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Mar 22, 2011 03:05 PM

JJL SF 2011 (report as I go)

Hello everyone,

I've gotten a running start so far and there's much more eating to come. I thought I might report on this thread as I go, so it won't be a massive project all at once.

Just a note: I'm having a blast! :)

HUMPHREY SLOCOMBE: I took a nap after I arrived and then decided to walk around the Mission a bit before dinner. I stopped by and tried a taste of Black Sesame and also their Vietnamese Coffee, but decided on a scoop of Secret Breakfast. I really liked the strength of the bourbon flavor as well as the crunch from the cornflakes, but I must say that, as many others have pointed out, the texture of the ice cream itself isn't as good as BiRite. It's a tad icy, not quite as rich-tasting, and perhaps served a bit too cold. But I enjoyed it nonetheless.

PIZZERIA DELFINA: My friends decided they wanted to go to PD as it was closest to us. I went 45 minutes early and our table opened up 5 minutes after my friends arrived. Perfect timing. My friends being also vegetarian, I was unable to order any of the meaty options. We got the Insalata Tricolore, Burrata, Broccoli Raab Pizza (with ), and a Margherita Pizza. I did not have the highest expectations going in, but it was really great! The freshness of the salad was amazing. The burrata was burrata - how can you go wrong? It wasn't the best burrata I've had, though. Both the pies were really great, flavorwise, and the crust was really nice. I think I prefer Motorino's crust (NYC), but all these arguments about the crust and what's "authentic" (I have no idea what is really authentic anyway) all come down to what an individual likes. Regardless, it was great - I would return!

Afterwards, we went to BIRITE CREAMERY: I got a scoop of ricciacanella (cinnamon with snickerdoodles inside) and Vanilla with PB and something else. I got bananas and a cookie with it as well. :) Delicious as usual. Perfect, creamy texture, so rich, delicious. Ricciacanella has been a choice every single time - I think it may be one of my favorite flavors there, trumping even the salted caramel!

TARTINE BAKERY: I went on Sunday at noon and we waited about fifteen minutes. We got the frangipane croissant (wonderful as always, but this one was a few seconds past done - the first time I've experienced this and now I understand comments where this puts people off), currant scone (not my favorite scone, but very good), and a slice of the new dulce de leche cake - DELICIOUS! Perfect cake texture as usual and wonderful flavor profile. Nothing challenging, but just pure, cozy goodness. I went again the next morning and got the pain au chocolat (perfectly cooked, not too dark, and I got it straight out of the oven - the dark chocolate was melted and just bitter enough - pure perfection!), gougere (delicious! so savory, so decadent, so happy I tried this), and a plain croissant for my friend (again - just out of the oven, perfectly cooked, beautiful butter flavor - the quality of the ingredients really shines here). I returned later that day to pick up a loaf of their Sesame Bread (and preordered my country loaf for pickup later!). That bread is probably my favorite bread of all time, and I have eaten loaves and loaves of all sorts of breads and baguettes in France and Germany. This is so special. I had the country loaf last year and this sesame may be even better. There are sesame seeds within and scattered on top and the nuttiness of the sesame just adds a whole new dimension to the already wonderful flavor profile of the bread. And there is NOTHING like getting a fresh, still-warm loaf and having that strong crackle of the outer crust give way to the springy, almost wet and hearty crumb of the inside. GO get it! If you don't want to wait in line (yes, I'm a NYer, but I REFUSE to say "on line"), order at least three days in advance and pre pay.

PERBACCO: I had a solo dinner here last night. I adore pasta and in NY, my favorites include Scarpetta, the now sadly shuttered Alto, Marea's fusilli with bone marrow, and Maialino. I got a glass of wine and the "tris" - tasting of three pastas. I got TORTELLI DI CIAPINABE PASTA FILLED WITH ROASTED SUNCHOKES SAGE BUTTER HEDGEHOG MUSHROOMS RADICCHIO,
FUSILLI DI ORTICHE – HAND ROLLED NETTLE PASTA / HOLLANDER FARM SQUAB RAGU / BLACK CHANTERELLES, and PAPPARDELLE – WIDE PASTA RIBBONS / SLOW COOKED LAMB SHOULDER RAGU / ARTICHOKES / BLACK OLIVES / MINT. Out of the three, I liked the tortelli the least - nothing about the flavors popped to me and they seemed a little flat. The Ortiche was nicely done, but perhaps a little overcooked for my taste. I liked the squab ragu, though. The Pappardelle was probably my favorite, pasta-wise. The texture was really good. The lamb ragu was too salty, however, and I detected absolutely no mint. Overall, it was a very good meal and a great value at $18 for the three tastes. I wouldn't run back, but I would eat there again.

