j

jaiko's Profile

Title Last Reply

Best Burger in Bay Area?

Want to add a burger in Contra Costa Cty/Lafayette: Artisan Bistro's Angus burger. Served with caramelized onions, tomato marmalade, arugula, on a soft bun (not brioche). Not large but tall, about 1-1/2". Soft crust but no gray; evenly medium-rare pink all the way through. Additions were minimal but just right; nothing to take away from an amazing burger. The waiter upsold me on some Swiss and I'm glad he did; it was perfect.

We like our burgers just the way Artisan does it: salted very lightly well before cooking. We're not high-salt lovers (diet restrictions for the past decade). Because this isn't a fatty burger, the gentler cooking keeps it very tender and soft, not dried-out.

It comes with salad or fries. We subbed sweet potato fries so my MIL could have some, and were wowed. Possibly the best SP fries we've ever had (and we've had lots of 'em).

It ranks just below Vault 164/SMateo (which I posted about earlier in this thread) as the best we've had. Vault wins solely due to trimming the brioche to fit the burger, a step most restaurants never think of. We dislike overly bready sandwiches so this always scores points with us.

Artisan's burger is equal to French Garden/Sebastopol, not in style but in quality/taste of burger vs bun, with good accompaniments. French Garden makes fine standard fries; Vault makes terrible fries but the shredded mini-Caesar is an amazing accompaniment to their burger.

To recap: in Oakland so far, we like Mockingbird's burger - not large, but well balanced with that great old-fashioned burger bun. For cheap burgers, we tried Flipside Burger at 3401 Lakeshore Ave. and liked it very well. They are cheerful and clean, will do any kind of combo you want, and make good juicy old-fashioned, messy burgers.

*******

For lamb burgers, our vote for first place is Hole In The Wall, Sebastopol. Second place to Spice Monkey, Oakland.

Oct 10, 2014
jaiko in San Francisco Bay Area

Republic of V (Berkeley)

Thanks - much appreciated!

Oct 05, 2014
jaiko in San Francisco Bay Area

How often do you get a bad meal in the SF area?

Hmmm....we've been to (approx) 550+ restaurants since Oct 2009, not counting the repeats. Very few have been disastrously bad, but there were certainly many we wouldn't return to.

Reasons will range from poor quality (bad fish at Goose & Gander/St. Helena) to foods that were uninteresting to us (the "pak" at Cafe Tibet/Berkeley, for example, although the dholoona kamngoe, eggplant "chips", were amazing).

Incompetent service can be a killer in our eyes. My spouse has a degree in hotel and restaurant mgmt so he taught me how important the positions of maitre d'hotel and garde manger were in a traditional restaurant. We found the service at Michael Mina (when it was at the St. Francis) and Madrona Manor to be pretentious and fussy.

Being Boomers we're on the usual low-salt diet, and we don't appreciate overly greasy food (altho I'll fight for my share of pork belly any day, LOL). We're also not fond of what I call "the kitchen sink" syndrome, where 8 different unrelated items crowd onto the plate but do nothing for each other.

We loved David Bazirgan's cooking at Fifth Floor but loathed Dirty Habit, whose oversalted food was a waste of money. We would not return to Chalkboard/Healdsburg (we have tried Shane McAnelly's cooking twice, and disliked it both times) nor Backyard/Forestville, whose cooking was good but erratic. We loved Five under Banks White but Tonnelier's cooking is a sterling example of "kitchen sink" conception undermining basically good cooking.

We would not return to Mayflower/Dublin or Koi Palace/Dublin, and couldn't stand Muang Thai/Albany. Not really in love with any EBay Chinese restaurants these days, either. When Ravi Kapur was overseeing Boulevard & Prospect we had two absolutely stunning meals; two months after he left we visited both again and had some of the worst food ever: ill-conceived, poorly executed, and actually embarrassing, despite both Nancy Oakes and Pam Mazzola being in the kitchens the nights we were there.

