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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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I recently had a long layover in SFO but it wasn't the most ideal window starting on a Monday morning. I had planned on checking out SFMOMA which I hadn't seen since its re-opening, but after I lost a

We went to Nari on Saturday. It's Pim Techamuanvivit's new restaurant. Pluots with pork, shrimp, peanuts, garlic, coriander roots and coconut sugar Watermelon with sweet and salty

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

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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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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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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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I recently had a long layover in SFO but it wasn't the most ideal window starting on a Monday morning. I had planned on checking out SFMOMA which I hadn't seen since its re-opening, but after I lost a few hrs dealing with baggage, I audibled to just stuffing my face.

side note: I lived in the SFBA for a while back in the early 00s and BART seems a lot cleaner than I remember...

Tartine Manufactory: First visit; did this replace another business or was this carved out of the Heath space next door? Either way, it's a bright open space and not slammed like the original used to be (or still is?). The burrata was a bit too rich for me by itself (fat on fat, with nuts) but I was trying to save up some carbs for an olive fougasse to go. The smorrebrod was very good, although I would have liked the bread to be even denser.

Stone fruit, housemade ricotta, fried almonds, fennel-chili oil, basil

Chicken, English pea, spring onion smorrebrod

Burrata, Meyer lemon, pistachio

Bavarian fruit tart

Tres leches cake, coconut milk, cajeta, crema

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Kin Khao: It's in a weird spot behind the Hilton Park 55. The chef recently took over the helm at Nahm in Bangkok. I need to go back and see what I had in previous visits, but overall everything seemed a bit toned down than I remember. I am by no means a spice fiend but the first 2 dishes could have used more heat and/or funk. The khao soi had satisfying slow build and was just right for me, so probably unbalanced for normal folks.

Nam tok beans (Rancho Gordo cranberry beans tossed Isaan-style w/ lime, chili, rice powder, light soy, shallots)

Khao kan jin (pork+rice+blood steamed in banana leaf; garlic chips, fried/raw shallots, cilantro, lime)

Khao soi (Northern style chicken curry broth, egg noodle, pickled mustard greens, shallots, lime)

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Cotogna: This is one of my favorite places in SF - easy to walk in (not walk to, with 60 lbs of carryon bags) and great fancy unfancy (or unfancy fancy?) food. The squid salad was the best thing I had all day - so tender and not overdressed. Always a sucker for sardines, and at this point I was still considering ordering the squid salad again. The pasta could have used more mint or acid to cut into the fat. The stone fruit bookends were a nice unintentional framing.

ETA: Also noticed that the staff are now allowed to wear dark Adidas (used to be only Chucks)

Painted serpent cucumbers with squid & ruby red grapefruit

Grilled local sardines with summer squash & salsa verde

English pea casoncelli with brown butter & mint

Lemon verbena sherbet with peaches & wild plums

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We went to Le Central for a birthday lunch on Saturday.

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Lillet blanc, St. Germain, honey, lemon and champagne.

The pictures you're about to see came out really well, and when you view them, you'll understand why I prefer to shoot food in natural light as much as possible.

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Pâté de Campagne, with cornichons and mustard.

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Roasted bone marrow, fig jam, bread.

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Onion soup gratinée.

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Butter lettuce salad, with apple, cherries and preserved lemon vinaigrette.

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Pan-roasted salmon, winter root vegetables, saffron fumet.

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Filet mignon au poivre, haricot verts, mushrooms.

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Pommes frites.

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Roast chicken, with parsnip chips, bacon-lemon brussels sprouts.

I think this was the best dish on the table. Outstanding.

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Seared scallops, butternut squash purée, fennel.

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Banyuls.

I was going to order a glass of poire eau de vie and I'm glad I switched at the last minute.

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Strawberry rhubarb crumble, vanilla ice cream.

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Grand Marnier chocolate flourless cake, chocolate rum sauce, candied orange, whipped crème fraîche.

We'll be back, of that you can be sure.

 

Le Central Bistro
453 Bush Street (Grant Avenue)

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Went to Angler Saturday night and wow it was good. Antelope tartar, Tina with tomate gelee, hen of the woods, escarole with XO, herb salad, roasted beet, 60 day porterhouse, many excellent wines, fabulous caramel sauce on the desserts, green chartreuse. Friends are friends with the owner/investors so I didn’t pay, and we had spectacular service, but wow I loved it. Sat in the “lodge” side of the house, not the fish. 

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I did a week-long trip to SF entirely for eating purposes with a focus on hitting a bunch of the notable tasting menus.  Ate at Manresa, Quince, Californios, and Benu.  Some general observations / thoughts as someone visiting from DC.

  • The produce to me really stands out compared to the east coast.
  • I felt like I better understand when people talk about a disparity between US versus Europe in terms of what Michelin stars mean because I definitely felt something similar just comparing SF to DC (and even a lot of the food I've had in NY).  All 3 of the 3 stars completely outclassed Inn at Little Washington and the two star (Californios) I thought was better than any of the DC tasting menus.
  • I'm not sure I could've more thoroughly enjoyed myself.

All of those meals were very expensive - one thing I'd be interested to see if have some of the more wine knowledgeable people weight in on how much the wine pairings (which I did at every place listed above) is worth the value.  *As a non expert I thought they all featured some incredible wines but I certainly don't know enough to comment on value in this case.