ANTHONY'S COOKIES: I picked up an oatmeal-cranberry and a chocolate-walnut on the way home. They were nice, but nothing to write home about. The oatmeal, especially, was flat on flavor and didn't have that nice nuttiness that makes an oatmeal cookie so good.

I'm headed to Farallon tonight - a friend is taking me out. Tomorrow will be dinner with friends at Terzo. Thursday is dinner at Incanto. I'm hoping to go to Canteen for brunch on either Saturday or Sunday for that souffle pancake. I wanted to go to Canteen tonight, but my friend really wanted to use his certificate at Farallon. Next week includes a group dinner at both La Ciccia and Atelier Crenn! I also want to try to make time for Dynamo Donuts, Bob's Donuts, and maybe one more visit to both Tartine and BiRite. Any suggestions? Both meals and sweets related?

Any ordering advice for the restaurants on my schedule would be GREATLY appreciated!

Thank you so much as always!!

La Ciccia
291 30th Street, San Francisco, CA 94131

450 Post Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

3011 Steiner St., San Francisco, CA 94123

Atelier Crenn
3127 Fillmore St, San Francisco, CA 94123

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  1. if you want a couple more ice cream places to try, our new favorite is Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous, and Mitchell's is also good if you like weird Filipino flavors, which my wife does.

    Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous
    699 22nd St, San Francisco, CA 94107

    1 Reply
    1. re: mjlewis

      It's true that Mitchell's has unusual flavors imported from the Philippines, but the ice cream itself is a big step down from BiRite, Humphry Slocombe, etc.

    2. Terrific report so far!

      I'd maybe consider Commonwealth on your list - it's more avant garde than most of your choices, but your preferences are uncannily similar to mine, and I liked Commonwealth.

      Or, you could consider hopping BART to 19th Street Oakland and go to Plum, which I *love*.

      3 Replies
      1. re: daveena

        Thanks, daveena! I have read many of your posts as well and agree that we have similar likes and dislikes. Too bad I don't have time for either place this time, but they are DEFINITELY on my list for next time. :)

        1. re: j.jessica.lee

          Plum is so close to bart, it's likely quicker than you think, and innovative!

          1. re: bbulkow

            Oh, I just meant that I didn't have enough meals left to be able to fit Plum into a regular meal slot! Such high praise makes me excited to try this when I come back!

      2. Bob's makes a good, solid donut. Nothing fancy at all. Not sure if you want to head all the way out to that neighborhood for an awesome glazed old fashioned. Though that area has great boutiques and I'd recommend Swan's Oyster Depot for some fresh seafood, ie. oysters, chowder.

        If you like pasta, I'd recommend going to Delfina. Yes, the sister restaurant to Delfina Pizzeria or Quince. Though Quince is a 4 $$$$ type of place and you seem to be eating well already with Farallon & Atelier Crenn.

        Also do make it a point to try one of Mission's numerous taquerias. Taqueria Vallarta & Taqueria Cancun are 2 of my favs. I think NY is deprived of good burritos!

        1 Reply
        1. re: Keesey

          YES, Vallarta!! I need to go there!! What would you suggest ordering if I just got ONE taco? Thanks for your recs!

          Vallarta Restaurant
          14366 E 14th St, San Leandro, CA 94578

        2. The original comment has been removed
          1. So to continue.....

            FARALLON was a fun night out. I had a good time with my friend and we did the 5-course tasting with the wine pairings. The wine pours were generous and interesting and definitely contributed to the fun. The room is a sight to behold and we were seated in a corner, so had a nice vantage point from which to view the dining room. Certainly not a destination place in terms of food, but it is nice for an evening out. Not to say that the food is bad, because it was good, but nothing destination-worthy.

            TERZO was a great neighborhood spot. I liked the ambiance there - cozy, homey, yet with good energy. We got the roasted beets with labneh, mint, pistachios - nice golden beets, mint was prominent, very refreshing, slightly sweet for my taste, pistachios could have used a few more seconds roasting; hummus and house-made pita - signature dish, hummus had great velvety texture but could have used perhaps a little more lemon juice for acidity and brightness, pita was stretchy and comforting, but a bit heavy-handed with the oil - definitely not a fluffy pita; arugula salad with mountain gorgonzola, dried figs - very delicious, unusual type of arugula with wider leaves, lovely cheese and figs, just enough dressing, just lovely; meatballs with polenta - a really well done meatball, rich but so light, I understand why it's a signature - tomato sauce was perhaps just a tad too bright, but overall a great dish; penne with sausage and greens - well done classic, hearty, comforting; montana skirt steak with green garlic bread pudding and brussels sprouts - steak was grilled very well, the bread pudding was fantastic, brussels sprouts could have been done better. Overall, a nice neighborhood place with cozy food!

