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SF and Napa Culinary MUSTS


cupcakequeen
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What are the must see/eat/do/buy in SF and napa for a serious foodie/chef? I'm taking a short trip-the first 4 days of June. I'm trying to wrangle a reservation at the French Laundry. I already have plans for slanted door, cyrus, and range,town hall and/or nopa. plans to visit citizen cake and tartine. spending saturday at the ferry terminal market. what else? any good knife shops? (i love japanese knives.) thanks!

Edited by cupcakequeen (log)
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You may want to head over to Japantown. I think you'll be able to find some Japanese knives there.

If you can't get reservations at French Laundry, give La Toque (Rutherford, Napa Valley) a try. Some other high end places in SF: Michael Mina and Dining Room at the Ritz.

Cafe Jacqueline in North Beach, SF is a wonderful - souffle only. The only thing is that you have to plan for a long dinner, at least 2.5 hours.

Fringale is a really nice French bistro in the SOMA area of SF.

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cupcakequeen, is your name even on the waiting list at French Laundry?? Keep wrangling. If you have any connections whatsoever (a friend ... of a friend ... of a chef/cook who works at ...), use every means possible.

I heard there are other restaurants in Yountville: Bouchon, Ad Hoc, Redd, Bistro Jeanty (before there was TFL), General's Daughter in Sonoma, Chez Panisse in Berkeley ...

I'll be doing a similiar pilgrimage to the Bay Area in less than two weeks. I hope to post my report with photos before you leave.

Russell J. Wong aka "rjwong"

Food and I, we go way back ...

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I love the Laundry. Great restaurant. However, when I'm casually visiting the area, they're never on my radar. French Laundry is the epitome of an ultra-special occasion restaurant. If I'm in the wine country and I have a day of tasting under my belt, my mind isn't on "oysters & pearls", wearing a suit, or going through all of the pomp & circumstance surrounding Thomas Keller's flagship. For me, I'd rather tuck into Bistro Jeanty or Ad Hoc, both in the same town. Try them both. You'll love them.

R. Jason Coulston

jason@popcling.com

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What are the must see/eat/do/buy in SF and napa for a serious foodie/chef?  I'm taking a short trip-the first 4 days of June. I'm trying to wrangle a reservation at the French Laundry.  I already have plans for slanted door, cyrus, and range,town hall and/or nopa.  plans to visit citizen cake and tartine.  spending saturday at the ferry terminal market.  what else?  any good knife shops?  (i love japanese knives.)  thanks!

Town hall is all about the scene, the food doesn't merit a visit. Nopa is good mostly because it's open late, SF shuts down early and nopa is one of the few places at that level that will still feed you at midnight. Citizen cake is overrated, everything they serve is really pretty but none of it tastes as good as it looks. Tartine is very good for morning buns and bread pudding - I find their croissants to be consistently overcooked - if it merits a visit depends on your tolerance for the line that often extends down the block on weekend mornings. BiRite creamery is worth a visit if for no other reason than to try the salted caramel ice cream. I had an incredible lamb heart tartare at Incanto the other night, it along with the roast lamb neck are worth a trip from Seattle. Another good option in SF is the Dining Room at the Ritz. In the north bay, The Generals Daughter is fantastic and Sonoma is a great place to wander around for a bit before dinner. La Toque in Rutherford is also excellent. For Japanese knives there is an outpost of Le Sanctuaire in SF - call them and see if you can stop by.

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Cyrus is amazing, you will love it there. We also very much enjoyed Ad Hoc and Redd in Yountville when we were in Napa Valley last month. Ad Hoc only serves one menu, so make sure they have something you like the night you dine there. They are now accepting reservations, also.

We dined at the General's Daughter last spring and had a very positive experience there, the ambiance is very nice and the food outstanding. Cafe La Haye and the girl and the fig are a couple of other Sonoma places we like.

In San Francisco, Boulevard is really great and we also enjoyed a nice meal at Farallon in Union Square. I have heard great things about the Dining Room at the Ritz, we dined in their casual venue, the Terrace last May for my birthday lunch. The Ritz is a beautiful hotel and the food was great, the offer a Fixed Price menu there for lunch which is a 3 course meal including dessert. :)

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What are the must see/eat/do/buy in SF and napa for a serious foodie/chef?  I'm taking a short trip-the first 4 days of June. I'm trying to wrangle a reservation at the French Laundry.  I already have plans for slanted door, cyrus, and range,town hall and/or nopa.  plans to visit citizen cake and tartine.  spending saturday at the ferry terminal market.  what else?  any good knife shops?  (i love japanese knives.)  thanks!

