Monday, April 04, 2005

Oysters, Beer, Basque food

This weekend I found myself in North Beach, shivering in flip-flops, downing a plate of oysters. Huh? I never thought of myself as an oyster-lover, but I figure if I *enjoyed* a plate of the suckers that I bought at a festival I must like them. Hell, even love them. Maybe it was the beer. Anyways, at this oyster and beer festival, we sat front row at a cooking demonstration. Sounds fancy, but really it was just a bunch of hungry and drunk people hoping to get a taste of whatever was being demonstrated - there were potato pancakes topped with oyster, a "scotch egg" except made with oyster, and my favorite, the bloody mary oyster shooter. Yum. I even got to be the "judge" - there were two versions and I had to say which one I liked better. All after trying to down a humongous oyster in one shot, tomato juice dribbling everywhere. Attractive.

Because we were in the area, we decided to have an early dinner at Iluna Basque. I was sooo excited - having just come back from the Basque region and sampling the yummy tapas there, I wanted to see if I could get my fix at home. And I had read really good things about this place.

We got three dishes - fresh dungeness crab with avocado, a Basque cheese plate, and peppers stuffed with salt cod. I know, I can't judge a whole restaurant based on three measly dishes, but I was discouraged. The "fresh" dungeness crab dish was horrible - the texture seemed like it was actually thawed-out frozen crab, and it didn't have any dungeness flavor. Actually, it had no flavor, except for a really fishy smell. The cheeses were good, but for the price (almost $9) you'd think we'd get more than three tiny slivers. The peppers were good - nice sweet roasted flesh, filled with a salt cod and potato filling. It was also very reasonable ($4.25) considering it was a lot more food than the cheese plate, plus took more work to prepare.

I'm tired of going to "amazing" restaurants and getting disappointed. This is the fourth hyped-up place I've been to (the first three were paul k, Boulevard, and the Carnelian Room) that has left me wondering who the hell reviewed these places and how they got so many people to believe them. Sigh.


Sam said...

I wasn't impressed with Iluna Basque either. Everything they served us on our visit almost a year ago was something I guesed I could easily make at home without a recipe book.I have never been back.

Sam said...

BTW - I have never once seen a good review of the Carnelian room. The usual recommendation is to go for a drink and the view only.
(I must get round to that soon)

starchmouse said...

Come to think of it, I didn't read of review of the Carnelian room either. My boyfriend's labmate claimed it was the best restaurant in the city, so I think that's what persuaded us. Maybe he just meant the view was nice. It was a special occasion, and they have a pretty good prix fixe deal. The Grand Marnier souffle was good, but everything else was so-so. You should definitely go for a drink. The lounge is bigger and has better access to the windows than the dining room, and is a lot less stuffy. :)