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Feb 9, 2009 05:09 PM

New Yorker's SF Review

Hello SF Chowhounders!

I posted a few weeks back asking for recommendations on places to eat in SF and I got so many great recommendations from everyone and had such a wonderful time in your beautiful city.

I went to the Hog Island Oyster Bar at the Ferry Building for happy hour and had a few oysters and wine there. They were very fresh and delicious, but nothing mindblowing.

I went to the Mission and went to Tartine and got a slice of the coconut-passionfruit cake. The genoise was the fluffiest, most moist genoise I've ever had. It was the PERFECT genoise. However, the passionfruit filling was a little too tart and not sweet enough and the coconut, while fresh and delicious, could have used a little sweetening. I went back yesterday morning and got the almond croissant and chocolate eclair. I have read SO much about the almond croissant and have been to Paris quite a few times, but I have to say, the croissant FAR surpassed my expectations and it was just as good (or better!!) than the croissants in Paris. It was RIDICULOUS!! I couldn't believe it. The eclair was also just fantastic. The cream was perfect, the pastry delicate, and the chocolate was a nice, thick, fudgy, deep, dark chocolate that put it over the top. I ENVY YOU ALL!!!!! Now I wish I'd also gotten the morning bun! Being alone, it was hard to try so many different things. I felt bad about just eating a bite of this and a bite of that, but as I didn't have much time and didn't want to come back a hundred pounds heavier, I couldn't indulge every single want. :(

I also went across the street to BiRite market and the creamery. The market was SO awesome! I wished that I had had someone to have a picnic with just up the street at that park by Dolores. It was a beautiful, sunny 70 degree day and it would have been so great to buy a loaf of bread from Tartine, some great cheese and charcuterie and fruits and veggies from BiRite, maybe a half bottle of wine, and have a picnic. Next time..... Then i went over to BiRite creamery and tried a bit of the salted caramel (!!!!!), roasted banana (for lack of better works, SO BANANA-Y!!!!!), chai snickerdoodle, and the honey lavender. I ended up getting the chai snickerdoodle and the mint chocolate chip (my favorite flavor - boring, but I can NEVER resist!). This was just AMAZING ice cream and also surpassed my expectations. Lucky that I don't live in the Mission, or else I would be at both Tartine and BiRite Creamery EVERY SINGLE DAY!

I also went to Crixa Cakes in Berkeley and it was OUT OF THIS WORLD!!!!! I LOVE eastern/central european pastries and this satisfied every single craving. I got the plum and custard kolach and Fatima's Thigh. The kolach dough was rich, but the texture was just light and fluffy enough. It just melted in my mouth, yet it also felt substantial and luxurious. The perfect yeast dough, omg..... The plum paste was obviously made by hand and was delicious and combined with the custard and topped with copious amounts of sweet powdered sugar, it was just heavenly.... Fatima's Thigh. Sigh. It was unbelievable..... The pastry was tender and crumbly and just the right balance of crisp and flaky and rich and tender. The inside was slivered almonds with currants and orange and rose water. I cannot find words to describe this. If you haven't gone to Crixa, it is DEFINITELY worth the trip out to Berkeley. GO!!!!!!! AND, it's right across the street from the incredible Berkeley Bowl. I was in heaven.

I spent a few days out in Modesto for work. The food was not very exciting.

Then I came back for a day and went to Tartine first, then up to the Marin Sunday Farmer's Market. WOW!!!! It was awesome! I wished that I were staying longer so I could buy some produce and meat and cheese and cook with all the amazing things I saw there. I did, however, stop by the BBQ Oyster vendor and got a BBQ Oyster. It was HUGE! And so succulent and juicy and delicious. This was a spectacular oyster. And the very kind vendor gave me a big sample of some freshly grilled salmon as well as a grilled prawn and a FREAKIN' AMAZING crabcake. It was soooooooo good. And there were samples galore. I ate lunch just by sampling everything there! The produce was amazing and so were the vendors. I would go there every Sunday if I lived anywhere in the Bay Area.

I also sampled some chocolate at Recchiuti Chocolates at the Ferry Building. Great hot chocolate. Such amazing depth of flavor. And their burnt caramel roasted almonds are to DIE for. You must try them.....

I tried some dimsum at Koi Palace and it was very good. I only got the Shanghai dumplings and the char siu bao as I was alone and that was about as much as I could eat. They were excellent, but I really wish I could have tried more stuff as the menu listed so many things I don't usually see at New York dimsum places. I need more people to share with!!!!!

I went to both Blue Bottle locations and really loved the coffee. I wanted to try Graffeo as well, but it was closed when I tried going there on Sunday..... Next time. The thing that comes closest to this kind of coffee in New York is at Abraco. I have to say though, that the ambiance and atmosphere at the Blue Bottle on Mint Street was a bit too snobby/hipster for me. I felt a little out of place and a little uncomfortable in that location. I really liked the vibe at the kiosk on Linden Street, though. Completely different.

I didn't try any restaurants, just because I felt like it would be a waste of money to eat out alone. Next time, I hope I will be with some other people and be able to try all of those places I wrote down in my book from your recommendations.

Thank you all SO much for your help. I am totally in love with your city.

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  1. Thanks so much for the feedback. It gives us a better idea what to recommend next time

    For ice cream on your next visit, give Humphry Slocombe in the Mission a try. I didn't think it was possible to be better than Bi-Rite, but HS did it. The best flavor so far is the secret breakfast ice cream.

    Glad to hear you liked Crixa.

    Did you ask on the California board for Modesto recs? Did we let you down?

    If you are here alone next time and there is a restaurant you'd really want to try, you can always organize a chowdown and see if others are interested in joining you.

    Koi Palace Restaurant
    365 Gellert Blvd, Daly City, CA 94015

    Tartine Bakery
    600 Guerrero St, San Francisco, CA 94110

    Bi-Rite Creamery
    3692 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

    Blue Bottle Coffee Kiosk
    315 Linden St, San Francisco, CA 94102

    Hog Island Oyster Bar
    Ferry Building,, San Francisco, CA 94111

    1 Ferry Bldg # 30, San Francisco, CA

    Blue Bottle Cafe
    66 Mint St, San Francisco, CA 94103

    Sunday San Rafael Farmers Market
    3501 Civic Center Dr, San Rafael, CA 94903

    1. I was expecting a link to a review of San Francisco eateries in The New Yorker. What I got was funnier and far more concise than that would have been. Thanks for your feedback!

      1. As a point of reference, Abra├žo was actually opened by a former Blue Bottle barista, Jamie McCormick. Graffeo, BTW only roasts coffee. It doesn't brew and serve, though you can taste Graffeo next door at Justa Bite or across the street at XOX Truffles (and get a free truffle with it).

        1. thanks for taking the time to share your impressions with us.

          i know nothing about new york, but it's not unusual to eat alone at a restaurant in san francisco. many very good restaurants serve most, if not all, of their menu at the bar (or if you don't mind facing an empty chair, at your own table). it certainly need not be a waste of money! next time you come back, call for a chowdown or search the board for "solo dining" where you will find many places to go and perhaps make new local friends.

          a few threads on solo dining:

          1. Unless something's changed in the years since I've been to Graffeo, they only sell beans. I believe you can mail order.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Jeff

              They remain bean-only and, in my mind, the best place in the city to buy coffee.