Jan 062009

I was chatting with a djsteen last night, who had the misfortune of eating at Chevy’s for dinner. There’s nothing wrong with Chevys and it’s easy to make the mistake since it is right next to Moscone South and they have commercials on TV. However, there are a lot of yum yum places to eat around that are not chains.

Be sure to check out Dining About Town. The deal is 3-course lunch for $21.95 or dinner for $34.95 and some of the best restaurants participate. Last year I created a detailed map, but I’m too lazy this time.

If you’re at Macworld in San Francisco right now, here’s a list of tasty places to eat. They are listed in order of ease to get to from Moscone.

Walking Distance

Green tea
Green tee fro Samovar

Working Girls Cafe – 100 Spear St – delicious sandwiches
Thirsty Bear 661 Howard – tapas and home brewed beer. It’s right next to Moscone and can accommodate large crowds
Samovar 730 Howard (inside Yerba Buena Gardens above the waterfall) very peaceful, great view, slow service. They serve a wide selection of teas from all over the world and sandwiches/salads.
B Bar- next to Samovar. mmm delicious oysters, and sandwiches. Both Samovar & B are slightly pricey lunch experiences.
Bloomingdale’s food court-underneath Bloomies. Even though it’s a mall food court, there’s no Panda Express here. My favorite places are the Korean BBQ, Thai Corriander, the gelato place and Asqew.
Harvest & Rowe55 2nd Street good salads and cupcakes
Whole Foods399 4th St. a variety of hot foods, soup, and a salad bar all for $8 per pound
Belden Place – Belden. a cute little street filled with decent restaurants, no car access, and lots of outdoor seating

Easy bart access

Sundried tomato pasta
Sundried tomato pasta at Mavericks

Hog Island Oyster Company – inside Ferry building. fresh delicious seafood, view of the water
Miette – Ferry Building. exquisite desserts
Maverick’s – 3316 17th Stquality ingredients turned into great classic American food, like friend chicken & pulled pork sandwiches
Pancho Villa3071 16th St best tacos in San Francisco
Little Star Pizza400 Valencia fantastic pizza, generally a long wait. I dream about little star.
La Traviata – 2854 Mission Street. really good italian, great ambiance

The mission has many, many good places to eat and drink.

Worth traveling
These places require cab use (busses are unreliable)
Absinthe398 Hayes St. simply delicious. I love this place
Millennium – 580 Geary St. fine vegetarian dining. Absolutely amazing. You won’t miss the meat.
Nopa – 560 Divisadero StI’ve never been but many friends loooove this place
Golden Era572 O’Farrell St. delicious vegetarian Chinese food, moderately priced.

Other suggestions? Comment below!

Sep 272008

Black cod in miso
Dennis, a friend and I went to Nobu in New York last month and I’m just processing the photos now. This place is absolutely delicious. Everything we ate was amazing and I highly recommend trying it. Service and drinks were both great. The black cod (pictured) was sweet and savory and melt-in-your-mouth good. The only failure was dessert. We got gelato in wood chip, green tea and black sesame. They were all horrible. The peach soup was decent. Say no to dessert and yes to everything else. The next time I go to LA I really want to try the Nobu down there.

(more photos from Nobu)

Apr 242008

Coming up again this Thurs (today). Check out the list of restaurants. 25% of the food bill goes to the STOP Aids Project. I’ll be at Home eating buttery mashed potatoes and other buttery goodness.

Places on the list I would recommend:
Maverick’s (mission)
Circolo (mission/potrero)
AsiaSF (soma, hot dancing, singing, asian trannies & food)
Live Sushi Bar(potrero)
Moose’s (north beach, then stop by a strip club afterwards)

Apr 082008
No joke sandwich

Eating in New York is dangerous. There are tourist traps everywhere — good food that is really expensive, pretty food that is no good, or food that is just plain bad. My latest trip to New York (pics) was foodgasmic.

We went to Katz, 2nd Ave Deli, Blue Smoke, La Famigilia, and some awesome restaurant — all places I would recommend trying. Employees Only was fantastic for drinks* (that was the December trip).

