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Found 11 results

  1. John's Grill is a pretty good restaurant. The bar is small, and so is the rest of the place, but scoring a seat and settling in is one of the better ways to enjoy a feeling of old San Francisco. First, let's get some history out of the way. It was the backdrop of The Maltese Falcon, and its walls are covered by celebrity pictures of those who dined here over the past 110 years or so. Think of a place where the Postal Service rolled out its commemorative Humphrey Bogart stamp here, with Arnold Schwarzenegger joining a rendition of "I Left My Heart in San Francisco" at the ceremony. I've eaten (and drank) at John's on every one of my annual visits over the years, and the food is quite good. This isn't fine-dining, but for those of us from the Washington DC area who enjoy the The Monocle on Capitol Hill, Martin's Tavern, Old Ebbitt Grill, or the Occidental Grill, it's somewhere in between all of these sorts of time-worn establishments. I've had an absolutely perfectly executed Negroni at the bar, and I've enjoyed some truly great Cioppino in the dining room. This is also a good restaurant for steaks and burgers, at a good price. And a club sandwich for lunch one day was worth ordering again, as was the perfect side of fries, hot out of the fryer. I'll continue to frequent John's whenever I'm in town. The ongoing subway construction is an impediment, but if you're on foot, it's not much of a problem.
  2. I was hoping to try the brunch menu at ABC Kitchen, but got confused about the time/date info on the website. Despite arriving just a few minutes after the noon opening time, we were told all of their tables were 'committed'. Fortunately, there was space at the rear bar, which was bright and relatively quiet and looks into the ABC Home store. The $28 3-course prix fixe was a steal, given the quality of the ingredients and the care and attention that were apparent in each dish. We shared each course, so I sampled the following 6 dishes: Cauliflower soup - topped with rye croutons and a few red chili slices. Very good flavor, though it could have stood to be thinned a bit. Roasted beets with homemade yogurt - a beautiful dish made with pretty, colorful beets. A neighbor at the bar commented that she thought it was strawberries and cream - which it did look like. The taste was all fresh beet and thick tangy yogurt - lovely and refreshing. Braised hake with cabbage, chilies, and seaweed - this was one of the most perfectly prepared fish dishes I've had in a long time. The savoy cabbage and seaweed paired nicely with the meatiness of the hake. Duck yolk and ricotta raviolo on ...* ragu - An impressive presentation - a single saucer-sized raviolo with a runny duck yolk topping the ricotta filling. (*damned if I can remember what the meat was, but it was delicious) Cranberry upside down cake - moist and tangy, with poached cranberries and orange creme fraiche on the side. A gorgeous fall/winter dessert. Sundae - salted caramel ice cream, candied peanuts and popcorn, chocolate sauce....what more can I say. Decadence in a bowl. Service was good, attentive but not too formal. Just fine for the bar. Kudos to the young man who handled a complainer unhappy with not getting a table "they should know who people are..." Definitely near the top of my list of best meals of 2011. (I still want to go back for the buttermilk pancakes with berries and lemon curd at brunch. )
  3. I had lunch at Cafe de la Presse, and aside from the prices, it was really good. It looks like an authentic French Bistro because it was built to look that way, and the wait staff all have French accents. I can't remember dining in any place like this since I was in France about three decades ago. The food was good. I had the Salade Niçoise, which was one of the best renditions I've eaten, but at $21 it's one of the more economic options on the menu. Steak Frites comes in at $31, and Confit de Canard at $34 -- these are lunch prices -- so bring a hefty expense account with you. My companions had the lamb stew (very good) and the daily seafood special (good). The positives are the authenticity and the quality of the dishes. The negatives are the prices and, well, if you're outside the Chinatown gate in San Francisco, why eat French? On the other hand, if you're in San Francisco and you absolutely have to eat at a French Bistro, you don't have to fly to France.
