Sir and Star — Olema

30 06 2014

Last weekend we took a trip up the coast for a short weekend getaway to Point Reyes where we stayed in nearby Olema and enjoyed some great food. We made a reservation for a Saturday night dinner at Sir and Star, which my bf heard about a while back on SF Gate. If Michael Bauer thinks it’s good, I usually do too.

A very nice man at Sir and Star

A very nice man at Sir and Star

The Saturday menu is a prix fixe for $75 per person (not including drinks). The theme of the food is “hyper-local” with nearly the entire menu procured from the surrounding area in Marin. The restaurant itself dates back to the 1800s and is decorated accordingly as a sort of upscale lodge with old, creaky hardwood floors, high ceilings with intricate crown molding, candelabra, and a myriad of taxidermy birds displayed on the walls.

As for the food, everything was amazing. There were seven courses; I will go through each with the accompanying photos.

First Course: Puffs of local toma. These little puffs of bread were soft and warm and made with delicious toma cheese. Good start.

bread puffs

 

Second Course: Warren’s radishes, butter and sea salt. This course threw us off. The waiter set a dish of radishes and butter at our table and didn’t give us any clue what to do with them. Was the butter for the radishes? Do we just eat them whole? It was a bit weird. But, we did indeed eat them whole (efforts to slice them in half threatened to fling radish across the room) and we put the ridiculously light and creamy butter on them. Apparently I’m the only person on the planet that did not know that radishes were a bit spicy. I have since learned this odd fact.

radish

 

Third Course: Local smoked halibut and a brushstroke of stinging nettle encircled with a soup of coastal fennel and young garlic. Yes, this is as amazing as it sounds. This may have been my favorite course. No. Yes. I don’t know. The halibut was soft and tender and melted in your mouth, with a flavor so salty and succulent, a spoonful-size serving was almost tortuously tiny. The soup was rich and flavorful and went perfectly with the fish. Delicious.

soup

 

Fourth Course: Long leaves of arugula draped over a pudding of sweet delta corn and, thanks to Marin Sun, crisp sweetbreads. This tiny salad was very good. And, I have a secret… I ate the sweetbreads. If you don’t already know, sweetbreads are not bread, they are the throat, pancreas, and other innards of a calf or lamb, a sub-category of offal. I have seen them before served as they were at S&S: lightly spiced, breaded, and fried. The reason I ate them is because they were from Marin Sun Farms, a farm just up the road from S&S that practices sustainable, natural, and humane farming.

As my beef with, well, beef (and other meat) is generally factory farming and inhumane animal treatment, there’s no reason that I technically object to sustainable, local, humane meat production. However, it’s a bit of a slippery slope, so I think I’ll keep to those few bites of sweetbreads for now. At least until I go back and actually visit MSF. (I will say they were delicious, however.)

arugula and sweetbreads

 

Fifth Course: Choice of Tenderloin chop of lamb last seen grazing on local grasses, now amidst a medley of smoked marble potatoes, roasted onions and farmers’ market favas, or A bouillabaisse of all things green and gold gathered from local gardens with a very stirring stick of focaccia and aioli. My man friend ordered the former, I ordered the latter. He said the lamb was tender and delicious and the bouillabaisse (typically made with fish stock, but this one wasn’t) was so good. So. Good. The sauce was incredible, and that little stirring stick of bread and aioli? Amazing. I was actually pretty full already, but ate every bite of the main course. Good vegetables are just the best.

bouillabaisse

lamb chop

 

Sixth Course: A duet of the best AKA Andante Dairy cheeses, largo and tomme dolce, with figs on a mission. I love the phrasing on the menu, it’s funny and cute. And cheese! Yeay! The good-looking cheese (in the middle) was also the best-tasting cheese, and the figs (barely visible in my photo — the sun had gone down) were sweet and yummy.

cheese plate

 

Seventh Course: Vicki’s strawberries extraordinaire with almond dipping cream and chocolate. Now, typically, this does not constitute a dessert for me. I need more chocolate, or at least more sugar. But these little sad-looking strawberries were the perhaps the sweetest I’ve tasted. And the dipping creams had me wishing they had provided a spoon… I used my finger until the waiter took the plate. Yeah, I’m not from Marin.

strawberries

 

Overall, the meal was amazing. Everything was expertly executed, the flavors were rich and delicious, and we were stuffed when we left. I’d like to try their regular menu as well sometime, but, alas, it’s hard to get up to Olema during the week. I’m just glad Sir and Star is up there, waiting for us should we decide to escape the city.

