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10 Best New Restaurants in San Francisco


Carolyn Tillie
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San Francisco Chronicle

Town Hall

Poggio

Quince

A16

Va de Vi

Pearl

Michael Mina

Frisson

Bocadillos

La Suite

I'll let you read the review yourself. Let the debate begin... :raz:

Edited by Carolyn Tillie (log)
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Per the article...

I wrote very positive reviews of Fork and Cucina, both in San Anselmo; Julia's Kitchen at Copia in Napa; Limon in the Mission; and Slanted Door in the Ferry Building, but they don't find their way into the Top 10 because they are not truly new restaurants, but represented expansions, new locations or a change of chefs.
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Since no one posted on Squeat's...

Yesterday, I heard a huge scream of outrage from my normally sunny husband.

I knew he'd just read Michael Bauer's top ten.

Sure enough, a moment later he yelled, "He has Pearl on his top 10!!!"

We've been to Pearl twice, since we live in the area. The first time was about a week after it opened, when my DH slurped two bad oysters and watched our waiter pour non-alcoholic beer straight into a glass then watch bemusedly as foam proceeded to fill 2/3 of the glass. It was funny at the time. We reported the two bad oysters to the frenzied owner, who thanked us for letting him know, but no one elected to take two oysters off our bill. Since it was so busy, we let the incident go. My husband took some Pepto when we got home and suffered no ill effects.

The 2nd time was some months later. We went right after work so the place was mostly empty. Still, our waitress spent a lot of time chatting with her co-worker, making it rather difficult to flag her down. My DH also got another off oyster (though not obviously bad as during the first visit). As we left he commented that in all his years of eating oysters at restaurants both high, mid, and low end, he'd never gotten a bad oyster. Odd that it would happen twice at Pearl. We decided that when we wanted a local oyster fix we'd head to Cafe Rouge or Grasshopper.

We both suspect that Michael Bauer's stellar service was the result of being recogized.

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Since no one posted on Squeat's...

Yesterday, I heard a huge scream of outrage from my normally sunny husband.

I knew he'd just read Michael Bauer's top ten.

Sure enough, a moment later he yelled, "He has Pearl on his top 10!!!"

We've been to Pearl twice, since we live in the area. The first time was about a week after it opened, when my DH slurped two bad oysters and watched our waiter pour non-alcoholic beer straight into a glass then watch bemusedly as foam proceeded to fill 2/3 of the glass. It was funny at the time. We reported the two bad oysters to the frenzied owner, who thanked us for letting him know, but no one elected to take two oysters off our bill. Since it was so busy, we let the incident go. My husband took some Pepto when we got home and suffered no ill effects.

The 2nd time was some months later. We went right after work so the place was mostly empty. Still, our waitress spent a lot of time chatting with her co-worker, making it rather difficult to flag her down. My DH also got another off oyster (though not obviously bad as during the first visit). As we left he commented that in all his years of eating oysters at restaurants both high, mid, and low end, he'd never gotten a bad oyster. Odd that it would happen twice at Pearl. We decided that when we wanted a local oyster fix we'd head to Cafe Rouge or Grasshopper.

We both suspect that Michael Bauer's stellar service was the result of being recogized.

Holiday Tea at Michael Minna

I hope lots of people who visited these places will post about their experiences. The only ones I really want to try are A16 and Town Hall. A friend whose food judgement I really respect, raved about Town Hall. Really, it was surprising because I've never seen her that enthusiastic about another restuarant.

Here are my thoughts on Michael Minna when I went for Holiday Tea. It is not a true take on what really happens there as the food was pretty straight forward. Given that, the experience didn't make me want to go back. I am in agreement the MB gets better service than the rest of us schlubs. The dishonesty of the staff really put me off.

Here's my experience:

Both the vegetarian and regular teas are priced the same … $32 … with champagne (Iron Horse) $42 … add strawberries and cream … $45.

I think it says it all when the most memorable thing was the rye bread in the chicken salad with procuitto tea sandwich. That tiny taste was the best rye bread I’ve had on the West Coast.

