It is a funny thing that as you get older not only does the world seem to get smaller but you actually begin to know people that are running companies, are written about, or starting restaurants. I guess eventually we all grow up.
I had read about Quince Restaurant in all the food magazines, Food and Wine, Gourmet, etc. Michael Tusk was being compared to Alice Waters. Pretty impressive. Michael Tusk is the brother of someone who my sister went to school with, who she was very good friends with and I hung out with for years when we lived in NYC solo my sister. Not only was I thrilled for Michael, I was dying to get out to San Francisco to check out the place. Last night was our big night.
We went with 2 good old friends who also happen to know Michael and one of them is best friends with my sister. Surprise.
We walked in and who was sitting in the restaurant but Willie Brown, who was the mayor of San Francisco. Great sighting..right?
The restaurant has a wonderful warm vibe. The staff couldn’t be nicer and more knowledgeable. You can tell that it is a small family.
We began with a few different appetizers. 2 people had the scallops. Scallops, pan seared with a warm corn salad with mushrooms. Beyond delicious! I had the halibut tartare with small crispy pieces of bread and cherry tomatoes. Yum. The tartare was simple and light but like butter. One other person had the zucchini blossoms which were perfectly cooked.
Ok..on to dins. We decided we should split 2 pastas because the pastas are really good. Michael sent out for each of us a small plate of a lasagna like pasta. Two large pieces of pasta, like a big ravioli, that was stuffed with cheese, greens and topped with a luscious tomato sauce. The cheese literally oozed out. So, why did we need to order the 2 pastas? Well, we did, so we ate them. We split a fava bean ravioli. Very rich but different and good. We also had a oxtail pasta. The oxtail had been cooked forever. Oxtail in a rich brown sauce sauteed with a tagliatelle pasta. All good.
Now, believe it or not, we were ready to eat our main courses. 2 of us had the white shrimp. A dozen or so white shrimp surrounding the plate in a circle with small cherry tomatoes on top in a light orange liqueur sauce. It was divine. Someone else had the duck breast, sliced thin in a fruit sauce. The other dish was sublime. Beef cheeks that had been braised and then pulled apart and made into a small pancake and charred and served with a rich sauce. It was like a potato pancake. Unbelievably innovative and delicious.
At this point we were so overloaded with food and drink, we marched into the kitchen to chat with Michael. He is incredibly humble. He took us into the kitchen and into the refrigerator. He talked about how each day was different based on the local produce. He showed us what was going to happen the next night. There was a medium sized pig hanging up side down for tomorrow’s dins. Beautiful organic produce too. It was the pig I was taken with. It was obvious being back there that I was right with the assumption that he has created a family there. Bravo!
So dessert was being served at the table. We had 2 desserts to share. A fig tart and a fruit concoction served between 2 light pieces of dough. Both delicious.
At the end of the day, Michael Tusk is someone to watch. He has done an incredible job not only creating the intimacy in his restaurant but the food that is being prepared is new, different and divine. All I could say to him, perhaps I did more than a few times, is congratulations. Hey, I knew him when he was just 19. You never know…