For some strange reason, I wasn’t that excited to go to Prospect. I’m not sure why. Maybe because it’s in SOMA, right next to Cosmopolitan, where I drank many a late night away wishing I never went to law school. Or maybe it was because it wasn’t the hot new chef on the block (Prospect comes from the same team as stalwart Boulevard, practically ancient in restaurant years). Or maybe it was just because I was grumpy, because I had just had the kids alone for the night and the littlest one woke me up at 4:30 am, and I couldn’t fall back asleep until 6:30 am, when the older two promptly woke me up. Hmmm…yes, maybe I was just grumpy.
Anyway, Prospect hails from Nancy Oakes, famed chef of Boulevard, along with a serious team of foodies (Pamela Mazzola, Chef Ravi Kapur, and manager Kathy King). The concept is contemporary American cuisine, and the restaurant is intended to be the more casual restaurant to Boulevard (must be a trend: Cotogna, Barbacco). The space is humongous — open, airy, with warm neutral tones, reclaimed wood, natural textures, and even the potted hydrangea here and there. Humongous as it was, though, Prospect is one of the hot tickets in town and this particular Thursday night proved it. The place was bangin’ with business suits, bright-eyed newly-employed twenty-somethings, a Cougar here and there, and settled couples enjoying a meal out.
I started with the green goddess salad. I know that sounds weird, because it’s not a particularly new or exciting dish. But it was simply (also as in, “simple”) delicious. The greens were mixed with a mild but intoxicating caper vinaigrette and rested atop cucumbers and avocado. Smart plating move, because if the cucumbers and avocado were on top, they would have crushed the greens. Plus, you could control the level of creaminess you wanted since the avocado was at the bottom. The salad was crisp and fresh; the greens are beautifully chilled, and as a result, incredibly vibrant.
Golden beets, with Maine lobster, caviar, Ranch dressing, spiced onion rings (husband had this; he loved the beets, even more than the lobster, I think. The ranch dressing was totally optional, in his opinion).
I moved on to the Pacific sea bass baked in herbs with teeny slices of sun-dried tomatoes on top. When I saw the fish, I blinked. This did not looked baked. There was no skin. It looked like a big piece of bland diet food fish. But oh, was I wrong. The fish was moist and delicate, but still meaty to the fork and mouth. The addition of the sun-dried tomatoes was perfect, giving wonderful flavor but not overwhelmingly so (as sun-dried tomatoes can be pretty overpowering). A thin slice of pancetta lay atop, like a flacid piece of bacon. But again, this worked perfectly. It gave small doses of salt, instead of those big punches of salt that cubed, crisp pancetta gives. Underneath was a bed of wild rice, coined asparagus, and asparagus stalks. Each of these gave some bite to the dish, which would otherwise crave for some added texture. The result? Light, bright, and flavorful; shoot, it almost seemed good for me (almost, I said).
Liberty duck with glazed turnips, pickled grapes, pistachios, rum raisin puree, savoy cabbage, duck jus (strangely enough, my husband loved the pickled grapes! I think my taste buds are starting to rub off on him).
I finished with the pistachio angel food cake. Ok, I’m not usually one to get angel food cake. I usually like to get full caloric bang for my buck when it comes to desserts. But somewhere down the line, I heard this cake was good (and besides, my husband was ordering the chocolate-peanut butter truffle molten cake, in case my calorie intake was too small for the night). The cake was encrusted with pistachios, accompanied by a prosecco sabayon, strawberries, and strawberry sorbet. The cake was terrific, light and airy as you would expect, but completely grounded by the tasty crushed pistachios. The sabayon gave a creamy note to the dish and the strawberries a burst of tartness and sweetness. This was angel food cake done right.
Pistachio Angel Food Cake with prosecco sabayon, crushed strawberries, and strawberry sorbet.
Molten chocolate-peanut butter truffle cake, with roasted banana ice cream, salted peanut toffee, and bruleéd bananas (my angel food cake was so delicious, I didn’t even eat my husband’s dessert. Although I did have a bite. I didn’t totally pick up on the peanut butter, but the cake was rich and velvety. I usually avoid molten cakes, but this one reminded me of why molten cakes became popular in the first place.).
Finally, I had to have/try the caramel corn. Holy shnickeys, can I please order a bucket of this?!
Caramel corn with cacao nibs and salt.
For someone who wasn’t that excited to try Prospect, I changed my mind right quick when I had my first taste. This place is refreshing in so many ways. The space is light and airy and open. The food is vibrant, honest, and almost wholesome. While the dishes are, by no means, simple, they are decidedly not complex and are executed with controlled precision. I felt completely sated and content, and never overwhelmed in any way — not by taste, sound, or sight (or smell, I suppose, but hopefully that’s not a real big issue when you guys go out to eat!).
I asked my husband to give me some dirt. He failed. I would have left him, but he paid the bill that night. So like my Mamacita post, I will have to give you a story. One of my son’s preschool teachers is no longer teaching because she is having twins. On her last day of school, she informed the class that it was, indeed, her last day. She told them that after school, she was planning to visit her family in Pittsburgh and then come back to San Francisco to have the babies. When I picked my son up, I asked him “Was it Amy’s last day?”, to which he replied “Yeah, it was…She has to go to Pittsburger.” Check him out! He’s already a foodie.
Bauer’s two cents here.