Have you ever heard of a blind tasting? When Oro here in San Francisco invited me to try their Blind Tasting menu, I was instantly intrigued by the concept. For those of you asking yourself what a blind tasting is, it’s when the chef chooses the menu for you, so you’re totally surprised by each dish. My kind of date night.
After work last Thursday, Robin and I headed downtown Oro which sits in the Mint Plaza, a block off Market and across the street from the Westfield Mall. We got there a bit early and took advantage of the evening light to take a stroll around the neighborhood before our reservations.
We also took note of Oro’s outdoor seating area and vowed to return on a warm summer night.
The decor inside is modern yet timeless: think dark wood on metal with abstract art for pops of color. We sat in the back and had a great people watching view (does anyone else do that when eating out?)
I honestly had no idea what to expect at a blind tasting and was utterly blown away. My overall reaction was that our waiter just kept bringing out more and more fabulous dishes. (Between you and me, I was glad I wore a loose dress!) We started off with craft cocktails. I got the Visions of Johanna, Robin sipped on All Tomorrow’s Parties, both which has complex flavors and I would highly recommend ordering.
And then our first of five dished arrived. Beef tartare with cured egg yolk, smoked mussels on a grain crostini. Salt cod croquette, which is like the elevated, adult version of fish sticks. Chicken liver mousse and fermented grape jelly on brown rice cracker (so creamy!)
This was one of those times when I tried really hard not to eat everything to fast, but the plate was quickly cleared.
We were off to a great start.
Next up was small plates to share. Fluke crudo with green apple gelée, sea beans and fennel ice. This was light and refreshing after the heavier bites we just had. Then beets, treviso, tangerine, black olive and crescenza cheese, which made me want to properly learn to cook beets because it made me realize I’ve never actually had well cooked beets before. We really also enjoyed that flavor pop of tangerine that brought the whole dish together.
Afterward came our favorite dish: Octopus on a bed of squid ink rice. Robin hasn’t had octopus before, or anything with squid ink and he was a little apprehensive, but the salty, creaminess of the rice paired with perfectly tender octopus won him over. One thing I love in restaurants is when they offer dishes that I never would cook myself. This is one of those dishes – I never would have thought to mix squid ink and rice, but it’s now on my radar and I’m in love. Paired with the octopus dish was a creamy trout caviar on a bed of charred cabbage. For someone who, even as a fully grown woman, struggles to find motivation to eat vegetables, I’ve learned that I just need to top them with this caviar. Problem, solved.
My second favorite dish was the showstopper: brisket topped with mustard seeds. Let that image do the talking for me. Lastly, we shared chocolate mousse with sweet potato and pine ice cream, candy capped mushrooms, burnt meringue (cue: drooling). The ice cream was creamy and sweet which played perfectly off the chocolate flavor. We also shared rice pudding with candied citrus and rosemary tuile, which I convinced Robin to let me eat the majority of.
If you’re looking for a fun, new thing to try in San Francisco, I highly recommend booking a table at Oro and doing their blind tasting.
It’s like an activity and meal all wrapped up together, making the best date night we’ve had in ages.