It was a pleasure, Jack (NOW CLOSED)

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J. and I have passed Jack Falstaff restaurant on numerous occasions after leaving nearby Jeremy’s Department Store in San Francisco (a favorite of ours for obvious bargain shopping reasons). But I’ve never felt compelled to eat there because from the outside, the space looks so large and cavernous, which can be too industrial and intimidating. No warmth.

So imagine my surprise when we walked in and were greeted with low ceilings, soft lighting, luxurious suede mint green walls, rich redwood accents and clean crisp white linens. The space was at once clean, warm, and modern. I loved it already. And the genuinely friendly host was a big plus as well.

We took advantage of the prix fixe lunch and started with a Potato and Leek Soup. We inquired about whether is was a cream based soup or mostly thickened with pureed potato and the waiter confirmed it was the latter. Good thing because that’s what we were hoping for.

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The soup was amazingly light, smooth, and flavorful with the brightness of the leeks coming through. And the light drizzle of quality olive oil and chives gave it character, acting not just as garnish. For such a common soup, the flavors really came alive and impressed us.

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Next up was the Fried Chicken Breast with Braised Cabbage and Barley. What an interesting combo! Now, you know my love of all things fried, and J. and I have had fried chicken at Town Hall and 900 Grayson, which we love. But this version at Jack Falstaff’s was totally different and another delightful surprise. The batter on the chicken was crispy and flavorful and the breast meat was cooked nicely. And the drizzle of gravy over the dish was the perfect complement, with its sweet soy sauce flavor. It was the perfect light complement to what can be a heavy dish. And the braised cabbage and barley rounded everything out, making the dish feel wholesome and earthy. It was delicious and balanced.

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Dessert was the weakest part of the meal, though it wasn’t by any means terrible. Our Cinnamon Sugar Donuts with Creme Anglaise and Raspberries had spent just a touch too long in the fryer. The outside was browner than I’d like, giving them a slightly burnt flavor. But the cinnamon sugar was lovely and at least the donuts weren’t dried out.

The portions are perfect here: not too small, not too large. We were comfortably full and satisfied, especially since all our plates were so well orchestrated. Service was surprisingly unpretentious, warm, and friendly. They refilled our water regularly but took a little time to clear our plates. No matter. It was the perfect afternoon for us to chat and linger over a long and delicious lunch in the city.

Jack Falstaff – 598 Second St. @ Brannan – San Francisco – 415.836.9239

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