1152 Valencia @ 23rd St.
Okay, I gotta be honest with you. I had such a miserable time at Watergate that when a friend suggested we try its little sister Watercress (which resides in the original Watergate Mission space) I was hesitant. When she told me it's half the price, I geared up for a cheaper bad meal and a fun review to write.
I was wrong. Everything was great at this spin-off. Apparently they didn't follow any of big brother's rules, which makes it yet another great Mission find.
There's an upscale feeling in this airy single-room eatery. Floor to high ceiling curtains, large brooding paintings with ornate frames, carpeting, dark wood, great jazz music and dim lighting. It FELT like a more expensive restaurant than it is, and they certainly win points for that.
First of all, it's pretty cheap. They offer a 3-course meal for $19 with no restrictions on what can be ordered. Appetizers of pear salad, grilled tiger prawns, wontons and baked goat cheese are all $6. The entrees (about $12-$16) of pork loin, risotto, ratatouille, braised lamb shanks and more are all accented by unique sauces and flavors, including Fuji applesauce, mango salsa, smoked bacon, purple potatoes, etc. Overall, it's inventive and interesting.
Surprising and tasty. Nothing was too rich, greasy, or spicy but the subtle flavor combinations certainly worked. The meats were juicy and the risotto fresh and light. I can't speak for desserts beyond the creme brulee, which was good, but not exceptional.
Extremely friendly and on the ball. The key here is that they have more than enough staff to cover the tables, so our progress and needs were surreptitiously monitored. They were never overbearing, just accurate, present and smiling, which is exactly what I want.
A great bargain as a big-time tasty dinner at small-time prices.
Reviewed : Feb 2004