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Carolyn Tillie

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    San Francisco and Napa

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  1. Like Peppyre and others, I haven't posted here in ages. But I have many and fond memories of Steve reaching out to me at the onset of eGullet and the friendships that came out of the genesis of this site. His and Jason's vision brought many of us together and it was a privilege to have known him, at least virtually. May he enjoy his Greater Feast with gusto.
  2. Glad you enjoyed yourself! Part of moving to Napa means I no longer have access to these things the way I used to which I will miss when it gets cold and blistery this winter...
  3. Up until last fall, I lived in Japantown.... For budget and authenticity, look for Takara - which is in the part of the mall right behind the hotel, sort of away from the other restaurants in the main building. That used to be my go-to lunch once or twice a week with a KICK-ASS Bento Box for under $10: three slices of California roll, soup, salad, tempura, and then your choice of an entree (teri chicken, sashimi, pork katsu, etc.) Best deal in town, actually. Tanpopo, up in the Buchanan corridor of Japantown has the best and most economical noodles in the city. There is often a line on Saturday nights and it is worth the wait. It is also the only place in town that makes and serves takoyaki. Lastly, just across from Tanpopo is Sushi Aka Tombo, the BEST sushi restaurant in the city. His omakase is around $35 and a screaming deal considering the quality of the fish.
  4. Burmese food in general is very popular in the bay area and mostly a rare commodity to many visitors so we locals tend to recommend it a lot. Burma Superstar is the most trendy and expensive of the lot (having received some Food Network coverage), but there are many other excellent, less-expensive options; Mandalay, Larkin Express Deli, Pagan, and more. Now that I live in Napa, my sojourns into the city usually always involve getting Burmese food as it is the one ethnic cuisine I really miss eating a lot of...
  5. In Napa, there is great pizza to be had at Pizza Azzura on Main Street as well as Oenetri. There is a whole thread on burgers in Wine Country on Chowhound that I have contributed to and can heartily recommend Norman Rose's lamb burger.
  6. In Mendocino, the Sanford Inn has a better-than-expected brunch (mostly vegetarian). I am also a fan of Cafe Beaujolais. In Healdsburg, you need to have the pork belly sandwich for lunch at Bovolo and don't think of hitting that town without dining at Barn Diva.
  7. Hate to tell you this, but Pasta Pomodoro is fairly reviled by the snobby San Franciscans (I'll only admit to having dined there once or twice because it was the only place with open tables in my neighborhood). To the extent that the chain has had to close several of them and only two or three are left within the city. Most of the extant members of the chain are now outside the city; Novato, Redwood City, San Ramon etc...
  8. I reiterate that I think Attelier Crenn would be a much better choice than Coi considering you are looking for modernist-styled cuisine. Much more and consistent use of molecular techniques and far superior flavor combinations....
  9. I would Attelier Crenn and Saison on the top of my NICE list. I have eaten at Coi twice and walked away both times very unimpressed; more show than substance and those items I remember about the meal were the misses more than the hits. I know Benu has its followers -- being a French Laundry alum and all that -- but my meal there was so uninspiring as to give me no compelling reason to return.
  10. Those of us that dine often in San Francisco have not mentioned Michael Mina for a reason; it is atrocious. Their flavors are discordant, the setting is loud, and the prices are not worth what they are trying to pull off. Yes, they are always busy -- with tourists who don't know better. I have eaten at four different MM restaurants (Dana Point, San Francisco (2), Las Vegas) and have yet to have a satisfactory experience at any one of them. I advise people to avoid MM at all costs - there are infinitely better places to eat in San Francisco.
  11. Some of the local favorites for lunch include the Ahi Burger at Gott's, Cook's in St. Helena, the Oxbow Market (you can start with a selection of meats from Fatted Calf and finish up with Hog Island oysters), and Bistro Sabor. At Bouchon, I heartily recommend the saffron moules frittes.
  12. Good call on Swan's - but with the caveat that it is not a SF tourist attraction. 90% of those people in line are locals... Most tourists don't have the patience to want to wait in the line but we who live here know the value of that neighborhood gem.
  13. I ate at Coi a week after they opened and again a little less than a year ago -- in both cases, I was completely underwhelmed and almost disappointed. The true hot-spots in San Francisco right now are Attelier Crenn and Saison for over-the-top, exceptional cuisine. Dining Room at the Ritz has taken a huge dive and it could take a long time for it to retain it's former glory. A lot of people are jazzed about Benu from former French Laundry chef, Corey Lee, but my stint there was almost as regrettable as my trip to Coi. Concur with Annachan's recommendation for Kappou Gomi; no bento boxes, no nigiri sushi, and no Benihana-like presentations; just incredibly authentic and unusual-outside-Japan cuisine. Another thing to consider: San Francisco boasts an unusual number of Burmese restaurants; an intriguing cuisine that has Indian, Chinese, and Southeast Asian cuisine. I'd recommend Burma Superstar for a great lunch stop (the Gin Dok salad is my personal favorite, but others seem to like the Tea Leaf salad -- but I'm a ginger fan). A trip to San Francisco is nothing without the following: A Mission burrito, the Ferry Plaza on Saturday mornings (Boccalone meats, Acme bread, Frog Hollow pastries, Boulette Larder's cannele, Cowgirl Creamery cheese, Hog Island oysters, Recchiuti chocolates, and Pepples donuts), Tartine bakery, Humphrey Slocombe and/or BiRite ice cream, an Irish coffee at the Buena Vista, and cocktails at Bourbon and Branch. My go-to restaurants: Aziza SPQR Baker & Banker Gitane Attelier Crenn Saison Sushi Aka Tombo Kiss Sushi Sam's Grill (over Tadich for old-world, San Francisco seafood) Canteen Bar Crudo
  14. Paula Wolfert's Slow Mediterranean cookbook has a great recipe for grilled toasts topped with avocado, slivers of scallions, and balsamic-marinated sardines or anchovies. I make them all the time for parties and people are astonished how great it tastes!
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