When the time came for me to start planning my boyfriend Adam’s birthday dinner—which was last week—I knew where I wanted to take him: Quince. I knew that Chef Michael Tusk had received the 2011 James Beard Award for Best Chef—Pacific so it seemed like a good place to celebrate a special event.
Good, of course, is about the biggest understatement to use when describing the Jackson Square restaurant. The food at Quince is spectacular in taste and presentation, the ambiance is elegant and sophisticated, and the way they made Adam’s birthday a memorable occasion was priceless.
I had made the reservation two months ahead. When we arrived, our menus had “Happy Birthday, Adam” printed at the top. The menu has two options: a seven-course chef’s tasting menu or a four-course menu where you can select one of three options per course. We opted for the latter, which actually turned into a seven-course meal in itself.
The menu changes frequently—it’s dated at the top—but that day we selected the following: porcini mushrooms and Dungeness crab with Tuscan melon and haricots verts; tagliolini with sea scallop and fagotelli with Maine lobster; black sea bass with white asparagus and morel mushrooms and lamb with fava beans; a milk chocolate semifreddo and a selection of artisanal cheeses. And that’s just what we ordered. For starters, the waiter brought a selection of small-bites including a cheese and basil stuffed heirloom grape tomato and chilled fava bean soup. After the tagliolini and fagotelli, he brought another round of pasta appetizers including a large ravioli stuffed with five individual “pockets” of flavors such as zucchini and ricotta—with a happy birthday message from Chef Tusk. And with our dessert, Adam received a brown sugar gelato with a sole candle.
The suit-clad staff at Quince is also extraordinary. Everyone wished Adam a happy birthday and very waiter who brought out a course was able to articulate all aspect of the dish. It felt like a truly personal dining experience. As I was told by the very happy birthday boy, it was wonderful way to celebrate.
470 Pacific Avenue at Montgomery Street
Photo credit: Emilia Varshavsky