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Around the World for a Home-cooked Meal

Just Like Home: Globe offers a cozy dining experience
and soothing comfort food.

Globe offers a nurturing ambiance and a hearty menu giving impressions of home

By Paul Adams

If for whatever reason you can't get a home-cooked meal out of your loved ones, or you just need some nurturing away from home, perhaps your best alternative is to hop a cab to Globe. While not home per se, Globe offers an approximation of many comforts thereof sufficient to sustain the most wayward heart for an hour or two.

The small, dark space bustles with activity. The bar is of handsome blond wood with an enormous urn at one end which serves, somewhat distractingly, to divide the main part of the room from the entrance. Downstairs is a cozy room with seating for maybe 10. Its seclusion is only disturbed by patrons descending to and from the restrooms. There are also a couple of tables available out front for those balmy San Francisco nights. The restaurant is decorated in a comfortable rustic/industrial style, with exposed brick, large geometric paintings and diffuse lighting.

The menu, which is supplemented by a large number of daily specials, consists of a number of variations on a homey American-Italian theme. The flavors and flavor combinations are simple and rich, making for a soothing experience.

Appetizers are mostly salads. There is a delicate frisee salad containing small poached eggs, deliciously fresh-tasting, with a consistency similar to mousse, offset by crisp pieces of fatty pancetta. There is a thick tomato soup with large floating pieces of hearty flavorful bread, served in a tall bowl, not as blandly sweet as many tomato soups, and practically a meal in itself. There are also a number of classic comfort-food side dishes available, including creamy polenta, whipped potatoes and, yes, creamed spinach.

Among the specials on a recent Friday night was a large plate of tender slices from a rare leg of lamb atop a risotto with lentils, which itself nestled on a bed of grape leaves. The server insisted that one eat the grape leaves. Entrées on the menu include grilled salmon over pasta, a spicy spaghetti marinara, rotisserie chicken, and a wonderfully juicy bistecca for two.

There are also a few pizzas available. (In one of a handful of non-homey idiosyncrasies, they are referred to as "piazze." Another such anomaly is the restaurant's name.) These have enough cheese to effectively smother the flavors of the toppings, which in my case included smoky grilled leeks and entirely imperceptible shiitake mushrooms.

Desserts, while perhaps the most ostentatious offering at Globe, are still pleasantly unprepossessing, with simple, strong flavors prevailing. The delicious fruit tarts and a somewhat dry but very rich and dense chocolate tower-cake (this cake plus the tomato-bread soup is a lot of food; throw in an entrée and real heroism is required) are recommended.

There is a healthy wine list, Sierra Nevada wheat beer is on tap and the full bar offers a few odd specialty liquors and suffers from a few obvious omissions. The wait staff are competent, helpful and warm to the point of bubbling over: It is easy to relax and allow oneself to feel taken care of. Their attention, combined with the cozy space, close tables and open kitchen with hearthlike rotisserie, lends Globe an ambiance somehow impressionistic of the idea of home. And although there is often a wait for a table, regardless of reservations, the hostess is never anything short of attentive and reassuring.

Not far from Embarcadero Center, but not really conveniently located, Globe accommodates the nocturnal by serving dinner until 1am, a rarity in these parts. Word is the late-night clientele typically includes staff of other, closed-at-11, restaurants. It also offers lunch, with a similar menu, from 11am to 3pm, although travel-plus-meal time will probably exceed the office worker's allotted hour.

Globe, 290 Pacific (between Front and Battery). (415/391-4132) Mon.-Fri. 11am-3pm, 6pm-1am. Closed Sun. Reservations suggested. Moderately expensive. Major CCs.

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From the October 1997 issue of the Metropolitan.

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