Tagged: American Restaurants

Sep 19

Celebrating our 10 Years Dating Anniversary at Octavia

This is a late post, as date nights are rare, and having a moment to blog is exceptionally difficult now. So as expected, this blog will be short and sweet. Three months ago, we celebrated our 10 years Dating Anniversary. And yes, there is such a thing as I will find any excuse to eat a meal as civilized adults. For this special occasion, we decided to try Octavia, as we are also fans of Frances by Chef Melissa Perello. We very much enjoy sharing and tasting a bit of everything so Octavia’s small plates were perfect! We thought every dish was creative and unique, as the spices and ingredients brought out the flavors of the main star for each! The restaurant was rustic with high ceilings and featured an old San Franciscan charm. Note: They offer an ever changing seasonal menu, so the following may already not be available.

DEVILED EGG with fresno chile relish, dolcini egg, marash pepper & spice CHILLED SQUID INK NOODLES, cortez bottarga, fennel & lemon agrumato

 

 

 

 

 

 

BEEF TARTARE with provolone mandarone, taggiasche olives, watercress and the perfect garlic toastSMOKY POTATO CHOWDER with grilled salmon belly, fingerling potatoes, celery and dill

 

 

 

 

 

 

PAPPARDELLE with brentwood corn, chanterelle mushroom and brown butterSONOMA DUCK BREAST with roasted fig panzanella, toasted almond and chile romesco

 

 

 

 

 

 

WARM CHOCOLATE SOUFFLE TART with cocoa nib brittle, salted caramel ice creamMy handsome husband

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Jan 29

Frances…You Complete Me…

It’s been a while since we had our dinner date, our first since our baby boy was born, at the charming and busy Frances. Who would have thought being a mom would also mean blogging about such a special restaurant 2 months later. Oh Frances, where do I even begin…everytime I mention your name, the first thing people ask is ‘How did you get the reservation’? My reply, I was dealing with a crying baby in the wee hours of the morning and was able to make my reservations exactly 60 days out. And yes, I had a reminder in my calendar and reserved it online at 3:00am. And even though we had reservations for 7:30pm, we made it to the restaurant when they opened and were able to get seats at the bar facing all the action-the crazy yet organized kitchen.  We LOVED our seats since the main dining area was small and crowded. I would also like to add that we were greeted by happy and friendly Paul, who we soon realized was the wine guy of the place.

Speaking of the wine, you MUST get their house wine. I don’t usually drink, but after I tasted their house wine I wish they sold it in stores so that I could enjoy a glass at home. Their house wine is blended by Paul, the super smiley wine guy, and Marco Cappelli from Miraflores Winery.  And it is blended based on the seasonal menu ingredients selected by Chef Melissa Perello. This isn’t the only unique thing about the wine…they also charge 1 dollar per ounce. They serve the wine in a tall pitcher with measurements and anything you don’t pour into your glass, they actually take it back and won’t charge you for it!

The other special thing about this restaurant is that they feature a daily-changing menu focusing on seasonal local ingredients. So everything I’m mentioning here from 2 months ago may or may not  be on the menu. We started with the ‘OMGoodness’ Applewood Smoked Bacon Beignets served with Maple Chive Creme Fraiche. What the bacon is in this thing? We couldn’t even see the bacon but the flavors were infused in it!

We then shared the Dungeness Crab Risotto with Celery Root Confit and Meyer Lemon Cream. We probably should have ordered two, one for each of us, why did we even bother sharing when we were practically licking the cream off the spoon (okay, maybe only I was). This dish featured chunks of fresh Dungeness crab and serving it with the hint of zest from the Meyer lemon cream was genius! We also ordered the Persimmon Salad with Little Gems, Castelfranco Radicchio, Toasted Walnut and Blu di Lanzo, who knew persimmons tasted so good with blue cheese?!

For the entrees, we ordered the Five-Dot Ranch Bavette Steak served with Chanterelle Mushrooms, Caramelized Sunchoke and Persillade and the Sonoma Duck Breast served with Baby Kale, Delicata Squash, Lady Apple and Cipollini Onion. There is just something about all natural meat and poultry, they just taste better, more fresh and tender. And having it seasoned and cooked to perfection doesn’t hurt too.  The chef selected the best accompaniments to serve with each dish!

