Jump to content

Recommended Posts

If anyone is interested, I'll write a summary of my meals in Napa and San Francisco from a couple of weeks ago. (Is anyone interested? I don't want to write stuff if it won't be used.)

I'm heading to SF and Napa/Sonoma in August...so yes Don very interested!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

^I am if it involves ramen or meals at Nopa, Rich Table, or La Ciccia, where I have reservations coming up.

I'm interested.

I'm heading to SF and Napa/Sonoma in August...so yes Don very interested!

Okay, I have all my menus - I'll write something in the next week or so.

Elizabeth, I went to Rich Table in October, 2013 - I wrote a very thorough review which should be of some help to you. You should also PM ferment_everything, as he's been there several times, and his recommendation to me was an outright winner.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nopa was disappointing this time 'round.  Rich Table was excellent, especially those porcini doughnuts.  La Ciccia was probably very good but for various reasons I won't go into here I didn't particularly enjoy it.  That's no fault of the restaurant, though.  If the menu appeals to you, go, you'll probably love it.  It looks like everything is well-executed.

There were two great finds on the trip.  First, Ramen Underground in the financial district served a great bowl of tonkatsu.  Maybe not the very best, but certainly the perfect pick-me-up between a long flight and a not-yet-ready hotel room.  Second, B Patisserie in Pacific Heights was just outstanding.  We got a few things for breakfast and a few more things to eat on the plane.  Everything was exemplary, just the way it should be.  Most wonderful, though, was the kouign amann, which I've heard of but never tasted until yesterday.  It's basically croissant dough but shaped differently, with a little sugar to form a slightly caramelized glaze on top.

A friend suggested we try the xiao long bao at Dumpling Kitchen in the Sunset District.  The buns had nice thin wrappers but the broth and meat were bland.  If that's the best SF has to offer, don't bother.  Go to Bob's Shanghai in Rockville instead.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If anyone is interested, I'll write a summary of my meals in Napa and San Francisco from a couple of weeks ago. (Is anyone interested? I don't want to write stuff if it won't be used.)

I'm interested.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We're still waiting for your write up Don!

Okay. I'm sorry for the delay - I'm absolutely swamped until early June, and don't want to do a half-ass job (if anyone has any questions, write me (off the top of my head, here is a list)).

If people are interested, I'll start writing reviews again in June, but sometimes I wonder if I spend hours and hundreds of dollars writing these (I'll spend the money regardless), and 20 people read them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Any recommendations for a solo traveler on a budget? I'll be in Santa Rosa this thursday and heading to San Francisco sunday. I'm meeting friends at some point sunday afternoon/evening (though maybe in the east bay somewhere where they live), and I'll be staying downtown. Years ago with my dad I was at Swan Oyster Depot and liked it, though on this trip I think I might check out Hog Island (and maybe cowgirl?). Thinking of going to the Giants game monday night, so if anyone has any particular recommendations for around that area for pregame eats. Have no real preference in terms of type of food, I've been to SF many times before, just not in nearly a decade now.

I'm flying back tuesday afternoon, so also I'm looking to plan what I'm doing monday and potentially sunday night. Thinking of going to the Asian Art Museum as well as the De Young.

I'll also have thursday night and all day friday to plan around Santa Rosa, but will post in the Sonoma thread.

 

I got into San Francisco late sunday morning, headed to Oakland first for a matinee A's-Yankee's game at the Coliseum. Then met friends first at The Trappist, a Belgian-focused small beer bar in downtown Oakland. Not a big beer list, but they had some unique stuff on tap, I had an excellent gose from Germany. Walked across the street after that to a good Cambodian restaurant, though nothing great enough to especially seek out; service was good and lingered there for a couple hours with good conversation.

