too tame?

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Went to Straw with Christina tonight.

After reading the Daily Candy and Urban Daddy blurbs about the restaurant, I pictured walls hung with striped circus tent fabric, servers dressed in some kind of costume (ringmaster?), a row of penny arcade games, a cotton candy machine and a hostess shouting: "Step right up!"

Instead, the restaurant was sort of subdued. Yes, there was a tilt-a-wheel, vintage carnival photos, antique signs and a pink flamingo outside, but no ringmaster. And the walls were white. The vibe felt more cute country cafe than raucous kitschy carnival. Also, the space was teeny-tiny -- like Brenda's French Soul Food before its recent expansion. And there was nothing bad about this. It just wasn't what I expected.

Before I start talking about the food, I want to emphasize that Straw has been open for less than a week. In fact, they don't even have their alcohol license yet -- they're that new. As with any fledgling restaurant, there are kinks to iron out, and it's unfair to make judgments too soon.

In addition, I ordered primarily from the gluten-free and vegetarian menus. (Yes, Straw has four menus -- regular, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan. I had to flip through two of them at the same time, comparing and contrasting and trying to figure out what I could eat. It might have been easier to combine all of this on one menu and use symbols to denote which items can be served gluten-free and which are vegetarian/vegan. Saves paper.) And gluten-free is, well, not exactly exciting. In fact, it can be downright boring. The only gluten-free items on the menu were the truffle popcorn, the sandwiches (with gluten-free bread) and salads.

So I cheated a little, and Christina and I started with the Easy Cheese Revisited -- house-fried potato chip nachos with béchamel (which has flour), scallions and tomatoes.

It was just OK. The cheese was lukewarm; tomatoes aren't in season right now, so these were a little flavorless; and the scallions were chopped in such large pieces that they were extremely strong (seriously, it was like whoever prepared the dish needed better knife skills).

For my main, I got the Gastro Gypsy sandwich -- olive tapenade, Moroccan carrots and chèvre -- on gluten-free bread with a side salad.

The side salad was simple yet good (mixed greens with olive oil and balsamic), but teeny-tiny. But the sandwich was kind of depressing. I'm starting to think I really don't like gluten-free bread (remember the gluten-free English muffin incident?) -- it is crumbly, dry and heavy, and just doesn't taste like bread at all. I ended up dissecting my sandwich and scraping off the inside and eating that. And the inside was OK -- I felt like I could've made this sandwich at home.

But like I said, maybe there are still some kinks, and maybe I just had a bad experience because of my super-restrictive diet. Christina had the Bearded Lady, a pulled pork sandwich with blackberry coulis, and she loved it. She also ordered a side of mac-and-cheese, which came with chunks of apple and bacon (seriously, whoever was cooking back there really had no knife skills -- everything was cut in such huge pieces), and that was really good too. So I think maybe I just ordered wrong.

Anyway, after dinner, we took a walk (or maybe I should say "limp," since Christina is on crutches and I am still dealing with my ankle) through Hayes Valley and ended up getting dessert at Christopher Elbow -- snuck in just before they closed. I had a Chinese five-spice hot cocoa with homemade marshmallows and a dark chocolate peanut butter cup, and she had a hazelnut hot cocoa with whipped cream and marshmallows and a milk chocolate turtle.

Hit the spot!


Christina said...

I'm very excited to see my name in print.

And even though I was in intestinal distress last night after all my food, I can't wait to go out and eat with you again!


Michaela said...

Next stop: Corner! Yeah!

Design by Studio Mommy (© Copyright 2015)