Last but not least, the one dish that’s usually hard to make it to, the dessert. We were seated in front of the pastry person, we were eyeing everything she created the entire night. The one dessert that everyone kept ordering was the Chocolate Torte & Pecan Pie with Rum Caramel and Brown Butter Pecan Ice Cream. So seeing that it looked like the winner dessert for the night, we had to get one too! And yes…we were full, but we were not too full for this. There was chocolate sauce oozing out of the Chocolate Torte and it paired so well with the ice cream!

Wow Frances, you complete me, what an experience! If you want to taste ingredients for what the are, you must eat here!

This blog is dedicated to my grandpa, he passed away the day after this dinner, that’s probably the other reason why it took me so long to blog about this restaurant. Thank you grandpa, if it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t have this good life I have now.  As I go on with my daily life, sometimes I forget about what my grandpa has gone through, his stories always made my life look so easy. I will always remember how much you sacrificed to give this life to us, we are truly blessed and fortunate in so many ways. 

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Jun 27

Rustic Flair at Wayfare Tavern

To celebrate our 6th year dating anniversary, we decided to go to Wayfare Tavern, a Tyler Florence restaurant located in the heart of the Financial District.  I’ve heard mixed reviews on this restaurant, but thought we’d give it a try anyways.  We walked into the dark rich rustic ambiance and immediately fell in love.  We sat nearby the small kitchen and watched the action, it was very impressive to see the busy kitchen staff working on each little detail on each plate, they treated each plate as a work of art.  We had a very nice server who explained every dish as well.

We started the night by enjoying fresh hot Popovers with whipped butter!  For appetizers, we shared the Roasted Marrow Bones topped with bread crumbs served with grilled sourdough topped with parsley, onions and capers.  The marrow bones were fatty and the perfect spread for the grilled sourdough! We also shared a Poutine, instead of just Canadian style Fries and Gravy, it was served with short rib, carrots and melted mozzarella.

For my entree, I got the Organic Fried Chicken served with buttermilk brine, roasted garlic, crisp woody herbs and lemon! The chicken was extremely moist and adding the lemon brought out all the flavors! The hubby got himself the 28-Day Dry Aged Ribeye served with duck fat fried potatoes and Zinfandel butter. He really enjoyed it, the ribeye was very flavorful! For our side, we decided to share the cheesy and creamy Baked Macaroni & Cheese served with Vella dry jack and smoked olive oil.

One thing we didn’t expect were the huge portions, we actually had leftovers. We were too full to enjoy any of the desserts but it was nice to get complimentary warm soft cookies.

As we asked for our bill, we were told by the server that our friends Phil and Frances already took care of our bill, congratulating us for our new addition to our family! It was such a surprise, now they can see the damage that we did! THANK YOU SO MUCH, it was completely unexpected!

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May 26

Batter Up!

I’ve been driving by Batter Up for a while now and have been wanting to try their corn dogs! There is no seating here, it’s just a pick up to go joint.  It’s on Geneva and Mission so it’s not at the best or most convenient location, but if you are ever in the area, stop by for a quick snack! I don’t know about you, but I love corn dogs and there are not a lot of places that actually serve this delicious fried junk food. Batter Up also fries up cheese, Oreos and Twinkies! But I was only here for one thing, their corn dog. They had a huge selection of links and I couldn’t decide! So luckily for me, they sell corn dogs as one link, or you can get the Double Play which is 2 links in one or you can get the Triple Play which is 3 links in one! I went with the Double Play and got half Smoked Bratwurst and half Portuguese!  The batter was fried to perfection, the cornmeal was so tasty and crunchy, and what a difference when it’s served with specialty links! YUM! YUM! YUM!

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Feb 20

More than Just the Roasted Chicken at Zuni Cafe

Zuni Cafe has been around for years and I think I’ve driven by it many times along Market Street. We’ve never been but friends of ours wanted to take us since it’s one of their favorite restaurants in San Francisco. The restaurant is quite big and busy, with seating downstairs facing the hustle and bustle of Market Street and a quiet and warm upstairs.  We had reservations, and from the look of things, reservations are recommended.