Monday my plan was to walk from downtown to the Asian Art Museum--oops, they and the DeYoung closed mondays. I walked to Golden Gate Park anyway and had some tea at the Japanese Tea Garden. Took Muni back downtown where I met friends at Yank Sing, an upscale but very good dim sum place (with another location, I want to say in Chinatown). Walked from there towards Chinatown, shopping around a bit, stopped at City Lights, then went up to Coit Tower, parting with friends at Fisherman's Wharf. Weather was perfect for the Giants game that night.

Tuesday I had a couple pre-flight hours to kill, so bought TCHO chocolate to take home, then also some cheese at Cowgirl in the Ferry Building. Growing up and currently living in Chicago fresh seafood is not something I'm used to eating, so I got a quick lunch at Hog Island, with a perfect view of Treasure Island & the Bay Bridge. Oysters were great, clam chowder less so. But when I stepped out of the car when I got back home I knew I was sick immediately. It could've been just that I'm not used to eating seafood, or maybe it was all the cream in the clam chowder--don't know.

But all in all, it was a great trip.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 3/18/2015 at 0:11 AM, DonRocks said:

If anyone is interested, I'll write a summary of my meals in Napa and San Francisco from a couple of weeks ago. (Is anyone interested? I don't want to write stuff if it won't be used.)

On 3/18/2015 at 5:38 AM, porcupine said:

^I am if it involves ramen or meals at Nopa, Rich Table, or La Ciccia, where I have reservations coming up.

On 3/18/2015 at 8:19 AM, jasonc said:

I'm interested.

Wow, okay, I'm writing without notes, but I remember enough to at least give you some guidance.

I arrived into Napa, spent a couple days in the valley, going to dinner both evenings at Oenotri (where I'd been before and loved). Oenotri reminds me of 2 Amys more than any other DC-area restaurant, the difference being that Oenotri is better on just about all fronts. Yes, as good as 2 Amys is (and it is good) Oenotri is a better restaurant, plain and simple - it's worth going out of your way for if your're staying up in that area. Highlights include produce, pizza, and any unusual dishes they may be featuring. Their menu changes regularly, so the exact items no longer exist, but I got a pizza with s, San Marzano Tomatoes, Fior di Latte, one other early spring vegetables from their garden, and a separate order of pancetta. I recommend any salad with Meyer-Lemon Vinaigrette, a Farm Egg surrounded by local produce, and Strawberry Gelato with Olive Oil Bombolini and Meyer Lemon Crema. This is the only restaurant on the entire trip that I went to on two separate occasions, and is one of the best Local and Seasonal, Modern Italian restaurants I've been to in my life. If it were in DC, it would be my favorite everyday restaurant.

I then took the SF from Vallejo into the Ferry Building, and had a fantastic lunch at The Slanted Door - I got there when it opened, before it was crowded, sat at the bar, and had some of the freshest seafood I've ever had. Starting with some wonderful non-alcoholic drinks with citrus and ginger in them (I went non-alcoholic this entire trip, and I'm glad I did, as it opened my eyes to what San Francisco is doing with the non-alcoholic cocktail scene - the drinks just plain taste better, and are less expensive - either brilliant concoctions, or fresh-squeezed juices - I'll take either one over something made with cheap alcohol, especially for lunch. The Wild Mendocino Uni ($20) was expensive, but came straight from a live uni, and was about the best I've ever tasted. an order of Beef Carpaccio was an excellent middle course - light, but satisfying, and my dessert isn't on the current menu but had Strawberries throughout.

Later that day I ordered on Caviar, and got my dinner from R&G Lounge in Chinatown; Salt & Pepper Prawns, House Special Steak, Black Mushrooms & Mustard Greens - this was as fine a hotel delivery meal as I've had in memory.

