Trou Normand came on the scene with lots of fanfare when it opened in the remodeled former Pacific Telephone & Telegraph building on New Montgomery Street. They focus on whole animal butchery and house made charcuterie, sort of like a fancy butcher that also serves drinks. Me and Ms. Moll had a spare lunch hour one day and decided to give them a try and get our meat on, as it were.
It's in a great space with seating up front and a lovely courtyard patio seating area out back, something that is rare here in SF. They have different menus for brunch, lunch and dinner. All the menus are what I'll call compact. Though, sometimes, it's good not to have many choices. Makes it easier for ordering. I know you'll be surprised, but I ended up passing over their pork belly sandwich--yeah I know. Instead I opted for the pork burger with white cheddar and onion marmalade. (I skipped the fresh fennel--for me it's just too bitter). So I'm still having some version of pork. It also came with one side and I picked the grain salad.
It's a good burger. The meat had a nice char, with grill marks, that gives it sort of a smokehouse flavor. It's juicy, tender and cooked perfectly. The onion marmalade was also a tasty compliment with just a hint of sweetness. Though I think it could have used a stronger cheese as this one got lost amongst the bolder flavors here. The bun was also warm and toasty. I did get a small side of mayo which I only needed to use sparingly as there was nothing dry about this burger. The grain salad was a nice earthy mixture of quinoa and what I think was some kind of barley? Either way it was very hearty and fiberful. Could be heavy for a quick lunch with all that meat and fiber. I did feel like a little lay day afterwards.
Next up is the tomato and caper bologna sandwich with fresh mozzarella on whole grain bread. This isn't your Oscar Mayer bologna here. Since it is made in house its more mortadella-ish than that store bought processed stuff we all grew up with. Think of it as bologna for adults with graduate tastes. It was a good sandwich. A little crunch from the greens. Some creaminess from the fresh cheese. The bologna was piled on tasted more like ham to me but mixed with black pepper and other spices. The tomatoes add a little sweetness. At first I was worried about the capers, but they didn't come across too salty and were more background flavor addition. It is basically a souped up adult version of a childhood favorite--if you were into bologna that is. Overall, a tasty and mostly satisfying sandwich. Sorry though, I won't be reviewing the small mixed greens it came with. It was just lettuce after all.
Both of these sandwiches went for $17. For folks on an occasional budget like me, that is on the high side. I think one reason for their pricing was in the beginning, this was one of those places that did away with tipping and just included service in the pricing of their food. It was a way to pay folks evenly through the restaurant and customers wouldn't have to deal the hassle of figuring out how much to give. When we went, I figured if you factor that in and had this been a tipping place, it probably would have come out to be the same. Turns out though, their experiment in no tipping is no longer the case. Seems they were having trouble getting and keeping servers who felt they could earn more at a tip based establishment. I did wonder if this would mean that their prices would then come back down since they didn't need to include service in food costs anymore. It seemed a reasonable assumption as they used that as the reason for the costs in the first place. That is not the case though. One glance through their current lunch menus shows that prices haven't gone down. In fact, they've actually gone up or stayed the same. What to make of that? It honestly kind of bugs me since it was the reasoning for initial prices. I wonder what their justification is now? Thus the reason I'll repeat they above--the sandwiches were expensive, even in San Francisco terms.
But since we were here, we figured we'd go all in and get dessert too. Not one, but two to share.
Here we have butter cake with roasted strawberries. This was like a dense pound cake with a crusty exterior and it was delicious. From the crunch on the outside to the moist cake inside, it was sweetly flavorful. While I couldn't really taste the roast on the berries, they were warm and a nice addition to the cake. Think of this as a gussied up strawberry shortcake but with more home made panache. At $13 though, I'd have liked a bigger slice. Most desserts in this town are in the $8 to $10 range, here they are not.
We finished things off with chocolate pot de creme topped with toffee and whipped cream. Nice presentation in the mason jar. It was somewhere between a semi-sweet pudding and icing. Both creamy and thick. Very good, very chocolatey heaven. While I'm personally not a toffee fan, too hard and sticks to the teeth for me, the pieces we got were appropriately crunchy and buttery and Ms. Moll liked them as she did all the other dishes we had. For the richness there is enough to share lest you get a sugar rush overload and need to crawl under you desk around 2:30 for a little nap. While it was a decent serving, at $12 a pop, it still comes down on the pricey side of things.
The food is good, there is no question about that. Each thing we had had it's own unique flavors and we liked most all parts of the dishes. Make no mistake though, they are on the pricey side, particularly if you are having lunch. (The ice tea was even $4 a glass, but you do get refills, of which I had many) If it's a business lunch and you can expense that baby out, then it is a good place to wine and dine a client. For the everyday working schmo, this would be more of a special occasion lunch place like birthdays or anniversaries. Or better yet, have folks take you there on your last day of work, that way someone else will pick up the bill, which will be nice since you need to watch your money now that you are out of a job.