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DonRocks   
15 minutes ago, Marty L. said:

Let's add:  Half- or whole chickens at upscale places that are not Zuni Cafe.

Just a quick note about Zuni Cafe ... I've been twice. The first time, about ten years ago, everything was good (the raw bar was great) *except* the chicken, which had the stuffing positively drenched with balsamic vinegar (imagine how off-putting that is). The second time, last year, the entire meal was a bust from start to finish - no chicken, but mediocre food and lousy service. 

I just this minute asked the person I was there with, and we're both in full agreement - in particular, I was reminded that the salad was swimming in dressing. The level of the food and service was lower than any of numerous restaurants in the DC area have *ever* been for me, even on their worst of nights. I have no doubt that this was an evening when they were operating with a skeleton crew, but there's just no excuse for this, ever.

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dcs   

Dinner, Disrupted ("Silicon Valley has brought its wrecking ball to haute cuisine, and the results are not pretty."), by Daniel Duane, on nytimes.com, August 6, 2016.

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Since I live here and have been living here for a little over a year now, I'll be posting on this thread regularly.

Every Friday we have dinner at either a "cheap" place or a not-so-cheap place.  By "we", I mean my hubby and I.

We went to one of our standbys this weekend.  It's a small restaurant with 7 tables total and a nice long bar.  We showed up at 6:25 pm and didn't get in until 7:30 pm, just to show you how crazy it can be.  Walk-ins only, no reservations accepted.

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Chilled artichoke, salad, lemon aioli

Perfect in every single way and the best appetizer on the (limited menu).

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Cioppino served with garlic bread.

This is a "small" size and enough for two people or one hearty eater.

Total bill came out to $35 per person with tax and 20% tip.

Anchor Oyster Bar
579 Castro Street (19th Street)
The Castro

http://anchoroysterbar.com/AOBmenuAug2015.pdf

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I want to introduce you to a couple more places on our regular rotation.

First up is Izakaya Rintaro.  You can see the menu here:  http://izakayarintaro.com/wp-content/uploads/menu.pdf and the website here:  http://izakayarintaro.com/

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Yosedofu -- house-made silken tofu, with scallion, magurobushi and grated ginger.

Subtle, faintly sweet, creamy and something I order every time I go.

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Torikawa no kara-age -- fried chicken skin with spicy citrus salt.

Someone in the kitchen knows how to fry.  These were addictive and utterly greaseless, no easy feat.

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Chicken thigh + onion (or scallion) yakitori, served with shichimi tōgarashi.

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Chicken liver yakitori, with shichimi tōgarashi.

The skewers are good but not as great as their other offerings.

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Dashimaki tamago -- egg omelet with katsuobushi dashi and grated daikon radish.

Lovely and well-made.

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Kamo menchikatsu -- minced duck and onion katsu with panko, cabbage and hot mustard. The small pitcher contained katsu sauce.

This was the star of the evening on the night we went.  That picture doesn't look like much but it's deceptively filling.

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Natto-don -- fermented soybeans, Japanese rice, toasted nori, hot mustard.

This was "dessert" for me.  It was either that or order more of the tofu.

Izakaya Rintaro
82 14th Street (Folsom Street)
SoMa

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The other is Ijji, a new (to us) sushi restaurant that is potentially the best sushi I've had in this country since my experience at Sushi Yasuda in New York when Yasuda-san was still present.

Very small space, about 10 total tables not including the bar.  Also a limited menu that changes often with fish flown in from Japan with the exception of some from Alaska and environs.

I won't bore you with a pic of everything we had at a dinner there two months ago, but here are some highlights:

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Asari clams, lotus root, sesame oil and shiso

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Wild sea bass, hijiki, yuzu vinaigrette.

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Wild bonito.

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Barracuda sushi.

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Kelp-cured Japanese sea bream sushi.

Each piece is served with a topping that dispenses with the need for soy sauce.  Excellent balance of flavors in the rice.

Total for their omakase was $160 per person with 20% tax and tip.

Ijji
252 Divisadero Street (Haight Street)
Lower Haight

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DonRocks   
3 hours ago, TrelayneNYC said:

Once again, I just don't understand why places don't pay an English major $20 to proofread their menus:

"Much of Japanese dinning centers around the neighborhood restaurant. Often small, but always an intimate setting, where neighbors and friends gather together to not only eat, but enrich each other’s lives. ijji has replicated this dinning experience, on Divisadero. 
ijji is the culmination of our unwavering focus to the purity of the fish and the expression of our devotion to traditional Japanese techniques. This fidelity to our beliefs, is evident in every piece of nigiri we serve"

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Brenda's is a restaurant that's popular with the weekend brunch crowd which mostly consists of millennials and tech folks.

