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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.


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

Sir and Star at The Olema

Went up to Marin for a weekend getaway and decided to try their Saturday supper.

The food was on the whole very good. We started with all of the supplementary courses: oysters, duck liver mousse, and bone marrow (topped with braised oxtail, to the point that it was really an oxtail dish served on a marrow bone), all tied together by a rich champagne with cocoa nib notes. The first course, smoked sable with french toast and pea shoots, was perfect for me: tender yet not overly fishy. Cauliflower soup with bacon and mustard was standard. A generous goat cheese souffle was perfect, and nicely complemented by a well-judged portion of bitter greens and tomatoes. Duck with butter beans and radishes felt classic, the astringency of the radishes really coming through. The vegetarian entree, kale fritters with wheatberry porridge and "garlic dulce de leche", was hearty and quite delicious but would have benefitted from a better plating: a smaller, deeper bowl would have made it look more abundant, instead of like three green hushpuppies on a huge plate. My dining companion was not excited by the hazelnut cake for dessert, but I was really into the accompanying persimmons, so I liked it a lot.

Service was pleasant and solicitous, but overall kind of haphazard, as others have mentioned. Given this, and the butcher paper on the tables, this felt more like a $50-$60 menu than a $75 menu. We got a glass of riesling and a glass of zinfandel as well--both were very nice, but the by-the-glass list is quite short. Together with a half-bottle of champagne and the food above, we came out at just over $150 per head.

I agree with wearybashful below: the food was great and I'd definitely stop in again on my way through Point Reyes, but for a glass of wine and a few a la carte items, rather than the prix fixe.

Nov 09, 2014
tripit in San Francisco Bay Area

Maine hounds SF trip report [long]

Thanks for the detailed report! Sorry to hear another disappointed report on Bar Tartine. I've had a lot of great meals there, although the last one was in the spring. With these couple disappointed reviews (including Bauer's, whatever that's worth) and prices creeping upward, I may take it out of the regular rotation for a bit. Maybe they've lost some focus as they concentrate on expansion--I know that's the reason they dropped the Wed-Fri lunch counter.

On the other hand, it's been a long time since I've been to Dosa or Slanted Door, and this is a good reminder to get back.

Nov 06, 2014
tripit in San Francisco Bay Area

New Yorker looking for quintessential San Francisco cheap eats 2014

How is La Oaxaqueña recently? I used to go all the time 3-4 years ago, but had a couple disappointing visits (cold food, incredibly slow service) after they closed and reopened. If it's back to its old quality, I'd love to put it back into the regular rotation.

neighborhood restaurant recommendations for November in SF?

I think executing a diverse, seasonally changing menu at a the price point of a $15 entree consistently over several years is impressive in San Francisco. Maybe it's because I live in the Castro, but I'm sure could name 20 restaurants that fail at that goal.

You're right on the family appeal--a lot of the time I'm there, it's with a picky eater. It's great to have a place accessible to the trickiest palates my family, but with more interesting options that my other friends and I will enjoy.

Oct 02, 2014
tripit in San Francisco Bay Area

neighborhood restaurant recommendations for November in SF?

Chow is very reliable. I'm always impressed by how they're able to maintain a fairly diverse menu with many seasonal elements, yet still execute most of the items consistently. With the exception of some misfired huevos rancheros one morning, I've never had a bad meal there across five or ten visits.

Best Cocktail Bars

I honestly wouldn't even have known Saison had a bar except for your posts on Chowhound and one Serious Eats article from March or April. I had wanted to go over and try it for a while, but could never find any information at all on their website regarding when it might be open, how much cocktails might cost, whether food was available, if it even still existed, etc. Given this, I'm not surprised they are having trouble retaining talent.

Sep 27, 2014
tripit in San Francisco Bay Area

Weekend Trip Report Day 3 and 4 (Maven/Frances/Bar Tartine/The Cavalier)

I have seen my server numerous times during all previous meals at Bar Tartine. I'm sorry to hear that this was not the case during your visit.

I agree that Frances has consistently excellent service. Interesting to hear that you preferred the Josey Baker Bread--I'll have to ask what variety they serve the next time I'm at Frances. I have never been that impressed by Josey Baker Bread for the price, but perhaps it's a loaf that I haven't tried yet.

Sep 24, 2014
tripit in San Francisco Bay Area

Weekend Trip Report Day 3 and 4 (Maven/Frances/Bar Tartine/The Cavalier)

I prefer Tartine bread to anything else I can obtain easily in SF: Semifreddi's, Acme, Josey Baker, Della Fattoria, Firebrand... Nothing else achieves the same combination of crisp crust and pliable crumb. Toasted, I think it's really magical, the caramelized surface against the warm, slightly spongy interior. I'm going to LA in a few months and would be interested to hear of the numerous loaves you prefer there.

I've really liked the smoked potatoes on previous visits to Bar Tartine. The texture has been deeply roasted, almost to the point of falling apart, but has never had a crisp crust, so I don't think that was what they were going for. I don't remember them ever being dry.

I have found the service at Tartine Bakery to be frustratingly indifferent at times, but I've had great service at all of my 5-6 visits to Bar Tartine.

Sep 24, 2014
tripit in San Francisco Bay Area

Is Frances regularly so difficult to book?? [San Francisco]

Just saw this thread and wanted to chime in: almost this exact thing happened to me last year. We were trying to make a reservation for a friend's birthday, started clicking at 12 AM, noticed all the tables were reserved in 1 second. We sent them an e-mail and they explained that they were undergoing renovations that week, but we could have first pick of a table the following Saturday.

Frances does have great customer service! They've sent me recipes too.

Adventurous menu for special occasion

I had a late-night meal at Rich Table a few weeks ago. We had a three or four small appetizers, two plates of pasta, two desserts, two cocktails, and two beers for a total of $170 all included. The menu is on the more progressive side of California cuisine, and service is great, although I don't think the space is anything special.

Though the vibe is a little more downscale, Trick Dog would also fit easily in your price range, and is definitely unique cuisine--they've got some of the most interesting cocktails you can find in the city. The space is not necessarily high-design, but kind of cute in its own way--eating in an attic or loft above a bar.

Jul 15, 2014
tripit in San Francisco Bay Area

Cocktails in SF -- 7x7 "big drink"

Maybe it's just because I live at 17th and Market, but I can't believe that neither Blackbird nor The Residence is on this list.

The former has one of my favorite cocktails ever, the Bayonet (gin, Cherry Heering, and angostura bitters). It's usually only served on the fall menu, but I make a serviceable version at home.

The latter, while never a critical darling, has a wide selection of NOLA-inspired, whiskey-and-bitters driven cocktails, at prices that are more than fair.

The Alembic has never been my absolute favorite, but it's also surprising to see newer places like Brass Tacks, Ziryab, and Chino over somewhere that's been around for 5+ years.

Jul 01, 2014
tripit in San Francisco Bay Area

YALAHAFA (Yet Another L.A. Hound Asking for Advice) on Great Eats in SF Proper (Muni accessible, non-high end)

That is one possible etymology, but googling "Michael Jackson Jesus Juice" provides one that is more likely.

San Francisco loves lines. It's definitely not tourists standing in line for 2 hours at Dear Mom for bagels imported from NYC, or for mac-'n'-cheese-filled burritos. I get cranky standing in line 90% of the time, but on the right evening I'd wait a bit for Bi-Rite or Nopalito or something.

Jun 23, 2014
tripit in San Francisco Bay Area