  4. Location and Rates - Website with Best-Rate Guarantee I could legitimately say Hotel Abri was in the Tenderloin, but it's just as legitimate to say it's in Union Square, since it's towards the east. Nevertheless, that slight "pull" towards the Tenderloin - parts of which can be somewhat annoying at night (I've encountered some aggressive panhandlers a few blocks to the west) - can lead to room rates that border on being astounding given the level of quality this boutique hotel possesses. On a Friday night in early January, a standard King was $103.20, and the next night it was $127.20 (this does not include the "Urban Fee," described below). This is the second time I've stayed at Hotel Abri, which should tell you something. The first time - maybe in 2015 - I found a room on hotels.com (which I no longer use) for what seemed like an absurdly low rate. I ferried over from Vallejo, had a wonderful lunch at The Slanted Door [shhhh ...], and took Uber to get here. This time around, I took an Uber straight from SFO, which cost me less than $30. You need to be warned that, despite enticingly low room rates, there was a sign out front advertising valet parking for $60 (!), so a word to the wise: Do not come here with a car unless you're so wealthy that you should be staying in a nicer hotel anyway. (I think Yogi would be proud of that one.) As long as I'm mentioning the valet price, I should also mention one other thing that took me off-guard, but proved to be "worth it, and then some," and that's an unexplained $30-a-night "Urban Fee." Having just experienced a two-night stay at Hotel Abri at the absurd average rate of $115.20 a night, I can live with this, because it includes: • Hotel AbRi Urban Tote with Welcome Amenities [including two bottles of water and a full bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon] • Continental Breakfast Bag Available at Front Desk from 6:00 am - 8:00 am • Grab-and-Go Morning Coffee in Lobby • Daily $10.00 Restaurant Credit Cannot be combined [Hotel AbRi has a real restaurant, and pints of Anchor Steam are $4 at happy hour] • Daily Access to Active Sports Club • Upgraded WiFi (up to 3mbps) So essentially, you're paying $30 a day for a drinkable bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon (only one per stay), $10 worth of booze at the restaurant, and you'd be crazy not to use these coupons - you get one per day, and a continental breakfast (which I didn't use, but probably should have, if only for the water). If you're staying two nights or less, it's $30 pretty well-spent; for a longer stay, it becomes less cost-effective. All the other options are what I normally consider to be included with a room - the $30 is inclusive of tax, so it is what it is. I wrote the lobby requesting a quiet room, and mentioned I was a repeat customer. For the second time in as many stays, I got upgraded to an "Urban Suite," which would normally have cost about $50 a night more. Early January must be *the* slowest time of year for Hotel AbRi. I get the feeling that if the hotel is somewhat empty, and you're a member of Stash Rewards, their inclination is to upgrade you (Stash Rewards is a rewards program for boutique hotels - note that if you join through donrockwell.com (by clicking on the link), you get 500 points). I wrote them, telling them about our website, and got this back, so knock yourselves out: "If you’d like, you can share with your readers this special URL to sign up with Stash. It will give them 500 bonus points just for enrolling. www.StashRewards.com/DonRockwell." The service was outstanding, and the boutique nature of Hotel AbRi, combined with its location make it a repeat for me - I'd happily stay here again the next time I'm staying in this part of San Francisco (note that it's just one block away from Kin Khao, which is a *very* popular, Little Serow-like, Thai restaurant (that was in our most recent San Francisco poll) - advance reservations are an absolute must here). So, I guess I wrote about a thousand words - here are eight-thousand more. A solid four stars for Hotel AbRi. The exterior (the restaurant is pretty decent, and it's the one you get $10 coupons for - sit at their bar and have a couple pints for free): The living room (yes, that's a second TV) The bedroom (note the comped bottle of wine) The bathroom (perfectly acceptable; beware the $4 bottle of water)
