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La Tur cheese at Costco for only $5.89 each!

The Costco in SF just got a large shipment in on Christmas Eve. Located in the seasonal cheese display. Best by dates of 1/4/11. Enjoy.

Dec 27, 2010
sf_duke in San Francisco Bay Area

Review - Spring Restaurant

If this is true that they have two different wine lists available, this is a first for me. Almost sounds like a scam. Only if one complains on the high prices are they provided with the cheaper list, this just sounds ridiculous. So I have to complain first before not being ripped off? Why bother, I will take my business elsewhere. Over time, this unethical practice will bite them in the end.

Nov 11, 2010
sf_duke in France

Review - Spring Restaurant

I agree on the transparency. It would be very unusual for me to question every cost supplement and prices of each glass of wine. My experience in Paris is the cost of wine at most restaurants is always reasonable. Even if I were to pay 20 Euros for a glass, at least pour me a real glass of wine. Just posted my review at Frenchie, and the red wine by the glass was just amazing. It was 6 Euros a glass. Guessing the bottle would have cost about the same as my glass at Spring. And btw, everything is listed out on the menu and wine list at Frenchie. No surprises, except for how wonderful the food was even given the high-level of expectation with all the publicity for the NYTimes and Anthony Bourdain, etc.

Nov 11, 2010
sf_duke in France

Review - Frenchie Restaurant

WOW!!! Now I know why everyone here raves about the place. Enjoyed a fantastic meal before leaving Paris. Reservations made by our hotel 2 months prior. Arrived around 8:45p and the dining room was still empty. Very easy access from the Sentier metro station.

Every dish was simplistic in presentation, but the flavors were just amazing in so many layers. Started with the foie gras supplement starter...yum. Even the bread and salted butter were good. Then ordered one of each appetizers: (1) Gnocchi with artichoke, hazelnut, and mimolette cheese, (2) Crab with smoked polenta and grapefruit. The gnocchi was perfectly cooked resembling something I would find in Italy. The crab dish was equally amazing. Just a perfect amount of acidity and sweetness. The smoked polenta was fantastic. Then ordered one of each mains: (1) Haddock fish with black rice, mussel & saffron jus, and fennel, (2) Duck breast with coco beans, black trumpets, and kumquats. Both dishes were just amazing. Skipped the cheese course and finished off with the passionfruit tarte with caramel butter sauce. A perfect ending to a great meal.

Service was excellent. It was quite amazing to see one server handling the whole room by himself. He definitely knew what he was doing, never compromising on the service. Never rushed, but always attentive.

Enjoyed several glasses of a wonderful red wine at 6 Euros each. Pours were generous and much better wine than my experience at another establishment for 20 Euros a glass. The wine list was very reasonable, but I could not have finished a whole bottle by myself. In the end, I think I could had I know how good the wine was.

Had the opportunity to thank Chef Greg ("Frenchie") personally for a fantastic meal. He was in the kitchen assisted by two other chefs. I had to thank him for a great meal and only hope I can secure a reservation during my next trip. He had commented how unusual it was for a staff member of our hotel's concierge to have stopped by the restaurant in person earlier in the day to confirm our reservation since we all know how hard it is to get through by phone. All I can say it is well worth the wait and effort to dine at Frenchie. The meal at Frenchie is well worth the effort and cost.

At 34 Euros for two courses, 38 Euros for three courses, and 45 Euros for four courses (cheese), Frenchie was the highlight of my trip. The foie gras supplement was 12 Euros. Had the opportunity to dine at Nomiya due to a last-minute cancellation instead of Frenchie, but so glad I did not make the mistake. Frenchie is now my favorite restaurant in Paris. Thank you Chef Greg. Look forward to another great meal when I am back in Paris. Might have to do both lunch and dinner next time.

Nov 11, 2010
sf_duke in France

Review - Spring Restaurant

The cheese course during dinner was a supplement charge of 12 Euros. They did mention that it was an "extra course" so not much of a surprise in terms of cost. The surprise were the cheeses. Because there was no menu of what cheeses would be served, half of the cheese course was left untouched.

The false note for me at Spring is the lack of a menu for the wine by the glass and any additional supplements. Not sure what an espresso costs since I skipped it, but based on the cost of the wines, I would guess it is somewhere around 5 Euros. For me, transparency is the key. Not about the cost, but more about expectations. If I am paying 12 Euros for a cheese course or 20 Euros for a glass of wine, the level of expectation is much higher.

Nov 09, 2010
sf_duke in France

Review - Cinc Sentits vs Alkimia

Finally had the opportunity to secure reservations at both Cinc Sentits and Alkimia for a recent trip and wanted to share my comparison.

