Last minute Itinerary Review
I'll be up north again tomorrow and am requesting another itinerary review and also would like some help narrowing down a choice for both Saturday(is there a great Sat brunch?) and Sunday breakfast. I’ll be flying out of OAK Sunday at 1:15 (most likely taking the BART) so would like to be leaving the city around 11-ish? I’ll probably squeeze in lots of other snacks and coffee also. I'm based in the Union Square area this time, but as always am willing to travel anywhere. Let’s take a look, shall we?
Breakfast @ The Mill
Lunch @ Bar Tartine (sandwich)
Din @ Saison (9p)
FM noshing + little skillet, maybe?
Din early(since I have no ressies…) @ AQ or Rich Table or St. Vincent
Early Goodies to take w/ me @ b.patisserie
Breakfast/Brunch (needs to be open 10am latest) @ ???? (would love to go to Outerlands but I think that’s pushing it time-wise. Haven’t been to Dottie’s since the move but didn’t particularly think it was great my previous visit. Never been to Butler & the Chef, so maybe that?)
And the recap:
Reveille Coffee – Unplanned stop here on my way to Golden Gate Bakery and couldn’t resist the biscuit w/ butter and jam along with a cappuccino. Coffee was delicious and the biscuit was one of the better ones I’ve had (admittedly and unfortunately, not enough experience). Beautiful space and was close enough to my hotel that it tempted me to return the next day for the cinnamon toast and vahlrona chocolate chip cookie(too doughy and blonde for me). Bought a bag of their Friendo Blendo Espresso beans, hope I can dial it in well at home.
Mavelous Coffee – Another unplanned coffee pit stop on my way to Bar Tartine for a sandwich! Cool space and I liked the see through Marzocco. I don’t love Stumptown, but the 4oz(cortado/gibraltar) here was very well made.
Bar Tartine – Mushroom, chard, goat cheese sandwich was probably one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever eaten. And it was HOT, like with steam coming out since everything was actually cooked hot and bread grilled to order, instead of reheated in a Panini press. Love. Oh, the quince and whey soda was weird and tasty.
Dandelion Chocolate – I enjoyed this chocolate back in Portland at Cacao and was super excited to see the chocolate factory. Twas not disappointed! It really is a chocolate paradise and seeing the workers and machines was a lot of fun. Wish I could have tried the drinking chocs and eats but had to save SOME room for my dinner at Saison.
Saison – I don’t want to get into all the details, I couldn’t do justice to the descriptions. I’ll just say it was one of the best dinners I’ve ever had: service, food, and drinks were impeccable. Easily worth the price in a gorgeous space.
Front Coffee – Cute little storefront and tasty 5oz. In hindsight, I should’ve bought a bag of their espresso to do a side by side with Reveille. Kouign Amanns from b. patisserie but I refrained since I was going to the actual b. patisserie on Sunday.
Super Duper Burger – Recon for work unfortunately, since this was worse than Pearl’s IMO. Trying to be Shake Shack and failing.
AQ – Pretty disappointing. I’ve wanted to go for a while and got the thumbs up from a few of the guys at Saison. Sat at the bar and started with the New Amsterdam #3 cocktail which was delicious. I had the smoked chowder and leeks, both in the middle $16 section. I was actually a little worried about not being able to eat dessert since I ordered those 2 instead of from the $10 section but I needn’t have worried because these were probably the smallest plates of food I’ve ever seen for $16 a piece. The chowder was generally pretty tasty, except the chewy cardoons which added nothing to the dish except moments of despair. Scallops were generally overcooked as well. The leek dish was one leek (which was delicious) and 3 thin thin thin slices of mild, I might even say tasteless, venision and some eucalyptus(btw, I’m so not a fan of these “tree ingredients” becoming trendy). I was intrigued by the “savory granola” but that was pretty meh. I think AQ kind of puts random ingredients together in the hopes of sounding cutting edge but it doesn’t seem to work or be necessary. Chocolate dessert was another disappointment though size-wise generous, compared to the rest of the food: devil’s food cake was dry, beer pudding was just ok. Highlight was the almond toffee. Runners and bussers were awkward but the bartenders were great.
The Mill – toast with almond butter and a capp. Tasty enough, but honestly the bread tasted like my own sourdough loaf and great almond butter is easy enough to get in LA, so I did not find it worth schlepping their bread home. Coffee was decent, though I generally dislike Four Barrel and the baristas could use a little more work on his texturizing and pouring skills. But I’m pretty spoiled and picky about my coffee.
b. patisserie – This (and Saison) was one of the main reasons for my trip up this time! I saw Michel, his wife, and chef Belinda all working, along with some cute kids helping decorate some pastries. Unfortunately, I guess a lot of the more dessert-y sweets come out later and maybe since it was a Sunday there was a more limited selection? They did not have any flavored kouign amanns; I love the chocolate one and was hoping they had this. I also bought an apple brown butter coffeecake, some sort of brioche-y pastry with custard along with one kouign amann. KA was great as always, the closest to what I’ve had in France. Have not tried the other pastries yet but it’s probably safe to assume they’re delicious.
