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Dining Talk 2004


katlitish
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What you can't get in DC and what I immediately head for when I'm in San Fran is good Mexican food. Try La Taqueria or El Farolito, both on Mission.

And I'd recommend the Zuni Cafe. You'll need to make a reservation far in advance.

Chris Sadler

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I ate at Zuni a few weeks ago on a vacation out there. We had awesome food, but I was a bit disappointed in the service. Any chance you're heading down to Big Sur?

peak performance is predicated on proper pan preparation...

-- A.B.

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I went out twice last year and had some very good meals.

My favorite were my two visits to the upstairs cafe at Chez Panisse. This is one of those places that might not be doing the most elabaorate work, but what they do they do right. It is a place that puts a smile on my face the whole time I'm there. Zuni was also very good in the same way.

Dim Sum at Yank Sing was excellent, although not the cheap meal that it is most other places. I know many on the California board think there are better, more authentic options there, if so , then they must be damn good.

Farallon was a place that doesn't seem to get as much notice as other places, but I had dinner there the night after French Laundry and I remember more about that meal than FL. Very well done seafood and the desserts, especially the cookies plate were particularly memorable. An interesting room that gives the illusion of being in an underwater cave, it was a great experience. My wife made a tapas like meal out of the appetizers which are probably better than the entrees.

One place that gets a lot of mention that I really didn't like was Slanted Door. I thought the cooking was bland and the atmosphere (they have since relocated) was reminiscent of a Pizzaria Uno. Although a party including Charlie Trotter was seated right before us. (How big a geek am I that I recognize chefs?)

Bill Russell

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We had a truly memorable dinner at Chez Panisse. We went in skeptics and came out true believers.

We personally had a hard time finding exceptional Chinese. We looked through a lot of local press and came away with almost nothing -- I think San Francisco Magazine's "Best" was somewhere out in the non-SF Bay Area, which we couldn't get to -- and kind of wandered around Chinatown randomly looking for framed press clippings, "25 out of 27 in Zagat's" stickers and "Voted #1 By Chronical readers" type of indicators and came up empty-handed. We ended up getting a good Chinese meal, but nothing particularly memorable.

So, what I'm saying in a roundabout way is not that there's no great Chinese there, but that you would do well to get your (Peking) ducks in a row before you get to SF.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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I would go to Gary Danko in a heart beat! If you can't get a table, try to eat at the bar.

Charles of Nob Hill -- I haven't been, but husband who travels to SF a lot says it's really good. The chef is a 24-year old wonderwoman.

If in Berkeley, visit the Cheese Board, across the street and down the block from Chez Panisse. It's a cheese shop like nothing we have here -- it also opens early for the breakfast crowd, and then they open up the cheese counters a little later in the morning. They have nice breads and coffee.

In the past, I have liked Jardiniere quite a lot, but it's been a couple of years, same for Hawthorne Lane. Fringale is casual, and had good food, but tends to be crowded and hot.

Plouf for mussels & frites.

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I would go to Gary Danko in a heart beat!  If you can't get a table, try to eat at the bar. 

Plouf for mussels & frites.

Go to Gary Danko I sat at the bar and ate like a king for about 3 hours. The cheese cart they have is wonderful.

Went to Plouf as well and enjoyed a good plate of mussels and frites.

Another place to consider is Quince.

Edited by mdt (log)
Wearing jeans to the best restaurants in town.
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there was an amazing review of micheal mina's restaurant from this past week's san fran chronicle in the westin... something or other hotel. it sounds like no other restaurant, including the avant garde spaniards. three "courses" on the tasting menu but in each of those "courses" you receive six different preparations. it sounds like something completely... novel and original, e.g. foie gras six different ways, followed by geoduck clams six different ways, followed by wagyu strip loin in variegated preparations, plus amuse gueneles and bouches.

the vino list would (apparently) push governor arnold in the bar bell department . i've never been (to the west coast for that matter) but it seems as though a dining concept such as this has never been attempted (in my obviously constricted twenty-two year old range, which i hasten to includes an extended year in london (oh st john!!!) with frequent eurostar trips to france). seems like a trip well worth visit, if not the monetary investment alone.

there is no love sincerer than the love of food

- george bernard shaw

i feel like love is in the kitchen with a culinary eye, think she's making something special and i'm smart enough to try

- interpol

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1. Chez Panisse (every time, perfection)

2. Quince (a CP alum, fresh as hell ingrediants)

3. Delfina (awesome Italian-riffed small plates in the Misson)

4. Swan Oyster Depot (for dungeness crab)

and Hog Island Oyster Co. at Ferry Terminal (Happy Hour, Mondays 4-6 pm or so)

Food is a convenient way for ordinary people to experience extraordinary pleasure, to live it up a bit.

