I used to have lunch every week with H, when both of us worked in San Francisco's Financial District. These days, with a lot of advance planning, we are lucky to lunch in the City every three or four months. All the same, our longtime friendship continues and our get togethers are always special.
Today, we had a date at one of San Francisco's new "hot spots," Local Kitchen & Wine Merchant.
Located on First Street, near Folsom, it is in the heart of the South of Market/Embarcadero district where new high rise condo and apartment towers seems to be popping up daily.
We had made our reservation a few weeks ago. Coincidentally, yesterday's San Francisco Chronicle's magazine had a review of Local.
The first "surprise" upon arriving at Local is the massive front door which, unless it is already open, gives no evidence of how to open in. Once through the front door, you get to decide whether to visit the wine shop and convenience store to your left or to go straight, through another huge door into the restaurant. Better do a session at the gym the day you dine here, just to be able to open the doors.
The decor is stark but comfortable, with seating at tables, at the bar, and at a large communal table. The menu is interesting and reasonably priced.
H ordered the Duck Breast Salad and I chose the Steamed Mussels, partly because they came with Herbed Fries.
I asked if my Herbed Fries could be "upgraded" to the Fries with Truffle Salad and Shaved Parmesan. Our server laughed and said that most people ask for this "upgrade."
Each of our entrées were about $12.
While our food was good, although not overly memorable, our service was horrid. It started with my tea being served on my left rather than my right. Then, our warm bread arrived but without butter or olive oil and it took us a long while to catch the eye of a server to request something for our bread.
I must note, that the small dining area was only about 1/3 full, so it was not as if the servers were overly occupied...just not there.
Our meals were served and I was told that my Fries would be along in a moment. That moment lasted until after I had eaten my last mussel and we had asked our server twice where they might be. After the second time, I told her that she may as well just forget them and take the cost off my meal. Suddenly, the fries appeared...and they were yummy.
The good part about this lunch with H is that we had a nice leisurely visit. The bad news is that the erratic and unprofessional service means I will not be back.
While I visit most restaurants that I review several times, if I have a bad experience the first time, I don't return...there are too many places where I can spend my restaurant dollar.
On our way out, we stopped in the wine shop which is very lovely...more like a wine room in a private collector's home. The shop also carries milk, eggs, cheese, and other items, including gourmet cat and dog food, as a convenience to the locals who may have forgetten these items or just run out...This is a nice feature which saves the locals from having to get into their cars or a taxi to make the trek to a Safeway or other supermarket...this neighborhood has yet to add such conveniences.