Raise Your Glass And Give This Restaurant A French Toast!
Restaurant Type: French
On our trip to San Francisco, Kim and Mary recommended this neighborhood French restaurant where they had dined before with their daughter, Macaire. Gamine (a French term that means “mischievous young woman”) doesn’t take reservations for less than six people, so we were told to be to the restaurant before seven o’clock for the best chance to get a table for five on this Monday evening. It was a good suggestion.
The four of us arrived (Macaire was to join us at the restaurant) a little before seven, and we were able to score the last remaining larger inside table at this obviously very popular (but small) bistro. Gamine has an open kitchen, and both the gentleman who seated us and our server for the evening were both very personable. The night was getting off to a good start. We started with the bread, but since Macaire was caught in traffic, we decided to order drinks (wine and beer only) and a couple of appetizers to try before she arrived.
Mary and Kim shared the Fried Calamari with Aioli ($8), while Tracy and I shared the Escargots in Garlic Butter ($10.50). The Escargots were très magnifique (as good as I have had anywhere, including France) while Kim and Mary enjoyed their calamari dish very much.
When Macaire showed up about ten minutes later, she ordered the delicious Baked Cambozola with Roasted Garlic and Toast Points. Tracy and I never like to see anyone eat alone, so we ordered another round of escargots (just as good as the first one). Although the place was packed, the decibel level was quite comfortable.
Both our server and the man who seated us were from the Marseille area, and they gave us some hints for our journey to Southern France in 2011. After chatting for a bit, it was time for the main course.
My wine had been so good, that we ordered a bottle (Vacqueyras) for the table ($38.00).
I ordered a very delectable Grilled Flat Iron Steak in a Béarnaise Sauce and Pommes Frites ($18.50). The medium-rare cut of meat virtually melted in my mouth and the fries were cooked to perfection, crisp and delicious.
Kim had a unique lamb dish that popped with flavor. He ordered the Marinated Grilled Lamb Loin with Persillade and Lardon Potato Gratin ($19.50). It’s a hard dish to describe. The lamb was thinly sliced, but since it was a loin, there was plenty of meat, and the persillade seasoning gave the dish its unique, and flavorful, taste.
Finally, Macaire ordered one of the specials, Scallops on a Bed of Leek Soufflé ($24.00). Although the dish was quite tasty, it was a little on the cold side, but we surmised that was because she was sitting right in front of the door (since we had to add a chair to our table), so the cold outside, evening air was hitting the dish from the time it was served. All in all, the night’s dishes were considered to be an overwhelming success and everyone came away satisfied.
It was now on to dessert, and only a couple of us could muster the fortitude to put even more food into our already satiated stomachs. Macaire’s Creme Brulee ($7) was very good, but my “wow” dessert of Crépe Suzette ($8) totally blew me away. It was like they had grated a fresh orange into the crepe. This was far and away the best Crépe Suzette I had ever tasted. Tracy, who is not a fan of this dish, said she could not believe the taste, so maybe she is just not a fan of bad Crépe Suzettes.
The sweet wine was a great conclusion to my favorite meal, so far, in 2010. At the end of the evening, I went over and thanked the entire staff, who posed for one last photo.
With this meal of the ages now just a great memory and with time to reflect upon it, the Maitai Scale nearly goes off the chart.
I rate the food a 4.75, the ambiance (including service, professionalism and charm) a 4.75 and the value at a 4.60. The dinner came to about $60 per person (including tip), but that included extra appetizers, two bottles of Pellegrino, four beers, one Kir Royale, two glasses of wine and one bottle of wine.
There are a lot of places you can break the bank in “The City,” but if you want a fantastic meal in San Francisco, located in a true French bistro setting complete with an impeccable wait staff, Gamine is your place for “le dîner parfait.”
MaiTaiTom Rating Food + Ambiance + Value 4.7 maitais (out of 5)
Gamine French Bistrot
2223 Union Street (@ Fillmore)
San Francico, CA 94123
District: Cow Hollow
Monday – Wednesday: 5:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Thursday: 5:30 p.m. – 10:30 p.m.
Friday and Saturday: 11:30 a.m. – 10:30 p.m.
Sunday : 11:30 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
No reservations (for parties less than six persons)