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SATISFYING SATURDAYS
01/15/2011
Satisfying Saturdays
RN 74—Less Than Meets The Eye

87 RN 74, 301 Mission St., San Francisco, CA 94105, (415) 543-7474
www.michaelmina.net/restaurant.php?restaurant_id=3

By Charles Olken

For the longest time, I have been reading the early reviews and incessant public relations surrounding RN 74 and thinking, “What have I missed?” Great chef in Michael Mina, lots of fancy architectural eye-candy, San Francisco’s leading sommelier in Rajat Parr, a wine list full of attractive choices albeit a bit too Burgundy-oriented for my taste, but overall an experience that I would just as soon not repeat. Still, with all the attention being lavished on RN 74, I ventured forth again, and once again came away happy but essentially unimpressed.

The guiding spirit for our restaurant reviews is to pick out places we like and recommend them to you. I don’t dislike RN 74, but I find it all too reminiscent of a wine dressed up in all the right pieces but not succeeding enough to make me want buy it again. In CGCW parlance, of the type that passes between the editors in our discussions of the wines we are reviewing, RN 74 is never going to hurt your palate, but it does not do enough to find a place in our cellars (or unreserved recommendations).

The positives here are many. The décor is expensive, modern and handsome. The bar scene in lively, and while that is not of great interest to me personally, the space is warm and attractive and the options are plentiful. The menu is about what one would expect of a San Francisco bistro. What’s not to like, you might then well ask.

It is this. The room is open to the street through a continuous wall of plate glass windows. Do I really want to look at an endless procession of public transit vehicles during my $100 per person (all costs included) dinner? It offers a standard bistro menu, one that is put to shame by places like Bottega, Wood Tavern, Perbacco, Chez Spenser, Bay Wolf. Is it worthy of the place, the fanfare, the PR that attends RN 74? My answer is “no”.

If I am a visitor to San Francisco and I want to visit a top wine bar, RN 74 is not likely to disappoint. But, I would choose to eat elsewhere.

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