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Absonot

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  1. Absonot

    Maya

    I just dined here last Friday for the first time. We didn’t follow the DAT menu scheme, because it didn’t occur to us and because our server did not mention it. I don’t think we would have felt too constrained to do so however, because there seem to be many DAT options according to their website. The dining room is nice, and the service was unobtrusive and solid. But the food? Eh. **Guacamole: The guacamole is made to order, and they ask whether you want it mild, medium or spicy. We asked for spicy, but it ended up being quite mild. It was fine, but I expected more heat…and I’m a lightweight in the heat department. The guac itself was good, with huge chunks of avocado. I personally like a more creamy style, but that’s just me and I assumed the chunkier was more authentic anyway. The chips were excellent. What was distracting was the two-tier contraption in which they serve the guac. The bottom is basically a molcahete full of chips, with a silver post that rises out of the center of it to support a silver bowl full of guacamole. But the post was loose, so every time you tried to scoop guaca, it would lurch to the side precariously. It never tipped over, but it also never stopped lurching. Maybe it was just the one they gave us, who knows. **Ostiones Fritos ~ blue corn meal crusted oysters / chipotle, huitlacoche, celery root purée / cucumber~mango salad / chile de arbol vinaigrette 10. 6 fried oysters rested on a splattering of all these sauces, their many colors making quite an impact, but their paltry volume (just a squirt of everything, basically) made their flavor virtually undetectable. I’d been dying to try huitlacoche, but I couldn’t quite discern its flavor from all the other sauces splattered all over the plate. It was a process of flavor elimination, which was an interesting exercise. **Salmon Enchilada ~ open faced pan roasted salmon enchilada / soft corn tortilla/black bean puree/ mole rojo / cotija cheese / crema fresca / marinated red onions 19. This dish was fine, with high quality ingredients, but there was nothing intriguing or new about it. The marinated red onions were lovely, though…and made an excellent textural and flavor contrast to the creamy, earthy beans and mole rojo. **Carnitas Maya ~ grilled pork tenderloin / braised pork shoulder / corn tortilla / avocado puree / red onion~orange habanero escabeche 18.5 This was what my dining companion ordered, so I only had two or three tastes. The meat was incredibly tender and juicy, but the flavor under whelmed me. I am a huge pork fan and appreciate its mildness, but this was nearly flavorless. The escabeche and avocado puree was essential to make it work at all…which may have been the intent? We drank margaritas with dinner (grapefruit- delish) and chose to skip on the desserts. All in all, I was under whelmed. I was expecting new flavors in interesting combinations. I definitely liked what I could discern of the huitlacoche, so that made the trip worthwhile. I will definitely look for it elsewhere. But not going to go back for dinner anytime soon. I hear they have an excellent happy hour, though. One note: we left around 8:30 on a Friday night, and the dining room wasn’t even half full.
  2. I was just in the Union Square Williams-Sonoma yesterday, they have the Mariage-Freres Eros, Marco Polo, Apricot and Vanilla. I've long been a fan of Marco Polo, my official favorite. They also carry 3 Kousmichoff teas: Troika Genuine, Prince Vladimir and Petrushka. I'd never tried these, so I bought the Prince Vladimir and enjoyed a cup once I got home. It's a lovely blend Ceylon and China teas with scents of orange, lemon, vanilla, grapefruit and spices. Might be my new favorite, as it's a bit less heady than the Marco Polo. Also, it comes in a beautiful tin: http://www.cybercucina.com/ccimages/products/K9009PV-l.jpg
  3. Put Ali Baba's Cave on your list. Casual, good middle eastern. Two locations: 799 Valencia @19th 531 Haight between Steiner and Fillmore
  4. I'm just starting my research for a NO trip and I'm trying to figure out when to go. I don't deal with heat well, so summer is out. But for you locals, when's that wonderful little window after the high tourist season, before the raging heat begins? You know, when you can get a good hotel room for less than $250 a night? I'm guessing early June? Naturally, I want to save as much of my budget as possible for eating! Any insight is much appreciated!
