Slanted Door: 5 Reasons Why The Bi-Coastal Hype is Well Deserved

I’m always skeptical when a restaurant is so frequently and effusively praised.  High expectations are hard to exceed and easy to fail to meet.  For once, the critics have it right.  Here’s why.

1) Floyd Cardoz of Vietnamese Food in the Kitchen: Charles Phan enhances and refines his native cuisine but never obscures the ingredients that give it such a unique and attractive set of flavors and textures.  Makes New York’s Indochine look like Saigon Grill on an off night. Oh, and he’s also around at Slanted Door to talk to customers when he isn’t manning the stoves. No Vegas outposts…yet.

2) Snap-tight service: Counter and table servers know their stuff, and when they don’t, they ask. Exotic herbs in each dish were explained on request. Clam shells were whisked away and my usual spills were quickly and discreetly erased. I talked to a barman one morning, a takeout counterman another and an outstanding server at lunch on the third day. Not a single slip, plenty of charm and the best hard skills training—clearing, marking, tracking orders, wine service and pairing—of any of my week’s dining in San Francisco.

3) Wondrous whites: Reasonably priced wine list with unreasonably good selections. Bartenders check every bottle before pouring by the glass, and the reward is consistently exceptional quality. Two Rieslings were particularly delicious. For my money, and I didn’t spend too much, one of the better lists for white going in the Bay Area.

4) Manila clams with crisp pork belly and chiles: Ordered this dish on a whim, then returned for more on two occasions. Amazing combination of rich porcine juiciness from back bacon, piercing heat from piquant peppers and salty-sweetness from super-fresh clams. And Thai basil was a magic addition. The protein and vegetable components were delicious in their own right, but it was the broth they infused that had me gasping. Wonderfully integrated flavors.

5) Vietnamese iced coffee: One of few the great byproducts of colonialism. French press coffee with chicory drips onto condensed milk to produce a two layered parfait of pleasure. Mix the layers then add ice to order, as they do here, and you have coffee and dessert without the gutbusting juvenile whipped cream shenanigans of Starbuck’s or Dunkin’ Donuts. It tastes profoundly of espresso, but it’s oh so much better. Regular desserts are also outstanding, especially the lighter fruit based offerings.


4 Responses to “Slanted Door: 5 Reasons Why The Bi-Coastal Hype is Well Deserved”

  1. Felicia Says:

    I found the beef carpaccio bland. Other than that, a great meal for me as well.

  2. Larry G Says:

    I also saw Phan on both of my recent visits. Don’t know if he’s still doing the cooking, but he’s definitely keeping a close eye on the place.

  3. Harrison at the Crossroads: Last Supper Before Freitag Takes the Toque « Fat and Happy Food Slut Says:

    […] biscuits with razor clams, chorizo and gravy. I’d had a wonderful razor clam-chorizo dish at the Slanted Door a few months earlier and perhaps came into the Harrison with overly high hopes. The expected […]

  4. Continue Reading Says:

    Continue Reading

    Slanted Door: 5 Reasons Why The Bi-Coastal Hype is Well Deserved | Fat and Happy Food Slut

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