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The other thing that I forgot to mention that really ticked us off was the fact that from the moment we sat down to when we left, FOH staff kept upselling and they were not subtle.

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Beef tartare with Dijon mustard, shallots, quail egg and toast points.

A very good rendition.

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Lamb and vegetable brochettes, with couscous and mint coulis.

If there was mint coulis, I didn't taste any.  Couscous was buttered and lovely; the brochettes were "all right".  Way too much sauce which needed a touch of salt.

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Eggs Benedict, side salad

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Cinnamon pain perdu, mixed berries, chantilly cream.

I'd go back just for the dessert alone.

Chez Maman
401 Gough Street (Hayes Street)
Hayes Valley

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On 1/25/2017 at 0:45 AM, DIShGo said:

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.

A few summers ago I had two cases of It's-It shipped to me here in Maryland. Stuffed my auxiliary freezer with them. Was very popular with my friends for the next few months.

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On 8/20/2017 at 4:57 PM, porcupine said:

A few summers ago I had two cases of It's-It shipped to me here in Maryland. Stuffed my auxiliary freezer with them. Was very popular with my friends for the next few months.

The green tea flavor (new as of this year) is dangerously good.

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We had brunch at one of our favorite dim sum palaces which unfortunately will soon be torn down and converted to a real estate development.

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New Asia Restaurant
772 Pacific Avenue (Stockton Street)
Chinatown

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Much better Friday night date night dinner at one of our local tapas places.

It's not Casa Mono nor does it approach the quality of Toro in NYC. And you can have better in San Francisco; Esperpento comes immediately to mind. Having said that, the food is ok and since B and I are cheap dates, Beso served its purpose. Also, remember what I said elsewhere about the quality of restaurants in the Castro. I suppose I'll have to give the place another shot. We liked it this visit unlike last time where someone in the kitchen was heavy-handed with the salt.

Apologies for the blurriness of some of the photos.

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Watermelon gazpacho with cucumber and tomato.

Not a bad rendition, although I prefer a traditional version made in a clay bowl. What fruit there was, was an underlying flavor that wasn't overwhelming.

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Seared marinated beef skewers, toasted bread, salsa verde.

Beef was a bit on the chewy side and not much marinade flavor; was otherwise nothing to write home about. Pickled onions saved it from being utterly boring.

For $10 BTW.

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Roasted wild mushrooms, rosemary Manchego cheese.

This was amazing and I'm going to try duplicating it for brunch tomorrow.

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Gambas al ajillo (garlic shrimp) with toast points.

Shrimp was a tad overcooked; otherwise very good. The only way to beat Beso's is by making your own.

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Seared fresh chorizo, sunchoke purée, spinach, pickled red onion, garlic chips, red wine reduction.

We thought this was a plate that suffered from "kitchen sink syndrome" and it shows. Also, sunchokes don't exactly inspire. It's the middle of Indian summer in San Francisco. Why isn't the kitchen using produce that reflects the season?

 

Beso
4058 18th Street (Castro Street)

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19 minutes ago, TrelayneNYC said:

We thought this was a plate that suffered from "kitchen sink syndrome" and it shows. Also, sunchokes don't exactly inspire. It's the middle of Indian summer in San Francisco. Why isn't the kitchen using produce that reflects the season?

You know what? I speed-scrolled down your post - I still haven't read it as carefully as I will - and my first impression was that "these are pictures of muddled food." Without looking at any picture longer than 1/4-second, I could take a pretty good guess that the cuisine was problematic, having no clarity at all.

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4 minutes ago, DonRocks said:

You know what? I speed-scrolled down your post - I still haven't read it as carefully as I will - and my first impression was that "these are pictures of muddled food." Without looking at any picture longer than 1/4-second, I could take a pretty good guess that the cuisine was problematic, having no clarity at all.

They're supposed to be tapas.

Only one of those pictures is a traditional tapa. Guess which one correctly and you win a Snickers bar. ;)

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5 minutes ago, TrelayneNYC said:

They're supposed to be tapas.

Only one of those pictures is a traditional tapa. Guess which one correctly and you win a Snickers bar. ;)

I went from bottom-to-top, and at first I thought Chorizo, but then I saw the Gambas al Ajillo.

---

BTW, I didn't read your text when I wrote that; just looked at the pictures. I'll read this in depth tomorrow, but this restaurant, whatever it is, wherever it is, repels me.

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7 minutes ago, TrelayneNYC said:

Bingo!

