This restaurant has a lot going for it: owned by the same people in charge of Cafe Claude (one of my favorite restaurants in the City), good location, beautiful decor, lively atmosphere, outdoor seating, french/spanish small plates (rather unique in this city), an extensive cocktail menu, and listed as one of the 100 Best of the Bay this year. Whew, that's one impressive list!
It's like they thought of all the ingredients to make a perfect date environment, and if that's the reason you're going here, you will not be disappointed. Plus, they have mirrors on the walls so you can secretly watch other people without your date remarking on your wandering eyes!
What it doesn't exactly have going for it is the food, which is my bottom line. I can deal with a snippy server, minimalist decor, and a short beer/wine list if the food is amazing. I mean, the whole point of going to a restaurant is to eat, right?
Unfortunately, I was rather let down by this aspect of Gitane. Since they serve small plates, we got to taste a lot of different food, and even the copious amounts of cocktails I imbibed that night could not make up for the overall lack of seasoning of almost every plate. The concepts and ingredients of each dish sound amazing, but there was something lost in the execution.
There was only one dish which left a lasting impression, and that was the bacon bon bons which, if you go, is a must order. Prunes have managed to break free of my stereotypical association with the elderly and are quickly becoming one of my favorite ingredients (especially with pork), and Gitane makes them taste like little bites of heaven. And let me tell you from personal experience, heaven tastes delicious.
It's a fairly small, but very busy place, so service was slow. If you are in a rush or are scared of being on a date that can't be wrapped up at a moment's notice, I wouldn't recommend Gitane on a Friday night. Also, there is only one bathroom. And by one bathroom, I mean one single room for both men and women with a door that has a funny lock and a small awkward waiting room outside. I would love to have a chat with the person who decided that was a good idea.
I've been twice now - the first time to try the restaurant, the second for the drinks. Would I go back ? Definitely for the drinks, but probably not if I was looking for a dinner spot. If I'm looking for totally satisfying food, you'll find me at Cafe Claude, their sister restaurant down the street.
6 Claude Ln
San Francisco, CA 94108