Jane Coffee – A coffee friend of mine said I had to stop by here. Stumptown, but done very well, with lots of housemade pastries. Haven’t tried them yet, but bought a slice of marble coffeecake and lemon blueberry muffin.
Thorough – I can’t seem to ever avoid this place! It always kills me that I don’t have a place like this nearby my house. I bought tons of stuff, no need to go into detail because everything and anything from here is awesome.
I will be back again soon, SF. Hopefully with cohorts that can help me out at rickybobby, Rich Table and many many other places!
If I were you I would hit up The Mill and b.patisserie both on Friday as they are fairly close to each other. Just keep on going north on Divisadero and your at b.patisserie. Then, before breakfast Sunday before your departure you can stop by Craftsman & Wolves or Tartine Bakery for some goods to take with you on the plane.
For breakfast/brunch I would go to Brenda's or Plow over Dottie's.
For Saturday dinner I would do AQ out of the three you mentioned. Also, you could try State Bird Provisions if that interests you. They open at 5:30 so you should get there at 5:15 if you want get in on the first walk-in seating or go a little later and wait to eat. I was in there two nights ago with no reservations for a party of 2. Walked in at 7:15, gave my name, and got the text at 8:15 saying my counter space for two was ready. My dining partner and I just walked up Filmore to Pac Heights and walked around Japantown for a sec.
Thanks for the advice, benv! Unfortunately, it took a little longer to get into the city than anticipated so I'll have to go to the Mill and b.patisserie on Sunday morning(I'm an early riser so I can go at opening).
Guess the Sat dinner consensus is firmly AQ! I went to State Bird Provisions a few months ago when I was last here(really enjoyed it).
How about Saturday breakfast/brunch? So many options: Butler, Boxing Room, little skillet, locals corner, zazie, park tavern! Any suggestions?
Skip the brunchy places and go to Craftsman and Wolves (pastries, baguettes, carrot cocoa muffin), Sightglass coffee, caramels. Dandelion chocolate next door has single-origin bars plus more pastries and drinking chocolate.
Or if you want to head out near Zazie, go to Wooly Pig and then Ice Cream Bar instead.
(I was unimpressed with Boxing room, and Little Skillet's cute but just okay.)
Hey Windy! Been a while; I haven't posted on the SF board recently (though I've visited a bunch, sorry for no recaps...). I trust your taste so will pass on Boxing Room and LS for now.
I didn't love the pastries I got from C&W the last time and already got a bunch of gifts from Dandelion!
As of now, I'm just going with this tomorrow: the Mill(early!), b. patisserie, jane, maybe one last stop at Thorough.
Tonight - AQ, most likely, though Rich Table is still in play.
IMO the baked goods are better than the pastry case things at C&W. I haven't tried anything baked at Dandelion yet, just the bars and the pricey drinking chocolate.
Not sure what Josey will have at the Mill, but his seed feast and walnut breads are my favorites (so far). There was a date and fennel roll once... Looking forward to hear where you end up for dinner.
Little Skillet brown sugar-n-black pepper biscuits are a pleasure not to be missed. But Wayfare Tavern is a good fallback for Sat no res midday nosh esp if the FM is overrun. Love their dungeness louie. I also really like Wexler's in FiDi for Sat no res dinner. Locanda is open very late on weekends (1a) so if you miss the early window, it's a good option (with dining bar). Other options for Sunday brunch are Farmer Brown (Little Skillet's parent), Suppenkuche, Blue Bottle Mint Plaza, as they are open earlier and sort of on the way back to US.
Oooh those biscuits sound awesome! We don't have good biscuits in LA so that sounds intriguing along with a small portion of chicken and waffle. Thanks for the other Sunday suggestions, too! I've been to BBMP(and most other locations of theirs, meh) so might try Suppenkuche, depending on my mood that morning.
Have you been to Foreign Cinema for brunch? they do reservations and have an outdoor space.
I'd call AQ Friday morning and see if they have a cancellation.
Butler & the Chef isn't the cheapest but they have good pain perdu and I love the waffles, also open at 8am during the week.
Also you can go to St. Vincent for a drink before or after a meal. If the focus is food I would go to AQ.
One thing I see missing is Cal-Italian e.g. Cotogna, Locanda, Incanto etc. not sure how much you are intrigued by that/had it on past trips.
Between AQ, Rich Table, or St. Vincent. I would only go to St. Vincent if you are interested in wine and would appreciate an extensive and eccentric wine list. It's really a huge part of the experience and otherwise I'd go to one of the other two instead.
I've been to Cotogna and usually do some Cal-Ital the majority of my visits so it's not really a priority.
Seems like the consensus is AQ which is just fine by me, it's closest to my hotel anyway!
What do you guys think of the Croque Monsieur at Butler? Or are the other items better?