Category Archives: Restaurants

My weekend in The Mission

Anyone who knows me, knows that I avoid The Mission [District] like the plague. It’s not so much that I have negative connotations about it, I just always feel out of place and it’s not easy to get there from my house on MUNI. However, after I turned 25 I decided that I needed to start pushing myself out of my comfort zone and that included more trips to The Mission.

This neighborhood is known for the outstanding cuisine and while usually I try to hitch a ride over there, I decided to start trying BART. I know that sounds silly — I’ve lived in the city over 3 years — but it had to be done. Anyway, I spent about 75% of my time in The Mission one weekend, and it was so nice to experience all of the restaurants/coffee shops/bakeries that I always read about. And get over my fear of BART. Note to self: you must remember to tap out (seasoned riders, you know what I’m talking about).

It started with brunch at Foreign Cinema. We ordered the Persian Bloody Mary and the Caesar Bloody Mary. The Persian version was interesting with it’s unique spices, however I enjoyed the Caesar version, because it was a little thinner. Plus, who doesn’t like a floating shrimp in their drink. Then we moved on to the Huckleberry “Pop Tart”, Dungeness Crab eggs, and the Croque Madame. OMG the Croque Madame was amazing (hello, béchamel?!) and this was a nice preparation of the eggs with the Dungeness crab. Of course, had to add on the slow cooked brown sugar bacon, natch.

Caesar + Persian Bloody Marys

Huckleberry Pop Tart

Dungeness Crab Eggs

Croque Madame (photo courtesy: Donovan Unks)

mmm....brown sugar bacon

Sadly, I heard that Spork was closing, so the next day I decided to hit this Mission district restaurant up for brunch. I mean, how can you not want to try the “Inside Out” Burger? With its two patties of Marin Sun Farms grass-fed meat, slices of Tillamook cheddar, caramelized onions, and brioche bun sandwiched in between, you can’t go wrong. Then, there was a stop at Philz Coffee for the “Ambrosia” (a warm, sweet nutty java with a subtle finish) and on to Arizmendi Bakery for some legendary pastries.

Clockwise from top left: Bloody Hammer from 15 Romolo (prior to Spork), Spork Inside Out Burger, Spork's Interior, Fried Chicken Sandwich at Spork

More stops of the day included NOPA for amazing cocktails and some delish snacks, Irvin Lin’s Eat The Love holiday party (where I almost overdosed in sweet treats), and finally dinner at Frances at the counter. NOPA was serving some great bar snacks at reasonable prices in between service, like the Fried Brussels Sprouts, Fennel Sausage with Black Beans, and Goat Cheese Bread Pudding.

Clockwise from top left: Cocktail at NOPA, Bread Pudding from Arizmendi Bakery, Eat The Love Party, Line up at NOPA

Whew — what a weekend, but who can resist good eats and drinks? At least we know that when we push ourselves past our comfort zone, it usually always pays off. Hey, I’ve even ventured out to Oakland! Here’s proof that you can never say never.

xo.

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flour + water

Another night, another phenomenal meal! flour + water hit it out of the park again last Friday when I was in for dinner. Chef Thomas McNaughton was in NYC that night, so clearly he can rest at ease while away traveling! The kitchen was churning out food with a perfect finesse.

We started the meal with a duck salad and then moved on to the marinated artichoke & shelling beans with tonnato sauce & bottarga. Following those two antipasti delights, we moved on to a cold calamari and melon salad with cucumbers, breakfast radish & olive sea salt. All of these dishes were light, bright and refreshing, and added the perfect balance of vegetables for the carbo-loading which ensued shortly thereafter.

Top left: artichokes, stracciatella, duck

Then came the corn & prosciutto tortelloni with chives, a delicious stracciatella scarpiocc with pine nuts and drizzled with balsamic and a cocoa tajarin with butter braised giblets, butternut squash & sage. All pastas were amazing, but ESPECIALLY the last one — it was so buttery and so rich, yet not over powering and I didn’t even think about the giblets that I was shoveling in my mouth.

