There have been few drinks in my life that are so good that they distract me from my day-to-day responsibilities, or persuade me into breaking my daily routine. I mean, I'm an adult now, I need to go home at a decent hour, cook a nutritious dinner, and get a solid night's rest...right? Wrong. A visit to Mourad a couple weeks back has made it simply impossible for me to stick to such a mature regimen. Now, the memory of one particular cocktail has infiltrated my thoughts, distracting me while I'm trying to concentrate on say, I don't know, my job maybe? How can I stick to my routine when I'm knee deep in excel spreadsheets at work, or in the middle of a set of squats at the gym, and all I hear is a little voice in my head saying, "Kelsey, you need to stop what you're doing immediately. Finish this last rep of lunges, wrap up that sales report, and start walking towards Mourad. There's a drink - or 4 - waiting at the bar, with your name on it" Day dreaming about a cocktail may not be the healthiest way to live, but after giving into my cravings, I can say it's certainly the most delicious way to live.
If the mustache is the measure of a bartender in San Francisco, then the mustache on Craig Lane is the one that every old-hand and newcomer has looked up to since he graced Bar Agricole with his dapper presence in 2010. Ok, maybe it's not so much the mustache, but rather, his near 20 years of cocktailing experience that's the real reason behind his behind-the-bar prowess...but we all know the mustache certainly doesn't hurt. In all sincerity, it's not the mustache or the experience that really separates him from the other distinguished talent in this city. Nor is it the impeccable quality of every drink that he pours - quality is clearly a given here. It's his personable persona, his depth of knowledge, and the way in which every move he makes shows the pride he has in his chosen profession. With many a mixologist in this city, Craig Lane is truly an industry all-star...Continue Reading
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
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
3) Monkfish Liver Torchon, Benu
You know those rare moments where every element in a dish brings out nuances of the main component that would otherwise go unnoticed? You know those even rarer moments when the wine also brings out a flavor in the dish that would be lost without it? Where the primary component, the set, and the wine form a culinary trifecta? That was my experience with this dish. The battle that plays out in your mouth between salty and sweet, rich and refreshing, and creamy and crisp is epic and so compelling that after a 15 course tasting menu, I went back the next night to order that same dish a la carte. In a single bite I was transformed from someone who had never even heard of monkfish liver, to a monkfish liver fanatic with uncontrollable cravings. To read more about that dinner, check out my full account of my night at Benu.
I really wasn’t expecting much the first time I walked into Benu for dinner. I mean, really what would there be to expect? Sure Corey Lee spent eight years at the French Laundry, four of which were spent as chef de cuisine, and yeah maybe he won a James Beard Award for Rising Star Chef of the Year. But I guess I’m just not really impressed by, you know, things like experience and public recognition. And c’mon, only fifteen courses on the tasting menu? I’m sorry but if there aren’t at least 19 courses, I’m generally not satisfied...Continue Reading
When asking fellow foodies how they would describe the dining experience at Benu, a friend of mine, well-versed in the art of fine dining, described it simply as, “The Asian Laundry.” However, after dining there on several occasions, I found this label to be a bit unfair as I wasn’t drawing parallels, but rather, I was noticing the glaring differences: the atmosphere and table settings at Benu are stark and more austere than the welcoming, cottage feel of the Laundry; the tasting menu is made of 15 courses which express Chef Lee’s Korean heritage, rather than 9 courses that communicate the restaurant’s sense of place; a feeling of grandeur is created by openly displaying Benu’s impressive, imposing kitchen, versus the quaint mystery hidden behind the closed doors at the Laundry...Continue Reading
I would skip the food car on Amtrak and take the RN74 any day of the week. The restaurant was clearly decorated with the Route Nationale 74 (french road/railway that goes through Burgundy) theme in mind. With luggage tags around the napkins, numbered tables, french dialogue playing in the bathrooms, and a wine board that actually flips like the signs in a train station, the attention to detail (at least in terms of design) is impressive to say the least...
You know when you buy a sandwich and you say to yourself, "Okay, I'm only going to eat half now, and I'll save the other half for dinner tonight," but then the sandwich is so magically delicious that, after that 1st half, you stare at the rest in agony trying to decide if you should go for it or not? Like, people could be talking to you and really you're just nodding and thinking, "Man, am I gonna eat this sandwich? Maybe just 1 bite..."...
Momo's, I wanted so much to dislike you! You're huge, you're flashy, you're packed, and I'm jealous of how much money you make (at least on game days!). But I have to say, for the type of restaurant you are trying to be, you keep it real, and I can't help but be a fan...