For two fridays in a row, we went to restaurants that are too crowded so we ended up sitting by the counter. I realized that sitting there was not bad after all because you get to see the chef in action and where mijo and I can sit casually as if we are just there for drinks. Here are my comments for Mr. Pollo in the city's Mission District and Incanto in the Noe Valley side of the city.
A week ago on Friday, we went to Mr. Pollo to check out what the rave is all about this place. We've heard about this place being tiny but we didn't know it was really small. The restaurant only has four tables though I think only three can really fit. The interior of the restaurant is what I would call unassuming and unpretentious. I noticed that groups of people kept coming and going and they just leave their phone numbers to the host. If people are patient enough to wait for a table, surely, the food must be very good. When the host made a signal that we can sit by the counter, we accepted his offer because we didn't want to wait for an hour and half. We decided to try the chef's tasting menu consisting of four courses of lamb, pork chop, steak, soup and salad. A lot goes into each dish - the ingredients, spices and special sauces where the names escaped me. The one that I remember had this meaty, lemon, thyme, lavender and cumin flavors into one. They were all delicious and at the same time the presentation was impressive. It is something that you will see being served in expensive restaurants. We must have used around 30 plates by the time we finished dinner. I give this place a thumbs up.
On Friday, we went to Incanto on Church St. We had reserved a table for 9 o'clock but since we were too hungry to wait that long, we decided to go to the restaurant early. The hostess told us we can sit by the bar. By the bar, we witnessed chef Cosentino in action. He is better looking in person now that he no longer sport his grungy hairstyle. He would smile and made short talks once in a while. At one point, mijo asked him to get our orders. I was like, no, no, no, no, no, no!!! That is a famous chef you are talking to! As expected, mijo got a superstar chef attitude. I guess that is normal when one is a known chef who has been on several food shows? Or maybe he is just stressed out because of the Friday evening rush hour? Honestly, I don't care if he is arrogant in real life. The food that he serves are bursting with flavors and perfectly cooked. We took the server's advice and got the octopus salad, the bruschetta with spreadable salumi, the spaghettini with tuna heart flakes and two glasses of Il Molino di Grace. I was told that they're the only one in the country serving this spreadable salumi. They were all great. Would it have been better had the chef been friendly? Maybe. In my opinion, the food, wine and mijo are the ones that matter. Will we come back next time? Of course. But we'll most likely not sit on the counter next time to prevent innocent mistakes like the one mijo just made. :)