3 Michelin stars in 2017 and Deservedly so!
One of the top restaurants in SF.. Especially for service. Quince is a high end restaurant in San Francisco’s Jackson Square area, near the Financial District run by chef-owner Michael Tusk. He graduated from the Culinary Institute of America, has cooked extensively in Europe, and used to work at Stars, Oliveto, and Chez Panisse.
They serve modern California cuisine with northern Italian influences with Alice Waters inspired freshness. This restaurant focuses on local, organic, seasonal ingredients.
After a six year stint at their cramped location where Octavia is now, they moved to this location and remodeled in 2015. Parking is much easier at the new location.
Quince SF has a fantastic casual Italian restaurant next door called Cotogna.
Quince Decor, Vibe – This is a modern elegant, dimly lit romantic restaurant with stylish chandeliers, exposed brick in the back, and high ceilings. Large main dining area with peripheral area in the back, long bar to the side, lounge in front, and a private dining room. Huge 10,000-bottle wine cellar. Clearly this is an special occasion restaurant.
After receiving 3 Michelin stars, they are no doubt a major destination of foodies visiting from around the world. Reservations need to be booked well in advance now.
Quince changed to a $250 tasting menu format several years ago. On Mondays through Thursday they have an abbreviated tasting menu at $210. Considering it is only a $40 difference, few people would go for the cheaper menu. Salon menu a la carte menu for the bar although they limit the number of folks that can do this. 4% surcharge for Healthy SF.
Menus can change every couple days. The tasting menu takes from 3 to 4.5 hours, so plan for a long evening.
For comparison, in 2012, they had an ala carte menu, four course menu ($95), and Prix fixe tasting menu ($140). Prix fix menus are for the entire table.
Fleur de Lys ($18) Ch. Laubaude Armagnac, Lillet Blanc, Champagne, Pamplemousse Bitters was expensive but a favorite here. Strong and interesting flavors.
Mojito ($14) balanced, strong, not too sweet.
2017 Tasting Menu $250 Before Supplements
CANAPE – Wow this was quite a way to start with 5 different items including a fun onion ring made with Anchor Steam beer. Each item poked a different taste bud and texture. The croquette was especially exceptional.
BLACK DIAMOND – A crispy ball of wonder with chickpea.
TSAR NICOULAI CAVIAR – brioche, fresh run farm kohlrabi, smoked sturgeon. You can pay to upgrade, but we did not feel the need. They were pretty liberal with the caviar in each of the glass tower of trios make each one pretty heavy. Really well done brioche. Of course they had a pearl spoon. What a dish. The alternative substitute included some fun beef tartare and a kumquat laden dish.
DUNGENESS CRAB – Green Asparagus, Green Almond, Green Strawberry played on this Green theme. What an interesting plate. This was one of the weaker dishes, also very hard to fork. Small chunks of items and really not necessary to play green.
SPRING TIME IN BOLINAS – Their farm is based out there, so this purred nettle soup, poured tableside onto green was fun.
WHITE ASPARAGUS – morel mushroom, vin jaune was one of the coolest courses of the evening. They bring a large glass container to your table, with the asparagus being poached in a broth full of tea, sugar, clementine, citrus, herbs. They remove the white asparagus and plate it in a vin jaune sauce with morel mushrooms. A small tea cup holds some of the broth for you to sip. A Fantastic course. A classic of chef Tusk.
Bread service consisted of 3 types of warm homemade bread. Perfect timing as you can use it to cleanse your plate! The buffalo butter was also housemade and stellar.
GARGANELLI – Lobster, English Pea, Scallion kicks off the pasta course. 3 Large chunks of lobster along with 4 large pasta shells bathed in a foam. Cooked Al dente as it should be.
Foie Gras ($40 Supplement) was a good sized pan seared piece of wonder. Frankly with all these course, I probably should not have ordered it! They were nice enough to provide the other person their signature ravioli.
HALIBUT – fiddlehead fern, wild ramp, chanterelle mushroom was worthy of a 3 Michelin star restaurant. Man they make it look easy. We can easily remember tons of horrible halibut dishes elsewhere. Sauce was poured tableside.
DUCK – Alternative dish – Was an aged Sonoma duck with crispy skin. OMG this was awesome. Could have used 5 more pieces.
At this point, we were pretty darn full. We do not hesitate taking a bite then asking for the rest to be boxed. We need some room for dessert!
TORTELLI – porcini mushroom, black truffle, foie gras was the second pasta course. Again it shows why Cotogna next door serves up great pasta. One large pillow of goodness.
