817 Sutter St, San Francisco, CA | Directions 9410937.788515 -122.413809
Lunch: Wed-Fri 11:30am-2pm
Dinner: Tue-Sat 6-10pm
Brunch Sat-Sun 8am-2pm
Neighborhoods: Downtown, Northeast
Dennis Leary continues to rock it at the tiny spot. There are two seatings a night--the counter is a fun spot to cozy up with your sweetie. The ever-changing Cali menu is rooted in good French technique, and wait until you try the Parker House rolls, oh lordy.
Citysearch Editorial Review – Young chef Dennies Leary is the one-man show behind this tiny, top-rated 20-seat eatery. Located in the Commodore Hotel in the Tendernob, its retro-modern diner where the regulars are foodies and the occasional unsuspecting hotel guest. The kitchen churns out a short menu of ever-changing, exquisitely prepared California cuisine. Check the website for the current menu, but expect anything from a pepper crusted venison leg with apricot chutney and mustard oil to a polenta and goat cheese clafoutis with roasted Chanterelles. Do not, under any circumstances, miss the house brioche rolls, and keep the Tuesday night prix fixe in mind--Leary's three courses for $39 are one of the best deals in town, given the quality of the food and the level of cooking. Widely regarded as one of San Francisco's top ten restaurants (at a fraction of the price of its peers), Canteen's one drawback is its inability to meet the demand for its own services, but that's one of those "good problems."
Don't go – Poor service. We waited for a two-top table for nearly two hours while larger parties were seated before us. Overall experience, AWFUL.
Terrific find – This past Saturday night (11/25/06) I was joined by four other friends for a fantastic and creative 3-course meal at Canteen. Service was excellent, as was the food. Everyone had something different and delectable. I highly recommend the vanilla souffle, it's served with creme anglaise and is the best I've ever had. I'll definitely return and try other dishes.
Very poor service, very expensive, and small food portion – We were 5 people in the table. We asked the waiter to change our wine glasses and he's attitude towards my request was very abrupt, he collected the other glasses quickly and with attitude towards us saying: "these are the glasses we serve wine with, it will be at least 5 minutes for me to go down stairs and bring other glasses". We felt not welcomed. We didn't know what happened, later I was asking if we offended him in any shape because he's reaction to our request was unexpected, he said no but did not appologize for his behavior.
We were perplexed by the $ amount that was charged to our credit card and found later on that they over charged us by $60
The food was OK but the portion was too small for such amount of money they ask for.
Worth the Hype – I recently had a friend in town, and we ate dinner at the 9:15 pm seating. The staff was friendly and fun, and the food was extremely good. i want to avoid comparing it to other restaurants b/c it will mess up your experience. this place has its own vibe that seems to be noticed by many who enter it. If you want to have a good time, don't expect it to be a 5 star restaurant with small seating space, and laxed dress code. Just go in expecting good food.
Terrific comfort food in a fun setting – We had dinner on Saturday night (9:15pm seating), and absolutely enjoyed every aspect. The food was all very fresh and incredibly tasty. The dishes were quite unique-- very creative takes on somewhat traditional dishes. The menu is small- 4 appetizers, 4 entrees, 4 desserts, but caters to different tastes and preferences. The vanilla souffle for dessert is one of the best souffles I've ever had. The wine list is ok, but the corkage fee is only $15 so we took our own very nice bottle of wine, which they pleasantly served to us in Riedel stemless glasses.
The only real downside was that we were kept waiting for 20+ minutes to be seated, but we waited at the bar (The Red Room) 2 doors down, and one of the waitstaff actually came to the bar to fetch us when our seats were available.
Definitely sit at the counter as opposed to one of the small booth tables, if you have the option. The staff was personable and interactive and added to the experience.
Uber-casual, trendy setting with daring home cooking at comfortable prices. – The Scene
Rubicon's much-praised former chef, Dennis Leary, is at the helm of this adorable 20-seat house. Decor is stunning and sparse: Gray walls and natural wood tables give way to modern touches like bright apple green counter tops and retro kitchen canisters. The crowd is a strange brew of foodies and the unsuspecting hotel guest.
The kitchen churns out a tiny menu of ever-changing, exquisitely prepared California cuisine. Start with an unforgettable deviled crab salad or the sumptuous escarole salad of white anchovies and a mustardy gribiche dressing. Mains are also a creative exercise in excellence: The Blanquette de Veau is a memorable pot pie of veal, artichokes, almonds and pearl onions in a rich broth, and the halibut with olive tapenade, ham and mashed potatoes comes perfectly cooked and salted. Desserts are not to be missed: Tangerine jelly with cranberry sorbet and candied zest packs the perfect after-dinner pucker, and the tarte tatin, though chewy, was a wafer-thin, rich caramel confection.
Breakfast Brunch Lunch are Rrrrrocking – Well it looks like a few foodies about town have sat a bit too
erectly in the wee booths. No slouching! This is food, and they
mean business. If only they would slouch over to the counter,
prop up their elbows, and start swinging to the beat.
Because it really is about the food, so good that the Iggy in the air
seems to kinda fit. Oh, oh, the things I've tasted, and felt.
That is SOME mouthfeel.
Best. Diner. Ever.
Even more amazing than the reviews! – Although even smaller than I had expected (despite repeated warnings) I can easily say that Canteen is one of the most memorable restaurants I have eaten at. I've dined at Gary Danko, Boulevard, Farallon, Fifth Floor in San Francisco, and the now-defunct The Restaurant run by Marco Pierre White in London. This place is even more amazing. From the exquisite care taken on the amuse-bouche at the beginning of the meal, to the delicious souffle at the end, nothing disappoints. I tried very hard to be critical of everything I ate, but could only manage two tiny quibbles (the soup had just a touch too much wine that hadn't burned off, and the souffle was the tiniest bit too buttery). Trust me, I racked my brain to identify those criticisms. Every morsel, every bite, was a transcendent experience.
The restaurant is small, but the service is excellent, the wines fantastic, unusual, and very reasonably priced (we even found a Chinon from the same vintner we'd visited on our honeymoon 15 years ago).
There may be criticism of how Canteen operates - set times for food, the small spaces, etc. If you are looking for the white tablecloth experience, then this is not the restaurant to have that meal at. If you are looking for a man who understands food, how it can be combined, what cooking methods show it off, and how to procure great ingredients, then Chef Leary is your man. If you are looking for a restaurant that is an hommage to great food, fantastic cooking, and a superlative gourmet experience, then Canteen is the restaurant for you. I was truly overwhelmed by our meal, and look forward to a return visit.
User review by jimd – Canteen is one of the great unique restaurants in San Francisco. There are dozens of small wonderful restaurants for foodies like this in New York but for some reason they are a rarity here. Its an extremely small restaurant and its difficult to get into, which turns off a lot of folks. But, those who persist will find themselves rewarded with imaginative gourmet food at very reasonable prices. This is Chef Dennis Learys playground and if you go in with an open mind and leave your attitude at the door then you are bound for a great experience.
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