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Seven Meals in the Bay Area (plus Napa Valley)

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Peter R. Aug 31, 2001 03:27 PM

Relying substantially on the comments on this board, my wife and I ventured to the Bay Area from Annapolis, Maryland this last weekend, plus. The results were mixed. By far the most exciting experiences (for us deprived Easterners) were two trips to Fook Yuen for dim sum. Both mornings the restaurant offered a great variety of dumplings and other dishes. We were blown away by the steamed pork buns, the har gow and a number of the other steamed dumplings. The experience demonstrated again our preference for dim sum served on trays, as opposed to rolling carts. You get to see all that is offered, but the food does not have time to get cold.

We traveled to Napa first. A dinner at Tra Vigne was just average. A good pasta with lobster sauce; a disappointing risotto with calamari, and a couple of antipasti that were nothing to write home about. The next night we tried La Toque. The food was good, although only about half of the courses on their set menu were excellent. However, we found the room and the service somewhat stuffy. A brighter spot was Miramonte, Cindy Paulcyn's new restaurant in St. Helena. Among the treats there, we loved her "Hot Ceasar," a kicked up version of the original and a super Cuban pulled pork sandwich.

We managed to fit in two major meals in San Francisco at La Folie and Boulevard. The food at La Folie was exquisite (an inventive combination roasted squab and quail, a beutiful roasted scallop dish, and a fabulous salad complemented by seared Ahi tuna)and the service was excellent, but the restaurant is terribly claustrophobic and noisy. It is difficut to understand why, with its success over many years, there are not new, more elegant quarters. As on several occasions in the past, our meal at Boulevard proved to be the favorite of the trip (a beautiful rack of lamb, an even better roast duck/duck confit, extraordinary desserts). The restaurant has great vitality, and sitting in front of the kitchen gives you a feeling of participating in the production.

Thanks for all the prior comments and recommendations.