Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Casual Sandwich or Epicurean Delight at Il Cane Rosso?

Can Daniel Patterson ever really do simple food?

The chef/owner of the two-Michelin-star Coi recently opened the Il Cane Rosso sandwich/rotisserie spot at the San Francisco Ferry Building with fellow chef Lauren Kiino (it’s Kiino’s red dog who inspired the name). On its Web site, Cane Rosso is described as a casual, quick-serve rotisserie just like the small, family-run food stores of Southern Italy.

Yes it’s casual. And yes it’s relatively quick to get your food despite the line. But this is no ordinary sandwich shop.

Patterson and Kiino (formerly of Delfina) have come up with a changing menu that showcases local ingredients (something Patterson does regularly on his tasting menu at Coi) and the expert cooking skills of the kitchen. It’s restaurant-quality food to go.

When I visited last weekend, things appeared to have settled down since the crazy days of its opening. There was a short line for lunch, but there was ample seating outside and along a narrow wooden counter adjacent to the small kitchen.

Cane Rosso took over the spot of Mistral, a French rotisserie that failed to negotiate a new lease with the Ferry Building owners. The prices ($9 for a sandwich) are comparable to the former Mistral and other eateries in this gourmet Mecca.

Along with the sandwiches of various meats and an increasingly popular egg salad, Cane Rosso also serves up rotisserie meals, salads and antipasti like padron peppers and squash blossoms. Note: The front counter might be tempting to approach as you get a closer look at the food, but it’s actually a prep area where a staff member puts together to-go orders.

I ordered the spit-roasted Long & Bailey Ranch Porchetta sandwich. It was served in a long baguette, which was soft and easy to chew—a big plus in my eyes since I hate hard-to-chew bread. The slices of porchetta, or roasted pig, were amazingly tender and succulent. But what really made this sandwich stand out IMHO was the Mariposa plum mostarda that delicately lined the bread and meshed with the pork with the crunch of mustard greens. This creative use of ingredients — a signature of Chef Patterson — made this porchetta sandwich uniquely delectable.

The sandwich is also served with a few tiny pickled vegetables.

I’m sure there will be two camps regarding Il Cane Rosso: 1) People who marvel at the combination of ingredients and quality of food, and 2) People experiencing sticker-shock at the prices relative to the size of what’s served up. I can see valid points on both sides, but after trying the food, I have to say I’m leaning toward the first group. It’s just. That. Good.

Il Cane Rosso, One Ferry Building #41 (at Embarcadero), San Francisco. PH: 415.391.7599. Open daily for breakfast and lunch. www.canerossosf.com

Related posts:
Coi: “The High Price of Eating With All Your Senses”
Gourmet Ho-down at the Blue Barn
Pigging Out in Berkeley


foodhoe said...

I had the roast beef sandwich a couple of days ago and it was stupendous! seriously. it tasted like the roast had just come out of the oven... I want to try the egg salad too! Yipee for good sandwiches.

Kim said...

So, how much are the they??

Single Guy Ben said...

Foodhoe, you're killing me with the red meat! :)

Kim, all the sandwiches are $9 like I said. You'd think the egg salad would be cheaper, but no. Utilitarian in that respect. Still, I'm going to give it a try because some foodie was buzzing about it.

Kim said...

Apologies. Missed the price in your post :)

Carolyn Jung said...

There's a reason a Mickey D's burger costs less than a dollar, and why the porchetta sandwich here costs $9. Can we say, "quality''? Can we say, "flavor''? For what people spend on coffee at Starbucks every day, a $9 sandwich in comparison ain't so bad at all. ;)

Keri said...

Hey Single Guy. You have some mad skills in the kitchen and an artful eye. Will you marry me?

Keri a.k.a. Sam