It's also great for dinner -- a fact which we've been curious about for quite a while and only discovered last night.

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Chicken, okra and sausage gumbo.

Was a touch bland to my palate.  A shot of Tabasco perked it right up.

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BBQ ribs, collard greens.

The ribs were falling-off-the-bone perfect, with a smoky, sharp and slightly sweet sauce.  Greens were nice.

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Fried chicken, cream biscuit, collard greens, served with peaches and honey, and hot sauce.

Finger-lickin' good.

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Brenda's
652 Polk Street (Eddy Street)
Tenderloin

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Then we went to Chez Panisse tonight for my birthday dinner.

 

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Prosecco, Meyer lemon syrup.

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Halibut tartare, endive, mint.

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Dungeness crab cake, julienned vegetable salad with preserved lemon vinaigrette, green coriander, rouille.

My hubby proclaimed it "the best crab cake I've ever eaten in my life".  High praise indeed.

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Squab brodo with ricotta and herb raviolini, black truffles.

Delicate broth, well-made pasta.  Rather miniaturized shavings of truffle though.

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Quail grilled with sage, served with kabocha squash, roasted chestnuts, new onions and Savoy cabbage.

I told the staff that "if you can taste the salt, it's too much". The quail was at fault, ditto for the vegetables. Salting is an art: you want just enough to bring out the flavor of whatever it is you're cooking. That's it.

In their defense, it could have been just this plate, but my hubby detected oversalting on his portion. Maybe our palates were at fault but I doubt it.

 

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Sauternes.

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Red wine-poached pear millefoglie, pomegranate, crème fraîche.

Millefoglie is the Italian spelling for "mille-feuille".

Was perfect.

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Lemon verbena infusion.

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Chocolate-covered peanuts, candied orange peel.

 

Apart from the quail, a perfect meal.  We'll definitely be back.

 

Chez Panisse
1517 Shattuck Avenue (Vine Street)
Berkeley

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This is a Yemeni version of baba ghannoush that's light on tahina and garlic.  Not exactly what I was expecting.  My partner liked it ("fresher than most versions"), but it's not something I'd order again.

Yemeni's Restaurant 
1098 Sutter Street (Larkin Street)
Tenderloin

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I know that there are good restaurants in San Francisco.  There have to be.

But last night's excursion was not it.

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Green salad.

Seems like there's too much dressing.  What do you think?

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Foie gras with persimmon mostarda, brioche, crispy shallots, Maldon sea salt.

The mostarda had no acidity and might as well have been a spoonful of sugar. The shallots lent nothing. Pretty average for $19.

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Coq au vin.

Probably the best thing we had all night. Generous portions, well-made. Correct. Can't say much more than that.

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Haricots verts.

These were served "tender crisp". Not a fan of vegetables served in that style, but B loved them so more for him.

I guess the restaurant is a good value for the live music and intimate quarters. But we had a waiter who just would not stop asking us "how are things". Once is fine. Four times in a night is grating.

And serving your guests drinks in cracked glassware is unacceptable.

Also, if you are FOH staff, we don't need your approval when we order things from the menu. Save that for your children.

Cafe Claude
7 Claude Lane (Bush Street)
Union Square

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DonRocks   

Because of three people, my dining companion and I spend five hours trekking to Swan Oyster Depot in Nob Hill. Call me crazy, but just don't ever call me apathetic (pathetic is fine; just not apathetic). We found a parking space *way* up high (it is in the Nob Hill neighborhood), but only about three blocks away. Even though it looks flat, if you see that intersection where the person is crossing the street, and take a right there? You'll be walking up at a 45-degree angle. You'll also be waiting in line - justifiably, I will add.

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To make the line seem longer, right through that glass window on the left side of the restaurant is a tantalizing display of today's offerings.

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Swan Oyster Depot is nothing more than a counter, with no seats other than what you see at the bar, so when it fills up, it fills up quickly and with a vengeance - I don't know what the seating capacity is, but it couldn't be more than fifteen.

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When you finally get in (the wait isn't *that* long), you'll note the knickknacks of a very old establishment - in this case, over one-hundred years old - which include the James Beard "America's Classics" award they won in 2000, and a motley menu featuring the day's seafood. Note, by the way, the vehemently written sign about not having a website.

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On the bar in front of you, you'll see Swan's napkins, a brief history of the restaurant, and a better-than-expected wine list, which breaks down into two possible choices: a bottle of Muscadet, or a few glasses of Anchor Steam ($6).

