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Kitchen 1540 lately?

Has anyone tried out Kitchen 1540 lately, since the chef change-over? We did check it out a year or two ago when McCabe was still there, and while the food was good, the service was horrendous. I was thinking about giving it another shot, assuming the bad service was a fluke, but realized I hadn't heard anything about the food since the new chef came on.

Thanks in advance!

Feb 12, 2013
gtchow in San Diego

Weekend Group Lunch in La Jolla/PB

We are getting married in April and having our rehearsal dinner for around 40 people at Voce del Mare, a relative newcomer to the Bird Rock neighborhood. The owner, Dan, has been extraordinarily easy to work with, and I'm sure he would accommodate your needs. We are regulars at the restaurant, and while it's not a destination restaurant, it's my go-to for solid, classic Italian fare in the neighborhood.

Mar 08, 2012
gtchow in San Diego

Blanca deal, yum!

Was this a tasting menu? If so, could I ask how much it cost? No prices for tasting menus are listed on the website, as far as I could tell. And if you went with a tasting menu, would you recommend that over ordering a la carte? Thanks!

Mar 11, 2011
gtchow in San Diego

Where do I eat in Lanai??

Thank you so much! This is perfect. We won't be there for very long, so these suggestions should be enough. We weren't planning on renting a car while on Lanai -- will it be possible to get around from the hotel to these places? I think the Four Seasons has some kind of shuttle that costs $50/person, and we may end up doing that to make sure we have a way to get back and forth from the dock to the hotel. But I doubt they would be our personal chauffeur for picking up sandwiches and breakfast! :)

Apr 13, 2010
gtchow in Hawaii

Where do I eat in Lanai??

I'll be in Lanai for 3 days, 2 nights at the end of April, staying at the Four Seasons at the Lodge at Koele. Am I pretty much stuck with whatever (overpriced) offerings they have at the hotel? Any tips on local eats, preferably on the non-super-fancy side, would be much appreciated!

Apr 12, 2010
gtchow in Hawaii

Michael Mina's RN74 in San Francisco

Went to RN74 for the first time last night and loved it. Beautiful, sexy, warm room and really bend-over-backward great service. I sat at the bar for 30 min before dinner to try a few tastes, then we spent about 3 hrs at dinner--and never felt rushed. Had tastes of a Chablis and the intriguing Moscatel from Malaga, and shared bottle of a 2007 Domaine Combier Croze-Hermitage. Loved them all. Apps: pork belly and manila clams, beef carpaccio. Entrees: grilled cobia, cassoulet. Sides: chickpeas (my absolute favorite of the night, can't stop thinking about them!), tempura mushrooms. Really, all were fantastic. Dessert: beignets, only thing not that great, but the financiers that came with the bill more than made up for that! All in all, one of the best new restaurants in the city that I've tried in recent memory, and I can't wait to go back.

Jul 05, 2009
gtchow in San Francisco Bay Area

Flour + Water = hot, hot, hot

i dined there last night as well. arrived at 5:30pm, and there were 8 of us standing outside waiting for the doors to open! crazy. i agree with the above poster -- the only thing i was minorly irritated with was their bringing out our pasta dishes when we were only halfway through our appetizer. i thought it was a fluke, but i guess it was happening to other people also. so, pasta was a little cold by the time i wanted to eat it.

we had the asparagus, arugula, and quail egg salad -- really good. aside from a piece of asparagus that i ate that i tried and tried to chew up and swallow but ultimately had to spit out (i know, that is so disgusting, sorry!) -- i think they left in a part of the asparagus that you're supposed to shave off/discard b/c it's nondigestible. but i got over that pretty quickly because it was otherwise very good, with a nice balance of favors, perfectly dressed. the quail eggs were sort of "soft-poached," which i really liked.

we had 2 pastas--i had the corzetti stampati with braised squid. the pasta was a really nice texture, toothsome, nicely al dente. they may have changed their proportion of squid to pasta, because i thought there was enough pasta for the amount of sauce and squid. i liked this dish. my friend had the gargagnelli with speck and fava beans, which i had one bite of it and thought it tasted like an upscale, lighter spin on fettucine carbonara. i don't love creamy pastas, which this kind of was, but she seemed to really like it.

olive oil cornmeal cake for dessert - very good. more moist than i'm used to -- i think when i've had it at other places, it's usually more crumbly. but this was very good, nicely paired with a unique strawberry and fennel salad.

had a sardinian white by the glass that was very nice and minerally. a primitivo by the glass was too fruity for me, but i was warned when i ordered it.

overall, i think it was very good, met my expectations. i would go back to try the pizzas, and i would go back for the pasta, but only when the craziness dies down.

