Chapeau! Restaurant Review, San Francisco
Posted by Foodnut.com
One of our favorite restaurants.. Chapeau! is a French Bistro located in the San Francisco Richmond district in the middle of the Clement Street shopping district. At one time, they had two locations, but later wisely consolidated into this one location. Chapeau! SF opened in 1996 and means hat or wow in French. Chef Philippe Gardelle and his wife run this restaurant and are often times seen warmly greeting guests. Chapeau! specialize in value oriented French Bistro cuisine. You can get 3 course meal for $40.50 or 4 courses for $49.50. Save even more with early bird specials at $31.75 Mon – Thursday 5-6pm. Some items do require an up charge. This review is a culmination of many visits over the years, the last of which was in November 2012.
Decor, Vibe – Chapeau has a compact dining room, bar area, decorative paintings on the wall. The place is cozy so it gets cramped, crowded, and loud, which is part of the atmosphere. If they moved to a larger location, that would get lost. Families, couples, friends, neighborhood folks, and others were dining. Most people were in the 30-50 range.
Chapeau Menu Pictures (Click to zoom into any picture)
The menu changes every couple of weeks and features a wide variety of classic French dishes. The multicourse prix fixe menus are of great value. They have daily specials which seem to always include foie gras and sometimes prime rib for 2 people ($80).
Chapeau SF Picks:
Mojito ($9) is an excellent version of the classic cocktail. Slightly on the sweet side.
Amuse Bouche of Asparagus soup was a nice complimentary refreshing start to the meal. Their warm bread is excellent.
Trio of Salmon ($9.50 Gravlax, Tartar & Caviar/ Egg Mimosa, Fried Capers & Crème Fraîche/Micro Herbs with Lemon Dressing was a mismash of fish and egg goodness. It looked beautiful and tasted even better.
Oysters on the half shell ($2.50 each or + $3 on the set menus) with red wine vinegar mignonette had 6 fresh oysters on the half shell. Hard to go wrong although the other appetizers were much more imaginative.
Grilled Escargot ($9.75) on rosemary skewer, warm fingerling potato salad with shallot and garlic confit, roasted garlic cream was a fun dish. The escargot were tender and did not possess any gaminess or pungent flavors.
Prince Edward Island Mussels (Early Bird) Steamed with White Wine, Shallot & Parsely, Pommes Frites & Rouille was an excellent dish with lots of shell fish and top notch fries.
Mescalan Salad (Early Bird) with Crème Dijonnaise, Red Seedless Grapes, Pistachio, Fried Camembert & Walnut Bread was very good with a slightly sweet dressing and well tossed greens. Excellent bread and cheese.
Salade Nicoise ($14.50) Ahi Tuna, Haricots Verts & Fingerling Potato Salad, White Anchovy & Kalamata Olive, 1:42 Quail Egg, Cherry Tomato, Mache with Lemon-Honey Aigre-Doux was a beautiful looking salad with fresh sashimi.
Porcini Crusted Veal Sweetbreads ($12/$22) King Trumpet & Oyster Mushrooms/ Baby Carrots & Turnips/ Truffle Sauce/ Fried Leeks/ White Truffle Oil were some of the best sweetbreads we have had. Very tender, very flavorful. If you love them try this dish. If you have not tried sweet breads, give this a try.
Deep-fried Tiger prawns ($13) with shredded phyllo dough, tomato and onion marmalade, herb aioli, petite legumes was excellent. Crunchy at first bite from warm to see and soft inside.
Sautéed Foie Gras Special ($6 upcharge) with Apple, micro greens, had 2 medium sized pieces and was very good. Melts in your mouth with the included brioche.
Traditional onion soup ($9) was another great appetizer. No cheese crust on top, but excellent onion and cheese flavor. A bit on the sweet side.
Filet Mignon ($29 or + $6 on the menus) Pommes de Terre Landaise, King trumpet and oyster mushrooms, sauce à la Perigourdine was one thick and tender steak, cooked perfectly. Optional bone marrow for the hard-core!
