October 18, 2005
Emmy's Spaghetti Shack - The Mission
Taken right before James unhinged his jaw, boa constrictor like, and swallowed that meatball whole.
What can I say about Emmy's that hasn't been said already? Spaghetti & meatballs spaghetti & meatballs spaghetti & meatballs spaghetti & meatballs spaghetti & meatballs spaghetti & meatballs.
Whew! *burp* That was a mouthful -- and how. Can I tell you about the spaghetti & meatballs?
It was all James' idea, and thank his blessed-heart for it. It was a rough day. Friday really. More like end of the work week and let's celebrate a stabilized Indian Summer. Finally getting our groove on. So, James proposes a post-work trek to Emmy's Spaghetti Shack, a tiny, in-the-hood-restaurant on Mission known for the proprietor's namesake dish.
When we arrived, James & I took seats at the bar to settle for a drink before a booth opened up. This place is packed, and I'm glad we cabbed it there in time before the evening rush. The space is medium-small, so it fills up quickly. I scan the joint: moody lighting, local artwork on walls, very homey, a clothesline of vintage aprons hang from one end to the other, neighborhood hipster crowd, a deejay flanking the bar, and some of the sweetest, hottest servers rushing about. I'm shallow when I say the experience was very easy on the eyes.
The kitchen in full view, is in close proximity to the dining area. The chef/owner, Sarah Kirnon, is a strong figure working the hotline with authoriti oozing from every pore. She's going to serve it to you and you're going to like it.
My bar perch was high enough for me to check out people's plates. I thought to myself, "I can handle this." I was hungry enough, so my stomach was doing all the thinking. At the time, the spaghetti plates looked more than manageable. I had a glass of pinot and the very cute, cherry-lip glossed bartendress made some appetizer suggestions for our meal. James, not being a seafood-eater (dammit, another one), nixed some choices off the app menu, but we found a good compromise:
- sauteed green beans with bacon & almonds
- 2 bruschetta: one with pureed fava and tomato/garlic salsa, and the other with a spread of farmer's cheese and roasted eggplant
- and 2 plates of the infamous spag & meatballs
First off, the green beans were fantastic! Cooked till they just turned bright green, retaining their crunch. The almonds & salty bacon adding just enough flavor balance and texture. I think the both of us secretly wanted to horde this dish, but we politely took the democratic route and shared. The bruschetta with eggplant was smoky flavored and had simple flavors. You really tasted the eggplant, which can be difficult to achieve, so I give the kitchen big props for this. The fava spread bruschetta was good, but I don't think I'd this order again.
The other appetizer choices were interesting enough to merit several more visits: fried chicken livers, corn fritters, and other seafood-based dishes that escape me right now. I'm told the menu changes often, so these choices may be gone on my next visit. I like that -- a rotating menu. If this matters to anyone, well here's more reason to eat here.
The spaghetti & meatballs are comfort food, cuddle-bunny perfection. The taste of what you remember of this dish growing up. This is by no means a pretentious plate of semolina noodles lightly tossed in marinara with a fine chiffonade of basil and drizzle of the extra virgin. This is a hearty, stick to your ribs plate of adequately dressed spaghetti with four giant meatballs. The right balance of tomato sauce, herby meat, garlic and a nice topping of shaved parmesan. A task worth taking.
The only part of the experience that needed some improving was ultimately the deejay. Personally I think serious meatballs deserve serious music. None of this Powerbook/iPod/non-deck spinning setup. Come on! That's weak! And there was a rock block of Nick Drake, which is not appropriate enjoying a meal music. What was this dude thinking? James, funny enough, was mistaken by a fellow patron as the deejay, as he stood near the empty decks with "deejay-like authority." Well he should've been, but that's another story.
Emmy's Spaghetti Shack
18 Virginia St. @ Mission St.
San Francisco, CA 94110