Oh, the struggles of picking a dinner restaurant for a weekend visit. My friend and I had a lengthy Hackpad (if you are like me and not up-to-date on techie things, it’s an alternative to Google Docs) list of all of the restaurants, bars, and events that we were interested in going to. (In case you are interested, we ended up going to Chipotle Festival, where we relived our high school punk rock days by listening to Andrew McMahon play the entire Everything in Transit album by Jack’s Mannequin. Major win.) In any case, we had several criteria for the dinner restaurant: it had to be good (obviously), it had to be a restaurant my friend hadn’t been to recently, and it had to have good drinks.
We ultimately decided on Gaspar Brasserie in the Financial District because it opened less than 2 weeks ago (I insist on going to trendy restaurants before everyone else realizes they are trendy), and it was from Franck LeClerc, who had been behind Cafe Claude, a cute, cozy French spot that I much enjoyed when I lived in SF.
The restaurant itself is styled like a classic French brasserie, and the dim lighting, the red leather booth seating, and dark wood accents all worked to create a sexy, but understated atmosphere. It was the perfect setting for the three of us to catch up over a bottle of wine.
I was a bit surprised that the restaurant skewed older than the typical SF restaurant (we were by far the youngest people there), but being unable to spot hoodies with tech company logos in the crowd was a welcome change.
We decided to share several plates for dinner:
Asparagus. Quail eggs, pickled onions, croutons. This dish was solid, as the asparagus was crunchy and tasty. But then again, it would be very difficult for a restaurant to mess up asparagus.
Burgundian escargots. Bacon, roasted shallots, garlic confit, brioche, sherry vinaigrette. The escargots dish was average. There wasn’t enough salt and garlic for the escargots to be flavorful, and the different elements of this dish did not blend together cohesively.
Wild flounder grenobloise. Pommes de terrre puree, Bloomsdale spinach, lemon-caper beurre noisette. The flounder was also average. While the lemon-caper flavoring wasn’t bad, the fish seemed overcooked to me, and the texture was unpleasant.
We also ordered the pommes frites, which were quite satisfying, but I didn’t think it necessary to take a picture. While we opted for only a few savory dishes, we splurged on dessert:
Creme caramel. Laurel bay leaf, maldon salt. This custard dessert was a bit too sweet for me, but my friends liked it.
Parfait au Valrhona. Frozen chocolate parfait, chocolate-caramel, chocolate cake crumbs, blackberry, chantilly. Of the two dessert courses, I definitely gravitated towards the parfait.
Overall, Gaspar Brasserie was good, but there were no standout dishes in my mind. While I was immediately impressed with Cafe Claude on my first visit there, Gaspar Brasserie did not wow me. Luckily for me, the wonderful company that I was with more than made up for any deficiencies in the food, and I had a lovely dinner date in SF.
Gaspar Brasserie, 185 Sutter St, San Francisco, CA 94104