For Christmas Eve dinner, we ended up at the Stinking Rose. A lot of places weren't open and it seemed like the kind of resturaunt all four of us would enjoy. We arrived a little after our reservation time and were seated a few minutes later. The Stinking Rose is one of those places that have hidden rooms everywhere. We walked pass the kitchen and up the stairs to a crowded room and our table.
The first thing we ordered was the famous Bagna Cauda (or garlic soaking in a hot tub) along with Garlic Swiss Chard Fontina Fondue. A little warmer sits on the table waiting for the garlic when it arrives in it's little skillet. 20-30 garlic cloves float in olive oil and butter. A couple of anchovies that have lost their anchoviness and now tast of garlic swim along with the cloves. Garlic has to be one of the few flavors that could overwhelm anchovies. The skillet is served with some soft garlic rolls. I found the rolls a little too soft, I prefer something a little more rustic and hearty. The garlic was fine though and we ate most of it. The fondue was very good although a small portion. We scraped the pan clean. It was served with a few very thin crostini. A few more would have been nice.
For our entrees, John got the steak, highly recomended by the waiter. I had a bite of it and I have to say it was pretty tasty. Grace had the Gnocchi in a garlic cream sauce. She was supposed to trade with Kate who got the meatloaf and garlic mashed potatoes. I am not sure either dish was very well recieved or maybe they were both to full of bread and garlic but a lot remained on both plates when they were cleared. I had the garlic roasted whole dungeness crab. I have been dying for dungeness since the season started and here was my chance. It was dry and not very flavorful. It did not cure my urge for dungeness crab but increased it because it was so lacking.
Although the food was not exceptional, we did have a nice time. It was fun to be in the city for our first California Christmas Eve and the four of use enjoyed the adventure and each others company more that anything else.