Saturday, December 10, 2011

Doña Tomás, Oakland

I'm trying a new format. I realized that if I try and write about these meals, I will never wind up posting anything. So, for now, let's just go with photos.

This was a brunch from a few weeks ago at  Doña Tomás in Oakland.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Bar Jules, Hayes Valley

Will you be insulted if I don't write much about this brunch? I've been sitting on these pictures for awhile and in an effort to finally get them up I am going to sacrifice having much text.

This was Halloween at Bar Jules. Good food, good friends. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Starbelly, Castro

It's nearly Halloween, which means Summer has finally arrived in San Francisco.  Hooray! We decided to take a walk to enjoy the weather and also get some breakfast at Starbelly

(Ok, that isn't exactly true. Kev wanted Eggs Benedict at Le Zinc's outdoor patio. I needed a new blog post and we had already covered Le Zinc so we thought: where else can we walk to brunch that I haven't already blogged about? That is how we wound up at Starbelly).

There is this great outdoor patio, but it was all full when we got there. It emptied out as we ate. 

Some coffee and scrambled eggs for me. That is one giant piece of toast.

Sunny side up eggs for Kev, with  what they call sausage. To me it was more like a spicy slider. Call it what you will, it tasted pretty good!

All in all - a decent breakfast. Nothing revolutionary, but a convenient neighborhood place. Even better if you can snag a table outside.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Piccino, Dogpatch

Sorry for the lack of posting, but mostly it's because we haven't gone anywhere new in awhile. Finally this weekend we tried a couple of new places, including Piccino, over in the Dogpatch. We had tried to go there last weekend but were thwarted by a street festival of people dressed up in crazy clothes.

I immediately loved the look of this place - tons of wood, white and completely light filled. Very helpful for taking pictures, too.

I ordered an Arnold Palmer. It came with simple syrup since they don't sweeten the tea or the lemonade.  We got some marinated olives, too.

We didn't order any pizzas, even though it seems that is what they are known for.  Instead we got the white bean soup, which sounded like something I would make at home (but tasted way better).
We also got a poached egg over a semolina gnocchi. I'm still not clear how this was a gnocci - it reminded me more of a potato pancake, but with semolina. The flavors were great - egg and olive and zucchini and basil. Very savory and different than a normal, breakfast-style poached egg.  The parmesan cracker was a nice touch too.

Extra bonus: they are located very close to CalTrain, so if you are just visiting San Francisco from one of the surrounding areas this might be a good option for you.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Local: Mission Eatery, revisited

It's official, I have a new favorite brunch place. Local: Mission Eatery/Knead Patisserie. I've posted about both of these places before, and I just can't get enough. I love that I can walk there, I love that it isn't too crowded, I love how low-key the vibe is. And have I mentioned that I love the food? 

This time we combined the best of both worlds - some eggs from the restaurant and some pastries from the patisserie. The poached eggs were exactly, perfectly the way I like them. We sat at the counter and I was excited that I could watch the chef make the eggs, so maybe I could learn her technique.  Turns out her technique consisted of cracking an egg directly into the not-quite boiling water, leaving  it alone to go deal with some other food, and then coming back to scoop the egg out.  My eggs must smell my fear.

The croissant was also insane - so crispy on the outside but so soft and buttery on the inside. I realize that just sounds like a description of any old croissant, but this is something else entirely. You just need to try it for yourself, ok?

Both egg dishes were great, but I particularly liked the one with farro and tomatoes. I'm on a roasted tomato kick right now, so this really hit the spot.

I loved this breakfast so much I'm already planning on returning this coming weekend for my anniversary brunch. Save me a croissant!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Beast, Portland

And... we are back to Portland. I didn't take any photos this weekend in San Francisco, so here's some more great Portland food.  This was actually our last meal there, a six-course dinner at Beast.

You may have heard of Beast or it's chef, Naomi Pomeroy, if you watched the last season of Top Chef: Masters - she made it to the final four.  That was how I first heard of the restaurant and why I originally wanted to eat there.  As I started investigating where to eat for this trip I noticed that every list seemed to mention Beast, which sealed the deal for me.

The restaurant is run a little differently than most.  For example: there are just 2 seating times (6PM and 8:45PM);  all guests are seated at one of two communal tables; there is just one prix-fixe menu; and the chefs work from a buffet in the room where the meal is served. Literally you can have a conversation with them as they prepare your meal.  While I think it would have been great to be inside to watch them cook, we chose to sit outside at this table for two, since it was such a nice night (and also because there was a very loud party of 12 inside and I was feeling anti-social).

