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Dec 12, 2012 03:31 PM

A few days in the Bay Area


My wife and I recently spent five days in the Bay Area. Here are some highlights:

• Dim sum at Yank Sing (Rincon) has become our "goto" place after we touch down at SFO and BART to our hotel. Our m.o.: We walk there and de-compress after the flight over soup dumplings and so much more. Comfortable shoes.

• Drinks at the bar at Bix.

• Porchetta at Roli Roti (Saturday morning at the Ferry Plaza).

• Lunch at M.Y. China. I expected good soup dumplings, killer noodles, etc. I was pleasantly surprised with the house cocktails. This is a new place (opening week when we were there for lunch) but I predict good things. I had a chance to chat with both the owner and the manager. The place is in good hands. Prices are large as are the portions. Bring a friend and share, all will be good.

• Pasta at Barbacco. It's always good to sit at the counter and nibble on the chicken liver bruschetta, the maccheroni chitarra with the pork ragu and the killer orecchiette with broccoli rabe and fennel sausage. Service is pleasant, wine selection is good. The temptation is to order way too much food.

• The lobby bar at the Mandarin Oriental. It's where you go Friday night after you put your name on the waiting list for Barbacco because you forgot to make reservations. A calm oasis before heading back to Barbacco.

• RN 74. We were walking to our Sunday sports bar when I saw this place on Mission. It looked interesting from the outside . We popped over late Sunday night with no reservation and enjoyed good food, good wine, excellent service. I wasn't aware of the Michael Mina connection at the time. Rather, it just seemed like a place we would enjoy and it paid off. I discovered the train motif and all was bliss. I asked the wine guy to operate the vintage railroad arrival/departure "clicker." Very cool. Go for the escargot, Spanish-style octopus, nettle risotto, wines, etc. but stay for the interior design. This was found gold.

• The bar at the Ferry Plaza Wine Merchants, at off hours, is one of the most pleasant seats in town. Source your own food, or not. Source your own wine, or not. Good people/good music.

• Brunch at Epic Roast House can be pretty good. A bottle of bubbly, half a dozen properly shucked oysters, dungeness crab eggs benedict, roast beef hash, oh my. It's a well-dressed crowd on Sunday. I like that.

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  1. I've lost count of how many times I've walked into RN74 and there was not a seat to be had. At least seven. Have yet to try it.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      It's an interesting shop, very hard to pigeon hole. My modest take is to reverse commute (go there on a Sunday evening to avoid the hipsters) and bring modest expectations. Think Manhattan's Bar Boulud with a better wine list and California sensibilities if that makes any sense.

      AVRO/KO did the interior design. I didn't know any of this when I walked in. It didn't take long before it all hit me like a ton of bricks. Kitchen/staff/wine guy are pretty good. Go and have fun.

      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        I walk by RN74 almost every evening after work. They do a lot of events that seem to keep them busy. Somehow the menu has never appealed to me.

        1. re: Ruth Lafler

          The wine list is the main draw for me. The menu seems fine for enjoying some good Burgundies.

          1. re: Ruth Lafler

            I go there every now and then for happy hour and have also had a number of sit-down dinners there. For some reason, the food has never done it for me. It's not that the food is bad, it's just that it's not that interesting or tasty.

        2. daayyyyyummmm steve h., you know how to do our City right!

          one of these years you're out here, i just must crash your party for a drink.

          1 Reply
          1. Hadn't heard of RN74. Should check it out over Christmas.

            3 Replies
            1. re: c oliver

              Here's a link to the website:

              As Ruth points out, its appeal is not universal. I like it and intend to return next visit. Please share your thoughts after you go.

              1. re: steve h.

                Our RN74 outpost in SEA has VERY mixed reviews, and I certainly wouldn't say that the interior would come anywhere near to the glowing review you gave it. Very nice, in a cool, corporate hotel way, but not awesome.

                I admit to only HH so far, but that's all I wanted to commit after the fair to midlin' comments around town.

                Foie Gras sliders the only thing worth returning for so far, and the great wines by the glass selection. Sigh. Looks like I need to hit it in SFO.

                Your other spots and reviews sound like a great trip was had, with some CH highlights!

                1. re: gingershelley

                  Re: RN74. I'm a train guy. I didn't stand a chance.
                  Give the San Francisco shop a try. Let the wine guy be your guide. We had a good time there.