Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Spencer on the Go (SOMA SF)

An awkward marriage of fast food and high aspirations

I have a lot of things to say of Spencer on the Go and some of it is actually related to the food. Spencer on the Go is a new-ish food cart started by the chef of the restaurant Chez Spencer. Now, I've never been to Chez Spencer but the 4 stars and $$$$ on Yelps tells me that it's a delicious and classy joint of some kind. One would then think that bringing such delicious foods to the streets (literally) would be a delightful combination of tastiness, affordability, and convenience. Not so much, as it turns out.

From left to right: the "scene" at the food cart, mushroom something, frog legs, escargot puff, skate cheeks

The cart had started serving at 6pm and when I had arrived at 6:30pm, there was already a decent number of people hovering in the area. As I learned later, the crowd was not only the result of anticipation but also the looong wait in between ordering and receiving the food. We ended up waiting a good 45 minutes for our tasty, French morsels. I say "morsels" because each plate was only tapas-sized and could not have individually filled anyone up. Each dish costed around $6-12, which was also not unlike how much a plate of tapas would cost. So if cheapness and fast service are what you expect from a food cart, you will probably be disappointed here.

Nevertheless, there were still a few bright spots from my one-time experience at Spencer on the Go. First, the people who ran the operation obviously took the project very seriously. Peeking inside the cart, I could see 3 chefs in snazzy white coats manning their respective stations, as if they were in a real kitchen. Second, the food was actually very good. Had you not known that it was served from a truck inside a parking lot, you might have thought the food was taken from an actual restaurant. Finally, it was a good concept of taking gourmet cuisine out of the stuffiness of a restaurant and into a cheap eats context. But alas, Spencer on the Go will need to work on the quality of its execution to meet the caliber of the concept.


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