KQED Food Blog: Bay Area Bites: TWO: Second Time's a Charm
Bay Area Bites: culinary rants & raves from bay area foodies and professionals
Previous Posts
Sourdough Tutorial. Local Bloggers Share Recipes, ...
Hong Kong Milk Tea
April Fool
Check, Please! Bay Area: Season 2: Episode 13
In a Fever for Tonic Water
Food & Poetry Contest
Mediterranean Spirit, San Francisco
Devil's Food Cake
Morning Rituals
The Easter Egg
 
 
BAB Guidelines

'Bay Area Bites' is part of KQED's Blog Authors Collaborative. Blog contributors and commentators are solely responsible for their content. If you're interested in writing or contributing to a blog on kqed.org, email us with your idea.
 
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
TWO: Second Time's a Charm


I've always thought reincarnation is an interesting concept. You live, you die, and you return smarter and thinner and full of snappy comebacks that are always ready right when you need them. (Or something like that; check with the Hindus for a more complete explanation.)

These days, restaurants are as eager for a second chance as anyone. In mid-January, David Gingrass and Bridget Batson, the owner-and-chef duo behind Hawthorne Lane, reopened their staid SOMA restaurant as TWO. The décor and the New American menu have both been revamped, and they're a lot more casual and more fun than they used to be. If Hawthorne Lane was a graying matron who insisted upon using china and crystal at lunch, TWO is a swinging single with a penchant for slamming tequila body shots.

The décor is part Tiki lounge, part Brady Bunch. Coconut lights hang above a massive copper and concrete bar, walls are paneled in wood, and banquettes are covered in a groovy olive and tan fabric. Mustard yellow tables come with psychedelic orange peppershakers, and the ladies' bathroom is papered in giant retro red and silver blossoms.

The first time I went for dinner, my boyfriend and I sat at a table. The second time we took friends and perched at the bar, where service was better. Per Restaurantland's New World Order, the cocktail list features housemade infusions like lemon blueberry tequila. I chose the Royal Hound ($12), a drink Anna Nicole Smith would have liked. It was pink from muddled ruby grapefruit awash in vodka, Cointreau and a splash of bubbly, and a candied grapefruit rim sparkled like diamonds.



Eighteen wines are offered by the glass, including two reds served "en vrac" (in bulk). These wines are stored in barrels that have been lined so the wine doesn't pick up unwanted flavors or aromas. Prices are a few bucks cheaper than the other options, and the Syrah/Petite Syrah/Cabernet blend was a very drinkable mixture of fruit and spice.

Servers insist the food is made for sharing, and some of it is, but there's too much cutting and reapportioning needed to split most plates. Chilled asparagus on sourdough crostini with ricotta and prosciutto ($9.50) is a case in point. A veritable jungle of greens sprouted from the gigantic toast, and cutting it in half was annoyingly messy. Though I liked the touch of lemon and the al dente asparagus spears, eating it made me feel like a cow with wild clover hanging out of my mouth.



Two that are easy to split are the crispy-fried Hama Hama oysters ($11), which arrived nestled in a bed of rock salt. The oysters were plump and hot, the dough was light (if a touch thick), and the celery root remoulade was a delightfully bright take on tartar sauce. Pizzas ($13/$14) were a runaway favorite on both visits. The crust was thin but pleasantly chewy, and both versions we tried (black olive, goat cheese, and prosciutto; duck confit, caramelized onions, and Crescenza cheese) offered an appetizing blend of toppings.



The best dish bar none was the bacon and egg raviolo with sage brown butter ($9). One oversized ravioli was filled with bacon, spinach, and an egg yolk, which was softly poached during cooking, resulting in a rich, gooey slick that spilled out when cut open. Truth be told, I wouldn't have minded more bacon for my buck, but it was still glorious.

The pork schnitzel ($18), however, was an unmitigated flop. It was greasy and so large that it looked oafish and clumsy on the plate, and the braised escarole underneath was too salty to eat.