Once you get seated, order the very popular Roasted Chicken from the brick oven, it’s what everyone orders and it takes approximately 1 hour. When I say everyone orders it, I’m not kidding, all the tables sitting around us had the Roasted Chicken featured with a Warm Bread Salad with Scallions, Mustard Greens, Dried Currants and Pine Nuts.  Luckily for us, we had 4 of us and we are big eaters so we were able to order more than just the big plate of chicken.  Family style is definitely the way to go at Zuni Cafe!  From my understanding, all the dishes are seasonal except for the Roasted Chicken so there’s no guarantee that all of the following dishes are available during your visit.

For starters, we had two salads, the sweet and refreshing Blood and Cara Cara Oranges with Avocado, Toasted Almonds and Shallots and the bittersweet Arugula and Endive Salad with  Steelhead Salmon Roe and Champagne Vinaigrette (I forgot to get a photo of the Steelhead Salmon Roe on the side). Because I am pregnant, I didn’t get to try the Steelhead Salmon Roe but everyone seemed to have really enjoyed it, they were saying that it tasted much better than what they’ve had in the past! For appetizers, we shared the crunchy and very flavorful Piccolo Fritto which was Deep Fried Sweet Potatoes, Onions and Fennel with hot Pepper and Lime, the Pan-Seared San Pedro Bay Squid with White Beans, Arugula, Onions and Garlic Aioli which was one of my favorites, the sauce was like a vinaigrette and I found myself dipping my bread into it! Last but not least, we also had the Prince Edward Island Mussels Stewed with White Wine, Black Limes, Chickpeas, Oregano and Paprika. Unfortunately I couldn’t eat the mussels but I did eat the accompaniments and they were delicious!

Besides the very moist Roasted Chicken with Crispy Skin which was totally worth the wait, we also shared the sweet and tasty White Sea Bass Braised in the Brick Oven with Saffron, Orange Zest, Coriander Seeds, Turnips, Sliced Baby Potatoes and Harissa Sauce. For our third entree, we had the Evans Ranch Beef Filet rolled with White Pepper and Roasted Rare with Potato-Celery Root Puree, Glazed Brussel Sprouts and Rosemary Sauce. Sadly, I couldn’t really eat the Beef Filet but I did sneak a very small cooked bite and it was so damn tender and good! Everyone ate this smiling and happy and repeated ‘this beef is sooo good’.  I can say that the sides for the beef were very good!  As an additional side for our entrees, we also had a bowl of Polenta with Parmigiano-Reggiano! It was yummy, I found myself scooping the last bites in the bowl.

To end our meal, we decided to share three desserts! The you can never go wrong with it Crème Brûlée, the fluffy and not too sweet Flourless Chocolate Cake with Whipped Cream which was much better than I anticipated, and the too sour Lemon Sorbet served with Rosemary Shortbread.

Great restaurant with wonderful ambiance and service, would definitely recommend it!

This blog is dedicated to my dear friend who treated us to this deelious dinner, you are too generous, thank you sooo much!

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Jan 23

The Perfect Rainy Comfort Food at Liberty Cafe

Bernal Heights is not a neighborhood that I visit, but I’ve been wanting to try the Chicken Pot Pie at Liberty Cafe for quite some time! I’m a little late, it’s been around since 1994! So, on a rainy Friday night my hubby and I found ourselves in the very small, quaint yet charming Liberty Cafe.  And yes, rain calls for more of a reason for the Chicken Pot Pie!  We had reservations, and on this Friday night, it was quite busy by 7pm, I’m not sure if most people were walk-in’s or made reservations, but from the look of things, reservations are recommended here. We were welcomed with friendly staff, our server, Julie, had quite a sense of humor, it’s not everyday that you get a down to earth yet fun server.

