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Thursday, September 11, 2003

Chez Nous Restaurant CLOSED

If you are looking for a good way to celebrate with a small group, nothing beats sharing a meal and I really do mean sharing. Recently we ate dinner at Chez Nous on Fillmore street to celebrate Hande's birthday. While it's small and noisy, it's also quite lively and fun. The food is mediterranean and served as "small plates". We shared the pomme frites with harissa aioli, the mussels with chorizo, garlic and cilantro, the tuna carpaccio with taro chips and an artisanal cheese plate with walnut baguette. For dessert we went all out and had pots de creme chocolate, the yogurt, fruit and Greek honey and a fresh fig and raspberry free-form tart. You don't want to get short changed on dessert and it was a birthday celebration after all.

Everything was terrific and just perfect for three people to share. While I did see someone eating a couple of things at the bar, in the past I've eaten there with just one other person. With two people you are limited in how many dishes you can choose and the small plates are a little skimpy for four people to share so you get less of each item. And sharing is the name of the game at Chez Nous.

Tapas and small plate style restaurants have grown in popularity since around the time of the dot com crash. People still want to eat out, want to have a good time somewhere but can't afford to spend like they used to. For a while there people were big on appetizers but some restaurants caught on and began changing their menus to fit a new style of grazing for dinner. Our wonderful and quite filling meal cost less than $25 per person (including tip) For about the same amount of money you could eat at a number of other restaurants in the same vein, as well.

Two other small plate restaurants that come to mind in our neck of the woods on Russian Hill include a traditional Spanish tapas restaurant--Zarzuela at Hyde and Union and Pesce on Polk between Vallejo and Green, a restaurant that serves seafood dishes from Venice and northern Italy. The Venetian small plates are called cicchetti and since the owner changed the menu from large and small plates of seafood to all small plates the restaurant has only continued to flourish. Perfect for a light meal or for a cozy celebration, I hope the small plates are here to stay.