We were running late for our reservation at Range on Valencia St. in San Francisco. I was enjoying myself a bit too much at the Jeremy’s Anniversary Sale buying a Theory jacket for just 40 bucks. But I digress…
I called the restaurant to let them know we were running late, so I did my part. I expected to get some attitude when I got there, especially since they’d recently been named one of the Top 100 Restaurants by the SF Chronicle, yet again. But they were nothing but accomodating, and even told me there was no need to apologize. Right then and there they’d already exceeded my expectations.
We started with a golden beet salad that was the special appetizer of the evening. It was served with watercress, creamy dollops of mild goat cheese, and drizzled with a light hazelnut oil. There was plenty of salt in the dish, but fortunately salty is right up my alley so I enjoyed it. The sweetness of the beets was balanced by the creamy tang of the cheese. A subtle, sunny dish and a great start.
I ordered the halibut with leeks, mushrooms, and a mustard butter sauce as my entree. The dish was subtle, beautifully presented, and perfectly cooked. One more minute of cooking and the fish would have been overcooked and tough. The sweetness of the leeks came through and gently stood up to the buttery, slightly mustardy sauce. All this was perfect for a firm yet light piece of halibut. And the mushrooms gave just a touch of meatiness to the dish, though I would have loved just a few more. It was a masterfully prepared dish.
My pal, Sara, ordered their classic roasted chicken dish with sausage and croutons. The dish was rich, moist, and delicious. And the green olives added a bit of zestiness to what was a delightfully meaty, homey dish.
I was slightly disappointed with my Apple Rhubarb Crisp. The nutty topping was pretty good, but the fruit bordered on sour. I know that’s what the ice cream is for, but the crisp should have been able to stand on its own. It didn’t. I expected more out of their pastry chef after all the raves I’ve heard from others.
Nothing we had was over the top. Everything from the service to the decor to the food was subtle, accomodating, and well balanced. Everything was a careful, masterful play of tangy and sweet, bright yet subtle. The dishes may seem understated, almost ordinary on paper. But it’s clear the restaurant has an attention to detail and the aim to please.
Range – 842 Valencia St. – San Francisco – 415.282.8283