We were served fresh baked breads served with creamy whipped butter, I am pretty sure they were from their bakery next door. We started with the Roasted Baby Beet Salad featuring fresh Watercress, Satsuma Mandarins, fresh Hearts of Palm and Avocado served with Mandarin Vinaigrette. It sounded so refreshing as we read it, and it was just as refreshing when we ate it! I got the Chicken Pot Pie served with Roasted Chicken, Potatoes, Carrots, Peas, Pearl Onions topped with the Housemade Puff Pastry! This was such great comfort food, the Puff Pastry was light,  flaky and buttery, and not doughy at all! Mix the fabulous sauce with everything and you will finish every bite! The hubby got the Liberty Cafe Cassoulet served with Duck Confit, Braised Pork, Zoe’s Andouille sausage and butter beans. He really enjoyed his dish! I got a few bites of the Cassoulet, it was filled with tender meat and rich warm flavors.  To end our meal, we had to get the very creamy and layered  Banana Cream Pie which was Cathie Guntli’s (original founder and owner of Liberty Cafe) famous original recipe!

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Nov 27

New American at Bluestem Brasserie

It was a friend’s birthday and she had a big group of us for dinner at Bluestem Brasserie, a very hip space conveniently located on Yerba Buena Lane in downtown San Francisco. I had yelped the place before dinner and noticed that they had 4 out of 5 stars, which is pretty good, so I was expecting some tasty dishes. I was actually surprised that for a group of 20 guests, they allowed us to order from their a la carte menu, that was really nice, but with that option food service was a tad bit slow. They had one server for all of us, which was fine, but she was not that attentive.

My hubby and I ordered some dishes to share. We started with the Roasted Marrow Bones with red wine shallot sauce and garlic croutons and the Steak Tartare with quail egg, mache and pistachio oil. The Roasted Marrow Bones was creamy and fatty and the flavors were bold, while the Steak Tartare was fresh and light!

For our entrees, we ordered the Duck Confit served with chicories, bacon and croutons topped with a poached duck egg and the Fallon Hills Ranch Lamb Trio with roasted fairytale pumpkin and rosemary jus. The Duck Confit’s meat was cured, the outside was completely crispy and the warm accompaniments were a tasty blend of ingredients. For the Fallon Hills Ranch Lamb Trio, the only piece that tasted good was the tender rack of lamb, the other two were only okay and one was actually completely dry. The servers never let me know what I was even devouring. The sauce was sweet, and I am sure they were trying to serve it with a nice pumpkin sauce but it wasn’t really that great. My hubby could tell that I wasn’t enjoying it much as I was eating slow so he traded his Duck Confit with me. For our sides, the Macaroni and Cheese was a disappointment, I’m not sure what happened to the cheese, there really wasn’t enough, but the Brussel Sprouts with fatty lardon were not bad.

To end our meal, we shared the Sundae Bloody Sundae with Vanilla Ice Cream, Creme Chantilly, Blood Orange and Pomegranate served with Chocolate Chip Cookies. I have to say, their desserts are really delicious, this sundae was refreshing. I also tasted others desserts and they were quite creative.

Overall, I thought that Bluestem Brasserie’s starters and desserts were quite delicious. However, I was disappointed with our entrees and sides.  Not sure if I will be returning.

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Oct 31

More than a Few Reasons to Eat at NOPA

It was our 2nd year anniversary and we wanted to go somewhere casual and delicious, of course. Walk into NOPA and you will feel the lofty ambiance, see the hip crowd and notice the focal point, the busy kitchen. Reservations are highly recommended and arrive early to find parking. We were lucky and sat on the mezzanine, probably a little more intimate than downstairs, and enjoyed a bird’s eye view of the hustle and bustle kitchen and noisy main dining room.

NOPA offers local, organic and sustainable products.  Everyone I know who has been to NOPA raves about it,  and when you ask about the must haves, they all say the same thing: “flatbread”, “pork chop” and  “fish”! Our server was also really friendly and helpful, he recommended a few of his favorites too.

We shared everything and started with the appetizers, the Flatbread of Potatoes, Romesco, Brussel Leaves & Crescenza and the Wilted Chicories, Bacon, Poached Egg and Jimmy Nardello Peppers. WOW for both of these starters! I can see why everyone orders the flatbread, thin and perfectly crispy on the bottom,  the potatoes were sliced like potato chips, a little nutty and a little cheesy! The warm wilted chicories dish was such a great combination, the bacon, the sweet peppers and onion with poached egg mixed together was like heaven!

