San Francisco/ "wine Country" Advice Request
We'll visit again in March.
Where to stay? Found Auberge du Soleil attitude
unbearable; Mandarin wonderful but strain on
budget;Park Hyatt, nice.
Where to eat? Is Cafe Panisse worth the wait? Love
Plumpjack, 'specially the winelist, and the welcome.
Think Sunday night fancy dinner at Harbour village near
embarcadero, a miracle; like dimsum at Yank Sing near
Embarcadero; Found Boulevard too noisy & food so-so,
tho' Wife and d.-in-law- to-be thought it great.
All help appreciated.
The Cafe at Chez Panisse is definitely worth
the wait, though for the first time in the
restaurant's long history, it finally takes
reservations. Have whatever seems to contain
the most fresh vegetables, anything grilled,
oily fish and any meat dish that contains the
growers name (Niman-Schell beef, Rocking
Horse pork, etc.)--the produce is the best
in the world.
And though your tendency may be to order
California wine, CP's Rhones, Provencal reds
and Alsatian whites are in a league of their
own. (I always order the Chave St. Joseph, which
used to be available nowhere else--not even in
Also in the extended CP family,
Bar Cesar is a platonic vision of a tapas bar
(garbanzos stewed with Spanish chorizo, grilled
fresh sardines) with another great wine list,
heavy on tiny California bottlings. Cafe Fanny,
down the street on San Pablo at Cedar, has
just perfect poached eggs and buckwheat crepes
and millet muffins andgrilled cheese sandwiches
with tapenade, not to mention bowls--bowls!--
of cafe au lait good enough to make you weep.
And at Picante way down on 6th Street, owned
by some in-law or something, I recently had,
I am slightly ashamed to admit, the best
chile verde of my life, with thick, homemade
tortillas and many, many bottles of cold Bohemia
beer. I may have to move to Berkeley some day.
In Napa, to keep it short, do go to Bistro Jeanty
(dreamy pigs trotters and crepes Suzettes), La
Toque (Ken Frank is the best foie gras chef
on the planet), Mustards (extremely good basic
American grill food), Terra (swell sweetbreads)
and the French Laundry ($150 per person, and worth
every penny). Tomatina in St. Helena has wonderful
thin-crust pizza; the Oakville Grocery has impeccable
picnic supplies at prices that make Dean & DeLuca
seem like the Price Club.
Do not, under any circumstances, let yourself
be talked into going to Tra Vigne (a triumph
of marketing over substance), Bouchon (Thomas
Keller's dreadful new bistro), the restaurant
at the CIA for dinner (drinks on the terrace
are ok) or Domaine Chandon (drinks on the
the terrace are wonderful).