Baked Goat Cheese; Roasted Duck Breast with Thyme-Scented Jus, Dried Cherry Bread Pudding, and Wilted Chicories; Cocoa Bean Panna Cotta with Bourbon Caramel Sauce and Marbled Chocolate Shards
Occupation: Real Estate Agent
Location: San Francisco
Favorite Restaurant: Firefly
Reviewed Firefly: Wednesday, January 4, 2006
This is one of my favorite restaurants. I love the feel of the dining room. Its light colored walls and minimal artwork along with the fabric-covered ceilings gives it a softness and simplicity that’s inviting and easy to be in. The dining room tables are made of thin wood with a red top that had a satin-finished, Formica-like material. They had a lightweight feel to them, very much like some of the Scandinavian furniture design. The blond Eames-style chairs had contours and were surprisingly comfortable. The lighting was soft with amber wall sconces giving a burnished hue. The dining room has an understated eclectic elegance to it.
It’s been a very busy week at work and home and it’s been difficult to keep up with all my commitments. I forgot to make a reservation and called at the last minute and got a 6:30pm reservation. We got to the restaurant early and were seated immediately. The table had cloth napkins, silverware, lovely bread plates with simple designs, and salt and pepper. We decided to start with a half bottle of Gregich Hills Fumé Blanc. The waitress was very knowledgeable and gave an accurate description of the characteristics of this particular wine. It was a crisp, dry wine with a hint of fruit. We started our meal by ordering the sweet potato pancakes with homemade applesauce, sour cream, and a handful of field greens in a vinaigrette. The sweet potato pancakes were grated potatoes that had been cooked lightly and had a crunchy texture. The applesauce was fresh, tart, and naturally sweet. The combination of the sour cream and applesauce spooned on the pancake was a nice combination. We followed this with a salad of organic field greens with pears, goat cheese, and toasted pecans in a red wine vinaigrette which was yummy. Our main course was seared scallops with mashed potatoes and truffle oil and sautéed leeks. The large scallops were soft, buttery, and rich tasting. The mashed potatoes were creamy and savory with a hint of the truffle oil. The leeks were cut up and sautéed; a nice hearty vegetable to accompany the entrée.
We finished our meal with a warm flowerless chocolate hazelnut cake with sauce and vanilla bean ice cream. I love the nutty flavor and richness of this dessert. Vanilla ice cream is a great pairing with chocolate. Just like milk and cookies. I had a pot of their organic fresh peppermint tea served in a Japanese-style cast iron pot. They put the teapot on a trivet and gave me a small celadon ceramic cup on a tiny saucer. I love tea and am always enchanted by the different styles of teapots and cups and saucers that are used for tea service.
Our check was delivered in a Japanese paper billfold with a Geisha scene — a sweet ending to our meal.
This is a great restaurant if you want wonderful original food that is well prepared and delicious with a nice selection of entrées. It clearly had a large neighborhood following. The service is very friendly and efficient, The dining room is elegant and lovely. A civilized restaurant to dine in. They serve a prix fixe meal for $32.00 that gives you a choice of an appetizer, entrée, dessert, tea, and coffee Sunday thru Thursday. You get to pick from the menu and their specials. We didn’t take advantage of this offer because we could not eat that much food on the evening that we dined.
Occupation: IT Program Manager
Favorite Restaurant: Chow
Reviewed Firefly: Saturday, January 7, 2006
Firefly is as magical as its name. A cozy little restaurant born from a converted home in a quiet Noe Valley neighborhood, Firefly has an enchanting atmosphere. As soon as you walk in, the warm and appetizing aromas fill the room and make you feel welcome. The décor has a French countryside feel with a splash of San Francisco artistry that makes it unique. The hostess seated my group of eight quickly. Our table was in the upper part of the split-level living room. The lighting was romantic and the table setting was well thought out. The plates were French Provincial which lent a European flare that kept you in anticipation of what was coming next. The servers were extremely knowledgeable and quickly explained the specials for the evening. I was really impressed by the care in taking each of our orders. One server suggested an amazing Cabernet/Syrah blend that was the hit of the evening. The flavor of the wine was full-bodied with a nice bouquet that did not overpower any appetizer, entrée, or dessert. Because all the appetizers sounded so good, we ordered several for the table to share. I personally ordered the butternut squash soup with fried sage. It was amazing! The texture was velvety while the flavor was smooth and buttery. The fried sage added a complementing texture to the smooth soup. The dumplings were perfectly prepared and the soy sauce dressing was more of an au jus than your standard soy sauce. This brought out the flavor of the scallop stuffing.
