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Menu Recs for Bar Crudo, Cafe Citti, Ferry Bldg?

Dallas 'hound coming to the Bay Area for a long weekend. Have already established my dining itinerary after researching these boards (though unfortunately some are compromised choices for dining due to transportation issues). Need advice for the following:

1) Dim sum in Chinatown on Friday. I know Koi Palace gets all the praise but a trip out there isn't feasible with our schedule. Is Lichee House or Y. Ben House the better choice? Or another place? My favorite dim sum items are fried tarot stuffed with minced pork and mushroom and anything with BBQ pork. I have to admit, coming from Dallas, my dim sum exposure is somewhat limited.

2) Dinner at Bar Crudo on Friday. I've heard the chowder is good here. Any other specific menu recommendations?

3) Lunch at Cafe Citti in Sonoma on Saturday (it's on the way of the wineries we're planning on visiting in Sonoma). Any menu item recs?

4) Dinner at Jai Yun on Saturday night. No choice here. Hope it's good.

5) Headed to Ferry Bldg on Sunday for an extended lunch. I know Saturday's really the day to get the scene, but since Saturday is Sonoma wineries day, it'll have to be Sunday. On my list of to tries:
o Golden Gate Meat Co. (breakfast sandwich with bacon)
o Froghollow (butternut and squash turnover, Blue Bottle coffee, apple and pear tarts)
o Hog Island Oyster Bar (clam chowder)
o Lulu (fresh potato chips)
o Ferry Plaza Seafood (clam chowder)
o Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker (chocolate chip cookie)
o San Francisco Fish Company (soft shell crab sandwich)
o Mistral (get a small portion of the roast chicken)
o Miette (chocolate macaroons)
o Cowgirl Creamery (sample some cheeses, Mt. Tam)
o Ferry Bldg Wine Merchant (bring over some cheese from Cowgirl Creamery and enjoy with Pinot Noir)
o Nick Sciaba & Sons (olive oil)
o June Taylor (jams)
o Marshal Farms (pumpkin blossom honey)

Any that could be skipped (I can't eat all of these!) or anything I've missed that needs to be tried?

Any input is appreciated. Thanks in advance!

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  1. Haven't been to Citti in a while, but if they have the tuna and egg panini (maybe @ lunch, only...)it is delectable. I also remember their tiramisu as being exceptional. Does the original chef (I think his name was Lucca or Lupo?....) still own the place? If yes, you're in for some yummy food in a very casual setting.

    1. Yes, at Bar Crudo the chowder is great and very rich with both cream and bacon. I'd recommend splitting if you are there with someone else. Also on the menu is a burrata and lobster salad that is amazing. Get it!

      Your Ferry Building picks are fantastic. If I had to skip anything, it would be the Miette macaroons, which just aren't to my taste. For a lightish meal, I like to get a little olive roll from Acme, a hunk of cheese from Cowgirl, and seasonal fruit from Frog Hollow.

      I've only been to the June Taylor stand on Saturdays, is there somewhere in the building that sells her products on non-market days?

      1 Reply
      1. re: pane

        Cowgirl has a limited (and sometimes non-existent) selection of June Taylor. Never has what I want, though! I have found the grapefruit marmalade to be only so-so but the meyer lemon to be fantastic. Haven't tried the others.

      2. At Bar Crudo you should get the crudo. They have a crudo sampler that allows you to get most of the offerings. The last time I was there, I was with four other folks. We ordered five of each of the crudos and were quite happy.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Paul H

          The couple of times I've been, the crudo I liked best weren't on the sampler. I think they tended to be the most expensive, but for me it was worth it to order selection outside of the pre-determined sampler.

        2. I absolutely love the chowder at Hog Island, and they serve it with Acme epi, the world's best bread imho. It's not for someone counting calories though!

          I don't know if you CAN bring in cheese to the wine merchant since they sell their own cheese (a brie and manchego combo procured from cowgirl - the manchego is vy good). If anyone could confirm that it's ok to bring in cheese, I would appreciate it. They usually have a fairly high priced red wine there that is fantastic by the glass (Twomey merlot, Orin Swift's The Prisoner, etc.) I love their by the glass wines, never had one that was less than stellar in about 5-6 visits.

