Thursday, April 3, 2014

Perbacco

Yes, this is from Instagram. Don't judge.
So I'm sitting here thinking about what exactly I want to say about Perbacco, a reasonably bustling Financial District eatery specializing in a version of Italian food.

Google translates the word "perbacco" as "golly" and the Perbacco website explains that the word exclaims positive accentuation to its preceding statement. It is also a reference to Bacchus, the God of Wine.

Normally I would be drinking wine at lunch but... new job and a open-ended cleanse conspires to keep me dry even though I went to Perbacco on the anniversary of my birth ("...as the legend goes, it was the last blizzard of the winter that heralded me entering your puny realm...").

Selecting this particular restaurant was of course a product of closing my eyes and throwing a virtual dart at Google Maps when asked "where do you want to get your birthday lunch" by a friend who also works downtown.

I perused the menu online, booked an Open Table reservation and walked a few blocks from my office to meet up with my friend.

What can be said about the decor?

The same interior decorator or decorators it seems have been busy rubber stamping the Financial District with their signature interior: tasteful abstract art stretched out to reach high vaulted ceilings typical of the districts ground-floor mezzanine architecture.

A large white ceramic vase contains an impressively large floral arrangement.

Diffuse lighting from tall cloth covered lamps.

Beige, everywhere beige, with hints of wood (reclaimed? We hope!). A bar features darkly stained wood and high stools, backlight and inset shelving for liquor that also reaches improbably high.

Servers and staff wore white coats with ties and black slacks, as per the fashion, and the tiny hostess bounced around in a frilly mini-skirt and sawtooth blouse.

"Pick the wine," she said, she being my lunch date. A grin spread across her face and I knew she was probably going to make me cheat ever so slightly on my vow of abstinence.

I insisted on asking what she was going to order and she refused, "get something that will go with your lunch."

"Fine, but you're drinking most of it," I replied, and selected a Nebbiolo to accompany my charred hanger steak.

"And I'll have an Arnold Palmer," I told the waitress, confused by the coy game me and my lunch date played.

I ordered the hanger steak, medium, with poached asparagus and charred lettuce. She ordered ravioli with fennel ricotta. We split roasted heirloom carrots in pesto.

I will say this: Perbacco captures the spirit of (especially) Tuscan food, but as anyone who has been to Tuscany knows the food is certainly much less fussy. Of course, you have to consider your audience, and in American dining, even casual lunch settings blending hoodied tourists and bankers in three piece suits, little nuances add dollars to the plate.

Still, despite the neighborhood's tony reputation, Perbacco does not bust the bank. My lunch entrée was $19 and reasonably portioned (about 5 ounces of steak) as was my date's ($18 for a full plate of handsomely handmade dumplings cooked and sauced perfectly). The contorno of carrot was $6.

The executive summary? I would go again, and next time I'll try dessert.

Ciao!

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Perbacco
230 California St
San Francisco, CA