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  • flour + water, San Francisco
    2011

    flour + water Restaurant Review, San Francisco

    Posted by Foodnut.com

    Reviewer: Foodnut.com

    flour + water

    2401 Harrison Street (At 20th Street)

    San Francisco, CA 94110

    415-826-7000

    415-826-7001 (Fax)

    flour + water Website

    Book Reservation

    flour and water San Francisco exterior decor

    flour + water is a wildly popular Italian restaurant in the Mission district of San Francisco. They focus on hand rolled pastas, house cured meats, and an Italian pizza oven. The chef, Thomas McNaughton is a veteran of La Folie, Gary Danko, Quince. They take reservations and reserve half the place for walk ins, causing a line to form 20 min. before the place even opens.

    Legend has it that Steve Jobs was once turned away because he didn’t have a reservation. A waitress did confirm it. Our last visit was in February, 2011 where we found that the food had improved since they opened in the middle of 2009.

    flour and water San Francisco interior

    Decor, Vibe - Narrow, long room with refurbished, repurposed and reclaimed wood, and a lot of it exposed. Dimly lit, eclectic music was blaring, making it hard to talk. People lined up before the place opened. A fair amount of couples, bigger parties, locals, with most casually dressed folks in the 30′s and 40′s. There were several families with kids, right when the place opened.

    Menu Pictures (Click to zoom into any picture)

    The menu changes daily and features about five antipasti starters, five pizza options, five pastas and three entrée’s. They had two specials available when we visited.
    Website Flour and Water Menu

    Flour and Water Full Image Set

    Picks:

    Complimentary house still or sparkling water.

    Make sure you ask for their excellent Fire Brand bakery, Oakland bread.

    flour and water San Francisco shaved asparagus salad

    shaved asparagus ($10) and arugula salad with a pancetta-caper vinaigrette was a very good salad. The dressing was strong enough to cover up a lot of the green’s intrinsic flavor. Nice cheese and bacon accents. A bunch of olives too.

    flour and water San Francisco roasted pork loin

    Roasted pork loin ($26) with young purple cabbage, Thumbelina carrots, lentils and mustard Jus was cooked to a perfect medium rare. Very Tender and juicy meat, but a little on the small side portion-wise. Excellent lentils that just soaked up the au jus.

    flour and water San Francisco nettles Salsiccia pizza

    Salsiccia pizza ($17) nettles, garlic white wine sausage and bagna cauda was a super thin, not crispy pizza with very nice combination of ingredients that worked together. We chose to have the extremely heavy-handed bagna or anchovy oil splash on the side. Italian 900 degree Valoriani oven performed its duties well although we prefer a little more crispiness.

    Spaghetti with sanguinaccio Ragu, black trumpets and Dino kale ($15) was a fairly small but excellent freshly made pasta featuring a meatty blood sausage-based sauce and al dente noodles. Pasta quantities are very skimpy, so you need to order an appetizer and possibly dessert.

    nettle & ricotta triangoli with yellow foot mushrooms ($16) was a perfect triangular ravioli dish with a creamy sauce with some very small but strong yellow foot mushrooms.

    strozzapreti with braised pork shoulder and spinach ($16) is a twisty pasta that came with a ton of succulent, tender pork, but not enough of the al dente pasta. Because it was so meaty, this pasta course could fulfill on main course duties.

    whole wheat agnolotti dal plin ($17) sounded very healthy, but takes the form of ravioli like pasta filled with chicken, and bathed in a butter sauce with bits of crispy chicken chitterlings. Because this was made with wheat, the pasta was a bit dry on the inside, but did possess good flavor.

    Rosemary garganelli ($18) with lamb cheek, Dino kale, and taggiasca olives was also a very meaty pasta with high quality lamb, omitting gaminess. Another good sized pasta portion that proved to be fulfilling.

    flour and water San Francisco braised pork cheek

    braised pork cheek ($18) with borlotti beans and erbette chard had good amounts of tender braised pork on top of a bed of beans with a slight bit of chard. Flavors on the pork could have been more aggressive.

    roasted brussel sprouts with pancetta vinaigrette & pecorino cheese ($6) was a rich and oily  dish that will turn any vegetable hater into a believer.

    sautéed greens with pine nuts, currants & balsamico ($6) was stellar.  Fruity, wild greens, lite sauce made it go down fast.

    flour and water San Francisco chocolate budino

    Chocolate budino ($8) with espresso-caramel cream & sea salt is one of their signature dishes and a must order. A nice combination of silky smooth chocolate and creamy textures accented by a hint of salt.

    OK:

    flour and water San Francisco Margherita Pizza

    margherita pizza ($13) tomato, basil, fior di latte, extra virgin olive oil was slightly above average. The middle was soggy, the crust very thin. Flavors were decent but the cheese did not stand out. Several burned areas on the crust.  We tried this once with mozzarella di bufala ($3) add on and found it only slightly better. Una Pizza Napoletana still has our hearts.

    roasted pork loin and belly ($26) with mustard greens, fingerling potatoes, Rosemary, and caramelized onion purée proved to be an interesting dish. The pork belly was tender and melted in our mouth, while the loin was slightly overcooked, not juicy, and a bit salty with the heavy sauce. Our previous 2011 experience with their roasted pork loin was far better.

    flour and water San Francisco squid ink pasta

    corzetti stampati pasta ($16) with braised monterey squid and fava beans was very al dente. Could have used a lot more egg based thin pasta. The squid out numbered the pasta. Sauce was slightly spicy. A squid ink pasta we had at A16 was far better.

    flour and water San Francisco maltagliati pasta

    maltagliati pasta ($15) with brown butter braised giblets and ramps (onions) was also very al dente, more so that most places. The quantity of pasta was also pretty low. Flavors were solid.

