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Food, Wine & Friends - Page 92

DINNER AVEC LES DEUX
CHARLES

at
The House Restaurant
1230 Grant Ave
(just north of Columbus)
San Francisco

San Francisco wine importer Charles Neal

kindly extended an invitation for dinner with Bergerac winemaker
CHARLES RICHARD LLOYD MARTIN, the first
at San Francisco's "The House" Restaurant in North Beach.

I can't really offer a "critique" of the restaurant on our restaurant review page, since we were not exactly dining "undercover."  We were a group of six and we set up a program for sharing a wide variety of plates, rather than each person ordering a starter and a main course.

What followed was a wonderful array of dishes, each and every one being something I'd order again.


Deep-fried salmon roll with Chinese hot mustard.  Very fine.
Charles brought a bottle of the Lapeyre 2004 Juranon sec, a delicious starter.


White shrimp and Chinese chive dumplings.


With Charles Martin in the background, we had a terrific soft shell crab preparation.


Oysters with some sort of chipotle chili sauce...rather smoky, meaty and thoroughly delicious.


Grilled Ahi tune (rare) with spicy mustard aioli.
The greens atop this dish were also very fine.

Charles Martin did not think much of the idea of his bottling his wonderful Chteau La Colline wines using a screw cap.

"Noooooooooooo!"
I guess he's too "chicken."



Roasted unagi (eel) with avocado sushi rice.
Charles Neal imports a fantastic Saumur, the Chteau du Hureau 2003 white wine being able to easily stand up to the flavorful, mildly smoky eel.


Grilled sea bass with garlic ginger soy is a fantastically good dish.  Someone mentioned this being a bit of a signature plate for the restaurant and I could see and taste why.


Our sommelier took good care of us!
That's Jeff Anderson of The House conversing with Phillip Aqua-Fresca of San Francisco's "Blue Plate" Restaurant.

Charles Martin uses a rooster for his logo and is having a t-shirt "contest" this year to celebrate the Chinese "Year of the Coq."
His web site shows this lovely model:




I produced a nice little label for a delicious California Syrah to bring to dinner.

With the roasted squab, we had a Coq-Rtie!



Since Monsieur Martin cultivates Merlot, I dragged a bottle of an old Napa Valley wine to taste.

We had a 1973 Sterling Merlot, a wine made by winemaker Ric Forman.
It was still remarkably good and quite alive.


Niman ranch pork chop with pomegranate currant sauce was a lovely match for the Merlot.  The pork chop was unusually good, too, by the way.

I had not stood up this bottle until late in the afternoon, so we decided against decanting it.

Jeff pours some Sterling Merlot for Frank Rothstein of Prima in Walnut Creek.




However, we did ask to have the 1970 Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon decanted, as this had been upright for a few days.


Yes, the stemware at The House is not as fine as the cuisine.


The Ridge was quite good, though it is an old and mature wine.  It was a monster when it was young, as I recall.  It turned into a rather nice wine.

I brought a bottle of Chteau La Colline's fantastic sweet wine.  It's normally called "Confit de la Colline."  Since I was unusually creative on this day, I designed a new label for Charles.

"Coq-a-Doodle" Doux.




J.J. Clinton of the Pelican Inn at Muir Beach gets a chuckle out of this label.

We had a lovely array of desserts, too, but none better than the Confit de la Colline.

The San Francisco Police were, apparently, on the look-out for a suspicious-looking Bergerac winemaker.


I highly recommend The House and look forward to a return visit.


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