Sir and Star on Urbanspoon





Park Chow: Brunch

6 06 2014

If I were filling out a review of Park Chow on Opentable, I would check the box for “neighborhood gem”. And then I’d feel like that was super cheesy and uncheck it. Then I’d remember that it’s hecka accurate and check it again.

scramble

veggie burger

Park Chow is really just kind of your basic diner — old fashioned counter seating, a mounted board on the wall with menu items listed in individual little black clip-in lettering, and a menu of burgers, sandwiches, salads, and other American classics. But the difference is that the food is good. Like, better-than-your-basic-diner good.

And it’s just fun in there. It’s casual, unpretentious, and it’s inevitably crowded with hungry, happy patrons. It feels the way a diner should: comfortable and homey without being low-class or dingy. And last time I was there for brunch, I discovered something I never knew: they have a huge upstairs that’s partially enclosed by shade awnings! It was a beautiful sunny Saturday (an rarity in the Inner Sunset) and we were able to enjoy the outside without baking in direct sun. It was great.

scramble

IMAG1279

I wish I had taken more pictures, but, as usual, I was focused on the food. I went for the veggie burger* while my man-friend enjoyed a nice brunch scramble. The portions are pretty dang big, and we were ready for a happy nap afterward. Somehow I have to finagle a Thursday visit to experience the smoked salmon hash special… I can dream, can’t I?

*I ordered the veggie burger both to satisfy my craving for said food, and to further research the best veggie burger in the City. This one was good: nice texture, good taste, and the tzaziki sauce was a real win.

Park Chow on Urbanspoon





Chicago: Beatrix

10 05 2014

On the day I left, we only had time for a late breakfast/early lunch. It was to be our farewell meal to Chicago, and we had no plans. As we hemmed and hawed in the hotel room about where and what to eat, I found Beatrix on my Yelp app. It sounded good — casual American food, nice atmosphere, some sophisticated menu selections. We tried it. It was perfect.

hummus

hummus , veggies, warm naan — $7

Beatrix North River is in a large, open space with modern finishes and has friendly staff and an upscale though not pretentious atmosphere. The lunch menu is sort of American casual, but a step up in classiness. Arugula salad, ahi tuna crudo, herb-roasted chicken sandwich, post roast sandwich, and poached farm egg and truffled pasta are a handful of the selections, with only another handful on offer.

Oh — and they also specialize in fresh-squeezed juice concoctions: blackberry & lychee lemonade, carrot & apple ginger snap, and blueberry & basil smash are just a few of the interesting juices they offer.

beatrix chicago

We started with a fresh made hummus dish that was really good. I don’t especially love hummus if it’s not homemade, but this one was very flavorful and definitely made the cut.

For my main, I ordered the mushroom and quinoa burger with swiss cheese, baby kale, and sriracha aioli ($13), and Jon had the prime burger with cheddar cheese. They both came with delicious kennebec fries, and were both pretty impressive.

veggie burger

mushroom and quinoa veggie burger – $13

You may know of my search for the best veggie burger and my quest to try all that present themselves. While this one wasn’t top of the list, it was darn good, and I commend their efforts on making their own recipe. Jon, a devoted meat eater, indicated that the burger was one of the best he’d had in a long time.

burger

prime burger – $13.50

And to finish it all off, we could not help but stop by the bar of fresh-baked goods on our way out, snagging a chocolate chip cookie the size of my head. A satisfying end to the meal, and to the trip.

bakery

bakery bar





Chicago: Table 52

6 05 2014

This week I will be posting about my recent trip to Chicago where I enjoyed some really amazing food. The trip was only four days long, but my friend Jon and I did a bit of research beforehand to ensure we hit up some of Chicago’s best, though we were not opting to pay top dollar this time. And though the current title holder of Best Restaurant in America (also ranked 7th in the world), Alinea, was within our grasp physically, we weren’t feeling quite up to the challenge of pursuing a reservation ticket this time around.

veggie ravioli

Table 52: pea-filled ravioli with mushrooms, carrots, and other veggies

 

But since we like to indulge in at least one fancy meal when we travel together, I found Table 52 to satiate us. Table 52 is located north of the river in Chicago in an area that we came to know for upscale shopping, dining, and nightlife. Located in a converted old mansion, the dining room is small and cozy, dimly lit, and decorated in Southern style to go with the food. The menu is what I would describe as fancy comfort food: based on down-home, Southern recipes, but made with top notch ingredients and finely honed expertise.