Cinc Sentits never fails to surprise me. Even though the Sensacions Menu has not changed since my visit last month, Chef Jordi modified the menu for a different experience. All I can say is WOW!!! We all know the foie gras and truffled potatoes are great, but do not miss the scallops by request. Another great experience with fantastic food and superior service.

Alkimia was a different experience. First visit so I had the traditional menu, but added the prawn from the longer tasting menu since I wanted to try the signature dish. Service was better than expected since some here have had bad experiences. One staff member stood above and beyond the others. Very friendly and even suggested to substitute the lamb shoulder dish for a seasonal dish....hare with foie gras. The dish was the highlight of the meal. My guest really enjoyed the risotto in the langoustine course. Overall, the food was very good with more emphasis on presentation than taste. Though the staff rushed through the explanation for each dish, but had a photo fo the written menu to reference.

THE VERDICT...Cinc Sentits is by far the winner compared to Alkimia. While both places offer modern Catalan food, the food at Alkimia is more rustic. The flavors are more complicated and better executed at Cinc Sentits. Both places have their highlights and signature dishes, but overall, the food transitioned better over the course of the meal at Cinc Sentits.

FYI, another great establishment in the El Born area is Senyor Parellada. The paella dish and pot soup are just delicious. The pineapple with catalan creme brulee is always a winner. Great food for the value, but mostly caters to tourists. Barcelona has some excellent restaurants, and I look forward to trying more on my next visit.

Nov 07, 2010
sf_duke in Spain/Portugal

Review - Spring Restaurant

I noticed two things about Spring that was "unusual" for me.

The courses coming out from the kitchen were prepared in batches. Not batches for each table, but batches for groups of different tables. If you missed the first group, you had to wait for the next group. Maybe the kitchen staff thinks this is more efficient given the size of the kitchen, but it actually creates a longer wait for the guest between courses since not everyone eats at the same speed.

Regarding the wine prices, it did surprise me at a glass of red wine (albeit a 2006 meritage) was 20 Euros and a glass of another red wine was 16 Euros. But the pours were on the "cheap" side. I usually consider a glass to be 1/4 of a bottle (approx 180mL or 6 ounces), but the pours at Spring are about 2/3 of the norm in the US. The cheese course of four different selections was 12 Euros, which was a steal compared to the wine.

Never saw a wine list for the wine by the glass so could not predict the prices, but the bottle wine list was very high. Not sure if it is because they are not getting them at wholesale or just marking them up 250-300% of retail, but almost all the full reds I looked at were in the 100+ Euro category with some topping in the 200 Euro range. Nothing stood out for the price.

It would have been interesting to see the next table over, their expression when they got the bill since they went through a lot of different wines by the glass throughout the course of the meal. I would guess their wine bill was about twice the price of the actual meal. Needless to say, I did not stick around since I just wanted to get back to the hotel to sleep.

Nov 07, 2010
sf_duke in France

Review - Spring Restaurant

Thanks for sharing your experience. Don't know what the lunch consists of at Spring so cannot comment. FYI, I normally don't check the time, but was jet-lagged and not used to the time difference yet, so I had planned for a 2.5 hour dinner. The longer it took beyond that, I was just having a hard time staying wake and just getting more agitated.

Regarding the bill, I requested for it verbally when the dishes were finally cleared from the table and did the hand signal again when it was clear she got distracted. The hand signal usually works for me too. If she did in fact forgot my initial request for the bill, she never apologized.

Nov 07, 2010
sf_duke in France

Review - Spring Restaurant

Your assumption is correct about the cheese course. I did opt for the cheese course, but it was only for me so my guest waited between the meat course and dessert.

Clarification, from the time we were seated to the time the first dessert course came out, it was 3 hours. The 3 hours included the cheese course. They "rushed" through the three dessert courses in 30 mins. Bill was requested when they cleared from the table. Bill arrived 15 mins later and only because I got up to pay did it only take a few minutes before we finally left.

I think with all the "buzz", my expectations were set too high and partly why nothing was memorable. Since no written menu was available, I kept expecting the next dish to be better than the last, but things stayed flat throughout the meal, and then downhill for the desserts.

Trust me, I really wanted to enjoy the food, but overall, nothing memorable. Guess I am spoiled with the caliber of food we have back at home.

Nov 07, 2010
sf_duke in France

Review - Spring Restaurant

Had the opportunity to dine at Spring on a Saturday night for dinner. With all the buzz on this board, I was very excited. Upon arriving at the restaurant, Marie seated us and Chef Daniel greeted us tableside. I was impressed with the work that went into restoring the building. A nice mix of old with the new made for a comfortable dining room.

