Saturday, October 30, 2010

25 Lusk, SOMA

When I saw a reservation on OpenTable for 25 Lusk, it seemed obvious that I should book it. That week I had read about the opening several times (emails from Daily Candy, Urban Daddy and TableHopper) and Kev had told me that the owner is the brother-in-law of his friend. 

The restaurant is located down a small alley (Lusk Street, to be exact) that I had never noticed before, near AT&T park.

The space itself has been written about tons, and it is really impressive.  They've kept a lot of the original structure (beams and brick) and added modern details, some really warm lighting and lots of rich looking woods.  The upstairs is the main dining room and I liked how spacious it was. At so many restaurants in San Francisco, you're on top of the tables beside you and can't help but feel as though you are part of the conversation of people at the tables next to you. The booths here are roomy and private and it's easy to forget that there are others in the restaurant too. Someone later asked me what the crowd was like the night we were there, and I had no idea - I hadn't even noticed them. 

There were four of us at this dinner and we ordered a whole lot of stuff for all of us to try. 

Cauliflower crème brulee, sunchoke escabeche, truffled wild arugula.  This was my favorite of the appetizers. It sounds crazy - but it was amazing.  Imagine taking cauliflower soup then brulee-ing the whole thing and adding truffled arugula on top and this is what you get. It was savory and smooth but also sweet and crunchy. 

Wild Arugula, watercress, cucumber, grilled fig in a champagne vinaigrette.  Fresh and flavorful, but nothing to write home about.

Braised pork cheek terrine, with roasted quince and apple compote, swiss chard and spiced cider reduction.  I had texture issues with this one - the pork texture didn't work for me, but Kev really liked it.

Lobster ravioli, saffron lobster nage, shaved thai basil.  It looks like soup, but hidden in that creamy broth are ravioli, stuffed with lots of meaty lobster. We all really enjoyed this one. 

We also ordered four entrees to pass around between us.

This was the braised short ribs with roasted sweet potatoes and wilted escarole in a syrah demi-glace.  The good part about sharing is you get to try everything. The bad part is you only get a little bit of everything. I really liked the short ribs, they were perfectly tender and were barely hanging on to the bone.  The sauce was rich and a good match to the meat.

Verbena steamed pacific halibut, sea beans, tomato, eggplant, lemon-lobster vinaigrette.  The fish tasted incredibly fresh and the citrus-y sauce made the dish feel really light.   We liked this one a lot. 

Grilled top lamb sirloin, roasted garlic, potato rosti, apple-spearmint demi-glace.  I love baby carrots.  This lamb didn't have that super-distinctive lamb flavor, which meant that Kev would eat it (whoever heard of a Welshman that didn't like lamb?).   I liked this one, but it's been a week and I can't remember much more about it!

Pappardelle, grilled treviso, roasted baby fennel, braised artichokes, parmesan.  Pappardelle might be my new favorite pasta, there's something about those fat ribbons that I always enjoy. This dish had a really smoky flavor, and while I didn't think it was as successful as the other dishes, I still enjoyed it. 

Somehow after all of this food, our waitress convinced us we needed to order not one, but two of the dessert sample platters. We agreed.

There's a whole lot of stuff on this plate, but my favorite by far was the dulce de leche cheesecake. I'd definitely just order that if I were to get dessert here again. Not too sweet, creamy and light, it was the perfect dessert. 

After dinner, Kev and I debated where this restaurant fell in terms of our favorite places to eat. I liked it - and I'd put it on the same level as my meal at RN74 or Commonwealth - but wasn't blown away like I was at Frances, which is now my high bar.  Kev disagreed and thought it was up there with Frances. Either way, it was an impressive meal, especially considering they had only been open six days when we ate there. I'll be curious to return in a few months when they've really established their rhythm. 

25 Lusk
25 Lusk St
San Francisco, CA 94107

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Universal Cafe, Mission

It seems that no matter how many new (to me) places I eat at in San Francisco, I still haven't scratched the surface.  Every week I'll read about a place, or someone will mention a spot that I haven't tried, and then I go home and add it to my "Eat Here" Google doc.  Universal Cafe (like Bar Tartine) is one of those places that I somehow had never managed to try, even though people frequently mention how great it is. And so this past weekend, I headed there with the girls for breakfast.

This place is clearly popular, as we arrived there at 9:30 and even though it was raining out, there was a thirty minute wait.

We started with the beignets in a raspberry sauce (or were they doughnuts?).  They were good, but not my favorites - a little too cakey for me, I wanted them to be lighter.  The raspberry sauce also seemed a little thin. 

Heather and I both ordered the soft scrambled eggs with cherry tomatoes and mozzarella.

The eggs were cooked the perfectly and the tomatoes gave it a nice sweetness. The salad was good too -  fresh and crisp and perfectly dressed.  The coffee was also really good, and surprisingly, not from Blue Bottle, Ritual or Four Barrel, where it seems most of the rest of the city gets their coffee (they serve Equator Coffee, if you're wondering).

