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Narrowing down SF resto picks

My point was that I visit at an off-peak hour, and even with only 5 people inside the store, the line moves slowly. I can't imagine getting out in only five minutes with 10+ people lined up outside the store, as I typically see on weekend mornings.

Aug 26, 2015
tripit in San Francisco Bay Area

Narrowing down SF resto picks

Have to say that I visit the outpost of Tartine located in Prabhakar's universe. I'll often stop by for a loaf of bread on my way home from work at 5 PM. The line might be 5 people, everyone ordering pastries instead of cooked sandwiches, etc--and it still takes me about 10 minutes.

Aug 25, 2015
tripit in San Francisco Bay Area

Bar Tartine, Nick Balla era [San Francisco]

Yep, brewed by Linden Street. I'm hoping the impending scale-up of Tartine and its separation from Bar Tartine doesn't affect whether this beer is produced or whether it's available at Bar Tartine. It paired very well with the food, and I didn't find it as sour as others have suggested.

I'm also a bit confused about the classification. Linden Street seems to call it a biere de garde, but the last time I had it at Bar Tartine (January), it was listed as "sour baltic porter, biere de tartine"--so that's what I went with.

Aug 03, 2015
tripit in San Francisco Bay Area

Bar Tartine, Nick Balla era [San Francisco]

Sorry, mistyped--it was brewed with Tartine yeast, not with Tartine grains

https://untappd.com/b/linden-street-b...

Aug 03, 2015
tripit in San Francisco Bay Area

Bar Tartine, Nick Balla era [San Francisco]

Stopped in for the $35 brunch tasting today and had another great experience--still one of my favorite places in the city. Note that there is still an a la carte menu, although the online posted menu suggests otherwise.

Classics were all still great--the smoked potatoes, the lentil croquettes, the farmer's cheesecake with whey caramel. A new highlight was a tomato salad with sunflower sprouts, the sweetness of the sprouts really playing well against the tart tomato and fennel. Also loved the chicken sausage with mushrooms and braised greens, full of intensely savory flavors bound by a poached egg.

Tuna with tonnato sauce was a little too tuna-intense for me but somehow my husband, who hates tuna, loved it. Also came upon the first dish that I really found too sour at Bar Tartine, beet kvass with fennel. I usually think of kvass as a nice balance of sweet and sour, even veering towards sweet, but this was seriously close to the sourness level of drinking vinegar.

Won't keep me from coming back, though. I hope that their impending separation from Tartine proper doesn't mean that they're permanently retiring their sour porter made with Tartine grains.

Tlayuda, Chapulines at La Oaxaquena, Mission, SF

Used to come to Oaxaqueña quite a bit. Was sad when it closed for health reasons, but we started going back after they reopened. Eventually, we had a couple bad experiences in a row and hadn't been for a year or two. We were looking for a cheap date last night and decided to check it out again.

I think the tamale with mole remains the item to get here: it's massive for the price, and the meat has always come out nicely braised. I also tried the chicken mole platter for the first time, and while it was nice to get more sauce, I think the meat works better with masa than it does with tortillas, beans, and rice. The guacamole was great, as usual, and seemed to be more freshly made than previous visits (have had it come out refrigerator-temperature before). Didn't notice whether they still had grasshoppers or ostrich.

They've moved the taco-and-bacon-dog griddle to the front window of the dining room which can be kind of unpleasant if things start to burn. Still--guacamole, chicken mole, a huge tamale, and a pupusa came out to $24 after tip, and they didn't mind that we brought in a couple beers to drink.

trip report from SF

For upscale, Frances and Bar Tartine. For more casual, Green Chile Kitchen, Mozzeria, and Upcider.

Jul 05, 2015
tripit in Manhattan

trip report from SF

Mom still lives in central PA, so only she was surprised by the cost of bacon!

Jul 04, 2015
tripit in Manhattan

Is it okay to ask guests at a suprise party to pay to attend?

I'm in the camp that usually expects to chip in a bit at a birthday or go dutch at a restaurant with my friends. I don't think I've ever been invited to a friend's home and asked to contribute money to the meal up front (and would never do so for my own dinner parties), but if it were specified in the original invitation and I understood what it was going toward, I probably wouldn't mind--saves me the trouble of having to pick up some wine on the way.

