Quince is one of the few Italian restaurants featured by the Michelin Guide San Francisco 2016. Currently holding two Michelin stars, Michael Tusk’s Quince is considered one of the best eateries in town.
Since i want to discovery different cuisines for this trip, i did encounter a difficult time to choose between Quince and another two-starred Italian restaurants called Acquerello, and Quince wins over. Based on my research, Acquerello is more traditonal while Quince features California contempoary elements into its dishes. I chose Quince also due to its ambiance and the food looks more exquisite to match my preference. Beside the Michelin Guide, Quince is also featured by the Relais & Chateaux Guide.
Address: 470 Pacific Ave, San Francisco, California 94133
Hours: Monday-Thursday 5:30~9:30 p.m., Friday & Saturday 5:00 ~ 9:30 p.m.
Cost: Prix Fixe Menu US$198++
Once stepped into the restaurant, we feel it is extremely elegant and modern than most other fine dining restaurants in the states. The combination of famous paintings supringly matches well the old red brick wall. We have a very good first impression of Quince.
Quince opens for dinner from Monday to Saturdays, a prix fice menu priced at US $198++ is offered. Normally the menu includes 9 dishes which also comes with amuse bouche and petit. Reservation can easily be made on their website. The restaurant was not fully occupied by we finished our meal around 9pm.
We started with three finger snacks: a roll of cured salmon, grilled cheese with persimmon and almond cream on a stick, and purple rice cracker with date.
The first dish was nicely presented in a oyster-shaped serveware, however we felt disappointing about its mini size. It was clean and fresh but nothing else impressed us.
Hopefully the second dish wins my heart. The clam was clean and crunchy, paired with different vegetables to give it more textures. The entire dish was light but lovely.
The first highlight of the meal is no doubt the signature Tsar Nicoulai reserve caviar, served in two ways: the top part is caviar and served on toasted homemade briche, on the bottom is caviar with leek and chive. Both my partner coincide the top part was amazing. The briche was buttery and crispy, so delicious with caviar and cream.
Followed by a glass of trout roe on a bed of watermelon radish, dill and buckwheat. Really enjoyed the bursts of unami juices with a crunchy and creamy taste from the bottom part.
Another highlight of the entire meal was the signature ‘farm egg’. I was actually a puree made of carrot and sunchoke, with a thick layer of shaved black truffle on the top. The aroma and flavor of the truffle was incredible, which made the dish up.
Pasta is another part that chef Michael Tusk is good at, that’s why Quince is also considered a Italian restaurant. He handmade all the pasta by himself everyday, as pasta lovers, we were really happy to have two pasta dishes during our visit. The beetroot casoncelli is a more famous pasta dish that has always been on the menu. It was well-cooked to al dante, we didn’t really taste the beetroot but the cheesy flavor was good, didn’t surprised us though.
Abalone was tender and very tasty, the best past of this dish was its liver. There were also two dishes served on the daily special page with additional charges, a pan-seared scallop and a black truffle risotto. We both had the scallop which i loved more than the abalone. Juicy and slightly chewy, buttery and umami.
The second pasta dish was homemade tagliatelle with suckling pig and squb, the combination of two kinds of meat was great but my partner said the texture of pasta was al dante but the entire dish is too try. Since my special dietary request, chef changed my second pasta dish to a vegetarian lasagnetta which was surpringly good. It has a very deep and lovely wild mushrrom flavor, the mushroomy aftertaste was unforgetable.
For the final main course, i had the grilled stripped sea bass instead of venison. The skin of the sea bass was crunchy like crackers, the white flesh was just okay in textures. It is too hard to judge food quality after living in Japan for a long while. My partner really enjoyed his venison. It was served with a stick of grilled venison bacon with garlic. All the main dishes was served with a side of green salad.
By far everything was totally fine, we had some average dishes as well as some ‘wow’ dishes. Thus i expected a lot on desserts but unfortunately the desserts were another sad story. American desserts are well-known for over-sweet, and that’s happened at Quince as well. As pure Asians, both of us found the desserts to sweets. Besides this, the flavor didn’t impressed us neither. But we did enjoyed the final part of the meal – a trolley of petit fours.
By the end of the meal, we had a quick tour of the kitchen and had a short conversation with the chef. In general the meal was not too bad, but the consistency throughout the menu was below my expectations. Neither the beginning part nor the ending was too persuasive for a second visit, but the briche with caviar and farm egg are definitely worth a visit, the beetroot pasta is unique too!