Both veggie sides we tried were a hit. Caramelized broccoli with garlic, chili and lemon ($5) was admirably charred with well-balanced flavors. Despite suffering from a dreadfully unappetizing name, the stewed broccoli rabe ($5) tasted deliciously bitter.



Desserts were playful. Chocolate peanut butter and double chocolate mousse cupcakes ($7.50), the latter styled to resemble a Hostess creation, outperformed the mini ice cream sandwiches ($7.50) like Gwen Stefani and this year's crop of American idols. The crumb was moist and rich, and the icing hovered on the restrained side of sweet. We actually licked the wrappers clean, I am mortified to report.

Before we left we asked the bartender what the old crowd thought of the new place. "They came in once or twice when we reopened," he said, "but most of them haven't been back." You can't please all the people all the time, I guess, so you might as well suit yourself. Maybe that's a lesson Gingrass and Batson learned the first time around.

TWO
22 Hawthorne Street
San Francisco
(415) 777-9779
Open for lunch & dinner 7 days a week

Labels: , , ,

 
 

5 Comments:

Anonymous Jeff Shattuck said...

I totally agre with the comment about the Schnitzel. Having lived in Germany, I can say with certainty that Two's attempt at this classic was anything but sehr gut.

4/17/2007 12:57 PM

 
Blogger Sam said...

I love that Royal Hound cocktail, love, love, love.

But I need a 2nd visit 2 2 2 have a clearer view of whether or not I like the food because first time, as you know, I was rather unenthralled.

Perhaps 2 Royal Hounds to start would make me better diposed to what follows.

Nicely written, Catherine.

4/17/2007 1:12 PM

 
Blogger Michael Procopio said...

Great Post. Welcome aboard.

So right about Gwen Stefani. She was in my high school Government class and, if I remember correctly, out-perfomed there, too.

4/17/2007 3:22 PM

 
Blogger Catherine Nash said...

Jeff, I have never eaten authentic German schnitzel; I believe it's made with veal, isn't it? At any rate, this bears no comparison to the real thing.

Sam, It is a divine drink. Next time I want to try either the house-infused lemon blueberry tequila, or the Malbec Margarita -- it sounds terrible, yet somehow intriguing.

Michael, Nice to be here! I can't believe you went to school with Gwen Stefani...does that mean if I stick with you, backstage passes are in my future?

4/17/2007 4:12 PM

 
Blogger A Few Reservations said...

My meal at TWO was horrid. Such a major disappointment. I'm sure the fact that my partner ordered the Schnitzel didn't help matters.

4/22/2007 4:08 PM

 

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

Locate CP Restaurants:
Check, Please! Google Map
 
KQED Food Sites
Check, Please! Bay Area
Jacques Pépin Celebrates!
Jacques Pépin:
Fast Food My Way
Jacques Pépin:
The Apprentice
Jacques Pépin:
The Complete Pépin
KQED Wine Club
KQED.org Cooking
Weir Cooking in the City
 
Tasty Food Sites
CHOW
Chowhound SF
Crushpad
CUESA
CulinaryCorps
Eat Local Challenge
Edible San Francisco
Epicurious
eGullet.org
Food Network
Food Talk
Group Recipes
Hungry Magazine
KTEH Food
Leite's Culinaria
Locavores
Mighty Foods
NPR: Food
Om Organics
Serious Eats
SFGate: Food
SFGate: Wine
SF Station: Restaurants
Slow Food SF
Top Chef
Wikimedia Commons: Food & Drink
Yahoo! Food
Yelp: Reviews
 
