Incanto’s 8th Annual Head to Tail Dinner – San Francisco

A & I decided to drop by Incanto for their nnual Head to Tail Dinner. This is the 8th time they are doing this, so it has garnered quite some interest from regular peeps like A & myself. She doesn’t even know who Cosentino was, looked like or that he was in The Next Iron Chef BUT she knew about the Head to Tail Dinner.

By the time I tried to make reservations (a month ahead), they were fully booked but I was told they had bar seating available and a few tables for walk in – I just had to be there early.

I got there at about 5.20pm, and there was already about half a dozen people waiting. The before their doors open at 5.30pm, there was over a dozen of us waiting.

First thing you see when you get in, is the receptionist podium and….

Boccalone @ Incanto – an array of salami, olive oils, mustard & peppers.

I got seated at the bar, which also has 3 high top tables & stools.

The bar was a great area to sit if you want to catch some of the action going on in the kitchen and with the service staff. I saw Chef Consentino inspecting dishes, explaining plating to the sous chefs, and warm dishes being prepared in the kitchen.

The whole area is decorated with all kinds of “pig” items – even the art:

Here is what’s on the menu:

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We were first served some yummy bread with olive tapenade:

I really like their herb foccacia bread and those rosemary sticks. The tapenade was nice and salty with a great amount of olives complementing the bread nicely.

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Venison Liver Crudo

Raw venison liver with balsamic vinegar & beet salad

This is what one would call interesting. The first bite was a little intimidating because of the prominent fresh blood. It was a chewy, a little slimy and has a metallic aftertaste. The fresh greens definitely help on the whole chewy process giving it some citrus and texture.

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Snouts & Snails

Braised pig’s snout with snails cooked in bacon fat, pickled mustard seeds & watercress puree

The snout was delicious! It was braised to the point that the fat was gelatinous and melted in the mouth.

The snails were just as good and was cooked in bacon fat! It was plump and juicy.

Pickled mustard seeds were a nice touch to cut the fat from the snout.

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Paglia e Fieno

Tripe & Pasta in a light broth w peas

The tripe was light, does not taste like much but it is definitely spongy/chewy. The broth had a lot of body for a clear soup but got a little salty halfway through. It was pretty one note.

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Kidney & Asparagus

Lamb kidney and tongue, sous vided then pan seared served with asparagus

The tongue was delicious – very tender and nicely seasoned. Asparagus was fresh and tasty with a little crunch left in them.

The kidney had a very strange aftertaste, I don’t think it has anything to do with the preparation – some things just taste the way they do no matter how well it is prepared.

Mark Pastore explained that they cut open the kidney, remove all the membrane that contained the uric acid, then glue it back together, sous vided then seared and cut. Cool huh? (He was trying to get A to try it and I think for his effort she took a nibble)

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Bone

Pastry cream made with bone marrow in a nice profiterole like pastry shell. Bones were cooked to the point of disintegration – then they used that to make the shell (don’t ask me how) and bone marrow is incorporated into the pastry cream.

The pastry was a  little hard and chewy but the overall flavours of the dessert works. The sweet cream and tasty fresh strawberry jam was delicious.

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Total Damage: $220 (w a wine, coffee, tax & tips)

Personal Rating: N/A

I don’t think it is fair to rate a restaurant based on food that I am not use to eating or do not know how to appreciate.

Mark Pastore made the meal a lot more welcoming. He was friendly, knowledgeable, always ready to answer our questions and checked on us frequently to make sure we were doing ok. Food runners, not so great – they didn’t tell us what we were eating half the time, so I had to wait till our server or the manager came by so I could ask.

Chris Consentino was there all night! ^_^ He was checking on dishes, talking to tables and his “unique” laugh was heard throughout the night. I thought it made the experience more “complete”.

The meal itself was definitely an experience. I don’t know if I would eat half the things on it every again but I am glad I tried it. I will definitely try the next Head to Tail Dinner.

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Incanto

1550 Church St,
San Francisco, CA 94131

(416) 641 4500

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3 Responses to “Incanto’s 8th Annual Head to Tail Dinner – San Francisco”

  1. […] Consentino is clearly a talented cook, and we definitely wanted to return.  After reading this account of a recent Head to Tail dinner, with more edgy preparations of offal, I'll certainly make an […]

  2. Claudine says:

    Thanks for this account of the Head-to-Tail. I’ve been a couple of times to Incanto for a Fifth Quarter dinner, but I think Chef pulls out the stops for this once a year… your account definitely makes me want to go. Cheers!

  3. Eddangel says:

    I was glad I went as well! Remember to make reservations early coz it is crazy how fast their dining area seats are filled up.

    :) Now I wish I knew about the Quinto Quatro before it was no longer offered.

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