Michael Mina: No Heart Left in SF Restaurant

It’s still loved by San Franciscans, at least according to the latest polls, but I saw only out of towners on a recent Sunday night at Michael Mina, and I doubt many will be back. Two children asleep on their chairs were probably the happiest guests in the house. Here are five reasons why this much hyped restaurant isn’t meeting expectations, even for hotel dining. In short, Michael Mina’s heart–and soul–are no longer in SF. Good news for Vegas, bad news for the Bay Area.

1) Cold unskilled front of house: Not much food knowledge, emotional intelligence or hard skills evinced by server: bad marking of table, mis-placed chargers and total failure to accomodate a preference for placement of a wine glass on one diner’s drinking side. Of all cities, San Francisco should be able to accommodate lefties! Never checked on food or wines—never even offered taste of wine before pouring the latter—and thus missed easy opportunities to amend several egregious slipups.

2) Weird cheese plate: Serving meal-ending cheese selection with savory accompaniments just doesn’t make sense, especially such ill advised combinations as on offer here. Would have worked far better at the start of the meal . Beautiful plating only goes so far with an off-kilter palette. This was close to a bad Will Goldfarb parody. And can someone give the servers a brief class on pronunciation? Brebis and Idiazabal aren’t exactly rare cheeses or words these days and certainly seem to be within the realm of the knowable for putatively two star Michelin service. Melted ice cream on other dessert plate did nothing to redeem the course.

3) Overcooked Fish: Alaskan Halibut was clearly put under heat lamps when I ran off to a five minute bathroom odyssey (hard to find in a labyrinth of a lobby). Herb crust was crusty as promised, so crusty and charred that it felt and tasted like a dusty spice rack. The butter sauces and vegetable accompaniments were vividly colored and flavored and totally wasted on the centerpiece fish.

4) Wildly expensive wines by the glass: Twenty dollars seemed to be the low-end for options by the glass. An announced “Tokay” (yes, no date, producer or year) was nearly thirty. A Marc Colin White Burgundy was simply unpleasant. One Riesling almost redeemed the night, but not quite.

5) Dubious temperature choices: Frog legs three ways with trio of garlic soups sounded and looked great. But on a warm night, does anyone want three espresso cups heated to the burn point and filled with scalding soup? Slow to eat, too hot to enjoy, a dish in need of revision.

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3 Responses to “Michael Mina: No Heart Left in SF Restaurant”

  1. Mary M. Says:

    I hear dinner in the private dining room with Michael Mina in the house is great. Of course it is and so what. A restaurant with Mina’s ambition should be delightful Monday through Sunday, in the main and private dining rooms, with or without the chef in the house. If your meal wasn’t Michelin two-star, his restaurant isn’t either.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    Bay Area’s best isn’t in SF. Next time head to Cyrus or Manresa. They both offer better service, lovelier settings and equally ambitious food.

  3. Juan Carlos Says:

    Had a similar experience. Mina may be around some nights, but it seems he’s left his heart in Vegas, or God forbid, Atlantic City.

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