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Insights, tips, and restaurant reports from CHOW editors and Chowhound.

Not Your Grandmother’s Sherry

Not Your Grandmother’s Sherry

Manzanilla fino is the entry point into a new world. READ MORE

SPQR and Quince Are Reborn

SPQR just reopened with a new chef (Matthew Accarrino), a new menu, and newly spiffed-up digs, but the most exciting change may be the reservation policy. That is, you can make a reservation now—and that’s very important with a super-popular spot like this one.

bobpantzer checked it out just a few days after the reopening and calls the experience “wonderful.” Squash and prune tortellini with almond butter might sound odd to some, but it’s absolutely delicious, he says. Good to share because the sweetish flavors could overwhelm. There’s also a lovely gem lettuce salad with beets, walnuts, and gorgonzola. For mains, roasted swordfish with peperonata and oxtail with grilled short ribs and polenta are a hit; dessert is on the money, with chestnut cake with pears and puff pastry stuffed with apples and cherries.

Quince also just reopened in a new location, but is experiencing a few growing pains, reports Foodnut8. The pastas, once a strong suit, are now oily and salty. On the other hand, the weakest link in the menu used to be the entrées, which are now excellent —the duck and halibut, anyway. Falling into the “solid” category are sea scallops, veal, tuna, and the squab appetizer.

The new space is modern and elegant, definitely a special occasion restaurant with a funky edge (exposed-brick walls combine with chandeliers hanging from the high ceiling). But it hasn’t quite gelled yet and, with portions on the light side and prices on the high side, it’s probably best to give it time.

SPQR [Pacific Heights]
1911 Fillmore Street, San Francisco

Quince [Financial District]
470 Pacific Avenue, San Francisco

Board Links: SPQR--Open with new menu, any comments yet?
Quince reopens in San Francisco on Pacific Avenue

The Cobb Salad That Could

Little Skillet’s Cobb salad is, in a word, “awesome,” says jupiter. OK, it’s more like a BLT salad topped with fried chicken, but what’s wrong with that? Who can say no to crisp romaine and cherry tomatoes, just enough ranch dressing, warm chopped bacon, perfect sliced avocado, and a juicy fried chicken breast, off the bone, cut into wedges?

“I almost don’t want to go back so that the memory of that perfect salad stays for ever cherished in my mind,” jupiter says. “But that is foolish. I will be back.”

Little Skillet [SOMA]
330 Ritch Street, San Francisco

Board Link: Little Skillet - The Cobb Salad

Modern Thai’s Crave-Worthy Chow

“I woke up this morning with a major craving for this dish,” says Cynsa of Modern Thai’s chopped preserved Chinese olives on rice with ground chicken.

Other picks: The deep-fried papaya salad is a tasty, crisp confetti of papaya, cabbage, carrots, purple beans, and peanuts with tomatoes on romaine. A silky curry of roast duck with lychee, cherry tomatoes, and fried basil leaves is rich in flavor. And the fried pumpkin appetizer and som tum (green papaya salad, unfried) are flat-out delicious, says rccola.

There’s no comparing Modern Thai with the straight-outta-Thailand deliciousness of Lers Ros Thai, Cynsa says, but it’s worth it on its own terms—for that crispy salad and the rice with olives, for example. With its neon colonial decor, it’s “a ‘safe’ destination when you have non-foodies in tow—to start with the ubiquitous coconut shrimp appetizer that I observed on several tables nearby,” she observes. Still, only the brave should request their food to be “Thai spicy.”

Modern Thai [Downtown]
1247 Polk Street, San Francisco

Lers Ros Thai [Tenderloin]
730 Larkin Street, San Francisco

Board Link: Modern Thai

The New College Cafeteria: Lobsters and Chocolate Fountains

College meal plans sure have changed from when I graduated in 19-mumble-mumble. The Hungry Beast maps out the top college cafeterias and food plans with a gallery sure to make ex-students turn green.

For instance, there’s Virginia Tech, where live lobsters swim in a tank, awaiting student orders, and the chefs poll students’ parents for favorite at-home recipes that are added to the menu. Or Boston College’s storied “Wonka-Ville,” with a chocolate bar that has a chocolate fountain, pastries, and fudge.

Man, that’s going to really aid in packing on the freshman 15.

Image source: Flickr member MyLifeStory under Creative Commons

How to Deal with Rusty Cast Iron

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How to Clean a Cast Iron Pan

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Make the Most of Fresh Shiitakes

Fresh shiitake mushrooms take well to many preparations, but hounds favor simple recipes to show them off.

potluck tosses shiitakes with sesame oil, ginger, soy sauce, and a bit of water, and roasts them on a baking sheet at 450°F for 15 to 20 minutes. cheesecake17 roasts them with olive oil and salt, and uses them as a pizza topping. “Fabulous on whole-wheat crust with goat cheese,” she says. Chefpaulo simply crisps them in a hot wok with walnut oil and sea salt, then eats them as a treat.

BigSal braises shiitakes with onions: Bring 1 1/2 cups water, 1 tablespoon each soy sauce and toasted sesame oil, and 2 teaspoons maple syrup to a boil; add 10 to 15 halved shiitake caps, half an onion, chopped, and 5 crushed garlic cloves, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook until liquid has reduced to a rich sauce.

4Snisl loves this pan-seared tuna with ginger-shiitake cream sauce, and has used the same sauce on chicken, as well.

Fresh shiitakes star in CHOW’s Goat Cheese Toasts with Asparagus-Mushroom Ragu. And check out this CHOW video on choosing shiitakes.

Board Link: Shiitake mushrooms $2/lb… what’s a girl to do?

Homemade Jalapeño Powder

Faced with an abundance of fresh jalapeños, JonParker created a homemade chile powder. He washed and dried the peppers, chopped them finely, and dehydrated them in a toaster oven. Once dry, he ground the pieces to powder in a spice grinder. “Now I have a jar of jalepeño powder that I can use for various dishes,” he says. “Today I’m doing red beans and rice, and I put a teaspoon into my onions/peppers/garlic when sautéeing them.”

JonParker notes that hotter chiles, such as habaneros, can give off fairly volatile fumes while dehydrating, so err on the side of caution.

Board Link: Jalapeño powder