Sarah ordered the veggie burger which I think she liked.  I liked that it had a giant slice of heirloom tomato on top and lots of avocado

It was a solid brunch overall and I'd go back - though I don't know that I'd wait 30 minutes in the rain.

Universal Cafe
2814 19th St
San Francisco, CA 94110

(415) 821-4608

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Bar Tartine, Mission

Yesterday for breakfast we went on a hunt for the best poached egg. The hunt consisted of me doing doing some googling for poached eggs in the Mission. We landed on Bar Tartine and I'm so happy we did.  I've posted a few times on this blog about Tartine the bakery (see: here) but somehow, up until yesterday, I had never been to Bar Tartine

When we walked in I became almost overwhelmed with how much I liked the interior.  Before we had even touched the food I knew I wanted to come back because I liked the space so much.  It's kind of like... deconstructed elegance.  It's an amazing combination of classic (marble bar + mirrors), rustic (wooden tables and floors + antler chandelier), artsy (huge bouquets of flowers + eclectic groupings of artwork on the walls) and I love how high contrast it is  (white walls + dark floors + pools of light).

The menu was different than what we had seen online, which was disappointing because there were two poached egg choices that I had read about and was really excited to try.  While there weren't any replacement options, they did offer a side of two poached eggs, so I ordered that with a couple of slices of toasted Tartine bread.

I had high hopes when they put the eggs down in front of me.  I like the whites of the egg to look  fluffy and almost like balls of mozzarella, and these looked perfect. I fully expected when I put my knife in the yolk would ooze out, but it didn't - it was cooked pretty thoroughly inside.  Nevertheless, my undying love for the bread made it all ok and I enjoyed it well enough - though it wasn't the perfect poached egg I was looking for.

Kev's food, on the other hand, was even better than I expected and it also was made with Tartine bread so I was very  happy when he offered to share with me.

This was the Croque Provencal - gruyere, ham and heirloom tomato, topped with a fried egg, and it was so good. All of the ingredients they use are farm sourced and you can taste how fresh and flavorful it all is. One of the best breakfast dishes I've had in a long, long time.

My only complaint about eating here was the noise. Besides all the oohing and ahhing, we spent a lot of time saying, "What?" which gets kind of annoying.  Nevertheless, I fully intend to go back - and soon.

Bar Tartine
561 Valencia St. 
San Francisco, CA 94110
415 487 1600

Monday, October 18, 2010

Il Cane Rosso, Ferry Building

Last week I had a vacation day so we headed over to the Ferry Building to have lunch at Il Cane Rosso - Daniel Patterson's rotisserie/sandwich shop. 

I really love the Ferry Building, even if it is a huge tourist destination with really expensive food. But the thing is, the food is really good. And you can't beat it on a warm, bright, sunny day when you can sit outside and watch your favorite 1 year old show off her brand new walking skills. 

We were lucky to score a table outside - and even luckier that we didn't need a jacket. I love October in San Francisco. It really is my favorite time of year here.

All of the food here is straight from the farm - this is the Marin Sun Farms roast pork sandwich (with jalapeno pepper relish and cracklins’).  Don't be fooled by the look of this sandwich - it might look very basic, but the meat is juicy and tender and super flavorful. 

This is the beef tagliata sandwich (meat also from Marin Sun Farms), with aged cheddar, roasted onions, rosemary, lemon aoli.  I liked this one - but preferred the simpler pork sandwich in the end.

And what does a one-year-old from San Francisco eat for lunch? Iacopi Farm baked beans and polenta with sage brown butter and parmesan, of course.  Luckily this one-year-old is a good sharer, and she didn't mind me reaching in and helping myself. I'm normally not a huge fan of polenta, but this one was super creamy and lovely.

And, to make this meal even better, it was 50% off. Have you seen Scoutmob? It's awesome. Just download the (free) app and you can present your iPhone to the cashier and voila - 50% off at Il Cane Rosso through December.  And no, they aren't paying me to say that.

Il Cane Rosso
1 Ferry Building # 41
San Francisco, CA 94111-4231
(415) 391-7599

Monday, October 11, 2010

Camino, Oakland

I love brunch. And I loved this brunch, in particular, with two of my favorite ladies, Sarah and Heather.  This was another case of wanting to go somewhere (900 Grayson) and then finding out last minute that they don't do brunch on Sundays. Happily, we went to Camino instead.

I really loved the way this place looked. Lots of brick, worn wood and antique furniture.  Not to be too California, but I was really feeling the vibe there.

Heather and I did our usual and shared some things - including these homemade doughnuts with apple and the french toast with fruit compote, hazelnuts and crème fraiche.

The french toast was insanely filling - I could barely finish my one slice. I also love that they give you a choice of still or sparkling water - and leave a carafe of it on the table for you.

Great meal, great company and now I'm ready to try dinner here as well.

3917 Grand Ave
Oakland, California 94610
(510) 547-5035

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Baby Blues BBQ, Venice

Just your typical baby shower, at the BBQ joint.

More photos here.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...