Next day for lunch: Zuni Cafe, which was by far the low point of the trip. I met a friend, and we waited standing for what seemed like forever, sipping on a crummy juice drink, until a decent table finally opened up. Having dined at Zuni Cafe before (and having been greatly disappointed at their famous "chicken for two" before), we ordered "safe" by getting small plates, and were remarkably disappointed. Our Salad was dressed by someone who must have been on their first day on the job - it was swimming in dressing, and we choked down a bowl of Polenta. We'd ordered the best-sounding Pasta dish we could find, and it, too, was a bitter disappointment. Our server asked if we wanted dessert, and we politely said no - we just wanted to get the heck out of there.

Dinner was another story, as it was in the form of a late Brunch at the outstanding Boulevard. The entire menu has changed over, and the one I brought home is buried in a box right now, but we were happy with 100% of our food items, *and* our drinks, and remembered how little it took to concoct a non-alcoholic drink that has some flavor and character. Boulevard was a huge winner on this trip.

Back in Napa, I headed back up to Bouchon for my second visit, and had yet another rock-solid meal starting off with one of very best bread baskets I've had at any restaurant in America. If Bouchon were in DC, Le Diplomate wouldn't be getting so much positive press, as it just simply has much better food. This time around I remember very well what I had: a Truite Grenobloise, perfectly cut and cooked, and perfect with my gingery non-alcoholic drink. It was a truly lovely, classic preparation which I'd gladly find in a Bib Gourmand restaurant anywhere in France.

I apologize for the lack of detail, but everything is thrown into boxes right now, so I did the best I could by memory.

  • Like 7

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A friend suggested we try the xiao long bao at Dumpling Kitchen in the Sunset District.  The buns had nice thin wrappers but the broth and meat were bland.  If that's the best SF has to offer, don't bother.  Go to Bob's Shanghai in Rockville instead.

Dumpling Kitchen is very meh.  Kingdom of Dumpling has my favorite XLB in town.  Shanghai House does good ones too, and the chicken wings are insanely good.  If you're down in Mountain View, go to Bamboo Garden.  Best XLB in the bay area imo.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So let's say you've never been to San Francisco. And let's say you're able to enjoy just one night there. And let's say the next night you're going to dine at The French Laundry, which will certainly check the box for exhorbitant fine dining/tasting menu extravagance. Where do you go? I was thinking I'd like to do something that SF does much better than DC. Perhaps Chinese food? But the reviews suggest Mission Chinese may have lost a step. What about Slanted Door? We have plenty of Vietnamese options in this area, but maybe that's worth trying. Or perhaps just a good burrito in the Mission District. Decisions, decisions. Any opinions?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I had a wonderful lunch at Slanted Door a few months ago, but I wouldn't waste dinner there. Have a look at my post from last month - it's plenty current.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ha! It was your post that made Slanted Door sound so good. So you'd say Boulevard? (We're staying in San Francisco that might).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ha! It was your post that made Slanted Door sound so good. So you'd say Boulevard? (We're staying in San Francisco that might).

Boulevard was *my* best meal there (aside from possibly Slanted Door, where I had a lot of things like Crudo); my worst meal, by far, was Zuni Cafe. That said, Boulevard is a pretty old restaurant, so it's not really cutting edge. I would honestly look at recent Beard Award nominees and winners, and see what's on the list from 2014 and 2015. There are literally twenty restaurants in San Francisco that you just won't go wrong with.

Oh! I forgot about Coqueta, where I had the best tapas of my life by far (I've been twice, and it was great both times) - go there, and *get a reservation*.  You can actually have a drink and some Crudo at Slanted Door (after walking around the Ferry Terminal Building), then hop up to Coqueta (or over to Boulevard), both very close to Slanted Door, for the remainder of your meal. Why not have a sampling of two places? Slanted Door is open all day, so you could go there at 4:30 (don't get fancy here; stick with raw fish and the like), and be at Coqueta by 6:00 - you'll have *great* drinks at Coqueta, too.

Take Uber over to Hotel Abri if you can get a discounted room - it's a great little boutique hotel, and my room was something ridiculous like $125 on hotels.com (I was there on a dead weekend and got lucky).

