Startlingly Bad Dining Experience. Went to Canteen with an out-of-town guest for Sunday brunch. Seemed like a beautiful fit. Utterly wrong. As a big booster for San Francisco, I was embarrassed by Canteen. The food was okay, tad pallid, not hot enough, dubious taste mixtures. But the service was horrendous. Long wait, food unprofessionally delivered/removed, and attitude in abundance. The staff, one almost my age, were rocking like teenagers to questionable 80s-style booming dissonant rock that was clearly making every guest surveyed uncomfortable. We politely asked about the volume and mood and were told by the waitress that the staff were "very alternative." My date, who is a nationally-recognized NYC art photographer, almost spat up her tea at the pretentiousness to a gentle suggestion. In short, most of the staff seemed indifferent to customers' needs, food serviceable but unspectacular and tepid, poor value, the wait unmerited. So many better spots in our lovely burg.
Do not skip breakfast!. Fabulous breakfast spot! No line for us but I would wait if there is. Sit at the counter with your morning-after date and the sunshiney staff will ease you out of the fog with spirited antics and suspiciously familiar over-medicated pleasantness. The intention of the non-descript menu becomes clear when you discover the food you ordered could never have been described as declicously as it has been created. Bravo.
Don't linger here. We had been told on the phone that there were two seatings, at 6 and 9:30pm so we arrived for the early one. What a -bad-surprise when the waiter told us at ~7:30 that he needed to clear our table quickly because other people were waiting. The dessert in front of us suddenly didn't taste so good anymore. The food was delicious, freshly prepared, innovative, tasty. Too bad that the rushed, stressed-out waiter somewhat spoiled the memory of the great cuisine.
a gem of a place.
I love Canteen for lunch or dinner - although brunch is wonderful too. It is simple, straightforward, and delicious, with a small menu that changes often enough to never be bored. The chicken salad is one of the best anywhere.
Service is terrific, friendly, accomodating.
What a gem!.
I must admit that I have been jaded about the food industry after working as a Pastry Chef for two years but this place has given me a new passion. It's a little pricey and the wait for a table can be long (even if you have reservations) but overall its a culinary experience I would recommend to everyone who is into cuisine at its best.
I love you, Chef Leary! Will you marry me?
Disappointed. I never actually end up eating at this restaurant but I was completely put off by the fact that I tried to call serveral times to make a reservation, and the call was never answered -- it kept on going straight to the voicemail. I left a voicemail trying to make a reservation (and offered a few suggestions) but the restaurant never bothered to get back to me and let me know as a courtesy that they had no opennings available. There are too many great restaurants in the city to put up with indifferent customer service.
What a gem!!. Like a previous reviewer, I too was a big fan of the Titanic Cafe and sorry to see it go. And so I was very resentful of Canteen .... until I actually went there and tried it out. What a terrific gem of a restaurant! Breakfast, lunch and dinner are all superb, utilizing only the freshest ingredients, adding unexpected flourishes of spices and herbs. The improbability of finding such cuisine in such an unpretentious setting leaves you with the feeling that you have stumbled upon a very special place at a very special point in time. It may not last forever, but I intend to eat as many meals here as possible while it does. The comment made at the end of one meal by a frequent dining companion of mine says it best: "This is the first time I've ever seen you lick your plate!"
working out the kinks- but worth the wait!. Contrary to a previous reviewer, I had no problem making a reservation and changing the date after the fact. I got a phone call back right away. We had a reservation for when the restaurant opened: 6. The server was extremely patient with us considering we didn't realize there as a line of people waiting until we left and saw them all in the lobby looking pretty miserable. We were there 2 hours. We had no idea and no one rushed us until the very end, which was completely reasonable. The food we had was amazing: a white tomato soup, smoked bluefin, steak tartar, wild samon, and vanilla souffle. Didn't really like the wine list, but I would definitely go back. Leary has an amazing ability to mix the unexpected and make it work. I do agree it's an unfortunate choice of real estate though- doesn't make sense.
overrated. My girlfriend and I came in for breakfast on a Thursday and I felt the ambience was very tense and stressed. Our waitress was nice but she seemed completely overworked, which is typical at busy breakfast spots, however I felt the operation lacked a certain attention to customer service given the recent reviews. They should be encouraging new business, not making people feel unwelcome. I noticed there was no busperson or host and the waitress seemed to be falling behind--she was sometimes slower-than-necessary. The food was pretty good, but I can go to a lot of places and get good food, what I am looking for is a place I enjoy going to again and again. I can't say that about this place, I think it's overrated. I was planning to come in and have dinner, but I called so many times and no one answers the phone.
Resurect the Titantic!.
Last Sunday we sat at the counter waiting for acknowledgement and menus, giving us time to read the paper and absorb the changes since it had been Titantic Cafe.
Most of the character has been modernized away.
Several guests entered the restaurant hoping to have brunch, but were ignored, so they left. The lack of music added to the tense vibe.
Our food arrived, exhibiting the same monochromatic tone as the decor. Although proficiently cooked and arranged, there was no color to excite one's interest. And the taste didn't stray from this theme. The potatoes, although of good quality, weren't browned or crisp, which is what makes a good hash. Finally,The large portions couldn't compensate for the dullness of the dishes. They didn't even serve toast.
So we left Canteen, feeling full but unfullfilled, and not having any good reasons to return, wished that the Titantic Cafe hadn't sunk.
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