Favorite Restaurant: Sauce
Reviewed Sauce: Saturday, June 11, 2011
The first time we ate at Sauce was on New Year’s Eve about five years ago. We normally don’t dine out on this evening, but we were going to see the play “Jersey Boys.” I wanted to find a restaurant that served late night dinners. We found Sauce in the Zagat Guide, and it sounded good so we tried it. From the time we arrived (10:10pm) until we left about 1:00am, we had a wonderful evening.
Sauce is a place to eat seven days a week anytime from 5:00pm to 12:00pm. We love going after a play or after seeing some live music. The people at Sauce are like friends I’ve known forever. They are warm and friendly, and Chef Ben prepares new American food with lots of thought and passion. My wife and I often order from their “social plates” and share our dishes. We love their portobello mushroom fries with Fat Boy Ranch dipping sauce. Never had them anywhere else, no need; Sauce’s are the best. Another dish we really enjoy are the Dungeness crab cakes with caper aioli. Buttered breadcrumbs make them crispy on the outside with crab and scallop mousse inside.
Two of the salads we really love are the Brussels sprouts salad with crunchy Bacon Brittle, chili-dusted sesame seeds, and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice (fantastic) and the Sweet Gem Lettuce steak wraps with feta cheese, red onion, and a Kalamata olive and tomato-oregano dressing.
If you order an entrée, try the fried chicken with truffled mushrooms, green beans, whipped potatoes, and pan gravy. It was so moist and tender with gravy and slightly crunchy greens. (Perfect combo)
When you go, don’t miss the desserts. If you go with friends, try the dessert sampler with homemade doughnuts with vanilla-bourbon dipping sauce, homemade ice cream, and peanut butter and jelly chiffon cake triangles. Need I say more?
Sauce is good bang for your buck with delicious food that you’re familiar with and a great staff of people that take good care of you.
Thank you Ben and staff for all the great food and good times.
Location: San Francisco
Favorite Restaurant: Rhea’s Market and Deli
Reviewed Sauce: Friday, June 17, 2011
The restaurant has a fairly nondescript interior design with a good bar. Bourbon (a favorite of mine) features prominently. I started with the Rock and Rye. It was Bulleit bourbon and lemon rock candy. It was very sweet, but good. It certainly gets points for its degenerate novelty, candy and bourbon? Okay, sure. Of the appetizers, we had the sliders that were made from Italian sausage and had mozzarella and a blue cheese dressing. The meat in the slider was very rare, basically raw, which alarmed some of our diners, but the taste was quite good, with the blue cheese dressing being the most prominent flavor. The sliders were served with crispy fried shallots, which everyone enjoyed. Next, we had the mac and cheese, which I was expecting to be very dense and very rich. It was actually not too rich or salty and was really tasty; the cheeses were very balanced, and it had a nice crust. The menu says it is “baked” mac and cheese, though it certainly tasted as though it was boiled then placed under a broiler for a couple of minutes. We also tried the poutine, which, while having melted cheese instead of actual cheese curds, was nonetheless very flavorful and again less dense and rich than one would expect from a dish with potatoes, cheese, and gravy. For salads, we tried the Brussels sprout salad with bacon and vinaigrette. This salad was let down by the fact that the dressing was too bland, it needed another ingredient to add some extra depth, it was too one note. The beet salad was great, but it’s pretty hard to screw up fried goat cheese and beets.
For entrees I had short ribs and I thought they were very good. The meat was very flavorful, and the carrots and Yukon potatoes were cooked perfectly. The sauce of red wine pan gravy was well balanced. I really enjoyed my entrée, but once I tried the Parma prosciutto-wrapped butterfish, I had remorse for not getting that one. The fish was really well cooked and remained very juicy, and the Parma prosciutto was crispy and excellent. I also really liked how the risotto accompanied it. It had a nice mix of herbs and was very flavorful and also not too dense. I thought the gnocchi was just OK, and the salmon with spinach was good, not great.
