Mooses Restaurant Stands Out Brilliantly

1652 Stockton Street, San Francisco, California 94133-3316

Walking across the top of Washington Square Park you pass the impressive architecture of Silesian School and St Peters church towering over the trees. Mooses, Washington Square Park As I arrived at Mooses I passed some oriental guys doing his exercises in the park. The restaurant is conveniently situated, four blocks from both Chinatown and the Coit tower. It's just a short cab ride from the world famous Union Square's shopper's paradise.

For those theater goers visiting the famous Beach Blanket Babylon (which has spoofed local politics and celebrities for 10 years), it's just around the corner. Owners Ed Moose and Mary Etta Presti are active in local politics and entertainment and the large neon sign that shines brilliantly over the sidewalk bears witness to this background. So it's no surprise that visitors include Robin Williams and Walter Kronkite while regulars include Mayor Willie Brown, Rep. Nancy Pelosi and 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo.

The vast room's divided into two parts; as you enter you see before you the bar with a large screen TV - to your left is the restaurant. As you'd expect in San Francisco, the clientele are a very cosmopolitan mix; with California blondes - "hellooww", oriental beauties, and international tourists. According to my waitress, 70% are local regulars, 30% tourists (25% of these being newcomers responding to adverts and 5% returning visitors).

The atmosphere's comfortable enough, as with stretch limos floating by, you get an air of class that just suites those attractive sophisticated diners in evening dresses - as they say in Yarmouth, "boo'ful!". But it's also accommodating to the casual; as evidenced by a group of Korean and Taiwan students from LA who'd read about the restaurant in a design magazine.

Mooses Neon Sign

Within, Mooses' 15ft high ceilings and large chandeliers give a strong impression of cleanliness and openness. The chefs hold court from a large open kitchen area, crowned with stainless steel. Tables are comfortably spaced but a little too close for a really intimate conversation.

Service was attentive while not overbearing, in fact perhaps a little slow for the travel weary. The pleasant background playing of a Pianist and Bass doing light jazz was relaxing. There are jazz piano duos and trios every night, except Sunday when there's a solo pianist.

Chef Jason Miller is a really friendly guy and has been at moose's 2 years. He now lives in Larkspur and is thoroughly enjoying that change of scenery from San Francisco town. He still calls the markets every morning to find the freshest fish and then goes and selects the goods himself. "We focus on local, small-farm organic growers and producers."

Jason's menu changes 2 to 3 times a week, based on the ingredients available. These are produced both by local growers and sourced via his contacts in New England where Jason gained his training. Thursday night has been designated market tasting night, with a menu of 5 courses - this really sounds scrumptious.

Mooses Duck Brea

I chose Honey Roasted Butternut Squash Soup, with Sage Brown Butter that was a little like sprinkles of toffee. An unusual and delicious soup.

The tempting Pan-Seared Day Boat Scallops were flown in fresh from a fishing boat back East. But I chose to try the Grilled Pork Loin Chop with cider whipped sweet potatoes, honey roasted squash and pear relish! What a choice! The presentation was simple and effective while the chop was succulent, the relish was a uniquely flavored au jus (the pear really worked well) and the potatoes were smooth, sweet and delicious.

The dessert of Meyer Lemon Tart, Creme Fraiche was quite sharp and had a very nice lemon curd flavor sauce and with strips of lemon rind.

One minor disappointment - the coffee was a somewhat weak and flavorless - but the service and food made up for it in spades.

I'm told the cellar has 300 wines: 17 dessert, 10 fortified, and an excellent selection of scotch. From it Burton Breedy suggested a very fruity and relatively light St John Pinot Noire.

When you visit, ask for Flynn Ford, the very helpful and informed waitress who served me.

Tel: 415 989 7800 / 800 28 MOOSE
Fax: 415 954 0792
e-mail Mooses
Mooses on the web

Opening Hours:
LunchThursday - Friday 11:30 - 14:30
DinnerMonday - Thursday 17:30 - 22:00
Friday - Saturday 17:30 - 23:00
Sunday 17:00 - 22:00
BrunchSaturday - Sunday10:00 - 14:30
Cafe ServiceBetween meals and after dinner

Dress: Ranging California casual to theater smart
Valet Parking: Lunch $5, Dinner $9 & local garages.
Cost: Dinner for two with wine, $102
Thursday Market Tasting Menu, $48
Chef's Menu, $24

Wally Robertson, December 2001

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