The baked goods were the strength of the tea. The tiny quarter sized tarts … lemon, banana, berry were intensely flavored with the thinnest of crusts. Applause for the blueberry and blackberry that tasted like they were plucked in the prime of summer.

However, throughout the tea, there was a lack of attention to detail. While there were three generous dishes of clotted cream and marmalade, there was only one tiny quarter-sized scone to place these on. Everything else was cookies and tarts … not anything you’d slather with jelly. So I broke down the itsy bitsy scone into atomic sized pieces and piled on as much cream and marmalade as each crumb could accommodate.

Despite the fancy Kobe roast beef tea sandwiches and truffled this and truffled that, it was only good, not great.

The problem, for me, started with the reservations. I was told they were totally booked the morning I called. However, I could have tea in the lounge or at the bar. When I arrived, I was told there was “one table available”. For the hour and a half I spent at the restaurant, only six tables were occupied. I didn’t like the dishonesty of the reservation desk. It put me in a bad mood.

The tea started off promising enough. A silver tray held every sweetener known, plus cream, lemon and tea bag. The tea is sent out brewed. You can add the tea bag to adjust the strength. The glass tea pots were nice to admire the color of the tea, but the tea was never more than luke warm to start and cooled quickly.

There were a half dozen teas. There were two English teas and the rest were flavored oolongs. I chose the pear oolong which had no taste of pear.

Some of the presentation wasn’t that pretty. The dishes holding the sandwiches were plain white crockery, the type you’d see at the neighborhood haufbrau. The champagne flute was a sturdy glass, like something you’d pick up at Wal-Mart. Charge me more. I want pretty china and crystal at a restaurant of this caliber. Use some of that china it took a year to design to hold the sandwiches and tarts.

Sandwiches were served first and then tarts. When the sandwiches were brought out, the waiter told me they were now 'baking' my tarts. Wow, I thought. Baked to order sweets. Another dishonest statement. Almost everthing was a cold tart that were baked that day but very unlikely they were baked to order. Maybe the staff was in back blowing on the tarts to cool them down.

Who would have thought that the beginning of the new millennium would be the era of bleak restaurant décor. There is the black and dreary Slanted Door, the colorless Cliff House and the boring beige and greyish celadon of Michael Minna. Yes, I can appreciate how the colors match the St Francis Lobby. I just find it very stark despite the praise it has received for it’s restrained good taste. Even the Christmas decorations are dull gold. There is nothing of holiday cheer in the restaurant. I almost could see Ebenezer chewing on that last crust of bread.

A plus was that tastes of wine were offered in addition to glasses of wine.

I miss the old Compass Rose.

Based on tea, dinner at MM is way, way down on my list. Maybe not even on it. I guess I’m one of those "casual diners" MB refers to in this post.

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We ate at TownHall a few days after Christmas. Noisy, but that's the point. Unfortunately, our vanishing waiter mumbled quietly through the noise and couldn't hear our requests to repeat himself. The fried oyster salad mentioned by Bauer was mediocre: the dressing was something anyone could make at home and the oysters were those fat snotty kind, without the fresh taste of the ocean.

Entrees were winners, however. The thick porkchop topped with nuts was beautifully brined. Melting shortribs were served as a slab without ribs, sitting on a fabulous green herbed risotto, surrounded with glazed carrots. Wow! But the meal went off the cliff from there. We waited forever for the tiny dessert menu. Since nothing appealed, I ordered what they called San Francisco's Best Hot Chocolate, thinking it would be soothing on a cold rainy night. I got a bowl of cold chocolate milk. No waiters were visible, so I asked the hostess to replace it with a HOT chocolate. We waited and waited. Then the bill was served. I reminded the waiter about my dessert. More waiting. Then the bowl was slapped down on the table, splashing COLD chocolate on the table top. Now we wanted out.