It was very entertaining watching the kitchen staff at work near our table. It was clear they are passionate about food. The use of fresh and unique ingredients from the local market earlier in the day should made for an exciting experience. Unfortunately, nothing was truly memorable. The desserts were less to be desired and could have been forgotten. Only wish they provided a printed menu so one can anticipate what was in store for the evening.

My major concern is the execution of the dishes particularly the lack of service experienced towards the end of our meal. We noticed there was a delay in getting to the dessert courses. It has already been 3 hours into the meal. The staff tried to expedite the courses, but it still took another 30 mins. Between the three dessert courses, the dishes were not cleared making for a very crowded table. I normally enjoy an espresso at the end of a meal, but one, it was not offered, and two, I just wanted to get out of there and pay the bill. It took another 15 mins for the bill. 3 hrs 45 mins for a meal at Spring was just insane. Even the French Laundry does not that this long and they serve 3 times the number of courses.

I brought this to Marie's attention regarding the lack of service and the delay in getting the bill...no apologizes or reason was given. Upon leaving the restaurant, I saw Chef Daniel outside and shared my concerns regarding the long dinner experience and lack of service...no response with him just walking away. It is very clear the team at Spring are passionate about creating food, but needs lots of work with customer service. My concerns were listened on deaf ears.

Overall, nothing was memorable at Spring except for the lack of service experienced. I would not recommend Spring since the idea of enjoying a Saturday night dinner in Paris is to leave fulfilled and satisfied. Instead, I left frustrated kicking myself for not going elsewhere since there are so many great restaurants to enjoy in Paris. Spring was a bust so please beware.

Nov 06, 2010
sf_duke in France

Great Local Barcelona Restaurants

Do not miss Cinc Sentits during your visit. Fantastic dinner and even better is that it is family-owned and operated. All of the staff were over-the-top and exceeded expectations. Also, if you are a wine aficionado, the Riedel decanter collection is just insane. By far the best meal I had in BCN. Looking forward to comparing meals at Alkimia, Cinc Sentits, and Comerc24 on my next trip.

Oct 04, 2010
sf_duke in Spain/Portugal

Barcelona Cunlinary tours

For seafood, tried both Rias de Galicia and Botafumeiro. Botafumiero by far was the best between the two. Excellent service. A bit pricey, but that is BCN for you. My favorite tapas place near Plaza de Catalunya was La Tramoia. At the market, tried both Bar Pinotxo and Bar Boqueria. Bar Boqueria was the best between the two for both service, atmosphere, and food. Enjoy!

Oct 04, 2010
sf_duke in Spain/Portugal

Benu reports? [San Francisco]

Had the opportunity to experience Benu and it did not disappoint. From the exceptional level of service from the wait staff to the flawless execution in techniques and flavors from the kitchen, every area of the restaurant was covered. The dining room was unlike any other in the City with the Egyptian cotton carpet flooring absorbing the noise in the dining room. From the moment we entered the courtyard into the foyer to our table, we were always escorted by someone.

Now to the important part...the food. We ordered from the a la carte menu and pre-ordered the poularde en vessie (young hen cooked in a pig's blatter). All I can say is WOW!!! The texture was absolutely delightful with wonderful but delicate flavors. Every dish was perfectly executed. The portion size was typical for this caliber of food and expected, but well worth it. The carnaroli risotto incorporated all of my favorites...risotto, uni, corn, and black truffle. All the ingredients worked wonderfully together. And to top it all, the uni was Japanese sea urchin...major plus!!!

A huge thank you goes out to all the staff at Benu for a wonderful evening. Definitely will be back assuming I can secure another reservation sometime soon. The feel of the dining experience is what you make of it. Some were formally dressed in suits and ties. We were more casual (sans jacket) and just enjoyed the experience. The wait staff was very personable without compromising on service. Very refreshing and something that will bring me back for more. Great food, fantastic service, comfortable atmosphere, and a wonderful staff.

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Benu
22 Hawthorne St, San Francisco, CA 94103

Aug 16, 2010
sf_duke in San Francisco Bay Area

Painful!!! Charged $100 for missing my restaurant reservation......

I do expect that for fine establishments with dedicated reservationists (in this case three), their job is to determine who is confirmed, those unconfirmed, and those cancelled. Violin falls in the "unconfirmed". I am fully aware of the restaurant's best interests as described above by the co-owner and do sympathize for why they have this policy.

