The fact that I never pay for my lunch (I love my company) is one of the only thinks that makes this restaurant appealing. I guess free food tends to do that. That and the fact that on a busy Friday afternoon there are always seats, and we are generally on a time limit. The point is that if I was spending my own money, I wouldn't go back for the food. It's a nice place to meet a friend for a drink, if you're in the area, but I wouldn't trek more than say, 4 blocks, to do that.
I love calamari. There is nothing that says delicious like a giant plate of fried tentacles. Here's what calamari needs: Salt and Lemon. Pretty simple. Here's what it doesn't need: caramelized onion, fried green bean, and potato. I didn't order vegetable tempura. Perhaps Paragon didn't realize that the menu said "calamari" and not "home fries" but in any case, even if those ingredients are left out, the squid is still not executed correctly - too small, too tough, too under-seasoned, too bad there are no other appetizers that are any better.
There have only been 2 dishes out of many that were surprisingly good - the first being the squash soup (only a soup of the day, so don't expect to find it often), which was creamy and let the squash's natural flavors shine. But really, how hard is it to make squash soup taste good? The answer is it's freakishly easy. The 2nd was chicken/fontina sandwich. I'm generally a little weary about ordering chicken because it's so often dried out in a sandwich and smothered with mayo to compensate, but this was moist and wasn't overridden with condiments. And, the bacon in the potato salad was a nice addition.
On other visits, my pumpkin soup was oily and served lukewarm, my fish tacos lacked any sort of flavor and fell way short on presentation, the macaroni and cheese was literally screaming for salt, and even the bread served at the table is something you could buy at Safeway.
While the atmosphere isn't without merit, in terms of food, they basically do average so well that they charge a higher price for it.
701 2nd Street
San Francisco, CA 94107-2011