  5. Heading up to NYC this weekend to see some friends. I know we have reservations at the Strip House (more along the line of the Palm rather than Good Guys) on Friday night. Has anyone been there and could comment on the restaurant. I have read some favorable reviews about the food (interesting sides like goose fat potatoes) but have heard that the wait even with reservations can be long. --- Robert's Steakhouse (crackers) Dining in New York City (jparrott)
  6. Until I can find time to fix my Toronto write-up fiasco, I shall, instead, share the wonders of this outdoor, year-round Farmers Market, located in the lovely Union Square Park. Apparently, Union Square Greenmarket has been open since 1976. The vendors vary, depending on the day you visit, and the link has detailed maps and vendor listings. Even on a rainy, wet, Saturday, such as two weekends ago, many shoppers came to visit familiar vendors and delight in the local wares available. During the holiday season, there is also a nice, twice the size as DC's, Christmas Market. I liked the fact that Wafels & Dinges had a booth there. But I digress. I really wanted to share about the Pennsylvania Dutch pretzel booth vendor. Although I like the Snyder-version, it's not quite the same as those I've found in the short time I worked in Philly; so it was rather nice to come across solidly made, really dip-able, not crumble when drinking with beer-type of Pennsylvania Dutch pretzels, as sold by Martin's Pretzels. You can order online, too. At the booth, you can get pretzel tins, or broken pieces (salted vs. unsalted) by the pound. I wanted to write this place up, as finally finishing the last bits of my $2 (about 1/4 pound?) bag of unsalted makes me realize that I am craving for more, well-made pretzels, I guess. I also got to sample some really good, rich, Grade A, Very Dark with strong taste Vermont maple syrup from Deep Mountain Maple that I cannot wait to use. You can also order from them online. This is a really nice farmers market to have nearby, for those living in New York City.
  7. Hi All, So I'm planning to propose to my girlfriend in early March. I want to make dinner reservations for our families the night of the engagement for a party of 11. I don't think a private room is necessary, just somewhere relatively quiet in Union Square, Flatiron, or Midtown. Nothing too fancy, I was thinking something along the lines of Crispo at 14th and 7th. I feel like Italian always works well or American. Any and all suggestions welcomed!
  8. I'm not qualified to opine on what the best sushi restaurants in New York are. I am qualified to state that 15 East is my current favorite. Note to sushi lovers: the best way to experience sushi at 15 East is at the sushi bar, where the menu does not include the cooked items from the dining room menu. If you are willing to eat most anything, go with the chef's tasting menu or one of the sushi omakases. Be prepared for some unusual items, such as shrimp that was alive moments before it hit your plate, followed later by the fried heads. Chef Masato Shimizu is the most engaging, friendly sushi chef I've ever encountered. In fact the entire staff of the restaurant is wonderful, never batting an eye at one of my stupid questions or requests. I find the service formal but engaging and friendly, similar to European-style fine dining. Chef Masato is known to explain what's special about the fish your eating, famous for taking one of his books from behind him to explain something to you. And the quality of the fish, rice, and accompaniments are superb. Often I find the flavors subtle, such as in the sashimi and tartare of tuna, but in a way that lets the fish shine. So last night my wife and I ate there for the 5th time, but this was the first where we ate in the dining room instead of the sushi bar. We just showed up a little before 6:30 PM without a reservation, on a whim. We asked if they had a table for two -- they offered a seat at the sushi bar, but we turned it down because I wanted to try their soba -- and they seated us promptly. The restaurant was empty, but filled up quickly as our meal wore on. Our meal consisted of: Degustation of 11 varieties of sea lettuces -- for me this was something different to try. Presentation was lovely (I forgot to take a pic), some were pickled, others we were told to dip in the provided soy sauce. I quite liked this healthy, light starter. Sashimi & Tartare of Bluefin Tuna Risotto with uni, matsutake mushrooms, cabbage and chives. Balanced flavors, again not bold but very creamy. As good as most Italian restaurants produce. Hot soba noodles with matsutake -- most expensive soba ($30) I've ever eaten, worth it if you love matsutake. Total including a bottle of sparkling wine, tax and tip about $140, which is about as cheap as I can imagine a dinner for two there. I suggest Don add this one to his dining guide. http://15eastrestaurant.com/