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So let's say you've never been to San Francisco. And let's say you're able to enjoy just one night there. And let's say the next night you're going to dine at The French Laundry, which will certainly check the box for exhorbitant fine dining/tasting menu extravagance. Where do you go? I was thinking I'd like to do something that SF does much better than DC. Perhaps Chinese food? But the reviews suggest Mission Chinese may have lost a step. What about Slanted Door? We have plenty of Vietnamese options in this area, but maybe that's worth trying. Or perhaps just a good burrito in the Mission District. Decisions, decisions. Any opinions?

When I visit San Francisco, no matter how long I stay, I always make sure I save one night for a giant Mission burrito and some salted caramel ice cream from Bi-Rite.  Sometimes it's the simple things.   :D

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We hit San Francisco for a long weekend to attend a wedding, what a great city!

Six of us decided to rent an AirB&B and we ended up with a three bedroom beach house overlooking the ocean in the Outer Sunset neighborhood, which is away from the tourist areas and really is an urban beach community.  Due to wedding activities I didn't get to hit up as many places as I wanted to, but that's how wedding weekends often work.

Cliff House "“ Perched on a cliff with panoramic ocean views and next to Land's End Park, Cliff House is a bit on the touristy side.  The Zinc Bar has a Clyde's Restaurant Group feel to it.  Popovers are the thing to order "“ a large bowl filled with steaming popovers, butter, and jam.  Makes for a pleasant afternoon snack while watching the fog roll in. 

Beachside Coffee Bar + Kitchen "“ Tucked in along Judah Street, a couple blocks back from the beach, this corner coffee bar and café is instantly likeable.  Excellent pour over coffee and great bacon and egg brioche sandwiches.  So good we went twice for breakfast.  DC needs more informal places like this.  Gets busy weekend mornings, especially on Sunday.

Trick Dog "“ I was tired and jet lagged and this place was loud and crowded.  Cocktails were ok.  I might have liked it on a slower, quieter night, but really I just wanted to go to bed.

Flour+Water "“ We took a side trip to Monterey and traveled back for one last day in S.F.  Knowing we would be traveling a good chunk of the day we wanted something casual and tasty and Flour+Water hit the spot.  Lovely fresh panzanella salad with heirloom tomatoes and lemon cucumber.  Cured salmon had pristine ingredients which didn't quite work together but the salmon has lovely.  Corn cappelletti with lobster mushrooms was one of the best pasta dishes I've ever had, the pasta was beautiful.  The pomodoro pizza was tasty, if a bit soggy.  I should have used the Two Amy's trick and ordered it well done.  Excellent bread and dipping olive oil.  This is a wonderful restaurant.

Philz Coffee "“ Our friends were raving about Philz Coffee and when we spotted the Philz Coffee Truck down by the Marina we had to get some.  Damn this is good coffee.  Pour over coffee from a truck with a view of the Golden Gate Bridge.   

The final night we stayed at Chateau Tivoli, a lovely restored Victorian B&B a couple blocks North of Alamo Square and the Painted Ladies.  Easy walks to Golden Gate Park, Civic Center and the fabulous Asian Art Museum, and a mostly downhill 30 minute walk to The Mission District.     

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I want to say thank you for all the good tips that folks provided for our one day in San Francisco, before our Napa trip.
 
Saturday afternoon we went to Taqueria Cancun in the Mission District where I had the chicken burrito. It was delicious. Not a life-changing experience as I've heard some describe SF burritos, but very, very good. I'd eat there a lot if I lived nearby.
 
But the main event of this particular trip was Coqueta. Thanks to Don for the recommendation. It has the vibe of sitting in a small warehouse or storage room, and let me emphasize 'small'. We were seated at an elevated table between the bar and the wall, and no one could walk by without bumping into us. It took a while for our server to come by, and between the cramped quarters and the lack of attention, I was getting anxious. I shouldn't have been. Once we were on the radar screen, we were treated to a fantastic dinner with warm, gracious service.

