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San Francisco Report - Eating during the GDC

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Michael Mina:
Chose to go with this restaurant - the other front runners were ethnic and I’m not sure I have the palate to reconcile the price point so far out of my own context (White calgarian). Ate solo at the bar and was very comfortable doing so. Staff was friendly and professional. Amuse of parsnip apple soup and mini grill cheese great. Appetizer lobster corndogs competent and flavourful. Quail with crispy (deep fried?) skin, a spicy reduction and pistachios - intellectual and beguiling. Pork shortribs fumbled onto my plate (ahh tableside service, maybe we can blame the height of the bar) reduction with peppery notes, dreamy polenta; was toothsome but in a nice way. Finale was apple/yogurt/crispy bits and I was stuffed. Ordered a fruitbomb wine and was nicely rewarded with a black cherry firecracker that meshed nicely. Two free small courses was a generous way to handle a solo diner. World class food - I would skip the corndogs in the future because I’m far more curious about the next thing that will appear on the menu. This kind of food is 25% more expensive in Calgary than SF. Wow.

Dave’s Donuts:
Popular ! two people got off the bus just to get a donut, and to get back on the next bus - that’s impressive. Grimy and disgusting bakery, had a cruller, was still slightly liquid on the inside. I applaud that they make donuts in house, but I’m not sure it should be elevated above other bakeries that do donuts (amongst other products)- some of the other types looked good though, but when she had to wave the bugs off of them, it was less appetizing.

Tartine:
Hike through Mission from the 16th street station - located in a more gentrified area with a nice neighbourhoodish feel. Got a croissant (still warm), a self serve cup of coffee (decent), a few of their smaller odds and ends. The odds and ends were: hazelnut / berry tart, oatmeal cookie, shortbread, brownie. These were great to mediocore in the same order. I don’t know why dry, dull brownies are sold by posh bakeries all over the world, but they are. The croissant was good but I’d say slightly on the wrong side of charred, and the folded layers within on the wrong side of mushy. I’ve had better.

Dynamo Donuts:
Spectacular. Toasted coconut donut that was mind blowing. Either they are shaving coconut and toasting it themselves, or they have a supplier of the highest quality. The much discussed bacon donut a mini version of pancakes and bacon and maple syrup; nostalgic, charming and did not feel punny at all. Spiced chocolate was everything tartine’s brownies were not, dense, rich and sublime. Represents everything the cupcake movement does not. Tragic we don’t have one of these in Calgary

The Rib Whip:
I was hoping to catch more gourmet food trucks but the convention I was at wasn’t very conducive to it. Had a brisket sandwich with a side of green beans and a water for a very reasonable 11 dollars. Generous, tender, smokey, not fatty - brilliant - tragically not busy - too many conference people chewing on the swill of Moscone. Sauce could use a bit more character but that’s more opinion than criticism.

TCHO:
Nice designs, like the verbosity of their labels, I think the 12-20 price point is a good value here.

Overall:
Great world class eating city - friendly and varied - generally good food and even the downtown core is not overly colonized by food chains. Many many many places left to explore. Hope to be back.

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TCHO
17 San Pier, Francisco, CA

Rib Whip
San Francisco, San Francisco, CA

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  1. Thanks for report.
    GDC=Game Developers Conference not http://www.dcor.state.ga.us/images/in...

    1. Where is Dave's Donuts? Never heard of it and Google's no help.

      1. Thanks for the report!

        "This kind of food is 25% more expensive in Calgary than SF. Wow." -- a friend visiting from Virginia said the same thing when I took her to a nice "mid-range" restaurant in Oakland. Or rather, she said "at home only fancy, expensive restaurants serve food like this." I think that's one element of what we mean when we say that "mid-range" restaurants are the strength of the SF dining scene. Lots of restaurants serving excellent food at a wide range of price points, and generally less expensive than comparable restaurants in places like NYC (for example, the nine-course tasting menu at The French Laundry is less expensive than the nine-course tasting menu at Per Se).

        6 Replies
        1. re: Ruth Lafler

          TFL $270
          PS $295
          Is their added tax higher than ours?

          1. re: wolfe

            I don't think the price includes tax. Service, but not tax. If I had to guess, I'd say they have more overhead at Per Se, because they don't own the space the way they do TFL. And they can't pick their herbs and veggies from a garden across the street.

            1. re: Ruth Lafler

              My bad Robert - I went back over my notes and saw "Dave's" but it was actually Bob's (discovered by figuring out the address).

              http://frieddoughho.com/bobs-donut-an...

              There are lots of reviews / addresses around if you get the name right - apologies.

              1. re: Gobstopper

                Bob's has been there for decades. They used to make everything from scratch, I'm not sure that's true any more. Also, I think they often have hot donuts when the bars close.

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                Bob's Donut & Pastry Shop
                1621 Polk St, San Francisco, CA

          2. re: Ruth Lafler

            I'd agree - also about the definition of "mid range" - the service level is much higher as a general rule. The competition really helps as well - Vancouver had a similar "upper middle" range.

            You guys have a great chow board here - it's too bad about all the itinerary requests - as there is plenty of information if you just dig in a bit.

            1. re: Gobstopper

              Thanks!

              I don't mind it too much, especially if it's a specific request, e.g. which one A or B? Or we have a food allergy, or this is the food I like and ambiance I like what would you recommend? Or where to eat decently if your in Fisherman's Wharf. However I dislike the generic "Where shall we eat" without any specific info posts. SF has a lot of dining options though, and it would take ages to do all the research yourself. I'm happy to recommend places for those who get lost in the shear volume of places to eat here. It can be overwhelming.

              But then again I live on top of Nob Hill and usually help out lost tourists in the neighborhood once a week. They're especially appreciative that I can tell them how to get where their going with the least amount of hill and most scenic route. My Disney training really shines through on these occasions, complete with a two fingered or full handed point! ;)