Recently opened restaurant Trou Normand, owned by Thad Vogler and commanded by chef Salvatore Cracco, promises to have an extensive selection of charcuterie offerings, a unique apple brandy based cocktail menu, and a dynamic restaurant bar setting. We headed over to sample the restaurant’s preserved meat selections and other menu offerings. Did the restaurant meet our expectations? Let’s find out.
Ambiance / Exterior
[maxgallery name=”trou-normand-exterior-interior”]Located at 140 New Montgomery Street,the restaurant is nestled on the ground floor of the 89 year old PacBell Building (aka Yelp building). Lacking notable signage, the concealed entrance sits between the slate gray terracotta walls of the antique building. The interior dining area is composed of two rooms adjoined by a narrow corridor. The main dining room includes a stark looking bar and a relatively small amount of booth seating along the outer walls. Through a small corridor lies a smaller community seating room where a single large table, kitchen line window, and an exit to the patio resides. Unavailability in the main dining area gave us an opportunity to be seated at the this room’s large table. We noticed that due to the table’s large width, couples and small parties were forced to sit either on the corners or on identical sides. The community room may need to be rethought once the outside patio is completed as it lacks the comfort and energetic happy hour vibe that we found passing through the main room. Overall, the interior is clean and understated but we question the placement, size, and layout of the rooms.
Whist Cocktail – aged rum, calvados, sweet vermouth
[maxgallery name=”trou-normand-whist-cocktail”]We anticipated the arrival of the rum based Whist Cocktail as it contained calvados, an apple brandy rum from France from where the restaurant derives its name. Distilled from apple cider, the spirit can have aromas of apples and pears with flavor complexities similar to aged wine based brandy. Unfortunately, the drink seemed to fight with itself as the sweet flavors of the calvados clashed with the sweet botanical profile of the vermouth. A sharp initial alcohol flavor hinted to an excessive amount of or low quality rum. There were interesting vanilla undertones but it wasn’t enough to save this imbalanced cocktail.
Fennel Salami – Sicilian Fennel Seed
[maxgallery name=”trou-normand-salami”]The restaurant prided itself on homemade preserved meats as the menu unabashedly boasted a large array of salamis, lardos and meat pâtés. The salami and pork pâté in the fennel salami dish exceeded our expectations as the homemade preserved meats tasted remarkably fresh and flavorful. The sharp flavored mustard paired well with the meats but the french baguette was cold and the jellied aspic lacked notable flavor and was difficult to spread. For six dollars the dish wasn’t expensive, but we would have gladly paid more for higher quality accompaniments that complemented and celebrated the fresh flavors of homemade meats.
Sausage Plate – Fennel & Basil, Chicken Sausage
[maxgallery name=”trou-normand-sausage-platter”]The sausage plate consisted of a six inch pork sausage over a bed of sauerkraut and a chicken sausage laid over cilantro infused yogurt. The chicken sausage was flavorful but excessively dry and crumbly, and was wrapped in a chewy casing. The pork shared similar qualities and also contained relatively large unappealing bits of hard fat. A restaurant that prides itself on the art of charcuterie needs also to nail the fresh meat offerings, however, our sausage examples seemed to be more of a work in progress.
Whole Petrale Sole – White Wine Sauce, Chive
[maxgallery name=”trou-normand-sole-fish”]The petrale sole, which was personally deboned by the server, was tender and tasted fresh. The drizzled white wine sauce was light and complemented the fish but the sprinkled chives were tough and over cooked. Disappointingly, the fish was served à la carte and laid the onus of selecting a compatible accompaniment on the patrons.
Roasted Spring Alliums – Garlic Vinaigrette
[maxgallery name=”trou-normand-spring-alliums”]We chose the roasted spring alliums as our side dish for the à la carte served sole. The onion-like alliums were flavorful and sweet but roasted past the caramelization phase and well into carbonization, which made them dry and tough to chew. Additionally, they were doused in a low quality oil that greased the mouth and felt heavy in the stomach.
Apricot Mission Pie
[maxgallery name=”trou-normand-apricot-dessert”]The Apricot pie had a moist crust and strong apricot flavored filling. Its only flaw, the intense tartness, was calmed by the added ice cream.
Clearly, chef Salvatore Cracco (who was the butcher at Bar Agricole) has a knack for fermented and cured meats as the quality of the salami and pâté were exceptional. However, the fresh variety of sausages suffered from dryness, large hard fat bits, and chewy casings. There were additional flaws in our cocktail and other entree selections. More focus and attention needs to be directed to the cocktail ingredients, vegetable cooking techniques, dish accompaniments and table arrangements. For now, it’s a work in progress.