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Best things I ate last month: April edition

pane May 3, 2011 01:34 PM

April was a busy month of great eats, but so busy that I didn't get around to reviewing many of the places I liked best. Instead, a round-up of top dishes that I loved last month:

1. Croissant from Tell Tale Preserve
I spent a chunk of last year working and eating in France, and I'd find myself angry sometimes. Why wasn't 60-month Comte available in San Francisco, and why is the croissant served on a TGV train out of Toulouse better than most of what I get at actual bakeries in San Francisco? I haunted Tell Tale's Maiden Lane location for months waiting for them to open, and when they pulled the plug on that, I finally tracked down the cart at the Ferry Plaza Saturday market. Totally worth the wait (and weight): flaky, buttery, the crackle across the tooth as the external crust gives way. This is my new favorite in the city.

2. Lunch at Zare at Fly Trap
Been three times, and adored the sardine wrap and the perfectly balanced steak and bulghur salad. They've only been open for lunch for a few weeks, and already are observing customer needs and changing their service accordingly--unlike their formal dinner service, lunch is a casual order-at-counter affair, but they've now started setting the tables with silverware and water (which I think is fitting for the price point). To paraphrase a better, smarter Hound (I think Windy?) on lunch in the Financial District: they charge you $10 bucks for a lousy salad that makes you fat anyhow. The focus at Zare is on healthy and flavorful, and I dare you not to love the exceptional sardine wrap, rolled up with grilled Monterey sardines, white anchovies, blistered tomatoes, and walnuts.

3. Pork soup at Lers Ros Thai (not sure of the dish #, waiting for confirmation...)
Had this last night with a group who will undoubtedly write more later, but this was my favorite of the things we tried. Spicy, bright and filling, with a deeply flavorful broth--it's not often that the soup broth is so good I like it better than the soup contents, but this was fantastic.

4. Little bites and Magnolia beer at Fatted Calf's happy hour
Fatted Calf hosts a meat "happy hour" Wednesday evening, and I stopped by twice in the last month with friends. They serve little bites (like cheese speared with salami, mushroom toasts, sausage frittata) and (on the occasions I've gone) pours of Magnolia beers--once Blue Bell Bitter, the other time a new release with a name that escapes me. While you have a bite and drink, the butchers are breaking down and preparing a whole hog; you can request custom cuts and spicing to buy that night. I appreciate their community-building as (relative) newbies to my hood, and hope they're able to keep this up for some time.

Other great (but already reviewed) dishes this month: Cotogna's beef cheek hash (brunch menu), the bread cart at Cyrus, the crust on the halibut at Barndiva.

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Zare at Fly Trap
606 Folsom Street, San Francisco, CA 94107

Barndiva
231 Center St, Healdsburg, CA 95448

Fatted Calf
644-C First Street, Napa, CA 94559

Lers Ros Thai
730 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA

Fatted Calf
320 Fell St, San Francisco, CA 94102

Cotogna
490 Pacific Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

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  1. pane RE: pane May 3, 2011 01:46 PM

    Ack! Totally forgot the final one...

    5. Reuben at Wise Sons Jewish Delicatessen
    This pop-up appears at a cafe on Valencia at McCoppin on Saturdays. Started by two young guys form SoCal who missed the deli scene there, they bake their own rye and brine and smoke their pastrami. I had a Reuben pastrami and liked the punch of the assertive, peppery crust of the meat against its sweet, moist interior. Also tried a vanilla cream soda from SodaCraft (also the Beer & Nosh guy) which was great--not too sweet, deep vanilla flavor. Also good dill pickles. I thought the size of the sandwich was a little daintier than those I've tried at delis in New York, but I don't favor either the fatter size or the fatter prices of those.