Literally every bite we had was incredible. From the complimentary cheese and chive biscuits to the twelve layer chocolate cake, everything was amazing. Here are a few photos and descriptions of our meal. I would highly recommend Table 52 for any Chicago visitor (or native!).

biscuits

complimentary biscuits

fried green tomatoes

fried green tomatoes – $12

The appetizers were a good start — the biscuit was amazing, and the fried green tomatoes were crispy and flavorful.

catfish

southern fried catfish with tasso ham, maitake mushrooms, white corn grits, crispy okra – $26

veggie ravioli

pea-filled ravioli with mushrooms, carrots, and other veggies

three-cheese mac - $12

three-cheese mac – $12

The mains were just really good. The pea ravioli was an expertly executed vegetarian dish. The garnishes on the catfish were perfection. The mac and cheese? Some of the best I’ve ever had. And I’m not an m+c amateur.

Smith family twelve-layer chocolate cake   with chocolate cremeux, cocoa nib, valrhona pearl crisps - $12

Smith family twelve-layer chocolate cake with chocolate cremeux, cocoa nib, valrhona pearl crisps – $12

Dessert! It took a while to arrive (oversight by the waiter), but it was worth the wait. Crunchy and smooth at the same time, the flavor was rich but not overwhelming. I was extremely full by this point, but I could have eaten this cake forever.

 





Comstock Saloon

16 04 2014

Comstock Saloon is a nice bar and restaurant on Columbus that’s kinda got a classy, old-timey feel to it. As in, it’s gussied up like an old fashioned saloon but with new, nice, and artistic fixtures. Dark wood bar, tables, and booths; dim chandeliers and lamps; bartenders who wear vests… you get the idea. Fine, I guess it’s kinda a hipster thing, but it’s cool and classy and fun and I like it. (Per their website, the historic space was a saloon dating back to 1907 — points for authenticity!)

pot pie

Mushroom Pot Pie from Comstock — $17

bar

Comstock bar

Being a saloon (complete with fancy SF cocktails), I never really thought about it as a dinner place. Indeed, I was wrong. They have a small menu, but it’s really creative and very tasty. I went recently and was pretty excited about it. And they have a mushroom pot pie that’s made to order! Seriously, as good as it is unusual. Love.

Other dishes I tried:

pickles

Pickle Plate from Comstock — $5

I’ve never had pickled grapes, and I’m not entirely sure I liked them, but the rest of the pickled things were good, and I’ll at least give them an A for effort.

salad

Little Gem Salad from Comstock — $9

Little gem salad with garlic anchovy dressing was simple but solid.

artichoke dip

Crab and Artichoke Dip from Comstock — $14 (appears to be seasonal)

I mean, what can I say. Crab and artichoke dip? Is it possible to go wrong? So good. Also, appears to be seasonal as it’s not on the menu on their website at the moment.

pot pie

And of course, the finale was the pot pie. Not to even mention that I still want to try so many other things on their small menu… squash fritters! Bucket of shrimp! Monterey Bay sardines! Marinated olives! Maybe I’ll even muster up the courage and go for the oysters…

Also, free lunch Fridays with purchase of two adult beverages? Intriguing…

Comstock Saloon on Urbanspoon





Hillstone

2 03 2014

I’ve done this before, and I’m sure I’ll do it again. A few weeks ago, I found myself wandering about the Embarcadero in search of food around 3pm. I wanted to see the newly remodeled Fog City Diner, so, starved, we walked down to their location across from Pier 23. For some unknown and seemingly unnecessary reason, they do not serve food between 2.30 and 4.30pm. I find that this happens to me on vacation a lot — arriving at a restaurant “between meals”. So irritating.

cheeseburger from hillstone ($19)

cheeseburger from hillstone ($19)

Now what? Well, a short stroll north down the Embarcadero is Hillstone. I’ve seen it many times before — it has a nice umbrella-covered outdoor patio and peaceful location on the west side of the street. And they’re open at 3pm for lunch or dinner or whatever you want to call it. They will give you food at 3pm if you give them money. Perfect.

