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Reply to "San Francisco Dining Impressions"

I went to Julia last night. Overall, I think the restaurant is doing a fine job especially in light of the fact that it has only been operating for a few days.

The place was packed and unfortunately we did not sit down for dinner until 30 minutes after our scheduled reservation. Valet parking is available and only costs $7. The interior of the restaurant is either "eclectic" if you like it or "jumbled" if you don't. Lots of competing themes are present in the decor from a touch of French boudoir to Americana to nautical. The restaurant is a little dark and tables could use added illumination. Tables also need to be rearranged to better take into account the staff's work pattern. Clientele has more than its fair share of "Sex and the City" types. The noise level was loud but that is to be expected on a Friday night.

Service was friendly. Some courses came out from the kitchen in staggered order - a problem that will probably resolve in time. A request for a menu substitution was handled well.

The wine list had some interesting selections but is priced unattractively. Wine brought in to the restaurant was handled well. Corkage is a reasonable $15. Wine glasses however need work. The bowls are much to small for fine wine.

The cuisine however was both exceptional and very reasonably priced. For 4 with $30 for corkage, tap water, two courses per person, tax, and a generous tip, the tab came to $190. A great value indeed.

A starter of seared chicken liver with bitter greens, bacon (Hobbs?), and warmed marinated grapes was a perfect blending of tastes and textures. Priced at $6 it was the bargain of the night. Thin asparagus served with brioche pudding and braised pork belly ($9) also showed the kitchen's skill with non standard meats. Creamed cauliflower soup served with one seared day boat scallop ($6.50) was exceptionally pure and not at all heavy.

Main courses continued to impress. Braised short ribs in Chipotle sauce served with mashed potatoes and marinated slaw shows how good properly executed comfort food can be. At $20 it is is a bargain for the quality. Portion size was very generous. The grilled ribeye ($25) was a good piece of beef but needed salt. The only disappointment of the evening came from a slightly over cooked (served medium rather than rare) tuna served with a black olive tapenade ($21). Not bad but it paled in comparison to the other dishes.

I was impressed with the food and prices of the restaurant. Highly recommended.
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