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snout-to-tail + michelin ranked burgers: on the peninsula

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Two quick notes about peninsula dining.

1.

Snout-to-tail: somewhat unremarked, Martin's West in Redwood City had two days of a snout-to-tail dinner special. I didn't try it (showed up one day late), and I haven't seen anything on their web site about what they actually served, nor did the recent SFgate review mention it.

The chron reviewed Martin's West a few days ago, and the review seemed to miss the point (so even my GF said). The spirit, adventureness, unusual menu items, rotating bar specials, focus on local + reuse (the scotch eggs are nested in old menus), all that is lost in the review.

Although nothing there in our visit this week hit the high points of some previous visits, the point of MW is they keep changing, and you either love that or hate it. I wonder if anyone happened to catch the snout-to-tail, and has any comments.

2.

Village Pub was my first excursion in Michelin Hamburgers. The hamburger is only on the bar menu. At VP there are three small tables, and about 16 bar seats within the orbit of the bar. We arrived around 6:15 on a Staturday, and there were 4 seats and one table left - the closest to the (rather cold) door. At about 6:30, everything was spoken for and a certain amount of hanging around and vulturing commenced.

I don't think I had ever appreciated the wine tome at VP. I think it's in league with Manresa, upwards of 25 pages, with elements like the Sauterne page. I honestly don't know wine well enough to critique the fine points.

What endears me forever with VP was their willingness to try a Corpse Reviver #2 on the spot, as the Saturday rush was coming on. We forked over the iPhone where we had looked up the recipie. The bartender must have spent 10 minutes finding the Lillet. The outing was successful, but not the best I've had. They claimed they'd have it right the next time.

Besides a sunchoke amuse (served in a demitasse), they also brought a round of carrott soup for my companion, who hadn't ordered an appetizer, on the house. That's a level of thoughtfulness I can't say I've seen anywhere, any time. I think that won over GF. Here were are sittin' at the bar getting a burger, and they hit us with an amuse.

The burger was stellar. If Pastrami King is out there, you'd be scandalized at the price, but otherwise, there was nothing to fault. The house-made bun was thin, not getting in the way of the meat, and halfway to foccacia. The burger itself was cooked perfect, the veg was extraordinarily high end. Not on the menu is two additions: a black truffle, or a fois gras topping. This in addition to the possible white truffle addition, given the season. GF plumped for neither, getting "standard burger". The fries, in a small bucket were also good. They might have been following the Keller tradition of buying frozen, or they might have been well-cooked single fry.

I had a dayboat scallop appetizer, which was, frankly, good but not great. The black truffles on top were barely noticeable - I should have gotten a white truffle supplement. The cassoulet, however, was perfect, one of the best I've had. The only oddity was the shredded pork, which had a mexican feel. I simply asked for a by-the-glass wine to pair, and was given a "meritage" that I was assured was primarily syrah from the cote-du-rhone. Nearly a perfect pairing, just the right body and spice to mix with the hearty cassoulet.

Chocolate souffle for desert. Gorgeous.

Dinner was actually moderately priced for what we got. One less cocktail, and it would have equaled what we spent at Martin's West two nights before. The atmosphere and service were perfect. Just ignore all the fanciness on the main menu, and get a burger and a glass of red wine, or the cassoulet, or similar that strikes your fancy.

Recommended, but arrive early for the bar seats. The main dining room is quite nice and can be reserved, but lacks the fun factor.

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Manresa Restaurant
320 Village Lane, Los Gatos, CA 95030

Village Pub
2967 Woodside Rd., Woodside, CA 94062

Martins West
831 Main Street, Redwood City, CA 94063

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  1. we really enjoyed VP a few weeks ago, and can't wait to go back for the burger. is it lunch-only, or can you get it for dinner at the bar?

    6 Replies
    1. re: ceviche

      "The hamburger is only on the bar menu. At VP there are three small tables, and about 16 bar seats within the orbit of the bar. We arrived around 6:15 on a Saturday..."
      I assume not AM.

      1. re: wolfe

        hahaaha thanks. multitasking FAIL!!!

        1. re: ceviche

          It's bar menu only, I don't think it's available at regular tables. We were presented with 4 menus on seating: the bar menu, the dinner menu, the wine tome, and the cocktail menu. And yes, I have no idea about lunch.

          GF has stated the Michelin Hamburger concept is "dumb". Someplace close, sure, but we're not going all the way to oakland and just having a burger. She said I wouldn't stick to it. And she's right - burger or cassoulet? Cassoulet. I think this idea dies on the vine.

          1. re: bbulkow

            The bar menu at Village Pub is available at the regular tables. I've never ordered anything from it though since we go there for special occasions.

            Michael

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            Village Pub
            2967 Woodside Rd., Woodside, CA 94062

            1. re: bbulkow

              maybe i'm missing something here. back in LA, fancy burgers (fathers office, golden state, comme ca) are all the rage. is this not the case up here, too? (recent re-transplant)

              1. re: ceviche

                Village Pub is an out of the way very upscale restaurant in Woodside. It's 25 miles south of SF (away from the trends) and hasn't changed in forever, and has a michelin star. The fact that they, like Zuni and Moose's (always the mooseburger!), have had a fancy burger forever. Their burger isn't listed in any of the "top 40 burgers of San Francisco", which caused me to check it out.

                There are newer, fancier burgers (Spruce, Namu...) but this is one of those old-money burgers. Because some nights you don't want sweetbreads with black truffles *again* and you just want a burger.

                I'm more disappointed no one can tell me about the snout-to-tail at Martin's West. Sad.

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                Zuni Cafe
                1658 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

                Namu
                439 Balboa Street, San Francisco, CA 94118

                Village Pub
                2967 Woodside Rd., Woodside, CA 94062

      2. Speaking of gourmet burgers, has anyone tried the burger at Tootsie's at the Stanford barn? The menu says "Veal, Pork, and Beef mixed with olives and oregano, served with caramelized onions, mozzarella cheese on a toasted rosemary roll with housemade shoestring fries." Normally I don't roll the dice on a burger unless it gets authoritative raves.

        3 Replies
        1. re: ssfire

          Sounds like olive loaf with cheese and onions.
          http://www.recipetips.com/glossary-te...

          1. re: ssfire

            Interesting. I'm a big fan of Tootsie's but I've avoided the burger because I just assumed it was a concession to American tastes - the rest of the menu is Italian and very good. Focaccia is made in-house and about as good as Liguria Bakery's. Now I'm motivated to try it.

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            Liguria Bakery
            1700 Stockton St, San Francisco, CA 94133

            1. re: Cicely

              OK, I tried the Tootsie's burger and was seriously underwhelmed. Olives and oregano, duly noted, but the patty was relatively thin and on the dry side. Edible, but not compelling - I left about 30% of it behind. On the plus side, fries were delicious - thin and crispy, with a sprinkling of coarse salt.