Trou Normand

Trou Normand opened only months ago, and they’ve been at the top of my ‘to-eat’ list even before their opening, mainly because Trou Normand is the new sister of one of my favorite San Francisco restaurants, Bar Agricole.  The second reason is to see what the design looked like since Bar Agricole won a James Beard award for design (and was nominated for bar program with the Turf Cocktail).  EaterSF announced the opening, and the design was every bit and more of what I would have expected, and since it’s in the remodeled original Pacific Telephone building from ages ago, one would expect a tenant to match its attention to decor.  (EaterSF does a WAY better job of pictures, but then again, the restaurant wasn’t open yet and not jammed full of people as when I was there.)

The problem with my wish list of must tries is that something always gets in the way, and I do mean that in a good way.  What brought Trou Normand to the top of my list was Sherryfest (see my separate articles on the fabulous classes I got to take, including Old and Rare Sherries, Fino and Manzanilla Sherries, and my “Have a Sherry Party” intro to Sherry overall.)  I was surprised to see a food and sherry dinner pairing at Trou Normand, because its name comes from the Normandy tradition of drinking a shot of Calvados (Normandy’s version of brandy) between each course to cleanse the pallet.  I’ve tried this, and it works until about the fourth course, and then you don’t care about a clean pallet and don’t even remember what you ate afterwards!!  And Trou Normand’s specialty artisan cocktails feature the spirits of Northern France, so it is natural to think that sherry might not fit into a pairing dinner.  But, of course I knew I should keep an open mind, and it was an amazing meal.  When you look at their menu on the web, you will see that it is very protein focused, particularly Devil’s Gulch pork, and more Californian than French.  And so is Sherry.

There were about 35 of us at the Sherryfest Trou Normand dinner.  We sat outside behind  the building’s New Montgomery entrance in a quiet little open courtyard.  I was amazed that, even in this little space, Trou Normand is growing lime and olive trees and a good selection of herbs.  The seating was simple and beautifully laid out in greys and whites with a touch of blue in the dishcloths used as napkins.  The menu was under the plate.  

We were served an nice Cava (Spanish sparkling wine) during the meet and greet period.  I was surprised to see the diversity of the group – from old to young, passionate to curious, and industry- and not-industry related.

I’m going to focus this post on Trou Normand and the sherry wine parings with their food.  I will go into much more detail about the guest speakers when I review my extraordinary sessions at 18 Reasons regarding Fino and Manzanilla sherry and Old and Rare sherries, and it will also have a detailed description on the different types of sherries (see links above).  We were allowed to choose our seats, and I wandered over to a guy wearing a colorful vest and a floppy-brimmed outdoorsman hat.  Turns out that Bird is an expert in both sherry and whiskey, which meant that I would learn lots through the evening.  Dino from Venezuela sat across from me, and it turns out that Dino is in San Francisco for three months studying English (which is already quite good), so we both got to spend the evening practicing each other’s language.  The other two gentlemen, John and Ron, were also from the transportation business.  What an amazing, freaky coincidence!  In a city full of tech workers, finance people, etc., what are the odds of two-thirds of your table being transportation.  AND, I enjoyed every single one of my table mates.  I intend to see them again and continue our discussions and debates.

Two sherry bodegas represented the amazing sherries presented at the event, Lorenzo Garcia-Iglesias Soto of Bodegas Tradicion (BT in this post) and Steve Cook of Barbadillo (BD in this post), both International Directors.

A charcuterie and salumi plate was piled high with mortadella, chicken pate, dry pancetta and lonza, all housemade I assume since that’s how Trou Normand rolls (see featured picture).  Then came an Arancini, a deep-fried pork belly ball that simply knocked my socks off.  House pickles and a nice bread were also served.  Fino is the perfect sherry for appetizers, but there are other choices.  BT served a wonderful aged Fino, BD served a Manzanilla en Rama (en Rama means unfiltered) that has a very low production.  Both were crisp, dry and a true definition of a great Fino sherry.

A Lolla Rossa salad of kale, apricots and almonds was served with a roasted summer squash salad with basil.  The kale was so tender that I didn’t even notice it was kale.  There weren’t enough apricots in my opinion, and with a little less salt, it would still have been good.  The squash salad was such a nice seasonal way to greet Summer with those guests who might have traveled far to experience the bounty of San Francisco produce.  Amontillado sherry is one of my favorites, and those offered this evening were extremely rare, special and amazing.  Both VORS (Very Old Rare Sherry), the BD Amontillado was aged in only 40 casks for 30 years producing 300 bottles at 22% alcohol level.  Think about the extraordinary nature of this event.  300 bottles, and with at least 6 tables/bottles consumed at our dinner, we amounted to 2% of their entire worldwide inventory in one dinner alone.  I’m just blown away by this.  When sherry catches on, as it should, this type of generosity at such a reasonable price will NEVER happen again.  THANK YOU Sherryfest!!!

A beautiful main course consisted of perfectly grilled trout with an almond salsa verde, a grilled half chicken, boned and grilled under a brick, I believe.  Accompanying dishes were broccoli with garlic and anchovy, braised romano beans and polenta.  The fish and chicken were cooked perfectly with a nice crispy skin, and the vegetables were also cooked just right with a crunchiness but well cooked enough to bring out optimum flavor.  The polenta was served just as one would serve mashed potatoes.  Palo Cortado is an even more rare sherry.  Both bodegas served VORS sherries, and one was 48 years old!!  This is an incredible feat. (I should know which, and I’m sorry, but I was enjoying every single drop of the marvelous sherries that were offered.)

Dessert came from Mission Pie with selections to share of peach and raspberry, walnut and banana cream.  Pedro Ximenex was the natural selection for such a variety of sweet, multi-textured pies.  A rich, dark, syrupy offering, both bodegas put out their best for this extraordinary evening.

I don’t think a regular meal at Trou Normand would have been much different, with the exception of the extraordinary sherries.  Trou Normand truly accommodates its neighborhood, being opened Monday through Friday 8-closing and later hours on the weekend.  Trou Normand is one to add to your list for sure.

Trou Normand Wrap-Up

Price: $$$


Good Things

  • Excellent Service
  • Normandie-focused Food

Bad Things

  • No Parking
  • Small Environment

The Breakdown


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