Here's where my memory gets a little fuzzy.  This meal was a month ago and I admit, I don't take notes. Bringing my giant camera out at meals is enough of a distraction, not only from the food but from whomever I'm dining with.  I kind of feel I need to draw the line there - whipping out a notebook and pen just feels like too much.  However what that means for you is a sort of hazy recollection of this meal. 

This soup was a cold tomato soup with garlic bread croutons, almonds and cucumber (that's a borage flower as well). We cleaned the bowls and thought it was an excellent first course. 

The charcuterie plate came next. This was a crazy dish of (starting at 12 o'clock): foie-gras bon-bon with sauternes gelee; chicken liver pâté on a leaf-lard cracker; steak tartare and quail egg toast; pork pate en croute and aramagnac  poached prune; and lastly, a couple of pieces of salami.  It was fun to get to try all the different flavors and my favorite was the steak tartare and quail egg toast.  (Side note: we were instructed to start at 1 o'clock and finish with the foie gras bon-bon, since it is almost like a dessert in itself).

The main dish was pork shoulder. I love pork shoulder and was happy that this was the entree. The crust on it was insane - it was some sort of whole grain mustard rub. All of the flavors were amazing, and this was the highlight of the meal for me. 

This is a good example of how my non-note taking doesn't do me much good when I am writing a post a month later. I remember that I liked this salad and thought it was really  nicely dressed. The cheese course I sorta just picked at, because I was already ridiculously full and obviously needed to save room for dessert. We did particularly like the hazelnuts and honey.

I snuck back into the restaurant to take some pictures of the dessert plating . This is how they do it for all the courses - line up all the plates on the buffet and get them plated at once for serving.

The dessert was a tart  topped with some cream and then some vanilla salt.  I was very proud of myself for recognizing that the salt came from The Meadow, another awesome Portland place that we had been to the day before known for salts, bitters and chocolates (hey NYers, there's one in Manhattan too - you should check it out).

Truth be told, I had tried to cancel our reservations  the morning of this meal.  I was worried about eating six-courses - I was food-ed out from the week and I didn't think I could manage it.   We were unable to cancel without a charge since it was the day of the meal.  Looking back,  I'm glad that policy was in place because it really would have been a shame to visit Portland and miss out on the unique charm of Beast.

5425 Northeast 30th Avenue
Portland, OR 97211

(503) 841-6968

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Sightglass Coffee, SOMA

(Blog news: Tasting SF has been nominated for "Best Food Blog" by SF Weekly. If you'd like to vote, please go here)

Sightglass Coffee is one of San Francisco's newer coffee roasters. They've only been around for a year or so, and for most of that time had been operating out of a small kiosk on 7th Street.  Recently they opened a much, much larger space so we went over there to check it out.

The coffee is great but you must also try the baked goods. My favorite was the cheddar and black pepper gougere from the Tell Tale Preserve Company. Here is the saddest news though: I just learned that they are closing - the last batch of pastries went out this past weekend. I'm so glad I got to eat this one last time before they closed. And I really, really hope that they reopen soon.

We also tried the chocolate brioche with sea salt (with Mast Brothers chocolate).  We liked this a lot too, and it did go better with my latte. It was made by Firebrand Bakery, which I had never heard of.  If they are reading this, I have a suggestion: please can you try making a cheddar and black pepper gougere?

Part of the new space is a big mezzanine. Currently there is nothing up there, but I imagine they'll expand and put seating up there as well. It's kind of fun to stand up there and get a bird's eye view on the whole place. (And a nice way to get photos, too.) 

Sightglass Coffee
270 7th Street
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 861-1313

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Little Skillet, SOMA

(Blog news: Tasting SF has been nominated for "Best Food Blog" by SF Weekly. If you'd like to vote, please go here)

What could be a better way to start a weekend than sleeping in til 11 (I didn't even know I could still do that!) and then heading over to Little Skillet for some insanely good fried chicken and waffles. 

Little Skillet is on a small, alley-type street in SOMA, pretty close to Giants Stadium.  If you're headed to a game and want some great food first, I highly recommend you stop over here.  It's a pretty basic operation - order at a window and your food is delivered in a to-go box. No tables or chairs, just some cement stoops across the road. 