Tangy Food Blogs
101 Cookbooks
A Full Belly
Accidental Hedonist
agoodfoodblog
An Obsession with Food
Anna's Cool Finds
Becks & Posh
Between Meals
Blogsoop
Bunny Foot
Butter Pig
Cellar Rat
Chez Pim
Chocolate & Zucchini
Confessions of a
Restaurant Whore
Cooking For Engineers
Cooking with Amy
Cucina Testa Rossa
Culinary Muse
Denise's Kitchen
Digesty-SF
Eater SF
Eggbeater
Extramsg.com
Feed & Supply
Food Blog S'cool
Food Musings
Food Porn Watch
Gastronomie
Hedonia
I'm Mad and I Eat
In Praise of Sardines
Jatbar
Knife's Edge
Life Begins at 30
Love and Cooking
MeatHenge
Mental Masala
Moveable Feast
Nosheteria
Organic Day
Passionate Eater
San Francisco Gourmet
SF City Eats
Simply Recipes
Spicetart
The Amateur Gourmet
Tablehopper
The Ethicurean
The Food Section
The Grub Report
The Petite Pig
The Wine Makers Wife
Vin Divine
Vinography
VirgoBlue
Wandering Spoon
Well Fed Network
Word Eater
World on a Plate
Yummy Chow
 
 
   
Search BAB

Eye Candy: Food Photos
BAB on flickr.com
Join Flickr for free and share your photos with the Bay Area Bites and Beyond group pool.
 
Food Books
 
The Moosewood Cookbook
by Mollie Katzen
 
Baking: From My Home to Yours
by Dorie Greenspan
 
Grand Livre de Cuisine: Alain Ducasse's Desserts and Pastries
by Alain Ducasse, Frederic Robertmison
 
The Big Book of Outdoor Cooking and Entertaining
by Cheryl Alters Jamison, Bill Jamison
 
Tasty: Get Great Food on the Table Every Day
by Roy Finamore
 
Whole Grains Every Day, Every Way
by Lorna Sass
 
The Soul of a New Cuisine: A Discovery of the Foods and Flavors of Africa
by Marcus Samuelsson
 
Michael Mina: The Cookbook
by Michael Mina, Photographer: Karl Petzktle
 
What to Eat
by Marion Nestle
 
The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals
by Michael Pollan
 
Essence of Chocolate: Recipes for Baking and Cooking with Fine Chocolate
by John Scharffenberger, Robert Steinberg
 
Romancing the Vine: Life, Love, and Transformation in the Vineyards of Barolo
by Alan Tardi
 
What to Drink with What You Eat: The Definitive Guide to Pairing Food with Wine, Beer, Spirits, Coffee, Tea -- Even Water -- Based on Expert Advice from America's Best Sommeliers
by Andrew Dornenburg, Karen Page, Michael Sofronski
 
The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook: Stories and Recipes for Southerners and Would-be Southerners
by Matt Lee, Ted Lee
 
Bread Matters: The State of Modern Bread and a Definitive Guide to Baking Your Own
by Andrew Whitley
 
Coloring the Seasons: A Cook's Guide
by Allegra McEvedy
 
All-new Complete Cooking Light Cookbook
by Anne C. Cain
 
Modern Garde Manger
by Robert B. Garlough
 
The Spice and Herb Bible
by Ian Hemphill, Kate Hemphill
 
The Improvisational Cook
by Sally Schneider
 
Lunch Lessons: Changing the Way We Feed Our Children
by Ann Cooper, Lisa M. Holmes
 
Cradle of Flavor: Home Cooking from the Spice Islands of Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia
by James Oseland
 
My Life in France
by Julia Child, Alex Prud'Homme
 
A Passion for Ice Cream: 95 Recipes for Fabulous Desserts
by Emily Luchett, Sheri Giblin (photographer)
 
Au Pied De Cochon -- The Album
by Martin Picard
 
Memories of Philippine Kitchens
by Amy Besa, Romy Dorotan
 
Simple Chinese Cooking
by Kylie Kwong
 
 
An Invitation to Indian Cooking
by Madhur Jaffrey
 
Hungry Planet
by Peter Menzel, Faith D'Aluisio
 
Sunday Suppers at Lucques : Seasonal Recipes from Market to Table
by Suzanne Goin, Teri Gelber
 
Simple Soirees: Seasonal Menus for Sensational Dinner Parties
by Peggy Knickerbocker, Christopher Hirsheimer (Photographer)
 
The Cook's Book
by Jill Norman
 
Molto Italiano : 327 Simple Italian Recipes to Cook at Home
by Mario Batali
 
Nobu Now
by Nobuyuki Matsuhisa
 
Cheese : A Connoisseur's Guide to the World's Best
by Max Mccalman, David Gibbons
 
