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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

Cherry Season 2014 - Prices seen in the SF Bay Area?

I got some cherries (not advertised as organic) at the Castro Farmer's Market for $4/lb last week. I didn't write down the name of the farm, but it was one of the back stalls, further from Market St.

Honestly, the quality of these cherries was better than any of the $10/lb handfuls I've bought at Bi-Rite this year.

Jun 17, 2014
tripit in San Francisco Bay Area

Bar Tartine, Nick Balla era [San Francisco]

Yeah, I agree with the menu descriptors veering a little far toward minimalism. I wasn't bothered, but someone who doesn't like surprises or is especially picky might have trouble.

I am actually not sure about that rice and trout dish. I had been looking at the menu a week or two prior and saw it described as narezushi there. However, on the menu that we received, it was described as only "rainbow trout with brown rice." I didn't ask about it, no mention was made of fermentation/preservation, and it didn't taste especially tangy, so I figured they must have run out of the narezushi or decided to abandon that preparation. I didn't think to ask about it at the time.

Jun 11, 2014
tripit in San Francisco Bay Area

Bar Tartine, Nick Balla era [San Francisco]

Stopped in to try the Friends and Family menu last night and everything was great, a fully realized meal of twelve dishes centered around dark, fermented flavors. My only minor complaint would be that a couple of dishes might have veered into overly rustic territory--"king salmon with peas" was literally just a barely-cooked piece of salmon nestled under a mound of pea shoots--but the flavors were always spot on. I particularly liked warm kale salad with sunflower tahini, the poached chicken with crispy potatoes, and the two contrasting desserts: a bright, tangy pound cake balanced against the bracingly sweet sesame custard (which I think includes a big slab of carob). Celery root puree with lovage oil was also a surprisingly good, bright green condiment for their bread.

Contrary to reports from years past, they now seem to have moved away from culturally loaded descriptors ("goulash", "soba") on the menu, and they also asked about dietary restrictions at the beginning of the meal. Maybe some growing pains. Service is still casual, but they're doing fantastic stuff now.

Jun 10, 2014
tripit in San Francisco Bay Area

Moving to SF - Critique my list of neighborhood must-trys?

I'm a native East Coaster as well, and I find the food at Palmyra to be great. Were the OP visiting San Francisco for one week from NYC, I wouldn't advise her to bother with it, but she's making a permanent move to the Haight, and I find it to be a solid neighborhood option for this cuisine.

Moving to SF - Critique my list of neighborhood must-trys?

I'd definintely add Palmyra to your Haight list. The food is not quite as good as Old Jerusalem in the Mission, but it's still very good, and it's a great atmosphere with really friendly employees.

May 29, 2014
tripit in San Francisco Bay Area

Startup Sells "Prime" Reservations (Table8)

Two years, ago, the restaurant Next in Chicago did make one seat per night available in a charity auction. Many people paid $5,000 for a two-top.

http://chicago.grubstreet.com/2012/02...

Next's business model is completely different from any restaurant in SF (pre-pay for a ticket to dinner, tickets are transferable but not refundable, no money changes hands at the time of the meal). Also, demand at the time Next did this was so great that months of tables were being booked within minutes, after being released on facebook at an arbitrary time during the day. So it's probably not directly applicable to Table8 or a similar system, but there is precedent for this model.

Apr 19, 2014
tripit in San Francisco Bay Area

Startup Sells "Prime" Reservations (Table8)

The menus are not quite the same at Chez Panisse--Mondays ($65) are typically three courses, Tuesday through Thursday ($85) are four courses, and Friday/Saturday ($100) are four courses plus an aperitif.

Depending on how much value you give to the aperitif, or to an extra appetizer, you could argue that the more expensive menus are very slightly marked up per-course. But I think it's minor, and I think it's actually a pretty smart arrangement for a single-menu restaurant.

Apr 17, 2014
tripit in San Francisco Bay Area

Great China (Berkeley) still great

Has anybody been to Great China recently? Melanie Wong reported that the beer and wine license came through in January--was wondering if they have a program set up yet. Also wondering how difficult it is to score a table these days!

Mar 18, 2014
tripit in San Francisco Bay Area

Quintessential Bay Area in 4 Days

Even better:

http://sfist.com/2014/02/04/local_mag...

