Tuesday, April 26, 2005


as much as it pains me to admit this, i actually like limon. why would this be painful to admit, you might wonder...well, lemme tell you a little story of the way the mission used to be, a long time before this gentrification-thing set in. it used to be dirty. it used to be sketchy. it used to be cheap. it used to be full of latinos and poor students and people who made things other than money, things like pretty pictures, ugly sculptures and bad music. now it's full of valet-parking, small plates restaurants and zagat-toting couples. the only old-timers left are those that have been living in their rent-controlled apartments for the past fifteen years or those who got involved somehow in the tech business or consulting or something, or just plain won the lottery. this is not to say that this gentrification doesn't have it's good side because it does. so many thriving businesses in the neighborhood, good places to eat, a feeling of more security (meaning there are people wandering around who look waaay more rob-able than me), but everything comes at a price.

so last night i ate at limon. and it was good. we walked in at 7 pm on a monday night and got seated right away - i suspect the hostess could smell the rich leather wallet of our brooks brothers suited, expense account spending friend and decided to overlook the fact that i'd obviously been wearing my pants one day too many. we got seated on the second floor over-looking the main room. the space is okay, not notable except that the acoustics seem to be designed for maximum noise. it was loud.

we shared a bunch of plates, had a few drinks, and a few desserts. the tab came to about a hundred bucks. thanks corporate america.

the food. ensalata mixta: "mixed greens tossed with garlic croutons, quail egg, olives and mango dijon dressing". i didn't think this was anything special - the bits i got were just your basic mixed lettuces with a slightly sweet dressing. i didn't eat any of the quail egg so maybe that was it's special touch, i don't know. hongos: sauteed mushrooms. this was good but it is hard to go wrong with mushrooms. you could find something like this at any good tapas place. ceviche limon: "fresh raw halibut with mixed seafood marinated in lime juice, with yam and peruvian corn". this was presented as a platter. there were two mussels, a couple of large shrimp, a bit of halibut, the aforementioned yam and peruvian corn, done two ways - one as a pozole and the other roasted. according to my dining companions, this was excellent. the ingredients were very fresh and the halibut was superb. on a previous visit we had the cevice pescado:"fresh halibut marinated in lime juice served with yams and peruvian corn", which my dining companion "bob" liked better since there was more halibut, which he really liked. pechuga de pato: "pan-roasted muscovy duck breast served with duck confit-layered purple potato grain in duck jus". this was hands down the night's favorite dish. the potato grain seemed to have some sort of ground meat in it - it seemed to be beef, which makes me think of shepherd's pie, but everyone said it somehow worked. the duck was thinly sliced and done medium per our request, but still was slightly pink. amazingly enough everyone said it was not at all game-y, but rather tasted a bit beef-y. it was the night's favorite dish. we finished off with two deserts. first the tres leches cake, which was a very small triangle of tres-leches cake served with a scorpion-stinger shaped wafer stuck into one end and arching over the top, two tiny coconut macaroons where the eyes of the spider would be, and a pile of pineapple bits (slightly crystallied) and some shredded coconut bits scattered around the back. this dish did not work for me. the tres-leches cake was fine but there was very little of it. the pineapple bits didn't work with the overall dish but rather overwhelmed it. the best part were the macaroons. they weren't too sweet and the coconut didn't have that metallic, biting coconut flavour we've all come to expect from mounds bars. i suspect they used unsweetened shredded coconut, which gives a different flavor. the second desert was a coffee creme brulee. and it was good. very good. a tiny dollop of espresso ice cream on the side with a few espresso beans scattered over the top and a larger creme brulee served out of its cup. i was worried for a second that somehow i'd ordered flan, which i dislike, until i saw that magic sugar crust on the top. the brulee was creamy and coffee and delicious. the ice cream was the perfect accompaniment. it wasn't the best creme brulee i've ever had (which was at fringale about, god, has it been ten years ago?) since it didn't quite achieve that warm outer custard leading to cool inner heart layering of temperatures that i love, but it was very good nonetheless. to drink we had sangria, recommended, beer (cristal), and some "dry white wine" which was not dry at all, but that's what you get when you don't call out your drinks. service was unobtrusive. by the time we left at 8:30 every table in the place was full.

this second visit to limon was as good as the first, which was at least seven months ago. hopefully they'll keep up the good work and i'll rope my expense account spending friends to treat me whenever they come into town.

524 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA
415 252 0918


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