The server was helpful without being bossy. I'm not a fan of small plates, yet he convinced us to concentrate on the small plates. Were I an Eskimo, I'd have bought his refrigerator. But his advice was spot-on. I had wanted to try their paella, and he steered us away. "The paella is great, but it's big and you'll fill up on it," he said. "Since you're not from here and won't be coming back soon, try more small plates and get the pork shoulder."

Now I could tell you about the small plates... the Croquetas de Pollo which tastes like mini pot-pies... or the Gamas al Negro which are prawns with black garlic sauce and taste a little chalky but still very good. I could tell you about the "Sunny side-up Huevo" with crispy potatoes and chorizo dressing where I could have licked the plate. Or the Yellow Cauliflower Steak that was very good, but nothing you'd fly across country for.

Or... I. Could. Tell. You. About. The. Pork. Shoulder.

The pork shoulder is why you have servers. The good ones stop from you ordering what sounds good and tell you to order what is good. Ours was unequivocal: order the pork shoulder. Thank god we did. It was dropped off by a runner, who quickly disappeared. As we stared at the pinkish strips of charred meat, it was obvious there had been an error. They had brought us the beef rib-eye. Mistakes happen, and we flagged down our server to alert him to the mistake. "Sorry," he said. "I should have mentioned that. The pork is 100% acorn fed, so the finished result looks a lot like beef."

Humbled and hungry, I dug in. It was the best pork I've ever had. Rich, meaty, and smoky. It has now put me on a mission to find more 100% acorn fed pork. (Not acorn finished dammit, It's not the same!)

So if I can offer my own SF advice now. Go to Coqueta. Order the pork.

post-551-0-06979700-1444434996_thumb.jpg

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The server was helpful without being bossy. I'm not a fan of small plates, yet he convinced us to concentrate on the small plates. Were I an Eskimo, I'd have bought his refrigerator. But his advice was spot-on. I had wanted to try their paella, and he steered us away. "The paella is great, but it's big and you'll fill up on it," he said. "Since you're not from here and won't be coming back soon, try more small plates and get the pork shoulder."

Now I could tell you about the small plates... the Croquetas de Pollo which tastes like mini pot-pies... or the Gamas al Negro which are prawns with black garlic sauce and taste a little chalky but still very good. I could tell you about the "Sunny side-up Huevo" with crispy potatoes and chorizo dressing where I could have licked the plate. Or the Yellow Cauliflower Steak that was very good, but nothing you'd fly across country for.

Or... I. Could. Tell. You. About. The. Pork. Shoulder.

The pork shoulder is why you have servers. The good ones stop from you ordering what sounds good and tell you to order what is good. Ours was unequivocal: order the pork shoulder. Thank god we did. It was dropped off by a runner, who quickly disappeared. As we stared at the pinkish strips of charred meat, it was obvious there had been an error. They had brought us the beef rib-eye. Mistakes happen, and we flagged down our server to alert him to the mistake. "Sorry," he said. "I should have mentioned that. The pork is 100% acorn fed, so the finished result looks a lot like beef."

Humbled and hungry, I dug in. It was the best pork I've ever had. Rich, meaty, and smoky. It has now put me on a mission to find more 100% acorn fed pork. (Not acorn finished dammit, It's not the same!)

So if I can offer my own SF advice now. Go to Coqueta. Order the pork.

This reminds me so much of a similar story. I was in Annecy having dinner at Marc Veyrat (the most memorable meal I've ever eaten). When they brought out the cheese cart which was the size of a *piano*, our server asked us what we'd like to try. I replied that I'd like to try some cheeses from the region, "but there's no need to try Reblochon," I said, "because we can get that in Virginia."

