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Carolyn Tillie

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Everything posted by Carolyn Tillie

  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!
  15. SolBar is owned and operated by the folks at Meadowood and is probably one of the better choices, having garnered a Michelin star. I have friends who swear by JoLe, but I have yet to drive up-valley to head try it. I have also just begun to hear rumors about a restaurant called Lakehouse that might be worth investigating. Consider that St. Helena is only 10 to 15 minutes away and there you have options like Terra, Cook, the CIA and Farmstead.
  16. I'm a dissenter Heaves Dog DOES have fabulous cocktails but singularly uninspiring food making it not worth the trip for me. Far too many great places for cocktails in this city with better eats! The Sidecar at Bix, for example, paired with the incomparable steak tartare...
  17. I would Aziza to the list of restaurants that have exceptional cocktails; their cachaca with cardamom and tarragon is a favorite. And a quick glance shows they have definitely added to theircocktail repertoire.
  18. For me, that answer would be, "If you were at the Ferry Building on a Saturday morning, WHY BOTHER going to Boulevard?" There is such a plethora of great food to be had on a Saturday visit with all the stalls and eateries, that a place like Boulevard would be a waste unless you were not into wandering and noshing, preferring a more formal sit-down.
  19. I was going to chime in with the Crab Cooker as well; a stalwart of the area, I am in my late 40s and remember eating there as a kid with fond memories and still return once a year when I visit friends.
  20. Read this. And read it again. One more time. In general, the food at the Wharf is EXCEPTIONALLY mediocre and to be avoided at all costs.
  21. Going back through your list, skip McCormick & Kuletos = CHAIN/FAIL! If you want good seafood, consider Tadich, Anchor & Hope, or Farallon. Completely agree that Saison will be a great exclamation point to your trip, although you might find it similar to French Laundry (although I would almost take Saison over the Laundry). Here is my write-up on Bottega, since you asked. Bauer wrote it up this week in the Chron and raved about it. Lastly, do you realize that Bar Tartine is going through a whole menu re-do? Chef Nick Balla -- who just left Nombe -- is completely changing over its French theme to Hungarian. Personally, I have been following Nick's career for a couple of years and can't wait to see what he does, but what you have been reading about Bar Tartine will definitely not be the same when you come in May.
  22. Mike - the secret is to make appointments at smaller, boutique wineries. And stay off Highway 29; that is where the bus-loads of tourists are located. You will do much better driving up Silverado Trail or (my preference) is up into the mountains and making appointments for a one-on-one experience and better wine: Howell Mountain - Ladera (I used to work there), O'Shaughnessy, Outpost, Neal... Spring Mountain - Smith-Madrone, Pride, Terra Valentine... Mt. Veeder - Hess, Robert Craig, Mt. Veeder Winery... Have you decided where to eat yet? Tyler Florence's new Rotisserie & Wine has a pretty fabulous selection of potted meats, Terra has a newly-opened boutique cocktail bar, Bouchon's mussels are to die-for.
  23. I pan-roast (in duck fat) fingerling potatoes, large mushrooms, and oven-roasted artichoke hearts (Trader Joe's sells them frozen).
  24. maLO, I suggest you avoid Fifth Floor. It has gone through chef after chef and recently, when I stopped in just for a cocktail, it was filled with poorly-dressed hipsters who were too loud and the cocktail menu was less than interesting. For cocktails in the city you want to consider Bourbon & Branch (a MUST for the cocktail person; reservations required), Alembic (good food, too!), Pisco, or Gitane (another place with great food). I'm still a Campton Place detractor; it is too staid and there are much better places in the city (Saison, Frances, Prospect, and all the aforementioned cocktail places).
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