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Oct 26, 2011 04:05 PM

A few reasons to love San Francisco

Zuni Cafe. We took the "F" up Market on Saturday for an early lunch. It's sort of a tradition with us when we get into town. Wine and a bloody mary to start things off. Burgers, rare, with bleu cheese put smiles on our faces. We walked back to the FiDi because the day was absolutely stunning.

Cotogna. Sitting at the bar, sipping martinis, chatting with the cordial staff, nibbling on squid, smoked trout, killer raviolo is a great way to spend an evening. Grappa to finish. I love this place.

Brunch. We enjoyed two brunches: Yank Sing on Sunday at 10 a.m. and a ferry ride to Angel Island Monday morning with a picnic basket of rustic bread from Acme, a bottle of Pinot Noir, a local IPA, some cheese and some dried sausage. We hiked to the top of Mt. Livermore where we enjoyed our meal at the peak of the former missile site. The top has been restored to pre-Nike beauty and affords the best views of the Bay (let the record show that we had real glasses and cloth napkins). There are maybe six picnic tables scattered about the top of the mountain and no garbage cans so be prepared to pack your stuff down to the recycling bins near the base. We had the peak to ourselves, I can't understand that. Dim Sum at Yank Sing (Rincon Center) is comfortable shoes. I like the food and appreciate the Ziegfeld choreography of the cart girls. In fact, the whole "wheel 'em in, wheel 'em out" attitude of management is pretty impressive. I slow things down a bit when I dine there but I recognize a well-oiled machine when I see one. Pricey but worth it.

Boulevard. The restaurant has been around for awhile (18 years?), the building dates from the 19th Century and survived the 1906 earthquake. It's a stunning piece of architecture. The food is very good (sweetbreads, wild salmon, squab). The wine selection is a cut above. Our table was half-way back in the room, along the railing and situated with a sightline to the center of the open kitchen. Maybe the best table in the house if you're a busybody like me. Service was excellent.

The weather was perfect.

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  1. steve h., you know how to live life. thanks for the great report. Cotogna is still on my list of must-try.

    490 Pacific Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

    3 Replies
    1. re: mariacarmen

      Cotogna is everything you read/heard about and more. Some pretty sharp people work there. Put it on top of your stack.

      1. re: steve h.

        Agreed. I had a great brunch there this past weekend. In a party of 4, everything was good, some things were great. That grilled squid app... yum! I can't wait to go back and try more of the menu.

        1. re: artemis

          Nice. San Francisco seems to excel at quality/casual dining. Bar Crudo, Barbacco, SPQR and Cotogna are a few examples.

      1. re: Windy

        It was. The Bay Area is pretty special this time of year. We spent a few days in a little rental cottage on Tomales Bay (Imverness) before driving down to the city. I had a ragtop. The weather was the best I've ever encountered.

        Edited to add: It's currently snowing up a storm here in Sou'west Connecticut.

        1. re: steve h.

          October weather is the best you're going to get, especially right on the coast, since it's low fog season. When I think about perfect days, I see an October day bathed in golden autumn light. So any good chow finds around Inverness?

          1. re: Ruth Lafler

            Hi Ruth,

            Since Manka's burned down, Inverness hasn't exactly been a hotbed of culinary activity. Stellina in Pt. Reyes Station makes a good pizza and can turn out serviceable pasta. The wine list is pretty good. Service is pleasant and efficient. Nick's Cove in Marshall is a goto for small plates (oysters, fried oysters, excellent crab cakes) and strong drinks.

            For a special meal, we drove over the mountains to Bouchon in Yountville. Steak tartare and the duck breast were outstanding. Wine list, both by the glass and bottle, is well thought out. Seating is tight, service is knowledgeable and efficient. The world has discovered this place so it's always crowded and can get a bit noisy but I don't mind.

            Sitting on our deck, drinking wine and looking out over Tomales Bay is pretty special. Driving the twisties with the top down in October is a hoot.

            Edited to add: The Pine Cone Diner in Pt. Reyes Station makes a really good burger.

            1. re: steve h.

              I love driving the twisties -- I just spent a week in Sonoma doing that. The best twisty is the slalom course on Hwy 1 near Ft. Ross.

              One good place to check out when driving twisties is Wild Flour Bakery in Freestone (just a few miles inland from Bodega Bay), which has gorgeous breads and scones from a wood burning oven and a lovely garden.

              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                And only about 4 miles from downtown Occidental and Bistro Des Copains and other popular dining spots on this board.

                Bistro Des Copains
                3782 Bohemian Hwy, Occidental, CA 95465

                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                  A week in Sonoma? Well done.

                  Your slalom image (weighting, unweighting, overall emphasis on smoothness) is spot on. Driving fast/driving well is very cool. Hwy 1 is the best.

                  Wild Flour Bakery is now on the stack. Anything else you care to share?

                  1. re: steve h.

                    Highway 1 is second to Skaggs Spring Road from Stewarts Point (rte 1) to Dry Creek near 101, which can be driven down through healdsburg. There is nary any food along, so you have to stock up at Healdsburg.

                    1. re: bbulkow

                      Howdy bbk,
                      I googled "Skaggs Spring Road". Very impressive.
                      Thanks for the tip.

                      1. re: steve h.

                        I always took Skaggs Spring Road to pick up my kids from Camp Dirt, the "Y" camp near Annapolis. Great back road with nothing but view of trees.

                        1. re: wolfe

                          Nice. Grand Touring can be an art form.

                  2. re: Ruth Lafler

                    i'll be spending a week up in bodega bay in mid november - thanks for the heads up on wild flour. anything specific i should get?

                    1. re: majordanby

                      I stopped by Wild Flour last month because of an earlier board recommendation, as well as a recommendation from one of the nearby winery folks.

                      I think that their specific items change every day, but I got two different kinds of bread. Large loaves, very dense country bread. One was flavored with 4 seeds and the other was made with aged goat cheese. Both great.

                      Dark chocolate and hazelnut biscotti, wonderful.

                      Asiago and green onion scone. I usually do not like scones because are often dry and heavy, this was flaky and absolutely delicious.

                      I went on a Friday morning and it was quite crowded, there was a line. They have coffee so you can sit in the garden and enjoy your breakfast. Also note, cash only.

                      1. re: majordanby

                        The nice thing about Wild Flour is that they give samples. Lots of samples. The scones are delicious -- not those leaden lumps that are usually passed off as scones. The breads range from plain to great combinations of nuts, fruits, seeds, spices, etc. Note that they are closed Tuesday-Thursday.

                        Wild Flour Bread
                        140 Bohemian Hwy, Freestone, CA

                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                          "not those leaden lumps that are usually passed off as scones."

                          just for comparison's sake, have you tried cheeseboard/arizmendi scones and how do they compare with wild flour?

                          thanks for the info.

                          1. re: majordanby

                            that was my wonder too - i love cheeseboard scones.

                            1. re: majordanby

                              I haven't had a Cheeseboard scone in many years, so I can't compare them.

                    2. re: Ruth Lafler

                      Terrapin Creek (in the old Seaweed Cafe space) just got a Michelin star.

                      Nick's Cove just changed hands in August.

                      Nick's Cove
                      23240 Hwy 1, Marshall, CA 95450

                      Terrapin Creek Cafe
                      1580 Eastshore Rd, Bodega Bay, CA 94923

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        Terrapin Creek sounds interesting. Bodega Bay has not been on my radar. It is now.