Top left: calamari salad, corn tortellini, rabbit and giblet pasta

Lastly, the rabbit secondi was crazy out of this world. Chanterelles were stuffed under the little rabbit skin and the meat itself was so moist. Accompanying the meat was an array of vegetables, including turnips and little, lightly fried green olives. As far as I’m concerned, this dish was a keeper!

flour + water: if you can get a reservation, fab! Even if you have to sit at the bar or wait a while for a table, you won’t regret the time spent chatting up good friends and interesting strangers alike. Now I just have to finally try some of that Neopolitan-style pizza! I think that Funghi is calling my name…

Following dinner were two short cocktail stops at Jasper’s Corner Tap & Kitchen and Redwood Room, then foie gras ice cream sandwiches from Humphry Slocombe enjoyed on the steps of the Grace Cathedral. Can you say, divine?!

xo.

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Weekend Recap

Heyooo folks. I might be one day late, but can you blame me?! Monday was extra special with the 2012 Zagat San Francisco Restaurant Guide Launch at Park Tavern with Google! Let’s briefly review my twenty-something meanderings from a weekend out and about in San Francisco!

Friday

  • Don’t: Rickhouse. I love Rickhouse, but it’s absolutely impossible to grab a seat, let alone a drink in the bar after work on a Friday. It’s packed! Their cocktails are top-notch, so I’d recommend going on off-peak hours.
  • Do: Otis Lounge. 2 for 1 drink specials from 5pm to 8pm. Need I say more? Take a seat downstairs at one of the lounge tables, check out the scene and admire the peacock accents at this hidden spot on Maiden Lane.
  • Bruce Hill’s Zero Zero in SoMa: OBSESSED! Start your meal with a punch bowl. All of the food was amazing: Pork and Veal Meatballs with Spicy Tomato Sauce and Fonduta, Fontina Stuffed Arancini [balls] with Black Garlic Aioli, Ricotta Doughnut [balls] (are we noticing a theme here? tehehehe), Rigatoni with Piquillo Peppers, Pancetta and Ricotta Salata, and Fillmore Pizza with Hen of the Woods Mushrooms, Leeks, Mozzarella, Parmesan, Pecorino and Fontina. BTW I saw this pizza on 7×7’s Top 50 Vegetarian/Vegas Dishes To Try Before You Die. Oh yeah, and did I mention they have soft-serve ice cream? Get the vanilla topped with De Vero Olive Oil and Sea Salt.

From top left: Arancini, Meatballs, Rigatoni and Fillmore Pizza

From left: punch bowl, vanilla soft serve, ricotta doughnuts

Saturday

  • San Francisco Public Library: awesome way to save money on those books! I don’t know about you, but I don’t like keep my fiction books after I am done so as long as you can finish them during your rental period (or at least remember to renew).
  • Figs topped with bacon and goat brie cheese are simply divine, as I experienced at Sabrina of @thetomatotart‘s Intense Dark Party.
  • Chris Cosentino’s Incanto in Noe Valley: Eating for the first time at Incanto, I knew I was in for something special. And that something special began in the form of Ibérico di bellota lardo and Asian pears. I almost didn’t feel bad that I was eating pure, unadulterated fat. Then followed was a crazy special: Truffled Uni Sformato and Sweetbreads alla Puttanesca. My tastebuds could not believe what they were experiencing! So much decadence, and only in the first three dishes.
  • Then we moved on to the Spaghettini with Sardinian cured tuna heart, egg yolk and parsley. Simply amazing: the saltiness of the cured heart and the yolk added another layer of complexity to the dish. After that was the Pork Belly with cabbage, apples, rose geranium and pickled mustard seeds. Is it healthy to eat this much fat? Probably not. Does it bother me? Not in the least.

From top left: lardon, sweetbreads, spaghettini, truffled uni sformato

From top left: Mystery Flight! Guess your wines! Pork belly and delicious bread plate. I know it's just bread. Don't judge!

Sunday

  • North Beach: There are so many fun shops in NB to hit up! Lola, Alla Prima Fine Lingerie and Craig Fonarow Photography were just a few that I admired while strolling Grant and Columbus Streets. After you’ve had your fill of browsing and window shopping, take some gelato into Washington Square Park and enjoy watching the dogs and families!
  • La Mar on the Embarcadero: Always a winner; Cebiche Clásico and the Grilled Chicken Skewer with fried potatoes and Peruvian corn. Tip: spoon the juice or “leche de tigre” from the cebiche onto the rice. You’ll be glad you did.

