Monthly Archives: April 2011

Prospect, San Francisco, Spears Street

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When Prospect (@prospectSF) opened on Spears Street, I thought I’d love to give it a try. Many of my friends said very nice things about it. The thing is, when you become an entrepreneur, you actually don’t go to nice restaurants anymore. So I had to wait quite a while, but yesterday was my name day. In Greece (where Vicky’s from), name days are a big deal, so we decided to celebrate at Prospect. 

Our experience was quite incredible. At all levels. Service, decor and more importantly, the food were all outstanding. 

Let’s start with the service. Finally a nice restaurant in San Francisco where the waiter isn’t trying to do too much. They just do enough to make you very comfortable, and let you enjoy your meal. That’s the thing. If you have a place where you know the experience is all about the food, you don’t need to over do it on the service. So I don’t know if that was just a one off, but it is so pleasant to be able to eat without someone coming to you every two minutes to ask you stuff. 

In my opinion (the good wife’s fans will enjoy that), the decor is similar to RN74, but more spacious. It means you have enough space for your privacy, and yet have a good vibe all around. We ate early (6:15), so maybe that helped our experience, but even as the restaurant filled up, we never felt compressed. Another big win compared to most restaurants where owners just try to have as many tables as possible.

Finally, the food. It is true that I haven’t been in a very nice restaurant in a long time, eating mainly the food that I cook myself (and I’m far from being a chef as good as those guys). But the food really blew my mind. Extremely fresh, with tastes that are still playing with the few neurons left that I have. 

I started with roasted calamari and octopus (with chorizo sausage). A tiny bit earthy and spicy, it was a really good combination. In Spain, they cook a lot with chorizo, especially calamari. It’s always a big win. The addition of the octopus and the garlic (always good to have garlic!) made it a very well rounded dish, that I’d have again any day! Vicky had a beet salad with lobster. So fresh! I find lobster very hard to cook with in a dish. It can very easily overpower the dish, or just be blend. The acidity and the freshness of the salad complemented perfectly the lobster and I thought that was really a big win. I’d die for the recipe of that dish! 

My main course was a sea bass (I usually think fish make better dish than meat in restaurant) while the lady had the scallops. The sea bass was really good (wondering if it wasn’t cook sous vide – i didn’t ask). Sea bass is actually not an easy fish, as it gets dry and heavy quickly if you don’t cook it perfectly. it came with some pancetta and rice. The scallops were accompanied by cauliflower and some fresh mint and cilantro tastes. It was perfect and we were ready for the dessert. 

As usual, I didn’t get one, but Vicky got the chocolate fondant (well, there was also some peanut butter so you can’t go wrong!). That’s usually our test, and if the chocolate cake was delicious (I actually don’t think this one is hard to make), the caramel was from out of this world! That is the perfect combination. 

To go with all this, we had a very nice bottle of Pouilly Fuisse (that’s home for me!) from Dominique Cornin, very reasonably priced. 

Overall, that place rocks. I’d definitely go back and put on my list of recommendations for anyone who wants a great dining experience. 

 

Twitter and the press

Like most people, I’ve read Biz Stone’s answer to the bad press Twitter got recently, which started with the Fortune cover. I actually really liked another piece, on Techcrunch, by MG Siegler, where he basically says that Stone avoided to talk about any of the real issues, and just try to distract attention by saying that all companies are treated like this by the media. 

It got me thinking (hey, don’t laugh!). At Yahoo!, in the early days, we had so much good press. Anything we would do was gold. Companies were dying to write a press with us. I remember working on a deal for Yahoo! Sports and Quokka Sports in Europe. When the deal was announced (they would be a content provider for the America’s Cup), their stock price went through the roof in one day (I don’t actually remember exactly by how much, but I remember being so surprised that my work could have such an impact). Even during the 2000 crash the press was quite nice with us. Of course there was always the occasional “Yahoo is dead”, but overall, it was very positive. Right after the crash, as Yahoo! came out of it in a good shape financially and in terms of market share, it was even better. Then suddenly, as Google started to grow, things started to get nasty. The press decided that there was no more love for Yahoo!. Whatever we would do was bad. I’m always amazed that Gmail is still known for its unlimited storage while they actually technically don’t offer that service, while Yahoo! Mail does. It basically took Yahoo! 10 years to start to have a majority of its coverage being bad press.

Google benefited from the same treatment in my opinion. It’s only been recently that we started to see pieces very negative about the search giant. Facebook did to Google what Google did to Yahoo!. With “social” growing, and Google’s inability to execute in that space, folks started to look at Google differently and look at Facebook as the cool kid. It probably took the same amount of time for Google to start to get more bad stories. 

Today, things are different. Facebook, even though the darling of the web, got bad press from very early on, especially around privacy concerns. Remember the “beacon” episode? And now, Twitter, even though a super fast growing company, is not adored by everybody like Yahoo! was in the early days. 

I believe the huge difference there comes from the press itself and the emergence of the blogs. Very few people were reading blogs 10 years ago, and their “influence” was limited to a small amount of people in the industry. There were also less blogs in general. So most of the press were big mainstream media like Reuters, Bloomberg, Business Week, CNN etc… They have to appeal to the mass, and have to stay very high level. Today, things are very different. Blogs like Techcrunch have a huge readership and can expose any topic. They’re also conversation starters. If what they write gets picked-up by more people, mainstream media will probably pick it up too and a story will emerge as opposed to a blog post. 

Finally, I also think there is a higher interest in everything technology. Facebook and Twitter sell well. Just look at the number of people who went to see the “Social Network”. There are more people who haven’t known a world without the internet and they are fascinated by things surrounding them. Facebook is part of everybody’s life at all times, while this was not the case of other internet services 10-15 years ago. 

Golfer hits 16 shots in one hole

And for once, it’s not me! What’s really incredible is his attitude. Calling penalty on himself, accepting the punishment, and continuing playing to break 80. 

Similar example of how to handle obstacles is McIlroy, who after scoring +8 on the last round of the Masters, had this quote: ‘I will have lots of other chances to win majors. There are three left this year and hopefully I will have a great chance in all of them. The Masters was a little speed bump but no more than that.”

What’s true in golf, is true in life!