Recently I’ve been getting a large number of Facebook Ads for a new restaurant in SF called 3rd Cousin and in an example of well targeted advertising I ended up checking their menu when I was looking for a new dinner place. The dishes looked very interesting and they had an available spot so we signed up for their grand tasting which is 10 courses of the greatest hits from the menu.
We get started with the Hamachi Crudo which was my favourite dish of the night. A clean simple preparation with the acid from the yuzu making a nice contrast with the fish. It was a great way to start and really sets a bar at the Michelin star level.
Next up was the chefs signature dish and the menu item that gets the most buzz – uni creme brulee. This sounded so interesting that even Nithya who was doing the veggie tasting specifically asked for this. The uni and creme brulee work surprisingly well together. There is an incredibly richness to the dish that is just fantastic. They suggest spreading it out on the crostini but I felt that the bread was muddling the dish and much preferred eating it straight up from the bowl with a spoon. I would also have liked to try it without the caviar as I’m not sure it adds much beyond the texture. Still a fantastic dish and well worth the trip.
The other stand out dish in this meal was the foie gras on walnut french toast. I am usually not a big fan of foie gras (foie gras ice cream being a spectacular exception) as I dont prefer the meaty liver taste. However in this case the french toast removed the strong liver taste while you still get the expected melting texture and mouth feel. I even tried a bit of the foie gras by itself to see if they had done anything different in the preparation and that bit tasted exactly like you’d expect. I really liked this dish though I can imagine that foie gras fans might find it lacking.
Another interesting dish from the menu was the scallop with crispy (deep fried) pork belly. The concept is to have the soft texture of the scallop with the crispyness of the pork however in this case the pork had been fried a fraction too long and some parts of it tasted burnt. The non burnt sections gave me an idea of what the chef was going for and while interesting I think it would do better from having either less fried or pan seared pork belly as you lose the pork flavour in the current preparation.
This dish of porcini ravioli with truffles was the biggest flop of the meal. The ravioli tasted primarily of salt and butter from the sauce and I could barely taste the mushroom. The truffles on top also had no distinct flavour and were there more to say it had truffle than any particular flavour. It basically tasted like store bought ravioli in a packet sauce and not like something from a place trying for a Michelin star. They would do well to simplify their sauce and focussing more on the contents of the ravioli, perhaps by including the truffle or truffle oil in there.
Apart from the food, the wine pairings were excellent and included a sauterne and 2 ports. One thing I liked was that the vegetarian tasting had different pairings than the meat courses which is how it should be. Service was quite attentive with the only knock being one waitress who on multiple courses just announced the dish as “halibut” or “cheese” with no further explanations. When it is a tasting menu I definitely expect people to explain the dishes and in one case we ended up flagging down a different server to explain the dish.
All in all the food was decent and had excellent highs but also a few more lows than I would like. If they can work on better execution and tune out some of those lows I can definitely see a michelin star in their future.