I've seen this in DC served in a ceramic plate, rather than in the cast-iron bowl it was (or should have been) baked in. This happens more often than you might care to imagine.

Welp, at least you had plenty of liquid in which to douse your bread. 

That chorizo looks good, btw, and I'd *much* rather see a small portion of *just* the chorizo, maybe on top of some crema or something, if they feel the need to gussy it up.

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I thought Toro in NYC was much better.

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Jamon de la Quercia

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Shishito peppers, olive oil, Maldon sea salt

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Quail with almonds, green olives, spring peas, Meyer lemon

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Mushrooms, fiddlehead ferns, farm egg

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Cuttlefish and orzo risotto, with squid ink, goat cheese and ham

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Galician octopus, with charred onions and crispy potatoes

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Cauliflower and kohlrabi with pine nuts, raisins, anchovy and pimenton de la vera

This was a bit salty IIRC.

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Seafood stew with lobster, sea urchin and parsnip

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Smoked duck drumettes with an apricot-mustard glaze

The kitchen comped us this one. It was my least favorite of all of the above: dry and boring.

Out of all of those, only three four are tapas that I could see being served in Spain.

The other difference between Beso and Toro - at least in my admittedly limited experience - is that the ingredients make sense.

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B and I had our weekly date night Friday night - first at a kind of an "upscale diner", then at a performance of Hamlet at the American Conservatory Theater. I found out later that the SF Chronicle had rated it a 3 out of 5 which was in line with our assessment afterwards. Some great soliloquies but overall quite lacking in the passion department.

Oh, but you're here for the food pix.

Daily Grill
347 Geary (Powell Street)
Union Square

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Crab cake, beurre blanc.

For $17. Mostly lump meat crab, very little filler. Next time I'll make my own.

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Gazpacho.

A mediocre version - the green thing you see in there is avocado. I'm not picky about what we eat AS LONG AS IT'S MADE CORRECTLY.

If it's not made correctly, why is it on the menu?

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Meatloaf and creamed spinach.

Very good. We should have stuck with this instead but I was starving by the time we got to the restaurant. And speaking of which, now I have a craving for meatloaf so maybe that will be for dinner sometime this week.

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Worst strawberry shortcake ever. B tried to steer me to the key lime pie or banana cream pie instead but unfortunately my eyes had different ideas. I guess I ordered wrong.

Oh well, strike another restaurant off the list.

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My most memorable places living in the bay area was

  • the stinking rose in SF - Italian 
  • El grullense in Pacheco -the BEST mex food ever in my life!!
  • pier market stand in SF pier 39 - clam chowder in nostalgic SF sourdough bread bowl
  • china bistro in Walnut Creek - fried rice, dumplings, chow mein..all things chinese food
  • pho saigon in El Sobrante - so comparable to pho 75 in Arlington but slightly better 
  • Kinders in Pleasant Hill and various locations - Hands down best bbq and filet sandwiches

oh I can keep going on and on

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tonight was date night so we went to a local seafood place

Anchor Oyster Bar - 579 Castro (18th Street)

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I don't remember the provenance of these oysters

Served with mignonette and cocktail sauce with horseradish

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Cioppino, served with garlic bread

This is a half-portion, enough for two people

I finished it, of course. B joked, "Do you have a bottomless pit for a stomach, because I don't understand where you're putting all of that food!"

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Sea scallops, roasted potatoes, vegetables

Then we went across the street to an ice cream shop

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Snowball ice cream is toasted coconut, marshmallow fluff and chocolate cake pieces...hmmm, no thanks 

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The exotic flavor known as VA-NIL-LA ice cream with hot fudge

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Milk chocolate banana ice cream with hot fudge

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On Friday, we went to one of our standbys in San Francisco, Esperpento, a tapas restaurant in the Mission.

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escalivada (roasted eggplant, peppers and onion with hard cooked egg)

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alcachofas a la plancha (grilled artichokes).

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Gambas al ajillo (garlic shrimp).

A bit more oily than I'm used to, and the shrimp weren't as big. Still tasty.

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Albondigas (meatball stew with saffron).

Somewhat mediocre. Needed salt.

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Repollo rehogado (cabbage with garlic and paprika).

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Chorizo salteado "cantimpalitos" (chorizo sautéed in olive oil).

With a glass of sangria and one of amontillado, total bill was $70 for two including a 20% tip. Not bad.

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Good BBQ is hard to find in San Francisco and it doesn't seem as if the offerings at 4505 Burgers & BBQ match up to their reputation.

