With all my recent posts raving about all the good eats I’ve had, you’re probably wondering if I’ve had a bad meal or if I’m one of those people who is happy eating anything. I’m definitely not and I definitely had some less than stellar meals. It’s just more fun writing about the good ones!
Unfortunately, this is going to be about one of the more disappointing noms I’ve experienced. While in San Fransisco for Foodbuzz Fest, Kat of Kat’s 9 Lives invited me and Princess Gourmet to brunch with her at Orson, Chef Elizabeth Faulkner’s restaurant. You may recognize Chef Faulkner if you’ve watched any of those cake challenges on Food Network. I always thought she was solely a pastry chef but she does have an actual restaurant besides her Citizen Cake bakery.
I didn’t do any research on Orson as this was sort of a last minute deal so I didn’t know what to expect. I had heard from Kat that she heard it was a great brunch and given Chef Faulkner’s performances on Food Network, I was expecting something that was at least good and satisfying. Sadly, reality and my expectations didn’t hit it off and decided to part ways.
When we arrived around 11am, the restaurant was still fairly empty save for a couple of tables. Erm, that should have been our first warning? We were seated quickly and our waitress was nice. A lot of the menu items sounded good so we decided to order several things and share.
After placing our order, we waited…and waited…and waited. Um…? Finally our food arrived…in several fell swoops that came quickly one after the other. Suddenly, our table, which was devoid of food a few minutes before, was overflowing with our entire order, some of which were walking the fine line between lukewarm and cold. It was obvious that those dishes had been ready to go for a while but were waiting for the rest of the order to join them for the parade.
Let’s talk bacon first. Kat and I both put in an order for this side as she heard it was fabulous here. Kat’s came out before mine and her order had been overcooked; the thick-cut pieces had a slight char to them. My order was better prepared. While I love bacon and the addition of maple syrup was a tasty rustic touch, these were pretty standard. Usually, I’m not willing to share bacon but in this case, I had no problem letting Kat partake in my order since hers wasn’t to her liking.
The brown butter vanilla donuts were perhaps the best dish out of all that we ate. Cakey balls that you dipped in a raspberry glaze sauce, they weren’t oily or over-fried. But still, it wasn’t a dish that elicited much of a reaction out of anyone.
The souffle pancake was a dish that had obviously been sitting for a while as it came out almost cold. And flat. I had this vision of a super fluffy pancake-tasting souffle slowly falling before our eyes. Alas, my hopes were as deflated as that so-called souffle pancake. Taste wise, it had potential to be nommy, if only it were warmer.
The French toast with pumpkin spice butter and pear syrup was a disappointment. Lukewarm, there was hardly any pumpkin spice flavor in the butter and the pear syrup wasn’t very pear-y either. In fact, it just tasted like plain french toast that you could get at any diner.
Since I love Eggs Benedict, I had to order them at Orson. They came with spinach which tasted like it was the frozen kind and there was waaaaaaaaaaaaaay too much of it. In fact, that was all I tasted. Spinach overkill! As for the cheddar Mornay “sauce”, it was thick and gritty. We actually thought it was cheesy grits. And it made the house-made muffin soggy, I think. I couldn’t finish this. It was a struggle to eat and I ended up pushing it aside after forcing myself to eat one half of the pair…only after I picked out most of the spinach, that is. *sigh*
The Shrimp n’ Grits was Gerri’s selection and she also seemed less enthused about it. The couple of bites I took didn’t entice me to try more. I don’t know if by this point, I was too sad to eat or if it was because it was…bland? I don’t know…. I can’t really remember much about this dish at all.
The Pastrami & Gruyere sandwich…what a monstrosity. I didn’t even touch the sandwich as it was HUGE (as in unhinge your jaw and open wide) and seemed like a mess/hassle to eat. The duck fat fries…. Okay, so you have to admit, things fried in fat are pretty tasty. And duck fat? Oh yeah! But these fries seemed overcooked and were heavy and saturated.
Overall, it was a meal I walked away from not very satisfied or pleased. While there were things I sort of liked in almost all the dishes, the entire meal ended up being a miss for me. So much about the food and experience could have been better. I found myself wishing we had gone someplace else for my last meal in San Fransisco.
The Catty Critic gives Orson 2 1/2 NOMs…
508 4th St
San Francisco, CA 94107