Not like that mean doctor guy on TV, but like the teeny tiny little restaurant in Big-Plate-Italian*-dominated North Beach, San Francisco. The House. Grant Avenue just off Columbus. The location is unsuspecting. The website is underwhelming. The food is amazing.
I went for one of my four (yes, four) birthday meals this year. I went on my actual birthday. This was The Choice. It’s difficult to choose a birthday restaurant, let me tell you. “Angie, you know all the restaurants in SF, why don’t you pick?” Wait, what? Is there a sit-down Quizno’s in midtown**? No, seriously, I don’t know all the restaurants. I was looking on the SF Gate’s top 100 list and hadn’t even heard of most of the places. It’s sad, I know. And it’s exacerbated by the fact that I have a horrible memory. What I’m saying is, come birthday time, I’m on Yelp and OpenTable like every other idiot.
Insulting my readers aside, I had actually been to the The House once before this fateful day. In fact, my friend peed right outside, in the alleyway next door. It was that kind of night. (I did not approve of said urination, just for the record.) It was delicious. Not the pee, the food. Sheesh. So I went back for my birthday.
And it was awesome. Asian fusion. Classy but not uber-San-Francisco-expensive. The place is small and inevitably crowded any night of the week. Make a reservation or prepare to wait for some SF-appropriate amount of time for a table. And you’ll have to wait outside flanked by a sex shop and a sketchy dive bar because there’s no room for even a group of four to stand in the place. That’s how we roll in SF.
BUT, it’s all totally worth it. And none of those things are really that bad. We made a reservation for my bday. Me. Lita. Mala. A bottle of bubbly. And this food:
First is the picture at the top of the page. You understand that I have to put a picture “above the fold” so you keep reading, right? That’s what that’s about. That tuna roll thing was delicious. I believe the waitress recommended it as their most popular appetizer. Good start, House.
Next was this calamari. Now, you know that I a) love appetizers and, b) love calamari. This was expertly executed. Delicious. Our true-vegetarian friend was thusfar unimpressed. We ordered her asparagus which was also really good, but I forgot to take a picture. Moving on.
For the main, Smalls and I split some fishy and they made up a noodly dish for Lita. There was nothing entirely veggie on the menu (come on guys, wtf), which I did not notice before (no menu on the website, grr!). But, like all good SF places, they don’t blink an eye when you ask for something with no meat. They whipped up this huge plate of noodles in no time.
And, because I am me and it was my birthday, it was a double whammy for dessert:
And this post somehow got way too long. I’m out. Happy birthday, biatches.
*Big Plate Italian is what Carissa calls the old-school restaurants that serve immense portions of Italian food and have things on the menu like Chicken Cacciatore, Spaghetti Bolognese, and Eggplant Parmesan. They give you a loaf of bread to start. And cookies and mints to finish. And when you leave, you’ve somehow consumed not less than four pounds of carbohydrate-laden foodstuffs, served to you by the most overbearing-yet-entirely-kindly group of people ever. That is Big Plate Italian.
**Quote courtesy of Liz Lemon.