Beans were the best thing offered; I could make a meal of those alone. Nice balance of spice and sweetness.

Brisket was just "ok" and the chicken faintly redolent of smoke. Good coleslaw is exceedingly difficult to come by, and this batch had barely any interest. I might as well have been eating rabbit food. Pozole was fine.

The thing is, this place is packed to the gills at night. B and I have been here before, and we just don't get its appeal.

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BTW, those two pics are the first I've ever taken on an iPhone.

Haven't thought about Instagram yet...give me time.

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12 hours ago, TrelayneNYC said:

Good BBQ is hard to find in San Francisco

It is, that's why you got to make your way across the bridge to Oakland lol 

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Not the best lunch today at Ikaros, a Greek restaurant in Oakland, an understatement if ever there was one.

We had gotten to the restaurant at 1:15 pm. A waiter didn't take our order until 10 minutes had elapsed. Then it was another 20 minute wait for this appetizer. I was furious but kept my cool although I was thinking of simply asking for the check at that point.
 

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I wish I could say that the wait was worth it. This needed salt amongst other things.

Zucchini strips - basically grilled zucchini tossed with a vinaigrette.

For $8.50.

The restaurant was almost empty when we arrived and filled up while we were there. 

There were at least two servers on the floor - it's not a large space. The servers weren't doing anything other than walking around.

We weren't able to get a waitperson until we specifically asked for one.

B noted that the manager wasn't around which is a telling and not good sign.

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Fried eggplant accompanied with tzatziki.

The eggplant was "fine". The tzatziki needed a ton more garlic and tasted mostly of yogurt mixed with sour cream.

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House salad with feta. B ordered a skewer of lamb souvlaki to go along with the salad.

Was quite average although the feta was borderline bland. I'm still trying to wrap my mind around that one.

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Broiled half chicken brushed with lemon, olive oil and oregano, served with rice pilaf and steamed vegetables.

The chicken was the unkindest cut of all - burnt, charred and OVERCOOKED. The bottom portion went uneaten - it was so tough you could have served it to a certain famous individual as well-done steak and gotten away with it.

We paid $23 for the privilege of eating this plate of food.

 

Ikaros
3268 Grand Avenue (Mandana Blvd.)
Oakland, CA

 

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We went to Contigo last night.

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Cava, strawberries, rose lillet

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Salt-cured anchovies, mató cheese, black pepper.

Very tasty and it's an idea I'll probably replicate at some point in the future.

The cheese was fresh and creamy with lovely sweetness throughout, sort of a Catalan version of ricotta.

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Squid, cranberry beans, sweet peppers, chorizo.

Sounded great on paper but not so much in execution. This was just "all right". Needed a bit of zip - whether it was from garlic or a bit more spice in the sauce, or possibly a pinch of salt. There was something missing.

The first tapa was the best one and this dish is where things started to go south for us.

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White anchovies, avocado, espelette pepper, lemon zest.

Sort of an upgraded version of avocado toast. This was not as successful as the first anchovy tapa. Too many things going on the plate.

The flavors were also jarring - boquerones were too dominant and needed something strong enough to stand up to it.

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Pork, lamb and jamón meatballs, tomato sherry sauce.

Great concept on paper...sorry to sound like a broken record. The meatballs were a bit tough, the sauce not memorable. I'm sitting here several hours later and posting this on the Internet...and the flavor of the sauce was a total blur so that tells you something.

Looks great though, and appropriately priced at $13.

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Catalan summer vegetable ratatouille, roasted in wood oven with a farm egg.

That's language straight from the menu...and I am unaware of ratatouille made with anything other than vegetables one obtains in the summer, so that wording is redundant. (Because if it's made with cabbage, it probably isn't ratatouille. But I digress.)

This was ok. The egg was superfluous though.

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Hot chocolate with churros.

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Cheese plate.

Clockwise from center foreground: manchego cheese; quesuco ahumado de liébana (cow's milk cheese from Cantabria); patacabra (goat cheese from Aragon). Served with bread, quince jam and fresh hazelnuts.

You're thinking we hate Contigo but the truth is that it was just ok. We may be back eventually; the restaurant gets points for having comfortable counter seats. FOH staff tends to disappear - we waited 15 minutes just for the dessert menu and then another 15 minutes just to get the check. We happen to think Esperpento is better.

Contigo
1320 Castro (24th Street)
Noe Valley

 

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