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Al's Place, San Francisco

First time was with a reservation and sat at a table, second time was walk-in and sat at the bar. I think they aren't putting all their tables on OT and have some set aside for walk in. Would just go either at opening or later in the evening.

Feb 19, 2015
tjinsf in San Francisco Bay Area

Al's Place, San Francisco

I don't usually recommend a place until I've been there a few times but even having only dined here twice I am so excited about the food at Al's Place. This is the place to take your favorite vegetarian as well as your favorite pescatarian and carnivore. Everyone will be happy and you can share so many dishes.

Also compared to other mid-range places that are open currently it wouldn't break the bank with dishes under 20. You will still probably spend 20-40 a person with tax and tip.

The menu is divided into four sections- snacks, Cold dishes, Warm/Hot dishes and Sides. It was suggested that we order one from each section to share and that's just what we did.

First visit
SNACKS:
The snacks had familar trendy flavour vadouvan (ie. dutch curry), fennel and other seasoning.

We got the Fritters with fennel sauce , which was three very light freshly fried dough ball that were more like beignet in texture than American fritter. Our order came with 3 fritters, our neighbors had 4. These were perfect delicious little bites.

COLD DISH: there were four cold dish several which were vegetarian

Trout with kolrabi mousse, potatoes and broth $16-
This was a smaller dish than we expected for the price but it was very satisfying with lots of flavour. We asked for some of the Josey Baker bread to soak up the broth and mousse. The only negative was the tiny amount of trout, three tiny 1/4 inch strips of cured trout that was gone in three bites.

WARM: Again there were four dishes with a couple vegetarian including the one we ordered.

Tonarelli $16- this was a beautiful pasta dish with a sauce that made me want to lick the plate. Again not a huge portion but perfectly sized when combined with our other dishes. We added poached egg $2 which was needed but is never a bad thing on a plate of pasta.

SIDE-the sides are meat and seafood and are actually the most expensive thing
Dungeness crab $20, again not a huge portion and perhaps not something I would get again, this was very sweet crab served already broken up but not unshelled and with a dipping sauce that was good but not needed.

We had a bottle of sparkling water and house made tangerine cream soda that was delicious and made with fresh cream.

Dessert there were three dessert choice all for 7 dollars
Key lime tart with quince compote and ice cream. This was not as inspired as the rest of the meal and a bit of disappointment.

They add that damn Health Care fee rather than sucking it up and roll it into their costs.

Second visit
snack-chickpeas a la catalan, quince romesco, small bowl of fried chickpeas similar to the ones you get for free in Spanish bars.

Cold: mixed brassicas, sudachi, pickled radish, wild mushrooms. I think I would have preferred this as a warm dish but it was a good hearty tasting dish. $15

Side-Jowl Ham, 13, I honestly don't know what Jowl Ham is but I do know it was delicious. It's not a huge portion, more than enough for one person, perhaps not enough for two big meat eaters.

Warm:sunchoke curry, black lime-cod, grapefruit 17, the chef really has a great hand at seafood and this was true for this dish, fish cooked just right, tender and moist, curry with strong but not overpowering seasoning, nice bite of acid.

DECOR:
The space is very simple with not a piece of reclaimed wood in sight but lots of sound baffling panels on the wall. I LOVE it. It's still noisy but not as bad as it could be. The chairs are wood and not the most comfortable. There is a small bar with 6 stools where the bartender is making creative cocktails since they don't have full liquor license. They clearly have spent far more thought on the food than the decor and I really appreciated how they went for function over fashion.

The kitchen is tiny and there are only two chefs on hot stations and two sous doing the cold prep with A.L. doing the pass and it was all running very smoothly.

The space is wheelchair accessible but walk ways are narrow. The lighting was very good and the menu type was easy to read.

For only being open a couple of weeks the service was friendly if a bit scattered but again all the service including the bartender who doubled as a server at the bar were able to make suggestions and knew the menu.

SF Trip 2015

Plaj is a good representation of Modern Swedish food.

Feb 13, 2015
tjinsf in San Francisco Bay Area

Nico [San Francisco]

ok understand better.

Feb 13, 2015
tjinsf in San Francisco Bay Area

Nico [San Francisco]

Interesting that you compare it to meals in Paris. Married to a French person and having lived in France for years I could see the French technique but it has a very American slant in the ingredients and dishes to me and my spouse feel more modern European than Parisian. It reminded me more of modern European food I find in most major Western European cities not just in Paris. I really like his dishes with seafood especially the cod. And I find the dessert to be delightful and creative. The service has always been very good when we've been there.