(not a direct link, but I love this headline)

Mar 18, 2014
tripit in San Francisco Bay Area

Sunday night dinner: Sons and Daughters vs AQ or Commonwealth [San Francisco]

I didn't have a great meal at AQ. There were a few execution and service errors. I realize that a lot of people on this board have had a different experience, so maybe I hit them on an off night.

Regarding Frances vs. State Bird, I think I prefer the atmosphere at Frances, but it's also much easier for me to go to Frances. I think that one factor contributing to your feeling that people on this bird find State Bird overhyped is that the only reliable way to actually dine at State Bird is 1) show up on Fillmore St. at a time inconvenient to most 9-to-5ers; or 2) make a reservation between 4 and 5 AM PST exactly 60 days before your preferred date. If you're just visiting SF and can plan your day around it, it's actually a little easier. But it's hard not to let the question change from "Is State Bird good?" to "Is it worth jumping through these hoops to go there?"

Sunday night dinner: Sons and Daughters vs AQ or Commonwealth [San Francisco]

It's been a long day--what I was trying to express, likely in too few words, is that many recent openings in SF seem to compose dishes that highlight a single ingredient, with only a few supporting elements, with most of these elements prepared in somewhat traditional ways. This is fine by me; somewhwere like Frances is certainly in this set. High-quality ingredients, correctly cooked, are great.

In comparison, the dishes at State Bird seemed to have more going on and contain more separate elements, often in more complex and whimsical combinations (pecan pancakes with duck ham is one example I can remember). At this price level, I don't think you can do much better for cooking that is both creative and refined in its execution.

To BacoMan, I've been to Frances 6 or 7 times--it's right around the corner from me--and I have never had a dish that I have not found excellent. Black bass, chicken liver mousse, and baked clams stand out in my memory, but really, everything has been great.

Mar 07, 2014
tripit in San Francisco Bay Area

Sunday night dinner: Sons and Daughters vs AQ or Commonwealth [San Francisco]

I went to State Bird right before the NYT article in 2012, and went again last month. I loved it both times. Just about every dish I had was delicious, and seemed to break free from the typical ingredient-focused SF mold while at the same time not being too showoffy.

Michelin one-stars in SF seem kind of arbitrary to me--I'd say at this point, just take a look at the many places you've been recommended on Chowhound, pick a few menus you find interesting, and go with those, rather than worrying about star ratings. Personally, I much preferred State Bird to AQ, and Frances to both, but there are bound to be some who disagree.

Mar 06, 2014
tripit in San Francisco Bay Area

Sunday night dinner: Sons and Daughters vs AQ or Commonwealth [San Francisco]

Regarding Frances, I bike by every day on my way home from work. There are ten seats at the bar reserved for walk-ins. It is usually possible to get a walk-in seat M-W before 6 PM with no trouble. Any other night I might advise lining up a bit early--probably not more than 15-20 minutes; it's not quite State Bird these days.

We tried to stop in at 8:45 PM for dessert last night (Wednesday) and were told that no tables would be available before 10 PM. It's possible we just hit it at exactly the turnover time, but it's still very busy.

Mar 06, 2014
tripit in San Francisco Bay Area

One dinner in SF

I live close to Tartine (4 blocks west) and work right by Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous. I walked to work today (about 45 minutes). It's good ice cream, but I personally would not walk that far for the sole purpose of getting this ice cream.

The only other place that might make a good destination for a snack crawl in the neighborhood is Chocolate Lab. Robert's suggested route on 22nd Street would definitely add a nice view, and the detour down Vermont would be fun, but I can't say this is one of my top views in the city either.

If you do end up going, instead of walking back to the Mission, you could put it near the end of your day and take the KT back downtown afterward.

Mar 04, 2014
tripit in San Francisco Bay Area

State Bird Provisions Timing? [San Francisco]

Agreed on Frances! I bike by on my way home from work every day and I don't think you would have any trouble getting a seat at the bar on a Monday evening. I go once or twice a year, and despite the loss of its Michelin star, the food was just as good on my visit in December as it has ever been.

