Help me Pick a Restaurant!
I'm flying to San Francisco from L.A. this coming weekend and need some opinions on a few restaurants I'm considering dining at my first night there. I've already got reservations at Gary Danko and Bistro Jeanty on Saturday and Stars on Sunday, because I'm dying to try Ron Siegels's food. But I'm arriving on Friday and have several restaurants I'm considering having a casual dinner at. In your guys opinion, which do you feel is the best quality restaurant of the following three. 42 degrees (I heard they have an appetizer of bone marrow, which makes me salivate), Jianna (I've heard many good things about this new restaurant), or Bizou (it seems like many chefs love this place, and in my opinion they are the best critics of all). My tastes are eclectic and I always want to try new things, especially offal like my screen name makes evident. I know these restaurants are somewhat different from each other, but in terms of quality of food and exciting dishes, which do any of you prefer. Thanks for any feedback.
Like the others here, I prefer Bizou over 42 Degrees.
I had dinner at Jeanty on Tuesday night in the back room - that's the livelier and noisier of the two rooms with a fire-place. The front room is a bit smaller, has the bar and a communal table where you can squeeze in without an advance reservation. It was a great night in the back room. Friends were seated at two 4-tops and at an adjoining party of 9. Maybe we a bit too boisterous when the wine started to speak, but that's that nature of the place. Bill and Lucy from Cafe Lucy in Napa and winemaker Peter Franus were at the next table and it was blast to share our wines.
Very solid performance - huge portions of standard bistro fare - plan to share dishes. The pike quenelles with lobster sauce are a must if you've missed this classic dish. The sauce was a little on the salty side, but we sopped up every last bite with bread. Skip the smoked trout - ruined by too much vinegar and carrots. The duck rillettes were wonderful - god, fat is delicious. Escargot were standard and even the butter lettuce salad was too much for one person. We passed all the plates around our table of 7 and still had leftovers. I barely made a dent in my choucroute with sausage, bacon and ham. The juniper berries were too overpowering in the saurkraut and completely killed our red wines, but as expected the Donnhoff Riesling Kabinett and Z-H Grand Cru Hengst Gewurz I brought along were fabulous with this dish. The daube was comforting and delicious, prepared more like a sliced pot-roast with freshly cooked (not mushed up) carrots. Coq au vin had such deep flavors, very vinous and lots of bacon. The accompanying potato gratin was wonderful with it. The best dish was the day's seafood special, monkfish soup which turned out to be a provencal style spicy broth with a filet of monkfish on top of some tiny ravioli and ringed with manilla clams. Just perfectly balanced and both red and white wine friendly. We were too stuffed to order dessert.
I only tried two wines from our various friends tables. Skip the Vacqueyras (don't remember the producer), but don't miss the 1998 Gigondas from Palliere. It's a new venture between Kermit Lynch and the Brunier family who owns Vieux Telegraphe. So delicious with strawberry jam, rosepetal and white pepper and simply unctuous in texture today - highly recommended.
I haven't been to Jianna, but between 42 Degrees and Bizou, I'd opt for Bizou. There probably won't be marrow bones on her menu, but if you want some of the most fabulous, lesser-used meats (beef cheek, lamb shoulder, etc.) roasted to melting tender - it's hard to beat Loretta's food (though the seafood is great, too).
I think Bizou is warmer and more welcoming than 42, but you won't go wrong with the food at either one.