Oct 04, 2014
jaiko in San Francisco Bay Area

Republic of V (Berkeley)

Wow, I was away when you posted this so I missed it until now. Many thanks for highlighting this business. One of our friends has recently become VERY lactose-intolerant so she has been struggling with dealing with it. I'm sending her the info immediately!

Details:
Republic of V
1624 University Ave @ California St (just above Sacramento St.)
Berkeley, CA 94703
Phone number(510) 280-5778
Business website http://www.republicofvegan.com/

Thanks again, very much!

Oct 02, 2014
jaiko in San Francisco Bay Area

Hash : SFBA Dish of the Month October 2014

Berkeley: Saul's deli at 1475 Shattuck @Vine - Saul's Deli Hash. Corned beef, pastrami, and salame chopped up with potatoes. Excellent.

San Leandro: Paradiso, Sat/Sun brunch. 685 Bancroft Ave. Very surprised to find brunch better than L/D. They did overcook the poached eggs a little, tho. Both duck hash and short rib hash were excellent; our friend called their duck hash the best she's ever had anywhere.

Oakland: Mama's Royal Cafe, 4012 Broadway, every day. Corned beef hash is coarsely chopped with plenty of vegetables. Sometimes a little on the bland side, tho. Eggs always poached perfectly, but I'm thinking the cook has changed. Last week the eggs seemed more shirred than poached, altho they were fine.

Oakland: Pican, 2295 Broadway. Sat/Sun brunch. Smoked beef brisket hash. Has a touch of vinegar, Carolina style. BUT--that was under chef Sophina Uong, who has left. Have not yet tried Pican under the new chef, Robert Sapirman.

San Mateo: Three (formerly Astaria) 50 E. Third Ave. A great Ariana's Corned Beef Hash, which was formerly just Sat/Sun brunch but is now available all week.

Oct 02, 2014
jaiko in San Francisco Bay Area

Empress of China to close at the end of the year -- to be converted to high-tech office spaces? [San Francisco]

The Empress was always a terrible restaurant. The building isn't even that old, and was never a great design architecturally.

Now, the loss of Flax's - to me, that's a real shame. Like losing Kaplan's. Inevitable, however. SF may soon just be a city of condos for singles, and hi-tech businesses.

When I first arrived here in 1969, there were at least half a dozen general bookstores with several used bookstores and specialty booksellers, in SF's downtown area. Now they are all gone.

Oct 01, 2014
jaiko in San Francisco Bay Area

Mustards Grill: My Theory [Napa]

>>The lusty complexity of their brand of cooking seems to put off lots of people.>>

Sadly we didn't find Mustards' cooking to be 'lusty complexity'. We found it to be clashing flavors and in the case with the duck, wondered if anyone had really tasted this plate with its excessive salt and approved of it. If so, why? I love Swiss chard but this was inedible.

We found the plates big but sloppy. We couldn't think of anyone we know who would have enjoyed a dry mustard-flavored cream sauce that overflowed the plate. Market Restaurant in St. Helena also does big portions, but their ingredients are equally good while more carefully executed.

I guess 'lusty complexity' is a phrase I'd reserve for the lunch we had at Etoile last week, where the octopus was a complex plate of sliced grilled tentacles on a plate crowded with different elements. There was a celeriac purée as the base, roasted halved fingerlings, a small scoop of braised mixed greens, a fair amount of black-eyed peas, and eggplant – both roasted slices as well as a pickle of cooked diced eggplant and root vegetables. It almost came off, and was at least interesting.

Perhaps it is a case of an owner just not able to keep an eye on an established place while being busy with other newer locations. We went to both Boulevard and Prospect immediately before and after Ravi Kapur left, and altho Nancy Oakes was in one kitchen and Pam Mazzola in the other, the post-Kapur dinners were uniformly terrible; even the Boulevard waiter was embarrassed. It was a huge shock to us. I've gone to Boulevard well over 60x since it first opened, but we haven't been back since the double fiasco.

Sep 27, 2014
jaiko in San Francisco Bay Area

A "special" dinner in SFBA -- your thoughts much appreciated

We love Pican - we've gone 9x since June 2010, but I would not necessarily recommend anyone schlep over to Oakland just to eat there. Especially since Sophina Uong just left and who knows what changes the new chef will make. We were very unhappy to hear the news of the chef change.

