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Good News/Bad News: Orson

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As far as new restaurant concepts in San Francisco go, Orson is, simply put, a unique proposition. Elizabeth Falkner certainly has the cache and talent to pull off a concept as flashy, ambitious and, well, "un-San Franciscan" as Orson. It's a restaurant that could possibly make or break a new trend in the city, and for this reason alone, its progress—and looming reviews—are very noteworthy. Now open for about a month, Orson is nearing the point in the restaurant lifetime when things take a bump for the serious, as the opening kinks should make way for prepping for The Bauer. So, how did Month #1 go down on Fourth Street? To the opinions:

Good News: "I think what Elizabeth is doing at Orson is thoughtful and purposeful innovation that results in good food and a fun dining experience ... Bottom line: Elizabeth is a chef whose creative sensibility extends beyond what she cooks and encompasses all of the tactile, visual, and sensual elements of dining. Orson is a dream come true for her - a forum to express half a lifetime spent learning her trade in the restaurant business. I promise this place will rattle your expectations." [Traci Des Jardins]

Bad News: "We liked the dramatic space and could see how it would be very electric with a full house. On this Tuesday night, it would be only half filled by the time we left (7:30). Our waitress was efficient, but felt at times imposing. She explained multiple times that the concept was 'small plates' and that we would want to order 3-5 items per person. Though the restaurant was practically empty, we felt rushed. She kept returning every few minutes to ask if we made any additional decisions, implying that we may not have ordered enough.....and again, reiterating that our orders would only be about '3 ounces' and that the portions were on the small side." [Chowhound]

Really Good News: "To cut an intriguing, tasty, four-hour-long story short, our evening at Orson was only a whisker short of perfect. Really! I can't help thinking about the meal five days later and smiling about how lucky we were to be able to experience Orson in what, surely, must have been a somewhat unique way." [Becks & Posh]

Really Bad News: "I loved everything BUT the FOOD. Which would have been fine if it were a bar or an art gallery. The food was all over the place. It was so whimsical it left me conceptually confused. I had the parmaggiano pudding with poprocks and there is no way to describe it except it tasted BAD. The duck fat fries were good but not memorable. The tofu w/ kim chee was again not memorable. The kim chee was made with baby bok choy which was strange. The rest was just that, nothing to write about. I don't see myself coming back for anything more than a cocktail." [Yelp]

Hopeful News: "So, Orson inhabits a big, loud space that will be quite the scene if it stays full, and features some familiar food mixed with edgy and adventurous food ... Orson's menu is very creative and I'd love for it to succeed." [Sweet & Sour Spectator]

Slightly-Disconcerting (Even Though It Was a Positive at the Time) News: "Either, they simply hadn't picked up enough business by the time of our visit, or they had limited the number of reservations to keep things manageable as it was only their second night. How often is someone who arrives at a restaurant before 7pm encouraged to stay until closing time? " [Becks & Posh]

Hopeful News, Redux: "On my more optimistic days, I truly believe that Orson and Coi are going to change the way the conservatives in this town think about food (because let's face it, that's what they are). However, when I'm at my normal pessimistic self, I remember that the long standing establishments of this city are more in the vein of Zuni and Jardiniere... I really have my fingers crossed for Orson: the food is great, and refreshing." [Gastronomie Comments]

Good and bad, your early impressions of Orson are encouraged, either in the comments field or straight to the Inbox. [Photo: Jennifer Yin]

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