I'd heard so much about Tadich Grill's cioppino from various people, including my running buddy, Jutta. Jutta has Gourmet-credibility, since she's an excellent cook herself and appreciates the finer things in life - like good wine and good chocolate. So when we found ourselves in San Francisco this past Saturday, Tadich Grill was a natural choice for us.
Anne and another buddy, Rich, joined us for the dinner along with Jutta's family and friends, which made our party quite large. The plus side to being a big group at Tadich Grill is that you get a nice cozy booth that's more like a small room than a booth to yourselves. This booth situation is a mixed blessing because they don't have too many of them and you end up waiting for quite a bit.
Luckily, Tadich Grill has a very inviting and humongous bar, where over half of the restaurant is bar seating. The bartenders have white coats on that make them look like pharmacists, and the big bar itself reminded me of a soda fountain bar behind pharmacies from back in the days. At the same time, the restaurant has a very old-school feel of classy New Orleans air - in the same line as Brennan's and other such notables that look and feel historically classy.
It took me no time to decide what I wanted once we sat down. I didn't even consider any of the other option on the menu and went for the cioppino.
The cioppino was everything I wanted it to be and more. Big chunks of fish, shrimp, clams, and whatever else was in there swam happily in a spice-and-herb-powered broth. Soupier than most stews but chunkier than most soups, the cioppino satisfied. I actually think this is what many US and Japanese restaurants serve as 'bouillabaisse', which is another favorite soupy stew or stewy soup of mine.
The bread was also very, very tasty and the butter was sweet and delicious. I get so upset when 'nice' restaurants have bad, tasteless butter. American butter, in general, is not very good, but at least at restaurants that serve good food, I expect butter with some flavor. A funny conversation ensued when I commented how the butter was very good at Tadich Grill. Rich responded, "Ah, butter is butter - how good can it be?" Two seconds later, he retracted his statement, saying, "Hm. The butter is quite good." Ha!
Tadich Grill's bread, butter, and soup must've been a good pre-race choice, since I was able to get up at the crack of dawn to run in some nasty foggy weather for nearly two hours! Goodness, was that really just this past Sunday?