Serpentine - Page 2

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Photo by Rory McNamara

The pudding was fortified with roasted butternut squash, buttermilk, and blue cheese — a sturdy and honest combination. And, for a bit of spice, peeled prawns on a bed of white grits ($10.50) were dressed with poblano pepper sauce, a demure-looking, muddy green puddle that really lit up the room on making contact with a human tongue. At least that was this human's experience.

For those of us who use a caloric equivalent of zero-sum budgeting — i.e., each indulgence must be offset by a savings — Serpentine is a forgiving place to eat. On the one hand, there are subtle lightenings to be found in un-looked-for places; a nice example of this was a sandwich of roast turkey slices and sauerkraut on rye bread ($9.50) that amounted to a reduced-calorie Reuben and reminded us, yet again, of turkey's many uses.

And, on the other, there are the desserts, which, like good poems, depend on concentrated effects rather than volume to establish their place in memory. A particularly noteworthy example might be the chocolate-hazelnut tart ($7.50), an almost fudgelike (and not too huge; about the circumference of a baseball) disk trimmed by a fluted pastry crust and dotted with hazelnuts. The tart (served with a scoop of chocolate ice cream from Bi-Rite Creamery) was like an upper-crust relative of a dark chocolate–with–nuts candy bar: a Snickers wrapped in buttery pastry.

The crowd is eclectic. We noticed plenty of young people, but more than a few older folks too, parenty types in the company of adult children. As an adult who once took his parents to the Slow Club only to watch them struggle with the noise, I looked on these entourages with an odd mix of remorse and approval, though more of the latter than the former. Serpentine: same great taste, less deafening.

SERPENTINE

Lunch: Mon.–Fri., 11:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m.

Dinner: Tues.–Sat., 6–10 p.m.

2495 Third St., SF

(415) 252-2000

www.serpentinesf.com

Full bar

AE/MC/V

Well-managed noise

Wheelchair accessible

Note: Serpentine observes a no-reservations policy

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