On Great Dinners

Sometimes, dinners just click. They don’t happen very often when at home (at least when I cook), but you know that feeling when you leave a restaurant perfectly sated and high on a good conversation? Aimee and I had that on Tuesday.

Unbeknownst to us, our dad (who will be doing a guest post soon enough per my roommate’s demands) scours OpenTable monthly for reservations at Cotogna. We were lucky enough to be invited to one of their coveted reservations on Tuesday, and it turned out to be one of those amazing forementioned dinners. In full disclosure, it was our Father’s Day celebration because the parents are ditching us for Calistoga, per the usual.

After Aimee and I both got some pets in with the monkey dogs, we made our way over to Cabin near our apartments. I wasn’t 100% impressed with the bar, it felt like a generic SF sports bar (which means they have 12 tvs and 12 artisan cocktails made by free range hamsters). Our dad insisted that it wasn’t a good showing, which begs the question: how often are our parents in bars a block away from my apartment without us knowing? I had to run home to get a jacket, which I should have had in the first place, so Aimee took the liberty to order me a jalapeño margarita. Now, no fault to Aimee, because she ordered what I would have probably ordered for myself, but this drink was HOT. It was like a Mexican torture cocktail, so much so that I had to go back to the bar with my tail between my legs asking for some more sweet and sour mix. There were chunks of jalapeño and its seeds floating around, and as much as I love spicy cocktails, I couldn’t handle this one.

We then made our way over to the restaurant, and it is gorgeous. Think reclaimed wood, exposed brick, and Edison bulbs (ok I don’t actually remember if there were Edison bulbs, but they would have fit in). My mom will also be sad if I don’t mention that they had Heath Ceramics dishes that are just like hers. Aimee, my dad, and I had already done serious menu research so pretty much knew what we wanted. Our mom hadn’t, and became VERY STRESSED about what to order. It was pretty funny actually, every time one of us would turn the menu over to look at the wine list or vice versa, she would panic that the table was now moving on to that section and she would be left behind. After a vertiable round robin of wine tastings, we finally settled on some delicious…reds. I have no idea what we got. They were Italian and yummy, though I wish mine had been “funkier”, which Aimee can explain in a later post.

Needless to say, the food was phenomenal, probably one of the best dinners I’ve eaten in 2014. I got a paparadelle with lamb and marjoram, Aimee got quail (how it’s legal to serve the state bird is beyond me), mom and dad each got tagliatelle with rabbit and fiddleheads. We started with a butter lettuce salad with anchovies (blech to the anchovies) and a halibut crudo. Neither of those were my absolute favorites, but they were good. The real standouts for the night were the pastas. I had serious order envy for the rabbit that my parents got, but I think half of that was because the fiddleheads were so pretty. We finished off with a butterscotch budino and a gianduja (hazlenut/almond/chocolate) bar with dark chocolate gelato, both of which were delicious.

At this point, our mom started to get anxious about the facts that 1. Aimee and I had work the next day and it was too late for us to be out and 2. there was no efficient way for an uber to drive so that we both could get dropped off directly at our front doors (we both live on one way streets going the same direction, so there would have been backtracking). After some more round robin with the bill, we made our way home and didn’t get mugged while walking a block in Nob Hill. Miracle, I know.

While the food was absolutely phenomenal and absolutely added to how great the whole experience was , this was one of those dinners where the conversation was just on point the whole time. All four of us laughed and my dad and I actually agreed on a political topic (see here). We had funny dog stories to tell (with the requisite Ripper memorializing),  a hilarious father’s day card that has lived in my drawer for two years, and Aimee and I didn’t whine about work once.

Maybe when you live in a magical Pinterest fairy land, these dinners happen at your house, but for me, they happen at restaurants. I think the only way this dinner could have been improved was if we brought the dogs, but seeing as that’s illegal and seeing that a certain boy chihuahua doesn’t have any manners, I don’t see that happening very soon. Until then, let’s hope Aimee and I get invited to these monthly Cotogna reservations.


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