For dessert, we had a Bing cherry and berry cobbler that was on special and sounded quite good. When it arrived, it was quite a letdown. One tends to expect cobblers to be vibrant and fresh looking. This particular cobbler was slightly grey and not very tasty. We all were pleasantly surprised by the PB&J dessert. It didn’t excite anyone on the page (a familiar theme, actually), but we all really quite happy with it, and it was much different from we thought it would be (also a familiar theme). I loved that the sponge cake was seared, it offered a great flavor. The whole dish was very playful, and all the components worked well together.
The portions were very generous and therefore the meal was of good value. The service was very friendly and offered advice (though we didn’t take much of it come to think of it).
Occupation: Airline Pilot
Favorite Restaurant: the girl and the fig
Reviewed Sauce: Tuesday, June 14, 2011
I took my family to this restaurant — my husband, father-in-law, and two teenagers (13 and 15-years-old) — so we could sample a wide variety of their cuisine. We walked in to the restaurant, and on the right there was a dark wood, friendly neighborhood bar, and on the left was a little bright area with white tablecloths and table settings. The host took us to the back room to sit us down. It was dark with red velvet accents, and we were the first ones to be seated back there. Our waitress, Nicole, was very friendly and welcoming.
The barbeque chicken slider appetizers were just average. They were a little too saucy and “bready” and were supposed to contain smoked mozzarella cheese. However, after eating them, no one in the party could say that they remembered tasting it. However, the appetizer only included four, but the server included five because of the size of our party. The tater tots with bacon and cheese fondue were whipped potatoes, cremini mushrooms, white truffle oil, and a smoked Gouda and bacon cheese sauce. These were simple, yet amazing. The potatoes had a lovely fluffy texture with a crisp crust. The sauce made the appetizer, and tied it all together. My daughter finished this sauce off with a spoon even after the potatoes were gone. I might have even stuck my finger in myself.
The carpaccio was not what I was expecting; it was sliced a bit thick for my expectations. I was anticipating more of the smoked sea salt flavor; the small bit of caper on the top was the major source of salt in the dish. Nevertheless, I did enjoy this appetizer, it was just different. The crispy shallot rings were a bit pasty and not as crispy or seasoned as I would have hoped they would be. The tuna cups were a well-balanced mix of fresh flavors, and the hot sauce had a nice bite that really wrapped up the dish. The steak wraps had a decent flavor. The steak was well cooked and well proportioned. I was not impressed with the choice of feta; it was on the dry side.
We were disappointed with the fried chicken. It tasted baked, not fried. However, it was cooked well and not dried out, which can be difficult with a thick cut of chicken. The gravy was also not impressive. My husband said that it reminded him of gravy out of the grocery store jar. The Pot Roast was “killer!” Normally, I am not the biggest fan of pot roast, however, it was braised well, was crispy on the outside, and had a juicy sauce that was not gelatinous. The butterfish was overpowered by the salt flavor of the prosciutto, but was a flavorless fish without it. I could not taste the basil. I appreciated the herb risotto but it was a tad overcooked. The arugula salad was tasty, and the dressing was excellent. I am a bit critical of arugula because of fresh garden arugula I have had recently that was much better. The salmon had a really nice crust; it was juicy and cooked very well. The gnocchi was extremely overcooked and had the texture of “toothpaste,” according to my son. The flavors of the sauce did not come together well at all. My daughter said that the frozen gnocchi from Trader Joe’s is much better.
We couldn’t decide on which dessert to order, so the waitress brought us a complimentary extra dessert so we could taste all of them! The fried doughnuts were amazing and came with a beautiful vanilla bourbon sauce that my daughter ate with a spoon as well. The mini s’mores were Ghirardelli all the way! They were perfectly toasted with a crisp graham cracker crust that, when you broke into it, oozed melted chocolate from inside. The bon-bons read better on the menu than they actually tasted. They tasted like a bland frozen cookie sandwich. The restaurant was wonderful for a local restaurant to come to for some favorite dishes that they do very well, but I would not drive from Sonoma to try again. If I did, I would get a G&T and tater tots! (Or a beer from their fine beer list…might go better with the tots!)Sauce