Monday, August 25, 2014

Fun with the SF Weekly archived restaurant reviews

At some point SF Weekly put a bunch of their old issues online, going back to 1995.  (Sadly, the archive does not seem to include Smarter Feller, the weird, lovable, mostly funny comic strip that was co-written by Dave Eggers and remains the best thing he's ever done, which I say with authority even though I've only read the Staggering Genius book and thought it was OK but a little too self-aware and smug for me but that's fine, good for him.  Here's a good description of the strip: "Eventually, though, the strip evolved into Smart Feller (later Smarter Feller), which started out by taking all of San Francisco's easy targets -- Frank Jordan, hippies, Journey, the Examiner Magazine, guys with goatees -- and napalming them. For weeks Eggers produced brilliant strips on the guy in the Gold Club ads, and by the time he was done, Smarter Feller was a surreal commentary on nothing in particular, a stick-figure Seinfeld whose main character was a talking handbag." R.I.P. Smarter Feller.)

There's lots of fun stuff in there, but I'm enjoying reading the restaurant reviews, mostly because almost every restaurant reviewed no longer exists and because the prices listed for the food seem hilariously low.

Anyone remember Paella La Movida, on 16th between Guerrero and Dolores?  I don't.  I guess it was where Mozzeria is now.

 La Movida is the latest snappy addition to a corridor of 16th Street between Dolores and Mission that has lately been blooming with boho chic. These days the neighborhood, with its slightly seedy glamour, seems a lot like the East Village in New York, or Earls Court in London.

Boho chic!

My friend had the soup of the day, acorn squash ($2.50), a silky, clinging broth that tasted intensely of nuts and butter. I had a cup of the gazpacho ($2.50), the traditional, tomato-based cold vegetable soup of Spain. I've disliked a lot of gazpachos over the years (many of my own making) because the raw vegetables can taste harsh, and a little too much onion can strong-arm the rest of the ingredients. I can't say I would rush back to La Movida for the gazpacho, though it was pretty good -- a creamy, balanced dish that needed only a light sprinkling of salt and pepper to enliven the flavors.

Can you imagine getting ANYTHING for $2.50 now?

Later the same week. Dinner. Drifted languidly along 16th Street through the crowds (lots of brightly colored hair) to Pastaio, a comfortable pasta-pizza place just a few doors away from La Movida. A true California restaurant, with a largely punk-gay crowd in an Italian joint run by Latinos.

Where Pakwan is now.  I don't remember Pastaio either.  I can report they had pizzas for $9.50 and lasagna for $7.95.  "Lots of brightly colored hair"!  Sigh, the 90s.

I like this one too, for "Bistro M," where I think The Cavalier is now, on 5th Street.

Bistro M is celebrity chef Richard's newest baby -- his L.A. first-born, Citrus, has spawned four other eateries. He has also cooked with Julia on TV, but at this point who hasn't? (The way the still-embarrassing TV Food Network, unavailable in the Bay Area, is gobbling up foodies, there's scarcely a person left holding a whisk who hasn't had his or her 15 minutes.)

The "TV Food Network," huh?  I guess it's up to you whether it's still embarrassing, but Mystery Diners is total crap.  This is the best part though:

A word on price. I remember when Rosalie's opened on Van Ness in the mid-'80s and everybody went and ordered up $16 appetizers like mad, kvelling over the galvanized palm trees, canvas dummies thrown around the room (this is true -- I was there) and socialites behaving badly. Well that was then. With appetizers averaging $9.50 and entrees running from $16-$22 (the one exception being homemade chicken sausage for $13.50), this place ain't cheap. 

I don't know anything about Rosalie's on Van Ness but HOLY SHIT $16 was a fuck ton for an appetizer in the mid-80s.  Rosalie's sounds like a hoot, although I'm curious why canvas dummies were being thrown around.  The funny part is that "entrees running from $16-$22" sounds pretty good now.

(A little Googling reveals that Rosalie's was at 1415 Van Ness, which is now a Mattress Discounters.  So they're still in the business of moving fabric-covered things!  HI-YO!!!!!)


KBN said...

Pastaio was a bummer since they considered the pizza sauce a "topping" and charged accordingly: one and out.

GG said...

Uh... I think $16 is a fuck ton for an appetizer NOW. Then again, expensive restaurants aren't really my thing, so maybe my perspective is warped.

Unknown said...

Hi friends! I hope everyone had a great weekend. Guys How I spent my weekend? Yep, I had amazing lunch party with my friends at San Francisco restaurants and after that we went for a long drive.

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