  9. My wife and two sons(19 and 22) will be up in Manhatten for a wedding that weekend. Friday night we are looking for something good, close to Union Square as we'll be staying at the W and that metas the needs of my two boys whom primarily eat chicken, steak and pasta. The wedding is at Craft the next night and I'd rather not spend $$$$ at a steakhouse. Lots of recommendations like Hearth would work for me but my sons would not be happy. I thought I'd ask the board before we throw darts between Mesa Grill and 5 Napkin. BTW-That Friday night is our wedding anniversary as well! Little Italy or Village could be great but where. Thanks in advance Mark
  10. darkstar965 had the constraint of neighborhood, driving him to Raku II, we had the constraint of a late (3 PM) lunch - most places in town had closed, but Japonica was serving until 4:30. Japonica opened in 1978, and has received more than its share of press in its decades of existence - if you go to their website, you'll see plenty of rave reviews, including some "Best Of" mentions, but they're undated, and my how standards have changed in the past thirty years. I made the mistake of thinking I'd walk from Columbus Circle to Japonica in about an hour. Doable, of course, but not walking smack dab through the middle of Times Square the week between Christmas and New Years. Bad, bad, idea, Don, and for block after block, the crowd density was such that I was barely moving. Fifty minutes into my walk, I wasn't even halfway there, and got a text message from Sasha saying, "I'm at a table." Whoops, time to cab. After that hectic walk, walking into a nearly empty Japonica was exactly the comforting experience I needed, its well-worn but attractive feel just oozing comfort - I apologized for being late, and immediately ordered a cup of tea. Sasha used to work in this neighborhood, and knows the restaurant well, having been here many times. 'You can always find something good here,' was the distillation of his thoughts. And we sure did: an appetizer of Yasai Tempura ($13.50) was, for me, the highlight of the meal. "It's all Japanese pumpkin," our server advised us, and when it arrived we dug right in - an ample portion of perhaps eight wedges, perfectly fried in clean oil, brought to life by its dipping sauce. It was just the heat and the bulk we needed to round out our sashimi and sushi (it actually more than "rounded out" everything; we over-ordered, plain and simple). Sasha had ordered a favorite of his, a plate of Yakko-Tofu ($6.00), served unadorned except for some scallion and some soy sauce. This was a satisfying dish - for me, there are "different tofus for different situations," but if I had just one texture and prep to have for the rest of my life, this would be it. Plain, unfussy, and of pretty good quality - this type of presentation is in danger of being served too cold (often pulled from a 40-degree refrigerator), but this was merely cool, and correctly so. The raw fish arrived next, a mixture of Sake Maki ($9 + $2 for inside-out), and our guilty luxury, two pieces each of sashimi from the daily-special list: Yellowtail ($5.50 each) and Blue Fin Tuna (a painful $7.75 each). While I was disturbed at the price of these, I was equally astounded at the portion sizes - the roll was very large, really too large for single bites, and the sashimi was larger still, absolutely a double portion. I understand that people have primal cravings for massive amounts of raw fish (and I do, too); Sasha mentioned he brought a Japanese friend here a few years ago, and the critique was that the fish was cut too large, tilting things out of balance. I agree (though the caveman in me really did appreciate the quantity, I must admit). There's no doubt about it, we ordered too much for a "light lunch" - the tally, before tip, was just under $70 which was fair value for what we had. We both left happy, sated, and more than just a little primed for eight hours of wine tasting and dining soon to follow. Cheers, Rocks
  11. I am heading to San Francisco next week. I have reservations at the Slanted Door and Piperade. Any other suggestions for quick bites to eat (where I don't need a reservation)? Staying near Union Square, so walking distance would be great. Cheers. --- Plouf (giant shrimp)
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