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Swan isn't built for dining; it's built for eating. Eating quickly, and eating well. That quote by Bourdain (in the center picture above) isn't at all wrong, and quite frankly, I think Swan Oyster Depot deserves a James Beard Award not just for being an "America's Classic," but for "Outstanding Restaurant in America," although this is an owner-driven restaurant which may not even make it eligible. How much of an owner-driven restaurant?

The first thing we ordered was Smoked Salmon ($13 - when I saw the size of the plate, I panicked, thinking we got the $24.50 item, but there must have been something else listed that I didn't see) and six Malpeque Oysters ($18-ish). The salmon came out right away, and it was as good as any smoked salmon I've ever eaten - there was some *extremely* potent horseradish on the bar as well - so potent that you need to beware of it, using only a few fibers. The Malpeques didn't arrive, so I figured that Swan was following the trend of "serving things whenever they're plated" - I was wrong.

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Next up was a half-dozen Cherry Stone Clams ($14), and these were the best Cherry Stone Clams I've ever eaten: batting two-for-two. As good as they look - that's how good they were.

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Then, a cup of Clam Chowder ($2.75) that was perhaps my favorite thing in the entire meal. It was so good that we ordered an entire *quart* to take home (I think that was $20, and worth every penny). Alongside of that, a Prawn Cocktail ($14.50), and if you could say this meal had one weakness, this would have been it. These were great; they just weren't life-changing; the clam chowder, on the other hand, was something akin to a religious experience.

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Back to the owner-driven part ... a gentleman who was clearly in charge (there were probably a dozen people working the counter, about one for each diner), asked me if we'd like anything else, and that's when I thought to mention the Malpeques, which never arrived. He *immediately* asked who took the order, and to be honest, we didn't quite remember, and even if we had, he asked the question in a way that oozed menace, and goodness knows I wouldn't want to get an employee in trouble just because an order was forgotten, so we simply said we weren't sure. Don't get me wrong - this guy wasn't going to scream at the person (at least, not in front of the customers), but he was going to make *very* sure that this didn't happen again on this evening. He was starkly polite - picture a manager of an old-school New York City deli, and you'll have the exact countenance. In fact, Swan Oyster Depot reminds me of a deli more than any seafood restaurant I've ever been to in my life, with the possible exception of Durgin Park in Boston, but when I first went to Durgin Park in the 1980s, it had already lost the battle to becoming a tourist trap, so ... deli. (In fact, Durgin Park has gotten *so* touristy that it's now owned by, gulp, Ark Restaurants, which has an $80 million market cap trading on the NASDAQ.)

Within one minute, a half-dozen Malpeques appeared, with a sincere (but unnecessary) apology from the manager, and should I even bother to say it? Okay, let me take a different tack: I invented a saying, long ago - "The bigger, the blacker the blotch, the badder the bivalve," meaning that oysters should ideally have a pearly white interior shell, and when you find ones that have large, black blotches, they're usually the bad apples - still perfectly edible; just not the best of the bunch. Well ...

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About the non-blotchiest Malpeques I've ever come across. Not only were they blotch-free; they were just plain free: They were not added to the check. How's that for putting the customer first?

All this food came out to just over $100 before tip (this accounts for the oysters being removed, but also accounts for the quart of clam chowder, so $100-110 was the "true price" of this sensational meal - on a whole, the best raw seafood I've ever eaten, and a restaurant experience unlike any other. To quote that great American statesman, Anthony Bourdain, "If I died eating at Swan's counter, I would die a happy man."

And of course, as I flew into a panic when the manager told me Swan Oyster Depot was cash-only, he reassured me that there was an ATM across the street, just as he has done a thousand times before.

PisS - There is a very slang, somewhat crude, French word for "men's urinal" that I have never before seen used in a real-life situation, not in DC, not in California, and not in probably twenty visits to France. Until now.

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lhollers   
On 1/15/2017 at 3:43 PM, DonRocks said:

Sensational meal - on a whole, the best raw seafood I've ever eaten, and a restaurant experience unlike any other.

Lived in San Francisco for three years prior to moving to DC, my apartment a few short blocks from Swan's. Your recap brought back a ton of awesome memories of taking out-of-town friends here for an outstanding experience.

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Finally found a place in San Francisco that serves great coleslaw.  It's harder than it sounds.  Most places skimp on the acidity.

