Ah, another year older just means another treat for my tummy. It wasn’t my birthday but it was one of my best friend’s birthday. I have to say, this place was a delight the moment I called in for reservations.
It was about a week before my her birthday when my friend and I were kind of like “oh shit, where are we going to take her?” The House came to mind and so did Sotto Mare. Then Chapeau! hit us and we were like jackpot, she’ll LOVE this place. Sure enough, I went to OpenTable just to find out reservations were booked. So I called and a lovely Frenchman with the most perfect French accent delightfully reserved us the best seat in the restaurant. And he was not lying.
(as usual – for tips on parking, location, and wait time just scroll to the bottom)
We arrived about half an hour before our reservation and spent about 20 minutes circling around looking for parking. This was on a Saturday around 6/7pm at Inner Richmond. We arrived and we got the bar seat right at the window.
I have to admit, when he told us bar seat over the phone, I was like “great, we got the last resort seats because we were too late on reservations and he hyped it saying it’s the best.” Never will I ever doubt a Frenchman again. Think of the bar seat as a large sofa, or corner booth seat, but elevated so when you sit you’re at shoulder height of the server, not necessarily looking up and as he stands above you.
We were so excited about the seats, I don’t think I’ve ever been that excited about seating. If you couldn’t already tell from my little blurb about the seating itself.
Now the pictures and meals. Warning: fine it’s more like a bad news thing. Pictures are yellow, shakey, and not the best quality. I had about 5 seconds to take the picture.
Why? Because, and I applaud Chapeau! for this, they strongly discourage the use of cell phones at the dining table to encourage a positive dining experience. So you can imagine how awkward I was taking picture with my dingy iPhone 4s (yes, 4s still) as we sat about 10 feet away from the bar and servers staring at us. Okay, they weren’t staring but it felt like it every time I busted out my phone.
From where I sat! Before we ordered, we even had the chance to meet the chef. He comes out and greets every guest and introduces himself. I’m pretty sure it’s a French thing, but then again my sources are coming from movies and television. Let me know if this is true though! He was absolutely delightful too.
We ended up getting one appetizer and one dessert. The birthday girl ordered the “Menu “1 3 course meal prix fixed where her meal came with one appetizer, one entrée, and one dessert. This way, we got to try a lot of dishes without over ordering. At the end it was the perfect amount of food to satisfy our hunger without being uncomfortably full – been there toooo many times!
I know, that looks odd. But it taste amazing. Complimentary tomato soup. Honestly one of the best tomato soup I’ve ever had.
We ordered the duck salad. AKA: Salade Landaise – Frisée, Duck Confit & Smoked Duck Magret, Fingerling Potato Chips, Classic French Vinaigrette, Lichette de Foie de Volaille.
Omg, I WISH I had this entree all to myself! The Lichette de Foie de Volaille was definitely on the salty side, but when you mix the entire salad, everything just blended so well. The duck, the volaille, the dressing. It was very light and refreshing and just so good.
This is the filet mignon. The sun went down and I had to rely on the romantic yellow lights for this picture. I really wanted to want to get the seafood dish, but the dish itself just had so much seafood it seemed too fishy. I wish I was craving seafood that night because the server highly recommended it. It was that or the filet mignon. Filet mignon is filet mignon. I don’t really think you can go wrong with filet mignon! I tried so hard not to get it because I know I can get it anywhere else, but I just wanted it so bad – from here! And it was just so good! No regrets. The perfect medium rare and the mushrooms – the sauce. The ingredients just went together.
French toast. Yes – french toast for dessert. Sorry I didn’t take a better picture, it was screaming “Hurry, I’m mellllltingggggg” after about 10 pictures.
But omg, it was so good. The menu is described as: Salted Caramel Ice Cream, Hazelnut crème Anglaise. Funny because the server made it about 10 feet away from our table before turning back. We guessed he forgot to add something. Sure enough he came back again and this time with a lovely candle!
Everything about this was just heavenly. The French toast was warm and fluffy but still crunchy. You could really taste the hazelnut in it. And you HAVE to eat it with the ice cream together. Eat it separately and you’re like okay, this is amazing. But eat it together, and you’re like omg what did I miss out on the last bite?!
Now the break down –
Parking: It sucked. Not going to lie! We went prepared though, we knew to be at Richmond 30 minutes before our reservations to find parking. There is street parking, metered and residential. This place is around the eatery part of Inner Richmond, with B Star, Burma Superstar, Genki Crepes, and many other cheap eats. Be prepared and armed for battle.
Service: Absolutely delightful. Probably overused that word, but everyone was nice and engaging in conversations. It’s like they just weren’t your servers, they were an experience.
Ambiance: Wine glasses, roses, definitely an intimate feel. We dressed a little more than casual and, of course, for a birthday occasion (as in, we didn’t wear leggings, flip flops, and an American Apparel hoodie). And you definitely don’t want to be the one whose phone is ringing obnoxiously, flashes going off from your camera, or the phone that is constantly making a shutter sound.
They really are about enjoying great company. And what’s better than your girlfriends? A great place for birthday dinners, anniversaries, or just to feel spoiled and have a great time.
Menu: Different making me wish I took French classes or had a French food dictionary!! Check out their menu here.
Wait time/Reservations: We made reservations. Because OpenTable was full, I gave them a rang knowing I was likely to score a seat. With these online reservation systems, once they hit a quota they stop taking reservations. This is to prevent them from overbooking and be able to take other reservations like phone calls (because not everyone is online, right!). You can make reservations on Yelp, or OpenTable, or their website.
Otherwise, if you were to walk in I would say be prepared to wait. Halfway through our dinner I noticed the place got really pack and there were people waiting to be seated.
Coming back? Yes! I do want to take my family here. Perhaps my mom’s birthday. My dad is pretty laid back, for father’s day he wanted pho so to Kevin’s Pho House we went!
That is all folks! BUT IF YOU MADE IT HERE. Congrats. Some exciting news: LOTS of birthdays coming up which means lots of good food. I am SO excited. Like, you have no idea.
Chapeau! A French Bistro
126 Clement Street
San Francisco, CA 94118