We are two hours later for dinner, I thought.
Lateness is my middle name. But being late for an opulent meal distresses me, instilling a fear of missing out on the sparks of surprise that life holds for me.
On separate notes, I am very obviously a New York addict. But one thing is for sure – the big apple overwhelms, and every bite seems to make this forbidden fruit bigger. By comparison, a recent California work=ation has brains-washed me into loving this enchanting, fog-infused city where it simply never gets hot, demanding a wardrobe full of sexy jackets. On par with New York’s gastronomical scene is San Francisco, whose dessert palette and culinary offerings have always challenged New York with every whiff.
Having stepped out (relatively full) from Gastronomypix’s Delise, filled with lattes, cupcakes and delectable cheesey scones, I was afraid I won’t be able to slurp through my seventh meal of the day. But a dimly lit restaurant on a wide street just steps away from Embarcadero and the scenic bridge was just what I needed after a day’s worth of eating marathons.
Prospect was an apt name for a restaurant, relaying a sense of escalating expectations, which boasted of culinary pedigree with James Beard winner Kathy King.
One of my favorite parts of a meal is the appetizer, and this one stole the floor from under my feet. Stole because the flavors and textures hit me with such a punch that I was shocked by how good an Asian pear and fig salad could taste! Contrasting the sweet and grilled pear and gooey figs was the punchy flavor of blue cheese and the crunch of a delectably candied pecans. The greens and red lettuces contributed with their bitter and tart components that made this no less than a work of edible art.
For those who didn’t know, my favorite vegetable is probably broccoli. This one arrived with a fish that had perfect slits and chars on it – something that while I couldn’t taste, had watched enough Chopped episodes to judge. The broccoli itself was bitter, owing to its stalk, which though not appealing, felt alarmingly digestive!
The next dish I liked best was another one that belonged in a contemporary art museum. A skinny crostini with tomato and black salt was placed largely onto a petite salad , evoking imaginative stories of adventure. The flavorful grilled tomato contrasted splendidly with the long, crusty “log” as I fondly called it as I munched merrily through its savory crackle. The synchrony of juicy vegetables with dry but spicy crunchiness could not have been more palatable.
Specially made for my vegetarian friend and I was a vegetable risotto. The rice was buttery to heavenly proportions, marrying well with the grilled artichokes and vegetables. Sprinkled with mint and basil, this one was simple to the point of becoming a monotone. My taste buds felt comfortable, but had gotten used to the paradoxical playground that was promised by the appetizers.
The meaty buddies had more visually praiseworthy dishes too. Gastronomypix’s mermaid fetish unveiled seared shrimp atop leafy, lemony greens, while my buddy ordered a delectable looking crab, silhouetted and perched vertically and adjacent to a mouth-watering green chili. The crispy terrain crust made me salivate, quite ironic given that the outline reminded me of a spooky scene in a kitchen from the Little Mermaid where my laughter infusing Sebastian was trapped.
Of course, I could not bear to leave without licking a sprinkle of sugar off of a delectable dessert. The ice cream sandwiches were surprisingly ordinary – seemingly soggy cookies with ginger undertones, with disproportionately large ice cream stuffings. While I was satisfied with the taste, it was the size, texture and overly plain appeal that tugged at my expectations and yanked them back down. Note to dessert monsters – there aren’t too many ways to experiment with an ice cream sandwich!
On a better note was the popcorn – a tasteless and mandatory movie supplement that I despise. So much for picking on instinct! The popcorn was caramelized with cacao nibs and salt, and the dazzling juxtaposition of sweet and salty and crunchy and spongy all at once was succulently addictive.
Prospect placed another feather on my San Francisco hat, challenging (and often overpowering) what the simultaneously glitzy and dirty New York had to offer. While it did not balance in delivering over-the-top taste, the experimental flavor combinations and immaculate plating and presentation wowed me over.
A fine and proper prospect indeed.