Mission Street Food – Fred Sassen

It’s back to MSF once again this week to sample the cuisine of Farallon’s Fred Sassen. Before I get into it, though, I need to atone for an omission from my last MSF review: Lung Shan, the Chinese restaurant that hosts MSF, has a very limited amount of glassware suitable for the proper enjoyment of wine (i.e. the kind where you can get your nose into the bowl of the glass when you sip.) So you have three options: 1) Get there for the first seating, before they run out of glasses, 2) Leave the subtle, nuanced wines in the cellar and bring out the seriously ballsy stuff that doesn’t mind being quaffed from a ceramic teacup, or 3) Bring your own glasses. I didn’t realize 1) was an option until we arrived tonight. Guess which option I chose?

Also, the popularity of MSF and the preponderance of 4-top tables at Lung Shan means that couples end up sharing a table with another party. Perhaps our dining companions were unusually cool and friendly, but I really enjoyed the experience — more on that later.

On to the food! The first item to arrive was the Scallop Ceviche:

Scallop Ceviche

Scallop Ceviche

To be completely honest, my expectations were sky high in the wake of the excellent scallops at Slanted Door earlier this week. Sadly, these scallops were a smaller variety, a pale shadow of the day boat variety’s sweet meat and texture. Don’t get me wrong, there was nothing really wrong with the dish, but it was nothing particularly exciting, either.

Next up was the Chili Braised Pork Cheeks:

Chili Braised Pork Cheeks

Chili Braised Pork Cheeks

Now that’s what I’m talking about! Excellent, deep, meaty flavor complemented nicely by the slight sweetness of the corn and the tartness of the tomatoes. Just beautiful, and a very nice pair for the bottle of pinot noir we’d brought with us.

Continuing the meat parade, the Rare Beef Salad was next to arrive:

Rare Beef Salad

Rare Beef Salad

Another hit!  The beef was perfectly cooked, with a nice, pink interior and garnished with more delectable roasted cherry tomatoes, deep-fried yucca, and horseradish creme fraiche.  Sadly, our pinot was no match for the full-on flavor of this dish — fortunately, our table mates offered to share their delicious bottle of Syrah from Denner, which made for a really excellent pairing.

Our final savory course of the evening was the King Trumpet:

King Trumpet

King Trumpet

Have you ever eaten an entire lobe of foie gras? No? Well… you shouldn’t. Sure, every bite is resplendent in mouth-filling, unctuous happiness, but shortly after the last bite, your gut is likely to let you know in no uncertain terms that this sort of thing WILL NOT BE TOLERATED in the future. Ahem. Anyway, this dish, already overflowing with garlicky goodness and oniony bite, was also a grease-bomb vaguely reminiscent of the aforementioned attempt at a culinary liver transplant. Tasty? Absolutely! Satisfying? All that and more. Healthy? Uhhhhh…

Finally, the Chocolate Hazelnut Tart:

Chocolate Hazelnut Tart

Chocolate Hazelnut Tart

Our minds may have been clouded by grease at this point, but even still, the chocolate tart was very well executed — everything you want in a chocolate dessert. Perhaps it was a bit too good, because I’m pretty sure I got significantly LESS than half of this one. Grrrrrr…

Upon returning from the cashier (~$50 for dinner for two? Hells yeah!), I learned that one of our dining companions lives not in the same neighborhood, not on the same street, but on the same BLOCK as us. So, lessons?

  1. San Francisco is a small town
  2. MSF continues to rock my world
  3. When in doubt, bring syrah

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