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How many SF 49ers football fans really want Vegan food?

My girlfriend has been a 49ers fan her whole life. She's vegetarian. Apologies if that doesn't fit into your image of a real football fan.

Uno Dos Taco [Russian Hill, San Francisco]

I've stopped by Uno Dos more times than I'd like to admit. I really hope they find a way to keep this location open when the new one is finished.

The fish taco is definitely the best taco on the menu. The vegetarian one is a close second. I only tried carnitas once, and found it dry and bland. The al pastor was pretty uninspiring.

The taco quality can be uneven at times (like I said, I've been there a lot), but they more than make up for it by having a good cocktail selection and reasonable prices. And the fish always tastes good and is always moist, and the sauce is a great mix of creamy and spicy. It's just a matter of whether they hit the mark on a crispy batter, or let it get a bit soggy on the way to the table.

In the evenings, they have a larger menu with entrées and salads in addition to the all-day taco menu. Except the jicama salad (good, but a bit too tart), I've just stuck to the tacos and cocktails.

I'll be sorry to see them move to Market St.

Verbena on Polk, SF

I gave Verbena a try earlier this week. It's definitely not as in the mold of Gather as I was hoping, but I think it's still a good addition to the neighborhood.

I totally agree on the menu. I hate it when my only clue on how to put together a meal is to go off of the relative prices of the different items. Some headings telling me what's an entree and what's a "small plate" would go a long way.

On the other hand, the food I had was delicious. The celeriac and mushrooms had me scraping every last bit I could out of the bowl. I'm still not convinced they didn't slip some veal stock into the sauce on the mushrooms. The duck meatballs with kale and mole were rich, but not overly so, and a great combination of flavors.

Unfortunately my guesswork on prices was off the mark, so I was definitely hungry afterwards. The parsnip and chocolate gelato was pretty good, but not worth a trip or anything. I could have used an additional appetizer to make it a full meal.

The cocktails I tried were good. One, the noble bay, was pleasant, but felt like it was missing some backbone. The emerald remedy, with gin, pimm's, chartreuse, and celery was one of the best savory cocktails I've had in a long time.

I think if they can make it clearer on the menu how they expect you to feed yourself, they'll have a good neighborhood restaurant. I don't see it being worth a special trip the way Gather is.

1760 Restaurant in San Francisco

I stopped by on my way home from work this evening. This is exactly what Nob Hill (or, err, Polk St.) was missing: a casual place with good food, great cocktails, and the option of bar or table service.

I liked the fact that I was given an amuse bouche even when sitting at the bar. I didn't catch all of the details, but there was compressed cucumber, and some more pungent vegetables as well. A really nice touch for a more casual restaurant.

I had two of their drinks: the garam masala-cardamom and the basil-mezcal sour. The GMC was outstanding. It reminded me of the aromas you take in while hiking in the peninsula and south bay (that's a good thing), and it was very well balanced. The BMS was pretty good, but maybe a bit too in-your-face. I wish there was a bit more variety to the cocktail menu, but all of the drinks look good and like they're designed to work well with food.

To eat, I had the shishito peppers and the cavatelli. The peppers were a good appetizer, roasted and topped with nuts and olives. A very good savory appetizer. The cavatelli was ... I just wish I'd had a bit more. You definitely got the vinegar the pork cheek was braised in. It was bright and assertive, and went well with the rustic tomato sauce.

Definitely worth stopping by if you're anywhere close to Nob Hill.

Has anyone tried Ducroix? [San Francisco]

Between the "Saint Valentin's menu", the (misspelled) mention of Escargos on the front page, and the vols au vent and duck a l'orange on the menu, I wouldn't get my hopes up. You never know though; the cassoulet and steak frites might not be bad. Give it a shot and let us know!

Any details on Robber Baron (replacing Black Sheep on Polk) [San Francisco]

I walked past Black Sheep today and saw that it's being replaced by a place called Robber Baron. A quick search online didn't turn up any more details than that. Has anyone heard anything?

New spot in Russian Hill - anyone tried Mason Pacific yet? [San Francisco]

I've been meaning to stop by but haven't had a chance yet. I did find their menu online though (seriously people, it's 2013; put your menu on your website).

The wine list looks interesting. It was a bit jarring to see the grape names listed for the french/italian wines, but it's not a bad idea (I'm still ordering the "cotes du rhone" and not the "grenache"). The fact that the budget whites are a riesling and a gruner veltliner is encouraging. And, the corsican one looks intriguing.

I'll try to report back if I actually make it down there.

Suggestions in Tenderloin [San Francisco]

It sounds like you've already made a choice (and Canteen is a fine choice) but I'd also suggest checking out Sweet Woodruff. It's run by the chefs from Sons and Daughters and has very good food in a very casual atmosphere. Order at the register and then grab a seat at the bar looking into the open kitchen or at the bars looking out into the street. Good food, a decent wine and beer list, and no pretension.