I feel like a NY sandwich could eat me. When we went to Katz, I ordered a turkey sandwich since I figured it would be lighter than the red meat ones. It was two slices of bread with a mound of giant chunks of real turkey pieces. No lettuce, tomato, onions, sprouts, arugula or anything I would expect in a California sandwich. Just meat and bread. The sandwich was decent, but I liked Dennis’ Ruben much better. I’d never had a Ruben before so I don’t have anything to compare it with, but it tasted really good. There is absolutely no way a person could/should eat an entire sandwich in one sitting from this deli.

Blue Smoke was mouth watering bbq goodness. Authentic bbq was also a first (what we Californians do in our backyards & parks is what bbq snobs call ‘grilling’). The ribs were tangy, sweet, saucy, and tender. I also experienced the best mac & cheese ever.

With so much animal consumed, I needed meat decompression when I returned. I can’t imagine eating meat every day.

Thoughts on vegetarianism & ginger smash drink recipe
Continue reading »

Jan 142008

For the last 7 years San Francisco has run Dine About Town to encourage people to go out in January (post holiday spending is traditionally low).

This is a great way to try a new restaurant or return to a place you love. Macworld is just around the corner so visitors can experience some of San Francisco’s tastiest restaurants at a reasonable price.

A 3 course lunch is $21.95 and dinner is $31.95 between January 15 and January 31.

I made a map of for all the restaurants that are participating. If you want to see it fill your screen go here.

View Larger Map

The map is bookmarked on my iphone so I can find a participating restaurant nearby and call/open table (yes open table is now a verb, as in: I open tabled for 7 at Mavericks tonight [photos review].) it while I’m out and about. It unfortunately loads a little slower than I would like. I added the special tag to make the phone numbers call-able on the iphone, but gmaps strips it out. Boooooo

I just *love* food and I want to make it easier for me (and perhaps some other people) to get things in my belly. (BTW I love Jo’s blog about restaurants. Sorry for never commenting.) If this map was useful to you, please let me know.

The coding stuff
For the first couple of restaurants, I manually copied and pasted info from the site to placemarks on gmaps. After about 10 minutes (and 3 restaurants) I noticed the “import” button. Ooooo kml. Scripting saves time, right? I spent about an hour writing a simple php script that extracts the url of each restaurant and then hits that restaurant page to grab the phone number, address, etc. It took me about 20 minutes to figure out why this kept returning 0:

$url = ” + $matches[0];

I thought I was going insane. Turns out I was just stupid. Php, it’s been too long since I’ve touched you. We need to touch more often.

Then it was time to turn the resulting restaurant array into kml. I make a test file and try to import via upload. It failed. Hmmm. After using one of their kml examples I found out that uploading fails every time. So I hosted the sample file, and the import worked. Instead of using <Point> (exact coordinates of the location) I wanted to use <address>. The documentation told me it would work. It seems to only work for one placemark. When I had 2 placemarks, only the first one imported and my maps title became ‘error’. I should have known that this was all a waste of time when the kml documentation kept hanging firefox.

And the blah blah blah with the mew mew. I ended up outputting my array into html and then manually copied and pasted the html onto each placemark. I’d love to know what is wrong with this kml in case I want to make more maps in the future. I’m sure it’s a lack of understanding on my part.

Jul 092007

After looking at all the menus at MGM, we chose Fiamma. Good Italian is difficult to find in SF, so it seemed worthwhile to try this cute Italian place.

The meal:
beet salad
octopus salad
grilled hamachi
lobster gnocchi
spaghetti & meatballs
donut holes

The best drink I had was at this restaurant. It was some brandy/cherry concoction that was (amazingly!!) not disgustingly sweet. I don’t know what is wrong with that city–the bartenders there are overall horrible. The drinks are expensive (~$12) and weak, the alcohol they use is complete shit and then they add a ton of sugar. Really, Rose’s lime juice is gross. Please use real limes.

The special of the day was the beet salad with string beans, arugula and parmesan. I absolutely love roasted beets, but these didn’t come out as well as I had hoped. They were just the tiniest bit undercooked and there a strong raw garlic flavor to it. The garlic and truffle oil were overpowering all the other flavors. Fortunately, it was the only disappointment of the night. The octopus salad with fingerling potatoes was really freaking good. It has a dense meaty texture and wasn’t overly salty. I skipped the beef carpaccio because raw meat is a little too bloody for me.

