Friday, August 24, 2012

Out the Door

Charles Phan and family have a legacy in San Francisco with providing Vietnamese cooking techniques with fresh local ingredients. Their third location in San Francisco is a tribute to their original Valencia Street days. Occupying the same square footage as the original Slanted Door, Out the Door on Bush Street offers Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner, 12 wines on tap, and a unique sake and beer selection all in a casual neighborhood setting.

I had originally wanted to go to Slanted Door after reading rave reviews about it, but there were no reservations available within two weeks.  So I made the executive decision to try the newer Out the Door instead.  The interior was strikingly narrow and very plain in decor, mostly white and neutrals.  The tables were pretty close together and the noise level was incredibly loud.  No sound buffering of any kind was in the room, rather the chatter and music echoed and bounced off the concrete walls creating an unpleasant atmosphere.  I really do not enjoy shouting across a small table to Keith, and it made it difficult for us to consult on our menu choices or even have a regular conversation.  On top of this frustration, we were ignored by our server a bit longer than is considered normal.  He even took orders from a table that was seated well after us before even acknowledging us.

With plenty of time to plan our meal choices, we ordered the Crispy Salt & Pepper Squid and Spring Rolls to start.  In addition Keith ordered  the Slow Roasted Pork Spareribs.  I was expecting actual grilled squid, but I guess I overlooked "crispy" in the title as they were regular fried calamari rings.  The jalapenos provided extra spice, but overall I was underwhelmed by the dish.  Though incredibly fresh, the spring rolls also had no wow factor and were rather plain.  The only difference from those you can get at any Vietnamese deli is the larger size of these and their $10 price tag.  Keith enjoyed the pork spareribs stating they had lots of nice flavor and were very tender, falling off easily from the bone.

Next, we shared a main dish of Mary's Organic Chicken Claypot that came elegantly presented in its earthenware vessel.   The ginger really came through this dish and the meat was nice and soft.  This dish was a little small to share, but paired with white jasmine rice and a side of the Hodo Soy Beanery Yuba, I was satisfied.  The glass noodles dish was a bit sparse with the mushrooms and lacking flavor, but Keith thought it was a fair rendition.  Overall, I was underwhelmed and a little disappointed with the food and ambience at Out the Door.  While the food was fresh, there was nothing modern or contemporary about the flavors.  Service was lacking at first, but picked up as our dishes came out.  Since I have not been to Phan's other restaurants, I have nothing to compare to, but again feel my experience was safe and borderline bland.

Total Rating: 3.53
Food: 3.5, Price: 4, Service: 3.5, Ambience: 2.5, Accessibility: 4

What I ate:
Crispy Salt & Pepper Squid
wit grilled pineapple, jalapenos, toasted garlic 

Spring Rolls
with shrimp, pork shoulder, mint, spicy peanut sauce

Mary’s Organic Chicken Claypot
with caramel sauce, ginger, chilies 

Hodo Soy Beanery Yuba
with nameko mushrooms, snow peas, scallions, glass noodles

Plus Keith ate:

Slow Roasted Prather Ranch Pork Spareribs
with honey-hoisin bbq sauce
Out the Door on Urbanspoon

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