Trip report: Bar Crudo, Range, Bong Su
Thanks to all my fellow hounds who helped me eat my way through San Francisco. Perhaps this review can be helpful to others planning trips to the area. This will not be overly detailed due to my time constraints, but I can elaborate more if there are questions.
I really enjoy the small intimate space at Bar Crudo and the relaxed (yet good) service. DC and I shared the crudo sampler (four types of crudo), an additional ono crudo, the lobster and beet salad, and the seafood chowder. Everything was delicious and something I could easily recommen to toher hounds who enjoy light, fresh ingredients and some unusual flavor combinations . Of the five crudos, I enjoyed the scallops with a light vanilla cream sauce and the ono the best. The lobster and beet salad was not a traditional salad, but a layered dish of lobster chunks, golden beets, and burrata cheese. The seafood chowder, the most conventional dish ordered, was a fine example of what I think chowder should be--not overly thick and creamy, but very savory with excellent tender mussels and fish.
We had originally planned to eat at Aziza and I really wish we had (long story)! Of all my meals in SF, this was the most disappointing. Not that it was bad, but it was merely average. We ordered the bong su platter, imperial rolls, shaking beef, cod, pork bun cha, and the long beans. I won't go into detail about the dishes but will tell you none of them were horrid and none of them were great. I would certainly not eat at Bong Su again if it were in my hometown of Austin and would never waste a meal there in San Francisco.
Ferry Building Farmer's Market
What great fun. My DC lives in NYC and was excited about getting some good Mexican food. So, we had a plate of chilaquilles topped with chorizo, avocado, and cotija (or was it queso fresco?) , scrambled eggs, and black beans from a stand near the back of the market (I think it was Rose Pistola?). A nice, hearty was to start the day. The fried chips with chorizo and avocado were particularly nice with the right combination of cumin and garlic. The chips managed to not get soggy under all the toppings. Being from Texas, I often have similar dishes available and was pleased that this was a good example. I would highly recommend this to anyone who hails from an area that lacks Mexican food options.
Grabbed a steamed chicken bun from Out the Door. Eh. I was not impressed. This made me 0-2 for Vietnamese food in SF. I am convinced that I need to stick with the casual mom and pop places and forgo the trendier Viet places.
Then, we sampled an item that I will forever long for, but can't remember the name.
It was small stand inside the Ferry Building near the end of the building with La Sur la Table. The cart served coffee and sold stuffed balls of dough rolled in sugar. They had raspberry, nutella, and custard filled options and we chose custard. WOW. My DC and I ate it and giggled as if we were kids in a candy store. Light dough (like a good donut) and creamy sweet, but not cloying, custard. I don't know if these pastries are always this goo ro if we timed it right, but it was better than any pastry I can find in Austin. What I wouldn't give for one right now.
This meal was top-notch from start to finish. The service, the food, and the atmosphere were great and I could certainly see why Range has a Michelin star. (My DC ate at Chez Panisse earlier in the week and felt that Range was superior.)
We started with a cauliflower soup with pancetta and gruyere toasts (which were floated in the bowl). The soup was not cream-based, but a savory broth with many small chunks to cauliflower. The sweetness of the cauliflower with the saltiness of the cubes of pancetta were beautiful together.
Next, I had the roasted chicken with fennel sausage, radicchio, pecan bread salad and sherry jus. To be clear, I almost never order roast chicken in restaurants because most of them do not make the dish as well as I can in my home. Range’s chicken is certainly the exception- moist meat with a crisp golden skin. The fennel sausage was in ground clusters and the pecan bread salad, was cubed. Great flavor and texture combinations, especially for a chilly night.
My DC had the braised daube of beef with horseradish cream, spaetzle, bacon, and broccoli rabe. The beef was fork tender and the sauce had a mild, rather than pungent , horseradish sauce. The little clusters of spaetzle provided a nice carb potato alternative that absorbed the flavor of the juices from the beef and were excellent paired with the beef or bacon. Both entrees were top-notch.
We could not decide which entrée we liked better. Every time I would start to lean one way, I would change my mind. Both dishes were items that I would happily eat again.
For dessert we ate the ginger cake with cranberries and vanilla cream. The ginger cake was very moist with a robust ginger flavor, but I found the cranberries a little too tart (disclosure: I am not a huge cranberry fan in the first place). My DC thought the cranberries were a nice balance to the sweet cake.
Thanks to all who helped guide my dining choices. I look forward to future culinary explorations of the Bay Area.
Thanks for the great report, and glad you enjoyed your eating adventures in SF. I believe the mexican place you were referring to is Primavera, if it was in the far back of the market. But Rose Pistola/Rose's Cafe is also at the market, located closer to the front. And those delicious Italian donuts are from a stand operated by "I Preferiti di Boriana", and i think they're called bombolonis? I think the stand only operates on Saturday mornings, does anyone know for sure? Mmmm, i'm getting hungry just thinking about them.
Thanks for reporting back after your initial query--it's always great to read what visitors ended up trying and liking.
Bar Crudo is one of my favorites; I especially like the lobster and burrata salad. I've not been to Bong Su, but have read mixed reports on it before.
Your report on Range is interesting because there is a thread right now about a tourist who is considering a visit there, but people are reporting back with mixed reviews. Perhaps you should contribute your voice to that thread if you have time.
Read this post re Range - Thanks for suggesting Honeybee post on the other thread as well. Oh, and honeybee - I always love the Ferry Building as well, especially on Saturdays when the Farmers Market is happening. Too much great food and produce to even mention here! Thanks again for an encouraging review.