Feb 13, 2015
tjinsf in San Francisco Bay Area

Grocery Cafe- Burmese food! [Oakland]

Went tonight. They are now open till 8:30 although yelp has open till 8pm. They also have a good size tarp sign that says Burmese Food above the door. This good no-frills food. The amount of tea leaf in the salad was twice what we got at both Burma Love and Burma Superstar and made with cabbage. We also got the chicken coconut soup that has the consistancy of a curry gravy and was a huge portion, liked the crunky bit of samusa on top of it. Our third dish was the noodle salad with fish sauce.

The decor is no frills with church pews and a mishmash of table. Tea is complimentary. 9 dishes all $7 dollars. All very good size portions.

They told me for Valentine's Day they are going to have a special of lamb and probably will have it on the following Monday.

Feb 12, 2015
tjinsf in San Francisco Bay Area

Pavlova, Eton Mess or other meringue-based desserts in SF or East Bay

Had a wonderful Baked "Hawaii" at Liholiho Yacht Club with a pineapple ice cream center.

Feb 08, 2015
tjinsf in San Francisco Bay Area

Best Bar Steak in SF ?

Chez Maman's steak frites

Feb 08, 2015
tjinsf in San Francisco Bay Area

San Francisco HELP

Why Slanted Door or Tacolicious? Tacolicious's tacos are small, bland and overpriced.

Higher end Thai-Kin Khao
Beso instead of Coqueta unless you just want to bites and drinks at Coqueta
Either do TBD or AQ

Cockscomb if you like delicious meats

Why Park Tavern?

Feb 06, 2015
tjinsf in San Francisco Bay Area

San Francisco HELP

yes worth it.

Feb 06, 2015
tjinsf in San Francisco Bay Area

Has anyone tried this private kitchens web site...www.eatwith.com?

Used it in Barcelona. It was in a home but it was a professional chef. Just like an "underground" supper club. Some chefs are using it for private paid dinners in SF too.

Feb 05, 2015
tjinsf in San Francisco Bay Area

Pleasant veg friendly dinner near Mikkeller bar [San Francisco]

I would say Liholiho is just as precious as AQ or Verbena and far less veggie friendly.

Feb 05, 2015
tjinsf in San Francisco Bay Area

B Side BBQ in Oakland

damn it.

Liholiho Yacht Club | Tendernob, San Francisco

Yes the portions are better than Monsieur Benjamin and yes the prices are in keeping with the current places in the same style/target market. I don't think the prices with decrease. The menu is very much Ravi but the decor and style felt much more NOPA.

Feb 03, 2015
tjinsf in San Francisco Bay Area

Communal dining in SF?

Communal tables- Marlowe, Monsieur Benjamen, Maven, Ricky Bobby, Trou Normand, more casual farm:table, Suppenk├╝che, Nopa to name just a few with decent food.

How friendly people may be is another story, often the communal table is set aside for walk-ins and some people are bit pissed about having to sit at it. I've found folks to be more friendly at the bar dining than the communal table.

Liholiho Yacht Club | Tendernob, San Francisco

Went on the third day they were open to the public, 5 day open all together. While all the dishes were good the food wasn't too memorable for me. Dishes seemed price 1-4 dollars more than I would expect for the size and ingredients. The menu is very interesting with lots of Hawaiian and Asian inspired New American. We had six small dishes, more than we needed, 3-4 small plate would be fine for most people, some may even want to do three. Things we liked were the Beef tongue bao but it was 12 dollars for two of them and the poke $14-this was a great variation on the dish, with the tuna on a nori cracker. This is almost identical to one that was State Bird Provisions. We had dishes with squid and fried tripe and another with octopus. The octopus was 16 and had a large serving of octopus larger portions then I've seen at Coqueta and Beso unfortunately some pieces were chewy and overcooked. The brussel sprout ceasar was total miss for us but that's personal preference I think. There was great special of fish collar. The larger dishes all had meat in them except one dish and this place is better for an omnivore and people without dietary restrictions.

The dessert was the best thing I ate. It's was baked Hawai'i, really a baked Alaska with a pineapple ice cream that managed to not be overly sweet. It was really the right amount of meringue to ice cream with a tiny bit of fresh pineapple compote. I would go back just for that.

The dishes are complex without being precious or stuffy. I would plan at least 50 a person more likely 60 per person.

The decor is amazingly hipster with MGMT on the sound system, everything made of unfinished wood both tables and seats, brick walls, They did some sound dampening in the ceiling so it's better than say Alta CA but will still be quite noisy. The guests were a mix of business causal and tech/art hoodies. There is pretty well developed wine list as well as a separate cocktail menu that was heavy on the floral and sweet.

Both the front of house and kitchen were running very smoothly with no lags in timing and pretty knowledgeable servers. They are adding the health "fee" because I guess they aren't aware of a ordinance that's been in effect for a few years now or they don't believe employees should get basic health care.

Your Favorite $5 or under bites in San Francisco

pupusas from El Salvador orders of 2 for 5 or under.