The inside is large, open, and has built-in booths and dark wood accents. It has kind of an upscale lodge-y feel to it, which reminds me of a steakhouse. And while it’s not a steakhouse per se, it does have a similar menu that includes burgers, chicken, fish, ribs, and, indeed, steaks. While the atmosphere was nice, and the menu certainly looked good, my general feeling was that it seemed pretty ordinary-suburban. There is nothing wrong with this — it just didn’t particularly wow me with the special flair that is so common at SF restaurants.

house made veggie burger from hillstone ($19)

house made veggie burger from hillstone ($19)

We certainly did have an enjoyable meal, however. I had wanted to try a variety of the appetizers that looked delicious (house-smoked salmon, oak-grilled artichokes, spinach and artichoke dip, emerald kale salad…), but opted for the house-made veggie burger ($19) instead. My quest to try every veggie burger everywhere (and subsequently rank them, obviously) and my insatiable desire for french fries won out.

a closer look at that veggie burger

a closer look at that veggie burger

The veggie burger at Hillstone has beets in it, as evidenced by the red hue of the patty. Otherwise, I can’t tell you what else it’s made of, just that it’s good. My companion had a regular (meat) burger ($19), which he also thought was good. The fries were yummy, and the service was attentive. The whole experience was just fine, though I wouldn’t put either the restaurant or the veggie burger at the top of my list of favorites. So while I won’t be jumping to return, I will keep it in mind for the future — it’s always nice to know your options, especially for larger parties and outdoor seating.





Palm Springs

5 01 2014

Happy New Year!

You might think, oh, she hasn’t blogged in a few weeks, she is probably just being typically neglectful of her beloved blog. Wrong! I was on vacation, nerds.

good morning

good morning

Since I often speak in math: I wanted to go somewhere warm for the holiday break + I booked to late = Hawaii and Mexico were outrageously expensive + Florida is kinda far away + I’ve never been to Palm Springs. If you carry the one, it works out. Trust me, I’m an engineer.

So, Palm Springs it was! Four days at a resort outside of town and three days at an cutesy boutique in town just off the strip. Pools and hot tubs. Desert hikes. Food. And lots and lots of sleeping. It was awesome. I read a book. A whole one. And wore bathing suits — plural (not at the same time). I wore a dress on New Year’s Eve (covered entirely by a coat, of course). Vacation: achieved.

Summaries of food in both places: La Quinta Resort and Spa (outside Palm Springs) and Palm Springs:

La Quinta Resort and Spa (a Waldorf Astoria resort in the town of La Quinta)

One thing I was worried about going to a proper “resort” (this was my first time) was the food. The resort wasn’t all-inclusive, so we could have gone “off-campus” for food if necessary. But it would have put a damper on our sit-around-and-do-absolutely-nothing vacation, so we were hoping the seven on-site restaurants were suitable. When we arrived, we found that only three of the restaurants were open for dinner. We subsequently tried all three, returning to one of them twice.

The food was great. Like, unexpectedly above average. Like, “I’m a snooty foodie from San Francisco and I approve of this food” good. I was impressed and relieved. And I ate this food and was happy. Quick summary:

Twenty 6: Casual American food in an upscale pub-ish atmosphere. I enjoyed: house made veggie burger, flat breads, crab cake, and (my fav) the pickled purple cauliflower. I wanted to try more. It was all surprisingly good considering they have hundreds of people trapped on site who will eat this food no matter what.

(terrible picture of) adorable pickled purple cauliflower!

(terrible picture of) adorable pickled purple cauliflower!

(terrible picture of) crab cake with huge chunks of crab

(terrible picture of) crab cake with huge chunks of crab

Adobe Grill: Mexican food, just upstairs from Twenty 6. We had some tamales one night that were pretty good, but the appetizer patio dining is what got me hooked. We had the best nachos ever. Fine, maybe not the absolute best, but they were really, really good. And nachos are so easy to mess up that I was immensely impressed. Also, the grande margarita was GRANDE indeed.

