Sometimes you go to a restaurant in SF and suddenly feel that you’ve been inducted into some sort of exclusive group of people. There are a variety of these restaurants, which, incidentally, you typically can’t get a table at without rigorous and meticulous preparation, or, alternatively, without waiting for two-plus hours on a given night. As I’m not typically inclined toward the latter, the former is my chosen option for such places.
The Slanted Door is one of those places. You want a reservation for 7pm for two people? It’s February 21 today, and Open Table tells me that you’ll need to wait until at least March 3 to get a table before 8pm, and even then, that table is for 5:30. Let’s just say we’re dealing with high, though not thoroughly hopeless, demand.
And the reasons aren’t unsound* — the place is great in all sorts of ways. First, it has a primo-supremo spot at the north end of the Ferry Building with views out onto the water and sparkly Bay Bridge (sparkly at night, of course… not at your 5:30 reservation). Second, the menu is fun, creative Vietnamese and is pretty extensive; and third (related), the food is great.
As I’ve only been once, I was left wanting to try more, of course, but the dishes I did have were generally very good. In review:
vegetarian spring rolls
The vegetarian spring rolls (tofu, shiitake, cabbage, mint, peanut sauce — $11) were surprisingly amazing. I typically prefer the crispy (read: deep fried) rolls, but opted for the healthier option this time. They did not disappoint and had great flavors and texture.
diakon rice cakes
The diakon rice cakes (shiitake mushroom, shallot, sweet chili soy — $14) were not what I expected, which was also surprising since I actually know what a daikon is. It was a sort of pureed, re-constituted diakon patty that was quite delicious if you liked the spongy texture, which I did.
cellophane noodles with crab
The other three dishes were veggie dishes that we ordered to be our shared mains (we had a real vegetarian with us, though she was open to trying some type of seafood). The cellophane noodles with crab ($21), rodoni farm brussels sprouts with beech mushrooms ($11), and the wood oven roasted catalan farm butternut squash ($12) were all pretty dang good, and indeed pretty unique and interesting.
We all had different favorites, but mine was the noodles. The crab was minimal, but the understated amount was just enough since the dish is pretty delicate on its own and probably wouldn’t be well served by an overpowering amount of crab (though I generally never complain about too much crab). My vegetarian friend couldn’t hack the crab, and liked the brussels sprouts the best. They were all great dishes, and, while I don’t think they necessarily were meant to go together per se, we certainly all enjoyed ourselves.
And then we were left with dessert. The choices were decent, though you may recall that I’m a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to dessert. And, uncharacteristically (for me), we ordered the valrhona chocolate & peanut butter cream pie with peanut crumble ($10). I love peanut butter… on a PBJ. Or in a peanut butter cup. But, generally speaking, that’s it. I have learned, however, that a good restaurant can make anything good, even things I don’t typically like. And I was right. This “pie” was awesome. And it actually took a decent picture, which I (sadly) can’t say of the rest of the meal.
So. Slanted Door. I’ve been there (on a Tuesday). I spent all kinda money (and a gift certificate). I’m super cool (and use a calculator every day). Yeah. So there.
*Yes, that was a double negative. Deal with it.