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S.F. trip, so far (sort of long)

I wanted to write an update while I have a minute, because I'm usually terrible about doing write-ups, especially when I've gotten advice from locals and owe thank yous. So far we've had both our S.F. lunches and two of our three S.F. dinners.

Dinner Sunday night was at Delfina. Liked the vibe a lot. We shared 4 dishes - 1) fresh stretched mozzarella with caponata, friarelli peppers, zucchini Napoletana; 2) fresh-cured anchovies with a little cucumber/radish salad; 3) rosemary tagliatelle and duck sugo; local halibut baked in a fig leaf with sweet corn and tarragon-caper butter. Loved loved loved the halibut - wow! Fabulous texture, almost creamy, with a wonderful sauce which to me had some Thai curry overtones. The dish I liked the least was the pasta - it was a bit less saucy than I would have liked although to the chef's credit the rosemary in the tagliatelle was very understated - rosemary can really overpower a dish and I was actually hesitant to order this dish but the server was recommending it highly. The accompaniements to the mozzarella were really great, probably the best caponata I've ever had. We didn't have dessert but we did have the cheese tasting of 5 cheeses with accompaniments, all very nice.

Of course we made a beeline for the Ferry Building on Monday and lunch was at The Slanted Door followed by a couple of chocolates from Recchuiti (sp?). Our Vietnamese food experiences have pretty much been limited to pho and bun, so while I don't know how "authentic" The Slanted Door is, I do know it was different that what we regularly eat at our local pho place in L.A. Liked the space a lot. Had vegetarian spring rolls, crispy skinny egg noodles with seafood (husband's choice, I don't love that kind of noodle, but sometimes he gets to choose what we eat), black cod with mushrooms (actually these really big white mushrooms that I can't remember the name of), and sweet corn with chanterelles. The dishes, with the exception of the spring rolls, were all a bit sweeter and/or oiler than I would like, but still we enjoyed them. The corn dish was downright sweet and tasted like the corn had been tossed in caramel...ultimately, too sugary for me, but interesting.

Dinner Monday night was Aziza. I had hoped to do the tasting menu but sadly I wasn't feeling very well, not well at all in fact. We ended up splitting 3 dishes - 1) goat cheese with a tomato-citrus sauce/relish and za'tar toasts; basteeya (wow wow wow!); couscous Aziza. Loved everything, seriously bummed that I couldn't taste more, we will definitely return to Aziza on our next trip up here. The couscous was incredibly addictive, loved the spicy merguez with it, the stewed lamb, the veggies - even the zucchini was superb and that's saying a lot! For dessert we had Santa Rosa plum sorbet which had a really creamy texture, almost like ice-cream but the server checked and no, it didn't have any dairy. We liked our cocktails too - husband had the one with tequila and amaretto, I had the one with gin and ginger. Our server was incredibly friendly and, more importantly, extremely knowledgeable. And the host was super nice - I actually messed up our reservation - had booked 7:30 on OT and somehow thought it was 8:00 even though they'd call to confirm - I was so spaced out from not feeling well. Everything was handled with aplomb when we arrived at 8:00.

Lunch today - of course we went back to the Ferry Building. We cruised the farm stands outside, took lots of photos and sampled some great fruit, and then went inside and got a small sourdough from Acme, a couple of cheeses from Cowgirl, some sopressata and coppa from the place with the great meat counter (name escapes me). Everything was fabulous. Dessert was from Miette - I had a chocolate pot de creme and I got to keep the little glass jar it came in! Husband had a mini Scharffen Berger cake, kind of half-domed with a thick ganache on it.

We're off to meet some frieds at Zuni tonight and I'm so excited. I think we'll stop tomorrow morning at Tartine on our way out of town, heading to the culinary wasteland of South Lake Tahoe.

So thanks all you S.F. hounds for the great advice. You have a wonderful eating city.

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  1. I'm proud we made such a good impression. (Note the proprietary "we" as though I'd actually cooked the meals and molded the Recchiuti chocolates... don't tell anyone I said this but we're just a teensy bit provincial.) And there's lots more for when you come back.

      1. If you like the slanted door, I recomend, for my tastes, and pocket depth, Bodega Bistro on Larkin and Eddy its in little Siagon and probably the best papaya salad I've ever had, it has vietnamese "beef jerky" in it. Also ask the chef if he will make his famouse salt & pepper shrimp, they still have the shell on but I recomend eating it becouse it's a great tecture.

        3 Replies
        1. re: gettinfat

          > probably the best papaya salad I've ever had, it has
          > vietnamese "beef jerky" in it

          Is it a very thinly sliced dried beef? I'd love to try that again, I think I last had it about 8 years ago in Seattle. If you happen to get the Vietnamese name for it, I'll carry it in my wallet. ;-)

            1. re: Jefferson

              I'm not sure, it comes on the salad in small diced pieces. with a sweet and spicy sauce. yuuuuuum!

          1. Skip Tartine its long lines, for nothing, a bunch of pretentiose hipsters serving shite. I recomend a place named somthing boulangerie (sp?)its on/near the corner of Fillmore and Post, they have great coffee to.

            3 Replies
            1. re: gettinfat

              THANK YOU for posting an honest opinion of this over-rated (yes, they believe their own press) place. I've lived down the block since they opened and after trying it several times, can not belive they are still packed. Just goes to show that good PR makes up for bad food (NOT!).