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These are photos from last week

I haven't been posting as much but will soon rectify that hopefully

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Baked bread (fresh out of the oven), chickpea-carrot spread.

Great vegan option.

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Orange wine from Greece

(wine made from oranges, apparently)

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Curried roasted golden beet, carrot, apple and chicory salad with walnuts.

Terrific balance of sweet, tart and bitter throughout. The kitchen loves mustard and while there was a light touch in the vinaigrette, this ingredient also showed up in the porkchop B ordered.

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Cumin scented English pea pancakes with carrot, pistachio, feta, arugula and mint.

Someone in the kitchen knows how to fry. The pancakes were feather light, crisp on the outside with the freshness and sweetness of the peas shining through

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Rosemary-nated pork chop with roasted potatoes, artichokes, green beans, mustard seeds and fava salsa verde.

Moist, well-seasoned and just perfect. Would recommend on this plate alone

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Fried Mary’s chicken with mashed potatoes & gravy, coleslaw and buttermilk biscuit.

Chicken was moist and juicy; breading a touch oversalted. Coleslaw was average (faint sweetness, not enough acidity) but that's ok because I'm difficult to please in that department. Otherwise, a very good plate of food. Would order again.

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Bartlett pear sorbet.

Intense fruit flavor in 3-4 bites. Sometimes that's all you need to end a meal

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Chocolate-hazelnut crepes, roasted banana ice cream, salted caramel sauce, candied hazelnuts.

We had a really nice time here and can't wait to return.

Firefly
4288 24th Street (Douglass Street)
Noe Valley

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10 hours ago, Rovers2000 said:

Anyone have any car service's that they've used to get from SF to Napa?  Its a day trip and I suppose I can also just grab an uber / Lyft as well - but figured I'd at least ask.

I'm sure you can use the usual Uber/Lyft

I once took an  Uber from my firm's office in Silicon Valley back to our apartment in SF. It cost about $50 and took roughly a little over an hour. Shouldn't be too difficult to get to/from Napa.

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2 hours ago, TrelayneNYC said:

I'm sure you can use the usual Uber/Lyft

I once took an  Uber from my firm's office in Silicon Valley back to our apartment in SF. It cost about $50 and took roughly a little over an hour. Shouldn't be too difficult to get to/from Napa.

I'm not sure where you're leaving from, but consider the ferry from Vallejo to San Francisco Pier 41 - I've done it once, and it's a perfectly fine experience - you need to park your car in the Vallejo lot, but it was worth it to me - you're also not burdened with a car in San Francisco.

PS - Feel free to thank me here :)

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10 hours ago, TrelayneNYC said:

I'm sure you can use the usual Uber/Lyft

I once took an  Uber from my firm's office in Silicon Valley back to our apartment in SF. It cost about $50 and took roughly a little over an hour. Shouldn't be too difficult to get to/from Napa.

Thanks - I wasn't sure what the tolerance of the drivers in the area would be to the trip there and back.  I'm out in SF speaking at a conference and tend to always err on the side of not driving if I don't need to so was debating the "driver" vs. "uber / lyft".  Appreciate the perspective

 

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12 hours ago, DonRocks said:

I'm not sure where you're leaving from, but consider the ferry from Vallejo to San Francisco Pier 41 - I've done it once, and it's a perfectly fine experience - you need to park your car in the Vallejo lot, but it was worth it to me - you're also not burdened with a car in San Francisco.

PS - Feel free to thank me here :)

I don't drive nor do I have a driver's license so this tip isn't terribly helpful to me, plus it doesn't get me to my residence directly

I prefer Uber as much as I loathe them. I would take a yellow cab from the SV office if I could but I don't think those are nearly as convenient.

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4 hours ago, Rovers2000 said:

Thanks - I wasn't sure what the tolerance of the drivers in the area would be to the trip there and back.  I'm out in SF speaking at a conference and tend to always err on the side of not driving if I don't need to so was debating the "driver" vs. "uber / lyft".  Appreciate the perspective

 

I'm sure my driver was glad for the chance to make some real money instead of the usual $8-$20 fare that's typical of most Uber rides in SF (based on personal experience with the service).

 

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We went to Nari on Saturday. It's Pim Techamuanvivit's new restaurant.

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Pluots with pork, shrimp, peanuts, garlic, coriander roots and coconut sugar

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Watermelon with sweet and salty crispy trout and shallots

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Haricots verts, torn chicken, peanuts and sesame, coconut-tamarind dressing

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Spicy squid, sticky pork jowl, spicy chili-lime vinaigrette and peanuts

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Ribeye, prickly ash relish, grilled scallions, grilled sticky rice, served with herbs and vegetables

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Massaman curry - lamb shank, grilled onions and nectarines

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Rice dumplings, raspberries, coconut milk syrup, pandan oil, rice tuile

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Makrut lime curd, strawberries, sweet crisp rice

Total bill was $330 for two people with tax and a 20% tip. There were some wines, a cocktail, tea and coffee.

We'll be back, of that you can be sure.

Nari
1625 Post Street (Laguna Street)
Japantown


Highly recommended.

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We had dim sum in Chinatown on Saturday, then stuff from a Chinese bakery along Grant Street. 

Besides the usual siu mai, potstickers and noodles, there were also these:

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Beef tripe with ginger, chile and scallion

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Fried taro balls, stuffed with shrimp and pork

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Shrimp and chive dumplings

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Roast duck, soybeans

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Black sesame paste rolls

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