Dine About Town is making it's way through San Francisco this month (it ends on January 31st) offering the chance to try some of the different restaurants in town that one may not normally get to, or be able to afford. It's basically a prix fixe lunch or dinner and depending on which place you hit up you can save some change off the regular menu price of the same items. It was with this in mind that the SO and I decided to saunter down to The Cavalier for lunch one day and finally give this place a try. Opened by the folks who run both Marlowe and Park Tavern, it sits on the ground floor of Hotel Zetta, and you can access it through the lobby, but it also has it's own entrance on a side street. So it is part of the hotel, but not really.
I'd heard tons of mostly raves about this place since it opened plus I've been a fan of Marlowe so I really wanted to try it out. I'd been by a couple times (yes without reservations) to see if I could squeeze in but it was to crowded and long of a wait. Thus the chance to get in for lunch was a nice surprise, I hoped. Most of the dining room area was full but we said we'd be okay at the quaint bar tables which are small round marble things reminiscent of European cafes. A definite contrast to the dark browns and reds of the dining room. Settling in, the DAT lunch menu is a choice of an appetizer plus a main dish from a pre-selected group all for $18.95 a person. (I'll compare actual cost with this later) You have 2 apps to choose from so we got one of each.
Roasted beet and farro salad and hen egg hollandaise with ham and cheese soldiers (that's what the menu calls them). Two kinds of roasted beets, pea tendrils, crushed pistachios and pumpkin seeds, basil in a light vinaigrette dressing. We both really liked this, I'm also a sucker for beets. It was fresh and healthy tasting and I mean that in a good way. It had a nice tang of flavor and some good earthy texture crunch from the nuts and seeds. I could have eaten a whole plate of this myself. The hen hollandaise was something we both loved. The presentation was gets top grades but it was the sauce that stood out. Warm, creamy and very buttery--all the things I like. The "soldiers" were a bit on the salty side but trust me, once they were dipped in the sauce that is all that mattered. There was enough sauce for at least 6 pieces of toast but as you see there were only 4. We tried to be inconspicuous as we spooned out the rest of hollandaise on its own--don't tell anyone. There were 4 mains to choose from and we got the fish and chips and the roast lamb sandwich.
Beer battered cod with "thrice" cooked chips, house made tartar sauce and a pea and mint salad, served cold. The fish and fries were hot and crisp and we really liked the hearty batter on the fish, both crunchy and soft. The real star was the tartar sauce which a pleasant bite of citrus and was more like a creme fraiche than tartar sauce--there was no relish to be found here. It was a flavorful dipping sauce for both the fish and fries. The pea salad with mint wasn't my thing, I probably would have liked this to warm, not cold. But the SO liked it enough and green helps offset the heavy sauce and fried stuff.
The roasted lamb sandwich I bit into all while thinking/hoping--don't be tough or chewy. And thankfully it wasn't. In fact it was tender and juicy thin sliced lamb with minimal fat and lots of flavor. I liked the salsa verde twist on here as opposed to a mint aioli like you see with lamb, it really worked. There was also a piece of grilled eggplant on here too, and while that was fine, it kind of got lost. I didn't even know it was on there until I opened the sandwich and saw it. As a kick I also used some of the tartar sauce on it and for me it blended really nicely. The bun was even toasted with butter and anyone place that does that gets high props from me.
With tax and tip (we both drank water) the bill was $50. Without the DAT menu prix fixe total cost would have been $63 before tax and tip. So for that it was a decent, if not spectacular saving. As for the food, we both loved it. All four of the dishes were tasty, flavorful and hearty takes on upscale pub fare. Upscale is the key word here as once you factor in the actual cost, the place is a bit on the pricey side, which throws off my food/cost ratio of like-ability. Food really good, price not so much. Either way I'd still recommend this place as worth a visit for some great dishes, just be prepared for a little sticker shock.
One final note, while it didn't seem crazy busy, for some reason each course did take longer than normal to come out but we did at least get a waiter visit telling us it would be out. Plus while I ordered iced tea originally, it never came but was on the bill and I did have to ask it be removed which they did. Though I'll chalk this up to something that happens to me a lot as opposed to an actual criticism of the place. In the end good food wins out.