Sunday, April 11, 2010

Marlowe and Me

330 Townsend Street
San Francisco, CA 94107
Chef Jennifer Puccio
Lunch weekdays
Dinner Monday through Saturday

Marlowe on Urbanspoon

Last tried: May 2010

Prawns with hot & boozy cocktail sauce. I almost never order shrimp because they are nearly always overcooked, but so glad I decided to overcome my prejudice for these beauties. Be careful-- that horseradish bloody mary sauce kicks back, but it is completely addictive. (So far the Poulet vert and upside down apple crisp have been the only letdowns, but mostly because they are mundane when compared with the other offerings.)

Tried: April 2010

I have not been this excited about any place since I first tried Canteen. Marlowe is my new favorite restaurant in San Francisco, the kind of place where you can go over and over without breaking the bank or getting bored.

The Marlowe burger is the first one in the Bay Area that can rival Father's Office in Los Angeles, Holeman & Finch in Atlanta, and the foie short rib burger at db Bistro Moderne in New York. The horseradish aioli served with the the tempura-like French fries may even place the Marlowe burger above these other masterpieces. For the first time, I truly appreciated why burger snobs go apoplectic when people put ketchup on burgers and fries.

The generous mound of steak tartare has the exact right texture and the perfect balance of mustard and spices, my only "criticism" being that I would have preferred the quail egg raw, not poached. The chilled asparagus soup in the "soup'n sandwich" appetizer tasted fresher and sweeter than I can ever remember asparagus being, and the ricotta and morel bruschetta (the "sandwich" part of the appetizer) managed to be both light and decadent at the same time, with the creamy ricotta playing off the lush morels and the char on the large toast point from the grill. The bone marrow comes split in half for easy access, with a tangle of herb salad to cut the richness, and a small dish of caper salsa verde. I would have been happy to make a meal with just the bread and salsa verde, with a glass of the well-matched Loire Valley Rose, with its unmistakable cabernet franc charred bell pepper scent.

I cannot wait to go back to this place, again and again. Hopefully I will have enough room in my stomach to try everything else on the menu eventually, but I have a feeling that the Marlowe burger will be a non-negotiable staple, like the fried chicken at Little Skillet or the margherita pizza at Pizzeria Picco.

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