Happy Birthday To Me! Those that know me well know I'm not one to shy away from my birthday. I try to make it last as many days as possible with a variety of celebrations, this year being no different. Tori, my fine dining companion (read: one of my few friends who doesn't mind dropping some serious cash on an transcendent dining experience), and I have been slowly compiling a list of places, primarily in San Francisco, that we MUST eat at one day soon. As a consolation for her being out of town for my actual birthday she offered to let me pick somewhere off of our list and she would treat (have I also mentioned Tori is exceptionally generous?) Perbacco had actually been our most recent add. A close friend from my restaurant days who is now living up in San Francisco and working at an amazing restaurant up there had "checked in" on Facebook and knowing her exceptional taste in restaurants I had to check it out. I couldn't read more than half way down their menu without salivating. Everything sounded exceptionally refined yet satisfying, like each bite would be a unique yet familiar and comforting experience. Boy did it not disappoint!
We both rushed home after work to get dolled up for our special night out. News to no one Tori was still in the middle of doing her hair when I arrived. We did however make it to the city just in time for our reservation after some creative parking in the Financial District (the sign by our spot said it was only off limits the week before, the signs on the spots in front of and behind ours?.... the week of, but alas we did not get towed!). We were greeted and taken to our table right away. Perbacco has an intriguing mix of both polish and warmth to its decor. One thing I particularly liked was that although I was seated facing the wall there was a mirror running along the back of the banquette so I could see the whole room without having to awkwardly turn around (came in handy when a table of attractive young gentleman were seated behind me).
After being seated we were greeted promptly, brought water and some thing crisp bread sticks with a house pesto for dipping. First order of business of course- beverages. One of our favorite local restaurants has a great sparkling cocktail with elderflower liquor and champagne. When Tori saw a similar concoction on the menu with the addition of blood orange juice we had to have one. I was pleased to see that their wines by the glass were offered in 1/2 Lt carafes and decided to go with something we would both enjoy (even if I did plan to drink the majority of it) and something I hadn't tried before, a Muller Thurgau from the Alto Adige region. It was right on point with what I was looking for which is always pleasant when trying new wines. We had perused the evening priors menu on line (there is a new menu each day at least in part) so we had some idea of what we were interested in ordering. We decided to share the Wild Mushroom soup with Black Truffle Crema to start as well as a chilled asparagus with shaved radishes topped with burrata and a lemon vinaigrette. Heaven. The soup was the perfect silky consistency and the earthy mushrooms were complimented so well by the richness of the drop of truffle creama. The asparagus was the perfect appetizer satiating our growing hunger but light enough that we did not feel full yet. The asparagus was sweet and crisp the burrata cool and rich the radishes and citrus vinaigrette balanced everything perfectly.
We went with pastas for our main course. With my affinity for Risotto I was very curious to try theirs which on this particular evening featured cubes of prosciutto and peas. Tori couldn't help but order the Ricotta and Meyer lemon Raviolis. The pact would be we would eat half of our dishes and then swap so both could enjoy the different textures and flavors. True to our word we carefully each ate half way down our plates and transferred them hand over hand to the other when we were done. Then of course there were the side dishes. I have become an obsessive lover of brussel sprouts and could not let the meal go by without ordering their side of brown butter brussel sprouts with capers and parmigiano reggiano and Tori a side of rosemary roasted fingerling potatoes. Against our better good we cleaned all of our plates. Everything was cooked to perfection the wonderful balance of flavors calling their sirens song to our tongues for just one more bite.
Now we have all been faced with this dilemma. You have come to the end of an excellent meal, if you are wearing pants you are fighting the urge to unbutton them (there's a reason I chose a dress with a flowy skirt that evening) and then voila the dessert menu. I have to concede that this may have been the only choice that if given the chance again I would have chosen differently. Don't worry your pretty head, of course we ordered something, but I think for our utter lack of belly space the dense Meyer lemonciello cake we ordered was not what the palate needed. While the flavor was delightful the texture was hard to enjoy on such a full stomach. One of their many creatively flavored gelatos (the night before there was an extra virgin olive oil gelato on the menu, can't lie my interest was piqued!) or the panna cotta of the evening might have gone down a little easier.
All in all however Perbacco was everything I had hoped for. I look forward to an oppurtunity to dine there again, however with all the progress that still needs to be made on our list it may be awhile!