Saturday, April 18, 2015

Rich tasty Boston Clam Chowder at Tarantino's

Tarantino's on Urbanspoon Tarantino's is a large restaurant, bright and clean fine-dining area upstairs with spacious seating--a welcome change from many other restaurants, both in Vancouver and San Francisco.

After sampling a tasty creamy-thick "award winning" clam chowder at Fog Harbor during my 2015-April trip to San Francisco, I was mildly disappointed to hear that Tarantino's didn't have award winning chowder, though the server said they had won in the past.

On the menu was "Boston Clam Chowder". Was it substantially different from everyone else's? The server explained that Bostom had a white chowder, Manhattan a red chowder. OK. Continuing my mini-survey of clam chowders in San Francisco, I opted for white.
After my experience at Boudin with too much bread, I should have passed on the bread and instead gone to yet another clam chowder experience, but I was also curious to try out the chowder-with-bread eating strategy I came up with.

Boston Clam Chowder ($8.50, or $8.75 in sourdough bowl)
  • Sourdough here was less crusty/hard than Boudin's. Had a thinner, chewier crust.
  • The cap of the sourdough is not completely removed from the whole bun. Combined with the chewy crust and bun-bowl full of chowder, this can make it tricky to tear off unless you do it carefully.
  • A more soupy/watery chowder, similar to Boudin's, but rich and... buttery? I prefer thicker chowders like Fog Harbor's, but the taste here made up for it.
    • Definitely taste the chowder separately from any bread to get the full flavour experience. It is very easily overshadowed by the sourdough, especially the crust.
    • Once again, having the sourdough turned out to be a net disadvantage -- too much bread, competing taste, and leftover bread cap.
      • If you are dining with someone, maybe two persons can share the one bread bowl. Not sure if you can get the bread bowl "on the side" but you can at least tear off portions between the two of you.
Various parts of the service were disappointing, so unfortunately I have to take points off for that.
  • At the time I dined at around 1 PM, the (very large) dining room was still quite empty. No idea then why they sat a large family right next to me, though it may possibly have been a special request on their part for a specific window seat -- though unlikely because there were numerous window tables with great views.
  • No water to start and it never appeared until after I asked for it, and basically AFTER I was nearly completely done with my meal (down to the last bites, pretty much).
    • When I asked for water, two servers were right next to me preparing a table. I honestly didn't think it would take very long for them to do it, so I told the server there was no hurry with the water. Turns out it took them several minutes to prepare the table. By then I was almost finished with my meal.
  • Maybe this is expecting too much, but I think the waiter should have noticed that I was almost finished with my clam chowder and been a bit more available or a busser should have come to clear the table. Instead I think I waited about five minutes before I was able to even spot someone to flag down and wrap up my time there.
Despite the aforementioned, the servers were polite to an underdressed tourist (me!) at their fine dining establishment. They may have been deliberately understaffed the slow afternoons and it is not the server's fault, but it is still the responsibility of the establishment.

Also annoying was the amazingly small men's bathroom. We're talking about barely being able to close the stall door and maybe a meter between the sink and the urinal. At least it was worth a laugh between me and the other gentleman in the bathroom that this had to be the smallest bathroom we'd ever been in.

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