Early Bird Special: RN74

Paul Trapani
You gotta love Michael Mina: Nobody in this town does high concept with such downright drama. How about a mashup of old French trains, New American cooking, and global wines? SF Weekly food critic Meredith Brody rides the vin express at RN74 (301 Mission at Beale) this week, holding on through a rickety series of dishes from French Laundry alum Jason Berthold that, thankfully perhaps, had absolutely zilch do with the French rail service. Throw in an unhelpful sommelier, and it turns out they had almost nothing to do with wine, either. Track the full review later today at www.sfweekly.com. Until then, ponder this after-the-jump snippet.

The food was quite uneven. The best and most full-flavored things were from the "anytime" box: beautifully fried maitake mushroom tempura served with yuzu salt and a fluffy green onion mousseline sauce, and lusty smoked sturgeon rillettes topped with crème fraîche. I was less impressed with the prettily presented hamachi sashimi ($16), plated with crunchy hearts of palm, green apple, and pumpkin seed, and the warm Yukon gold potato soup ($12) garnished with fava beans and ramps -- they both seemed a trifle bland. The best starter was the heartier sautéed pork belly with Manila clams ($15), amped up with garlic, smoked paprika, and parsley.

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