Town hall is all about the scene, the food doesn't merit a visit. Nopa is good mostly because it's open late, SF shuts down early and nopa is one of the few places at that level that will still feed you at midnight. Citizen cake is overrated, everything they serve is really pretty but none of it tastes as good as it looks. Tartine is very good for morning buns and bread pudding - I find their croissants to be consistently overcooked - if it merits a visit depends on your tolerance for the line that often extends down the block on weekend mornings. BiRite creamery is worth a visit if for no other reason than to try the salted caramel ice cream. I had an incredible lamb heart tartare at Incanto the other night, it along with the roast lamb neck are worth a trip from Seattle. Another good option in SF is the Dining Room at the Ritz. In the north bay, The Generals Daughter is fantastic and Sonoma is a great place to wander around for a bit before dinner. La Toque in Rutherford is also excellent. For Japanese knives there is an outpost of Le Sanctuaire in SF - call them and see if you can stop by.

thank you for all of your suggestions! i'm sad i only have a few days to spend. lamb neck and heart tartare are EXACTLY what i'm looking for. yay!

and p.s. to the TFL poster, Ad Hoc and Bouchon did NOT exist before French Laundry.

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I will wholeheartedly second Boulevard, really great spot.

I will respectfully disagree with the poster regarding Town Hall, I love it and think its a great spot. The food is casual American and nothing mind blowing but just simple and delicious.

Edited by Swicks (log)

"A man's got to believe in something...I believe I'll have another drink." -W.C. Fields

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I will wholeheartedly second Boulevard, really great spot.

I will respectfully disagree with the poster regarding Town Hall, I love it and think its a great spot.  The food is casual American and nothing mind blowing but just simple and delicious.

Clearly we have different tastes since I dislike Boulevard as well as Town Hall. Obviously people enjoy both restaurants (and Salt House as well) or they wouldn't be filling the tables, I just don't think the quality of the ingredients or the preparation is as good as it should be. I'd strongly recommend Quince or Delfina over Boulevard and Town Hall respectively.

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cupcakequeen, is your name even on the waiting list at French Laundry?? Keep wrangling. If you have any connections whatsoever (a friend ... of a friend ... of a chef/cook who works at ...), use every means possible.

And if that doesn't work, try this.

And, if that doesn't, you'll be the best dressed person in Jeanty, which is not a bad way to spend a meal, either.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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I will wholeheartedly second Boulevard, really great spot.

I will respectfully disagree with the poster regarding Town Hall, I love it and think its a great spot.  The food is casual American and nothing mind blowing but just simple and delicious.

Clearly we have different tastes since I dislike Boulevard as well as Town Hall. Obviously people enjoy both restaurants (and Salt House as well) or they wouldn't be filling the tables, I just don't think the quality of the ingredients or the preparation is as good as it should be. I'd strongly recommend Quince or Delfina over Boulevard and Town Hall respectively.

I second Delfina, Boulevard is a beautiful restaurant, worth a trip for a drink at the bar ( go after the market at the Ferry Building, and pastries at Boulettes Larder), but the menu looks like every other in SF (also, skip Zuni Cafe, unleess it's for a bloody mary and a burger for Sunday brunch). Ame for aps and sashimi is a decent choice. Redd is a great choice in Yountville, lunch or dinner. Yountville is great for the fact that you can start at Redd, for aps and drinks, walk two blocks to Bistro Jeanty for cassoulet and sweetbreads, than finish a block away, at Bouchon for some cheese and desserts, and some late night drinks( I believe they are open until 2 or 3Am )

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and p.s. to the TFL poster, Ad Hoc and Bouchon did NOT exist before French Laundry.

Mea culpa on my faulty sentence construction. I was referring to Bistro Jeanty, ... which existed before there was TFL ...

At least get yourself on the waiting list for TFL. Cancellations may occur. I was so excited when TFL left a voice message. A reservation became available to me. I thought about it ... for two seconds. Yes, I was interested. That made my day!!

I wish you well in getting a reservation at TFL.

Russell J. Wong aka "rjwong"

Food and I, we go way back ...

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I will wholeheartedly second Boulevard, really great spot.

I will respectfully disagree with the poster regarding Town Hall, I love it and think its a great spot.  The food is casual American and nothing mind blowing but just simple and delicious.

Clearly we have different tastes since I dislike Boulevard as well as Town Hall. Obviously people enjoy both restaurants (and Salt House as well) or they wouldn't be filling the tables, I just don't think the quality of the ingredients or the preparation is as good as it should be. I'd strongly recommend Quince or Delfina over Boulevard and Town Hall respectively.