But being invited to a party, accepting, then being told of a $30 cover charge after the fact, subsidizing the meals of families I might not even know? I'd probably find a way to decline that one.

Jul 04, 2015
tripit in Not About Food

trip report from SF

Didn't actually post here in advance of my trip, but used a bunch of threads here for reference, along with some posts on Serious Eats. Was with my picky-ish Mom from PA for half the trip, and we had a busy schedule, but we managed to find quite a few places to satisfy both of us.

--

Saturday morning -- Wanted to check out the High Line and didn't know if the weather would cooperate for the rest of the visit, so I stopped into the Brooklyn Bagel outpost nearby. Fresh bagels are hard to come by in SF, and the satisfying crunch on the exterior here was definitely a revelation. Very nice coffee, as well.

Saturday afternoon -- Picked Mom up at Penn Station and headed over to The Breslin for lunch. Mom was a little skeptical at paying $6 for bacon, but ended up very satisfied upon receiving a plate of at least 8 extra-crisp slices. I wanted to try the lamb burger but was still full from the bagel, so I got the baked eggs with tomato and chorizo--nicely done, and not too heavy.

Saturday evening -- We had tickets for the David Byrne concert at Barclays, so we decided to just grab dinner at Shake Shack across the street. I loved my shake (cherry-almond), and thought the burger was pretty good as well. I ordered a Shack Stack and didn't really understand what they were going for with the cheese-filled mushroom, so I picked it off. Probably wouldn't come back here for dinner, but it seems like it'd be a great place to go for frozen custard.

Sunday afternoon -- Headed over to the Pride parade and stopped in at Prince Street Pizza for lunch. I'm not one to be afraid of a little fat, but admit that I had to dab off some of the oil pooled in each pepperoni on the Spicy Spring pizza. However, after that, the pizza was totally excellent. Mom and I each had two slices and split another on our way out. In SF, we have a lot of neapolitan-imitating pizza, but as far as I know don't have any square slices like this--the few options available are more like focaccia than a proper pizza with a charred/fried crust.

Sunday evening -- Had dinner with some family friends in Stuyvesant Town.

Monday afternoon -- Dropped Mom off at the train station, then put on a tie and headed over to The Nomad for lunch after seeing a couple recommendations here for solo dinng. I never really dine alone and almost sat at the bar to eat, but was glad that I decided to sit in the atrium instead--the staff made me feel totally comfortable. Their offer of a complimentary wine pairing, starting off with half-pours and eventually progressing to full pours, probably helped with the comfort aspect. Carrot tartare, gnocchi, lobster, and the milk/honey dessert were all well-executed. I also ordered a couple cocktails--an Army/Navy and a North Sea Oil, both ice-cold and delicious. Really could have sat there ordering food and cocktails all day; would recommend this place highly for solo diners.

Monday evening -- Sobered up in Washington Square Park for a bit and then met up with a friend at the Union Square Greenmarket to do some shopping and cook dinner. California produce is great, but I was really impressed by the selection of herbs, squash, and tomatoes available here.

Tuesday morning -- Stopped at Bien Cuit on my way out of Brooklyn and felt that my croissant was a little too well-done for my taste (maybe to be expected from the name?).

Tuesday afternoon -- I've had a lot of mediocre ramen over the past year as it's become trendy in SF, and I was pretty much ready to give up on it, but I heard that New York has a better ramen scene. I was visiting the Tenement Museum, so I decided to stop in Ivan Ramen for lunch. Wow! The spicy ramen with rye noodles was brilliant. Now I'm definitely not ordering ramen in SF proper anymore. I added a roasted tomato, which complemented the broth, pork, and egg just perfectly, adding a rounded savory bite. (tip for next time though--not the best meal before a flight)

--

All in all, a pretty great trip food-wise, with a ton of hits and very few misses. Hope to come back soon for a more leisurely trip to explore even more of what the city has to offer.

