Saturday, January 29, 2011

Zero Zero, SOMA

Last weekend, as part of my plan to try a bunch of the Best New Places of 2010, we headed over to Zero Zero. It wasn't on the Bauer list (though he did give them a great review), but a couple of local food writers had named it as their "Top Restaurant Stand By" for 2010, so we thought we should try it.   

Unlike Bar Agricole, they don't tell you that you are meant to share the dishes, but we decided we wanted to do that anyway. The first two dishes we ordered (roasted meatballs and an arugula and beet salad with avocado and orange) were both excellent and we thought the meatballs were just as good as the ones we've had at Pizzeria Delfina.  Unfortunately the photos of those two didn't turn out, so you'll have to use your imagination.

Next up we ordered potato gnocchi with ham, artichoke and fava leaf pesto.  Yum.

We also ordered a couple of pizzas.  Apparently we hadn't really eaten anything that day and we were all starving.   The pizza on the left is the Fillmore (Hen of the Woods mushrooms, leeks, mozzarella, parmesan, pecorino, fontina, garlic and thyme).  The pizza on the right is the Margherita Extra (the Buffalo mozzarella makes it "extra" - you can also order it with regular mozzarella).  I preferred the Margherita of the two.  They were both good - but I still think Delfina and Flour + Water do a better pizza.

At this point, we were pretty much stuffed but I forced everyone to order dessert. I really, really wanted dessert because I kept reading about their soft serve ice cream sundaes. The waiter brings you a sheet of paper and you get to fill out what you want.  We chose vanilla ice cream with hot fudge, cocoa nibs, toffee, olive oil and salt.  Oh, and you can tell them you only want the half order, which is what we did.  I don't think I need to tell you that this was a perfect ending to this meal. I mean, just look at it, how could you not love that? 

We all really loved our dinner here. Even if the pizza wasn't our favorite, the meal as a whole was excellent. PLUS we found a parking space right out front, so extra points for that. AND the prices are really reasonable - there were four of us, and it wound up being around $20 per person, with tip.  This is definitely on my list of places to return to - I can see this being a top standby place for me for 2011.

Zero Zero
826 Folsom Street
San Francisco, CA 94107
(415) 348-8800

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Bar Agricole, SOMA

Last weekend we headed over to Bar Agricole for dinner. After Michael Bauer's Top New Restaurants of 2010 article came out, I made reservations at a few of the places he mentioned that we hadn't tried, and Bar Agricole was one of them.

Our waiter told us that the concept of the restaurant is that all the dishes are served in the center of the table to share, and for four people we should order five to seven dishes.  Done.

Because this was last week, and because the online menu has changed since then, and because I was lazy and didn't write down what we ate, I can't exactly remember what we ate.  I'll try my best.

This was the crab salad with farro.  It had a really light, flavorful dressing and lately I've been really into farro lately so I was happy.

This was an artichoke and arugula salad.  We're so predictable, always going for the arugula pick.  We liked this one as well, it also had a nicely balanced dressing.

Check out this poached egg with beans.  Egg was perfectly cooked and we liked the beans but this dish wasn't outstanding.

This was the pork and fennel sausage with roasted potatoes.  We all really liked this one, nice texture and flavor.

We ordered one more dish, a guinea hen - which we liked - and passed on dessert.  I wish I had more to say about this place but as I mentioned, we shared each of these dishes between four people so we only got a bite or two of each one.  What we tried all tasted good, but there just wasn't enough.  I'm all for smaller portions, but not when divided by four people.  

The environment is really cool and the outside space looks amazing, but I think if I were to come back I'd make sure to go with only one other person.

Bar Agricole
355 11th Street
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 355-9400

Monday, January 17, 2011

Le Zinc, Noe Valley

Yesterday we took advantage of the weather and walked over to Noe for some breakfast.  When we used to live over there, Le Zinc was one of our go-to places for breakfast out (tied with Holey Bagel).  Now that we're a bit further we don't get there as often, but we always enjoy it when we do. 