However, would I expect my table to be given away in this situation?...Yes. This is why restaurants call to confirm reservations a day before to determine if they will have any open tables for the next night. What is the purpose of calling to confirm a reservation when no actual confirmation occurs, thus my verbal confirmation comment earlier.

Honestly, we do not have to all agree on this and I appreciate everyone's opinion. My opinion to not support such establishments will not hurt their business. Violin's pre-experience is enough to not want me to dine there.

I see several faults on both sides with this given scenario. Had the restaurant spoken with Violin when she called, this whole thread would not have been started. The restaurant could have pro-actively taken the next person on the waitlist after it was clear no reply was made to confirm the reservation to maintain a full dining room. Violin would not have been charged the $100 and everyone would have been happy. And I would expect to have my table "given away" if I do not callback to confirm. This is why there is the confirmation process.

I am glad Alinea is working with Violin, but this should not have happened. End of story.

Aug 14, 2010
sf_duke in Not About Food

Painful!!! Charged $100 for missing my restaurant reservation......

This is a shame. I was planning to dine at Alinea later this year, but now have absolutely no interest. Bad publicity...YES!!! Why??? Because even although Violin acknowledges the fact afterwards when the charge was posted, did the restaurant receive a verbal confirmation from Violin? The answer is no. Had Violin spoken with one of the three reservationists directly to confirm, then I can see the fault since it was a matter of days. But no verbal confirmation occurred. This is standard with most fine dining establishments that take reservations months in advance. However, glad to see Alinea is working with Violin. Thank you for sharing your experience Violin since I have no interest in supporting such establishments.

Aug 13, 2010
sf_duke in Not About Food

Benu reports? [San Francisco]

Good to know. Thanks for the heads-up.

Aug 13, 2010
sf_duke in San Francisco Bay Area

Frenchie Closed for Vacation - Dates?

I was finally able to secure a reservation for Nov through my hotel. The hotmail email listed on the internet does not work. I think calling is your only option either right when they open or towards the end of service. This is how I finally got through the first time before they asked me to call back in Sept.

Aug 13, 2010
sf_duke in France

Benu reports? [San Francisco]

And the tasting menu price will change based on the ingredients used so it may go up at any point.

Aug 13, 2010
sf_duke in San Francisco Bay Area

Benu reports? [San Francisco]

FYI, the Poularde requires a 3-day advance notice and can be served in 2 or 3 courses depending on the number of guests. Looking forward to trying it. Should be good.

Aug 12, 2010
sf_duke in San Francisco Bay Area

Frenchie/Les Papilles

Not sure about les Papilles, but seems the concensus for Frenchie is they are closed from Aug 27 to Sept 7 for their vacation.

Aug 05, 2010
sf_duke in France

Frenchie Closed for Vacation - Dates?

I finally got through on the phone to make a reservation, but to my disappointment, they would not take a reservation for early November (Saturday night). Was asked to call back in September.

With my luck, the next time I call after they return from vacation it will be full. Struck out last year, so planning ahead this year. Anyone have suggestions? Would anyone have an email for them? Thanks.

Aug 03, 2010
sf_duke in France

Has anyone been to the department store rooftops?

Agreed just cafeteria food. Expensive too for what you get. I recommend just going up there to take in the scenery and go somewhere else to eat.

Jul 31, 2010
sf_duke in France

Frenchie Closed for Vacation - Dates?

Thank you for the info. Seems I got wrong info from my hotel.

Jul 31, 2010
sf_duke in France

Frenchie Closed for Vacation - Dates?

Thank you Nancy. My understanding is they are now closed for vacation.

Jul 30, 2010
sf_duke in France

Frenchie Closed for Vacation - Dates?

Hi Fellow Chowhounders,

Looking to visit the beautiful City of Lights. Would anyone know when Frenchie reopens from vacation? Need to make a reservation. Did a search and could not find the info.

Thanks.

Jul 30, 2010
sf_duke in France

Nom Nom Truck in NOLA this weekend: get your bahn mi on

Visiting from San Francisco and found the Nom Nom truck on Frenchman Sat night. Unfortunately they closed up the truck early due to some schedule changes and I missed out on getting some food.

The ladies were supposed to be at Pinkberry Sunday during the day, but plans changed. Even the people at Pinkberry did not have any updates on when the truck would arrive. Finally was able to catch the truck late Sunday night before they had to leave town.

All I can say it was well worth the hunt to track down the truck. Had my sampling of various menu items. Not only is food one of the best, the ladies of the Nom Nom truck are wonderful people.

From one foodie to another, I hope they win the food truck competition. Good luck to the ladies and safe travels on your road trip.

May 17, 2010
sf_duke in New Orleans