(mediocre picture of) really really good nachos

(mediocre picture of) really really good nachos

margaritas may be larger than they appear

margaritas may be larger than they appear

Morgan’s in the Desert: Fancy American food with a James Beard Award-winning chef. Lots of seafood, salads, and great appetizers. I didn’t take any photos because I was feeling classy*, but the lightly fried artichoke hearts and accompanying dip were amazing. The Caesar salad was perfect, and both the salmon and black cod were tender and delicious. I wanted to try every single one of the sides (but restrained). Their take on a s’mores dessert was fab.

*Actually, I was more feeling self-conscious since I was in a dress. Same thing, right?

Palm Springs

We stayed at Korakia Pensione, an adorable Mediterranean/Moroccan boutique hotel in the heart of Palm Springs. The rooms are luxurious, the atmosphere is mellow and relaxing, the two pools are literally over 90 degrees in temperature (AMAZING), and the breakfast is included. And whole dang place is so picturesque it kinda hurts. So. Relaxing.

panoramic view of pool and surrounds from outside our room

panoramic view of pool and surrounds from outside our room

panoramic view of our room

panoramic view of our room

breakfast the second day (french toast the first day featured above)

breakfast the second day (french toast the first day featured above)

For NYE, we booked late but snagged a spot at Zin American Bistro. It was a fixed menu, three courses, and I would say the food was mediocre. My leek soup was yummy, but my friend’s trio of tartars was not good. The mains (fish and steaks) were good, but nothing super special. Dessert was meh. I’m not sure if it was just the pressure of putting on a holiday dinner, or if it’s always like that, and I’m sure I’ll never know. Either way the company was good.

(terrible picture of) the company

(poorly lit picture of) the company

Our last night in town we went to Copley’s. This place was good. And we finally found a place where the size of the dishes was inversely proportional to the cost. We had ordered too much time and again in La Quinta because we thought the dishes would be smaller for the price. Fortunately, we weren’t starving, the bites of food were delicious, and we were happy. I would definitely recommend this place for a nice dinner (or lunch) in PS.

Oh yeah… I will mention our first lunch in Palm Springs. We arrived at about 1pm starving. We tried to go to one place we found on Yelp, but it was a 30 minute wait. We went across the street to a seemingly popular place called Trio. After being seated (or, rather, before), we realized we were one of the only straight couples in the entire restaurant. We were woefully out of place, but with nothing else to do but order from our flamboyant waiter (who was very sweet), we ate. I didn’t love my grilled fish sandwich, but my companion’s sandwich was yummy and the rest of the food at other tables looked quite good. And, if you’re going to Palm Springs, there’s no escaping the prominent gay culture. So, why not get immersed for one lunch?





Gott’s Roadside

2 11 2013

My only and recurring experience of Gott’s is as a lunch treat with one of my favorite co-workers. A mid-day haven from the monotony of office life, we occasionally escape to the Ferry Building to share an overly-filling, calorie-laden, sun-bathed lunch together. We talk about work, friends, his upcoming wedding, river rafting, and more. We sit outside, in their designated area of picnic tables, and enjoy our “slow” food in the sun. It’s excellent.

Heirloom Tomato and Mozz Sando

Heirloom Tomato and Mozz Sando

So, obviously part of my affection for Gott’s comes from my particular way of experiencing it. But, the other part comes from the food. Which is good. Think 50′s hamburger joint, but classed up with local, quality ingredients, a contemporary Bay Area palette, and prices to match. In addition to burgers, hot dogs, and fries, they also serve salads, chicken, and fish dishes. My go-to is the Ahi Burger ($15), which is a slab of seared ahi with ginger wasabi mayo and Asian slaw on a toasted egg bun. It’s heavenly.

The special for Summer/Fall was an Heirloom Tomato and Mozzarella Sandwich (pictured above), which I had twice and was sooo happy about.

Onion Rings ($4), Fries ($2.89)

Onion Rings ($4), Fries ($2.89)

But my real favorites are the onion rings. I love them. More than just them, I love the sauce they have for you to dip them in. You ask for a side of ranch (it’s made in-house) when you pick up your order at the counter, but it’s got something else in it. Pesto? I don’t know. It’s delicious. I want to drink it out of the tiny plastic cup container. I’m content just generously dipping the massive, beer-battered onion rings. Mmmm.

