Students Helping Students
Culinary Student-Run Restaurants Provide Amazing Food For Unbeatable Prices
 

Vista Room
SF State, 1600 Holloway Avenue, S.F.
Burk Hall, Room 401
(415) 405-3530 / (415) 338-6087
http://cob.sfsu.edu/cob/vista-room/

On the quiet fourth floor of Burk Hall, right across from the elevator, sits the School of Hospitality Management's student-run restaurant, the Vista Room. Just inside, from 11:45 a.m.-1:30 p.m., patrons can enjoy a calming and relaxing meal with an attentive and friendly all-SF State student wait staff. The ornamentation of the space, however, is quite off-putting: eighties décor, silverware that is worn and scratched, and an all-around outdated aura exists within the dining area. The food, on the other hand, makes up for the less than perfect design choices, with beautifully presented plates, cooked to perfection.

If seated near a window, there are great views of SF State's campus. The food is very good, and a three-course meal offered with coffee, tea, milk, or soda for only $15 can't be beat. There were two choices for the appetizer and the dessert, and three for the entrée. The soup was creamy with a fluffy egg-cake on top. The scallops and salmon were cooked to perfection, while the accompanying risotto cake was crunchy yet creamy. The only oddity of the main course was the sweet mashed potatoes that looked like they had cinnamon in them. The sweetness of the potatoes did not bode well with the rest of the plate, but it was easy enough to eat around.

The dessert was magnificent--with a choice between a peanut butter chocolate mousse cake or a fresh fruit platter. The mousse came with a wonderful raspberry puree and a few pieces of fresh fruit. There is always next time if you want to try the other dessert option. For only $15 (no tips accepted), a meal like this is hard to match. Whether it is to take a break between classes or to get lunch before you leave campus for the day, the Vista Room, with a menu that changes every week, is something everyone should explore. Just make sure to call to get on their reservation list early and pay by 10 a.m. the day of the reservation.

Carême 350
350 Rhode Island Street, S.F.
(415) 216-4415
http://www.baychef.com/about_restaurants_catering.asp

On the corner of Rhode Island and Sixteenth streets, where businesses have closed and the streets are dead, stands Carême 350, run by students of the California Culinary Academy's Le Cordon Bleu Program. Carême 350 is a beautiful restaurant with sparkling utensils, modern round lighting fixtures, and plenty of seating. Reservations can be made by phone, however OpenTable.com is generally a more successful venture.

The inside of the restaurant is very modern and professional. It feels like one of those very nice restaurants people take you on special occasions, like your birthday, or that a client might bring his co-workers to. The four-course meal includes an amuse bouche (pre-appetizer) and intermezzo (palate cleanser between courses) for a mere $17. They offer a full bar for additional prices, although they are comparable to normal restaurants with a glass of wine, which is about $5. There is a 15 percent fee added to each bill, which is not a tip but goes toward their scholarships. Again, no tips are accepted.

The food was amazing. The bread was warm and fresh, and the amuse bouche, a fried goat cheese crisp with arugula and citrus foam, was an amazing start to the meal. The appetizer of freshly made pasta with cream sauce and fresh vegetables was a light and satisfying start to what was about to come. Next, a tasty roasted romaine salad, impeccably compiled, and a precursor to the best part of the meal.

The intermezzo was a strawberry rhubarb-type icee with crackling pieces of sweetened strawberry on top, better than Pop Rocks. It cleaned the palate and prepared for the main course--a roasted lamb shoulder. The lamb was good and well seasoned, but the spinach accompanying it had a horribly inedible sauce on it--as bitter as earwax. However, it was easy to eat around and the rest of the plate was magnificent. The dessert was an immaculate crème brûlée. Thick and creamy custard covered in a perfectly crisp, caramelized sugar.

Carême 350 is a restaurant that everyone should try at least once. The wait staff was extremely professional, and the food was magnificent. The restaurant was like a top-notch French restaurant without the expensive price tag.

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