Jun 03, 2009
gtchow in San Francisco Bay Area

Upscale Bar to eat and watch NBA Playoffs?

try o izakaya lounge in j-town. i went there for dinner a few months ago and was pleasantly surprised to see the laker game playing on just about every one of their dozen+ flat-screens scattered all over the restaurant/bar. of course, no one but me was watching, but still....if they were broadcasting a random game in the middle of the season, good chance they'll be showing the playoffs. food's not bad either.

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O Izakaya Lounge
1625 Post Street, San Francisco, CA 94115

May 19, 2009
gtchow in San Francisco Bay Area

How is Bacco?

just stopped by last night for a spur-of-the-moment dinner with 3 friends, in part because of the recent flurry of discussion about this spot lately and also because it was one of the few places we could get a last-minute reservation for 4 at 8pm on a friday night. overall, a bit of a mixed experience--some good, some not so good.

to start--bread, apparently house-made, but too dense for me, not a lot of flavor.
apps: shared the bacco salad (arugula, gorgonzola, walnuts, balsamic vinaigrette) and the burrata cheese, served with prosciutto, arugula, olives. the salad was huge, pretty good, well-dressed, not too exciting. the burrata was creamy, delicious (how can you mess up burrata), and i found the accompaniments actually nice to have, although not really necessary. the prosciutto was yummy. also, a huge serving. the couple we were dining with also had the salumi plate, which they seemed to enjoy, but did not wow them.

pastas: gargagnelli with snapper, olives, basil, tomato sauce (a special). the house-made pasta was very nice, although i think i prefer it a little more al dente--maybe that's inappropriate for freshly made pasta? i don't know. the snapper was good, not overwhelming. probably not something i would crave or order again. i tried a little of the gnocchi with truffle and cream sauce that someone else ordered--gnocchi was a bit non-fluffy, didn't taste the truffle, just lots of cream.

entrees--shared the wild boar stew on polenta. pretty good. i prefer the version at la ciccia, which i love.

desserts--shared gelato scoops (vanilla, hazelnut, pistachio). the pistachio was good.

wine--a 2003 barolo. delicious!

service/atmosphere--things were hectic when we first came in. not quiet, but i liked the bustle. servers were very polite, the owner came over to say hello. i wished things had been coursed differently--the entree and pasta were brought out at the same time, which was a LOT of food, and also seemed weird for an italian restaurant to do (primi, secondi...?). also, things emptied out really quickly at about 10pm, when we were thinking about ordering dessert. they were nice about it, didn't REALLY rush us, but everyone was standing by the register, chatting, seemingly waiting for us to finish so they could leave. and actually, as we got our coats to leave, the hostess grabbed her coat too and put it on when we weren't even out the door yet and started leaving. this was probably our own fault, given that we are used to dining pretty late and at a leisurely pace, and it's noe valley and all that. but i would keep that in mind and probably not advise going for a late-ish dinner.

but overall, it was an ok experience, and i like the concept of the neighborhood restaurant. it would be nice to drop in on an early weeknight evening if you are in the 'hood.

Apr 06, 2008
gtchow in San Francisco Bay Area

Ducca

Hmmm, good question. I've eaten at Perbacco probably about 3 times, but the last time was back in August 07, several months ago. Details are a bit fuzzy, but remember that it was delish. (Perbacco seemed to get better with each visit) First off, the ambience is different--much quieter, more refined at Ducca. Not a happy hour type of feel, which is frequently how Perbacco felt. Might be due in part to the fact that Ducca is in a hotel. Sorta felt like it, which isn't really a good thing, but didn't bother me. Second, the salumi plate at Perbacco is better, for sure. More house-cured meats, more variety, just...better. Third, the pastas--I have had some ok pastas at Perbacco, and some very good ones. But nothing like that pheasant sugo at Ducca. I was just at La Ciccia and had a great lamb sugo pasta, but still even that did not compete with the Ducca pheasant sugo. Finally, the choice of entrees seemed fancier at Ducca--I don't know that I think of things like "lobster essence" at Perbacco, but it has been a while. Ducca seemed a bit more cutting edge, a little more adventurous, while Perbacco is a bit more classic in style. But, feel free to correct me. Like I said, it's been a while since I've been to Perbacco, which reminds me that I'm way overdue for a visit! Hope that helps.