Monday

  • Gary Danko: “My advice: check your ego at the door” upon receipt of his award
  • Tim Zagat: “Study the service numbers…we’re essentially giving you a free market study [with Zagat]”
  • Tim Zagat “we’re handing our baby over to a great company…Google with local, maps, street view…it’ll be the perfect fit with Zagat.”

Bad pic I know, but the man himself.

I finally had the opportunity to try some light bites from Park Tavern and they were delicious! Especially loved the Fried Oyster “Caesar” Salad, Fried Green Tomatoes and Fried Pork Belly bites. Also, the Deviled Eggs with bacon was a tasty bite. I  can’t wait to check it out for dinner!

I hope you all had a fab weekend as well! Xo.

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Filed under Food, Restaurants, San Francisco, twenty-somethings, Weekend Warrior

Las Vegas: Jaleo, Raku & Vesper Bar

So I realized that I never wrote anything about the food or drink sitch after my trip to Las Vegas. Whoops!

To save room on this blog (and because I had so many photos), I decided to simply post my iPhone 4 photos to my Flicker album titled Las Vegas: Jaleo, Raku & Vesper Bar.

Jaleo, a Spanish tapas restaurant by José Andrés, is located in The Cosmopolitan. Jaleo offers a large menu, so good luck selecting from the list of numerous, delicious tapas! One thing I always love doing is asking the diners next to you what they would recommend. In fact, this is how my co-worker and I earned a free dinner! Vegas, there must be something in the water….

After Jaleo, we headed over to Vesper Bar where we indulged in James Bond’s drink of choice. I love the menu, which states: “At Vesper, we pay homage to the lost art of the cocktail craft”. And that they do well.

The next evening, we decided to go off the strip to Raku, a Japanese Izakaya restaurant. All of the dishes, from the hot and cold appetizers to the skewers from the Robata Grill, were fantastic. The Agedashi Tofu dish was my surprise favorite of the evening! Tip: if you go with a big appetite, be sure to order ample selections from the Robata Grill menu — they come with 2-3 pieces per order.

Well, that’s all for Vegas — as I said, go check out the Flickr album for pics!

xo.

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Labor Day Weekend Recap

Of course my Labor Day Saturday began with a trip to the Ferry Building Farmer’s Market. The first stop for breakfast: 4505 Meats. I went for the rather modest Bacon Maple Breakfast Sandwich with maple sausage, gruyere cheese, cress and nasturtium greens, and a runny fried egg. There’s just something about that buttery, seedy bun that makes me all warm inside.

4505 Meats' Breakfast Sandwich

I just had to get a pic of myself trying to take a bite of @thedapperdiner’s massive double double 4505 Burger with Frankaroni, a patty of fried mac ‘n cheese and 4505 house-made uncured hot dog.

If only I could unhinge my jaw...

One thing I love about the Ferry Building Farmer’s Market is the samples – I tried an Asian Pear from Frog Hollow Farm that was just so sweet and divine, Mt. Tam cheese from Cowgirl Creamery and some baba ganoush from Marin Gourmet. After Chicken and Beef Korean Tacos (2 for $6) from Namu, it was off to La Mar for a Pisco Sour and Lafitte for the 1st of 30 days of Caipirinhas.

Korean Tacos with seasoned rice, daikon & kimchee salsa, kimchee remoulade, housemade teriyaki sauce on seaweed. Yes, I did eat the spilled over filling with my fingers. It was that good!

Cocktails galore! From top left: cucumber caipirinha, heirloom and pisco sour

@thedapperdiner and @carinaost got the Scallop and Pork Hot Dog with spicy pickles, stone fruit mustarda and skinny pomme frites, of which I had to steal a taste. My second drink at Lafitte was the Heirloom, made with Swans Neck Vodka, Averna, Prado Pastis, tomato and herbs. This drink seriously tasted like an heirloom tomato salad – it even had a nice salty bite to it.

Leave it to the Dissident Chef to come up with a Scallop and Pork hot dog!