Interesting, different tastes indeed. Howver, I have yet to dine at Quince or Delfina though I do eagarly wish to in the near future, i have heard a ton of great things about both. I will agree with you on Salt House, I was disappointed.

Regarding Town Hall, I have a close friend that lives in San Francisco and Town Hall is pretty much "our spot" as we always dine there when we are together so I have many fond memories there so I am sure this colors my opinion of the place as well.

"A man's got to believe in something...I believe I'll have another drink." -W.C. Fields

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Concur with Melkor - Citizen Cupcake is incredibly mediocre - very dry cake with overly sweet, downright gritty frosting. What I wouldn't give for a fantastic cupcake in this city...

The same weekend RJWong is coming up for his pilgrimage, my friend "R" (an LA food writer) is also coming up; Manresa on Friday night, Ferry Plaza Saturday morning, Swan's Oysters Saturday afternoon, Aziza Saturday night, and Sunday is still up in the air.

I am not overwhelmed by Boulevard either. It just tastes like every California Cuisine Restaurant in the city. For truly unusual, consider Coi, Ame, or Ritz.

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Concur with Melkor re Town Hall. Not bad (the food is unimaginative in conception and execution, in my opinion) just not worth a trip if you have limited time, especially when you are in one of the richest culinary regions in the U.S.

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Hey -

How come none of you locals are shouting out for Zuni?

Overrated?

I love the Zuni bloody mary and when they're good, the fries (though that seems to only happen about 1/4 of the time). I'd happily swing by for brunch on a weekend, but I'd rather leave the dinner reservations open for the zagat-wielding tourists.

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what about after hours hangouts?  i want to go to bourbon and branch, but i'd like to hit some divey spots, too.  where do industry people go?  those are always the best kept secrets.  any japantown hidden gems?

I really like Takara in Japantown. There's a tank right outside the place with live prawns. When you order your amaebi, the prawns are fished out and on your table in minutes. Though I haven't been, Bushi-Tei seems to be popular. Kappa is another one. Both offer omakase.

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what about after hours hangouts?  i want to go to bourbon and branch, but i'd like to hit some divey spots, too.  where do industry people go?  those are always the best kept secrets.  any japantown hidden gems?

Its my neighborhood and Soko Hardware has the most amazing selection of Japanese knives. Food-wise, Kiss is probably my favorite. Bushi-Tei is decent-enough but for Japanese fusion, Ame is better. Takara is just okay, in my opinion, but I have yet to go to Kappa which is very highly regarded. The prawns at Takara are the best thing they offer. I'm afraid I am a bit jaded, however. As much as I adore Japanese food (eating it twice a week, at least), it is better in Los Angeles.

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what about after hours hangouts?  i want to go to bourbon and branch, but i'd like to hit some divey spots, too.  where do industry people go?  those are always the best kept secrets.  any japantown hidden gems?

Overall, Japanese food is better across the border from Seattle in Vancouver. I suppose if you're looking for some interesting Japanese food in SF I'd go with the omakase at the bar at Sebo. Soko Hardware as Carolyn says does have Japanese knives, but they aren't exactly Hattori KDs.

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Concur with Melkor re Town Hall.  Not bad (the food is unimaginative in conception and execution, in my opinion) just not worth a trip if you have limited time, especially when you are in one of the richest culinary regions in the U.S.

Zuni was at the top of my "must go" lists, on a recent visit to the area, and I was greatly underwhelmed...overcooked and under seasoned quail, which in turn was great compaired to the polenta it was served with, and no sauce to speak of. A couple of salads which I don't recall (not a good sign), and a fairly hefty recipt, all in all, the most disapointing meal I had (close second was Cafe de la Presse). The building is beautiful, second to Boulevard, but I had much better meals at Range, Ame, A16, Delfina, and Frisson. I think it was worth a trip, for the bar, and the ambience, but the food was very mediocre. Bad night? Possibly, but I 'm not sure they had salt in the kitchen.

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Concur with Melkor re Town Hall.  Not bad (the food is unimaginative in conception and execution, in my opinion) just not worth a trip if you have limited time, especially when you are in one of the richest culinary regions in the U.S.

While I am a Town Hall supporter I definately agree with this statement regarding other options, well said.

No one has mentioned Myth, I had a great meal there about a year ago, has it fallen off?

"A man's got to believe in something...I believe I'll have another drink." -W.C. Fields

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