    Link: http://www.wisesonsdeli.com/index.html

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    Wise Sons Jewish Delicatessen
    San Francisco, San Francisco, CA

    4 Replies
    1. re: pane
      Windy RE: pane May 3, 2011 02:15 PM

      Pastrami sandwiches in NYC are daintier than they used to be too, unless you go to Carnegie Deli, where you and the whole family can eat for a week.

      Looking forward to checking this out.

      1. re: pane
        Frosty Melon RE: pane May 3, 2011 02:41 PM

        $13.50 (per the site) for a Reuben strikes me as pretty steep, particularly if the size is "dainty".

        But I'm intrigued, love a good Reuben sandwich, and live only a block and a half away from this intersection. Need to keep this in mind for an upcoming Saturday. Thanks for the tip!

        1. re: Frosty Melon
          pane RE: Frosty Melon May 3, 2011 03:25 PM

          I guess I'm comparing it to Reubens I've eaten at the famous New York delis, which have been a lot more. $16ish at Katz; Carnegie was bigger, more expensive and had a $3 charge for sharing.

        2. re: pane
          a
          abstractpoet RE: pane May 8, 2011 11:01 AM

          While I didn't love the other items I tried at Wise Sons, I agree that the pastrami reuben is fantastic - not as hefty as the pastrami sandwich at Wood Tavern (my gold standard, goyish though it may be), but I enjoyed several of the individual components even more, especially the rye bread and the smoky, thickly hand-cut pastrami. A great, well-balanced sandwich, and not unreasonably priced at $13.50.

          Speaking of which, I heard that Niman Ranch isn't making/selling pastrami wholesale anymore. Anyone know if this is true? If so, I wonder what places like Wood Tavern are going to do. I heard, for example, that Saul's Deli is planning to start smoking their own.

          -----
          Wood Tavern
          6317 College Ave., Oakland, CA 94618

          Saul's Deli
          1475 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA 94709

        3. osho RE: pane May 3, 2011 03:58 PM

          Item number 3 above was:

          #31 - Tom Sabb spicy and sour soup with with well stewed pork spare ribs, chili and rice powder

          1. Robert Lauriston RE: pane May 3, 2011 04:20 PM

            Plum late-night burger
            Martins West haggis
            Little Star deep-dish Classic
            Revival kale salad
            Cotogna pizza bianca with guanciale, ramps, egg, and pecorino
            Mamie Nova coconut yogurt (Gourmet Corner)
            Rivoli cheese plate
            Natural Process Alliance Sauvignon Blanc
            Zürsun chickpeas (Spanish Table, now sold out)
            Bowl'D stuffed tofu skins with bacon and almonds
            Plum green garlic and nettle soup with smoked potatoes
            Encuentro smoked pecan pâté
            roasted baby Tokyo turnips with their sautéed greens

            -----
            Rivoli Restaurant
            1539 Solano Ave, Berkeley, CA 94707

            Martins West
            831 Main Street, Redwood City, CA 94063

            Cotogna
            490 Pacific Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

            3 Replies
            1. re: Robert Lauriston
              c
              chocolatetartguy RE: Robert Lauriston May 4, 2011 12:22 PM

              You roasted the Tokyo turnips at home? Did you use the tiny ones or halve larger ones?

              1. re: chocolatetartguy
                Robert Lauriston RE: chocolatetartguy May 4, 2011 01:21 PM

                Home. I think they were from Riverdog. They were very small and halved, looked like garlic cloves.

                1. re: Robert Lauriston
                  c
                  chocolatetartguy RE: Robert Lauriston May 4, 2011 04:09 PM

                  Yes, they are great raw too.