Jul 04, 2015
tripit in Manhattan
1

Progress or State Bird? [San Francisco]

Granted, I only visited Progress once within a few weeks of its opening, but I have liked the food at State Bird much better than the food at Progress. Also, while State Bird has always felt like a great value to me, and Progress felt a little expensive. With four people and the opportunity to try a huge variety of dishes, I would definitely go for State Bird if you can get in.

Jun 20, 2015
tripit in San Francisco Bay Area

Bourban and Branch expenses to rent a private roon? [San Francisco]

No idea on Bourbon and Branch, but a friend just hosted a low-key event at Noir Lounge in Hayes Valley, which turned out to be a very reasonable venue. The room seated 20-30 people and the cost of the reservation was that a $1200 minimum expenditure was met. At 30 people, this could easily work out to 2-3 cocktails plus some food per person. Food was decent, and they thoughtfully boxed up extras for us to take home. The vibe was also nice, with a live piano player.

Blackbird on Market Street also lets you reserve their back area and I have been to casual birthdays of 20-30 there, although you still have to order with everyone else at their (crowded) bar. I don't believe this costs much to reserve.

I believe Churchill nearby also has a private upstairs space called The Office that costs ~$1000 to reserve, again, with all drinks you order counting toward the reservation costs. Some friends did their wedding in this space.

Jun 13, 2015
tripit in San Francisco Bay Area

ISO Bay Area restaurants with delicious grilled octopus preparations.

Had a nice grilled octopus salad at Frascati last week. Really nicely balanced with arugula, marble potatoes, and oranges--probably the best thing we ordered outside of the steak tartare.

May 15, 2015
tripit in San Francisco Bay Area

Mozzeria? Anyone been? [San Francisco]

Dropped in at around 8 PM last night. My husband and I love their crust--just the right mix of crisp and pliable, and I've never had a problem with it standing up to their toppings.

They do some really interesting things with vegetables and nuts that I haven't seen even at other Bay Area pizzerias. The radicchio pizza comes with large leaves covered in shelled peas, almonds, and truffle honey--definitely a new favorite. Mushrooms and pea shoots were a classic spring combination, and the egg pizza with candied bacon felt like it could be one of the best breakfasts ever. We were four people and got out at just under $100 total, including house wine.

They were busy but not packed on a Saturday night. Glad to know we can drop in any time, but I really hope that they are doing well enough to stick around. They seemed to be doing a pretty good take-out/delivery business though.

Apr 05, 2015
tripit in San Francisco Bay Area

Favorite Ice Cream 2014

Thanks for the recommendation. Happened to walk by on the way to a concert last night and saw no line. The creme brûlée was incredibly good--definitely tops my usual orders of roasted banana and coffee toffee.

Apr 02, 2015
tripit in San Francisco Bay Area

Polk St. [San Francisco]

I've really like Upcider since it opened almost three years ago now. Definitely the best selection of ciders in the Bay Area, and a respectable beer, wine, and mead menu as well. They've got food too--some of the sliders can be a little hit/miss, but I've never gone wrong ordering flatbreads and salads for a nice casual meal.

Mar 28, 2015
tripit in San Francisco Bay Area

A few days, kid friendly, staying financial district [San Francisco]

For your park day, I like Park Chow a lot. Nopalito right next door is also a solid choice that I believe could probably accommodate kids pretty well (the space is larger than their Panhandle location).

For your cable car adventure, I had a nice meal at Cocotte in Russian Hill recently--not sure what your kids' tastes are like, but there are plenty of simpler dishes there.

Mar 24, 2015
tripit in San Francisco Bay Area

Two Sisters Bar and Books, new small-plates cafe, bar and library in Hayes Valley [San Francisco]

Haven't seen any reports on Two Sisters recently. Went last night for happy hour and dinner. A couple older articles on the internet made it sound like all cocktails were $5 during happy hour. Actually, only one featured drink is $5, plus beer and wine deals.

We didn't mind paying full price, though, because the four cocktails we tried were all well-made and generously poured. A pumpkin Manhattan was really subtle and nicely balanced, while a French 75 variant with calvados really highlighted the apple flavor. The bartenders were also just really welcoming and low-key.