I ordered the fried chicken and waffle, and it was probably the best fried chicken I've ever had - tender and moist - but that skin! That is some amazing crispy, flavorful skin.  The waffle was pretty good too, but maybe not the best ever.  It could have been a little crispier for my taste, but the chicken more than made up for it. 

They also serve Po Boys, including a fried chicken version - no bones! I'm thinking I should get that one next time to ensure that I don't waste any of that precious skin.

Little Skillet
360 Ritch Street
San Francisco, CA 94107
(415) 777-2777

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Broder, Portland

I celebrated my birthday in Portland and we picked Broder to have my birthday breakfast.  It was definitely the right choice.  This place is fantastic - I can imagine that if I lived in Portland I would bring all of my friends here when they came to visit.

The space itself is on the small side (though fairly large if you compare to here) and feels very homey.  It seems like a lot of places we ate at had a similar feeling, as if you were eating in someone's house. I liked that - it felt very unpretentious.  

We got to sit at the window seats in the front which were open because it was such a beautiful day. Really, every day we were there was a beautiful day. Sunny, blue skies and 80 degrees is much nicer than San Francisco summer weather.

These strange looking things are called aebleskiver.  Since I can't pronounce that, I'm going to call it a Danish pancake.  These are served with two dipping sauces, and I chose the lemon curd and the ligonberry jam. The jam was good - but the lemon curd was amazing. It actually reminded me a lot of one of my favorite items at Tartine.  But back to the pancakes: they were such a fun treat! Maybe it's because I never had them before, but something about having these for breakfast felt a little celebratory, which was perfect since it was my birthday.  Also I now have it on good authority that Trader Joes sells aebleskivers as well, so I'll be needing to try that. 

This is the Swedish hash, or pytt i panna, if you speak Swedish. I am so glad that it tasted as good as it looked.  In the dish is potatoes, peppers, roast beef and ham, and on top of the eggs are pickled beets. It is the perfect savory breakfast dish. I could not get enough. 

Because we thought it might be nice to have something healthy, we also ordered the yogurt and granola parfait.  That's healthy, right?  I only had a few bites of this one, since I was too busy power eating my pancakes.  I really liked what I had - and Kev named it his favorite granola dish in Portland (we did eat granola at most breakfasts there). 

I know I've already showed you all of these dishes, but I thought I'd share picture of the whole meal together, so you can see how Broder appealed not only to my stomach, but to my general aesthetic sensibility. 

It was a great way to start what turned out to be our best day in Portland. We followed this meal with a trip to the Japanese Gardens, which I highly recommend if you are going to Portland, and then finished the day with a meal at Le Pidgeon. Stay tuned for that post!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Stumptown Coffee and Clyde Common - Portland

People keep asking me what we did on vacation. I keep explaining that we ate. We ate and we walked around. And when we walked around, we were frequently walking to another place to eat. Stumptown Coffee and Clyde Common are two more places where we killed some time (eating) while waiting for our next meal.

Both Stumptown and Clyde Common are part of the Ace Hotel. We didn't stay at the Ace, but maybe we should have since we spent so much time over there. Another reason to stay at the Ace is the view of the Fish Grotto across the street.  I may have been slightly obsessed with the Fish Grotto mural, and I seem to have more photos of it than anything else from our whole trip. If you need such a picture, let me know, I have quite a selection. 

These pictures are from happy hour at Clyde.  $3 for some pickled veggies, $5 for the charcuterie board and $5 wine and cocktails. We sat at the outdoor tables, which was great because the weather was so nice. What was not great was the amount of smokers walking by. This is the most confusing thing to me about Portland. For such a healthy, active city it is really surprising to see so many cigarettes. 

We spent a few mornings in the Ace lobby, drinking our coffee and PG Tips. We were very excited to see PG Tips on the menu since it is our favorite.  I love all of the succulents on the table and the branding inside the mug.

I also love that the saucer says Good Luck. How random. But thank you - I'll take it.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Lovejoy Bakers and Pearl Bakery - Portland

In between eating, we did some more eating. 

We stopped over at the Pearl Bakery.  Check out this pastry. 

It had the texture of a doughnut with subtle orange and anise flavors. Kind of like a very sophisticated doughnut. 

We also went to Lovejoy Bakers, which is a little further out in the Pearl District. We liked that there was less traffic - both pedestrian and cars.  There was also loads of outside seating which made for a great place to relax and read while waiting for our next dinner reservation.

