Private dining experiences are something I usually think of as reserved for uppity connoisseurs of imported meats, vintage wines and rare truffles sniffed out by pigs in the Perigord region of France. But now flour + water makes it possible for the everyday foodies of San Francisco to enjoy a private dinner with friends in the Dough Room. Recently, I had the opportunity to check out for myself.
By day, the Dough Room is flour + water’s prep kitchen; our server Julia let us know that the giant butcher block serving as a communal table is actually stained with blood (but covered with a lovely tablecloth for dinner). The Dough Room holds eight to twelve guests, and two dinner options are available: an eight-course tasting menu at $150 per person, and a more casual five-course family style dinner for $65 a person. There is also a $300 down payment that goes towards to final bill.
The summer tasting menu is prepared daily, with selections coming from the menu at the restaurant. The flour + water menu, as Julia explained, depends on what comes in from the farms and any inspiration that hits the chefs. When making your reservation, you can specify allergies and dietary restrictions so that they don’t appear on the table. You can also select to add wine pairings, or bring your own bottles; the $20 corkage fee is waived per bottle you purchase from the restaurant.
Our menu (divided into courses) consisted of:
- Heirloom tomatoes with bottarga, peperonata and mint; lavender smoked duck breast with squash, pine nuts and watercress
- Eggplant and crescenza triagnoli with cherry tomatoes and basil; rigatoni with braised duck and rabe leaves
- Seabass with summer vegetable succotash, lobster mushrooms and corn puree
- Sautéed chard and pole beans with chili and ragusano; wood oven blistered pardon peppers with sea salt and lemon
- Crema pasticcera with summer berries and pistachios, or a warm cornmeal almond cake with peaches, olive oil ice cream and saba
Though I had eaten duck on only a few occasions before, I think I became a huge duck fan at this dinner. My favorite items were the smoked duck breast, rigatoni and crema pasticcera. The seabass was surprisingly large, especially as we had filled up on the first two courses, but had a crispy skin concealing a tender hunk of warm fish. We also had fun with the pardon peppers. Known for their “one pepper in ten will be insanely spicy” quality, it was amusing to see who got stuck with the unlucky green pepper. Luckily, that person happened to love spice. (I had my boyfriend taste-test each of my peppers secretly.)
The only decision making to be done at the dinner was at dessert, as we were presented with two options. My crema pasticcera was outstanding, although I will have to get my own order of olive oil ice cream next time I’m there. It tasted the way I imagine clouds might taste. Sweet, airy clouds.
If you’re looking to book the Dough Room for a birthday or other gathering, you’ll want to do it at least a month ahead of time. It’s a great way to relax with friends while trying delicious, fresh Italian cuisine in a private – but not stuffy – setting.
2401 Harrison St
San Francisco CA, 94110
Photo credit: Adam Shapiro