We also got food, and while the snacks (chips, deviled eggs) hit the spot, I wasn't as excited about the main dishes (salmon sliders, bread pudding). I think I'll definitely be back for cocktails and the snack/cheese section of their menu, but might head somewhere else for a full dinner.

Feb 21, 2015
tripit in San Francisco Bay Area

From NYC: Itinerary for Napa + SF

I personally prefer the food at Frances. However, the food at Nopa is also very good, and coming from NYC, it may offer a more quintessential California experience, whereas Frances feels a little bit more like an NYC restaurant in terms of scale and design.

Feb 17, 2015
tripit in San Francisco Bay Area

Has anyone been to Chambers in SF's Tenderloin?

Ended up here for brunch this morning meeting up with a friend who was then going to watch the Super Bowl in the neighborhood. I'd been here for drinks before but had never tried the food.

It turned out to be one of the best brunches I've had in the city. My dish was sort of a hash of brussels sprouts and marinated potatoes with a huge slab of pork belly and a mix of Korean flavors: gochujang, black garlic, and pickled cabbage. Craveable, strong flavors, but not overly spicy or fermented. The plating, as shown in hyperbowler's picture from a few years back, uses a variety of modernist techniques--sous-vide eggs, sauces suspended in bubbles--but totally in the service of the food and creating combinations of flavor/texture, not just for visual effect.

I'll definitely be back for brunch, probably more often than I will for drinks.

Etiquette question (re: BYO and food) when hosting a birthday party?

While I don't think it's at all rude to host a potluck, and I have attended many potlucks that I have enjoyed, if I were your guest, I would personally prefer this configuration. For me, going to something like a murder mystery night requires me to be alert and socializing for an entire night, and also having to prepare a dish would add a little extra stress. And, honestly, I would prefer to take part in the murder mystery over snacks/desserts, rather than a full dinner.

As long as you make it clear to everyone that only drinks and snacks will be provided, it sounds like your situation is well-suited to this kind of an evening.

A sit-down-and-order "cheap eats" that takes rezzies in the Mission or Soma, wine and beer?

+1 on Gajalee also. Had a great, intricately spiced meal there a few weeks back before a concert, and the vibe is very casual.

Jan 20, 2015
tripit in San Francisco Bay Area

A sit-down-and-order "cheap eats" that takes rezzies in the Mission or Soma, wine and beer?

I would go to Walzwerk or Mozzeria. Walzwerk appears to take phone reservations, although I've never seen it too crowded. Mozzeria takes reservations and is definitely not too loud.

Jan 19, 2015
tripit in San Francisco Bay Area

Bar Tartine, Nick Balla era [San Francisco]

I went in for a leisurely birthday brunch today. We ordered a huge amount of food and everything was pretty much great. Particular standouts included the sprouted lentil falafel with beet puree, and buttery scrambled eggs on flatbread with smoked mushrooms. I also really loved the fermented butternut squash puree with sunchoke oil--as Robert mentions below, it's not similar to anything I've ever tried before. To drink, I started with the quince and geranium soju cocktail, which was much more successful than previous hard drinks I've had at Bar Tartine.

Based on this meal, I'm not sure where this idea that everything at Bar Tartine was overwhelmingly sour came from. If anything, I think that their flavors are restrained in comparison to similar fermented/pickled dishes at other SF restaurants. Honestly, this was really welcome. For example, their house sour porter, brewed by Linden St., is on the lighter end of spectrum for sour beers, and quite balanced. There were even one or two dishes (the beef tartare) that I thought could have used another squeeze of acid to brighten them up.

We didn't have any issues with service, but the table next to us was in a hurry with a child and didn't seem happy. Definitely go if you are not in a rush and want to take some time to enjoy their clean, quiet flavors--as far as I can tell, they're still at the top of their game.

Jan 10, 2015
tripit in San Francisco Bay Area

Tablehopper reports on The Progress [San Francisco]

Happened to take a sick day last Tuesday and, sitting around, bored, snotty, clicking "refresh" on OpenTable, managed to make a reservation for tonight.

Several items we got (pig fries, treasure chest, matsutake dumpling, crab noodles, floating island) have been covered in this thread. We also got the the dried duck with prunes and potato croquettes, which was probably my favorite dish of the night, hitting all the right sweet-savory-crisp notes. It was reminiscent of one of my favorites from State Bird: duck ham with pecan pancakes.