 

Kate's Kitchen
471 Haight Street (Fillmore Street)
Lower Haight

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DIShGo   

I have lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for nearly 25 years, and just this week tried my first "It's-It Ice Cream Sandwich. I am now kicking myself for waiting this long. These delectable desserts--ice cream sandwiched between two oatmeal cookies and dipped in dark chocolate--are readily available everywhere around here, and there is even an "It's-It" outlet in Suisun City, about a ten-minute drive from my house. If you are in the Bay Area, don't hesitate to pick up a box of "It's-It." If you love them, you can even have them shipped to you.

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DIShGo   

My 22-year-old daugther lives in the Mission area of San Francisco and adores macaroni and cheese. So, when the SF Chronicle did an article last week about The City's best spots for mac and cheese, I immediately thought of her. I asked her if she wanted to try one of the restaurants listed (she enthusiastically said yes) so we ventured last night to Mac Daddy in the Potrero Hill neighborhood of San Francisco. 

The restaurant's website refers to their "petite digs," and they aren't kidding. There is one counter, a couple of small outdoor tables and one table for four indoors. They do not take reservations. My daugther brought a friend, and we were told there would be a 20-minute wait for a party of three. We wrote our name and phone number on a dry-erase board hanging outside the front door. Fortunately, there is a quaint wine shop next door, where we enjoyed a glass of wine while we waited for our table. And by table, I mean THE table! We were seated at the table for four, where the girls had a great view of the goings-on in the kitchen (we felt like we were sitting in the kitchen) and I got to watch the endless parade of people pass by the window. Score!

The menu arrived, and we were overwhelmed with macaroni and cheese choices: smoked bacon and smoked cheese; south of the border mac with avocados, cilantro, chorizo and fritos; a pesto mac; braised short ribs mac with mushrooms, crispy onions and mt. tam blue cheese; and truffle brie mac with shitake mushrooms were just some of our options. Of course, there was plain old mac 'n' cheese, but the waiter said if we ordered that, we should add an extra on top, like an egg or fried chicken.

As good as fried chicken atop macaroni and cheese sounded to me, I just couldn't do it (primarily because I was feeling guilty about eating donuts for lunch the day before) so, I ordered the goat mac, with scallions, olive oil, fresh goat cheese and jack cheese. It was creamy and delicious, with a delightful crumble on top. The girls both had the truffle mac, which they enjoyed, but I preferred mine. The portions are generous, and can be shared by two, but then there are no leftovers, and what's the fun in that?

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We went to Yank Sing today for a belated Chinese New Year celebration.

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BBQ pork buns.

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Soup dumplings, served with ginger shreds and red vinegar.

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Chicken-stuffed mushrooms.

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Turnip cake.

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Spareribs with sesame.

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Shrimp dumplings.

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Mushroom dumplings.

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Pea shoot dumplings.

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Sea bass with rice wine and soy.

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Pork and shrimp siu mai.

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Fried shrimp.

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Chicken feet.

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String beans with dried shrimp and XO sauce.

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Egg custard tartlets.

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Orange jello.

$219 with tax and 20% tip for a party of four people.  Not bad at all, actually.  Very reasonable in my never humble opinion although others will probably disagree on that point.

Yank Sing
Rincon Center
101 Spear Street (Mission Street)
Financial District

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We should have ordered some Peking duck.  There was a cart that came by and the bird was all mahogany, lacquered and just gorgeous.

Next time...

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Well well, I just discovered the photo editing options on this site.  I'll certainly be making use of those more often too.  It saves time because what typically happens is that I fiddle with the photos in Picasa before uploading them to DonRockwell.com.  I didn't know that I could shrink them on here and that's useful to know.

Oh, about the photo.  My partner (let's call him "B" for now, in the event you haven't been reading my posts and you might not know who he is) and I have date night once a week.  Lately, we've been exploring cheap eats in the City.  This is a dinner from last Friday at one of our favorite cheapie Chinese restaurants, Red Jade.  Pictured are some flash-fried soft-shell crabs with chili, garlic, scallions and cilantro.

In the background is a plate of beef with snow peas.  

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Earlier this month, B took me to San Jalisco which will probably become my favorite Mexican place in SF.

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Carne asada.

Portions are huge for what they charge.

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Pozole.

First time I had it too.

Rich, porky with just the right amount of heat. Definitely would order it again.

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Relish plate for the pozole.

Clockwise from bottom: shredded cabbage, radishes, lime wedges; chile pepper; chopped onion; Mexican oregano.

Shortly afterwards, a waiter came by with a dish of tortillas, fresh from the oven.

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Tres leches cake.

Desserts are not their strong suit and B suspects that they may be prepared at a Mexican bakery. This was the driest version I've ever had. I ate about half and that was enough for me.

