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Wednesday, February 02, 2005

[FOOD] Dine About Town - Rubicon

558 Sacramento St. SF 94111
Lunch: W
Dinner: M-Sa

We walked into Rubicon last May shortly after Chef Stuart Brioza and partner and pastry chef Nicole Krasinski came on board. Yummy! we said, but pricey. We went back with our Berkeley buddies Steve and Paula in June but hadn't been back since, what with this and that and the expense and all the other places there are to eat.

We decided last week that as the grande finale of January's Dine About Town deals, we'd eat at Rubicon Monday night. The $31.95 deal for dinner cut the usual Rubicon pricey prices in half or more. The wine, of course, would not be cheap. Rubicon is known for its wine list and its prices reflect the wines it carries.

We walked over and arrived a few minutes early and were seated at the table Willie Brown was given when we were there in June. We checked out the menu and told the staff that we'd do the Dine About Town menu and have one of each. We asked for the City's finest Hetch Hetchy water in lieu of the relatively pricey bottled Fiji water the next table over was drinking.

The kitchen sent an amuse bouche with a sliver of cured meat and a bit of the cumin (I think) crème fraîche and we began ...

Dine About Town menu

First Courses

1) Preserved Yellowfin Tuna in Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Cannelini Beans, Dandelion Greens, Cumin Crème Fraîche.

2) Sake Steamed Bouchot Mussels. Marinated Melon & Shiso

Both of these were delicious. Who would've thought that a tuna bean salad (for that's what it was in effect) could taste this good?

The mussels were also delicious, and were not as tiny as we'd been told they'd be. The cantaloupe garnish was four or five pieces, carved into grape-sized barrel-shaped pieces, and just the complement the mussels deserved. We had to ask for a spoon to scoop up the broth, which was delish, a buttery, mussel-y sauce with little strands of shiso.

The dish had eleven mussels. I, being the generous, sharing sort that I am, let his nibs have six.

Principal Dishes

1) Nut & Seed Crusted Petrale Sole. Butternut Squash, Swiss Chard, Sweet & Sour Reduction.

2) Confit of Duck Leg. Broccoli, Cauliflower, Polenta, Prunes & Olives.

The sole crust included not only nuts (pistachio?) but also crushed cumin and gave some crunch to the fish. The sole was curled and set on its side on top of the chard. The butternut squash was to the side, a madeleine-shaped puree. Delicious.

The duck confit was tasty. A combination of prunes and tart green olives sounds questionable, doesn't it? But it all worked. The times we've eaten at Rubicon, we've never had a dish that wasn't remarkable. I trust the kitchen and Stuart Brioza to provide yummy food.


1) Earl Grey Tea Crème Brulee

2) Frozen Milk Chocolate Hazelnut Napoleon

Guess who had the crème brulee? The bergamot flavoring added an unusual touch. Delicious.

As for the frozen milk chocolate hazelnut Napoleon, well. The milk chocolate was light enough that even his nibs said he could eat it. The flavor was more like a light sweet coffee cream than milk chocolate. The nuts added the right bit of toasty flavor. The layers of puff pastry kept the filling in place. Yummy. Scrumptious. A fine finish to a fine meal.

For wine, we had the Elizabeth Spencer Sonoma Coast Chardonnay. Tasty. Pricey! But we'd known it would be. There are no inexpensive wines on the Rubicon wine list. The Chardonnay costs $23+ in the stores. Add in Rubicon's markup.

We wandered home and sat on the deck watching the lights and thanking our lucky stars. Maybe next year we'll have more time to take full advantage of Dine About Town, but this year our restaurant tastes were a treat and Rubicon was a perfect finale for the month.

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