Roasted Beet Salad with Orange Horseradish Vinaigrette and Beet Syrup; Grilled Sea Scallops with Mustard Sauce; Chocolate Mousse with Coffee Crème Anglaise
Name: Mary Joan
Occupation: Consultant – Architectural Engineering
Favorite Restaurant: Ovation at the Opera
Reviewed Ovation at the Opera: Saturday, June 24, 2006
For an appetizer, I had the roasted beet salad with orange horseradish vinaigrette and beet syrup. It was fresh sophisticated earthiness that was beautifully presented. I also had the Dungeness crab cakes with romesco sauce and baby greens. The cakes were chock-full of crab and very lightly fried.
One entree I tried was a roasted rack of lamb with ratatouille and tarragon sauce. It was prepared exactly as I requested, rare, and it was also an excellent grade of meat that was deliciously complemented by the tarragon sauce. I also tried the beef ribs with orange zest and Pinot Noir sauce. They were flavor forward, melt-in-your-mouth short ribs, and are more of a hearty, rather than elegant, dish. The entree portions are generous without going overboard.
Desserts are always a treat and this time, I had the apple tarte tatin. It is made to order, so it needs to be ordered at beginning of meal. The tarte tatin has a flakey golden crust with juicy baked apples slices. I also had the crème brûlée, which has a lovely crackling top and a very rich vanilla flavor.
Ovation is an elegant, classic restaurant, tucked in the boutique hotel, Inn at the Opera, and located on Fulton. Devotees of the symphony, opera, and ballet have enjoyed its traditional menu as a prelude to an evening of culture. The dark wood-paneled dining room has a wonderful clubby New York style. It is beautifully lit with a fireplace and features a grand piano and music on Friday and Saturday evenings, which completes the sophisticated atmosphere.
Valet parking at $8 is provided for the evening. An important note: if it is a performance evening, it is best to make a reservation at 8:00 or later to avoid the pre-performance crowd.
I have enjoyed many an elegant evening at Ovation, including taking over the entire dining room for our wedding rehearsal dinner. At that time, Fernando, the head of the dining room “orchestrated” a most memorable and delicious event.
Ovation is a romantic restaurant, understated, elegant and a classic. BRAVO!
Occupation: Cab Driver / Actor
Location: San Francisco
Favorite Restaurant: Café Gratitude
Reviewed Ovation at the Opera: Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Ovation at the Opera…I wish I could stand and bellow, “Encore! Encore!” meaning, “I must revisit this restaurant.” Unfortunately, that’s not the case here. While the atmosphere is unquestionably fabulous and really does create a scene that draws you in, our experience was a lackluster one to say the least.
Inside the Inn at the Opera hotel, Marguerite (a new friend) and I walked down this beautiful hallway with framed drawings depicting scenes of the opera, ballet, and the symphony, which are all about a block and a few steps away. We walked into a beautiful room with wingback chairs, old world charm, and a stage set-like feeling. We made a reservation a couple of days before but we immediately realized it wasn’t necessary. There the waiter stands (who actually turned out to be the nicest guys on the face of the earth), looking somewhat disappointed that we showed up. We both looked bewildered for a moment for there was not one soul in the entire restaurant. All the tables were unset with just the tablecloths on them, except one in the middle of the room. That was our table — how special we felt. We were asked if we’d like a drink before dinner. I mentioned that pairing wine with our appetizers and main course would be the way we’d like to go. We found it funny, as well as weird, to be the only people in the restaurant. The waiter comes over again as were looking at the menus. “Are you ready?” he asked. This man — I’m sure everyone in the kitchen — wanted to go home, and may I say, having worked in restaurants, I completely understand. The waiter comes over for the third time as were looking at the menus and asks, “Are you ready?” I think I said, “We’re almost there.” The menu simply lacked excitement, making it difficult to decide. Part of the fun and drama, if you will, of going to a restaurant — especially a higher-end one, such as this — is being wowed by the choice of items. Not happening here.
We finally made our decisions. The first two courses were the most troublesome. We motioned the waiter over, let him know which two appetizers we’d like to order, and he said, “I’m sorry, we’re out of that.” Granted, it was only one of them that they didn’t have. Marguerite leaned over and said, “This is like a Seinfeld episode.” I really can’t remember which one they ran out of, but we finally settled on the Onion Soup au Gratin and Broiled Shrimp and Scallops, which was served over a thin layer of gazpacho with mixed greens. Our main courses consisted of the rack of lamb and a Cornish game hen. Both came with sides so common, they’re not worth mentioning. Our desserts were a crème brûlée with blueberries and an apple crêpe on top of a caramel sauce.
The words that come to mind to define this restaurant are “ordinary” and “predictable.” For me, this restaurant lacked creativity. I can think of four restaurants within a two-block radius where a person can spend the same dollars and be taken aback by their originality. The kind of restaurant that Ovation at the Opera proclaims to be could have a transcendent-like feeling. Regrettably, this was like sitting in a really exquisite plane that never left the tarmac.
Location: San Francisco
Favorite Restaurant: Memphis Minnie’s BBQ Joint
Reviewed Ovation at the Opera: Wednesday, July 19, 2006
My companion and I dined at Ovation at the Opera on a Wednesday night at 7:30 PM. We were the only table in the restaurant. After the meal, I am retrospectively unsurprised. We started with two salads, a beet with orange horseradish vinaigrette, and a tomato with mozzarella and basil oil. Both were quite bland and surprisingly unremarkable. No horseradish could be tasted at all and, in fact, seemed to possess some sort of mayonnaise base. The tomatoes were not yet ripe, shocking for a July in California.
Our entrees were better. We chose one special, grilled sea scallops with a mustard sauce, and one menu item, the Muscovy duck with honey-lavender sauce and confit. The scallops were fresh and well done and pleasing overall. The duck was flavorful but overcooked, and the “confit” consisted of a duck leg that was little more than a second piece of the bird. The portions were perfect, though, and on a busier night I suspect the cooks may pay more attention.
We finished with two desserts. The chocolate mousse, which was not our first choice (out of the cheese platter on a Wednesday night with only 1 table??), and the tart tatin. This course was by far the best, with the mousse being dense, yet airy, and very satisfying. The tartin was well caramelized and full of flavor, and matched perfectly with the Calvados offering.
Overall, this hotel-based restaurant (it is located in the Inn at the Opera) is cozy and traditionally well-appointed. The wine list falls short, but it has a decent selection by the glass. The server was pleasant and attentive, but spent more time noisily washing dishes, talking on his cell phone, and drinking wine at the bar than working. But, with only one table, who can blame him? The food is average but very expensive, and in a city (and neighborhood) full of reasonably priced dining, Ovation has a long way to go to become a destination restaurant.