558 Sacramento St, San Francisco, CA | Directions 9411137.793951 -122.402271
Neighborhoods: Financial District, Northeast
Good food; weird service – I have eaten at Rubicon over the years, and was interested to try it under chef Stuart Brioza's new regime. The verdict: excellent food in small portions, but such obsequious service that it is a joke and spoils the whole thing.
"Would you like bottled water or ice water?"
"Just ice water please."
"Excellent choice sir."
Adding to this nonsense is the requirement that the waitstaff , usually what I would describe as busboys (black shirts) rather than the employees who take orders (blue shirts), are required to describe each dish, ingredient by ingredient, as it is served. Personally, I remembered the ingredients from when i ordered a short while earlier and I believe my wife could have done without knowing that her pork dish included condensed milk, which had not been listed on the menu.
This continued for each course, making the whole experience uncomfortable, which is too bad, because the food was quite good, if presented in parsimonious portions.
My view is that good high-end restaurants make their guests feel comfortable and at home. A good waiter or waitress is able to be friendly and establish some kind of rapport. This is just the opposite. Everything our waitress and the other servers did was scripted and uncomfortable. Adding to this, the stern sommelier could be seen periodically lecturing various staff members around the dining room. Perhaps they had failed to mention the Pure in some guest's Slow Poached Sockeye Salmon in Mustard Greens.
Adding to the absurdity, when my wife ordered the Balsamic Vinegar Glazed Pork Belly, the waitress had a note of alarm on her face and warned that the meat would have considerable fat. Duh! I then ordered the aforementioned salmon, and the waitress again issued a concerned warning, this time that I should not be alarmed by the bright orange color produced by the slow poaching.
Truly unique and comfortable fine dining – The amazing thing about this restaurant is that it incorporates everything you would expect in a fine-dining restaurant, but exceeds those expectations with a twist.
Every single item I have ever tried here is incredible; Chef Brioza's seasonal menus always find ways of using and blending items in unexpected ways (a smoked paprika custard in an oyster stew; oxtail with an earthy yet sweet cinnamon skewered halibut; a beautiful house made duck pate with hibiscus reduction, a delicious sashimi of geoduck clam accompanied by sweet and succulent beet and refreshing mint). The Pastry Chef Krasinski displays similar talent, incorporating pecorino in an incredible financier dessert with plum, and, memorable, a stout beer froth on a cherry cordial accompanying oat cake.
The service is serene, and the waitstaff is sincerely excited about the food and knowledgable about how the components fit together, and they clearly want you to share in their excitement.
The wine list speaks for itself. A little unweildy, but the sommelier, the bartenders and even the manager are quite knoweledgable and make it very approachable-- with a wine list so big there is something for every taste, mood and price range.
The atmosphere itself is not as cold and austere as a lot of fine dining restaurants...the warm wood, velvet seats, happy and suprised comments of the diners surrounding you and the excitement of the staff permeate the scene and make it wonderful place to enjoy what one of San Francisco's finest chefs has to offer.
Horrible Service – Sad, so very, very sad.
Outside of McDonald's, I had the worst service I've ever had Monday night at Rubicon. I normally don't like to complain, but everything was so horribly wrong, I couldn't hold back.
Was taking my girlfriend out for her birthday. Knowing it was a Monday night in January and the B staff would be on everywhere, I chose what should have been a safe bet, Rubicon. What an expensive mistake that turned out to be.
To begin with, it took well over 20 minutes to seat us. I fully expect to wait a few minutes for a table, but like previously stated, it was a Monday night in January and wasn't busy. It shouldn't have taken that long. Then, when they finally took us upstairs to seat us, the table wasn't truly ready and we sat at the upstairs bar for another few minutes. By the time we finally sat down and refilled our wine glasses, we had emptied the bottle of wine we got at the bar.
As soon as we told the waitress that we didn't need bottled water and SF's finest tap water was acceptable, the disgust on her face was obvious and we were basically ignored the rest of the night.
She only had a six top, a five top and us so she wasn't exactly busy yet we sat there without water repeatedly - 10 minutes at one point. We were trying to order a second bottle of wine yet couldn't even do that for 15 minutes. When our entrees finally came we didn't have anything to drink to go along with them.
She was aware that we were upset and apologized twice. But the continued poor service just added insult to injury. She should have been proactive and tried to salvage the situation. Get on the bus boy about the water, offer a free dessert, get some help, do something! Don't make a situation worse by ignoring it.
