Posts Tagged ‘california cuisine’

Sons & Daughters: All Grown Up

Geranium Ice Cream Sons & Daughters

Rating: ★★★★★

I’ve been to Sons & Daughters twice over the years, first in 2010 when they were relatively new, and again in 2011 after they’d received their first Michelin star. Both times the food was tasty and modern, with a fairly unique approach to hyper-local, ingredient-driven cuisine. I left both meals feeling generally happy with what I had experienced, but in the back of my mind there was something missing; I felt as though the restaurant wasn’t reaching its full potential and that, with a few small tweaks, those meals could have been memorable instead of relatively unremarkable. That all changed last Sunday when, on my third visit to Sons & Daughters, I experienced a meal that wasn’t just remarkable, it was flawlessContinue Reading

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Aziza: An Essay on Evolution, Tears, Game Birds, and Super Mario Desserts

Rating: ★★★★★

You know what I find most exciting about dining out? It’s not the dressing up, or chatting with industry folk, or even laughing with close friends. It’s the unknown. Whether it be not knowing what’s on the menu before walking in the door, ordering a tasting menu dotted with unexpected treats, or flying blind and leaving my meal in the hands of the chef, the things that take me by surprise are the things that stand out the most. So, unlike the typical diner who becomes a regular because of one or two particular dishes that keep them coming back for more, I keep going back to my favorite restaurants because I have no idea what will be on the menu next. All of my favorite restaurants constantly evolve, and there is no better example of evolution than Aziza.

Anyone who has dined at Aziza in recent years knows that, other than its location, the restaurant has undergone some radical changes. The menu moved away from being tied to traditional Moroccan food to one which embraced California cuisine from a Moroccan angle. What that means, in less generic language, is that less emphasis was put on staying true to the exact ingredients necessary to create traditional Moroccan flavors and more was put into building a Moroccan flavor profile using local, seasonal ingredient. Little by little, this shift in philosophy transformed the restaurant’s cuisine into what I fell in love with (and wrote about) back in April of last year. Now, over one year later, I’m compelled to write again because, after 10 years, this evolution is still happening: portions are more refined, the proportion of each ingredient on the plate is more balanced, the presentation is, well, exquisite, and the food itself? Let me tell you, it’s only getting better…Continue Reading

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Man, I Need a Drink. Meet me at Bar Agricole.

Rating: ★★★★★

I’ve lived in San Francisco for the past four years, a period of time which I fondly refer to as my prime drinking years. I don’t say this to give the impression that I’m just a drunken party animal, at least not all the time. I’m pointing this out because when you think about it, there’s a pretty large drinking evolution that takes places from your early to mid-twenties. For example, I used to call Blondies and Beauty Bar my favorite bars in the City. I also used to pre-party, down shots, and not know what the hell a “well drink” was. But like most people, my appreciation for good wine, thoughtful cocktails, and bars where you can move without getting mauled by some sweaty, drunk chick, has grown. Not just grown, it’s blossomed. After four years of trying a majority of the City’s most respected bars, I’m now happy to say that I have a go-to spot where the cocktails are crafted and the people are adults. That bar is none other but Bar Agricole…Continue Reading

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My Hot and Healthy Dinner Date with Local Mission Eatery

Rating: ★★★★☆

Ahhhhhhhhhhhh…..That’s me, breathing a sigh of relief. After many months of somewhat lackluster meals, meals which led me to depend on my all-time favorite restaurants to get me through the holidays, I finally stumbled into a dining experience that revived me from the dining dead. Thank you Local Mission Eatery for reminding me how exciting even a casual weekday meal can be when the menu is thoughtful, the ingredients are fresh and well-sourced, and every plate is perfectly executed. At last, I’ve found the motivation to write!Continue Reading

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Returning to a Long-Time Favorite: SPQR

Uova SPQR

Rating: ★★★★★

There are few places I can call home. After over seven years of living on my own, even my childhood home doesn’t quite feel like home anymore. This may sound crazy or exaggerated, but somehow, every time I walk into SPQR, it feels like I’m home. And I don’t just have a special place in my heart for the restaurant itself; for me, the feeling that the city of San Francisco is my home is intimately connected to my ties to particular restaurants, SPQR being one of the most important. After two years of interacting with the staff, being awed by Chef Matthew Accarrino, and just basically being a “regular” (well, at least for me), I can say that SPQR isn’t just an excellent restaurant, nor is it just one of my favorite restaurants in the City. It’s home.