State Bird is very good as well, if you can get a reservation. The last time I went, I made a reservation on a whim two months out because I happened to be up at 4 AM PST. However, I don't think it's worth rescheduling your day or waiting in line for. If you happen to be traveling/dining alone (it sounds like you might be), I don't think that this would be the best way to experience this restaurant--better to go with a group and order a larger chunk of the menu over a few hours as everything makes its way around on carts.

Feb 24, 2014
tripit in San Francisco Bay Area

Is it just me or does this list sound very upmarket and possibly not really reflective of what's great to eat in SF ?

I've been eating sauerkraut and beef-barley soup since I was a kid in Central PA. I guess the Amish are the original trendsetters here.

Feb 04, 2014
tripit in San Francisco Bay Area

Great China (Berkeley) still great

I went last night to celebrate a birthday. We had a reservation for 9--we were in the restaurant from 7:30 - 9:30 or so on a Friday, and while it was pretty crowded the whole time, the wait didn't seem like it would be totally unmanageable if you showed up without a reservation.

Just a heads up, even though they still list several set-menu dinners on their website, they are no longer listed on the printed menu. I asked and they were able to accommodate the Great China Dinner for 8 at a cost of $20 per person, but it didn't seem like they were planning to do this regularly.

The food was all exactly as I remembered from many grad school visits--I'd forgotten how good the walnut prawns were. No wine yet, but they're working on the licensing.

Jan 11, 2014
tripit in San Francisco Bay Area

Bottled hard cider from Normandy?

There are several bottled ciders from Normandy available to drink at Upcider on Polk St. Upcider is a great bar and I love it for introducing me to many new ciders, but prices are typically in the range of 2x+ retail.

Healthy Spirits on Castro St. at 15th also has a small selection from time to time. I have bought both the pear and apple versions of La Pere Jules cider there. You might want to call ahead and see if they have any available this week.

Dec 10, 2013
tripit in San Francisco Bay Area

What to order at Delfina [San Francisco]

I had nearly perfect shortribs there a year or two back, so I would go for a braised dish. If I remember correctly, the portion was fairly large as well.

Savory Souffle in SF?

I had a chestnut and leek souffle at Cafe Jacqueline in December, and it was excellent. Just a warning, though--they are definitely a special occasion/date kind of a place. All of the souffles are meant to serve two, and meals typically take 2-3 hours. It's great if that's what you're looking for, but you might be disappointed if you're trying to work it into a busier schedule.

Feb 13, 2013
tripit in San Francisco Bay Area

Valentine Day- do you or don't you? And if you do-what?

Mac 'n' cheese, brussels sprouts, and champagne.

Jan 23, 2013
tripit in Not About Food

How do you feel about your food being re-seasoned at the table?

It might be an objective standard, but it doesn't seem to me like a very practical one for writing recipes. How would you determine how much salt to add to a steak? Is it 9 grams of salt per liter of solid steak or 9 grams per liter of liquid in the steak? If you season the steak before cooking, do you account for evaporation of the juices or contraction of the steak?

Jan 20, 2013
tripit in Not About Food

5 food industry folks in San Fran from Boston for 3 days - how we doing so far?

I was at Upcider earlier this month and they did not have a TV. They are really fantastic though--great selection of cider and beer, and the food is not bad either.

Jan 17, 2013
tripit in San Francisco Bay Area

Any place new and wonderful in the Castro? [San Francisco]

Super Duper Burger is also relatively new, and just about a block up Market from the Castro Theatre. It's more or less a slightly upscale In 'n' Out, although they also have chicken, veggie burgers, and salads. I'd put it in your "good enough" category, but it'd be my recommendation if you get a craving for a burger and fries in the neighborhood.

Jan 16, 2013
tripit in San Francisco Bay Area

Any place new and wonderful in the Castro? [San Francisco]

Thorough Bread is a great recommendation--I stop by once or twice a month and I can't remember ever getting anything bad. Nearby on Church St., Chile Pies is new and very good. It's an offshoot of Green Chile Kitchen, and has savory stews and soups in addition to pie by the slice.

Jan 15, 2013
tripit in San Francisco Bay Area

Any place new and wonderful in the Castro? [San Francisco]

The OP noted upthread that he will be working at the Castro Theater and has no more than 90 minutes to travel and eat each meal. Ragazza is fine, but not possible given that limitation.

Jan 15, 2013
tripit in San Francisco Bay Area