    Pans:
    None

    flour + water had slightly above average service that was competent but not exceptional. One time, the server was training a new recruit who was desperately needed to give service more bandwidth. Another time, we had to wait forever for our server to come by. With so much business, it is time for them to hire more people.

    Our take is that Flour and Water is an excellent neighborhood place elevated to stardom. The California Italian fusiony food, especially the pasta, is very good and surprisingly meaty, but not as spectacular as say Perbacco. If you have been thinking about trying flour + water, definitely give it a try, you will find it worthwhile.

    AlternativesDelfina is not far away and also a bet for Italian food.
    Moderate wine markup, small selection. Glasses of wine from $6.50, bottles from $26.

    Flour and Water on Urbanspoon

    flour + water Overall Rating: (Very Good 2.5)

    Come Back?

    Food Rating: (Excellent)
    Service Rating: (Good)
    Atmosphere Rating: (Very Good)
    Value Rating: (Good)

    Guide: 0 = poor, 1 = Below/Average, 2 = Good, 2.5 = Very Good, 3 = Excellent , 4 = Extraordinary

    Alcohol:Beer, Wine
    Attire:Casual
    Hours:Daily 530pm - Midnight
    Parking:Street
    Reservations:Yes
    Prices:$13 - $26
    Posted on February 7th, 2011
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    10 Responses to “flour + water Restaurant Review, San Francisco”

    1. fogcitydiner Says:

      “Our sense is this is a neighborhood place, not a destination restaurant. The food is fair, not exceptional. Pasta quantities are very skimpy. One would have to order a salad, a pasta, and a dessert to be full.”

      Agreed . . . while the neighborhood needs retail development, we were disappointed in flour + water for the same reasons you cited . . .

      Skimpy portions, lackluster service, only OK food. We did enjoy the reasonably priced Italian wine list and the shaved asparagus salad. But the Frito Misto and pizza we ordered did not measure up to others.

      Open to midnight is a big plus if you are craving a pizza and Delfina and Paulines are already closed. But we likely will not return unless we hear about some changes. OK food only works if the portions are big and the atmosphere makes up for the failures in the kitchen.

      In any other locale, this restaurant might be acceptable, but in San Francisco, “just OK” isn’t good enough.

      Sadly, the owners do not aspire to anything more than having a money making neighborhood “pub” a la Atlas Café.

    2. New 2010 San Francisco Michelin Guide | Foodnut.com Says:

      [...] Chevalier Colibrí Cook St. Helena Corso Crouching Tiger Cucina Paradiso Delfina Dosa Farina FIVE flour + water Henry’s Hunan Hong Kong Flower Lounge Incanto Insalata’s Junnoon Kitchen (The) K & [...]

    3. EatingInTheCity Says:

      There are supposed to be black spots on the crust of any pizza done in a wood oven, its caused by the wood chips that are put in to cause bursts of heat. If your gonna write a food blog you should do some food research.

    4. Osteria Coppa Restaurant, San Mateo | Foodnut.com Says:

      [...] and the meats we use are antibiotic free. This mirrors places like Pizzaiolo in Oakland, Flour and Water in San Francisco. Executive chef of Osteria Coppa is rising star Chanan Kamen, formerly of [...]

    5. New 2011 San Francisco Michelin Guide | Foodnut.com Says:

      [...] Cucina Paradiso Delarosa – How about sister restaurant Beretta? Delfina Domo Dosa eVe FIVE flour + water Gather Hachi Ju Hachi Henry’s Hunan – Why!? Hibiscus Hong Kong Flower Lounge – [...]

    6. New Michelin Guide San Francisco 2012 | Foodnut.com Says:

      [...] – San Francisco eVe – Berkeley Fish Story – Napa Valley FIVE – Berkeley flour + water – San Francisco Fringale – San Francisco Gather – Berkeley Hachi Ju Hachi – [...]

    7. Oenotri, Napa | Foodnut.com Says:

      [...] Service – Oenotri had solid service with a knowledgeable waitress who helped guide us through the menu. No worries about refills here. Napkin folding on demand. Verdict – Oenotri serves up solid Italian food in A modern atmosphere, making it a no-brainer if you feel like Italian while in Napa. The food quality is as good as popular places like Flour and Water. [...]

    8. Central Kitchen, San Francisco - SF | Foodnut.com Says:

      [...] dine here? – Central Kitchen is a new restaurant in the Mission District from the creators of Flour and Water. They source products locally and look for sustainable foods. This long awaited restaurant opened [...]

    9. New Michelin Guide San Francisco 2013 | Foodnut.com Says:

      [...] Donata Enoteca – New – Redwood City Dosa – San Francisco FIVE – Berkeley flour + water – San Francisco Fringale – San Francisco Gajalee – New Gather – Berkeley [...]

    10. Locanda Positano, San Carlos | Foodnut.com Says:

      […] Pappardelle pasta, wild boar ragú   ($17) was also a fine house-made wide noodle pasta. The boar was very tender and cooked till it fell apart. They know how to make pasta here.  No need to trek to flour and water! […]

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