Bones : Recipes, History, and Lore
by Jennifer McLagan
 
Whiskey : The Definitive World Guide
by Michael Jackson
 
The New American Cooking
by Joan Nathan
 
ChocolateChocolate
by Lisa Yockelson
 
Easy Entertaining: Everything You Need to Know About Having Parties at Home
by Darina Allen
 
Cooking at De Gustibus: Celebrating 25 Years of Culinary Innovation
by Arlene Feltman Sailhac
 
Dough: Simple Contemporary Breads
by Richard Bertinet
 
Chocolate Obsession: Confections and Treats to Create and Savor
by Michael Recchiuti, Fran Gage, Maren Caruso
 
The Food Substitutions Bible: More Than 5,000 Substitutions for Ingredients, Equipment And Techniques
by David Joachim
 
Recipes: A Collection for the Modern Cook
by Susan Spungen
 
Spices of Life: Simple and Delicious Recipes for Great Health
by Nina Simonds
 
Mangoes & Curry Leaves: Culinary Travels Through the Great Subcontinent
by Jeffrey Alford, Naomi Duguid
 
Chocolate: A Bittersweet Saga of Dark and Light
by Mort Rosenblum
 
Vegetable Love: A Book for Cooks
by Barbara Kafka, Christopher Styler
 
A History of Wine in America: From Prohibition to the Present
by Thomas Pinney
 
Fonda San Miguel: Thirty Years Of Food And Art
by Tom Gilliland, Miguel Ravago, Virginia B. Wood
 
Matzoh Ball Gumbo: Culinary Tales of the Jewish South
by Marcie Cohen Ferris
 
Washoku: Recipes From The Japanese Home Kitchen
by Elizabeth Andoh, Leigh Beisch
 
 
Weir Cooking in the City: More than 125 Recipes and Inspiring Ideas for Relaxed Entertaining
by Joanne Weir
 
Rick Stein's Complete Seafood
by Rick Stein
 
The Great Scandinavian Baking Book
by Beatrice A. Ojakangas
 
Serena, Food & Stories: Feeding Friends Every Hour of the Day
by Serena Bass
 
John Ash: Cooking One on One: Private Lessons in Simple, Contemporary Food from a Master Teacher
by John Ash
 
The New Mayo Clinic Cookbook: Eating Well for Better Health
by Donald Hensrud, M.D., Jennifer Nelson, R.D. & Mayo Clinic Staff
 
Foods of the Americas: Native Recipes and Traditions
by Fernando and Marlene Divina
 
The Provence Cookbook
by Patricia Wells
 
Olive Trees and Honey: A Treasury of Vegetarian Recipes from Jewish Communities Around the World
by Gil Marks
 
Last Chance to Eat: The Fate of Taste in a Fast Food World
by Gina Mallet
 
Bouchon
by Thomas Keller
 
A Blessing of Bread: The Many Rich Traditions of Jewish Bread Baking Around the World
by Maggie Glezer
 
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
by Molly Stevens
 
On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen
by Harold McGee
 
Entertaining: Inspired Menus For Cooking with Family and Friends
by George Dolese
 
The Breath of a Wok: Unlocking the Spirit of Chinese Wok Cooking Through Recipes and Lore
by Grace Young, Alan Richardson
 
Cooking New American: How to Cook the Food You Love to Eat
by Fine Cooking Magazine
 
The Japanese Kitchen: A Book of Essential Ingredients with 200 Authentic Recipes
by Kimiko Barber
 
Arthur Schwartz's New York City Food: An Opinionated History and More Than 100 Legendary Recipes
by Arthur Schwartz
 
Poet of the Appetites: The Lives and Loves of M.F.K. Fisher
by Joan Reardon
 
Bread: A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes
by Jeffrey Hamelman
 
Everyday Dining with Wine
by Andrea Immer
 
 
Copyright © 2005-2008 KQED. All rights reserved.