No matter how long you’ve lived in this area, if you call San Francisco “Home” then let’s just admit it: we’re really lucky. Anyone who shares my passion for food and feels a constant craving for culinary exploration (…I suddenly feel like a cross between Magellan and KD Lang…) is well aware of how lucky we are to be in such a gastro-centric city. Much like how amazing attractions like Alcatraz or Giants games get taken for granted because they're are so many amazing things to do here, it's easy to overlook just how lucky we are. It's rare to take a step back and think, "Whoa, buying goats milk butter for my day-to-day needs is not normal. That's pretty cool." For me, one of those wake-up calls came when I was introduced to the man I consider the finest sommelier I’ve ever known. His name is Yoon Ha, he works at Benu, and let me tell you my friends, he is one of the finest industry all-stars you’ll ever meet...Continue Reading
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
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
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
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
My love affair with Coi began roughly one year ago, when I stepped into the serene dining room and proceeded to have one of the best meals of my life. That 12 course tasting menu featured some of the most inspired cooking I had ever had the pleasure to devour. So inspiring, in fact, that I was compelled by an unstoppable force to ignore all fiscal responsibilities and go back for that tasting menu two more times within the span of three months. I quickly realized that maintaining such a regular schedule at one of the most notable, and expensive, restaurants in the Bay Area was sheer madness, and a cloud of sadness crept over me. Until I discovered one of San Francisco’s best-kept secrets: the Lounge at Coi...Continue Reading
When you wake up the morning after an extravagant dinner and call the restaurant to ask them around what time dinner may have ended so that you can estimate about what time you went to bed, you're probably not fit to write a review about said restaurant. I'll take it even further. If the details of how you ended up in bed are hazy, you're probably not even fit to write a non-judgmental description of your dining experience, or for that matter, any course after roughly the first or second. So, while I had hoped to write a meaningful, thoughtful article about my dinner at Meadowood, prepared by Chef Kostow on the last night of their 12 days of Christmas series, I simply can't. But, I have pictures!...Continue Reading
What better way to follow up an extravagant meal at Meadowood than with an extravagant brunch at Redd?! Although going on a Michelin-starred restaurant spree wasn't in the plan, I was in Napa with nothing but time and wasn't going to settle for scrambled eggs. And, since I didn't have a backup reserve of Knead with me, I figured I'd settle on a couple of pastries from Nicole Plue, the Beard winner for best pastries in the country...Continue Reading
10) Dungeness Crab Salad, One Market
At long last, we’ve come to the end of this captivating culinary journey. And what a better way to end this best-of list than with the last dish that wowed me in 2010: One Market’s Dungeness Crab Salad. What I love about One Market is how the menu reads fairly plain: Hand-picked Dungeness Crab, fuyu persimmon, pomegranate, hearts of palm. At first glance, there’s not much about this description that’s particularly exciting, but what’s placed in front of you is nothing short of a beautifully presented, technically advanced dish indicative of a one star Michelin-rated restaurant. It’s a classic shock and awe maneuver, and it works...Continue Reading
9) Whole-Roasted Poularde, Saison
2010 also marked the year that I was introduced to the high-end chicken dish. No more of those traditional marinated, grilled, or fried preparations that I’d been used to – no, no. Instead, “poularde” replaced the common “chicken” on upscale menus, and techniques like “slow-cooked” or “Hung for 3 days to intensify flavor” started popping up. In just one year this mild, overlooked, household meat transformed into a tender, moist, must-order entrée, and nobody did it better than Saison. In 8 extraordinary dishes, it was the Whole-Roasted Poularde with berbere spices, smoked date milk, and roasting juices, paired with a chard leaf rolled with foie gras mousse, that stood out...Continue Reading