For the entrees we ordered the Country Pork Chop, Butternut Squash Puree, Gold Chard & Olive Tapenade and Wood Roasted Halibut, Creamy Leeks, Yellow Finn Potatoes & Radicchio. Oh my…the pork chop was a big plump, juicy and tender pork chop- brined and grilled to perfection! The halibut was flaky, the creamy leeks sauce with the bitter radicchio blended very well together and was the perfect cream sauce for the fish, and the potatoes were super sweet!  We also ordered the Grilled Broccoli, Lemon, Anchovy & Breadcrumbs, I never knew broccoli could taste so good! We loved the sour flavors, I think it helped us with digesting all the good food!

Since the starter and entrees were so amazing, we decided to stay for coffee and dessert! We got ourselves the Johnny Cake with Brown Butter Ice Cream and Bacon Brittle and Blue Bottle Three Africans Blend served in a French press.  The cake tasted like corn bread shortbread and who can say anything bad about ice cream and bacon brittle?!  This sweet comforting delight was a great way to end the meal!

NOPA puts a whole new meaning for fresh seasonal ingredients blended into remarkable creative flavorful dishes!

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Sep 28

American Comfort Food at a Hidden Gem, Broken Record

Since we are leaving for our first trip to Europe tomorrow, it only seems appropriate to leave with a blog about a hidden gem located in the back of a dive bar in Crocker-Amazon, Broken Record, serving hearty comfort American food. Please know ahead that this place is Cash Only and the Kitchen hour begins at 6:15pm daily.  Broken Record can get very busy, so just be aware of that, the tables were packed before the kitchen opened!

I’ve been meaning to eat here for a long time and was so happy that I finally got to taste the hearty goodness of this place. I ate with a smile the entire time due to anticipation, the creativity of every dish was surprising and unexpected.

Pork Fries featuring pulled pork, waffle fries and cheese sauce. WOW, the most tender and tasty pork ever! I really don’t know what type of cheese they used but the flavors were uniting into perfection! You MUST get this if you go!

Mac & Goat Cheese served with roasted cauliflower, peas and Parmesan crust. Oh this dish just melted in my mouth. I know that not everyone likes goat cheese but this was damn good. Lately I’ve been thinking about the best way to cook cauliflowers, I think they found the best solution!

Sweet Potatertots…these words speak for itself. This was a huge basket of crispy fried sweet potato tots, sweet and salty and simply addicting.

Grilled Corn with chorizo and Cotija cheese. Okay, it was not anything like Cafe Habana in NYC, but the spicy chorizo definitely added a twist!

Beef and Bacon Burger featuring house-ground beef & bacon patty, Tillamook cheddar, ketchup and house mayo, lettuce & onion on the side. Everyone seems to rave about the burgers, the cheese was melted all around the meat, but unfortunately I did not love my burger. Maybe I just came on a wrong night for it?

S’more Sundae featuring homemade TCHO chocolate ice cream, graham cookie crust & bruleed marshmallow. I am not a huge chocolate lover but I do love the idea of s’mores, the gooey bruleed marshmallow mixed with the ice cream was so fun to eat! And, I also loved the fact that they featured a local San Franciscan chocolate manufacturer, TCHO, which is the only chocolate factory in San Francisco!

Peaches n Cream featuring summer peach tart, blackberries, pecans and homemade vanilla bean ice cream. For a lighter taste of Summer…this dessert was made for you!

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Apr 03

Hearty Breakfast at Stacks

I know just about everyone who’s waited in the long lines at Stacks. I don’t usually wake up early enough to have breakfast on the weekends, I’m lazy on my weekends. However, my brother was visiting from Hong Kong and all he wanted was some good ol’ American breakfast.  So I ordered my favorite Eggs Benedict with two poached eggs, smoke ham on an English muffin, topped with hollandaise sauce, served with potatoes!  YUMMY! But I am sure everyone knows why I am really here, for the Banana Macadamia Nut & Coconut Pancakes of course!  Every time I come here, it doesn’t matter how much food we order, we must share this special pancake for dessert, I don’t care how full anyone is, they must take a bite of this to die for sweetness!

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