 

San Jalisco
901 South Van Ness Avenue (20th Street)
Mission District

http://m.sanjalisco.com/home.html

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This menu shows part of what's ridiculous in the San Francisco food scene.

Admittedly, it's from a place in the Ferry Building which counts tourists as part of its income.  Even if you discount that, it's a bit much (for me).

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These are the "beignets" in mentioned in the pic above.  One batch of 8 for $10.  We wanted one but were told that was impossible.

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DonRocks   
1 hour ago, TrelayneNYC said:

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Well well, I just discovered the photo editing options on this site.  I'll certainly be making use of those more often too.  It saves time because what typically happens is that I fiddle with the photos in Picasa before uploading them to DonRockwell.com.  I didn't know that I could shrink them on here and that's useful to know.

Ah! Yes, what you do after you upload them, is you double-click. I prefer to use thumbnails, and I generally take a 1-2 megabyte photo, and change one of the dimensions to 10% of what it currently is. That is, if it's 910 by 512, I change the 910 to 91, and the 512 will auto-adjust (there's a little box that's checked by default). For those who prefer not to use thumbnails, you can make the ratio larger - probably something closer to 80%, so you'd change 512 to about 400. This is important, and it won't make much sense until you try it yourselves: Once  you've shrunk a photo, you can shrink it some more by double-clicking on it again, but *you can't make it larger* - in order to do that, you have to delete the photo, re-add it, and start at 910 by 512 again. This is a two-step process: 1) upload and 2) add to post. You never need to upload a second time (unless you want to remove the photograph altogether); you merely need to re-add it to the post. The only thing that is even remotely time-consuming is the upload process, but with today's faster transmission speeds, it still only takes seconds. Note that when you want to upload multiple photos (TrelayneNYC this applies to you (btw, write me if you want me to change your screen name to TrelayneSF)), if you hold down the "Shift" key, you can highlight as many as you wish in one step. Again, this is probably gibberish to anyone who hasn't tried it, but it's really quite simple - if anyone writes me, I'll be glad to explain it. Here's a little primer I wrote about it awhile back - scroll down to the part that says "Uploading Pictures" - we've updated versions since I wrote it, but it should still be mostly accurate.

By the way, *we have a San Francisco Forum now*! :) I decided to go ahead and put it up in an unfinished state, and complete it over the next few months. You've probably seen there is no Dining Guide yet - that ball is in my court. You've probably also seen that I've split out threads into individual restaurants beginning with the oldest, and that LOTS of things are in this thread which need splitting out - that ball is in my court also. TrelayneNYC, if you want to post on a non-existing restaurant, you can either stick it in here, and i"ll get around to splitting it off, or, you can make a brand new thread, and I'll change the title and tags accordingly - whatever is easiest for you is fine with me, but if everyone can do "one restaurant per post," that will make it possible to split things into their own threads; single posts that contain multiple restaurants will necessarily need to be left in this thread, which will make them harder to find because I won't be able to index them - in other words: TrelayneNYC, you're doing it correctly. 

Thanks to all, and this is going to take me several months to finish. In fact, it probably makes more sense to start with the newest posts first, and work my way back. If there are (for example) ten posts about Quince, I'll move all ten into the new Quince thread. Even though that will save me some time, this is still going to be a *lot* of work. Anyway, to all our new friends from Monterey all the way to Sacramento - welcome! I hope to serve you to the best of my ability. 

Cheers,
Rocks

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Now that I live here, I'm going to try to book myself a seating at Atelier Crenn and Saison sometime this year.  They've been on my "to-go" list for some time now.

Hopefully these places will admit one person. My partner is on a limited income and would definitely balk at the idea of a meal that costs $500+ per person.

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DonRocks   
1 hour ago, TrelayneNYC said:

Hopefully these places will admit one person. My partner is on a limited income and would definitely balk at the idea of a meal that costs $500+ per person.

Be a sport and take him for his birthday :)

*Any* great restaurant will admit one person - I've yet to see one that won't. In fact, one of *the* greatest dining experiences of my life was solo at a Michelin 3-Star in France -  they went to a lot of trouble to make sure I had a corner table, overlooking the entire restaurant, and it was a Top-10-ever meal, maybe Top-5-ever. Hell, maybe Top-3-ever.

It's funny, the restaurant had 2 Stars when I went, but I *knew*, when I left, they'd have to change it to 3, and within the next 1-2 years, they did. The very best dining experiences a person can have are when a 2-star restaurant is pulling out all stops to become a 3-star restaurant. The previous sentence is one of the most useful pieces of information I've ever typed here: Remember it.

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