We ordered some sandwiches and then just hung out. I love vacation.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Little Bird Bistro - Portland!

We just returned from having spent five days stuffing our faces in Portland. In the weeks leading up to the trip, I was out of control doing research on all of the places we needed to eat and when we'd go where.  And by "out of control" I mean I plotted and color coded my list on a google map so I could see, by neighborhood, where everything was and then made a daily agenda of all of our meals. Yes, I am just that kind of obsessive person.

The point is, we ate a lot.  Seriously, I don't know that there was ever a time in my life where I have eaten so much every single day.  So while this is a blog about eating in San Francisco, I  couldn't let our Portland food experience go undocumented.

Our first Portland dinner was at Little Bird Bistro.  Because the restaurant was just 2 blocks from our hotel I thought it would be nice to go there on our first night, as we were getting the lay of the land.

We decided to share an appetizer and picked the smoked trout gougeres. We had recently tried an amazing gougeres in San Francisco (cheddar and black pepper from Tell Tale Preserve Co) so we were curious what this one would be like, especially with the addition of the smoked trout. I am so so happy we ordered this, as it actually was probably one of the best things we ate our whole time in Portland. The texture of the gougeres was different than what I would have thought - it was more like fried dough than the croissant-like interior I was expecting.  The addition of the trout was intriguing - you could taste it, but not in an overtly fishy way.  The beet salad seemed a little strange to go with it, but it was incredible. I couldn't remember what the dressing was, and at one point I said to Kev, "there's a flavor in here that reminds me of Jewish deli".  He thought I was crazy, but I wasn't far off - the dressing had caraway in it - the same seeds that are on rye bread. If any chef in San Francisco reads this - can you please put this on your menu? I will be your #1 customer. 

It seemed fitting to order the salmon, since we were in the Pacific Northwest. The salmon entree changes daily. This was sockeye salmon on a crepe of creamed corn and fennel. The flavor on this was amazing, and like the trout, it wasn't super fishy - it felt very meaty.  We were sharing both entrees and I think we were fighting over this one - we both couldn't get enough.

We also ordered a side of what they referred to as macaroni gratin, which is just a much fancier way of saying mac and cheese. This was a perfect mac and cheese - it had lots of crispy bits, it wasn't too creamy, but just creamy enough and the cheddar had a nice tang to it. 

Our second entree was the pork shoulder with a fried poached egg, just in case a regular poached egg on your pork shoulder isn't decadent enough. The thing with this one was that the meat tasted incredible, but there wasn't much meat - it was nearly all fat. Now, I am not one to send things back to the kitchen, it really makes me uncomfortable, but this just didn't seem right. We spoke to the waiter who was incredibly apologetic and told us he'd get us another piece.  When the second piece arrived - perfectly cooked - we were stuffed. But we persevered because we couldn't let such an amazing piece of food go to waste.  So we had pork for dessert. Delicious, tender, you-don't-even-need-a-knife pork.

If you're going to Portland, I can't recommend Little Bird highly enough. The food and service are  great and it's just a really cute spot - so much so that we even went back our second night to get an after dinner drink.  If this place was in San Francisco I know we'd be regulars.

ps: If you are going to Portland and want to take advantage of my OCD tendencies, email me and I can send you my Google map and agenda.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Plow, Potrero Hill

You know how sometimes you hear something mentioned multiple times in the span of a couple of weeks, even though you had previously never heard of it? For me, that was Plow. All of a sudden everyone kept talking about it. I enlisted my trusty friend and food partner (and frequent tastingsf hand-model) Britt to join me.

We headed over there on a Saturday morning to find that perhaps we were the only ones who hadn't heard of Plow.  The place was packed with a whole bunch of people waiting outside. We put our names on the list and were seated about 30 minutes later at the counter, which gave us a good vantage point of what was happening in the kitchen.

Do you see what's happening in the kitchen? Those are lemon-ricotta pancakes on the grill. Normally I'm more of a savory breakfast person, but they looked so good we did a side order (1 pancake) to have with our eggs.  That was a mistake though because it was my favorite thing and I wish we had ordered a full stack.  The owner told us that it is all made from scratch, right down to the ricotta. They were light and fluffy and not too sweet. Really a perfect pancake, in my opinion. 