Feb 05, 2008
gtchow in San Francisco Bay Area

Girl's Night Out in SF - A challenge

i think TWO, at 2 hawthorne lane, could be an option. big menu with lots of options (several items like the pizzas/pastas in the right price range), cocktails, and (relatively) easier parking than some other parts of SF. and i believe they have valet.

Jan 13, 2008
gtchow in San Francisco Bay Area

Ducca

Just got back from a fantastic spur-of-the-moment dinner at Ducca. I was intrigued by the fact that it made it on Bauer's Top Ten list, and since it was one of the few restaurants open on New Year's Day, gave it a try...and very happy we did!

Started with hamachi crudo, with the smallest amt of a green (mint?) sauce, accompanied by a small pine nut and currant salad. Very original, and to my surprise, the flavors worked together!

Then the salumi plate--some house-cured, some from Italy, according to our great waiter. Came with a salami gentile, salami picante, salami toscana, a mortadella, prosciutto, and pickled winter vegetables. Excellent. Not as good as Incanto's or Perbacco's, but good.

Watercress and white bean salad, with guanciale and garlic-thyme vinaigrette. The dressing was on the creamy side, and the guanciale seemed to be infused in there somehow--didn't see or taste any big chunks. But the flavor was there. Again, original, unusual, very good!

House-made tagliatelle with pheasant sugo. The best dish of the night. A really nice original change from the usual lamb or pork sugo that seems to be ubuiqitous these days (although I'm not complaining about this!). Earthy, meaty, a little gamey. Yum. A little higher meat to pasta ratio than I'm used to these days, but I didn't mind because the pheasant was so freaking good.

Black cod with lobster essence. Much more than "essence"--actually a big ol' chunk of lobster came with this dish. Cod was perfectly cooked, but the lobster may have stolen the show.

Dessert--tiramisu semifreddo. This was delicious! Again, an inventive take on a classic that really worked!

Service was great. Beautiful dining room, and one in which we could actually easily hear each other even as it got full. I highly recommend this place and will definitely return!

Jan 01, 2008
gtchow in San Francisco Bay Area

Cheese Plate/platter style Help in SF

bi-rite has a good catering selection and did a good job for the two events i used them for. one of the items i chose was a nice artisan cheese platter--very nice, including yummy humboldt fog! will deliver too if it's not on sunday.

Nov 05, 2007
gtchow in San Francisco Bay Area

Anyone tried Metro Kathmandu yet?

stopped in last night (friday) on a whim about 8:45pm. restaurant was about 2/3 full, felt bustling and lively. there's a nice bar towards the back of the restaurant that had a number of open seats. the service was great, friendly--the owner recognized my boyfriend, who had dined at the restaurant prior to its reincarnation (when it was le metro?) and was very welcoming. wine and water was continually refilled. didn't feel rushed at all, even though we stayed til about 10:45 or so, and only 2 other people were left in the restaurant by the time we left.

the food--i was a little wary at first b/c the menu seemed to be that of just another indian place, with the exception of some of the apps--which it kind of is. but, at least it's good. had the chicken momos, which were served with what tasted like a peanuty sauce (was it supposed to be tomato chutney?)--good, surprisingly tasted similar to chinese dumplings! nice delicate wrapper, nice-sized mouthful of meat. then, had the daily fish kebab (tilapia)--good sized serving, simply grilled with a few spices, perfectly cooked. good, but nothing that memorable. for entree, had the lamb saag--pretty similar to versions i've had at north indian restaurants, except less creamy and heavy--which is a good thing. but, would have liked more chunks of lamb in there. we had two orders of the roti to accompany the saag, which was really good, not buttery, came out warm. i might actually prefer this to naan, which they don't have on the menu anyway. finally, we had a dessert--the pistachio kulfi. this was just ok--kinda bland, but at least it was light, which is a nice way to cap off a meal with such strong spicy flavors. had a very good, affordable earthy bottle of rhone (sorry, can't remember the name). the wine list was impressive -- nice variety and good number of affordable bottles.

i would definitely stop in again if i were in the mood for lighter indian food in a more upscale, trendy environment in the neighborhood.