But enough of my sappy, emotional sermon. Why don’t I just explain the reasons why this restaurant is so special? Sure, I could describe the dimly-lit, neighborhood atmosphere, or the professional-yet-incredibly-friendly service. I could certainly discuss the expertly chosen wine list, created by co-owner Shelley Lindgren, whose wine program at sister restaurant, A16, has been nominated more than once by the Beard Foundation. Of course all of these factors add to the overall experience. But, at the end of the day, what keeps me coming back for more is the foodContinue Reading

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Mr. Pollo Version 2.0

Rating: ★★★★★

Dear Mr. Pollo,

I owe you an apology. No, it’s not for what you might be thinking – I’ve never written unsavory remarks about you or slandered you to my friends. In fact I only had positive things to say in my previous write-up of your business. But I did make one mistake in that first review – one big mistake. I underestimated you.

See, even after publically endorsing your Pork and Cheese Arepa as one of the best I’ve ever tasted, I still wrote you off in my mind as a simple specialty shop – my go-to place when I’m in the mood for no-fuss Venezuelan cuisine. But then, one fateful night earlier this year, I finally opened my mind up enough to look past your arepas and venture into tasting menu territory. Now, after making countless return visits for your nightly-changing menu, it’s obvious that my initial perception of you was wrong. Completely, embarrassingly wrong, and for that, I’m sorry…Continue Reading

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Aziza Spices Up Seasoned California Cuisine

Rating: ★★★★★

Prior to my first visit to Aziza, my idea of Moroccan food was something involving raisins, powdered sugar, and a huge pile of grain meant to be eaten with your hands. It left a strange, lingering impression on me as being too sweet, and too sloppy. I held onto that unattractive memory for a long time, which is the reason why, despite knowing about all of the accolades Aziza has received, I avoided it for years. If only I had only known about our mutual love of goat’s milk butter sooner! But after hearing an industry friend, whose opinion I rate very highly, rank it as his favorite SF restaurant, I knew it was time. I was finally ready…Continue Reading

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NOPA Restaurant: Consistent Californian Cuisine + a Damn Good Burger

Rating: ★★★★☆

Even if you’ve been living in a secluded cave for the last five years, chances are you probably would’ve still heard about NOPA. As a restaurant that defined and shaped an entire neighborhood, NOPA has been a prominent force in the City’s culinary picture for years – one which everyone seems to have an opinion about.

While I was familiar with the name, I had heard from a few people that it seemed overrated, so I was always hesitant to try it out for myself. Thank god a good friend of mine finally dragged me there for a late-night feast, because as soon as that first bite hit my mouth I knew all of those other people were just flat-out wrong: NOPA deserves all of the attention it has received…Continue Reading

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Finding the Best Eggs Benedict at Local: Mission Eatery

What was your single favorite thing that your parents cooked when you were growing up? Was it some kind of special pasta? Or maybe your mom cooked chicken a way that no one else has ever been able to replicate? Because my parents happen to be quite adept in the kitchen, I could probably list 20 different dishes that are deeply ingrained in my memory. However, if I had to name just one, there’s a particular dish that has always stood out: I grew up eating the best eggs benedict most people have ever tasted…Continue Reading

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The Coi Lounge: A Final Look Through Photos

As mentioned in my most recent post on Coi Restaurant, the dining room will be expanding in early April, and the amazing lounge will transition from being casual, affordable offshoot to a formal, tasting menu only extension of the dining room. While I’m sad to see it go, I’m excited for the transformation and what surprises Daniel Patterson and his team have in store for us lucky diners. That said, I obviously had to sneak in one last time to give the lounge a proper farewell.

Because I’ve already gone into great detail describing how incredible recent experiences in the lounge have been, I’ll refrain from writing another essay here. Instead, I simply wanted to convey my most recent visit through a few beautiful photos. Enjoy!…Continue Reading

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