  5. I recently had a wonderful solo dinner at Geronimo, but I have to ask: what’s with the service? When I arrived for my 8pm reservation, I was greeted quite warmly and immediately escorted to a very nice table- in the back room next to the fireplace. I was handed the menu and wine list by the charming hostess and settled in. A server came to the table to take my drink order. But then soon another server came to give me bread. And then yet another server came to ask if I had any questions about the menu. “Which one of you is my server?” I asked, jokingly. She waved a hand around the room, smiled and said; “We all are. We share tables.” This struck me as odd, and I was honestly a bit bummed by it, because one of the joys of dining alone is establishing a bit of a rapport with your server. But no big woop, I figured everyone I’d encountered so far was so nice, so who really cares? But once I ordered (beet salad, escargot and mushroom tart, elk loin…half bottle of Drouhin Pinot Noir ‘00) and was brought my first dish, I saw another problem. Instead of one of the servers bringing me my food, it was delivered by a runner…clad in a long sleeved, over-sized white polo shirt with “Geronimo” emblazoned on the back and black apron. I would have asked the runner what the type of cheese was on the top of the salad (I had forgotten), but after putting the plate in front of me, he literally ran off without a word. As I dug into my salad (which was quite excellent), I watched the action in the room. The servers were clad in tasteful white shirts and high aprons, calmly checking in on tables and pouring water, wine. In stark contrast, the runners, in their baggy shirts and aprons, were running back and forth delivering plates of food and frankly looking quite harried. It was very incongruous to the overall calm, peaceful vibe that every other element of the restaurant created. What confuses me is this: after spending so much obvious painstaking effort to create such a wonderful sophisticated, sedate, calm and warm atmosphere, why would they choose to dress their runners in baggy shirts (the sleeves had fallen down below the hands of one of them) and aprons—something you’d see behind the counter at Lottaburger? It was just a clash of aesthetics that surprised me. Anyone else ever noticed this? Or did I have too much time on my hands since I was dining alone?
  6. Regarding the bathroom, it's essentially a series of small private toilets (with floor to ceiling walls and doors) and a communal sink. No urinals. The room is reeeaaaly dim- the walls are dark red and I seem to recall it being only lit by candles. In that regard, it could be a bit disconcerting for some. But privacy is not an issue.
  7. Value was a bit tricky-- I wasn't paying. But I can tell you that the bill for 3 people was around $350 and included: 3 cocktails 1 $50 bottle of wine 1 $95 bottle of wine 4 courses each (12 dishes) The wine was a bit of a splurge--there are plenty of options for less than $50, so that made a big impact. But this is not a cheap place. And I wasn't stuffed when I left, although everything I ate was wonderful.
  8. >>>>>>>>>The space Step through an unassuming door, walk down a dimly hallway and the room opens up to a Kubrick-inspired circular space that is warmly (i.e. flatteringly) lit. The ceiling has circular recessed lighting that makes you feel a bit as if you’re inside a spaceship. To your right is the bar area, to your left is the semi-open kitchen. This was 8:15ish on a Wednesday night and the bar was packed. I was surprised by how “un hip” everyone looked, considering the design of the place. Many seemed like after work groups that had lingered. The bar, which is about as big as the dining room, is dim, although behind the bar is a huge backlit photo of champagne bubbles and its harsh light shines unflatteringly on anyone sitting at the bar. The dining room is two and a half concentric circles, done in shades of dark brown and rust. Tables are dark wood, with no tablecloths and modern, angular silverware. High quality napkins. Servers are dressed in dark shirts and pants, with red velvet (?) accents on the cuffs. Downstairs, there is a room with cozy seating and another bar, although it didn’t appear to be staffed when I was there. The bathroom is unisex and dimly lit, which makes it a bit confusing. But there is an attendant on hand whose job it is to help people figure it all out. The sink isn’t concave, so be wary of splashing. Each stall is its own room wall to ceiling and has a mirror on the back of the door for private primping. >>>>>>>>>The wine list Excellent list. Tons of variety (TWO Sylvaners!) and fairly priced for the most part. I was delighted to find Sinskey Chardonnay ($50) as well as a nice selection of small domain Burgundies, Germans, and boutique Californian. >>>>>>>>>The menu Sigh….another small plates restaurant. And by small, I mean *small*. The menu is broken down from lightest to heaviest, plus a cheese and dessert—five courses in all. Excellent variety of veggie, non veggie. A lot of Asian influences with kaffir lime leaves, coconut milk. Also some middle eastern influences with preserved lemon, chickpeas. We ordered a nice assortment, including the cornmeal crusted foie gras, the warm yellow corn-brioche pudding, beet-endive soup, Venison loin, and lamb chops. All were excellent with some minor wrinkles. The corn-brioche pudding was served with meringue wafers dotted with cream or butter (not quite clear, it didn’t really have any flavor) that caused the meringue to dissolve before I could eat them. Didn’t quite work. The rest of the dish was wonderful. The venison loin was quite spartan; four thin slices, each about 3 by 1 inches. Hidden underneath was a tiny piece of Chinese broccoli and smeared alongside was some clear pear puree. The venison itself was wonderful, but there didn’t seem to be a bigger idea behind the dish and its appearance could best be described as sterile. The lamb was very very rare…very. For dessert, we ordered a selction of cheeses (hock ybring, melange, and st. blase), gravenstein apple streudel, and a skewer of roasted and