UPDATE: SADLY THE CHEF HAS GIVEN UP AND CLOSED THIS PLACE DOWN.
The SO had a birthday so we decided to head a short walk (sort of) down the Embarcadero to try out Lafitte located at Pier 5. I'd passed this place on a number of my runs and kept thinking every time--we should eat here sometime. It's a great space on the water and has an moderately enclosed outdoor area to sit in where you can see the moon glow on the water and watch the tourists wander by wondering how the hell to get to Union Square. We went on a Saturday night after the holidays so it was a sparse crowd and we basically picked where we wanted to sit. I'd seen chef Russell Jackson profiled on numerous websites and blogs--he's part of what I like to call that new breed of tattooed, young, hipster urban chefs that follow food trends and here he does it by going the sustainable locally farmed way. Since it was the SO's day I let him pick the appetizers and here they are:
Chicories salad with toasted cumin dressing and duck confit along with a splurge (it's $35) for the potted foie gras with an apple cherry gelee on top. Chef Jackson is a proponent of keeping foie gras legal in California--you can read about it here and here. As for the salad it was okay if a bit on the bitter side for me, between the chicories, radicchio and cumin it was a bit much without a balancing flavor especially since the duck was a little salty for my likes. The foie gras, however, was buttery, rich, sweet, smooth, creamy and any other adjective you could probably add. I enjoyed it but finishing all of it between the two of us took some effort due to the richness, but don't let that stop you from ordering it you can always take it home. I do wish the bread served with it was a little more stiff and hearty. The pieces we got were thin and didn't hold up well under the foie gras and the sweet gelee. Overall good, though we probably shouldn't have gotten two duck dishes.
I chose my own entree and went with the coq au vin with pommel puree, turnips, carrots and truffle jus. This wasn't the typical French stew version, more deconstructed, but still well done. I like a good coq au vin and this was a good one. The skin on the chicken had a good crisp for texture and I like how they take all but the one bone of it so it pretty much all chicken. The carrots were sweet the turnips roasted and the puree was creamy potato heaven, this dish was seasoned well and everything worked for me--I cleaned the plate.
Dessert was a multiple affair with chocolate layer cake spiced with peppers and a side of iced cream and then the freshly cooked brownie and cookies--oatmeal raisin, chocolate chip, double chocolate. I like the texture of the cake and the first bite and taste is great but then the pepper (as in hot pepper) kicks in and well, didn't like this so much. The SO likes this kind of thing and it was his favorite. I much more preferred the brownie which to me didn't even need the cookies, which were just okay. The brownie was warm, moist and delicious I just with it had come with some fresh cream or even vanilla ice cream to break down some of the sweetness, but let's face it I ate all of it anyway.
Overall it was mostly a good experience more highs than lows as they say. A few notes, to me the wine list was limited and pricey, we had called ahead about corkage and it was $20 so brought a bottle and felt and were happy we did after seeing the list and the prices. The service was good but considering how few people were there I'd have been really surprised if it wasn't. The place is pricey, even if we had shared one appetizer and one dessert it was still expensive thus it makes a good special occasion place due to this and its location. The menu changes daily so check their website to see what they are serving before you go since right now you can get away with not having to make a reservation. They also do lunch/brunch if you just want to try it a little (less money). Either way it's worth going to see what Chef will come up with next time.