The server looked at us in silence for about two seconds with a glare that bordered on being cocky and smug, yet somehow wasn't at all. He simply said, with a slightly dismissive look on his face, "Get the Reblochon," as if he knew some strange, dark secret that we weren't privy to. We got it, and it was like nothing I've ever tasted before or since - this was a classic example of transportation across the Atlantic - even in a best-case scenario - changing the very nature of unpasteurized cheese, and needless to say we thanked our server *profusely* - it was a lesson I'll never forget. (It probably didn't hurt that this was a Michelin 3-star restaurant, and they were sourcing *the* best Reblochon made.)

Coqueta puts Jaleo in proper perspective, don't you think? I know I said this above, but I've had tapas most places in the world worth trying them (Barcelona, Madrid, San Sebastian, etc.), and I've never had tapas as good as these.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Will post more later on our SF trip but just wanted folks to know that Coqueta is closed for a facelift through Jan. 7 (2016, just a few days), in case anyone is coming into town this week and was planning to eat there. We walked by today and they were already deep into refurbishment and the work only started this morning!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"S.F.'s Magnolia Brewing Co. Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy," by Sarah Fritsche and Esther Mobley on sfgate.com

I hope they make it out the other side in one piece (or a close facsimile thereof). While they didn't have the best beer in the world the couple times I've been, it's been solid beer, brewed well to style, and with good food to boot. And every time I've been there its been busy (at different times of day, days of week, and times of year...)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just got back from a week in SF and can happily crow about two dinners:  Frances & Stone's Throw were superb.  New American cooking, limited menus, informal but attentive and knowledgeable service and the courses were really, really good (menu changes daily).  The only issue with Frances is the tight space so it can feel cramped but the servers do a good job of maneuvering and paying attention.

Farafallon - seafood near Union Square Park - is a lovely room and the service is quite good but the hefty price tag and anemic sized servings casts a big shadow.  I would not return but others seem to love the daily changes.  The sable - aka black cod - was highlighted and was just meh.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Having seen this question I've been curious to find out what gives!!!   Steak and cheese or not?   I hit up HellBurger Arlington last week and discoverd a "steak sandwich" with cheese on the board menu, but it was definitely not the big and cheesy (a sandwich i loved for its quality of steak, cheese, overall gloppyness (gloppy in a good way) and one I thought offered a combination of better meat and cheese than any cheesesteak or steak and cheese I had devoured.

Well the big and cheesy is no more...at least not now.  In its place are steak sandwiches.

Steak sandwiches with a meat filling that is not shaved or thin beef or roast beef.   These are sandwiches with tri tip cuts, with thickness.  A steak sandwich.  I haven't eaten one or seen one in decades.  I did a quick search in google for one in DC and all I could find were steak and cheese sandwiches and in some noted expense acct steak houses, roast beef au jus with thin cut roast beef.  (It admittedly wasn't a thorough search--they might be out there).  I checked restaurants and images.   Didn't find another one.

I had the variation with mushrooms, onions.  Quite tasty.   Tri tips are a pretty rare steak cut in my experience.  They are smallish cuts....and I recall being introduced to the cut in California years ago at a BBQ.   Tasty then and tasty at HellBurger.

The sandwich was $11 or $12 as I recall and while not huge was ample in size and reasonably filling.  Hey it was steak...not shaved meat.

I don't consider myself a big red meat eater but I do get to Ray's and HellBurger periodically.  I still find the quality excellent and the pricing terrific.  And frankly a thickish or semi thick steak sandwich is something I have neither had or seen in what seems like forever.  Its a nice change of pace and I found it scrumptious.

Meanwhile HellBurger is an ever changing entity.  Even as the layout and presentation has changed it keeps putting out great quality burgers and other items at what I consider great prices for the quality.

I haven't been to Ray's for a couple of months, but this post hit a sweet spot for me. I'll be in San Francisco next week and one of my all-time fave sandwiches is the tri-tip from Buckhorn Grill, which compares to a Philly Cheesesteak like Toro at Sushi Taro compares to Chicken of the Sea....

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×