Friday, June 27, 2014

Q RESTAURANT....A FINAL MEAL AT LAST CALL WITH AN OLD FAVORITE

I (vaguely) remember when I moved here 16 years ago this month and marveled at this city by the sea. It was also at this time that I became enthralled, and a bit overwhelmed by all the restaurants that seemed to be everywhere. Little neighborhood spots that you heard about from friends, in the paper weeklies that filled newsstands or just stumbling across something while wandering around the different hoods. Internet was around but it wasn't exactly easily accessible to track down hot new things like cool new places to eat. Into this world was when Q Restaurant came into existence and me and my friend Miss O (who works in the neighborhood) found this place serving up Southernish dishes, like ribs and tater tots and drew us into it's food web. Thus it was with some sadness when I heard the news they were closing down, not because business was bad, but after all these years they were just ready to move on. As June 29th would be their last day I texted up Miss O and said we really need to have a last meal there and we finally got our calendars to mesh and showed up on a Thursday at 5pm right when they opened to have one last meal for old times sakes.

Q is a funky, true, San Francisco neighborhood restaurant and one of the few places in town I had been too on multiple occasions and had recommended to folks who found themselves out in the Richmond District. I always hit it up in a combo of Green Apple Books shopping and brunch or dinner at Q. Thus I did the same on this last time, browsing the shop while waiting for O to get off work. Stepping inside the place hasn't changed much interior wise over the years. The colors on the front had changed but the industrial looking inside festooned with chalkboard walls, kids alphabet magnets and various strands of Christmas lights gave it a uniquely homey and inviting charm. 


Much like the interior, the menu hasn't gone through too many changes either over the years. Some things have come and gone but the basics--like the ribs, fried chicken, burger and tater tots--have remained a constant and reliable choice on each visit. One caveat I'd like to through out before the food--in William Shakespeare's play "Julius Caesar", Antony stands up and says "I have come to bury Caesar, not to praise him," to switch that up a bit, I've come to Q to both praise and sadly bury them, with well wishes on whatever their future plans may be. Thus keeping this in mind we ordered one old favorite and a couple of older faves we hadn't had in awhile. We started with a staple we always get--fired calamari with chili-lime aioli. 


Lightly battered, hot and crispy from the fryer, calamari is a go to at many places me and O dine. The chili-lime aioli is a thick only slightly spicy dipping sauce that compliments the dish well with an additional squirt of lemon and lime on the side. Lovely.


Then it's duck confit with dried cherry Pinot Noir reduction on polenta with green beans and a dollop of Cypress Grove goat cheese on top. A very tender, seemingly cooked for hours duck in an earthy and not too sweet sauce with some pleasant heft from the polenta, which I think works better than the mashed potatoes you can also get this with. French comfort food with a twist. Delightful. 


Beer battered catfish with chili-lime aioli, a sub in of tater tots (instead of garlic fries) and sweet and spicy corn relish. It's just all deep fried and crunchy goodness on a plate and you can fool yourself you are eating slightly healthy because it's fish and there's corn, but you are not, and who cares. I'm a sucker for tots and the catfish is flaky and earthy (it is a bottom feeder after all) and everything you want in a non-standard "fish-n-chips". The sweet citrusy relish helps break up the heavy fried stuff too. Satisfying. 


Smilin' Andy's house applewood smoked pork spare ribs with mom's baked beans, garlic kennebec fries and Q slaw. Okay so there was a bit too much char on the sauce this time out but the ribs were fall off the bone tender and you can't beat the portion size on this. The fries are also chunky, crispy and garlicky. The beans are decent though the slaw is a tad too spicy vinegary for me, normally I sub that out with like more fries or something but Miss O likes it so we get it. Otherwise this is a full hearty dish. Succulent. 


And of course we couldn't do a final dine without some dessert. Brinn's (the owner) wickedly forbidden apple crisp with Double Rainbow vanilla bean ice cream and decadent chocolate mousse with whipped cream and chocolate sauce. The crisp is a cinnamon brown sugar lovers delight that is loaded with apples and you really need the ice cream to actually cut some of the sweetness. It's one of Miss O's favorites also. Made more like a cobbler it has a crispy top baked on a bed of apples and you get a more than generous size that you will want to share or take home for later. The mousse was thick and whipped and very chocolatey so it will satisfy your craving, though the chocolate sauce befuddles me as it wasn't totally needed, but then the more chocolate the merrier right? Heavenly.

It's a shame when old favorites decide to call it a day, it's like losing an old friend, at least they are going out on their own terms and not because rents went up or food got bad. I'm glad we were able to have last meal here before they closed--now I can always have good memories of food and friends I dined with there. Happy trails Q and best of luck in whatever you do, you will be missed!



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