Chapeau! is this lovely little French restaurant in the Inner Richmond district of SF. I had heard about it solely through the grapevine and knew that I would have to try it. When I told people where I was going for dinner, most asked if it was a dinner date with my boyfriend since it’s a little on the romantic side. But no, I had date night with the ladies.
When I arrived, I was a little dissapointed in the ambiance. I was hoping for more of a French bistro feel, but the decor was on the plain side. Though, as I took my seat, the waiter immediately took my coat so he could hang it up. +1 for Chapeau. That doesn’t happen too often, so I’m going to enjoy it when it does. We ordered a bottle of pinot noir to start the meal off right. Our waiter was very nice and attentive and helped us through the menu. We wanted to get foie gras since it was given rave reviews on yelp, but it wasn’t on the menu. It turns out that it is now only on the “specials” menu because it is soon to be illegal in California. I hadn’t yet heard of the ban, but it sounds like foie gras lovers as eating as much as they can, while they still can (via Mercury News).
We were planning on ordering 2 appetizers and 2 entrees for the three of us, so instead, the waiter charged us for two 3 course meals, which meant that it came with 2 desserts We didn’t realize we could split the three course meal, so it was a nice surprise that we could.
Time to eat! Pretty schnazzy knife, right?
To start, they brought us an apertif of artichoke soup, foie gras served on some sort of bread, and veal with a mushroom sauce.
The veal was called “sweet bread” on the menu, so when the appetizers came out, we immediately went for what we thought was the foie gras- the one without the bread. Daniela nor I had tasted foie gras before so we didn’t know what to expect, but Colette had and she thought the foie gras tasted different than normal. The waiter walked by and said, “you better eat the foie gras while it’s still hot!” pointing to the dish that we weren’t eating. We then realized the foie gras was the other meat that was served atop bread. These fancy menus and names are a little confusing for us common folk. So we switched over to the foie gras and enjoyed the melt in your mouth meat. Since it was my first time trying foie gras I was a little taken aback by the texture. I can’t say I turned into a foie gras lover at Chapeau but Colette, the seasoned foie gras eater, was impressed.
And to the entrees: Cassoulet de Toulouse with cannelini beans, lamb shoulder, duck confit, and toulouse sausauge and Alaskan Halibut served with a cheesy crostini.
The bean and meat dish was really tasty- my favorite parts being the sausage and beans. The halibut was also very good, with a nice sauce and veggies. Colette was no-so-patiently awaiting us food photographers to finish up so she could dig in.
And for my favorite part: Warm Chocolate Valrhona cake and Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee
I had been dreaming of the warm chocolate cake all day at work because it is pretty much my favorite dessert. And ya, it was pretty good, but it didn’t even compare to the creme brulee. That is the best creme brulee I have had in a very long time. It was the one thing all meal where I could really say, “Chapeau!” (I learned that chapeau means hat, but with an exclamation point, it means wow!)
Finally, they served us our hefty bill in a cowboy hat. The table next to us had a leopard print hat and I was jealous.
Overall, I enjoyed my experience at Chapeau, especially the leisurely 3 hour French dinner, but I don’t think I will make a big effort to go back mainly because I don’t think the price matched the quality of the food. Everything was tasty, but if paying $60+ per person, you deserve to be wowed!
Let me give a quick recap of my review so you can decide if you want to go too:
Address: 126 Clement Street, San Francisco, CA 94118
What you will probably spend: $50-$100 per person
Overall Rating (10 stars max): 7 stars
Highlights: Creme Brulee, option for 3 course meal, and leisurely dining
What to Skip: Veal Sweet Breads and Chocolate Cake
And just a final preview of how fancy this place was:
They even fold your napkins and put them back on the table when you go to the bathroom! Now, let me get a quick poll of what you think about this. I kinda think it’s weird. I don’t really care to see a dirty napkin on the table while I am eating, would you? Yes, it seems like a classy idea, but the execution is just not right. Maybe I’m missing something?