There are a few tables in the front where you can sit, but if it's nice out I prefer to sit out on the patio in back.  You can sort of see it through the window in the picture above.  It's quiet and very charming back there.

They also serve a pretty good hot chocolate there. Actually, the menu has both a hot chocolate and a Viennois, but honestly I have no idea what the difference is. This is the Viennois.

Kev always orders the eggs benedict. They are pretty good here.  In fact, he says they do them better here than anywhere else he's had in the city.

I ordered scrambled eggs and asked them to add some tomatoes, which they did. They weren't quite the perfect scrambled egg, but they were pretty good.

One of the best things about Le Zinc is you never seem to have to wait for a table, which counts for a lot in my book.  If you live across town, I don't know that I'd suggest you travel to Noe just for this breakfast, but if you are in the neighborhood, it's a good pick.

Le Zinc
4063 24th Street
San Francisco, CA 94114
(415) 647-9400

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Spruce, the Presidio

If you ask me for my top three (higher end) restaurant picks in San Francisco, I would quickly be able to tell you: Range, Frances and Spruce.  While the three are all pretty different in terms of atmosphere, the food at all of them is consistently amazing.  

The first time we went to Spruce was because we had been given a gift certificate for our wedding (clearly these friends know us well!).  After that meal, I couldn't stop gushing about the experience.  I've been a few times since then, but usually just to the bar area. You don't need a reservation, you can order off the full menu or the bar menu (which features one of the best burgers I've ever had) and have amazing cocktails.  The drinks menu also features an enormous selection of wines and spirits, if you're into that kind of thing. 

The design of Spruce is definitely part of the appeal for me. It's really dark and masculine, with lots of dark wood, leather and velvet.  It's a very sexy vibe.

Last night Kev and I booked a table for his birthday and the meal was just as good as I remembered. I wish we had gotten there slightly earlier so we could have had a drink at the bar, just because the bar is so lovely.  Instead we ordered drinks at the table.  The pink drink is the Bitter Berry Bramble (russian standard vodka, lemon, raspberry, bitter lemon soda) and the other drink is the Harrington (vodka, cointreau, garnier yellow chartreuse).  I love that pink drink.

The gougeres is an amuse bouche sent by the chef. I hope he never stops sending these because I love them.

We ordered the beet and pear salad with hazelnut vinaigrette and warm goats milk cheese to share.  They were nice enough to portion it out for us individually. I loved how the arugula was shaped around the cheese, it reminds me of Roman headpieces.  This dish was my favorite of the night. It was perfect, especially since Kev doesn't really like goat cheese so I got his serving as well.  All the flavors and textures went together so perfectly. You really wanted to get a little bit of everything on your fork.  I probably could have had the full order of this and called it a day.

Instead, Kev ordered the tuna with Italian broccoli, pinenuts and warm olive vinaigrette and was really pleased with the dish.  The tuna really felt meaty - I thought it was slightly dry, but he disagreed, especially with the addition of the olive vinaigrette.

I ordered the grilled bavette steak (I know, how shocking!) with duck fat potatoes.  The steak was excellent - the outside was a little peppery and the meat was tender and juicy.  Certainly as good as the steak at Range. I loved the duck fat potatoes as well - crispy outside, creamy inside, what's not to love?

We were too full to order dessert, but we did get some cute little treats with our check.  The fruit jelly was pear (it was like they knew we were coming) and the cookie was maple with tangerine marmalade.  We weren't too full to eat the additional cookies our very nice waitress brought us.

Excellent meal overall and a great way to start our 2011 food adventures.

3640 Sacramento Street
San Francisco, CA 94118
(415) 931-5100

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Intelligentsia Coffee, Los Angeles

We just got back from a trip to LA and I had wanted to do a whole "scenes from Los Angeles" kind of post but I didn't get much further than this picture, taken at the Intelligentsia in Silverlake.   We did have two  great meals though: at Eveleigh (I didn't bring my camera) and Osteria Mozza (Mario Batali is anti-photo). 

Not too much to say with this photo, but I loved these cups so I had to post them. Oh, and the lattes were good too.
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