Cassoulet de Toulouse ($22) is a classic French dish that we needed to try. Visually not very appetizing, but a very good and hearty version with tender canellini beans, solid duck leg confit, nice sausage, and nice braised lamb shoulder.
Pan Seared Atlantic Salmon ($22) Olive Oil Crushed Potatoes/ Braised Green Swiss Chard/ Snow Peas/Saffron Shellfish Velouté had a large perfectly cooked piece of fresh salmon with a heavenly sauce.
Pan Seared Duck Breast ($24) Creamy Sage Polenta/ Pears & Grapes/Peppered Duck Sauce was excellent. We asked for Medium rare but got Medium. The duck was tender and made extra great with the perfect duck au jus gravy. Fruits made for a nice accent to this meaty sauce. On another visit, Chapeau they had a Peking duck special similar to this dish.
Chicken (Early Bird) was a huge portion of tender chicken stuffed. A good bet for early bird diners.
Poached Wild Alaskan Halibut ($24) in saffron broth, celery root “facon fettuccini ala creme, grilled fennel, country bread with rouille and gruyere was as the waiter termed it, a Feminine dish. Cooked correctly, subtle flavors, and deliciously accented with the noodles.
California black cod ($25) braised fennel and leaks, bacon flavored fingerling potatoes, shallot confit, saffron emulsion was excellent. The fish was cooked perfectly and was very tender. The sauce was excellent and complement the fish perfectly.
French Toast ($8.50) soft caramel, hazelnut ice cream was recommended by waiter and proved to be awesome. While we equated this with breakfast, this brioche was a perfect dessert and we highly recommend.
Nuage de Noix ($8.50) roasted pistachios, almonds and hazelnuts in a frozen Chantilly an Italian meringue was also recommended by our waiter. Another excellent dessert that looks like a big ice cream cake but proved to be a light meringue with subtle flavors in a soup of fruity goodness.
Warm Chocolate Cake, Banana Flambée/ Rum & Raisin Ice Cream/ Caramel Sauce ($9) takes about 15 minutes but is well worth it. Hot out of the oven, you cut it open and watch the chocolate filling droll out – stellar.
Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee ($8) had a classic super caramelized crust on top of a good sized portion of creamy and smooth custard.
Sorbet ($8) had 3 homemade flavors, a robust Cabernet, a very tart passionfruit, and a more neutral lemon.
Salade Landaise ($12.50) Frisée/ Duck Confit & Smoked Duck Magret/Fingerling Potato Chips/ Classic French Vinaigrette was a huge salad tower full of greens with a nice chunk of super delicious Foie Gras on top. There was a small amount duck meat. The potatoe chips and croutons made a crunch balance out the greenery.
Pork Tenderloin (Early Bird) Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin, Gratin Dauphinois, Spinach Soubise, Apple-Calvados Sauce possessed a chemically after taste that didn’t work for us. It was cooked to a fine medium rare. On our last visit in November 2012, they did a much better job on this dish.
Chapeau! SF started strong with very good, friendly service then faded as the dining room filled up, a typical sign of not enough support people. The waiter was not that knowledgeable about ingredients.
This restaurant has excellent food at very reasonable prices. Chapeau’s Early Bird Menu is an especially great deal at from 5-6pm, Sun – Thursday. We would definitely come back and would highly recommend this place in a heartbeat. They put a limited number of tables on Opentable, so be sure to call them when trying to reserve a table. Having eaten at top tier Gary Danko the day before one visit, made us appreciate how high the quality and value of food is here. On another occasion, we dined at Chez Spencer out week after Chapeau, and still found Chapeau to the unrivaled. If you like Chapeau be sure to try this bistro in Paris. They charge a $1.75 healthy San Francisco fee.
Compact wine list with reasonable markup. Glasses of wine from $7, Bottles from $34, $18 corkage.
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