The new location is beautiful and handsome - a panoramic glass view of the kitchen from the street, organic Bostonian brick walls, frosty chandeliers, egg shell leather chairs, and wide enough spaces between each table to practice yoga.
Again, the space is beautiful but I wouldn't really know because I was seated in the nose-bleed section. We were seated at the last table in the furthest corner of the restaurant. We were seated in the area where they usually host a private affair, equipped with sliding glass doors and steps to give the room its own stature. Don't get me wrong, the off-the-main-dining room housed the wine cellar (room) with the exposed bricks but as I was making my way to the hotel-ambiance restroom I couldn't help but notice the much more brightly lit, airiness and the aura of comfort in the main dining room. Feeling a little like a dunce because staring at three walls of bricks for two hours was getting old.
Speaking of the restroom, it reflects the lambent lighting, modern clean style of the food and architectural design. The fresh flower arrangement, soap and lotion are in a straight line square glass and uniformly rolled towels stacked like a pyramid to dry those pretty hands.
The service is one of the best in the city, attentive, swift, and professional like Gary Danko and Acquerello. The servers walked with grace (I could barely hear their footsteps), the synchronized plating, timing between each course did not exceed 5 minutes, the chair was pulled every time I got up, bread basket circling the room and the ice tea refilled just as the last sip was taken. The service was stellar which I find hard to come by in San Francisco.
The lighting at our table was dark, the entire restaurant is lit to a romantic third date but it was much brighter in the main dining which housed the 250-pound Venetian chandelier. This description leads to my horrible pictures which do not do the food justice. The food was clean, distinctive in texture and taste albeit tiny portions.
The bread basket circled around the restaurant diligently, never leaving one's bread plate lonely with crumbs. The day's offering included skinny crunchy salty bread sticks, semolina (foccacia-like), French baguette and rosemary cibatta (which I had seconds.)
The $13 Geoduck Crudo had the distinguish smell of the seashell scent as if was plunged out of the water and immediately sliced with a tiny crackle of salt and citrus. The $18 Bay Scallops was covered in such a rich hearty sauce it had a substantial meaty quality. The $14 crispy pork belly with poached farm egg felt like a rendition of bacon and eggs, but refined in Chef Michael Tusk's style.
The $20 maccaroncello with salsa di foie gras definitely reminded me of Acquerello's famous ridged pasta with foie gras scented with masala. The maccaroncello had ridges to hold the decadent sauce but the bounce on the pasta held its own place against the richness, followed by a slightly sweet linger.
The $19 tagliatelle, black truffle and cheese needed more sauce, however, the pasta was amazing. Everything about the pasta from the texture, to the way it spiraled on my fork and lastly - the way the pasta felt when it was chewed between the teeth and cheek; this dish was my top 10 favorite dishes of 2009.
The $33 crispy sweetbreads may be one of the best I've had. Quince's version knocked Chez Spencer's (my personal favorite) version out of the park. The crust was layered evenly, a bite of crunch and then the softness and juiciness of the thymus of gland. Incredible.
The $11 Chocolate-Caramel Cremeaux and Warm Apple Cake were plated like clouds floating in the sky. Seriously it felt like the desserts were in movement, slowly drifting in different shapes and sizes. The Cremeaux had the savory quality with the rosemary ice cream and pinenuts. The Warm Apple Cake had bite size pieces of the cake around the plate, shaved apples, and sprinkled with granola. I did notice how the ice cream was so pretty and uniformly quenelle shaped.
Three types of mignardises were served ranging from the middle C, D to E notes on the piano, a huckleberry meringue, citrus cake to the dense chocolate topped with a gold flake. The tiny detail of the gold flake reminded me of the book I'm currently reading, "Through the Glass Darkly" a novel in the Victorian era, just an off-topic tidbit I like to share.
I followed the advice of other bloggers: stick with the pasta since it was Quince's strength. Chef Michael Tusk is committed to using the freshest ingredients so items like Geoduck or the Japanese octopus (one dish I regret not ordering) is a guarantee. If I decide to go back to Quince I would request a better reservation time and table.
470 Pacific Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94133