The complete lack of service and poor attitue completely stunned us and destroyed the night. I couldn't even tell you what my food tasted like.
There's no way I'll ever be going back there. What a shame!!!
Excellent – I went to Rubicon for the Dine About Town dinner. It was excellent. The food was well prepared, presented nicely, and the decor of the restaurant is very nice. The service was great, they tried to not interrupt conversation and appear when we needed them. The artisan bread they served was excellent as well.
My complaints... I am a young diner and frequently dine out with my mother. Sometimes because of my age and gender of my mother and I we are placed in the worst seat of the restaurant. Example - Last night they tried to place us at the first table in the restaurant near the door, cold air, and commotion. We requested for another seat because of this. Our other location was fine.
Ordered a nice bottle of wine - liked it so much I want to purchase some for myself and found that they quadrupled the price of the wine! Thought that was a bit ridiculous, but thankfully the wine was excellent.
I recommend the restaurant for a nice evening out.
Expensive wines – After all these yrs, we finally try Rubicon. Went with friends who've been there twice and now I know why they weren't enthused when we told them our restaurant selection. The wine list was extensive and expensive, most bottles were over $100. Our high school looking waitress was very attentive and nice. The crispy spiced quail as first course was excellent, over slivers of onions in some kind of green sauce. I was disappointed by the bland rolled yellowfin tuna (better at a sushi bar for the price, over $10), it was served w/several overcooked rolled foie gras pieces (intially thought they were pieces of gnocchi) but our friends liked it. My 2nd course guinea hen was somewhat dry and unimpressive. The roasted duck was a bit chewy, one of our companions was disappointed by the taste. The trio of ice cream came w/small tablespoon sized servings for $8!! The olive oil cake was good but the persimmon cake was better (you get a brownie size serving, approx 2x3 inch square, each was crowned w/a dollop of ice cream. The bill came to almost $400
(1 bottle wine, 2 coffees/2 teas included, T&T). I agree w/previous reviewers, for the price and small serving portions, you can do better at other restaurants. The atmosphere was nice and very good for a quiet conversation. We were probably the noisiest group there w/our laughter. Nevertheless, the general agreement by the group was that we wouldn't be going back any time soon.
Fantastic, one of my favorites. – The tasting menu was wonderful. It's expensive but I felt it was well worth the price. The sommelier recommended nice wines as we chatted with him about both the restaurant and the wine list. Great for a small, intimate dinner.
Celebrity-owned townhouse-turned-restaurant offers Cal cuisine in the Financial District. – The Scene
Exposed-brick walls are adorned with vibrant art painted by co-owner Robert DeNiro. The rest of the main room is dominated by cherry wood furnishings--from semi-circular bar to cabinets crowned with hand-blown-glass flowers. Upstairs, large windows filter light into an auxiliary space appointed with a second bar and ample room for large groups.
Chef Stuart Brioza updates the menu monthly with worldly twists on Cal cuisine. A standout starter is found in the seared dayboat scallops, which are framed by rich sake-steamed mussels and topped with petite cantaloupe cubes. For a hearty surf-and-turf entree, cinnamon-scented Alaskan halibut arrives skewered beside stew-like oxtail that's mixed with cherries, toasted oats and sweet onion slivers. The boneless, braised beef shortribs are less exciting, paired with French lentils and crisp artichoke hearts. Desserts can be hit-or-miss. Perfumey rhubarb-rose geranium creme brulee takes a backseat to bittersweet chocolate crepes filled with caramel.
Enamoring – Rubicon made for a perfect evening. The menu was extensive but reasonably priced, allowing for the experience of very high-quality fare. We were seated in a nice, secluded spot and given a satisfactory amount of attention by the waiter who was very gracious and did not seem overburdened.
Great wine list, and that's about it. – Far and away the most overrated restaurant I've been to in the city. The food wasn't bad, but not nearly at the level you'd expect for a restaurant with comparable prices and reviews. Staff was professional and the wine list was extensive, but wine complements a great meal, it doesn't make a meal great. I'd say pay the sommelier less and get a chef you can pay a bit more.
Very Disappointed – Surprised that City Search gave this restaurant such a high rating!! The food was mediocre, and despite being the second table there, we were seated next to the kitchen, which made it noisy and difficult to talk. I will never go to this restaurant again and will never recommend it to my friends.
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