I ordered the roasted duck breast with cherry bread pudding and wilted chicories. The duck was made to perfection! The skin was crispy and the meat was tender and juicy. The flavor of the duck was mild and not gamey. The bread pudding was crispy on the outside and very tender and moist on the inside. It held its structure very well and was not mushy. The flavor of the bread pudding was mild, but could have been braver in its use of spices to enhance the flavor of the entrée. The chicories were nicely wilted, yet kept their color and flavor.
For dessert, I ordered the cocoa bean panna cotta with bourbon caramel sauce and marbled chocolate shards. This dessert was very surprising –- in a good way. The presentation looked more like a flan, yet the flavors were deceiving. The panna cotta had a mild white chocolate flavor and the texture was silky. The hint of cocoa mixed with a clear caramel sauce brought out the chocolate flavor well. Overall, it was light and not overly rich.
I enjoyed Firefly tremendously. The cozy and romantic atmosphere makes it a great place to spend quality time with friends and family or for a special evening with your significant other. The staff was so helpful and made us feel like special guests. I always enjoy restaurants that were once homes. They tend to bring in a very comfortable and relaxing atmosphere. I plan on adding Firefly to my list of favorites in San Francisco. It’s an enchanting, hide-a-way place you read about only in fairytales.
Occupation: Episcopal Priest
Favorite Restaurant: Cha Cha Cha
Reviewed Firefly: Sunday, January 8, 2006
Our visit to Firefly was a family visit: my wife, my youngest child, (eight years old), and myself. Let the reader take note: this is not a place to take children! While my youngest did just fine in this dining establishment for adults, the average child would be bouncing of the walls and upset by a menu that has no inclusion for them! That being said, the drive to Firefly was just fine. As we walked into the restaurant the sound of jazz filled the dimly-lit room. Since we arrived early, we had our choice of seating and naturally, we chose a wonderful seat overlooking the houses on 24th street. We were thrilled when, after our drink orders were taken, a server brought us fresh bread with a lentil spread. It was delicious and kept us satisfied until our main course arrived.
Please note that the furniture in Firefly is horrible! It looks attractive, however, I believe it was designed by those who specialize in torture! Hours after our meal I was still reeling from the pain of sitting on that terrible furniture! And, mind you, it wasn’t just me, but my wife and child also felt that the dining experience was marred by the furniture. In fact, it made perfect sense that a small pillow or two were located in our dining area. I thought that they were decorative (there were only two in a seating area for three or more) and because of their size, I couldn’t believe they were functional. In hindsight, should I ever go back I’ll be sure to use the pillows to prop up my back!
Also note, that Sunday through Mondays, Firefly offers a prix fixe menu for $32.00 per person. Indeed, while I list the individual prices for each item we ate, truth is that two of those meals fell into the category of prix fixe. It’s a fair deal in a city that seems to charge a little more for inexpensive meals.
If there is one thing Firefly does really well it’s art and presentation. The restaurant is lovely, the art goes well with everything, and even the food is gorgeous and wonderfully presented. There is a fluidity here that is coordinated and seamless. I almost didn’t want to eat my food because it was so beautiful. Nevertheless, hunger won out!
The quality of the food in general is good, however, my course (the beef brisket) had a side dish that looked like couscous and tasted like it was burnt. Not good, not good at all, and it made its way back to the kitchen from whence it came. I also sampled the other foods, and the grilled pork rib chop was succulent, tender, and flavorful. In general this is good spot in spite of those things I found fault with. In fact, I’d recommend the spot to others. I’d add too that you dare not go without a reservation as the place seems wickedly popular. Thank God we had one!