          1. donna, we are currently in the midst of our 10th annual march ,3 week sf/cal. vaca.
            i'm a very picky chef from boston. here are some of my suggestions;

            ferry bldg- far west funghi sells lg assortment of wild mushroom products. we particularly like their truffle dijon mustard and we stock up there rather than have them ship to us on the east coast. their dried candy cap mushrooms are their best dried mushroom i think.their black truffle oil is also exc and cheaper than many others.

            sur la table sells an amazingly sharp/superb travel knife for $10; comes in heavy plastic sheath; many color options. now that i have one i can't imagine how i lived w/o it.

            lulu's- in addition to those terrif pota. chips,, they have a v good jarred saffron aioli.

            hog isl.: terrific chowder: MY experience is one whole bowl per person!

            i am not a scharff. choco. fan but i AM a rechiutti chocolates (sp.) fan. His hazelnut pralinecandy bars are super in additon to his sea salted caramels and many other very unusual individual chocolates.

            unless you want the vibe/experience of bustling (crowded dirty) chinatown, skip it. Fairly nearby-Yank Sing -is the only dim sum game in town for me and far better than anything I have had in Boston or NYC, but it IS v expensive; see my post of this past week.

            Not among your topics, but for me THE Superextraordinary SF experience is La Boulangerie on Pine St. at corner of Filmore.
            Extraordinary bakeries are as rare as hen's teeth in the old U.S. and this is the very greatest I have personally visited( and I have been to thousands of u.s. bakeries, trust me!!) The largest number of varieties of both sweet and savory pastries I have ever seen, tortes, breads, macarons, croissants, etc etc, etc.and the astounding quality of all those products- is hard to believe.Try to get there on a weekend before 9am if possible(fyi, we ourselves have never achieved this timing goal!), just so you have a smaller crowd to deal with. btw, there is a freeway entrance about 8 minutes south of them.

            have a great time.do report back on your experiences!!

            6 Replies
            1. re: opinionatedchef

              There are several other branches of Boulangerie around town. Does Pine St. have a bigger selection?


              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                I believe Pine St. bakes on site...not the case for most or all of the other locations....definitely the one you want to hit...

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  clare, ther pine st. manager, explained to me that that location is their mother store , and the answer is yes. fantabulous variety.

                2. re: opinionatedchef

                  Thanks for the tip on the travel knife. Opinionated Chef -- sounds like the very one I've been looking for to replace a long-lost purchase in Mexico.

                  1. re: grayelf

                    its label is kuhn rikon. so happy to be helpful.

                3. Skip the Golden Gate Meat Co., they have some nice meat but their prepared food is pretty mediocre by Ferry Plaza standards.

                  1. I second the rec for the lobster and burrata salad at Bar Crudo. Also, have them pair the chowder with a Flemish Sour Ale. I agree that the best crudos tend to be the ones not on the sampler.

                    Ferry Building - visit Recchuiti for the fleur de sel caramels, among other treats. Boulette's Larder is a must visit for shopping, the whole place is a cook's dream, great stuff to take home and play with, don't miss the Anson Mills polenta. I'm a big fan of Out the Door - particularly the crispy veggie spring rolls and papaya salad (which would add a nice, light, veggie balance to your lunches).

                    As for what to skip at Ferry Bldg? Those chowders will pale in comparison to Bar Crudo's. Don't bother with GG Meat's prepared food. In terms of sweets I'd stick with Recchuiti, maybe Frog Hollow if you want some pastry. Scharffen Berger? Maybe get a bar of their dark to take home (though I'd rather spend the money on more caramels from Recchuiti.)

                    You could also get some lard from Prather Ranch, though that may not travel well.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Morton the Mousse

                      "You could also get some lard from Prather Ranch"

                      Suddenly transported to the Pirate Store on Valencia...