Sep 29, 2007
gtchow in San Francisco Bay Area

Pizzeria Delfina - Bacalao Pizza

quick post after my first dinner at pizzeria delfina last night to mention an OUTSTANDING bacalao pizza--salt cod, potato, panna, parmesan (i think), tomatoes. unlikely combination had me skeptical at first, esp since it was my first visit--i thought maybe i should go a more conventional route, like the margherita or napoletana. thank god i didn't! who knew salt cod on a pizza could be so delicious! the textures of the pizza were memorable--the softness of the salt cod and potatoes, which turn out to have a similar texture, versus the toothsome chewiness of the thin crust pizza dough. the tomatoes in the sauce and on the pizza themselves were amazingly sweet and acid at the same time, which balanced the small dash of panna (cream, i'm guessing?) on the pizza, which in and of itself might had been odd. i will definitely be back to try the rest of the pizzas, although if they keep putting on daily specials like this one, i'll never get around to trying the margherita...

started with a salumi sampler which was nice but nothing particularly exciting, as well as a special app, gypsy peppers with grilled flatbread--surprisingly good, elevating usual unexciting roasted red peppers to another level. all accompanied by a nice half-bottle of a 2003 aglianico. finished off with scoops of salted caramel and honey lavender ice cream from bi-rite down the street. aaaah, an ideal sunday evening in san francisco...

Sep 17, 2007
gtchow in San Francisco Bay Area

Cooking Classes in SF?

SF culinary also offers cooking classes. i haven't taken a class myself, but here's the website: www.sfculinary.com.

Jun 14, 2007
gtchow in San Francisco Bay Area

Denver: Fruition?

just dined at fruition last night while in town for a conference. i had a fantastic experience, from beginning to end. i originally had an 8:30pm reservation on a friday night, but since i was dining alone and had a very early morning the next day, i called, hoping to see if i could get in a bit earlier. drew (one of the chefs, i believe), answered, was very sweet and quite fun to talk to, told me there was nothing at the time (i called around noon on friday), but advised that i call back at 5pm to speak with the co-owner paul, who also ran the front of the house. paul graciously told me that, while he didn't have any cancellations, if i came by around 7:30, he'd see what he could do for me and at the very least, i could have a glass of wine and chat while i waited.

i got to the restaurant at 7:40pm, met paul, who was, to sum it up, quite a gentleman--polite, charming, professional, warm, and extremely proud of his restaurant! before i could even order a glass of wine, he seated at me at a nice table by the door, where he said he could "keep an eye on me" and we could chat. as a solo diner, i found his attentiveness very welcoming, esp given that i was taking up a much coveted two-table top on a VERY busy friday night.

every aspect of the service was great--my waiter made a great recommendation on wine and was very knowledgeable about the menu. servers came by constantly to refill water and offer more bread. paul took care of calling me a cab and essentially putting me in it at the end of the evening, without batting an eye.

on to the food! bread - choice of white batard or wheat levain, both good, accompanied by a flavorful butter sprinkled with herbed fleur de sel. appetizer - seared halibut cheeks with olives, capers, tomatoes, and gewurtzaminer jus. very good dish, slightly richer than i expected, but still quite light. i wouldn't call this "seared," more "cooked." but not overcooked--just definitely more well-done than "seared" would imply. i don't think this detracted from the dish, but i do think that the dish may have been even better if the fish were actually seared. i liked the saltines of the dish, esp when i paired it with some of the white batard. went exceptionally well with the glass of red from spain - altizura - that i was drinking! finally, for my main, i had the maine duck breast--topped with fried arugula, on bed of a parmesan risotto, with red onion marmalade. this was excellent. complex flavors, with saltiness of risotto, sweetness of marmalade, bitterness of arugula, and unctuousness of the duck--i think it overall worked well, although i wasn't sure whether i liked the somewhat alarming contrast of the arugula with all of the other flavors. definitely a memorable dish, though! perfectly crisp duck skin, perfect sized serving--not too big, not too small.

unfortunately, even though i tried to save room for dessert, i felt perfectly sated at the end of my meal, and sadly, was getting sleepy and needed to head back to the hotel. so i missed out on the vanilla bean pudding and lemon meringue pie that i saw my neighbors having! but, the hospitality of the hosts, and particularly of paul, left me with enough warmth at the end of the evening that i felt quite satisfied, even without dessert! i will definitely return if i come back to denver, as i'm sure this restaurant will only get better and better with time. and i will definitely recommend it to my friends in san francisco who come visit. thanks to all of you who recommended this restaurant to me in my earlier post!

