P.J. Mulherns A GEM in San Francisco
The Dining Detectives were in San Francisco again but this time in North Beach. North Beach still maintains the Old World charm it had when it was exclusively the Italian section of San Francisco. Now it still has some great restaurants and we were about to see what P.J. Mulherns had to offer. P.J. Mulherns, is owned by veteran restaurateur, Bob Mulhern, P.J. Carlesimo and Bill Burke. The trio shares a love of good food and basketball, dating back to college days.
We were a little early, so we seated ourselves at the mahogany bar. We ordered a drink- a full bar is available and proceeded to start to relax after a busy day at work in The City By The Bay. We looked around and could see that it was a lovely intimate restaurant with traditional San Francisco charm. The walls were painted a light shade of champagne with a grouping of large circular animal murals, painted by internationally acclaimed artist, Wayne Ensrud. The booths were forest green leather and there was just the right balance of tables to maintain the intimate atmosphere. We felt almost "as if" we were in a friends home.
The atmosphere was just perfect and so was the welcome. We immediately met one of the owners, Bob Mulhern. We chatted about the Dining Scene in San Francisco and how it has changed over the years. He then introduced us to our Bartender, Mike Ericson and his new Executive Chief Robert Price. Robert was appointed Executive Chief in June of this year. He is quite experienced and his most recent position was at Rumpus in San Francisco. We spoke briefly with Bob and he shared some of his philosophy regarding food preparation with us
. most memorably of which
. is using the freshest of ingredients but most of all putting flavor first!
Well, it was time to dine and our Host/Waiter Mark escorted us to our booth. Mark is originally from Australia and his warmth and knowledge of the restaurant and cuisine made us feel very welcome! Now we would like to share with you some of the "best" of P.J. Mulherns.
Smoked Duck Salad-
With Blackberry dressing. Great taste and presentation- We highly recommend this succulent salad!
With a spicy marinara sauce- tasted fresh and was only lightly battered- This sauce should be bottled." Mulherns Spicy Sauce" has a good ring to it.
Spinach, Roasted Garlic and Mascarpone Ravioli.
With sage brown butter sauce- light and al dente with Pine Nuts this translucent pasta would make any executive chief proud! Unlike any Pasta we had ever tasted- Excellent. Potentially a new North Beach Tradition.
Pear and Gorgonzola Salad.
With upland cress, romaine and champagne vinaigrette. The chopped micro greens were so fresh that we thought they must have just been pulled from a garden in the back. The texture was both crunchy and soft. The flavors danced on your palate. A Salad that one should linger over to get the full effect. We were told that just the night before Robert Downey Jr. had raved about it. We understand why! A true smooth blend of flavors and textures.
Tomato and Fennel Soup.
A spicy tomato base with the tips of fennel sticking up in the middle- Great presentation and excellent complex flavors. A soup lovers dream!
Pepperoni, Arugula & Carmelized Red Onion Pizza- Thin crust and great taste- One could just have this as a meal, just add a salad and a glass of wine.
Mulherns features a focused wine list. Here are some of the wines we tasted and that we recommend.
Geyser Peak Chardonnay 1998- Paired well with the salads.
J. Lohr "Riverstone" Chardonnay 1998- Paired well with the Pan Roasted Chicken
Canyon Road Chardonnay 1998- We were just at this winery and enjoyed being treated to all their wines. This fruity wine was the "House wine and we enjoyed it paired with the Pizza.
Geyser Peak Sauvignon Blanc, Sonoma 1999. We really enjoy Sauvignon Blancs and although this was not offered as a wine by the glass Mark our waiter was kind enough to accommodate.
Chateau Jean Merlot 1998- Paired well with the Lamb Shank.
Villa Mt. Eden Zinfandel, Coastal 1997- Paired perfectly with the Filet Mignon.
Eschelon Pinot Noir, Central Coast 1998- this light, easy Pinot paired well with the Spinach Ravioli.
Pan Roasted Chicken-
With Yukon gold mashed potatoes, Garlic-rosemary carrots and spinach. Generally we dont order chicken out because it can be cooked at home pretty well. This chicken entrée was prepared in a special way great flavors, presentation, succulent and moist and we realized that we knew we could never make it at home. Great spinach and sweet carrot slivers as well. This was tied for Best Entrée this evening!
Braised Lamb Shank-
With Risotto and grilled fennel- Prepared perfectly- the lamb falls away from the shank- moist, juicy and terrific flavor- We highly recommend this entrée.
With garlic-mashed potatoes, shitake mushrooms and haricot vert- The Filet was cooked perfectly rare and the garlic mashed were not overpowering, subtlety is preferred.
Orange Crepe Gateau
With mascarpone, vanilla and cointreau syrup. This 10-layer extravaganza was a work of art and tasted out of this world. It was pure ecstasy- As with all our choices we try to share, here a fight broke out with the Gateau being pulled back to the original eater. It was fantastic.
Pear and Blackberry Cobbler
With vanilla ice cream. Delicious. We love cobblers and this was worth saving room for.
Perfectly prepared not too sweet and the raspberries and blueberries added both in taste and presentation.
Wines- A very focused wine list
Coffee, Cappuccino and Espresso were the crowning touch to a truly memorable meal.
P.J. Mulherns is a great place to dine. It is an undiscovered Gem. It exudes the essence of true San Francisco, a neighborhood feel with excellent cuisine. The décor, which includes mirrored comfortable stylish intimate booths, an open kitchen and cheery Murals, is classy yet friendly. Light Jazz is the backdrop for a fun setting where enjoying a night out is perfectly allowed. The Service was fast, yet well paced, Mark was attentive which we appreciated. In regard to service Mulhern's stepped up to a higher level.
Robert Price, Executive Chef, offers his California French style with his " Flavors First" technique to perfection. Bob Mulhern has met the test of time and brought along the best from all of his experiences. He has put together all the elements of a truly Great restaurant.
We could not have had a more enjoyable time. The food, service and atmosphere created one of the best dining experiences we have had all year. If you are going to a show or just out to dinner on a weekday after work or on the weekend you will be pleased if you experience P.J. Mulherns. Well be back very soon!