Thursday, September 10, 2009


Starbelly, on a sunny afternoon during this heat wave of a week. First thing I notice are jars of pickles lining a wall -- good sign. I ordered the porchetta only to discover that they had run out. Went with the BLT. A very large sandwich. I thought, at these prices, no wonder they ran out of porchetta. Good bread, fresh red and yellow tomatoes, aioli, nice balance of flavors. The housemade bacon was fine. The jasmine green tea, lemonade and sage refresher was great. I would order either of these again.

Luckily on my next visit they had porchetta and it was by far the best thing I've had at the restaurant. Very thinly sliced moist pork, perhaps dipped in jus, served on a baguette nicely grilled with a giardiniara-salsa verde that had nice bits of nuts mixed in with the herbs. Great combination of pork, herb greens and giardiniara, though I would've loved a little more pork. The greens accompanying the sandwich had too much vinaigrette causing them to be limp. The clam po' boy was very light on the clam and heavy on the cornmeal crust, but had a good flavor.

Back again and this time I wished I had just gone down to Ike's for a sandwich. The mussels had a chorizo broth that was too salty for my tastes, I left most of the broth -- which is usually the best part of a mussel dish. The salad selection looked good so I opted for the seared scallops over panzanella. Four scallops arrived, two seared and two completely white. Where the mussels had been over seasoned the greens were undersalted and overdressed. There were about four pieces of toasted wheat bread which were essentially croutons -- not what I think of when I see the word panzanella. This was basically a salad with a few croutons. The wheat croutons did not go well with the scallops, the greens were so overdressed they were limp. Yeah, I would not order this again and it almost made me rethink my earlier generally positive impression of the food here.

The kitchen was backed up on several of my visits. At these prices, they'll likely pay attention to increasing the speed of the kitchen in order to turn tables quickly. The folks are very nice and comped some stuff for the wait. With their attention to customer service, I'm sure they will work these things out as time passes.

Overall, the place is very reasonably priced and has a crowd pleasing menu. Pleasant environment, relaxing place for lunch. The menu is pretty much the same for lunch as it is for dinner -- San Francisco comfort food. Lunch all day makes sense in this economic environment people just want to get fed, not necessarily get entertained by food -- that's what lunch is all about. I would come back for sandwiches, especially the porchetta. Having consumed more than my fair share of porchetta lately, I'd say that Starbelly's sandwich was one of the best.

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