Bacon Cheeseburger ($10)

Bacon Cheeseburger ($10)

I don’t know how good the burgers are, but my co-worker habitually orders the bacon cheese, and can rarely finish it. I’m always so full that I’m in pretty serious danger of being afflicted by a food coma when we return to work. But I can’t not order the rings. I must! And so, on our occasional jaunts to Gott’s, I have to prepare my stomach for a temporary overload. To which it submits, willingly, every time.





Bar Tartine

20 09 2013

I finally went to Bar Tartine last night. It was good, but honestly, not as good as I expected. I kinda hate it when that happens.

Bar Tartine is owned by the same chefs who own Tartine, the famous bakery. I actually still have never been to the bakery (pretend like the Mission district is a far-away foreign land to a North Beach resident), though I have enjoyed their chocolate croissants courtesy of my co-worker. The chocolate croissants are amazing, btw. Anyway, Bar Tartine is a dinner restaurant that also doubles as a sandwich shop in the afternoons. It’s modern and chic and widely hailed as awesome.

Tartine Bread $3

They describe their menu as “hard to classify”, though I will check the box for “American” food, since they offer a variety of different foods with no particular ethnic theme. The menu looked amazing. No, really, here it is:

???????????????????????????????

We were starving and torn on what to order. We started with the bread because it’s sort of mandatory, but without being free. This bread has won awards; people praise this bread from lands far and near — it’s even listed on the menu  as an item you can just buy to take home because they know you’re going to ask. That said, I was underwhelmed.

IMG_3554

Tartine bread — $3, Cultured kefir butter with dulse — $3

Not that it wasn’t good — it was. It was very tasty. I think it was (sadly) a case of my expectations just being too high. Like, my vision of this bread had it being delivered on the back of a unicorn and containing special healing powers. And, to be fair, it doesn’t help that I’m sort of like a child when it comes to bread. I love my wheat loaf at home, but if you asked me to describe the best bread ever, it would be full of butter and have pretty much no nutritional value at all. Actually, the best bread I’ve ever had was from a tiny Italian place in San Luis Obispo that used to be half price for students every Tuesday. I milked that deal long after graduating. Curse the day I lost my student ID. I digress.

So, bread good but not providing eternal life — check. The next appetizer we ordered was a sampling of their three pickled items. Pickles! I love pickles. I talk about pickles all the time. People are like, “Shut up about pickles, Angie.” And I’m like, “No! Pickles!” So, obv, I thought these would be the best pickles ever. They weren’t. They were this: garlic mushrooms, creamed beets with green horseradish, and brine dill pickles. The mushrooms were in a sauce that tasted like barbecue sauce. It was extremely strong (especially compared to the other two), and also, unfortunately, I don’t like barbecue sauce.

Pickles, Beets, Garlic Mushrooms

Pickles, beets, garlic mushrooms — $13

The beets were good — those were my favorite of the three. The dill pickles were, like, not super pickled? I don’t know how to pickle things, but these were very hard and not nearly salty enough. Have you had the pickles at Hog Island Oyster Company? That’s what I wanted. Those are so good. These were just ok. They did have pickled tomatoes in the mix though, which was interesting.

The chopped vegetable salad with pressed cheese was definitely my favorite dish of the night. The veggies were slightly cooked, the cherry tomatoes had no skin and were soft and delicious, and the cheese added just the right amount of salt and flavor. It was really good.

Chopped Vegetable Salad -- Winner

Chopped vegetable salad — $14

Next came the smoked potatoes with ramp mayonnaise. This sauce also tasted like barbecue sauce. I’m not sure what their deal is with this flavor, but it’s just not my favorite. And it’s extremely strong and a bit overwhelming. This sauce was saltier than sweet, however, and the dish was good despite being really intense.

Smoked potatoes with ramp mayonnaise - $9

Smoked potatoes with ramp mayonnaise — $9

Lastly, we shared a main: cheese dumpling with quinoa greens and chanterelle mushrooms. I did not know what to expect, but it was not this. The dumpling was the consistency of a souffle. It’s hard to describe. It was light and fluffy, but completely uniform in soft, smooth texture. I have no idea how they made it. Or what was in it. But it was extremely rich and flavorful. The accompanying sauce and mushrooms paled in comparison.

