something of a renaissance at the moment. Seeking to reclaim some of the magic of its earlier years, the neighborhood is humming as the live music scene got a recent jolt with the opening of the 400 seat Yoshi's San Francisco which is going to serve as a catalyst for revitalizing the entire area. Along with the Fillmore, Rasselas, and the Boom Boom Room, there's something here for music fans of all stripes. Combine that with the recent opening of the new Sundance Kabuki Cinemas, and some notable new restaurants, such as SPQR, and the forthcoming Long Bar (taking over the old Fillmore Grill space) and the second outpost of Pizzeria Delfina coming and you have the makings of something good.

One of the other new restaurants of note is 1300 on Fillmore, which is located in the other end of the Fillmore Heritage Center from Yoshi's. The sign for the restaurant is a bit hard to find (it's lurking 3/4 of the way up a post on the corner of Fillmore and Eddy), but there's ample parking in the public garage located under the center (which is a good thing because parts of the neighborhood are still a bit rough).

The space is, in a word, gorgeous. Done up in beautiful dark wood and complemented with soft blue tones on the walls and chocolate leather backed banquettes, it's sophisticated and old school (in the best possible sense). The lighting is appropriately dim and a rotating parade of black and white pictures of the glory days of the neighborhood flash silently over the bar. Off the main entrance is a petite lounge and a three piece jazz trio was set up there in the corner, swinging the night away. The crowd was a colorful melange...older black couples out for a night on the town, post work Financial District types, and jazz heads getting a bite before hitting a show next door.

As to the meal...well, it's simply one of the best I've had in San Francisco in quite some time (see the menu, sans desserts, here). There is, to me at least, a clear nod to the south, specifically New Orleans in the cuisine. We stared with the fresh water shrimp hush puppies with an ancho chili remoulade. The shrimp did taste a little fishy, but nothing to really complain about. The complimentary homemade corn bread served with honey butter and a red pepper jam was fantastic. The corn bread was warm and crumbly, just how I like it.

For my entree, I had the house brine grilled pork chop with caramelized chicory, Calvados apples, and apple cider sauce. The pork chop was served atop whipped mashed potatoes. Everything about this dish worked. The chop was served medium and the meat was juicy and extremely flavorful. The apple sauce was a great touch to go with the pork and the potatoes were very creamy and rich (perhaps too rich for some).

My dining companion had the bouillabaisse, which was a lobster mash, mussels, crab meat, snapper, Andouille sausage and rouille served in a broth with some spices we couldn't identify. I only had a piece of the lobster, but the portion was sizable and buttery.

We also ordered the buttermilk chive potatoes for the table. The potatoes were a little less whipped than the one's served with the pork, but no less tasty.

We finished with benigets (another nod to the Big Easy) served with a chocolate sauce and a coffee soda. The benigets were light and the sauces were perfect accompaniments.

This was truly a great meal and I both highly recommend it and can't wait for my next visit.

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