September 9, 2009

RN74 – a Road That Doesn't Quite Make it to Wow

When I visit a restaurant that has received a great deal of hype and is owned by famous chef I have pretty high expectations. I imagine everything will be perfect (or pretty close to it). When these expectations are met – like on my trip to Aziza – all is well. However, when even one part of the dining experience falls short the overall visit becomes tinged with disappointment.

Now to the subject at hand, Michael Mina's newest restaurant in San Francisco, a French wine bar called RN74. With so many good (and more moderately priced) wine bars around the city I was anticipating RN74 to be really over the top, a dining experience worthy of a special occasion. We decided to go and see what the place was all about last Friday night. The restaurant and bar is in the Millennium Tower (a new luxury high rise in SOMA) and exudes a sense of cool now with an elegant and modern interior. The staff is friendly and accommodating and the service is outstanding.

So far so good. But, let's talk about the food and wine. My husband and I ordered two flatbreads and some appetizers. My flatbread had potatoes, a fabulously stinky cheese (epoisses), rosemary, and fleur de sal. It had an intense and wonderful flavor. To accompany the flatbread I got some heirloom tomatoes that were good. Jonathan thought his flatbread (topped with merguez, peppers, herbs, and yogurt) was tasty and a bit dry, but enjoyed his soft-shell crab and clams. Now the wine. RN74 is named after a highway in France and the restaurant is designed to make the wine star of the meal. We each tried a couple different wines, but were not overly impressed. They were good, but just good. If we had been at a different restaurant that would have been sufficient, however, at the price range charged at RN74 it was a bit of a disappointment.

But, on to dessert... We ordered white sesame pot de crème. It was fantastic – very creamy with a soft sesame flavor and topped with chocolate! Definitely a good way to end our visit to RN74. Overall I would say the meal was good – but just good.

Next time I want to go enjoy French wine and food I will choose either Amelie on Polk Street or Terroir on Folsom Street instead. Both of these wine bars serve excellent wines accompanied by wonderful cheeses (and meats for carnivorous diners) at much more reasonable prices.

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