: views from the Hill

Thursday, January 06, 2005

[FOOD] Sam's Grill

I'd been fretting -- something I really should give up -- over my lack of resolves for the New Year.

We were walking out to lunch on 2005-01-03 when I asked his nibs what his resolutions were.

Resolutions? he said. To continue on as we have been.

That's not a resolution, I said. If we have no goals, how will we know when we get there? How will we know where we're going? How will we know whether to make this choice or that?

Tell you what, I said. How about if we have a goal that we'll not spend so much money paying other people to cook our meals this year or if not that, that we'll spend more money having other people cook our meals?

He just gave me one of those Sal-you're-cute-but-I-wouldn't-put-up-with-you-otherwise sorts of looks.

... I asked for dinner at Sam's Grill as we were walking home from lunch and was pleasantly surprised to find out he'd made reservations ("she said they were having a slow day and really we didn't need reservations") while I was napping, catching up on time lost over New Year's Eve and the days that followed.

Why Sam's Grill?

Sam's Grill and Seafood Restaurant
374 Bush St
San Francisco, CA 94104
Mon-Fri 11:00am- 9:00pm
Tel: (415) 421-0594
Fax: (415) 421-2632

Why? Because they're only open weekdays 11A-9P. We're usually elsewhere or busy during their open hours. Sam's is a Financial District movers-and-shakers or people-who-just-need-lunch sort of place. Half of the restaurant is tables, the other half is private booths.

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Sam's has been around since 1867. I'd never eaten there. His nibs remembered eating in one of the private booths with his grandparents and mother back in the 40s some time.

The other reason Sam's was on my list is because one Sunday when we were poking around the restaurants in the Financial District, I discovered that Sam's has not only seafood but three (count 'em 3!) different takes on sweetbreads.

Charcoal Broiled with bacon
Sautéed with Poulette
Sautéed with Caper and Lemon

I understand that there are many who don't understand my passion for foie gras. Readers should realize that close behind my passions for foie gras and maracuja (passion fruit) is my passion for sweetbreads -- perhaps, more than perhaps -- because his nibs wooed me with home-cooked sweetbreads.

Sweetbreads. I swoon.

Well, usually.

I don't much care for the sweetbreads at Piperade, although the restaurant itself is tops. We rearranged our calendars at one point to be available for dinner at Piperade on a Monday, when their daily special is sweetbreads. The rearrangement of schedule wasn't warranted. ... but that didn't dampen my eternal hopes for yummy sweetbreads.

We originally found Isa because on a walk-around Saturday we found their menu listing both sweetbreads and foie gras. Luke, alas, doesn't offer sweetbreads every night anymore, but when he does ...

So, I wanted to try Sam's for sweetbreads.

We walked in at the dot of when we'd told them we would. Sam's is a mere twenty minute walk away, down the Montgomery steps and straight on to Bush, hang a right.

His nibs ordered a cup of clam chowder. I ordered a shrimp cocktail. The clam chowder was delish. Really. Not like any other clam chowder I'd ever had, but delicious.

The shrimp cocktail was your traditional shrimp cocktail, but the amount of shrimp! I couldn't believe they were making much money on the item. I hadn't seen that many shrimp in a shrimp cocktail since forever.

His nibs ordered the sweetbreads with mushroom sauce. I ordered the sweetbreads with caper and lemon. Both dishes had nicely cleaned sweetbreads. (If the kitchen doesn't do a good job cleaning the sweetbreads, pulling off the bits and what-not, the sweetbreads cookup stringy and tough.)

His dish was very rich and delish. Mine was lighter. My sweetbreads had been breaded and cooked and then put in a caper, butter, lemon sauce. Served with two small potatoes. I could've swooned. They were that good.

I couldn't, however, finish the dish -- the shrimp cocktail had been that engaging. I said I'd take it home. The waiter (for at Sam's they are waiters, not servers) brought me a box. I popped in the uneaten sweetbreads, the potatoes, the sauce.

His nibs wanted the baked apple, but they were out. (Out?) Instead, he opted for the rice pudding: he has a weakness for arroz con leche - rice pudding - whatever you'd like to call it.

I opted for an espresso. They served the espresso with a twist of lemon, bless them. His nibs gave me a taste of his rice pudding. Bless him and yummmm.

Next morning, I melted some bacon fat in the pan, chopped up the potatoes and tossed them in. When the potatoes were properly browned, I tossed in the sweetbreads (cut in smaller chunks so they'd cook faster) and the lemon-caper-butter sauce.


I'd eat breakfast more often, if I could have sweetbreads for breakfast.

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