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May 24, 2012 01:52 PM

The Swedish princess has departed-here are her views.

Thanks all fellow chowhounders for making our visit attractive. We would also especially thank mr Michael Talty and mr Daniel Schoenfeld, two scions of the wine industry that went way and beyond their duty to make us feel welcome and enjoy their delicious wines!!!

Our review starts with the Leatherneck Grill, located in the Marines Memorial Club.
Even if I am an officer and we both love historical places, we must say that this restaurant only gains 3+ out of five. It serves food and steaks like grandma does. When she is in a good mood it is fairly enjoyable,if she is not then it is overcooked. You get what You pay for and a lovely view. The scottish-russian-american maitre'd is a very jolly fellow as is Patty, our server. No complaints there. Reasonable prices but food is not memorable.

Our next meal was at Mayes Oyster house. That is basically a dark bar on Polk without any ambience and with customers, some slightly odd in their customs. They had very fresh oysters on their very long happy hour but the rest of the meal, comsisting of gumbo, chowder and fisch and chips was ordinary pub grub. We would rather have the ambience of waterbar for our oysters and the rest You may get anywhere.

Our third meal was at Tadich grill. Boy did we have expectations. We went there in good time, put us on the list, brought a couple of friends and- received fresh oysters, nothing wrong there, Oysters Rockefeller, oyster trio and dungeness crab stew. Why did all the last dishes taste the same? Cheese, flour and spinach? With a touch of shellfish. Nobody of us finished the Dungeness stew. I had a 16 ounce porterhouse steak for USD 24! A steal, I thought. Coming out rare as ordered. But completely grey on the outside and tasting, basically nothing. And tough, too. So, a bellyful of food but nothing memorable at all. Basically a diner with grandma's food again.

Can this unhappiness last? Oh no! Next meal was at Canteen, a lovely little place with charming staff, excellent, fresh-tasting, innovative food and great value. We had a fixed menu of sweetcorn soup w harissa, black cod and potatoes and a rhubarb pudding. Every single thing perfectly executed and with considerable charm. A big thumbs-up and reasonable price, USD 46.

And as the grand finale-Acquerello. What can we say? We were simply overwhelmed. By the bill (USD 445 for two including classical tasting menu and wine package), the greetings, the ambience, the food, the wine, the service which was INCREDIBLY knowledgeable and kind, and to to pi all, they even gave us the recipes for the two dishes we enjoyed the most (They were ALL tremendoulsy delicious).
Even if we have to live on beans for a month we would go back to Acquerello. Thank You ever so muck all owner, family and staff for giving us a gastronomical experience that ranks among the top 5 ever, and I am 50 years old!

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  1. Hmm. You picked a lot of old style places which are known for their simple no thrills approaches that didn't excite you. Didn't you even find the sourdough memorable, at Tadich's?

    2 Replies
    1. re: sugartoof

      I didn´t know Mayes to be old style. It is NOT the original Mayes from years back...
      I LIKE old style things and restaurants. For example Maxim´s in Paris, My own club, the RAF Club in London, Raffles, Strand, Eastern and Oriental, But those places perform admirably and I am always very pleased. Here I have to say-"meh". But,as stated, Canteen was excellent and Acquerello truly memorable.

      1. re: Rustscheff

        I think if you had requested the best old school places in SF, you would have got a different set of suggestions.... Tadich's would have still come up. House of Prime Rib for steaks, or ideally, Alfred's for steaks, and so on. Possibly even the new Original Joe's would have suited you better. Still sounds like the more contemporary choices in the city would have wowed you more. SF has lost a lot of it's old establishments and I'm not sure the places which are still caught in time stand up worldwide.

    2. Thank you for reporting back. Did you end up going to wine country?

      4 Replies
      1. re: goldangl95

        Absolutely! As stated above, mr Talty even opened his home early for us, and additional bottles! We the proceeded to Sbragia, which we found beautifully situated, but WAY overpriced for their wines. After that a short stop at the lake and onwards to Gustafson winery, where we bought some excellent sauvignon blanc. Then on the extremely scenic Skaggs springs road and the CA-1 down to Fort Ross, and on the tiniest of tarmac and dirt roads to mr Schoenfeld, who was a thrill to meet! And what wines!!!!After that a leisurely drive home, all the way on CA-1 past lots of lovely oyster bars. We started at 730AM and returned at 815 PM, having had lunch en route to Wild Hog winery in the loveliest of spring days in an open top Camaro SS. A truly beautiful and interesting day! Tks a lot for Your previous advice goldangl!

        1. re: Rustscheff

          If there was a chowhound for roads, Skaggs Springs Road would rank very highly. A great california classic - I hope you were liberal with the throttle. I've only done it the other way, and love that section that climbs to the ridge then some really long straights on top of the world. That was on my trusty liter sportsbike, not a ragtop camero, but the feeling should be about the same.

          Did you try any of the oyster houses you drove past, like marshall store?

          Too bad about leatherneck and mayes. They're not well loved here. A little surprising about Tadich. Given your list, i would send you next to Absinthe, punches well above its weight and is more local than international class - just simply excellent food execution without being _too_ fussy. And very SF; top rank bar. Probably also Zuni, although it's a little hit and miss these days.

          I think I haven't been to Aquerello for about 12 years, but I don't expect it's changed --- an amazingly good place, even hosted a birthday there.

          1. re: bbulkow

            Absinthe is a good suggestion for the OP, with it's contemporary fare, while keeping an eye on the past.

            1. re: bbulkow

              I've found Tadich to be quite inconstant, from superb to below mediocre, even with the recommended simple fish items.