Apr 28, 2007
gtchow in Southwest

La Ciccia tonight

that's so interesting, because when i was ordering at la ciccia, i had originally planned on getting the spaghetti with bottarga and cauliflower--until i heard the specials of the day, including the tuna hearts spaghetti. when i asked the waiter whether it would be worth it to get both, he commented that they were prepared almost the same way, with sorta similar flavor profiles (salty!). haven't tried the cured tuna hearts at incanto yet, but have heard amazing things, so it's time to go back!

Apr 26, 2007
gtchow in San Francisco Bay Area

What to order at Absinthe?

very pleasantly surprised by the coq au vin--really good, actually better than the one i had at jeanty at jack's, which was sadly too salty. and i really love salt. at absinthe, i also had a ricotta dumpling appetizer which i really enjoyed--very light and fluffy!

Apr 26, 2007
gtchow in San Francisco Bay Area

La Ciccia tonight

i think i'm probably too late, but regardless, want to let you know about a house-made spaghetti with tuna hearts that i had there this past wknd--amazing! had a little kick from some chili flakes. tuna hearts shaved into the pasta, perfectly salty and flavorful! favorite dish that i had that night. (also had stewed octopus, wild boar stew, gnochetti with tomato and pork ragu, and the amazing ricotta cale--all delicious, all previously described on the boards!)

Apr 25, 2007
gtchow in San Francisco Bay Area

Kaiseki Dinner at Kaygetsu, Menlo Park

finally got a chance to go to kaygetsu for their specialty kaiseki dinner last night. i had previously only had kaiseki in tokyo, kyoto, and osaka, as well as in taipei, so i was a bit wary of the type of meal i would get at this very un-atmospheric restaurant located in a rather drab strip mall off sand hill road, sandwiched between a shell station (that is shockingly overpriced!) and the "secret" safeway (as it is known to stanford kids). but i was pleasantly surprised! sorry for the long post, but i found very little on this place on the chowhound boards before i went, so thought it might be helpful to others thinking about going!

kaiseki menu, 95/person. sake pairing, 34/person, which i split with the signif other (the drive back to SF is loooong).

1. sakisuke (starter): seared toro nigiri sushi; monterey squid with vinegar miso sauce; yamaimo potato and snap peas in sesame sauce; fava bean soup.
- 4 separate little platters/bowls on single tray. toro was very fresh with just the right amount of perfectly cooked rice. tender squid was probably the standout in this--topped with some seaweed, which in turn was topped with a few "chinese matrimonial herbs." the mountain potatoes and sesame sauce were surprisingly interesting--not your standard potato salad that comes with japanese combo sushi lunches! the fava bean soup--would not have tasted japanese at all (although very very good) but for a few floating tiny round rice cracker balls, which added the most interesting crunchy, flavorful kick! tiny amt of fresh ginger on side to cleanse the palate.

2. takiawase (slow cooked dish): bamboo shoot, fresh wakame seaweed, wheat gluten, asparagus, and carrot cooked in clear fish broth.
- simple, fresh, straightforward japanese cuisine at its best. very palate cleansing but also warming. favorite part were the two cubes of green chewy wheat gluten. tasted like fresh udon noodles the way my grandma used to make them!

3. tsukuri (sashimi): 4 slices of hirame accompanied by a single flower petal--cherry blossom? ate this with a piece of hirame, and sad there wasn't a petal for each piece, as it seriously oozed fruity cherry flavor. i'm not really sure what it was, but it was amazing and unique. 2 pieces of aji--have never had aji this delicious--tasted strikingly like yellowtail, which i love. 3 pieces of a deep red fish, name i forget, but a type of tuna. also very good, although i liked the piece that i ate with a shiso leaf the best.

4. agemono (fried dish) - scallop and shrimp, wrapped with cherry leaf and deep fried served with green tea salt.
- possibly my favorite of all the dishes. very very lightly battered, not greasy at all, perfect amount of chunky fresh scallop and shrimp--actually reminded me a little of some very good dim sum that i've had...the green tea salt as a dipping sauce alternative to tempura sauce was unique, subtle. liked the idea, but don't know how much i actually tasted it, but not sure it really mattered, it was so good!

