Time is a funny thing. It allows you to appreciate what was and what could've been. The San Franciscan is no different. The aged wallpaper, tiny lamps, and crimson colored leather booths would fit perfect in the 1960s and probably did. There is an old fashion atmosphere that covers everything, including the service and diners. But is that enough to make The San Franciscan worthwhile?
As stated above, the decor is the newest and trendiest styles...of the 1960s. Whether it's the dated furniture or strange backdoor style entrance into the restaurant, it just feels like a blast from the past. However, with that past comes some creature comforts including a cheerful server, happy host, and a karaoke-mom-and-pop awaiting your arrival. The interior is dressed like a lounge singer with brown and beige patterned wallpaper, and black and white photos within oak colored frames. The interior is surprisingly large. When looked at from the outside, you think it might be a small and intimate dining room, but instead it takes up the entire bottom floor of the building. It's a strange juxtaposition when it seems like the restaurant could be a local newspaper company from the exterior.
The service is standard Americana with a friendly server greeting you and giving you recommendations of what dishes are popular and which are his favorites. It wasn't anything amazing but not poor either.
When I arrived here, I was so happy. I heard some great things about the food offerings. At the time, I was swearing off wheat products but thought today would be a great time to splurge and cheat. When I ordered the prime rib, I asked if their steak fries were any good. The server said it was one of their best sides but I wasn't sure. Would I really want to waste my calories on mediocre steak fries? Being the inquisitive devil I am, I asked him for a small sample of the fries before ordering. He was happy to oblige and when I bit into them, I was glad to have tried it first because they were grocery store quality: bland, uninteresting, and cheap. I sprinkled a bit of salt and pepper but it was "good" at best. Instead, I ordered the rice pilaf.
The sourdough bread they brought out was amazingly good. It might've been because I was starving but it was hearty, slightly sour and deliciously doughy in the inside. Mixed with some soft butter and I could've eaten another loaf.
When the first appetizer arrived, it was a tomato and pasta beef soup. It was interesting, containing pasta shells and strange shapings of ground beef put together in a slightly watery-tomatoey soup. It tasted homemade, but not like a hearty homemade. Homemade like anyone could've made it.
Finally, the prime rib was brought out and it was glorious. Nicely marbled and the au jus surrounded it like an island in the middle of a delicious lagoon. I took the first bite and thought, "Mmmm. Meat." I took the second bite and thought, "I'm glad I chose this." I took the third bite and I started not liking it as much. Though hunger had me taste heaven in the first bites, reality was harsh when the afterglow faded. I realized the prime rib was closer to warm than hot. The meat itself was tender and nicely medium-rare but at the same time, a bit dry in flavors. Strangely enough, it was easy to lose interest. I thought adding the rice pilaf with the au jus would make the tastes varied enough to spark interest once more but that lasted briefly. I'm usually a big fan of prime rib and I came in with the mentality to go bananas, but in the middle of my meal, I just lost interest and feeling that is dreadful.
The pricing for the food here is more than accommodating. The most expensive cut of prime rib is $36 at 19 oz. This comes with a side as well. Not bad pricing at all for so much meat. The quality though, that's what makes it a hard call on whether the pricing is a bargain or simply fair.
Dining here felt like a break up. "It's not you, it's me baby!" Maybe the atmosphere is such a juxtaposition from the world outside it's hard to adjust. Maybe lofty expectations can't be reached no matter how great the place is. Or maybe, just maybe, The San Franciscan isn't special but instead, just an average, good place to eat. Like a complicated wine, The San Franciscan might just be a restaurant you'll have to try again and again to finally find the notes you're looking for.
The San Franciscan
2520 Sepulveda Blvd
Torrance, CA 90505