Dining solo in San Francisco.

A few suggestions:

Jasper's Corner Tap has great drinks and good bar food. You can grab a seat at the bar or at the window. It can get crowded later in the week.

15 Romolo is more about the drinks, but they have bar food. The cocktails and bartenders are great, and there's usually a crowd later in the week.

Sweet Woodruff is great, and no one will complain about you dining solo since you order your food at the counter and find a seat. Open for lunch and dinner.

If you make it to the Haight, try Maven. Their brunch is surprisingly uncrowded if you're around on a weekend.

Vinturi for spirits - any opinions on this?

I haven't used that one, but my wife and I did blind taste tests with the red wine Vinturi. We both liked the non-Vinturied wine better.

Yes, blind taste tests. We're very exciting people.

Feb 15, 2012
jacquesf in Spirits

Winter openings and closings

I never got that vibe on my visits, but those were mostly weeknights and lunch on the weekends. It's really too bad... not many bars like BBC in the area.

Final sf and napa food itinerary

Bourbon and Branch is very good for drinks. I've been to the Library two times and Wilson & Wilson once. Still haven't been to the main bar. Wilson & Wilson doesn't like to take special drink requests. They prefer to keep to their standard menu (which has some very good drinks, abd plenty of whiskey options). I found the bartenders at the Library to be more likely to whip something up special, especially earlier in the evening when it wasn't too crowded.

Winter openings and closings

That's exactly what I meant. Thanks!

Winter openings and closings

It looks like Pastis is now open in Palo Alto, where Joanie's used to be on California Ave. They're doing French bistro style food and are run by the same people who run Joanie's.

No menu online yet, but they do have a twitter feed: Given my wife's love of cassoulet, we'll probably check it out soon.

Winter openings and closings

The Boston Chowhounders have a great tradition of doing monthly threads keep track of soon-to-open and just-opened restaurants in the area. It was a great way for new and old hounds alike to get to know the restaurant scene in the area. I think it started as a seasonal thread before that got unmanageable, and then moved to a monthly thread.

So, what's new or about to go away this winter in the bay area?

Alcohol newbie looking for some starter tips.

I'll just add that is a great place to look for recipes for a cocktail beginner. They only use 12 different kinds of liquor, explain everything clearly, and have some great classic drinks. You don't have to rush out and buy all 12 bottles... just look up recipes using what you have on hand and you'll be in great hands. Once you're ready to start making purchases, their list is a good starting point.

Jan 03, 2012
jacquesf in Spirits

What Genever Should Come Back from Amsterdam with me?

Oops, this reply went into the wrong thread. Sorry.

Jan 03, 2012
jacquesf in Spirits

Scratch in downtown Mountain View

I couldn't disagree more. I hate reading restaurant service "horror stories", but when we visited this week, we talked to our waiter three times during the meal (drinks order, food order, and bill), even though we were sitting right next to the terminal where they enter their orders. Not only that, but it took a half hour between finishing appetizers and getting our entrees. We didn't get any explanation or apologies, and the bussers took care of everything that didn't involve ordering or paying.

As for the actual meal, our cocktails and the heirloom tomato appetizer special were spot on, but the entrees were mediocre. My wife had a baked pasta and meatball special that was probably destined never to be great. I had their fried chicken that had way too much fried batter surrounding the chicken, felt like it had been under a heat lamp for 20 minutes, and was accompanied by a gravy that tasted burnt more than anything else.

It's really too bad because the drinks and appetizers made of think we were starting an absolutely great meal.

Cocktails at British Bankers Club in Menlo Park?

I went again last night and tried their cocktails, in the interest of science. I think sticking to the (excellent) beer menu is the right call. We tried 4 drinks. Every one of them, including the Negroni, was served in a pint glass half-filled with ice with a giant straw. It's not that they tasted particularly bad; they just weren't really classic cocktails as advertised.

I also thought the lunch menu was much more interesting than the dinner menu. I loved the lamb sliders on the lunch menu. The dinner menu didn't have anyhing out of the ordinary to offer. It was good pub grub, just not quite up to the billing of "gastropub".

But, still a great place if you're looking for a good beer menu and laid-back unpretentious service.

Cocktails at British Bankers Club in Menlo Park?

I stopped by he BBC for lunch today and was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the food. I didn't try any, but their cocktail list looked interesting. It just doesn't look like the kind of place that can consistently pull off as large a cocktail menu as they have listed. Has anyone tried their cocktails? Does the bartending live up to the aspirations in their menu?

British Bankers Club
1090 El Camino Real, Menlo Park, CA 94025

Wine on Piedmont in Oakland

My wife and I stopped in at Wine on Piedmont while we exploring Oakland yesterday. It's a great neighborhood wine store, and might be worth a special trip if you're looking for unusual wines or cocktail ingredients.

