We’ve been wanting to try the food at the the bar at the Big Four ever since we popped in for a drink last year and spied chicken pot pie “baked in a sherry-laced cream with puff pastry” on the menu. Sherry-laced? Puff pastry? Yes, please.
So Sunday evening, a cold and rainy night here in the City, Chris suggested a trek to the top of Nob Hill for some comfort food. A very good choice indeed. The park across from the restaurant was all done up in Christmas lights, Grace Cathedral’s stained-glass windows were aglow and a cable car cruised past, bells ringing and lights twinkling. It was lovely.
The Big Four is very old school – dimly lit, lots of dark wood paneling and green leather club chairs and booths. There’s a restaurant section, too, which is pretty fancy – I think one even has to wear a jacket. In fact, the people-watching at the bar is pretty great – lots of monied folk tottering in and out, along with a few schlubs like us. Chris and I felt especially grubby, as we dressed for warmth rather than decorum… Next visit, I think I’ll at least put on a shirt with a collar – not that we were treated shabbily. We just looked shabby…
And we especially enjoyed the comings-and-goings at the coat check. There was a bit of a to-do when it turned out the someone’s umbrella had been given to away to the wrong person. And one lady helpfully pointed out that hers was the fur coat – and yes she emphasized fur. I wished I’d had my bottle of fake blood to splash on her – not because I particularly object to fur. I just like to stir things up… You know, like a maverick…
At any rate, we had a round of drinks as we looked over the short menu. I was sure I’d just go for chicken pot pie… But then I saw lamb stew… And lobster bisque… And a $15 prawn cocktail with three prawns – which I assume were enormous and delicious at $5 a prawn.
So, I actually chose the lamb stew (once I’d ascertained that Chris was getting the chicken pot pie so I could try a bite or five…). And it was very good. Lots of very tender chunks of lamb, along with potatoes, carrots and peas. The sauce was a bit on the thin side, though it was tasty.
As for the chicken pot pie: WIN! Served in a ramekin, with a crust of pastry sealing in the chickeny goodness below, our server gently pried off crust and set in on a dinner plate; then, she dished up the chunks of chicken, carrots and peas in a wonderfully creamy sauce. And, per my recommendation, Chris upgraded his pie with side shot of sherry to pour on. This dish was simple and simply sensational. The chicken was all white meat – big chunks that were moist and luscious; the pastry was buttery and flaky; and the sherry-tinged sauce upped the ante with a nice kick of booziness. This was most assuredly in the pantheon of chicken pot pies.
Wines very good too. I had a lovely meritage from Duckhorn Vineyards. And Chris enjoyed his chardonnay (perhaps a bit too much, as I kinda had to pour him out of the place… but I digress…)
Regrettably, our desserts were really underwhelming. Chris had a pair of cremes brûlées – one vanilla, one with orange and ginger. They were OK, but had clearly been prepared earlier in the day and kept in the fridge – seems like the hallmark of a very lazy kitchen… I had a “cinnamon bread pudding” which I likened to a Pillsbury cinnamon roll or a Cinnabon that had been doused with crème anglaise. Not a nice way to end a meal.
But we will assuredly be back… I can hear that chicken pot pie calling me already. “Cluck, cluck”, I hear it say…