Cheese dumpling -- $24

Cheese dumpling — $24

And, as some restaurants choose to do nowadays, the dessert menu was completely devoid of anything remotely traditional and was not appealing to my East Bay sensibilities — I think dessert is certainly my last vestige of culinary primitiveness. I just want some damn chocolate cake, people. Anyway, no need for dessert; we were stuffed. And satisfied, despite my apparent issues with salt distribution over the course of the meal.

I liked BT, but was a bit disappointed. However, there were many other interesting things on the menu that I would not be opposed to trying another time. Also… they offer brunch, and we all know how I feel about brunch. (Hint, I like it almost as much as pickles.)

Bar Tartine on Urbanspoon





Maverick

25 08 2013

This year, Maverick was my choice for my 31st birthday dinner with my man-friend. Actually, Outerlands was going to be my birthday dinner choice, but we found out last minute that they were closed for the 4th of July (man-friend was going out of town on my actual b-day; this was my pre-bday dinner) and that our OpenTable reservation was a sham. A sham!

Anger from that incident aside, Maverick was a suitable replacement. It’s a teeny little contemporary American restaurant in the Mission District. And though it doesn’t fit in with the roving crack-heads, plentiful hipster bars, and relentless dollar taquerias that plague the Mission, it is still totally worth making the trek for. It’s even worth ending a sentence in a preposition for.

Gruyere Gougeres with French Onion Dip - $5

Gruyere Gougeres with French Onion Dip – $5

We started our evening with the gruyere gougeres with french onion dip and the mushroom “cigars” with (what I recall to be) plum sauce (or something like it).

The word “gougeres” appears to be a fancy way to say “biscuit”. Essentially, it’s a fancy, French, cheesy, airy biscuit. You can’t really go wrong. However, it wasn’t said biscuits that were extraordinary; it was the homemade french onion dip that accompanied them. OH MAN that stuff was good. I dipped everything in it from then on, guarded it fiercely when servers tried to take it away, and debated smuggling it and its tear-shaped bowl into my purse for future enjoyment. But then I remembered that I don’t carry a purse. And it’s always so awkward when I leave a restaurant carrying their dishware in my bare hands. So, I just made sure to lick the bowl clean before I left.

Mushroom Cigars

Mushroom Cigars

The mushroom cigars were a minced mushroom mix wrapped in a flaky dough and deep fried — kind of like a slender egg roll or lumpia. They were good, but honestly not quite as good as I expected, being an immense mushroom lover. Though we did get the last order of them that day, which made me feel triumphant.

We also enjoyed the seasonal heirloom tomato salad which was absolutely delicious. Though the assembly of this dish is beautiful, it still amazed me how flavorful it was even though it appeared to be relatively simple. They seemed to toss it in some oil and seasonings that made each bite significantly more delicious than the tomato salads I routinely produce in my kitchen. I guess that’s why the person who works there is called a “chef” and I am not. #revelation

Heirloom Tomato Salad - $13

Heirloom Tomato Salad – $13

Then came the scallop, blue prawn, and calamari, which comes with squid ink crostini, sea beans, abalone mushrooms, tomato water, and liquid olive. This dish was pretty good, despite “tomato water” and “liquid olive” being rather odd ingredients, imho. My only complaint about this dish was the blue prawn. It was fried whole, and I wasn’t sure how to eat it. My companion assured me you can eat the whole thing — the shell, head, and legs and everything. Yeah, I don’t want to do that. It was gross. The legs were, well, legs; the shell was tough, as you might expect a shell to be; and the head was filled with disgusting goo, again, as you might expect. Sadly, it’s what I remember most about the dish, though the rest was tasty.

Scallop, Blue Prawn, and Calamari - $17

Scallop, Blue Prawn, and Calamari – $17

For a main, we split the California Black Cod with crispy bacalao, green peppercorn crusted summer squash, red orach, squash “bisque”, and cilantro coulis which was very well made and delicious. I love black cod. The weird hot dog-looking thing is apparently the bacalao, which is dried, salted cod. Or so Wikipedia tells me. At the time I just poked at it, took a bite, and dutifully split it with my dinner-mate. Done and done.

California Black Cod - $26

California Black Cod – $26

I guess I had some odd complaints, but generally I really liked the place. I thought the ingredients were interesting and well thought out, and that the dishes were beautifully presented. Most everything was extremely tasty, and the ambiance was classy and casual at the same time. First birthday dinner of 2013: check.

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