                      1. re: Morton the Mousse

                        morton, i feel very simpatico with your taste. but you have me guffawing with your last sentence. donna the OP is from TEXAS, morton!!!! i hope you are now chuckling along with me.!

                        1. re: Morton the Mousse

                          I third (or fourth or whatever) the recommendation for the seafood chowder as well as the lobster and burrata salad at Bar Crudo. However, although the best crudos are not the ones on the sampler, I still feel that it's worth a try. I think the last time I went, there were two crudos not on the sampler, and I somehow got the very nice waiter to combine a dish with two of each of those two crudos for us to try. They are quite accomodating but it's not a guarantee of course. Definitely make a reservation for Bar Crudo. Oh, and the seafood chowder is very rich, so we usually share one order between the two of us, and they always just split it into two separate bowls (and the separate bowls look like full orders of soup at any other place!!)

                        2. Thanks for the advice, all. I'll be printing this entire thread to bring with me for the trip this weekend. And I will be sure to report back!

                          Opinionated Chef: the obligatory Chinatown trip and dim sum is due to the fact that my dad, a first generation Chinese immigrant, has lived years of his life in the US in smalltown USA and really thinks the Chinatown experience is quintessential for a SF trip. Otherwise, I would probably skip it.

                          8 Replies
                          1. re: donnaaries

                            Be sure to walk along Stockton Street south of Broadway on Friday before lunch. That's where you see what remains of the real Chinatown, with live chickens and so on. It's not as intense as it used to be before all the Chinese supermarkets opened in the suburbs.

                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                              Another vote for Delica and Recchiuti.

                              One vote against Boulangerie. It is a small chain here in San Francisco, and as they've expanded I think the quality has gone downhill. If it were in my neighborhood, I might stop in for a pastry from time to time, but definitely wouldn't recommend visiting as a tourist.

                              Personally, my favorite croissant is at Patisserie DeLanghe, an unfancy little place on Fillmore. There is always a scene at Tartine in the Mission: I like the morning buns, breads and desserts there, but don't care for the croissants. If the wait is long and the tables few, you can walk a block to Dolores Park and enjoy your coffee and pastry there.

                              1. re: pane

                                Pane, I dare you to go to the pine street location on a weekend morning and taste their almond croissants etc. and hold to your opinion voiced above!!.
                                The Pine St. La Boulangerie is the best bakery I have encountered.I will be posting in detail about it later.

                                1. re: opinionatedchef

                                  I have been, and continue to hold the opinion voiced above. They are not to my taste.

                                  Other than DeLanghe, I think Patisserie Phillipe is great.

                                  Tartine Bakery
                                  600 Guerrero St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                  Patisserie Philippe (moving)
                                  655 Townsend St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                                  Delanghe Patisserie
                                  1890 Fillmore St, San Francisco, CA

                                2. re: pane

                                  The owners just sold Cortez, one of them said because they want to focus more on their bakeries. So that's a good sign.

                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                    robert, i didn't know you were at our Cortez table last week (when chef Seth told us the same thing!!) i will post details later on cortez, but happily, the new owner is a longtime cortez patron who owns other SF restnts, and he wants to keep the talented one michelin-star chef(smart guy, huh?) and the menu etc. as they are. so keep our fingers crossed because this is a wonderful place.

                            2. At the Ferry Building, I always go to Delica rf-1 and buy a couple of snacks. I am crazy for their Wasabi Garlic Potato Salad, and you should try a croquette or two. A couple of whatever snacks they're making that day.

                              Missing Boulette's Larder at the FB would be a huge oversight. I'd give up 10 bags of Lulu's chips to get something from Boulette's. It would be a real shame if you didn't step in and have a look around.

                              I agree with someone below who says skip Scharffen Berger and get yourself to Recchiuti. Wasn't it determined long ago that those SB chocolate chip cookies were no longer the same wonderful cookies?

                              Lulu Petite--I often get the spiced nuts to carry around. They're actually one of the very best bargains (relative to FB prices, that is). I have mixed feelings about Lulu Petite because they had some big and unfriendly anti-tourist signs posted for a while ("Directions to Restroom $1", things along those lines). A stupid move, IMO. Who do they think is their biggest customer?

