review: sanglant, mais pas bleu…

I’m fairly certain I was whining about the demise of the daringly bloody roast beef sandwich when chuckeats told me about the one at Il Cane Rosso, Daniel Patterson’s walk-up eatery in the Ferry Marketplace in San Francisco.  It could be a quick lunch option, he suggested. We made it happen. In between oysters at […]


I’m fairly certain I was whining about the demise of the daringly bloody roast beef sandwich when chuckeats told me about the one at Il Cane Rosso, Daniel Patterson’s walk-up eatery in the Ferry Marketplace in San Francisco.  It could be a quick lunch option, he suggested.

We made it happen.

In between oysters at Hog Island Oyster Co. next door and canelés – the last ones left – at Boulette’s Larder, we shared the Il Cane Rosso roast beef sandwich ($9).

Here’s the thing about roast beef sandwiches for me: the roast beef has got to be what my college roommate Hue lovingly referred to in his native tongue as sanglant, mais pas bleu – bloody, but not blue.*

Chuck was right, the roast beef in the sandwich at Il Cano Rosso was pretty rare in the middle.  Sliced thinly, it was juicy, moist, and just ropey enough to give it some meaty back, though at times, it was hard to chew through the beef, resulting in whole lengths of it being pulled out of the sandwich at once.

The ciabatta-like bun had a sturdy crust that crackled and splintered. I like crusty crusts, but this one was a little too crusty, too hard. It cut my mouth. The inside crumb of the bread, which was slightly dug out to accommodate the filling, was quite hefty. Toasted and slathered with a bit of lemon aioli, it stood up a little too well to the juices from the beef and the tomato conserva (a tumble of crushed cherry tomatoes dripping with sweet juice). Be prepared to gnaw and chew a lot.

Upshot: the flavors were great (although I couldn’t taste any lemon from the aioli), the ingredients were clearly top-shelf (the beef, for example, is from Marin Sun Farm, which also supplies meat to Patterson’s Michelin two-starred restaurant, coi), but the bread, unfortunately, upstaged the meat and hogged all the attention.  I eat roast beef sandwiches primarily for the roast beef, not the bread.  Sometimes you need a well-structured bun to contain the filling. This was overkill.

I also ordered a side of “miso pickled turnips.”  They were a disappointment.  The turnips had been marinated so long that they had lost all their snap. They were rubbery and limp.  The pickling was heavy on the rice vinegar, light on the miso.  In fact, I couldn’t taste any miso whatsoever.

Guest Seating Only

A word on ambiance:  Il Cane Rosso ain’t got none.  There’s a row of metal tables and chairs lined up against the wall in the breezeway between the bathroom and the doors to the outside terrace.  You have a lovely view of the line for ordering food and of The Slanted Door through the wall of windows, but not much else.   I can’t possibly imagine wanting to have a 3-course, family-style supper there, even if it is only $25.  If the weather’s nice, I recommend finding a table or bench outside.

il Cane Rosso
One Ferry Building, # 41
San Francisco, CA 94111

* Hue and I used to enjoy the amazingly bloody “Gatsby Arrow” at Booeymonger in Georgetown.  Back then, that was their only location.  Now, that sandwich shop has expanded to three other locations in the D.C. metropolitan area. The Gatsby Arrow was a simple proposition: slices of very rare roast beef topped with Brie on a baguette. You could order it cold or hot.  I could never make up my mind.  Hue knew that I slightly preferred it cold, so he would just make up my mind for me.

Categories dining restaurant restaurant review

Leave a Reply

6 replies on “review: sanglant, mais pas bleu…”

Nice review, UE. Was the meat fatty? How greasy was the aioli? Was the bread made in-house and was it fresh? Sounds like a nice snack option, but a meal sounds like a waste like you said.

@Adam: Thanks. The meat was not fatty in the least. It was actually pretty lean, which is why I had a hard time chewing through it in parts. Biting down through the sandwich, it was often hard to get a clean cut and whole lengths of the meat would get pulled out. Yet, I wouldn’t describe the meat was tough either. I think the fact that it was wadded up in the filling made it more difficult to eat.

There was not too much aioli, but there was not much lemon flavor to it, if any.

I am not sure if the bread is made in house. As far as crusty bread goes, it was pretty great. But for this sandwich, it was a bit overkill.

Have you noticed an increasing trend of serving extremely crispy bread with greasy aioli? I had the same thing at Breslin and could probably list a dozen places in NYC that do it now. It’s almost like catering to people’s impressions of what rustic is, but that crust can get really sharp.

@Adam: I love crusty, crusty bread. I love it. But it’s clearly not appropriate for all occasions. I recently had a meatball sandwich where the crust was so hard and crusty that the meatballs got smashed and fell out the sides of the sandwich. It might as well have been meatballs stuck between two plywood boards. I had to take it apart and eat it separately.

I understand that a soggy sandwich is worse than an overly hard/crisp one. But, there’s definitely some thoughtless overcompensation going on.

And yes, chefs seem to love their aioli these days. Here’s my rip on aioli: 1. Aioli is basically garlicky mayonnaise (not just traditionally, but literally) – how many garlicky aioli have you had recently? 2. I understand you want to protect the crumb from going soggy, and a nice layer of fat will help you accomplish it, but sometimes there is just WAY too much. More really is not more; it rarely is. 3. Most aioli I have don’t taste like what they’re supposed to taste like.

One last thing: I might have fallen in love with the roast beef sandwich here if the aioli had been horseradish instead of flavorless lemon, bread notwithstanding.

I have eaten at Il Cane Rosso on numerous occasions, and it all depends on the slice of the meat. If you get the roast beef sliced super thin, it’s actually not chewy at all. The bread is from ACME bakery, and when toasted, is very crunchy. I have had breads which are super soft, and not stiff enough to hold up against the richness of an aioli or similar spread.

The beef itself one of the servers told me is Top Round from Marin Sun Farms, which make for a leaner cut.

@The Eater SF: Thanks for the info on the bread. Are you saying that the bread at Il Cane Rosso is inconsistent – sometimes it’s super crusty, other times it’s super soft?

I have to say, this beef was sliced pretty thinly. Top round can be quite tough, so that does explain why it was so stringy in parts. It wasn’t bad, but when layered on top of itself, it wasn’t hard to pull out swaths of it at a time. But it had excellent flavor, and it was slightly on the rare side, which I like (I actually prefer it even more rare than they served it).