Located in the heart of San Francisco’s Marina District, Isa Restaurant is a Cal French small plate restaurant. Since it wasn’t far from Fort Mason where we were wine tasting for the day, taking in the latest Pinot Noirs at an annual event called Pinot Days, we decided to grab a bite here before ending our weekend.
Executive Founder Chef Luke Sung is said to be “deeply flavored and elegant, yet straightforward.” I’m not sure what they mean by that quite frankly, but let’s dive into what he does do well.
The tuna tartare (below) was a standout but the salmon (above) was only average… I had to add more lime and lemon to make my palette happy.
A few other things on the list worth mentioning however: Maine lobster broth with tiger prawns, tomato, celery and taragon, a corn soup with parsley, chives and cream and the wild prawns with parsley, garlic, lemon and spicy lobster sauce, which we tried but isn’t pictured here because the shot came out so red that it doesn’t look as delicious as it was.
The salads were simple but nice. We sampled an arugula salad and the greens mixed with crabmeat.
And then there were the oysters. Pretty straightforward.
And the calamari which was on the price fix menu special they had going for $29.95 for three courses.
If you’re in the mood for something heftier, go for the golden gate angus steak, served with mushrooms, garlic, zucchini and basil or the Maple leaf farm duck breast, served with red beets, arugula, goat cheese and huckleberry sauce. For fish, there’s a potato wrapped seabass with capers, parsley, tomato confit, brown butter and lemon juice and a there’s a delicious Truffle Risotto with baby shitake, hon shimiji mushroom and reggiano.
There’s also a Pan-roasted rocky range chicken, which we didn’t try but it looked great. It is sith fresh herbs, creamy mashed potatoes, haricot verts & jus de poulet.
As for desserts, we never got to try them. Overall, I thought the food was good — not out of this world knock your socks off, but good and the risotto was great. The service was a little slow however and after awhile, they didn’t show up at all. We were still waiting for desserts and they decided to box up cheese for us since they couldn’t box up the desserts we ordered since we were antsy to go. Afterwards, the waiter said if you do want the dessert, I’ll bring it to you if you’ll eat it right now and my friend Steve nodded saying he would have it if they brought right away.
I mentioned to another waiter and to him that we’d take it in the bar area since we were going to head out right after that. And so we waited and nothing happened. When I brought it up, the waiter, albeit cute, simply said, oh, but you have your cheese in the box I gave you. Dumbfounded I thought, “but we didn’t even order cheese.” Why even mention I’ll get you a dessert because of a screw up and then make us feel guilty because he already gave us cheese to go? Huh? There was a guy in our group who left early to catch a flight and didn’t even have their dessert at all.
I’m not even a dessert person, but that wasn’t the point here. The whole thing was frustrating so we just walked out. What part of creating a great customer service don’t some restaurants get? It’s not just about the food!
That said, I liked the ambiance in the front of the restaurant and might return to sit at the bar for a glass of wine. They had a reasonable list of reds by the glass and if you get there during happy hour, their normally priced $9.5 a glass options are only $5, which is a great deal.