Living in Hayes Valley has its perks, and one of the biggest is having this excellent restaurant right around the corner. Although its next-door neighbor, Paul K, gets far more attention, Sauce is one of the most consistently delicious restaurants in the City.
I have tried every single item on the menu (no, that is not an exaggeration), and I have never been disappointed. They are experts at taking classic American cuisine, usually dull and fairly tasteless, and making is classy and flavorful. I am especially impressed by their varied selection of appetizers, all of which have distinct styles and flavors. My personal favorites are the sesame shrimp and the portabello mushroom fries with aioli dipping sauce, although the steak satay with cilantro cream sauce is hard to resist.
Although entrees may sound common (mac n' cheese and meatloaf for example), these dishes are not your average home-cooked meal. Sauce has perfected the art of creating upscale food out of common dinners. The presentation of every dish is always clean and inventive, the ingredients always diverse and surprisingly complimentary. Mac n' Cheese is suddenly freshly made pasta with four types of non-traditional cheese. Vegetarian strudel becomes a substantial medley of veggies even a meat-lover could enjoy.
Oh yeah, and they have huge juicy strawberries with fresh whipped cream and brown sugar for dessert. Need I say more?
The staff is always friendly and inviting, not to mention unbelievably quick if you're in a hurry. Also, for night owls, the kitchen is open and offers the full menu until midnight. Even if you're not looking for a dining room experience, the bar is a cozy place to grab a drink, an appetizer, and relax.
Don't let the lack of hype or low-key facade of this restaurant fool you - it's a hidden gem in the vast selection of SF restaurants.
The instant you walk into this restaurant the beauty of the interior strikes you from all corners, thanks to the design of Pat Kuleto. The warm lighting, tiled walkway, and art-nouveau feel set the stage for a charming, refined evening, although the hustle and noise keep it from being too stuffy. I went on a Friday night for dinner, and although the dining room was full, I was amazed with the efficiency of the service. The waiter was one of the best I have ever had, always very attentive and knowledgeable without being bothersome.
Because I had never tried abalone before, I ordered the red abalone, with fried abalone mushroom in a bernaise sauce and green beans with hollandaise as my appetizer. It was incredible: light, refreshing, and unique. Although the portion was small, it was packed with flavor and I highly recommend this dish.
My entree was split at the table, so I was able to taste the lamb cheek/loin with potatoes, porcini mushrooms, olives, and cipollini onion, as well as the filet mignon accompanied by a spinach gratin with a gorgonzola crust and artichoke heart. All the meat was cooked to perfection, and the sides complimented the them very nicely. I preferred the lamb, purely because I thought the sauce enhanced the flavors better than that of the filet mignon.
The reason I gave this restaurant 4 stars instead of 5 was because of the desserts. Although in the past I have had the best creme brulee of my life (and I've lived in Paris), the desserts were slightly disappointing. The chocolate platter lacked invention and the toffee/butterscotch plate was very standard as well. Although the flavors weren't bad, this was not the highlight of the meal.
Between the food, atmosphere, and dinner service, this charming restaurant proves to be consistently one of the best in the Bay Area.