Note: This restaurant seems to have closed.
I first heard of Cafe Majestic about a decade ago, as a quirky and beautiful hotel/restaurant with a friendly ghost, a classic French menu and uneven food. The restaurant (and perhaps the hotel) closed before we could make it over, and I put it out of my mind, until a couple of months ago when I started looking for a restaurant to go for my birthday. I think I found it on the list of top-100-restaurants in San Francisco, and the fact that they offered seared foie gras was a deal-maker. Mike and I headed there a Friday night in early May, 2008, and had a very nice evening. I probably wouldn't go rushing back, but I'm glad I tried it.
Cafe Majestic has a newly renovated dining room that can be best described as beige. Actually, the color scheme includes whites and golds, but nothing much darker or colorful. The room features banquette dining, large mirrors, faint drawings and a huge flower arrangement. It might look opulent but for the two large white ceramic dogs that they use for decoration (yes, those same tacky dogs you've seen before) and the fact that some tables are nothing more than glorified booths, the type you'd find at diners. As you can tell, the room didn't win me over, but it was comfortable enough. It was also nowhere as quiet, as its subdued colors might have implied.
Service was friendly and professional, but the waitress was not particularly engaging. I'd mention in my reservation that it was my birthday, and she made the point of mentioning this a couple of times in what sounded like a forced manner. Still, there is nothing really to complain about.
The menu was similar to the one available on the website. It featured foie gras, a few seafood entrees, and four meat ones: kurobuta pork, rack of lamb, butcher's steak and squab. Mike went for the mushroom soup and the halibut while I had the foie gras and the steak.
Mike's mushroom soup topped by puff pastry ($10) was the star of the evening. It was just delicious, the best mushroom soup I've ever had. The flavor was intense, and I loved the consistency of the puff pastry. I'd certainly order it again.
The seared foie gras ($20) was served in a sweet golden raisin sauce, which was a bit too sweet for my taste. It was viscous and it covered the taste of the foie gras. The foie gras itself was, of course, very good. It was a small portion, but I still shared a couple of bites with Mike. I'd order it again because I love foie gras, but I've had better foie gras in other restaurants.
My dish of grilled steak with mushrooms, fava beens, sweetbreads and parsnip puree in a cabernet sauce ($31) was good but pedestrian. The meat was nicely cooked medium rare, as I had ordered it. I'd been looking forward to the sweetbreads, which can be wonderful when grilled, but they seemed to have been deep fried and they had puffed up like chicharrones. They weren't either tasty or pleasant to eat - I left them. The parsnip puree was a tad too sweet for me, and I'm not sure it complemented the beef - I think mashed potatoes would have been better. I did enjoy the mushrooms, however. It was a nice size portion and I didn't go hungry.
Mike's butter basted halibut ($28), on the other hand, was pretty small. He liked it but I thought it was pretty bland.
For some reason (a lack of a pastry chef?), Cafe Majestic's dessert menu consisted only of exotically flavored ice creams. None of them stroke my fancy, so we skipped them.
I had plain water with dinner, as the only sparkling water they had was Pellegrino. Mike had a glass of their Cabernet, which we both found very pleasant.
In all it was a very nice dinner and I enjoyed it.
1500 Sutter Street
San Francisco, CA 94109