Mike Berman’s Washington Watch

September 15, 2008 12:53 AM

Restaurant: Acquerello


1722 Sacramento Street
San Francisco, California 94109
As will soon become apparent, your editor recently spent time in San Francisco for the occasion of Katie Neisen and Mark Jordan's wedding.

I was able to sample three breakfast/lunch joints, a restaurant at the Ferry Building, an In-N-Out Burger, and a first-rate, high-end restaurant.

As always, dinner with Julia and Stan is a treat! Stanley always selects interesting restaurants for our dinners. Julia is always an interesting dinner partner.

Acquerello's well-appointed dining room seats up to 55 people for regular dining, in tables of two and four that can be combined for parties of various sizes. For special events, the dining room can seat as many as 75 people; however, it becomes pretty crowded.

The service was exceptional. There appear to be 3 captains working the floor, including the owner and his son, as well as a serving person. It occurred to me that the service might have been a function of the fact that the owner knows Stanley (as it seems everyone does in the San Francisco food world). However, all of the other diners appeared to be getting roughly the same attention.

At the onset we were served a Fresh Brodo of vegetables with peas and beans.

Julia is a vegetarian and, since she was not finding an entree on the menu that was exactly to her liking, she was offered a special vegetable entre consisting of several prepared vegetables which followed her selected first course, Delicate Parmesan Baudino topped with lemony zucchini salad.

Stan started with Roast Peppers stuffed with tuna-Piedmontese style, followed by a Risotto of sweet prawns with Prosecco and English peas, and concluded with Baked halibut over regula with shellfish, peas and saffron vinaigrette.

I could not resist starting with Chilled Sonoma lamb tongue with pickled baby carrots and salsa verde. The taste is more subdued than my all-time favorite of pickled beef tongue. As a second course I chose Lemon-ricotta gnocchi with spinach and zucchini sauce, and finished with Pan-sauteed black bass over duo of lentils with shaved artichoke salad.

None of us were in the mood to be tempted by one of the tasty desserts, except for a few delightful cookies.

Stan and Julia tried a number of wines. The first selection that was presented to Julia did not meet her taste, so a second bottle of a different taste was quickly provided.

Commensurate with the high level of service we experienced generally, when I asked for directions to the men's room, our serving person led me to a floor-to-ceiling curtain. She parted the curtain and pointed in a direction that turned out to be the men's room.

The men's room is very commodious. The floor is covered with large tan tiles. Large grey tiles cover the walls to about the 3-foot level, topped by a strip of 1/2 size large tan tiles. The balance of the walls and ceiling are painted in a dark brown color.

In addition to very serviceable white ceramic commode and washbasin, there is one amenity now found in most men's rooms. Next to the door and across from the commode and washbasin there is a square glass top table with flowers and a burning candle. On each of two sides of the table there is an antique- appearing wooden chair with a floor seat cushion.

Reservations are clearly required.

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