              The place you mentioned in the Filmore is part of the Bay Bread Group (baybread.com). They have the boulangerie on Pine, then several restaurants throughout the city. Excellent every time AND they don't burn their pasteries like the other place you mentioned.

              Keep going, there's lots of good stuff out there.

              1. re: foggy

                You know what? I really hate overhyped places. And the long lines here are ridiculous. But you know what else? It is worth it. I've never had anything here that wasn't just great. I don't even like croissants and I find theirs just heavenly. And don't even get me started on the bread pudding. So, I guess opinions vary. Then again,I don't find the staff here to be pretentious. Maybe a little precious, but it's part of their charm.

                1. re: fistalee

                  The lines are annoying but the food at Tartine is really good.

                  The stuff at the Bay Bread bakeries is really good, too.

            2. And the only thing "GREAT" about Zuni cafe is their publicist.

              26 Replies
              1. re: gettinfat

                Wow, could not disagree with you more on Zuni.

                1. re: gettinfat

                  you obviously haven't tried their caramel pot de creme.

                  1. re: gettinfat

                    strongly disagree. i doubt publicity alone could keep a place packed and happening every night on market st. of course its one of my favorite spots in the city so i guess im biased.

                    1. re: Lord Griffin

                      We haven't had a Zuni flame-war for a while. Maybe we're due.

                      Anyway, put me down on the side of the people who think it's overhyped.

                      1. re: Lord Griffin

                        How would you like to explain the garbage they serve at Luna Park.

                        1. re: gettinfat

                          That can't be explained. But I am confused: how did Luna park enter into this?

                          1. re: chaddict

                            Becouse they obviously have a great publicist, I allways eat at a restaurant three times before I decide if its good or bad, and all three times it was poo, but it was packed, and there were people waiting for a table. And Lord Griffin doesnt seem to think that a publcist could keep a restaurant packed.

                            1. re: chaddict

                              Some restaurants are popular more for the scene and/or bar than the food.

                            2. re: gettinfat

                              Luna Park serves some nice stuff at Brunch. I think the daytime staff is much more relaxed and interested in doing a good job, while the night time staff is just interested in pushing out dishes and drinks for tips.

                              We still go for brunch once in a while because it's rarely full, but never again for dinner.

                              1. re: gettinfat

                                Finally. gettinfat, you're right on with Zuni and Luna Park. I'd also like to nominate Medicine EatStation to the list.

                                1. re: hungryhedonist

                                  Again, confused. You list Medicine EatStation as *underrated* in your profile. Yet you are nominating it now as overrated?

                                  1. re: gettinfat

                                    >How would you like to explain the garbage they serve at Luna Park.

                                    It distracts the conversation from the bad service.

                                2. re: gettinfat

                                  zuni has been open since 1979- highly doubtful that they have a publicist these days

                                  1. re: gettinfat

                                    "And the only thing "GREAT" about Zuni cafe is their publicist."

                                    Zuni's "publicist" is word of mouth from people who love their food.

                                    What exactly have you eaten there that you didn't like?

                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                      I'm not saying it's bad, all i'm saying it's not "GREAT", My idea of "GREAT" is inventive and cutting edge. Zuni is classic and simple, that doesnt mean i don't like it, it's just not "GREAT".

                                      1. re: gettinfat

                                        My idea of great is rustic and simple: Zuni, Chez Panisse, Oliveto, country restaurants in France and Italy. That has nothing to do with publicity.

                                        Inventive and cutting edge, eh. Fire the saucier and hire a forager.

                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                          My idea of GREAT could be either inventive & cutting edge AND/OR rustic with quality ingredients. Put in the wrong hands, either of these styles can end up being lackluster or both of them can result in great food.

                                          I ate a perfectly in season avocado for lunch and there is absolutely no denying it was simply GREAT, even though I didn't do anything more fancy than slight seasoning.

                                          The lamb I had at Winterland blew me away, it was so great, but waiting for it to arrive on the table was so tedious I almost died of boredom. I am glad I can enjoy a caramel pot de creme at Zuni. It's my favourite dessert, so of course, I happen to think is is great, even though it is not groundbreaking, it always gives me pleasure.

                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                            Sous vide is the one modern innovation I can think of that's probably going to become part of the classic repertory.

                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                              Worth noting that while the Winterland lamb dish was prepared sous vide, it had a Bellwether suckling lamb pedigree, which contributed to its blowing-away-ness.

                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                I'm not in the zuni 'best ceasar/burger' camp but in my late experience (last few months) their pizza at lunch midweek is as good or better than any similar style pizza I've had here- excellent crust and perfectly baked, sauced, seasoned, etc.

                                            2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                              You can't have been able to avoid the many, many recent complaints about Zuni. I went with a group a few months ago and the service was abominable and the food mediocre.

                                              1. re: Atomica

                                                And you also can't ignore the fact, conversely, that many people happily return to Zuni over and over again.

                                                1. re: Sixy

                                                  Yes, I am one of those people who thinks about going every time I'm in the city, and everyone whom I've sent there has been very happy. I have such a hard time imagining "abominable" service at Zuni since each time I've been, the service has been nothing but professional and gracious. I just get the feeling that service is so "tight" there that those servers are conditioned to be at least decent and responsive.

                                                  Well, I had to finally weigh in on the Zuni debate, and at this point, I'm most looking forward to Debbie W.'s reaction. The pressure's on...

                                                2. re: Atomica

                                                  Nothing new about complaints. I just haven't managed to encounter any of the problems myself in 20+ years eating there. Food's reliably great, service is always professional.