Despite the reassuring nomenclature, I had doubts about the beef before it arrived; "filet mignon" is a grand name but often dry and tasteless in fact. Not this time.
Our side order of sautéed spinach ($5) reached the table in a miniature Le Creuset crock, red enamel on cast iron, complete with top: a nifty flourish in the manner of Fleur de Lys, and the spinach was well-seasoned, although whenever you're eating low-fat spinach you can't help but think wistfully about the times you've eaten creamed spinach.
Pears: as much as I like them fresh (at least if they're crisp), I am left disappointed by most pear desserts. Pears poached in red wine? Pass. I would rather have a glass of Poire William (the pear eau de vie), or, better, armagnac. But L'Ardoise's kitchen has come up with a splendid use for the pear: It's the star of a tarte tatin ($7), a disk about the size one of those single-serve cheesecakes, with the pear slices caramelized to a voluptuous amber. They're neatly arranged atop (or, originally, underneath, since tartes tatins are baked pastry side up, then inverted for serving) a layer of pastry we found to be undistinguished even beyond its thinness. Pastry should be flaky, not tough. But at least there wasn't much of it, and the pears were absolutely winning.
L'Ardoise doesn't seem to have suffered from the lack of sidewalk sandwich boards. The place is already jammed in the evenings, with well-dressed groups of thirty- and fortysomethings waiting just inside the door for tables. The door has an annoying way of flopping open, so if you're averse to drafts, ask for a table well inside. It's nice and toasty under the chalkboard.
Dinner: Tues.Sun., 5:3010 p.m.
151 Noe, SF
Beer and wine