                              You can skip Golden Gate Meat Co.'s sandwich.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Atomica

                                I totally agree about Delica rf -- I adore that Potato Salad as well as the croquettes. Buy some of the Recchiuti fleur de sel caramels when you first get to the Ferry Building, eat them as you walk along, and you'll go back before you leave to get lots to take home.

                              2. Cafe Citti is an excellent choice for casual lunch. Bread is homemade ciabatta or foccacia. Tuna is great, as is potato salad. Soups are fine. Tiramisu is huge and excellent. Roast chicken is a favorite of many. If the weather is good, try the patio.

                                VJB winery tasting room, next door, is a good place to visit. This is family owned, wines are Italian, small production, and the people are just wonderful. Enjoy!

                                1. There's nothing on the menu at Bar Crudo that will steer you wrong. Per many of the replies, yes, the chowda!! Pair it with wine because it's heavenly heavy!

                                  1. Thanks SF Bay hounds for all the recs and advice. Sorry didn’t report on this trip sooner.

                                    Trip highlights:

                                    Bar Crudo. What a charming tiny space! Loved practically every bite. The most memorable bite was definitely the lobster & burrata salad. Sad to say, we can’t even get burrata cheese like this in Dallas.

                                    Ferry Building Merchants. Had a luscious pear tart from Frog Hollow, the best oysters I’ve ever had from Hog Island Oyster, juicy rotisserie chicken from Mistral (though sides were lacking on my visit), and were able to bring home lots of packaged goodies like an excellent organic fig conserve from Frog Hollow (great with chevre cheese).

                                    Café Citti. Fantastic choice for lunch in Sonoma Valley. A big portion of creamy pasta is exactly what you get in the mood for after half a day of wine tastings. I was also impressed by the olive oils from The Olive Press, particularly the Sevillano varietal (tasting room inside Jacuzzi Winery).

                                    Not So Great:

                                    I was overall disappointed in Chinatown (and I expected to be, but felt obligated to go since I was with company and it’s a tourist must). Dim Sum at Y. Ben House was no better than the average Dallas dim sum place (and possibly grimier). I was looking forward to dinner at Jai Yun since it sounded like such a unique concept, but the dinner there fell short of expectations. Service (as in explanation of the dishes) was inadequate, ingredients didn’t even approach exotic, and food was good but not as intricate or true to regional tastes as I had hoped. My family is from Shanghai so we’re probably a little pickier about this than the average diner, but still, I had high hopes for Jai Yun but walked away feeling so-so about the dinner.

                                    Overall, the trip just proved again that SF is probably my favorite food city in the US.

                                    For detailed trip travelogue (complete with photos), start with: http://donnacooks.wordpress.com/2008/...

                                    Thanks again, ‘hounds!

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: donnaaries

                                      Nice pictures of Hing Lung, Y. Ben House and The Wok Shop

                                      Funny you had to pay 50 cents to take a photo at the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Company

                                      You did order the least expensive prix-fixe at Jai Yun.

                                      Hing Lung Restaurant
                                      674 Broadway, San Francisco, CA 94133

                                      Jai Yun
                                      680 Clay St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                                      Bar Crudo
                                      655 Divisadero Street, San Francisco, CA 94117

                                      Y Ben House Restaurant
                                      835 Pacific Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

                                      Capay Organic - consolidated in Ferry Bldg #9
                                      1 Ferry, Bldg San Francisco, CA

                                      Golden Gate Fortune Cookies
                                      56 Ross Aly, San Francisco, CA

                                      Wok Shop
                                      718 Grant Ave, San Francisco, CA

                                      Cafe Citti
                                      9047 Sonoma Hwy, Kenwood, CA 95452

                                    2. My personal Ferry Building loves:

                                      1. Rose macaron at Miette:

                                      2. Greek yogurt at Lulu Petite is amazing

                                      3. Pulled pork sandwich at Boulette Larder

                                      4. Spring rolls, chicken bun and lemonade at Out the Door