fresh figs. I only tasted the apple streudel (surprisingly savory and really interesting) and the cheeses, which were wonderful. All in all, the menu is creative and there is clearly some innovation and skill going on in that kitchen. Some dishes have larger portions (foie gras, sweetbread ravioli, halibut) while others are disappointingly small (venison). All are unique. >>>>>>>>>The service Everyone is friendly without being saccharine and they’re very hip looking without any attitude. There were flatware changes at every course, meticulous attention to water refills and napkin re-foldings. Only complaint is the pace of the meal. I’m a leisurely eater and it was a bit slow for me. Wine-wise, the service was also good, although there was no ice bucket provided for our white. I personally like less chill on my white, but this might not be acceptable for others. Also, their wine cellar is quite cold and it took a while to take the chill off our red, fyi. >>>>>>>>>The overall vibe It’s definitely a younger place, but too expensive to be totally trendy. The food quality is very high and this place has substance to match the style. Noise level is a bit high and there is a DJ always playing a variety of music. During our meal, I heard everything from generic electronica to Tom Petty! The bar scene is vibrant and I will definitely go back to check out the downstairs. It has a late night menu, so is definitely something to keep in mind for a post-theatre nosh. Our waiter told us that Sunset, Harper’s Bazaar, and Town and Country had recently been in, so the word is getting out about this place. If you want to try it, best get in there now. www.frissonsf.com
  9. Just to make your decision more difficult, a drive north would be unforgettable too. I personally prefer it because you get gorgeous scenery right off the bat, whereas a southern drive takes a while to get to the good stuff (although it is DARN good stuff...this is one gorgeous state). Drive across the Golden Gate bridge to 1, where you'll hug the winding coast -- dramatic cliffs to your left, rolling golden (or green, depending on the time of year) hills to your right. Note: NOT good for people who get car sick easily. No joke. You'll drive through the occassional "cute" town and around every bend an amazing view will great you. Like oysters? The finest (in my opinion of course) local oysters are right on your route in Tomales Bay---The Hog Island Oyster company: http://www.hogislandoyster.com/Section1/Home.html From their site: "Open to the public Wednesday through Sunday, from 9 to 5, all year long. Live, farm-raised oysters and clams may be purchased to take home or to eat on site. Though a working farm, and not a restaurant, shucking knives, waterfront picnic tables & BBQ kettles are provided for a small fee for the enjoyment of visitors. Bring a picnic, and enjoy oysters plucked fresh from their nearby beds! " If you option to head east toward Santa Rosa or Healdsburg, there are tons of dining and lodging options I won't go into here as they are more thoroughly covered elsewhere. But if you continue as north into Mendocino county, drive 128 through some *amazing* scenery and back toward the coast to very east coast-looking towns of Albion and Mendocino. (Exteriors for Murder, She Wrote were filmed in this area, to give you an idea of how uniquely Maine-ish it feels). Also great food throughout this area. All in all, the downside of this trip is that you're on 1 for a looooong time, and it's very twisty. Upside is it's gorgeous 95% of the time. And gorgeous in different ways...no monotonous scenery. Always something new to appreciate. Also, the food, wine and lodging options are top notch along the way. Whatever you decide, I'm sure you'll have a great trip!
  10. If you choose Chez Panisse, please note it's in Berkeley across the bay, which would be a hefty cab fare...although I'm sure worth it. Not sure if you're renting a car? Boulevard is a can't-lose option, and it's right off the Embarcadero, which is a lovely place for a leisurely stroll before or after dinner.
  11. I happen to think Bouchon is pretty darn touristy...a few doors down, Bistro Jeanty has a much more charming atmosphere and while it *might* be as touristy (in Yountville you can't really avoid it), I prefer the food quality and overall vibe of the place. Menu is lustier, heartier. http://www.bistrojeanty.com/ Just my 2cents. With your list, the romantic occasion, and the FABULOUS time of year, you will have a delightful time regardless.
  12. I second the Lucca recommendation. Excellent prices and selection, plus the atmosphere is nice and old school. Their wine buys are usually fantastic. I usually go to the one at 1100 Valencia in the Mission, but there is also one in the Marina at 2120 Chestnut street. I assume they are two branches of the same place? http://travel.yahoo.com/p-travelguide-2732...san_francisco-i http://sanfrancisco.citysearch.com/profile...__0_profile_2_1
  13. After a week's vacation driving solo all around New Mexico, I want a great "New Mexican" meal for my last night, which is in Albuquerque...where should I go? I already searched this forum but didn't find much. Any thoughts? I'd take recommendations on other types of cuisine as well. Thanks.
  14. In the Mission district, La Palma delicatessen is great and it's on a neat-o section of 24th street. (2884 24th St @ Florida). You can get anything from carnitas by the pound to frozen banana leaves to molcajetes, tortilla presses, and of course tons of dried chiles. All along that street are great hispanic restaurants (and a thai or two) and delis. Rainbow Co-op is a pretty interesting foodie destination, too. (http://www.rainbowgrocery.org/) It's very SF, very organic and has the largest vitamin/dietary supplement area I've ever seen. Has a good array of organic local produce, excellent cheeses and huge bulk section of everything from amaranth to spelt flour. No meat, though.
  15. YAY!! Thanks for all the input (and so consistent!) My choice is clear. I shall throughly enjoy myself, I am sure. thanks again all!
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