Initial Impression: Prospect in San Francisco

Prospect San Francisco

Prospect — classy location and decor

Brought to you by the makers of the other well-known restaurant, Boulevard, Prospect opens its doors in San Francisco at a prime location on the ground floor of the Infinity Building.
I had mixed feelings about visiting Prospect; I was excited to try out a new restaurant, but wary due to my nonchalance when it comes to Boulevard.

The decor and ambiance of Prospect is truly elegant and beautiful without feeling too pretentious or stuffy. It subtly captures a romantic feel while maintaining the modern and stylish theme.  There is a small “lounge” seating area in the front by the doorway, followed by a large and expansive bar with seating all around for those who would rather eat at the bar. The entire dinner menu is available for bar patrons.

Prospect San Francisco

Acme Bread is served at Prospect. Fabulous!

Once you pass the bar, you enter the large dining room. The middle of the restaurant consists of two rows of large booth seating, and the outer rows are mostly tables w/ chairs. My recommendation would be to request booth seating when making reservations at Prospect.

We were originally seated on the first table at the left, adjacent to the kitchen entry with waitstaff running to and fro. I requested that our seat be changed and the hostess said that no other table was available for the evening, despite many tables being empty at this time. About three minutes later, she came back and said that she’d be moving us immediately; I am not sure what changed but we accepted graciously. Once we moved, we were immediately served cold water and presented with the bread options.  While I am not absolutely certain, I spotted what I believe to be Acme bread; a restaurant earns automatic points from me when I spot Acme. Talk about good bread!  Served with butter, it was a great start to the meal.

The wine list was vast, but my dining companion also knows I love Joseph Phelps. He ordered a young Sauvignon Blanc (2009) and I was hesitant to try it as while I love JP Cabernet Sauvignon, I have never been a big fan of their whites. However, the 2009 Joseph Phelps Sauvignon Blanc was fantastic; served at the perfect temperature, it was crisp, slightly sweet, full of aroma yet delicate.

The Appetizers at Prospect

First, we ordered the appetizers.  Three of them, to be exact.
When a menu has deep-fried trotters with lobster – I’m not sure how one attempts to NOT order it.

prospect san francisco

Yellowtail Crudo with Greens

First up, however, was the Yellowtail crudo w/ greens.
This dish was simply phenomenal with a great blend of textures and flavors. The thin slices of Yellowtail combined with a hint of earthiness from the greens and radishes was like a perfect concert inside your mouth. I found myself getting excited for dinner once we devoured this first course.

Prospect SF

Crispy Trotters. What a name and what a dish!

Prospect SF

Closeup of the Trotters

Then came the pig trotters.  The meat inside was chopped up pig’s head, perhaps with some other pig parts mixed in, but I can’t be certain. It was clumped together, then battered and deep-fried, topped with a small piece of lobster and plated. How does one go wrong with this dish?
Served with a very light and fragrant sliced pickled cucumber and capers mixture, it was truly memorable. However, the cucumber was almost too light.I get the concept that the incredible heaviness of the deep-fried meat needed something light to balance it out, but ideally, this dish will be paired with something slightly fruity and acidic while still light and cold.  A watermelon salad, or a even cucumbers mixed with strawberries would have worked better. That said, nothing about the deep-fried meat could be faulted.  It was delicious!

Prospect

Seared Calamari & Octopus at Prospect

As mentioned, we had ordered three appetizers, and the final selection was the Grilled Calamari and Octopus.  I absolutely love that they combined both squid and octopus into one.  Quite readily, you will find one or the other, but never have I seen both offered in one dish.  What is fascinating about this dish is that despite being cooked in the same seasoning and sauce, the texture and details of each seafood was distinct.  The octopus (which is the harder of the two to cook perfectly, in my opinion) was absolutely perfect; a bite of the squid afterwards would prove to be full of flavor but noticeably different in texture and remnant flavoring.  Combined with garlic roasted potatoes, this dish just worked.  We absolutely savored each bite.

The Entrees at Prospect

Next up, the two entrees we ordered came out.

Prospect

Braised Beef Cheeks

Prospect

Grilled Lamb

I had ordered the lamb, and Mr. K had ordered the beef cheeks.  Once we tried a bite of each, however, it became clear that he preferred my lamb, and I preferred his cheeks.  (That does read oddly, I am noting.) 

I always compare any lamb dish to that of the lamb at Kokkari or Evvia; this lamb retained a bit too much gaminess and while cooked well to a perfect medium-rare, it simply lacked a little something for me.  The beef cheek at Prospect was very heavy, which was the reason Mr. K was not too keen about it; I agreed, but it was full of flavor and so incredibly tender.  Neither dish was a perfect 10 in my book; the beef cheeks earned about 7/10 stars, and the lamb hovered around average.

The Desserts at Prospect

I am not a big dessert person.

When I’ve had a perfect meal, I tend not to want dessert. This is partially because I’m afraid of being let down and having my glorious meal fall from – well – glory. When I’ve had a truly disgusting meal, I also tend to not order dessert in fear of dying from disappointment. But when I am undecided, I always seem to want to try the dessert.

I found myself rather undecided on Prospect because the appetizers had been so fantastic, and the entrees left a bit of something to be desired. 
So desserts, we ordered.

Prospect

Vanilla Bean Cheesecake with Citrus Confit

First up was the cheesecake. This was, contrary to what one might expect from cheesecake, and in spite of the 15 beans that the server said this cheesecake consisted of, extremely light and fun. The mandarin gave it a fresh and fragrant twist, and combined with the cheese, which was unusually light – it carried a beautiful note.

Prospect SF

Black and Tan Dessert

Also recommended was the “Black and Tan”, pictured to the right.  Again, the dish overwhelmed and was too, too heavy. It consists of a caramel pudding, a brownie, shortbread, and chocolate sorbet. Neither of us enjoyed it much past the first bite. You’d have to truly love, and I mean LOVE chocolate with a passion to enjoy this past the first bite; it’s one of those dishes that make your eyes roll to the back of your head on the first bite and then immediately becomes too much by the second bite. The concept was nice — but only one of the four would have been enough, especially if served with a scoop of cold ice cream.  The way in this was presented made me think only one thing: “There is such a a thing as too much of a good thing.”

Overall, I prefer Prospect over Boulevard. The food and even the decor is infinitely better. On many levels, Prospect impressed. The appetizer selection, description, and presentation were near perfect; the taste was on point and seasoning was ideal. The main entrees lacked on some notes; while none were bad, neither dish truly impressed. The cheesecake added points which the “Black and Tan” quickly deducted.  The dinner clocked in at $10 short of $200 — which makes is within the range of a dinner for two at Boulevard.

From the hostess to our server, service was just decent.  At no point was I wowed by their treatment, but I wasn’t displeased either. Those of you who have read my reviews before know that this solely means that they neither added nor subtracted from my meal.  It was acceptable.

Prospect is located at 318 Spear Street in San Franciso. Valet parking is offered and on busy nights, you might be wise to just go ahead and use it as parking can often be impossible here. More information can be found on their website.  In addition to nightly dinners, Prospect is also open for Sunday brunch, which I am told is quite decadent.

Service: 7/10
Ambiance: 9.2/10
Food: 8.5/10
Addictive Factor: 8/10

Overall Rating: 8.3/10

Grace Keh About Grace Keh
Grace Keh is the author of "Food Lovers' Guide to San Francisco" and the critic, editor and photographer behind San Francisco Food. In her regular day job, she consults for corporate clients in marketing and event strategy. Once the sun sets, she's on the hunt for great food in what she considers to be one of the world's greatest cities, San Francisco.

by