La Comida Loca: Flour + Water

After the first visit to Four + Water new Italian restaurant at Folsom and 20th St., it was clear I would have to return.

Beatriz and Harley joined me and they simply don’t eat enough.  Plus, we had no reservations  so we ended up at the bar, which is never very comfortable for a full meal.  Finally, between the time of my first visit and my second, my purse—containing my notes—was stolen.

So, I decide to go with three reporters from the staff.  Stefania made the reservation for 7:15 p.m. on Wednesday and at 7:00 p.m. that night she started worrying about losing the reservation.

Betty, however, had work to do so there was a push/pull, a little anxiety, Shalwah remained cool and soon we set off from the office.

The restaurant was packed, but the minimalist space can take a lot of diners.  It has woody, light green paint on the walls, a mural in cool colors on the back wall and tall windows framed in lightly stained wood.

STEFANIA
(returning from the bathroom)
Inspiring. Very inspiring.

So much to see and  it made her wonder.

Would people ask why you’re staying in the toilet so long?

On to the food.

We shared three appetizers: the shaved asparagus & arugula salad with quail egg & pancetta-caper vinagrette. ($10), a warm potato and lamb’s tongue salad with poached egg and salsa verde ($12) and a biancoverde pizza with mozzarella, parimgiano-reggiano, squash & arugula ($16).

I’d already tried the shaved asparagus and a margherita pizza so I was anxious for feedback from the others.

shaved asparagus & arugula salad with quail egg & pancetta

shaved asparagus & arugula salad with quail egg & pancetta

BETTY
The potatoes are super tasty.

So was the tongue.   The neutral taste of the poached eggs worked perfectly with the richness of the other three ingredients.

After a bite of the asparagus salad, Stefania had made up her mind.

STEFANIA
This is really heavy on the sauce.

That had been my conclusion on the first visit too. And, it’s too bad because the combination of flavors has great potential, but it’s hard to enjoy them when all your mouth registers is DRESSING.

Meanwhile Shalwah was in nirvana with her glass of 2006 San Felice Agricola, Maremma Tosca IGT from Perolla, Tuscany.

warm tomato and lamb's tongue salad

warm tomato and lamb's tongue salad

SHALWAH
This is a wine I can drink at home.

All of the wine, was excellent and the waitress offered her recommendations, always pointing us toward the lower priced glasses.

Next came the pizza.  What would they say?

SHALWAH
I like a straight slice—that’s the New Yorker in me.

I have to agree and I’m from New Mexico.

biancoverde

biancoverde

Hold the pizza up and the narrow part of the slice flops—maybe too much cheese or not enough time in the wood oven. But Stefania, who is from Paris, disagreed.

STEFANIA
It’s super good.

Next came two pastas. Corzetti stampati with braised Monterey squid & castelveltrano olives ($16) and garganelli with speck, fava beans and arugula ($15). Again, one I had already tried.

The corzetti stampi with squid. This went way too fast.

The corzetti stampi with squid. This went way too fast.

BETTY
(Pointing to the corzetti turned black from the squid.)
This is like a restaurant pasta.
(Pointing at the simple garganelli with a light sauce.)
And this is like pasta I would make at home.

It was true, but it doesn’t mean that one was better than the other.  They were both superb.   I ordered the corzetti on my first visit and when it arrived, I was taken aback by the dark color—generally the menu warns of pasta turned black by the squid’s ink.

Then I started to dig in and with every bite, became a convert.  The second time around, did not disappoint.  The handmade pasta was perfectly cooked; the squid, rich and tender.  The simpler garganelli was a delicious melding of subtle flavors.

Garganelli.  Also quick to disappear.

Garganelli. Also quick to disappear.

BETTY
It inspires me to cook.

STEFANIA
It inspires me to come back.

As we ate, the  critics turned to the question of whether they would want to come to Flour + Water on a date.

SHALWAH
It’s very trendy, very chic, you want to know why so many people are in here, but
the food’s also a little experimental.

BETTY
That could be a test for a date.

STEFANIA
Those tests are very unfair.

BETTY
If someone took me here, I would say, wow, he actually has some style.

STEFANIA
I’d be happy to go anywhere on a date.

As the discussion devolved into hipster prices and where one could get the least expensive manicure (Brooklyn).  I tried to scoop up all the remaining sauce on the corzetti. Ah, no bread.

Next came the deserts and since there were only three on the menu, we ordered all of them:  olive oil cornmeal cake with macerated strawberries and candied fennel ($7), chocolate budino with espresso-caramel cream & sea salt ($7), cherry ricotta tart with saba & torn mint ($8).

First the cornmeal cake—a desert I love and have had an exquisite version of at Pizzaiolo in Oakland.

olive oil cornmeal cake

olive oil cornmeal cake

cherry ricotta tart

cherry ricotta tart

STEFANIA
This is too heavy for me.

BETTY
Finally, something that’s too much for Stefania.

I had to agree—on both counts. But we all decided that the cream and tart were wonderful—the salt and espresso combination offered a little bite and then a rush of espresso.  The cherry ricotta tart  was too light to even think about the calories.

Verdict: Four out of Five Aguas Frescas

fouraguafrescas1Flour + Water
2401 Harrison St. @ 20th St.
415.826.7000
Dinner 7 days a week
5:30 p.m. to midnight

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