Summary: American classics get an upscale makeover
Last night (August 2008), we had yet another Mom's Night Out with my regular group of friends: Parker, Aamani, Katrina, Dolores and a Kalanit, a friend of Parker's and Dolores'. Dolores had suggested that we go to Rick and Ann's, which seems to be one of her favorite restaurants, and as always, we were all game for it. One of the funnest things about our monthly adventures is discovering new restaurants.
Rick and Ann's is an East Bay institution. They've been serving high quality American comfort food for more than a decade, in a nice yet welcoming dining room. You do feel very much at home here. Our waitress definitely made sure to join in our convivial atmosphere - service was both friendly and efficient. And the restaurant impressed us with its generosity: when only three of us ordered salads, they brought the rest of us small complimentary house salads, so we'd have something to eat while our friends ate theirs. I thought that was great.
The food, however, was hit and miss - though mostly hit. Parker was intrigued by the soup of the day: carrot ginger soup, and asked for a taste,but nobody at the table was impressed by it. The soup was deemed by all to be bland, very carroty, with only a hint of ginger. It tasted OK, but nobody would want to commit to eat a whole bowl of it.
I failed to ask my friends what they thought of their salad, I would have liked more dressing on my mixed green salad, the leaves were pretty dry - but you don't look at a gift horse in the mouth.
Entrees, in general, were better. Dolores had the chicken pot pie (~$12 - prices on the online menu have gone up a tiny bit), which she liked. She found it to be very brothy, not as creamy as other chicken pot pies out there, but didn't feel this was a minus. It tasted very fresh, had good flavor and a very flaky, biscuit-like crust. I brought one for Mike to eat at home, and he was very pleased with it as well.
Parker had the ravioli on special that night: "Jalapeño jack cheese filling in fresh lemon cilantro pasta. Served with wild gulf shrimp and avocado vinaigrette" ($18). It was an unusual combination but it worked. The ravioli were flavorful, slightly spicy, and very refreshing. We both enjoyed them.
Aamani was very pleased with the meatloaf (~$15). She's only had meatloaf three times in her life, but she thought this was the best. It was a nice-sized portion, topped with a sweetish, thick sauce. I'm not a big fan of meatloaf, but as meatloaf goes, it was pretty good.
Katrina went with the portobello burger, which she had with pesto sauce and goat cheese (~$10). She said it was delicious. The portobello was perfectly cooked, which is a feat as it can be so easily overcooked. She's not sure it'd have been as good without the cheese, however.
Kalanit and I were the losers of the evening. Kalanit had a plain burger ($9), which she thought was just OK. She wasn't expecting much, so she wasn't disappointed. I had the steak and fries ($19.50). I found the steak to be unremarkable, but uncomfortably tough and chewy. The flavor was good, though there were only vestiges of the red wine butter it was supposedly served with. The thick fries were mediocre.
We all shared a bottle of the 2005 Coppola Diamond Merlot($28), which was remarkably good. The wine retails for about $15-20, so their markup is clearly reasonable.
Rick & Ann's is famous for its desserts - and we could not leave without partaking on them. We ordered a couple of chocolate cakes a la mode (~$8.50) and, at the suggestion of the waitress, plum pie, also with ice cream. (~$8.50 too). Everybody raved about the plum tart; they loved the flaky shell and the overall flavor. The chocolate cake was good, though not overwhelmingly so - I like the one at Horatio's better (the slice is also bigger), but as I'm not going to Horatio's anymore, that's a moot point.
In all, we had a very nice experience and I'd definitely go back if I was craving homey American food. Indeed, I think this would be a good place to take the children - while none of us partook of the macaroni and cheese, I hear it's very good. I also hear their breakfast are great, but I'm not sure I could put up with the expected long waits.
Finally, we went on a Thursday night, and I was glad I had made a reservation. Despite the economy, the place was full.
Rick and Ann's
2922 Domingo Avenue