*This is a long write-up. If you just want the summary, skip to bottom of page for the excerpt.
While discussing group plans weeks ago, my friend M suggested a few restaurants as candidates for our upcoming fête. And then, very unexpectedly of him, he dangled another option that made my heart skipped just a beat faster…food truck dining. Not just another food truck, but a French food truck. Oh la la.
In the end, we decided that the French food truck fare is not exactly a group option, but we still wanted to try it ourselves.
On Chez Spencer’s website, it says that the truck is at the parking lot at 6 p.m. on every Wed-Sat. When we arrived on one of those days around 6:30 p.m., the truck was nowhere in sight. That worried us a bit.
M asked, “Do you think we got the wrong day?”
“No, their website says Wednesday – Saturday from 6 p.m.” I replied.
M pulled out his iPhone and started calling the restaurant. Halfway, he remembered that he wasn’t supposed to be calling and driving and so he gave me the phone. Just then Chez Spencer (the restaurant) picked up and I learned that their food truck just left their parking lot (late!) coming over to the Folsom and 7th location. “It shouldn’t take them more than a few minutes” the person on the other side promised.
Reassured, M decided to find a spot, and luckily, the parking gods are nice to us and we were able to grab a spot just across the street. We watched the food truck pulled in and started setting up after they kicked two homeless people off their parking space. Sad.
By now, the wind started picking up. M nudged me and asked if I would like some Milk Duds. He had picked up the candies earlier and I was angling for an invite for the chocolate goodies ever since. Lol. M said, “Make sure to put this on the post, okay? Our appetizer.”
After I took a few pictures of the truck, M said, “Hey, you want to go to this bar down the street to grab something to drink? They will probably take a while to set up anyway…”
So we went over to a bar that I may post about later…
By the time we came back to the food truck, the wind has picked up significantly. While we were still enthused about trying French food from a truck, we were also a bit cold. I scanned the place and found no heat lamps. (Burrr!!) We quickly ordered the following and settled into their tiny table (more of a tiny portable tray and two platic foldable chairs):
- Lobster cappuccino
- Escargot Puff Lollipop
- Foie Gras Torchon
- Braised Lamb Cheeks Sandwich
- King Trumpet & Maitake Vol au Vent (Mushroom on Puff Pastry)
After dining, here’s M’s favorites in order of preference (hopefully I remembered them correctly…if not, I am sure he will tell me and I will correct it):
1) Escargot Puff Lollipop; 2) Mushrooms; 3) Braised Lamb Cheeks Sandwich; 4) Foie Gras; and least favorite is the 5) Lobster cappuccino.
I came to almost the same conclusion: 1) Escargot Puff Lollipop; 2) Mushrooms; 3) Foie Gras; 4) Lamb Sandwich; and least favorite is the 5) Lobster cappuccino.
I think the reason we both loved the Escargot Puff Lollipop had to do with the yummy puff pastry. The buttery pastry just melts into one’s mouth with just the right amount of spice and herbs. The texture of the single escargot was just chewy enough, but still compliments the pastry’s flakiness. Simply delicious and not to be missed. And this was also a highlight of our meal.
Chez Spencer seems to do an excellent job with puff pastry because for the King Trumpet & Maitake Vol au Vent dish, it was again the puff pastry that really compliments the creamy sauce and the meatiness of the mushrooms.
The Lamb Cheeks Sandwich was delicious and an interesting choice. It was tender, juicy, and the bread was a great compliment. I didn’t check with M on this, but to me, I got the after taste that this lamb was just a tad on the gamey side. What made it taste better to me was the unevenly spread of mustard greens inside the sandwich. Overall-it wasn’t bad at all.
As for the Foie Gras Torchon, we are sort of split. For one, M said that the foie gras tasted a bit citrusy. I agreed. After thinking over my options and weighting on the taste factors, I really felt this was a worthy mention. Making foie gras (although controversial) requires a lot of work and skills on the Chef’s part and being one of the classic French appetizers, it really does test the chef’s ability in the preparation and execution of this delicacy. No easy feat. So even if this may be different, it’s an interesting enough option.
Lastly, we both agreed that the Lobster cappuccino was a big disappointment. For one, M pointed out that even though the lobster smell is very strong; there were no lobster pieces in sight. M also helpfully pointed out “I guess that’s the cappuccino part. And serving this in a plastic container really doesn’t do anything for me, either.”
All valid observations. For its serving size, the cappuccino is served in a small plastic container and selling for $8. While not extravagant, it is just a small soup after all. And even though the lobster taste is strong, we wished it has a few bites of lobster. We both agreed that would have been more satisfying…
Overall, French dining in a parking lot with the wind blowing every which way is definitely an adventure. There are elements that work and elements that don’t work. Items like the Escargot Lollipop and the Mushroom pastry work because they are casual enough for food truck fare while still being classic French fare, but the Lobster soup and the overall ambience do not. As M pointed out, “it would be different if we were to sit in a nice place and had this served in an actual cup or bowl….then maybe.”
And that’s exactly what it is. While Spencer On the Go! serves French fare, it is still a food truck.
Even if we were to do an actual take-away (as some people had done while we were sitting there), it would be difficult to get the same satisfaction. For the price paid, we could have comfortably sat at a nice table somewhere warmer… But it’s not all bad.
It is rather admirable and somewhat interesting way to introduce French fare and to capitalize on the food truck craze.
We definitely knew what we were in for from the begining, thus we treated as such. An adventure. :) So if you are up for Chez Spencer’s take on classic French fare served from a truck, you too can have an adventure on the corner of Folsom and 7th every Wednesday – Saturday from 6 p.m.
Summary: Good food, weird location, a bit pricy, doesn’t accept credit cards, but this is definitely a good food truck to try and you won’t be disappointed.
(Caution: they may be late!)
Cash only. And wear a warm jacket.
**Special Thanks to M for the suggestion and for taking me along. Had a blast! xo
à la prochaine fois-