Urchin Bistrot

I completely disagree with Michael Bauer, Food Critic for the San Francisco Chronicle about Urchin Bistrot.  His Sunday review found the location to be ‘disjointed’ – NOT.  I found the bright orange seats a wonderful contrast to the starkness.  The space is very comfortable, both upstairs and down.  Mr. Bauer comments that the interior is made for the Mission set, but that the food is for more established diners.  Again, I disagree.  The food at Urchin Bistrot takes on the class French bistro but with all kinds of really neat twists.  We ordered almost the same food as Mr. Bauer.  Starting with Hiro Sone’s take on deviled eggs – WOW!!  The smoothness of the urchin with the pops of caviar were the most unique offering of deviled eggs I’ve ever had. 

Every single menu item we tried was absolutely perfect, and the service was, too.  At least Mr. Bauer agrees with the latter.  Our waitperson was on-the-spot, yet unobtrusive.  So why did they get only 2.5 stars out of 4 for service?  I give them an 8 out of ten on my scale.

As for the food, Urchin Bistrot is far more worthy than a 2 out of 4 stars.  I’m giving them an 8.5 on my ten point scale.  Having gone to Monsieur Benjamin the week before, I think Urchin Bistrot’s food is far more worthy.  Yes, Monsieur Benjamin is a classic, Francophile bistro.  The Urchin Bistrot folks have re-thought the classic menu with beautiful twists. 

First of all, artisan cocktails are well prepared with one special big ice cube that will melt quite slowly.  We sat down when our friend arrived in one of those marvelous orange booths, with Hiro Sone’s own mural above.  (It kind of reminded me of the mural at Tru Normand in style.)  I already mentioned the deviled egg, and the other treat were the duck liver mousse and trout fume.  The duck liver really brought me back to the foie gras days – smooth and creamy.  Accompanied by nice baguette toasts and quartered figs, it was delicious.  The trout fume, as in smoked trout carpaccio as beautiful to look at and even better to eat.

Dave had the steak frites, a classic French bistro offering and found it to be just as good as the same dish at Monsieur Benjamin.  Lots more frites, though.  Urchin Bistrot is very generous with their portions, except maybe that deviled egg!!  Although I didn’t get to taste it, Maria says that her grilled chicken with garlic slices and padron peppers was excellent.  And Maria is a foodie!  I had the Lamb Cassoulet, and wow was it good.  If you’re not a cook, you probably don’t know how much work goes into making a perfect cassoulet.  Everything is cooked in advance and added together.  The beans were exceptional, and the fact that Urchin Bistrot uses various cuts of lamb vs. beef, sausage and pork was ingenious.  Sometimes I find lamb too gamey, but in this preparation, the mixture of the lamb and the beans was a wonderful combination.

So, here’s the real test result.  I’m a food writer, and my job is to go to various places to evaluate and write.  It’s rare that I get to go to the same place twice, with the possible exceptions of Swan Oyster Depot and Ketch Joanne’s, both favorite breakfast places.  However, I intend to go back to Urchin Bistrot this Friday.  It’s just that good.  Go and see for yourself.  You’ll be wowed by everything about the place.

Urchin Bistrot Wrap-Up

Price: $$$


The Breakdown


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  1. DEBO

    You stated Urchins food was far more worthy than Mr Benjamin but you scored Urchin considerably lower. I like this review though, pretty spot on.

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