The gnocchi had a nice bit of resistance to it–it was creamy goodness and not mushy. The chunks of lobster were divine with the cremini mushrooms. Andy had the hamachi with pecans, which also was quite tasty. The fish was not overcooked and I loved the crunchy little nut bits. How does one justify $30 spaghetti? By putting kobe beef meatballs on it! It seems a little silly, but it was worth it–al dente noodles, fantastic sauce (not to tart or sweet), and those meatballs were deliciously tender.

Heavenly donut holes. They were sososososo good, and each golden fluffy ball came on a stick to facilitate dipping into their wonderful sauces. The panna cotta was also amazing. The accompanying almond cookies were crunchy bits of goodness. Props to the pastry chef Elizabeth Katz–she knew what she was doing.

Cost ~ $100 a person including tax, tip, and 2 drinks.

Decor was nice and so was the service. This place was a great experience. It was the only good meal we had in Vegas. Other restaurants were mediocre to lame to I-want-to-block-that-out-of-my-memory. It’s certainly worth trying and I would go there again the next time we’re in Vegas.

Mar 142007

For my sister’s birthday, Dennis and I took her and her fiance out for dinner at Aqua. This is one of those popular fancy restaurants that my sister has been talking about for years.
dishes I discuss:
raw hamachi with basil
pea soup
sturgeon with chickpea
skate with portabello
pot roast with prawns
creme brulee
chocolate tart
lemon souffle
poached pears

crappy cameraphone photos from topleft, clockwise: scallops, white sturgeon, beef with prawns, poached pears, soufle, tart

Continue reading »

Jul 232006

The Dresden Dolls have become so popular that I don’t think I’ll ever be able to enjoy them at a small-medium sized venue again. They will be performing at The Warfield, but alas, it is sold out. Sadness. Though I am willing to drop $40-50 to see them perform, dealing with scalpers takes so much effort. One the one hand, I’m really happy that they’re moving up and such, but on the other hand, THIS SUCKS SO HARD!!!

And dude, The Rauconteurs for $80 a person? WTF. Their one album is nothing spectacular. I don’t think I have any understanding of what is ‘cool’.

I have tickets for: The Velvet Teen (July 29 at GAMH), Zero 7 (Aug 30 at The Fillmore[btw anyone know what happened to the fillmore and why it directs to live nation now?]), Less Than Jake (Oct 17 at Slims), and Ratatat (Sept 18 at GAMH).
I also _might_ have 1 extra of each (except for Velvet Teen) for anyone who may be interested in joining, though I am perfectly happy picking up tix for anyone. I work close enough to Slims.

Last night Dennis and Erin and I went to Catch To start with positive things, the food was decent. We started with kumamoto and malpeque oysters. I can’t remember which one I had but it was light and sweet. After having gotten over the ‘omg it’s still alive while I’m chewing it’ aversion to oysters (which took me a good 2 years), I’ve found that they can be very tasty. The crab cakes with the apple/raisin chutney was very good. The chutney provided the necessary tartness for the dense meaty cakes. We also tried the butter leaf salad with (fuji?) apples, candied walnuts and pecorino. It also tasted very pleasant, but I won’t get into how no one in the restaurant knew from what region the pecorino came, and the waiter told me ‘from his knowledge of working at an Italian restaurant, that the cheese comes from the northern region’. (Jack must be cringing at this…) My chosen entree was monkfish with a spinach/corn risotto. I liked the sweet corn in the creamy (not overpowering) rice, but Dennis thought it was ‘quite horrible’. The cut of fish was beautiful, but it was a touch more cooked (medium-ish) than I prefer it. Dennis enjoyed the halibut with pea-sized bits of crispy potato, broccolini, and asparagus. I had a bite and it was yummy happiness. Erin had a variety plate that had 3 types of fish; mahi mahi, tuna, and something else I can’t remember. It hit her spot.

All that being said, I don’t think I’ll go there again. I don’t want to be a snob, but being seated 20 minutes after the time that the reservation was made is a big no-no (especially if others are being seated). It shows that the restaurant is not well organized and does not respect their customers. The waitstaff is not horrible (as they are at Citizen Cake), but it was not friendly either.

