Sunday, January 20, 2008

Viognier, San Mateo

The holiday season allowed for some new dining opportunities, thus the chance to comment on them.
My patience for writing comprehensive restaurant reviews is limited, so the style will be to cover the big beats of these places. Take it for what it's worth.
Vioginier is located (strangely?) above the upscale Draeger's market in San Mateo, which gives it the shiny-catalog patina of high prices and fancy cooking utensils. But the atmosphere does fall short, stretching to fit an upscale image it can't fulfill.
To say the food is disappointing ascribes higher expectations to it than it deserves. Suffice it to say that it was not good, highlighted by butternut squash rice pudding that was wishfully called "risotto." Individual grains of rice were genuinely unrecognizable, and the entire mass was hidden crazily by a layer of delicate greens. The flavor was not unpleasant, but combined with the tapioca consistency it remained nearly entirely uneaten (no notice made by our waiter). Very surprising that any cook would serve it, frankly, it was so overdone.
The rib eye was quite nice, equally well produced as hundreds of others, nicely fatty and crusty. Its traditional accompaniments, creamed spinach and potato-Emmentaler gratin were superb and memorable. The price? $40. Ridiculous. And $25 for the butternut squash-starch pile.
Starters of charcuterie & cheese and beet salad were fine, if unremarkable, which would be completely forgiven if not for being wildly overpriced for the overall quality.
Draeger's had a certain upscale concept in mind when it created Viognier. Most local diners will know what it aspires to. But it fails - not without some charm and certain well executed flavors. But overall a place to overlook until the quality of what it produces even approaches the height of the prices charged for it.

222 E. 4th St., San Mateo

Number of visits: 1

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