            LA TAQUERIA - I stopped by on the way home. I wanted to go to Taqueria Vallarta, but it was too far for me at that time of night and I was also really tired. I got the carne asada and it was delicious. The tortillas were really good, though I do agree with the SeriousEats post saying that it could use a bit more charring. I will definitely have to try the Vallarta taco.

            INCANTO was very good. My friends had the Foie Gras/Trotters appetizer and they graciously let me have a bite - it was the highlight of the meal. Rich, meaty, sticky, crunch from the bread, smooth silkiness of the foie, carnal chew of the trotters - really a knockout dish and definitely a must-order. I had two half orders of pasta - spaghettini with cured tuna heart and egg yolk and parsley, and the hay trippoline with tripe. The spaghettini was cooked al dente, but I felt like there were two aspects that totally took over the dish and also conflicted with one another. There was way too much parsley and the tuna heart, being so salty, was put on much too liberally. I was quite disappointed with the dish. The trippoline was better - I love tripe! But yet again, the tomato sauce was a bit one-dimensional and the pasta was cooked a bit too long for my liking. Our server was lovely, though. My friend got the pork cheeks with polenta - the pork was wonderful! My other friend also had the trippoline and got an order of the sanguinaccio with farro - this was really great. Overall, it was a good experience and I loved being with my friends. I like the space and neighborhood and thought the food was good, but would, hands down, return to La Ciccia. Which I will do next week!

            BOB'S DONUTS - after dinner, we drove over to Bob's and I went a little crazy. I got an apple fritter, chocolate glazed, maple glazed cake, and a chocolate glazed long john. Other than the long john, they were literally minutes out of the fryer. I brought them home for my other friends and I ate the equivalent of three of them. These donuts are truly the best I've ever had and probably up there in terms of my favorite sweets. The crust is always spot on for me, even when not just out of the fryer. The first apple fritter I had two years ago was way too sweet, but this one was just sweet enough and the texture was to die for. The crust on the outside was thick and crunchy, leading to the pillowy interior. I did think, though, that I could have used some more apples. The maple cake was also just spectacular. All of them were to die for. I can't believe I ate three of them. :)

            ARIZMENDI - I had the cherry corn scone again and it is every bit as wonderful as I remember. The crunchiness of the corn is addictive. Then the wonderful chew of the cherries and the nice, cornbread-y texture. I love this scone and have made it from the recipe a few times. This is one of the greats!

            Much more eating to come, but I think I may have to take it easy today and do a lot more walking! :) As always, thank you for your help. Saturday is a toss-up between doing Roli Roti porchetta sandwich or going to Canteen for the souffle pancake. Any definitive opinions? :)

            La Ciccia
            291 30th Street, San Francisco, CA 94131

            Taqueria Vallarta
            3033 24th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

            Roli Roti
            , Hayward, CA

            Vallarta Restaurant
            14366 E 14th St, San Leandro, CA 94578

            6 Replies
            1. re: j.jessica.lee

              Will you be up and hungry early Saturday morning? I love hitting Canteen early (something about watching them set up, bringing ingredients up from downstairs) and while the food is delicious, the portions are not overwhelming. I'd think you could easily be ready for a porchetta sandwich for lunch then, but I've not tried Roli Roti to know how substantial it is.

              Roli Roti
              , Hayward, CA

              1. re: Frosty Melon

                Thanks! Good idea. We'll see how early I get up tomorrow. :)

                1. re: j.jessica.lee

                  I've done Canteen early followed by Roli Roti and it is painful but a good way to go :-). I agree that the breakies at Canteen aren't gut bustingly large but the sweet one are rich (granted I haven't tried that particular pancake) and I find the RR porchetta sarnie a challenge for one to eat alone. Deffo worth trying though. I am enjoying your adventures, jjl. They are putting me in the mood for our upcoming end-of-April trip!

                  1. re: grayelf

                    I've loved reading all of your reports as well, grayelf!! I'm headed up your way this summer, so I'll have to pick your brain for some good eats! :)

              2. re: j.jessica.lee

                Incanto's spaghettini with tuna heart and egg yolk was one of my favorite dishes in SF for years, but it's dropped off the list due to inconsistency in execution. For me, the problem is usually when the garlic gets overcooked - there have been a few times when I've been disappointed by the dominant oily bitterness. When it's good, it's incredible, but in the past year, I've found La Ciccia's spicy tuna heart pasta to be better.

                Arizmendi's cherry corn scone gets all the love, but for some reason, I'm always drawn to the plain-looking and sounding oatmeal scone.

                La Ciccia
                291 30th Street, San Francisco, CA 94131

                1. re: daveena

                  I suspect one issue with the spaghettini at Incanto is whether you order a full order or a half. They still use a full egg yolk and nearly as much tuna heart on the half order, so if you don't like that much garlic/sauce/stuff, it's a bit much.

                  Also it doesn't hold up well if they don't serve it right away, so better at the bar than at a table for five.