This afternoon we all went to Maverick’s for brunch. I have written about this place before, and it continues to please. Who could resist $1 blackberry mimosas? (only the 1st one is $1, but that’s usually plenty of alcohol for me). The texan migas is goooooood- crispy tortilla strips, scrambled egg, fresh salsa with a nice bite of cilantro, and cubed garlic/parsley potatoes. It was exactly what I needed to pep me up. Erin’s beautifully made plate of sliced d’anjou pears and strawberries, toast and cheese also looked very appetizing. Andy’s salad was over-dressed, but it wasn’t much of a loss. The chips that came with Dennis’ bbq sandwich were perfectly crisp. After devouring our food, we further stuffed ourselves with dessert. The thought of the bing cherry crisp makes my mouth water. It comes warm, covered with sliced almonds and granola and topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. The cherries cannot be from a can because they were so flavorful. We also had cinnamon-sugar donut holes which were light, fluffy, and not oily at all.

May 092006

Last Saturday, Dennis and Adam and Katie and I went to the fabulous Moroccan place in the Mission. I can’t remember what it was called (I think it starts with ‘A’), but it was on Valencia between 16th and 17th near Bombay Ice Cream.

The place is very comfortable–low light, cushioned seats and benches. It has a nice loungy atmosphere. The center of the restaurant is dominated by a small stage, where musicians play what I can only assume is Moroccan music. All attention focuses on the belly dancers when they begin their performance. The music becomes pretty loud and you can’t help but watch the dancer as she sways seductively (be sure to have some small bills to tip her).

For starters, we ordered the appetizer sampler for 3. The pita came out warm and fresh. I absolutely loved the falaffel. It’s crisp, not-too-oily crust gave way to blended chickpeas and yummy spices. The walnut spread was also very good. It is a little more textured than hummus, and just the tinist bit sweet. I thought that the hummus had a little too much lemon, and not enough tahini. There was another spread which may have been baba ganoush, but it didn’t strike me as memorable in any way.

They then served our meat platter sampler (they all have prettier names than that), and apricot chicken. The lamb kebabs were pretty good, and so were the grilled shrimp. The shells are left on so they don’t dry out on the grill. I thought that the zucchini needed salt, but after having it with the meat, I realized they were meant to be eaten together. I didn’t particularly care for the apricot chicken. The jam/sauce was great (contained non-mushy chunks of apricot), but the chicken was dry. Everything is served over round-grained (saffron?) rice.

The Turkish coffee is amazing. (As in, you _must_ get it) It is thick, almost like melted chocolate, and already sweetened. Service is not a reason to come here. They are understaffed, but think of it as an opportunity for you to enjoy your food at a leisurely pace. It’s all about the ambiance and the food.

Update: It’s called Amira

May 062006

Last night Dennis and I went to Maverick’s for dinner. The place is tiny–seats maybe 30. The food is very ‘american’ (vegetarian unfriendly), but the service is excellent. Dennis is very fond of this place for that reason. (It is also within the allowed 4 block radius of our home).

I started with an apple and celery soup, which, in the classic french style, was pureed and had cream. Taking a slow, long, sniff I was reminded of Thanksgiving. The flavors were very subtle, with only a hint of apple, but well balanced. Dennis had clams with bacon and shallots sans bell pepper butter. He seemed to really enjoy it, but I found the bacon-clam combination a little odd. It probably has a lot to do with the fact that I have only lately begun to consume bivalves. When I was young, I absolutely hated them.

My second plate featured halibut with some sauteed greens. I found the greens to be a bit too tart and salty, which would have been a nice balance to the halibut, except that the greens had too much cream in them. The fish was not overcooked, though, and had a very nice texture. It was accompanied with sliced fingerling potatoes (the trendy new thing in cuisine it seems. Really, I don’t understand why anyone would pay $2+/lb for potatoes) and fresh peas. The peas were sooooo good. They were barely cooked, and so retained their natural sweetness and crunch. Dennis had lamb which he didn’t comment on. I can only assume he enjoyed his rare chunk of meat.

We didn’t have dessert this time, but I remember the last time we went together I enjoyed the apple crisp much more than either the strawberry-rhubarb cake or the chocolate bread pudding.