MILK FED LAMB – potato, nepitella, black garlic was a trio of lamb. Shoulder, Belly, and Sweetbreads. We took a nibble and ate the rest for lunch the next day. They even brought another piece in a mini charcoal grill. Nice.
VERJUS – rose geranium, lemongrass kicked off the dessert course. This pre-dessert hit the spot, allow us to clear our palette with the tea and gelatinous mixture.
STRAWBERRY – smoked caramel coffee, meringue was a fun dessert with several elements. Beautiful, the smoked coffee stood out in our mind.
MIGNARDISES – Chocolates, Marshmellow, short bread, Confections, and more. Bring out the dessert cart! Point and choose your poison. What a selection. We selected a bunch to have boxed up.
2012 Tasting Menu
Amuse bouche round one – Basil madeleine with burrata cheese, pickled strawberry, warm chick pea panisse. Delicate, contrasting flavors and textures.
Amuse bouche round two – English pea veloutte with topped peas and dungeness crab was simply excellent.
King salmon crudo
Jade cucumber, apricot and royal osetra caviar – Equivalent to almost a half order of high quality sashimi, this fresh starter seems to make it on to every California cuisine menu!
Alternate: Freewheelin’ farm fava beans
La quercia prosciutto, pea shoots and lemon verbena ice milk – Very beany, is that a word? A bit dry, one of those dishes that vegetarians are stuck with.
Diver sea scallop gratinata
Cauliflower, green almond and lemon balm – Served in a scallop shell and perfectly cooked. A low key dish flavor wise.
Morel mushroom, vin santo del chianti and wood sorrel – Boy, this dish looked like a xxx. A nice fresh crunchy asparagus with excellent mushroom accompaniment.
Isle of skye blue lobster, squash blossom and nadia eggplant – Wow, this was a fresh pasta with excellent and lightly poached tender lobster.
Four types of homemade bread including an excellent brioche. You can ask for more brioche.
As with the rest of the service, there was never a need to ask for more bread. The selection will be changing in the near future.
Burnt flour “fagotelli”
Heger farm corn, spring onion and leek scape – One of the highlights of the evening. A lovely dish that utilized burnt flour that is a bit bitter, along with some corn silk that was fried. Topped with truffle shavings, this dish was awesome.
Alternate: “Carnaroli risotto”
Porcini mushroom, maine diver scallop, saffron and bone marrow – An excellent risotto with robust flavors that frankly kicked me over the top in terms of fullness.
Sonoma foie gras terrine
Nasturtium, radish, medjool date and lambrusco – The Foie ban is starting soon, so time for more of this awesome dish. Rich, smooth, salted, stellar.
(Supplement 20 per person)
Four story hill farm poularde
Green asparagus, crayfish and chanterelle mushroom with vin jaune – A small piece of very tender hen, decent but not awe inspiring.
Alternate: St. canut farm suckling pig
Green strawberry, spring onion and mustard – A better entree with pig three ways including a thin skinned, crispy version.
Lamb consumme was very strongly flavored and a bit on the salty side. A nice touch, but we would prefer some subtlety.
Watson farm spring lamb
Fennel, fava bean, wild rue and willey farm artichoke – At this point we were down-right stuffed. We took one for the team and sampled this beautiful 3 way lamb and found it flavorful, not gamey, and cooked perfectly.
Artisal Cheese was an option at $16 per person. The cart looked wonderful, but we were at 100% already.
Ginger pearls, cucumber sorbet and lemon verbena – A wonderful palette cleanser that featured a hidden cup underneath with the ginger pearls.
Peanut butter “bavarese”
Chocolate crumble, banana and popcorn ice cream – A large dessert with a sublime texture. Not too sweet and some fun crunchy bits.
Alternate: Szechuan pepper roasted pineapple
Yuzu caramel, macadamia nut and coconut sorbet – Frankly just too sweet.
Mignardise – Fruit gelee, madeleine, macaroon, and more.
Service floored us. They were constantly circling the room and watching for anyone in need. Definitely a top-notch restaurant service in San Francisco. No need to ask for refills, messy eater spots on tablecloths were covered quickly, napkin folding while you are away, the entire gamut is covered.
Food quality was excellent. Ingredients were fresh and innovative. There were a couple of minor soft notes, but all in all this is a worthy experience and priced reasonably for what you receive.
If you are on a budget, hit the bar for a solid cocktail and more economical fare. Quince proved to validate Michael Bauer’s glowing review. This is one of the finest restaurants in the City, with quite possibly the best service. The service reminds us of Manresa and the French Laundry. Foodies definitely need to add this to their hit list. The restaurant has improved with age. We had dined in their previous location and in this venue early on.
Quince has an extensive wine selection with glasses from $8, bottles from $30. Specialty cocktails $11.