Slow Club

2501 Mariposa St. @ Hampshire
phone: 415.241.9390
hours: Mon-Fri 11:30am-2:30pm, Sat-Sun 10am-2:30pm
Mon-Sat 6:30-10pm, Fri-Sat til 11pm
Full Bar
Californian Cuisine

The Slow Club is a rare breed of restaurant. Often, a chef's skills and efforts are foiled by poor service. In this case, exceptional service is precluded by the paltry food. I hear the burgers are some of the best in town, but why would you wait in line at a nice restaurant to eat a burger?

This restaurant does not take reservations, which makes it a hit with the, "Oh, let's just go out tonight," crowd. Heading there after 7pm is risky.

The Ambience:
Their large cement room has some inspired decorating that makes it feel cozy and lush. The long black velvet curtains on the walls lead to slightly divided seating areas (some raised) and a bar in the back. It's an overall dark, mysterious, jazzy feel illuminated by the open kitchen.

The Menu:
Very small and Californian. Five appetizers ($6-$9), including organic salad, antipasto and flatbread; five entrees ($14-$18) including blue nose bass with garlic risotto and a lobster cream & tomato chutney, and grilled tri tip kabob with farro, artichoke and wild arugula. The menu seems very small and, though slightly creative, not varied enough.

The Food:
Our antipasto was pretty good, with fresh broccoli rabe, olives, tasty crostinis and goat cheese. I ordered the chipotle glazed chicken breast with cumin dusted potatoes.

It was slathered in barbecue sauce.

Now, I understand that this was probably homemade and perhaps even award-winning sauce, but to me, it tasted like any barbecue sauce, which I'm not a fan of. The vegetables had been sauteed in it I think, and were so tart and infused I could barely keep from spitting them out. The chicken was better, but again the sauce overwhlemed it. Blech.

The Service:
We arrived, stood by the door for five minutes and were passed by and ignored by the entire staff. I was somewhat surprised we couldn't even make eye contact with anyone, much less get a "Hello, someone will be with you in a minute." While wondering if we were to give our name at the bar or just stand in line at the door, someone finally assisted us.

After that, the staff was impeccable. The bartender was quick with excellent wine service while we waited for our table, and our waitress was friendly, knowledgeable and accurate. The man who eventually played host to us also seemed to be bussing tables, but as I rose to use the loo and as I returned, he was there to pull out my chair and fold my napkin. The chivalry was a nice touch.

Reservations: Not accepted.

Overall: B-
The menu is so small that one strike-out entree leaves me wary to recommend.

Reviewed : March 2004

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