-- William Grimes

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There are a handful of places people seem to really enjoy that I've found either awful or underwhelming - Fleur de Lys, Oliveto, Charles Nob Hill, and Boulevard in my mind range in order from quite bad to just unremarkable.

I agree, my Oliveto experience was pretty bad food wise as well...

Isaac Bentley

Without the culinary arts, the crudeness of the world would be unbearable. - Kate & Leopold

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i would head straight for the slanted door. i agree that the the ambiance is more depot like than the old location (after all, it is in the ferry building now), but i had the most fabulous meal last visit. and my brother ate there three times in two days and loved every bite (he's a former chef). and there's a great cheese shop in the ferry building, while your there.

some think it's touristy, but i also really like boulevard. sit at the counter and watch the show as the line cooksdo their thing. zuni cafe, however, i wasn't impressed with.

Postrio was tastey, if you like wolfgang puck, though the service was a bit too casual for the prices.

wish i was going...

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If you want to try Chez Panisse, you shouldn't be put off because it is in Berkeley, It's quite easy to hop on BART and get to downtown Berkeley in 20-25 minutes. It's especially convenient for lunch at the cafe.

I've stopped recommending Acquerello, since I don't want people flocking there and nobody listens to me anyway. :wink:

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Michael Mina at the Westin St. Francis features fantastic food and service that is on par with anything on the current list of Four-Star restaurants from the SF Chronicle.

I would seriously rather eat sushi at safeway than go back to Michael Mina...

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I would seriously rather eat sushi at safeway than go back to Michael Mina...

I'd love to hear you elaborate on your experience there.

It will be interesting to see how l'affaire Michael Mina plays out. There were a couple of early notices on Chowhound about Michael Mina (the restaurant) so vociferously negative that they seem to have headed off the front-runners on that board, even as M. Bauer was falling all over the place, and there seems to have been a lot of deadly silence in other quarters after the pre-opening hype . I haven't been, nor is it the kind of place I am likely to spend my hard-earned cash on, but it would tickle me greatly if MB were to meet his Waterloo on this one.

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Blech, Jason. Fifth Floor is one of my most disappointing high end dining experiences ever. Not only messed up food, but poor service and higher prices than other places in town. That might be a little over the top. It wasn't bad food, but I liked my meals at Danko, Masa's, Panisse, and French Laundry all better. And there've been few **** and ***** restaurants' food I've liked less. Maybe it was an off night (only one visit), but everyone in my party was very disappointed. My grandparents who eat out a lot in the bay area at haute establishments and were dining with us said it was their least favorite meal they've had at a high end restaurant. They also thought the wine was ridiculously priced. And they're not cheap. If someone does go, I think the dishes would do better as tasting portions than full portions.

I third or fourth or whatever Gary Danko. Great food and a fabulous value. I think Chez Panisse is great and much more unique in its style than Danko.

I would highly recommend spending some time in the east bay, although an obvious choice is the farmer's market at the ferry building. But I love the east bay: Cheese Board and Cheese Board Pizza (still my favorite ever), Berkeley Bowl, Chez Panisse, miscellaneous Indian restaurants, etc. Plus in Oakland, the Fruitvale area has a great Mexican stretch with some great food. Much better, imo, than the Mission district. See here for some more info: http://www.extramsg.com/modules.php?name=N...e=article&sid=8

Edited by ExtraMSG (log)
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I'd love to hear you elaborate on your experience there.

It will be interesting to see how l'affaire Michael Mina plays out. There were a couple of early notices on Chowhound about Michael Mina (the restaurant) so vociferously negative that they seem to have headed off the front-runners on that board, even as M. Bauer was falling all over the place, and there seems to have been a lot of deadly silence in other quarters after the pre-opening hype .  I haven't been, nor is it the kind of place I am likely to spend my hard-earned cash on, but it would tickle me greatly if MB were to meet his Waterloo on this one.

I posted about the my meal at Mina a month ago here. I'm much more willing to forgive the awful performance by the front of the house than I am the kitchen sending out dishes that were poorly made.

I think that Michael Mina is destined to end up like Charles Nob Hill, Elizabeth Daniel, Jardiniere, and Fleur de Lys as a high end restaurant turning out unremarkable food for tourists, people on expense accounts, and clueless diners trying to impress their dining companions by taking them somewhere expensive. Granted two of the four restaurants on that list closed in the past year, but maybe that leaves a void for Michael Mina to fill in the bottom rung of the SF haute cuisine landscape.

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