The most fun at Pican is brunch. Not as crowded or noisy, and having the bourbon flights afterwards has been a SPECTACULAR finish. All four times the bartender has given us a fourth as a freebie try. I would never have discovered the Jefferson 10 yr straight rye if the bartender hadn't included it. It doesn't have the depth of Pappy's 23 yr Reserve (nothing does) but that long smooth finish is the closest I've found...very, very nice.

Sep 26, 2014
jaiko in San Francisco Bay Area

The Barrel Room, Oakland Rockridge

As the previous thread back in Jan didn't go anywhere, I thought I'd start a new one. We went in mid August 2014 and were wowed!

The Barrel Room (TBR) is a demanding concept for its staff: every few months the menu/wine list completely change focus. It's currently showcasing Spanish wines and food. Currently (started July) it's showcasing Spain/Portugal, proving so popular they hope to extend it to November 2014. Next up will be Eastern Med--Turkey, Croatia, et.al.

TBR has a modest menu for Sun-Wed, with a slightly longer menu for the more popular Thurs-Sat period. Dinner only.

We were fortunate to have Jenny Lemay, the sommelier, for our waitress. She is certified with the Court of Master Sommeliers, meaning she's passed the Level II exams and is continuing her studies for the Advanced exams.

We heartily recommend going now--the Spanish menu is small but excellent. We eat out 3-5x/week and we agreed this is the best food we've had in Oakland over the past year (Desco, Chop Bar, Oliveto, Centouno, Hopscotch, Mockingbird, Michel, Tribune Tavern, Venga, for Oakland proper.).

Skip the paella, good flavor from a superior pimentón piquante but only average execution with no socarrat - we ranked it below Venga Paella. 5-star dishes were the charcuterie, bocquerones (fresh sardines), frisee salad, tri-tip (mains are very generously sized; share one if you have the charcuterie which is substantial) -- all excellent.

Hard ciders for your designated driver--Poma Aurea was lovely! It's a Spanish cider made by methode champenoise, and delightful with all the food from starters to dessert. Note, however, that only the CA hard cider comes by the glass; the two Portuguese ciders and the Aurea are available only by the 750ml bottle.

As there was so much garlic - and the restaurant wasn't overly busy on a Tuesday - I chatted with Jenny about what wines she would recommend with this wonderful but pungent beef. She replied she has suggested either some of the brighter Spanish whites or one of their aged Riojas. She had also recommended a Syrah-Carignan blend to one customer next to us, who had opted for the tri-tip as we had.

This combination of international wines and matching it up with sophisticated food was wonderful. It is way beyond the "bar food" concept. We don't drink (altho I used to) but we would happily come back here to eat! From the music (starting with Bo Hansson's great "Music Inspired by Lord of the Rings" instrumental progressive rock, which segued into current-day Nigerian retro rock), to the remarkable food and excellent service, The Barrel Room proved a great find for us in the Rockridge.

Details:
The Barrel Room
5330 College Ave., Oakland, CA
http://barrelroomsf.com/

Sep 26, 2014
jaiko in San Francisco Bay Area

Mustards Grill: My Theory [Napa]

All I can say is that on our 2011 visit, the salad of baby lettuces with Maytag blue dressing became instantly my "gold standard" for what a simple salad should be. The greens had literally just been picked and the sweetness/crispness of each leaf was amazing. You could not grow it yourself any better (and I speak as a dedicated gardener who spends hours every week working out there).

But the duck legs were a mistake in either concept or execution, or possibly both. Somebody thought the saltiness of the smoked duck would be enhanced by tossing some beautiful braised Swiss chard with an extraordinarily salty, thick sauce of butter, garlic and soy sauce. By contrast, the grilled slices of sweet potato weren't seasoned at all and were also barely sweet, a relief to the palate on all counts.

