Visit Date: 01/28/2006
For the last week, my wife and I have been entertaining friends from Belgium, trying to convince them that you can get good food in the states. For our last big meal, we decided to take them to Range.
For the first time in years, I was stunned by the quality of the food... and not just me, all four of us were just amazed by what came out of the kitchen. The hamachi and blood orange appetizer three of us had was just outstanding - sashimi grade hamachi cut in an appropriate way over cress, cucumber and avocado with a blood orange, oil and black pepper sauce. It was so good that we had to request more bread so we could dip it in the remaining juice. My wife, the only one to have a different starter, went with a poached pear that was so indescribably good, I can't think of a way to describe it.
For the main dishes, I went with a disassembled cassoulet: roasted duck, house made garlic sausage, white beans and pearl onions... the richness of flavor was amazing, but more amazing was the fact that the rich flavor wasn't coupled with the fatty richness usually found in this dish. My friend had a fantastic steak, and my wife and his fiancee went with the goat cheese pasta - quite the best ravioli preparation I've had since I was in Tuscany. A16 and Incanto should aspire to make a pasta dish so satisfying.
We all finished with dessert: My wife had the chocolate and pine nut brownie-like dessert with cardamom ice cream. The Belgians had a hazelnut torte with irish coffee ice cream, which was also excellent. However, it was my oatmeal souffle with caramelized bananas that took the proverbial cake: light, eggy and a perfect sponge balanced with the sauteed fruit.
All of this, plus four of the better cocktails I have had in San Francisco only came to $120 per couple including tax and tip... not that much more than a night of sushi (yeah, we eat alot of fish when we go out).
The only fault was the pacing of the meal: the appetizers barely left the table before the entree was served, but the other courses came out with just the right pause.
For anyone looking for an exceptional, affordable meal, you can't do much better."