Tuesday, April 17, 2012

He says, she says

Friday night, my boyfriend and I went to The Caprice in Tiburon for dinner. Afterwards, we both wanted to blog about it, so here is our joint review....

Pros: Great views. Good wine. Delicious dessert.
Cons: Mostly everything else.

In his words:

I live a short 5-minute walk away from The Caprice. I walk by it twice a day and have wanted to give it a try for quite a while. When I saw a LivingSocial deal for brunch, I thought that was perfect. And when I saw Juice in the City selling a similar deal some time later, I figured I should jump right on that neighborhood deal, too.

Thing is, I forgot about expiration date of the first voucher. By the time I realized it was going to expire, I was headed out of town on vacation and wasn't going to be able to use it. The management staff at The Caprice was really awesome and very nice about letting me use the voucher for dinner. I made reservations for us and was excited for a great dinner.

We had the perfect table in the corner, with views of the bay and the Golden Gate Bridge framing my gorgeous date perfectly.

As usual, I let her select the wine.

In my words:

When Doug handed me the wine list, I was surprised to see that I only recognized a handful of the wines (particularly the Gary Farrell Pinot Noir and the Bueyes Malbec from Mendoza). But I wasn't in the mood for Malbec and I was afraid the Gary Farrell might be a little too earthy for the occasion, so I asked for our server's advice.

He confessed that he wasn't familiar with the Pinots on the list, but that he would ask one of the other servers. Many minutes went by before he reappeared. I was starting to feel light-headed from hunger. 

When he returned, he said that the other server suggested the fruit-forward Paul Mathew Russian River Valley (TnT vineyard) Pinot Noir. At that point, I was ready to get the meal started and would have agreed to anything.

After many passings by and strange glances from our server, he finally returned and presented the bottle. I tasted and approved it — good, fruity, light-bodied — and he proceeded to pour the wine into all-purpose, non-crystal stemware. For a restaurant with such a top-notch reputation, I was shocked that they didn't have Burgundy glasses. 

In his words:

After the wine was served, our sever told us that bread would be right out. Before he hurried away again, we ordered the tuna tartare appetizer, which was really great. But, we were both very hungry, so it would have been great if the bread actually reached our table while we were awaiting our first course. 

Instead, 45 minutes later, the bread arrived on our table a few moments AFTER our entrees. Ummm, ok. 

After some internal debate, I had decided to go big and ordered the Filet Mignon. Now, I typically prefer my meat cooked medium-well. I know some people few this as a travesty, but knowing a filet is a thick slab of meat, I asked for the steak to be cooked close to medium. What I received would barely qualify as rare, but hey, it was still pretty tasty and I was starving — and our server never came by to check on us — so I ate it. The green beens and carrots that accompanied the filet were blanched and lightly steamed, but quickly became cold. But, worst of all — for a serious, oldskool mashed-potato-loving freak like me — the mashed potatoes really could not have been colder. This was pretty pathetic. How can you charge $27 for cold mashed potatoes? 

Now, after a very long day and after waiting so long for our entrees (without bread, while drinking quite a bit of wine) I destroyed that plate and ate every bite. I don't normally complain, but I would have if someone had stopped by to check on us — or at least, refill our wine glasses. By then, it was pretty obvious that no one really cared about our dining experience anyway. It sounded like there was a larger group downstairs, but otherwise, the restaurant was busy but not extremely crowded. 

In my words:

I wasn't impressed with my meal either. I ordered the duck with soft polenta, mushrooms, and sauteed spinach. It was an oversize portion (unfortunately). I've never been served duck still on the bone; Doug thought it tasted like brown turkey meat. I wouldn't disagree. And the spinach had absolutely no flavor. 

In his words:

Following dinner, the waiter did quickly make eye contact and asked us, 'Are you two doing well?' 

'Yes, I'm doing fantastic,' I said, but he didn't catch my inflection. I'm glad he asked about our state of being ... I'm pretty awesome and my date was even more so. However, it would have been really nice if he had asked us about the food. And, if that was timed to occur, say, shortly after we were served, that probably would have worked nicely.

Against our better judgement, and hoping to salvage the experience, we ordered their Warm Chocolate Cake dessert. It was fantastic! 

So, if you're looking for a restaurant with a great view where you can enjoy wine, apps, and dessert — The Caprice is awesome! If you'd like to enjoy your meal or have anything close to good service, dine elsewhere.

Regarding that second voucher I bought — it was $10 for a $30 value at The Caprice. I'm thinking the best deal would be not to use it at all. Then I only lose $10. If we go back, I would probably be spending another $100. You do the math.

The moral of the story: Now I understand why The Caprice is running so many voucher deals.

In my words:

All criticism aside, I had a fun evening. Although I wouldn't recommend the restaurant, I would recommend the Paul Mathew Pinot Noir (and suggest to my boyfriend that he only buy deals for restaurants he's been to before!). www.paulmathewvineyards.com 

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