How could I top this morning/afternoon? A Giants game with the parents. Sadly the Giants lost this one to the D-backs, but I was able to get in on the Sheboygan Bratwurst Stand and some garlic fries, natch. At the games, you must skip the plain ‘ole hot dogs and go straight for the big honkin’ Sheboygan topped with grilled onions and sauerkraut! You’ll be glad you did. Oh and make sure you have extra powerful gum/mints for those garlic fries.

My giiiiiant Sheboygan and the parentals in front of the park!

Since the Steins Collect: Matisse, Picasso and the Parisian Avant-Garde exhibit at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is ending on September 6th, a girlfriend and I tried to hit up the museum on Sunday – but beware: apparently the tickets for these kinds of exhibits sell out! After attempting to get our culture on in the MoMA store, we decided to stroll up Geary and stop in the free galleries that decorate the street.

I highly recommend this as a cheap alternative, since all of the galleries are free AND open on Sunday! After paying a visit to Cohen Rese Gallery and the Martin Lawerence Gallery (who is holding an upcoming art auction at Stanford Court BTW), we stumbled into Christopher-Clark Fine Arts. And lucky that we did! Insider tip: they had work from Matisse, Picasso, Varya and more – and some of the pieces were actually featured in the Steins Collect exhibit.

Matisse

Picasso

Later on, I was finally able to check out Chambers Food + Drink (in the former Bambuddha Lounge space at the Phoenix Hotel). I highly recommend the Truffle & Wild Mushroom Dip with waffle chips, Panchetta Wrapped Figs with Balsamic Reduction, the Sizzling Kobe Tri-tip (it’s served on a hot stone, medium rare – so cool) and the Sea Bass with big, lovely artichokes. I had high hopes for the PB & L.T., which was basically pork belly atop rice paper filled with heirloom tomatoes and lettuce, and the Burrata Gnocci, but I would skip those. Of course dinner was followed by some dancing at 222 Hyde and some pool-playing action and jukeboxin’ at CC’s Cocktails! Both good haunts for the aforementioned activities!

Sometimes you just need a lazy day and even though Monday was absolutely AMAZING weather-wise, I was just plain old lazy! Kudos to all of you who BBQ-ed and did other fun things outdoors. I did rally myself to meet @thedapperdiner and @carinaost at Tataki South in Noe Valley, a restaurant known for its sustainable sushi. They had some *daring* (re: spicy) sushi rolls, including the Extinguisher with albacore, habanero masago and spicy aioli, and the Russian Roulette with crawfish, cucumber, asparagus, tobiko and topped with scallops. The premise of this roll is that one of the pieces is over-the-top spicy and whoever is the winner (or loser), gets the prize of a shot of nigori sake to cool the burn. Not a game for the weak of stomachs.

Creative, delicious rolls from Tataki South

Tataki South also had a great happy hour from 5pm-7pm: $4 rolls and $3.5 hot sake, yes please!

Can I get a “holla” for the staycation?! I hope y’all had a fun-filled, restful Labor Day weekend as well and happy Tuesday!

Xo.

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Seattle: Tom Douglas’ Restaurants

Tom Douglas, appears to have an empire in Seattle. Seems fitting for someone who has authored 3 cookbooks, owns 12 restaurants, is the chef for Teatro ZinZanni and even defeated Morimoto on Iron Chef America! There’s Palace Kitchen, Serious Pie, Seatown, Lola and Dahlia Lounge (to name a few). Since the later 2 were so close to my hotel, I decided to make them my lunch destination of choice on Thursday and Friday.

Dahlia Lounge

On my first day, Dahlia Lounge served as a welcome oasis from a 4:30am wake up call. Over a business lunch, I savored the Albacore Tuna dish. The tuna sat on a bed of green beans, baby tomatoes, fingerling potatoes and a dill-cream sauce. The smokiness of the tuna was perfectly offset by the sweetness of the tomatoes and the green beans served as the standard vegetable. I loved the various colors of the potatoes, which satisfied my starch craving. And the dill-cream sauce wasn’t too heavy but provided a complexity to the dish – I actually had to force myself to leave some on the plate. I just love that dill!

