Best things I ate last month: April edition
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.
Zare at Fly Trap
606 Folsom Street, San Francisco, CA 94107
231 Center St, Healdsburg, CA 95448
644-C First Street, Napa, CA 94559
Lers Ros Thai
730 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA
320 Fell St, San Francisco, CA 94102
490 Pacific Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133
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.
Wise Sons Jewish Delicatessen
San Francisco, San Francisco, CA
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.
6317 College Ave., Oakland, CA 94618
1475 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA 94709
Item number 3 above was:
#31 - Tom Sabb spicy and sour soup with with well stewed pork spare ribs, chili and rice powder
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
1539 Solano Ave, Berkeley, CA 94707
831 Main Street, Redwood City, CA 94063
490 Pacific Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133
Fifth Floor Uni Flan
Range Stuffed Pasta
Sociale Pappardelle with braised duck
Tribu Grill Pork Sisig
Red Wings Korean fried chicken
235 El Camino Real, San Bruno, CA 94066
3665 Sacramento St., San Francisco, CA 94118
Fifth Floor Restaurant
12 Fourth St., San Francisco, CA 94103
3015 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94118