Every time I mentioned I was going to TWO for dinner last Friday, people stopped to ask "Hmmm, T-O-O?" Not even one guessed "t-w-o". No matter.
TWO is the new place in the Hawthorne Lane space, from the same chef team. But it's a distinctly hipper update from the stately, elegant, special occasion vibe of the old restaurant. I'd been to Hawthorne Lane many times for cocktails and the addictive tempura green beans, but had dinner there only once, with the ex who deemed every extraordinary food experience we shared as "not bad." TWO retains the same innovative approch to food, but with starters $7-$15, and main dishes $9-$36 (the top end for steak, low end sandwiches).
We started with cocktails -- I had the house Cosmopolitan, while my companion had the Espresso Martini -- Ketel One vodka, Kahlua, and Godiva White Chocolate liqueur are shaken together with a shot of fresh espresso and marked with foam. It was one of the best signature cocktails I've had in SF.
We moved on to crispy cornmeal battered calamari and a chopped vegetable salad with small chunks of avocado and parmesan. Main dishes come without sides, allowing you to fully customize your dinner. I added perfectly carmelized brussels sprouts with bacon to my meatball lasagne, while my comapnion added crispy potatoe skins to his burger.
Desserts were the only hit-or-miss portion of the experience. We've enjoyed the trend of mhi ice cream sandwiches that has taken hold of dessertplates across the city and were anxious to try this one. The first one I bit into had a mint ice cream that was herbacious and more like chewing a fresh mint leaf than eating a traditional mint ice cream. The next one I bit into was apparently an oatmeal raisin cookie. I almost gagged. You see, I have a childhood aversion to raisins, due to overeating. And had I known the ice cream sandiwches invovled raisins, I would not hav ordered them. I suspiciously eyed the final of the three on the plate, and decided it looked like the chocolate chip cookies also harbored raisins. Thankfully, my companion flagged down the waitress to address our dessert emregency and procured 2 mini cupcakes. That, plus a few sips of sauternes, made it all better.
I'm looking forward to trying TWO again soon.