Some of the highlights included harder-to-find cocktail ingredients like Creme de Violette, Cocchi Americano, white and red Lillet, and a good variety of vermouths. They had a bunch of different bitters on the bottom shelf, and an interesting collection of gin. I didn't spend a huge amount of time looking at their wine, but a few finds jumped out at me like Txakoli (a lightly sparkling Basque white wine) and Braquetto d'Aqui (which I've never had before but is billed as a red wine version of Moscato d'Asti).

The owner was very friendly and knowledgeable. I'm definitely looking forward to returning next time I'm in Oakland.

Lobster rolls in SF?

SF newbie here. TL is short for ...?

NYC 'Hounds Moving to Boston/Somerville

Welcome to the neighborhood! I don't think this is the best area for Asian foods (although I'm sure you'll get plenty of suggestions). The best Asian food close by is probably Rod Dee (Thai) in Porter. I love their Pad See Ew, which is made with actual Chinese broccoli instead of American broccoli like at many Thai places. Their Tom Yum soup is also delicious.

Qingdao Garden a bit north of Porter on Mass Ave has lots of fans on the board. A lot of people like Guru the Caterer in Teele Square, although I wasn't super-impressed. If you go a bit further, Kebab Factory in Inman is good Indian food.

Qingdao Garden Restaurant
2382 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02140

The Kebab Factory
414 Washington St, Somerville, MA 02143

Teele Square Cafe
Somerville, MA, Somerville, MA

Guru the Caterer
1297 Broadway, Somerville, MA

Jun 19, 2011
jacquesf in Greater Boston Area

Campari (and relatives) anyone?

I'm still learning to love Campari, but I just came up with this drink that's really helping. You definitely get the bitterness of the Campari, but the Lillet and grapefruit blunts it just a little bit.

1 oz Campari
1/2 oz Lillet blonde
1/2 oz fresh grapefruit juice
2-3 oz club soda

Stir with ice, top with club soda and serve on the rocks in a Collins glass (with an orange slice if you're feeling fancy).

Jun 11, 2011
jacquesf in Spirits

Need place to bring 20-25 co-workers for fun drinks in Cambridge or Fresh Pond

Take a look at Christopher's in Porter Square. They've got an upstairs with a bar that I think you can rent out. They aren't doing anything exciting with their menu, but it should fit your "broadly appearing" request.

Apr 21, 2011
jacquesf in Greater Boston Area

Garde Manger, Au Cinquieme Peche, Le Bleu Raisin, or DNA?

I'll second DNA. My wife and I went last time we were in Montreal. We're heading back up this weekend and I'm so tempted to go again. The atmosphere was great, the staff were all warm and helpful from the hostess to the sommelier, and the food was absolutely delicious. I loved the basketball net in the men's room for used towels (my wife tells me that unfortunately the women's room did not have this amenity).

If you go, I highly recommend the pine nut tart. I think it's the best dessert I had in all of 2010.

My only disappointment was that the bar couldn't fulfill some of our requests for before-dinner cocktails. But, I guess I couldn't argue with the reasoning (they were out of the fresh ingredients they needed).

Best price in Boston on Fernet-Branca?

I was in Munich about 4 years ago for work. It was back when I was just starting to have a higher than college-level appreciation for beer, but didn't know much about harder liquor or cocktails. A friend/co-worker and I ended up at a bar called Sausalitos. Unsurprisingly, it turned out to be the kind of place where "Sprichst du Englisch" was a great pickup line. We were talking to two very cute German girls, when my friend suggested getting some Jaegermeister. We got four glasses of it, did the whole cheers thing, and then my friend and I both pounded it back. The girls took some little sips and then looked at us like we were total idiots. We sheepishly asked "Oh, you don't shoot this in Germany?" They started talking to the tall German guy they had been ignoring for the past 30 minutes shortly after.

Mar 04, 2011
jacquesf in Greater Boston Area

Can't touch this cocktail

Davis Square Gimlet. My wife started calling it the DSG when she requested it, and we both agreed it's a better name.

Feb 27, 2011
jacquesf in Spirits

Can't touch this cocktail

I'm still playing around with the exact proportions, but:

The DSG:
2 oz Hendrick's gin
1 oz cucumber juice
1 oz rosemary simple syrup
1/2 oz lime juice

Shake and serve straight, or with ice and club soda on a hot day

To make the rosemary simple syrup, heat up 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup sugar, and 5 or 6 small sprigs of rosemary. Turn off the heat after the sugar is dissolved but before the water boils, cover, and let steep until cooled.

Feb 27, 2011
jacquesf in Spirits

Best Produce: Winter in Cambridge

I've found the quality of the vegetables to be pretty spotty there. I think they have pretty low turnover. So many times, I've found avocados that felt like they were filled with guacamole, soft daikon, and browning/slimy greens. The only reason I keep going back is because they're convenient.

Jan 22, 2011
jacquesf in Greater Boston Area