: views from the Hill

Saturday, December 03, 2005

[FOOD] Scott Howard, 500 Jackson, SF

Scott Howard
500 Jackson St. (between Montgomery and Columbus)
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 956-7040. Full bar.
Open Table reservations

We noticed that someone had moved into what seems an unlucky spot at 500 Jackson.

We'd never been to Cypress Club when John Cunin (whom we'd first encountered at Masa's) had the joint. We would've liked to, but we were busy raising kids and not getting up to San Francisco as often as we would've liked and all that's another story, another life.

Cypress Club folded after 9/11, amid rumors and swirling stories and stayed empty, probably due in part to the bankruptcy and furor that surrounded the Cypress Club closing.

The building was vacant for two years after the Cypress Club closed. Todd Kneiss remodeled the place and open with a different vibe in Fall 2003 as 500 Jackson. We tried the place out. We're always interested in restaurants that are an easy walk from our place and 500 Jackson is just a bit over half a mile.

Boy, was that place all the buzz, filled with the see and be scene set. The place was billed as a casual seafood place. A bit noisy with all the hubbub of the younger crowd. The interior still had some cypress leftover from the previous incarnation. The price was pricey. The food not distinctive. The skate wing was a disappointment. We didn't understand the reasoning behind the chatter and hype. We never went back.

So we were walking home up Montgomery a week or two ago and saw that a new restaurant had arrived on the scene and went to check it out: Scott Howard has opened Scott Howard. The posted menu had foie gras! sweetbreads! Those two items on a menu require a visit. We needed to see what was happening.

We dropped in on November 22d. The interior has been totally redone. There's a stainless steel raw bar where I seem to remember we sat amidst cypress panelling during the 500 Jackson incarnation. Mary Risley and a crowd were at a table in the room's center. We were at a cozy table for two that overlooked Jackson.

We were eyeing the sweetbreads and the foie gras on the menu. When we asked the server about the tasting menu, he ran down what dishes would be served. Sweetbreads! Foie gras! What's not to like? He'd been talking up Howard's signature dish, the carrot broth (carrot broth? signature?) and that was on the tasting menu too. We opted for the tasting menu with paired wines.

The meal began with some champagne and an amuse bouche. The dishes on the tasting menu that night included fluke sashimi, sweetbreads with truffled madeira and smoked bacon, foie gras, Scott Howard's signature carrot broth (more on this later), scallops, short ribs, something I'm forgetting, I'm sure. Upside down cake for dessert. The wine pairings were generous and interesting. A dark, sweet, flavorful sake was paired with the foie for example -- something I would've never thought to do.

We had a lovely evening and left feeling happy, satisfied and full, but not so overly full that the walk home uphill was a chore.

A delish dinner. We'll be back again.

Oh, and that carrot broth? The recipe is included in the fold that brings your bill, if you want to decamp with the recipe. I did. Haven't made it yet, but I will soon. Recipe includes directions and ingredients: 3C diced carrots, 6 1/2C carrot juice. Reduce. Reduce. Reduce. Salt and pepper. 1 C heavy cream. 1/2T curry powder. The broth is served with creme fraiche and drizzled with truffle oil.

The carrot broth is absolutely heavenly. If you ever get to Scott Howard, make sure you order some from amongst the choices you make off the menu.

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