Everything else was very capably prepared, I would say at about the same level of cooking as State Bird. The snacks at the beginning of the meal--fried broccoli, smoked trout, lapsang souchong--were also delicious and a bit eclectic. The one execution error was the pig fries, a few of which were burnt and unpleasant, though the accompanying minted cauliflower salad was good.

With tax and tip, things came out to around $140 per person for two tastings, two cocktails, and one half-bottle of wine. That just seemed high, whereas my meals at State Bird have always seemed like an excellent value. Though we ended up full at the end of the evening, some of the dishes (two mushroom potstickers, half of a squab for two people) seemed a bit small.

State Bird also has that freewheeling atmosphere that is just plain fun. While there weren't any hiccups in service tonight, I don't know if they've quite figured out the vibe they're going for at The Progress yet. Overall, the meal was good, but I think I'd rather eat next door for the time being.

Dec 23, 2014
tripit in San Francisco Bay Area

Urban Putt - Mission, SF

Went for a birthday party and golf game last night.

We arrived a little before 7 PM and unfortunately our first impression was a really weird, unpleasant time ordering from the downstairs bartender. It was probably exacerbated by the bar being a little understaffed and the staff being forced to card because the venue is under-21 until 8 PM. I really liked the new-to-me Blood Orange Gose from Anderson Valley though.

Golf was thoroughly enjoyable--not something I'd do again in my spare time, but the Maker Faire type decorations are cool enough that I'd bring friends from out of town. There are a few "bottleneck" holes and it seems like it takes about 1-1.5 hours to play through at a peak time.

Upstairs at dinner, we got some poutine and empanadas to share for the table. The empanadas were good; the poutine had nice fries, but the duck confit was a little muddy and not at all crisp. Duck confit poutine just may not be the best idea, although I like both elements individually.

For an entree, I got the chicken meatball sandwich, which was excellent and balanced by a really nice pepper relish. A side of brussels sprouts with pork belly and apples came out all a little one-note and overcooked for my taste, though I like my sprouts a bit crisp. I heard only good things about the deep-dish pizza but was too full to try any.

Overall, it was nice to try once. I probably wouldn't go back on my own for either the food or golf, but I'd happily go back for another birthday party, or to show visitors (during an off hour).

Dec 13, 2014
tripit in San Francisco Bay Area

Odd request for a "bar & grill" [San Francisco]

There was quite a discussion of the merits of Chow Church/Park Chow on this board the last time someone brought it up, but I do think that this is a situation where Chow would be very appropriate. No online reservations, but you can call ahead.

It wasn't my favorite the one time I visited, but Ironside in Soma might also fit the bill, and does take reservations.

Dinner in SF for 6 tonight, 2 kids, not too pricey, not Asian, pizza, or Mexican

I believe that the suggestion was not intended for Bar Bambino, but the similarly named Bambino's in Cole Valley, which appears to still be open, and served an OK brunch the last time I visited a few years back.

http://www.bambinosristorante.com/

Nov 25, 2014
tripit in San Francisco Bay Area

Re-thinking Berkeley icons at holiday time

Maybe it's my nostalgia for my first apartment in the Bay Area at Shattuck and Rose, but I really dig the combination of crispy, almost-fried crust doused with garlic oil. Now that you mention it, all of their pizzas do kind of taste the same, but occasionally you'll get a nice accent like corn or pesto, or a sharper cheese.

I agree with Ridge below that the basic breads are nothing special, but I do like the scones, cheese rolls, and chocolate things from the bakery. I think they kind of hit the same rustic/decadent balance as the pizza.

Nov 21, 2014
tripit in San Francisco Bay Area

Sir and Star at The Olema

Thanks for sharing! I didn't want to ding the service too much, because ours was mostly fine except for receiving the check before the dessert. But based on observations of tables around us, this all sounds totally plausible, and we also noticed the huge pile-up in the lobby halfway through our meal. I copied your message to my friend and she reminded me that we also referenced Portlandia a few dishes in.

Nov 10, 2014
tripit in San Francisco Bay Area