corridor, no, not the cafe again, the actual restaurant
Ah, Van Ness and Market St, it really is a hotbed of activity what with all the MUNI lines both above and below that stop in the area. It isn't quite Hayes Valley but does have the opera, symphony and a playhouse theater within steps of it that also draw crowds of people. Plus, there is city hall which seems to be a tourist stop or something :). All in all it looks like a great spot to open a restaurant and take advantage of the area, and that is exactly what Corridor is attempting to do with its spot at 100 Van Ness.
When it first opened, they also had a cafe a couple doors down to entice the work a day crowd with grab and go options. I tried them and did kind of like it, though, seems the neighborhood didn't take to it quite as well and now they just use the space as an extra kitchen. Bummer for sure, but it meant I would need to get by and try the restaurant part. Fortunately, me and the SO were in the area for a reason I don't quite remember. We were both hungry and this place dinged in my memory.
It is a two level space and on this particular early dinner Sunday they are not overly busy. Seems the downstairs area is an open first come first get seating spot and the upstairs you make reservations for. Okay then. With their high glass walls facing Van Ness, there is a plenty of light downstairs and the bar is empty. We take seats there as it faces right into the kitchen and there is nothing we like more than watching the cooking action. Seriously, we really do, it is a bit like theater sometimes depending on how busy it is.
As we settle in and survey the menu it looks to be a mix of the standards you find at many spots in town: a burger, a chicken dish, a fish dish, a pasta thingy, etc. Seems they are making a play to be a local neighborhood kind of spot. Though a few of the offerings are of comfort food fare like the meatloaf and potpie. After a brief comparison of what looks good and how hungry we are, we go in with a couple of appetizers and entrees.
First up, a classic (around this town) starter of calamari misto. Calamari/squid that is first marinated (in what we were unable to ascertain) then lightly battered tempura like and deep fried. It came with some smoked potato cubes and olive tapenade, which you can't see underneath, and a harissa aioli. It does come hot and crispy and the calamari wasn't overcooked and chewy. The aioli just came in drops around it and we did ask for a side for dipping too, though probably should come like that initially. It was good, though once you cook it properly, it should be. What stood out a bit from the standard were the smoked potatoes. There is a small bed at the bottom and they had just enough smoke to make them interesting and add a different flavor to the dish. Might be interesting to see if they could even do a starter that was just the smoked potatoes. For the price you also get a decent portion to share with others. A good beginning.
How could we pass up something called monkey bread? It is actually a thing, though the ones I've had before are dessert centered. This was a baked bread with infused cheddar cheese, drizzled with chive oil served with a side of basil aioli. Initially I also asked for a side of butter with this because it is bread and that is what a Southerner does. However, I will be first to say, it wasn't needed.
These come to you hot, steaming and easy to pull apart. The pieces are quite buttery, soft and airy. It is the lightest of breads in texture with soft pillowyness. I like the addition of chive oil to add in that extra layer of savory, though we did see them sprinkle some salt over this before it got to us and I will say it wasn't need. With the cheese and oil there is more than enough to go around on its own. The aioli was mayo and basil and while I like basil in my tomato sauces I'm not the biggest fan in this form as a spread. I was content to just pull the warm pieces off as it and pop them into my mouth. I'm guessing this is like a signature appetizer for them as many of the tables around us also ordered it. Kind of worth it.
The SO really wanted some salmon and ordered the pan-roasted with lardon (that's bacon) and potatoes in a white cream broth. Now we all know how I feel about salmon and I'm handing its review over to the SO. For them, overall it was fine but the salmon was a bit overcooked and didn't have those two shades of pink inside like it should. The sauce was like a chowder but a little on the thin side and they drizzled some olive oil over it which you can see pooling around the edges of stuff. Not sure it was necessary. Menu said there were supposed to be clams but if there were we both missed them. Considering the price and the sides sparse side that comes with it, the dish was a kind of a letdown.
My entree choice came down to either the potpie or the meatloaf, which I ended up choosing as I was intrigued by the idea of it being down as a Wellington, meaning it was wrapped in a pastry shell. You get the two chunks of meatloaf in a baked shell served with creamed spinach and a side of what the menu said was orach salad. I thought orach was supposed to be like a purple leafed spinach, but as you can see, I actually just got some regular spinach with a vinaigrette and some grated parmesan bits. Not sure what happened there. As for the creamed spinach, it wasn't the usual with a white cream, it was more of a shredded sautéed spinach. Again, feels like I got the bait and switch between what the menu listed and what I actually got. Honestly, wasn't real impressed with either iteration.
As for the meatloaf Wellington, well, the shell was kind of buttery and crispy though the bottom had some burnt edges. The meatloaf inside was ground beef mixed with carrots and onions and it looked like it was cooked to a medium rare state. One bite of the meat and it didn't taste like meatloaf at all, in fact, something about it was just a bit off. There was this bitter taste which was highly pronounced to both me and the SO. Not superly annoying, but close enough to be a little unpleasant the more you tasted. Almost like a vinegar.
After a couple more bites I'd finally had enough. So much so I asked the server if they knew what was in the meatloaf. But I asked in a more of an inquisitive way like, "oh wow, what is that?" She asked and the chef came over and said there was a red wine vinegar reduction in the mix and just a little spooned over the top. I was like, "really? Interesting, thanks for letting me know." It is hard to keep the friendly tone when you just want to go, ugh, why would you do that? For both of us it was too much sourness to handle. I guess that will teach me, always go for the potpie.
If you are keeping score that's appetizers 2 entrees 0. Sometimes you make good choices, sometimes you don't and it becomes a real hit or miss eating situation. I was also a little disappointed that the server didn't pick up on the fact we had so much left on our plates. Especially when asked if we wanted a to go box and said no. What does this mean for Corridor? Honestly I'd still be interested to go back and at least try the potpie, even though it does come in around $17. But the two apps we had were good and if nothing else, I could sit at the bar with a glass of wine and some monkey bread and then head off to the opera, symphony or play if I did those kinds of things.