5. yaki mono (grilled dish) - grilled ocean trout, topped with sake lees, with brussel sprouts and orange salad.
- this trout was amazing. perfectly cooked, tender, fresh. sake lees (the stuff that comes to top of barrel of sake while it's being made, apparently) was sorta broiled/bruleed so it had this slightly brown crust, with a malty flavor that really contrasted with but complimented the delicate fish. didn't care much for the salad.

6. gohan mono (rice dish) - sliced duck, cooked with egg, served over rice, with clear soup with fish somen noodles.
- sorta like an oyako-don idea. the egg was a beautiful orange on the rice and quite good, but actually, i thought this was a bit forgettable. same with the soup, although the somen made from fish cake was interesting. but, nice to have this if you're somehow still hungry--fills you up quickly!

7. dessert - sake creme brulee made with dewazakura "oka" with fresh fruits.
- my god, this is total sacrilege b/ci do love french cuisine, but i think this could have been the best "creme brulee" i've ever had. it tasted essentially like the essence of butter toast--creamy yet custardy, slightly eggy, full of flavor, but somehow still very light. delicious way to end the meal.

won't write much about the sakes except to list them, as i don't know much about sake. but they were good.
1. masumi "nanago" daiginjo - came out with the sakizuke
2. nishida "kikuizumi) ginjo - with tsukuri
3. hoyo "genji" junmai - with agemono
4. dewazakura nama genshu - with yakimono.

all in all, i was very happy with this meal and would definitely recommend it, although it's a bit pricey. but given the amount of food, the quality and unique-ness of the ingredients, the great service, the attention to detail, and the exquisite presentation of each dish, i think it's worth it. if only the place had a bit more atmosphere.

Apr 19, 2007
gtchow in San Francisco Bay Area

Solo Dining in Denver near Convention Center

Thx so much for the tips! Quick question though--do you have any opinions on Aix, Fruition, or Duo? Or are they not on your list b/c they're not close to downtown/larimer square/LoDo?

Thx again!

Apr 04, 2007
gtchow in Southwest

Solo Dining in Denver near Convention Center

i will be in denver in a few weeks for a conference, staying at the hyatt regency convention center by myself. i'm looking for delicious places to dine, preferably places where i will feel fairly comfortable as a solo diner (although if the place is a must-not-miss, i have to say, i don't really care if people think i'm weird for dining alone!). so far, i am thinking of aix, fruition, and duo. i'm from san francisco and so pretty used to having fantastic food. not looking for any particular food, although not as interested in tex-mex or asian. i know there have been a lot of other posts on dining in denver lately, but i'm not sure where cherry creak, etc are relative to the convention center--if possible, since i won't have a car, i'd prefer restaurants that are within walking distance or a quick cab ride from the hotel!

thanks so much in advance for any tips!

Apr 04, 2007
gtchow in Southwest

TWO-Report (long)

Just got back from first dinner at TWO, the previous Hawthorne Lane location. Figured enough time had gone by for them to work out kinks in service, etc. Not a bad meal--I was pleasantly surprised and think I will go back to try some more dishes. Went with three friends, who unfortunately are not adventurous diners, so did not get to try the delicious sounding charcuterie - including a duck liver and apple pate with fig bread, slow roasted marrow bones, and a plate of house made head cheese (props to the chef for actually printing "head cheese" on the menu). We had the following:

two friends started with the raspberry lemonade and the cilantro martini. both sounded awful to me so i didn't try them, but they were very happy.

bread plate: very nice touch-several small buttery biscuits as well as several triangles of cheesy crackers with a spicy kick. very very yummy.

appetizers: baked goat cheese, watercress, and beet salad--surprisingly pleasant combination, with grapefruit sections adding a nice tart contrast. i split this with a friend, and they brought it out divided on two plates. other two friends split the chilled asparagus and prosciutto on grilled bread with some kind of garlicky cheese spread on it. pretty good.