Jan 28, 2015
tjinsf in San Francisco Bay Area

anonymous food critics

Yes different people have different experiences, some times they even go on sites about food and share them.

Jan 27, 2015
tjinsf in San Francisco Bay Area

anonymous food critics

Based on my personal experience of eating with critics and not being treated the same and receiving different portion sizes and different cuts of the same dishes I had previously, what else would I basis my thoughts on. I don't make random judgements about things I haven't actually experienced, that's would be uninformed and lacking validity. Any critic that says they are treated like everyone else is delusional same with celebs. Even just going to a place solo post dining with a critic or a celeb and the treatment is different especially in SF and often in LA, I don't notice it as much in London or NYC.

Jan 27, 2015
tjinsf in San Francisco Bay Area

anonymous food critics

"anonymous food critics", three words that don't belong together.

I will say that one that really annoys me that does happen when they know who the critics are and they always know who the critics are even the ones that do international reviews is that they give different size portions for food. While they can't change the quality of the food, I've seen far too many restaurants who increase the portion sizes for the critic dinners.

Jan 27, 2015
tjinsf in San Francisco Bay Area

The torture of TV reality shows -- featuring Top Chef Just Desserts and Hell's Kitchen

The fact that they have them see psychologists before even casting them is pretty good indicator that the show runners are trying to weed out folks with serious mental issues and that they can handle the filming process. Anyone who goes on a reality show and doesn't understand that it is entertainment and that editors will be cutting the footage to get the most dramatic result shouldn't sign up for the show. The contestants on Top Chef have talked numerous times about the short amount of sleep, the tight shooting schedules and how the interviews likes most reality shows are set up with leading questions.

I can understand contestants not liking their edit but they can only work with what they are given.

Jan 26, 2015
tjinsf in Food Media & News

Herring season 2015

there is a herring festival today in Sausalito-
http://cassgidley.org/

Jan 25, 2015
tjinsf in San Francisco Bay Area

Jade Chocolate has opened in the Inner Richmond [San Francisco]

Hot Cakes in Seattle sells smoked Chocolate Chips. I also had it from two other chocolatiers at the past SF Chocolate salon.

Jan 25, 2015
tjinsf in San Francisco Bay Area

Avant garde, modernist, quirky recs?

well at the meal I had Manresa last week and the ones I've had in the past they certainly used all the modernist techniques.

Jan 23, 2015
tjinsf in San Francisco Bay Area

Avant garde, modernist, quirky recs?

Most modernist food here goes through a filter of farm to table and modernist technique aren't as over the top. Atelier Creen, Benu, AQ, Lazy Bear, Manresa

Jan 23, 2015
tjinsf in San Francisco Bay Area

Manresa is accepting reservations [Los Gatos]

The list is still from the previous sommelier's reign.

Jan 22, 2015
tjinsf in San Francisco Bay Area

Affordable, vegan friendly restaurants in SF or East Bay area?

Both Millennium and Source are closing.
Source claims they are closing because of having to pay minimum wage but having been in there, they only have counter service, the location, decor, and atmosphere was bad, they had consistency issues with the food.

Sadder to see Millennium close, the menu hadn't progressed in a long time but it was still a nice upscale place to take a vegan.

http://sfist.com/2015/01/20/new-age-y...

http://insidescoopsf.sfgate.com/blog/...

Jan 22, 2015
tjinsf in San Francisco Bay Area

Affordable, vegan friendly restaurants in SF or East Bay area?

Golden Era has re-opened at a new location,
395 Golden Gate Ave
San Francisco, CA 94102

The prices are 1-3 dollars more, the decor is far more modern and hipster with the location on the ground floor of one of the new cardboard condo buildings.

The fake meats are still excellent, the service still overwhelmed and slow. They have lunch specials too.

Jan 22, 2015
tjinsf in San Francisco Bay Area

Herring season 2015

Plaj has herring and it's quite good.

Jan 22, 2015
tjinsf in San Francisco Bay Area

Manresa is accepting reservations [Los Gatos]

Went this week. Both front of house and back were running smoothly. They gave us a tour of kitchen, it's the same layout with just some minor tweaks. The dishes were all excellent, subtle flavours, complex dishes that seemed simple. Really excellent cod with a nori sauce, first time having their cheese course, all domestic cheese, very good selection of 8 with 3 goat cheese. Did the non-alcoholic drinks pairing and since we had a couple of them in the lounge since we got there early, they created new ones for us so there wouldn't be repeats. They accommodated the FS's pescatarianism. All the breads were excellent, the best the French Spouse has had in North America and I agree. The dishes were the right portions for a meal with 4 amuse-gueules, 7 savory course and 2 dessert course plus savory and sweet petit-fours that started and ended the meal. They are doing chemex coffee with three varietals. They have a new sommelier.

The front of house service was excellent and had a level of white linen service that I don't often see in the Bay Area.