            2. DezzerSF RE: pane May 3, 2011 07:51 PM

              Fifth Floor Uni Flan
              Range Stuffed Pasta
              Sociale Pappardelle with braised duck
              Tribu Grill Pork Sisig
              Red Wings Korean fried chicken

              -----
              Tribu Grill
              235 El Camino Real, San Bruno, CA 94066

              Sociale
              3665 Sacramento St., San Francisco, CA 94118

              Fifth Floor Restaurant
              12 Fourth St., San Francisco, CA 94103

              Red Wings
              3015 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94118

              1. b
                benv RE: pane May 3, 2011 09:18 PM

                deli board-boca sandwich
                pizzeria delfina-mozzarella in carrozza
                mr&mrs miscellaneous-carrot cake ice cream
                little star-little star deep dish
                plow-lemon ricotta pancakes

                2 Replies
                1. re: benv
                  pane RE: benv May 4, 2011 03:25 PM

                  I'm intriguted by two mentions of Mr & Mrs Miscellaneous on this thread already! Sounds like they're having a banner month.

                  Can you tell me more about this carrot cake ice cream?

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

                  1. re: pane
                    Windy RE: pane May 4, 2011 03:32 PM

                    They have very few bad flavors. Their zabaglione and almond brittle are probably two of my top 10 for the year.

                    I'm grateful they're not open at night or I'd be there all the time.

                2. c
                  carfeng RE: pane May 4, 2011 01:57 PM

                  what a fun post!

                  Bar Agricole: spaghetti with milk braised pork and fennel pollen (the slight anise flavor with the richness of pork was a revelation for me)
                  Barbacco: finoccchiona (fennel sausage)
                  Humphry Slocombe: red hot banana (crushed red hots and banana-flavored ice cream)
                  Pause Wine Bar: kushi oysters
                  Catherine & Pierre Breton Bourgueil Franc de Pied (at Bar Agricole)

                  -----
                  Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream
                  2790 Harrison St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                  Bar Agricole
                  355 11th Street, San Francisco, CA 94103

                  Barbacco
                  230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                  Pause Wine Bar
                  1666 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94102

                  1. Windy RE: pane May 4, 2011 03:00 PM

                    April was hardly the cruelest month

                    coconut tapioca dessert and foie gras at Atelier Crenn
                    fried chicken from Namu truck (Off the Grid) and at La Costanera happy hour
                    Napolitana at Pizzeria Delfina
                    blueboon blend coffee beans from Sightglass Coffee, prepared at home
                    lavender almond merengue cookies at Arizmendi, Valencia
                    arancini at Zare at Flytrap happy hour
                    Tom Wilson navel orange from Andronico's
                    wonderbread from Josey Baker
                    agretti and kohlrabi from Mariquita Farms

                    -----
                    Namu
                    439 Balboa Street, San Francisco, CA 94118

                    Sightglass Coffee
                    270 7th St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                    La Costanera
                    8150 Cabrillo Highway, Montara, CA 94037

                    Atelier Crenn
                    3127 Fillmore St, San Francisco, CA 94123

                    1. c
                      chocolatetartguy RE: pane May 4, 2011 04:12 PM

                      Bottled Faygo root beer from Bevmo.

                      Pear frangipane from Patisserie Philippe.

                      Grits from Little Skillet.

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

                      1. majordanby RE: pane May 8, 2011 01:35 PM

                        Queztal farms chipotle salsa, bloody mary mix and roasted tomato sauce (on il pastaio garlic fettucine)

                        1. scarmoza RE: pane May 9, 2011 05:15 PM

                          Dinner at Saison. I savored every bite except the lamb (sous-vide). All 9 other courses made up for that. I love a place that warmly greets and seats you, then hands you a glass of champagne compliments of the house.

                          Brunch at Cotogna. Especially the grilled sardines - we'll definitely be back for those.

                          Favorite Beer: Dogfish Head Red + White
                          Favorite Coffee: Ethiopia Worka roasted by Verve

                          -----
                          Saison
                          2124 Folsom St., San Francisco, CA 94110

                          Cotogna
                          490 Pacific Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

                          1. v
                            vulber RE: pane May 9, 2011 09:00 PM

                            i'll probably think of more later, but the beets roasted in hay at coi definitely stand out. kinda bummed they've dropped the a la carte option, even though it makes sense

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