February 21, 2002
The first time I ate at Nob Hill I loved it. The second time I liked it and the third time I kinda liked it. At this point, for both of our sakes, I probably shouldnt go back.
Not that theres not a lot to kinda like and like about the place. Theres even a few things to love, but my recent experience tells me that as gourmet-friendly as the food is, something is missing.
Nothing, however is missing from the design. Tony Chi has created a room that blends trendiness with tradition and manages to be both hot and cool at the same time. Maybe its the warm woods and old-fashioned fixtures meshed with frosted glass and clean lines, but the décor is soothing and stunning. Not an easy feat. The open bread oven at the far end of the dining room is also a big plus
allowing fresh bread aromas to waft through the dining room and draw attention to some superior baked goods.
And what baked goods they are. Every twenty minutes a new batch of French, sourdough, or whole wheat olive comes out for Diners like me who cant get enough of it. If theres ever a place to ignore the admonition not to fill up on bread, this is it. Unfortunately, the vertically presented appetizers like chicken satay, fried calamari, and pot stickers are architecturally pleasing, which deflects attention from their ordinariness. The warming centerpiece, used to keep the bread and gimmicky potato service toasty, is also a nice touch, but, those potatoes, supposedly flavored with everything from wild mushrooms to lobster roe, are kinda bland, and kinda like baby food. Can too many taters be too much of an only okay thing? I think so.
Main courses hit the mark more often and prices are slightly below those of other big hitter gourmet rooms around town, making this place a relative bargain. But the homey, uninspiring desserts, and less-than-cracker-jack service, which gets slower, as meal progresses, detracts from the overall experience. So what can I say? Nob Hill is a good restaurant not a great one, and I hope for both of us, that I dont return, anytime soon.
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