Dahlia signage

Dahlia Lounge | 2001 4th Avenue, Seattle | 206.682.4142

Lola

Lola, a Greek-inspired restaurant, was by far my favorite of the two. Sitting solo at the bar, I was waited on by an unbelievably friendly, accommodating bartender. Who ever said Seattle service was subpar?! I was going to go for the Lamb Burger or the Shawerma, but he kindly steered me in the direction of the Squid Kebab and boy was I glad that he did! This squid kebab was topped with a Chermoula sauce, which I’m told is a blend of cilantro/cumin/chile/lemon juice/olive oil/parsley. Yeah, talk about flavor central!

Squid Kebab

The little things were great here too. Jackie’s Greek salad? Just like I like it – no lettuce, only black olives, cucumbers, tomatoes, mint and a sprinkling of feta cheese. And the whole wheat pita bread was doughy and was perfect with the garlic-yogurt sauce. I heard that the made-to-order doughnuts are to die for, so it would be a cool place to check out for breakfast/brunch if and when you find yourself in Seattle.

Lola | 2000 4th Ave, Seattle | 206.441.1430

Verdict: thumbs up Tom Douglas, we will meet again.

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Seattle: Tàvolata & Le Pichet

Tàvolata

Craving an Italian reso to qualm comfort food cravings, I settled on a recommendation for Ethan Stowell’s Tàvolata. Located in Belltown (and a convenient 5 minute walk from my hotel), Tàvolata serves up Italian eats in a simply chic setting. On this particular evening I posted up at the bar, where I was able to gaze in the dozen or so mirrors behind the watering hole and peak at my fellow diners enjoying the large, wooden communal table.

Ethan Stowell is a Seattle fixture and a 2009 Rising Star Chef. Naturally, I read up on this place before I moseyed on over and learned that the pasta is made in-house and is a menu must. Unfortunately I was still a little full from that Beecher’s mac ‘n cheese, so I went with the Crispy Semolina Gnocchi from the Antipasti section of the menu. I figured this would cover the [pasta] bases and not leave me feeling overly carbo-loaded. I loved the subtle hints of anchovies, the dusting of parsley and the fresh marinara dipping sauce, but I felt that the dish was a little heavy on the salt and believe me, I have a tough time saying that as I usually enjoy more salt than most.

Crispy Semolina Gnocchi

I was feeling like I needed a little meat on my bones, so I settled on the Smoked Pork Belly, also from the Antipasti section. I learned that the preparation of the pork belly began with grilling and pressing the belly into the meat, however I felt myself saying “where’s the belly?” The dish was a bit dry, but the apricot puree, fennel, red radish and white balsamic provided complexity to the dish.  Lastly, for some greens I went with the Rapini with chile and garlic, however I felt this dish needed some lemon to offset the bitterness of the rapini.

Smoked Pork Belly

Rapini

Tàvolata | 2323 2nd Avenue, Seattle | 206.838.8008

Le Pichet

I wandered over to this neighborhood French bistro based on the recommendation from the bartender at Bathtub Gin & xxx (more on that later). I was glad to sprinkle in some French cuisine with Le Pichet. I began with an Amuse of radish and white bean toast – very nice. Then I moved on to a combo of cheese plate and Merguez sausage. Normally I don’t like to order cheese from a resto because it’s difficult to judge based on that, but I was seriously full from my previous [food] endeavors – so give me a break! I was balancing it out.

Radish and White Bean Toast

Anyway, absolutely LOVED the spicy lamb-beef sausages, served on a salad of summer plums, cucumber, celery and a pomegranate molasses vinaigrette. Very delicious – and I think we are noticing a theme here with salty/savory paired with sweet.

Lamb-beef sausage

Stilton, le chevnot and a sautratus (though I don't think I got the spelling right on the last one).

Another thing I loved: the Demi Pichet. Eight dollars and fifty cents got me a mug of Sauvignon Blanc – what’s not to like?! And last word of advice: I heard the Fallafels aka crispy chickpea fritters are AMAZING so get in on that if you are ever in Seattle and stop by Le Pichet.

Le Pichet | 1933 1st Avenue, Seattle | 206.256.1499

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