For our main dish we ordered the scrambled eggs with lambs quarters. I will admit I had no idea what lambs quarters were when we ordered this and I expected to find something meaty in my eggs. Please stop laughing at me. It turns out it is really a type of weed that you can use in food, kind of like spinach.  The eggs also had a generous amount of goat cheese, which I love, and the potatoes were nice and crispy on the outside and soft and creamy on the inside (aka a perfect potato).

There are certain ingredients (goat cheese, burrata, heirloom tomatoes, nectarines, pluots) that I am always drawn to.  Whenever I see it on a menu, I'll order whatever that dish is. That is how we wound up with this salad. Also I love little gem lettuce, it always seems to be really crisp and fresh. This salad had little bits of mint in it too, which was a nice surprise every time you got a bite of it. Plus with the nectarines and pluots it made it feel so summery. If only there was some goat cheese on this salad, that would be perfection.

If you are looking for a brunch place to quickly pop into, or to have a big group meet up at, this isn't the place for you. But if you have some time and you don't mind waiting a little while for some good food, I'll see you in line. I'm having the pancakes.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Farm:Table, Tenderloin

Today I had breakfast at Farm:Table, and it is quite possibly the tiniest restaurant I have ever been in.  Tiny as in they have one small communal table that seats 8 very small people. What they have done though with their teeny tiny space is incredibly impressive and should make me ashamed when I complain I don't have enough kitchen space.

In this tiny kitchen are two very, very sweet guys making some excellent food and drinks. 

The coffee beans they use are from Verve, which is out of Santa Cruz. I heard a woman from Australia telling the guys that this was the best coffee she had had while traveling in America. It was pretty damn good.  They also make hot chocolate (using local TCHO Chocolate).  My two year old friend who was with us thoroughly enjoyed hers - it was the first hot chocolate she had ever had, and she spent the rest of the day talking about it.

I just liked these two quirky details

We had the quiche of the day (different sorts of quiches daily) which was light and fluffy.

We also ordered the granola with yogurt and fruit. This is actually one of my favorite breakfast dishes and I don't order it as much as I should.  Or make it at home as much as I should. Maybe if I had more kitchen space....
I ordered the hard boiled eggs with bacon and brussel sprouts and zucchini. This was great! Kind of random with the hard boiled eggs, but it totally worked. I really liked the bacon. The bread was toasted, which made it really crunchy on the outside.  The inside was nice and chewy, and they gave us some spiced butter to put on it and that was excellent.  

All in all, this place was pretty adorable, and you should check it out.

754 Post St
San Francisco, CA 94108

(415) 292-7089

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Wise Sons Deli, Mission

People, the rumors are true: You now can get really great Jewish deli in San Francisco. Wise Sons Deli has had tons of press but I didn't get to try it until yesterday. We headed over to Heart to check it out, but next week they move on to The Beast and the Hare.  They are still operating as a pop-up restaurant with no official home - but they are looking. And I am keeping my fingers crossed that they stay in the Misison, close to me, because this place is legit! And I do consider myself an expert: not only am I a Jewish New Yorker, but I am a Jewish New Yorker who spent 5+ years working in a NY Jewish Deli.

The pastrami is house cured, sliced by hand and excellent. And they have real rye bread! Real rye bread! Why has this been so hard to come by in San Francisco?

Perhaps you think 10AM is too early for a pastrami sandwich? Not to worry - you can get a bagel with lox instead. Two of the employees at Wise Sons run a pop-up bagel shop within the pop-up deli: Beauty Bagels. Cross your fingers that they open their retail shop soon (too bad for me that it will be in Oakland and not San Francisco).  

The guys who worked there were also super sweet and seemed to really enjoy what they were doing. One of them saw me snapping pictures and came over to ask if I wanted to take some of him making an egg cream (egg cream!!).  For those of you West Coast people that don't know what an egg cream is, see below for instruction: 

(Truthfully, I'm not that into egg creams, but that doesn't mean I don't appreciate them, and I am happy to see that they have found a place here in San Francisco.)

Mmm, babka. Have you tried babka? Imagine a hybrid combination of coffee cake, brioche, chocolate and cinnamon and that is basically babka. Also it is fun to say: Babka.

Dear Wise Sons Deli,

Thank you for filling the hole in my heart (stomach?) that is reserved for Jewish deli. You have made it so that there is (nearly) no longer any food craving that San Francisco can not fill. I say nearly because I would still love a knish. Could you guys help me out with that one?  

Thank you, 
Tasting SF

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