continuing on my conquest to conquer the chronicle's top 100 restaurants, i
managed to snag reservations at quince last weekend to celebrate a little
anniversary of mine. a sole dining room holding just sixteen tables, this
intimate space can only be described as a gem within
i went to quince for the agnolotti (in this case dal plin, stuffed with veal), a piedmontese-filled pasta that is a rare find on even the most-italian of menus. it's similar to tortellini and ravioli, which every american is familiar with, but dressed with a lighter pasta wrapper; in other words, it's better. the lightness of the pasta lets it melt in your mouth leaving you with a mouthful of the filling's flavor.
we also enjoyed quince’s homemade gnocchi with fried nettles and pesto. the most flavorful of all the dishes, tender gnocchi came out covered in a bright green sauce. the fried nettle reminded me of japanese nori (seaweed), and to be honest, the savoriness of the dish had a sea-like quality to it. another favorite of the evening was the spinach and dungeness crespelle with fine herbs. the spinach crepe was center-plate with its emerald color, with a filling of dungeness crab hiding inside. a light cream sauce unites the dish’s flavor, providing just the right balance.
however, I did not find this balance in the other three dishes we tried: an octopus salad with twin girls farm oro blanco grapefruit & pecholin olive oil; the devil’s gulch rabbit with borage, proscuitto and fava beans; and the wild black seabass with balsamic vinegar sauce, black trumpet mushrooms & little farm tomatoes. with all those dishes, i found myself needing more sauce, wanting more sauce. too often these days are beautiful plates of food delivered with just a drizzle of sauce used more for visual embellishment rather than true flavor enhancement. it’s a fine balance, the use of sauces. you don’t want to overpower a dish with sauces, losing the individual flavors of each ingredient. more and more often though, i’m finding the opposite problem: stinginess of sauces. perhaps i’m just being chinese (in other words, cheap. i mean, frugal. i mean, wise with our money.), but a two hundred dollar dinner warrants a bit more than half a teaspoon of reduction?
still, the atmosphere and service at quince made up for any shortcomings in the food department and there were three outstanding dishes (and a great choice of barolo) to make up for the three mediocre ones. if you have an occasion to celebrate, do make reservations. just remember to call on the dot at noon one month prior to your desired dining date – these sixteen tables are hard to come by.