entrees: i had the spaghettini with sea urchin--the pasta itself was good. i should have known better than to order a dish which tries to do anything with sea urchin than serve it raw (as it should be eaten, ie sushi). the uni were deep fried so that they basically could have been any deep-fried seafood, or actually basically just the fried outer bread crumbs. but the pasta was nicely al dente with a little spicy kick from the chile and just the right amount of garlic and olive oil. i ordered just the small portion, which was just the right amount for me, as i wasn't starving, and it provided me room to eat a few of the biscuits and cheese crackers! one friend had the pan-fried trout, which didn't impress me much. wasn't bad, but really wasn't anything that you couldn't make at home. another had the mushroom agnolotti--delicious!!! they were nothing like the agnolotti i had at perbacco (the only other place i've ever had it)--they were more just very thin ravioli-like pasta stuffed with simple, delicious, flavorful mushrooms. i would definitely get this again. finally, the fourth had the ny strip steak, which i didn't get to try, but he seemed very happy with.

dessert: we all split the banana cream pie creme brulee which came with a side of banana caramel ice cream. waitress told us it would only be enough for two people, but god, it was kinda a large portion and was enough for each of us to get several bites. the creme brulee was really only a brulee in that the top had that crystally burnt topping, but the rest was more a fancy banana cream pie--with a thin crust, layered with a very light cream and then a layer of sliced bananas, finally topped with the burnt sugar topping. this was really really good, and was complimented very well by the ice cream, which was not too sweet. i was nervous to try a dessert, as i had read previous lukewarm reviews, but was glad that i did!

wine: had a bottle of the cote du rhone, eric texier, 2003. billed as being medium-bodied but was really very light. drinkable, but i would have liked something more structured and, well, medium-bodied.

all in all, bill came to $180 before tip. the room itself was beautiful, gorgeous bar, service was fine. quiet, as it was sunday night. but i really liked the serene but sorta sexy atmosphere and look forward to trying it again soon. many other things on the menu that looked great, including a lamb pastrami sandwich, all of that delicious charcuterie, and many creative pizzas!

Apr 01, 2007
gtchow in San Francisco Bay Area

Recent visits to A16? what to order?

this is a bit long and scattered, but sorry, i am a first-time poster, and have a lot to say!

i've been to a16 twice--the first time was slightly underwhelming, back in october, but that may have been in part my dining companions, who were not exactly food lovers and devoured their own dishes and the shared appetizers so quickly that i don't really know what happened. i at least had a chance to grab a piece of absolutely phenomenal burratta cheese, but as i was savoring it, the remainder of it was inhaled by my three large, hungry male friends. the rest of the meal was a blur--i think i had a pizza, but the other guys helped themselves to that too, so i think it was good, but...

more exciting was my second meal there, which was a few months ago now, but i think still relevant, as a lot of the dishes are likely still on the menu. i was thankfully with a similarly food-minded friend, and the two of us walked in on a busy tuesday night and sat at the bar--which was fantastic. we struck up conversation with the bartender, in whose hands we decided to leave our entire meal (food and wine). he poured many different wines for us to try after we told him of our preference for earthy, leathery, un-fruity wines--he poured 3 different southern (of course) italian wines (sorry, i can't now remember all of their names), told us what order to try them in and described each one for us after we had tasted each (one had the taste of volcanic ash!). i think i was tipsy after trying all of these (generous) tastes. so, anyway, once we had selected our wines, we moved on to food...

again, it's been a while now, but what i recall--the tripe appetizer is excellent. braised for several several hours, still retains just the right amount of chewiness, abundant tomato sauce, but not so much as to drown out the earthiness of the tripe. the second appetizer was some kale or spinach thing which did not impress me so much--which is why i can't really remember it. then, we had a PHENOMENAL pizza with lardo. pig back fat. yum. it was so so delicious. i am a lover of the neapolitan type crust a la a16 (you either love it or hate it)--and this was excellent, unctuous, delicious. we finished with the rhubarb crostata for dessert--surprisingly very very good, as i usually don't like fruit crisp type desserts, but the rhubarb was perfectly sweet and tart at the same time, didn't make me pucker my lips, but didn't make me grab for my water glass because of cloying sweetness. and the crostata itself was perfectly baked, just a hint of butteriness. good proportion of fruit to crust too!

this was a (relatively) light dinner because it was tuesday night, but i really loved it, and am planning on going back soon to hit the entrees more fully, and of course to have more burratta! and back fat!

to summarize, if i were you, i would get the burratta, the tripe, a pizza, and probably some meat or fish that some other trusted chowhounder recommends! :)

Mar 25, 2007
gtchow in San Francisco Bay Area