When the reserv was made, I noted that it was a birthday dinner. When the reserv was confirmed later, the birthday was mentioned. Early in the meal, a nearby table got a cute little sparkler for someone's birthday. At the end of our meal, nothing. Now, TownHall is a noisy neighborhood roadhouse kind of place, but for all the precious menu descriptions and the $110 we dropped for the two of us, you'd expect some basic service. We chose TownHall for a birthday dinner because we'd already been to all the other restaurants listed in OpenTable.com as open on that rainy night (Campton, Aqua, Masas). The Chron raved about it; management claimed to have a great lineage; we thought we'd try something new on the cheap. Should've stuck to the classics and left the newbie to the bar crowd.

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Of the listed restaurants, I've only been to A16 and Bocadillos and wasn't impressed by either.

A16 has some great dishes (the pork, the semi-freddo) but many of the others are just OK, the type of thing you can get at restaurants all over the bay area. I wasn't impressed by their pizza, which was authentic tasting but slightly burnt. I'm very puzzled as to why people like the restaurant so much.

I was expecting Bocadillos to be as good as Piperade, but the food really can't compare. The food we had was good but unmemorable, nothing stood out or would make us want to go and face the wait again.

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We went to Pearl's once a few weeks after it opened (we also live nearby.) It wasn't bad, but certainly nothing to rave about. The night we were there-relatively early-the place was packed & we had to eat at the bar. The music was so loud I just wanted to eat and leave, but it took forever ot get our food. I also remember paying a lot of money for our meal, although the article makes it sound cheap. I'm such a sucker-after I read that I was thinking I HAVE to try that again. Now I won't rush.

I just had lunch today with someone who raved about Va de Vi.

Since no one posted on Squeat's...

Yesterday, I heard a huge scream of outrage from my normally sunny husband.

I knew he'd just read Michael Bauer's top ten.

Sure enough, a moment later he yelled, "He has Pearl on his top 10!!!"

We've been to Pearl twice, since we live in the area. The first time was about a week after it opened, when my DH slurped two bad oysters and watched our waiter pour non-alcoholic beer straight into a glass then watch bemusedly as foam proceeded to fill 2/3 of the glass. It was funny at the time. We reported the two bad oysters to the frenzied owner, who thanked us for letting him know, but no one elected to take two oysters off our bill. Since it was so busy, we let the incident go. My husband took some Pepto when we got home and suffered no ill effects.

The 2nd time was some months later. We went right after work so the place was mostly empty. Still, our waitress spent a lot of time chatting with her co-worker, making it rather difficult to flag her down. My DH also got another off oyster (though not obviously bad as during the first visit). As we left he commented that in all his years of eating oysters at restaurants both high, mid, and low end, he'd never gotten a bad oyster. Odd that it would happen twice at Pearl. We decided that when we wanted a local oyster fix we'd head to Cafe Rouge or Grasshopper.

We both suspect that Michael Bauer's stellar service was the result of being recogized.

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had an outrageously good meal at Michael Mina early Sept. - 2 different tasting menus, very accommodating kitchen, extras when we we inquired about something of interest. had a fantastic server who made it all happen - the evening did not start auspiciously with an excessively long wait for our table despite reservations (almost an hour), pissy bartender with little talent for making drinks as we waited, jetlag and a major anniversary. the wine recommendation from the sommelier was decent but we expected more fireworks and they forgot to serve the little truffles filled with ice cream (?) at the end (we were the last to leave, had 9 or 10 courses, not counting amuse/petit fours). and yet, it was one of my favorite meals of the year because once we sat down, they really made an effort throughout the evening and the food was excellent.

other meals on the trip included zuni, campton place, fifth floor and slanted door (we were in SF 2 days only and had to stay downtown close to the hotel). of those, zuni was the biggest disappointment as we had had better meals there before. fifth floor was as good as before and both campton place and slanted door were very good. already decided to try Quince and A16 next time but i'll be sure to check this and any other SF thread before making plans.

Alcohol is a misunderstood vitamin.

P.G. Wodehouse

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