The duck was lovely, but that sauce on the chard was far too heavy-handed and essentially ruined a potentially good dish. Great ingredients, but if the execution was accurate then someone needed to have their salt-shaker taken away immediately.

We found the Mongolian pork chop heavy-handed and a mish-mash of too many competing flavors. The chop was dry, the hoisin-douchee glaze fought with the cream sauce that was heavily flavored with acrid Coleman's dry mustard powder. The sweet-sour cabbage was outstanding, however.

The problem, we think, is that really fine ingredients need simplicity, not the proverbial kitchen sink. The overall impression was one of overdone excess, not merely an occasional error.

I've used this analogy before, because my spouse and I prefer well-balanced flavors and were raised with classical techniques. What bothered us about Mustards was it's that one step over the line that you can't take back, and you need to have the discipline not to yield to the impulse in the first place.

Now, it's a far more fair test to try a restaurant at least 3x before deciding if you like it. But with the frantic pace of openings these days, you'd never get to more than half a dozen new restaurants a year (not being paid for dining out, as it is). So for us, you get one chance to impress and make us decide whether to return or not.

We do give second chances - we had an absolutely horrible, awful, uniformly disastrous lunch at Hopscotch in 2013. But everyone kept raving about them, so we finally returned for their second anniversary prix fixe dinner, and were wowed. It was as if we were eating at a totally different restaurant. But still....we're not ever coming back for lunch. Once burned, twice shy, etc. etc. I'm sure that's true for most diners.

Sep 26, 2014
jaiko in San Francisco Bay Area

Sunday nite prix-fixe: Gaspar Brasserie/SF

FYI:
Gaspar Brasserie in the FiDi is starting a Sunday 3-course prix fixe for $40. The wine pairing is an additional $20. The schedule so far for the entrées are:
- Whole Striped Bass, September 28 (see full menu below)
- Roasted Lamb Leg, October 5th
- Whole Poussin in Sherry Vinaigrette, October 12th
- Braised Wild Boar, October 19th.

The full 9/28 supper menu shows a Butter Lettuce Salad: Shaved petite basque, watermelon radish, hazelnut vinaigrette; Whole Roasted Striped Bass: Grain & baby turnip risotto, sauce vert; and for dessert a Lemon Tart with Huckleberry sauce.

NOTE: There's no listing on the website for the prix fixe dinners yet. They're on OpenTable if you want to make reservations: 185 Sutter Street @ Kearny, San Francisco, ph: 415.576.8800.

Sep 25, 2014
jaiko in San Francisco Bay Area

2014 Oakland Eat Real Festival, Sept 19 - 21, Jack London Sq.

Glad to hear that Jaynelle St. Jean/Pietisserie participated in the Eat Real. She's working on opening a new retail outlet of her own on the east side of Lake Merritt. One of our favorite people!

Some of you might remember Pietisserie when it shared a counter inside Nido Mexican restaurant on the SE side of the JLondon Square area.

Sep 23, 2014
jaiko in San Francisco Bay Area

Pican in Oakland: Review

I'm really sad about this. Uong brought Pican's food up to a whole new level. We have been there nine times in the last two years and can attest that both dinner and Sunday brunch were absolutely wonderful. We much preferred Pican to Brown Sugar Kitchen, having tried identical dishes at both restaurants (waffles, fried chicken, gumbo, grits, jambalaya).

Normally we like to let the new chef settle in for a while before going, but I've got family visiting and had already scheduled Sunday brunch this weekend. Will report on any changes we discover.

Sep 23, 2014
jaiko in San Francisco Bay Area

Restaurant suggestions at Sonoma Valley

Also helps to know what you like to eat and what you don't. We adored Spoonbar and think chef Maldonado rocks, but this is mostly a seafood restaurant, and a contemporary casual bistro, not an upscale or romantic restaurant.

If you are looking for no-expense-spared then there's Sante at the Sonoma Mission Inn. Drop down a couple levels and there's the lovely Victorian bldg and beautiful grounds of Madrona Manor - altho its address is Healdsburg, it is outside downtown on its own rural acreage.

If you are looking casual but a little more stylish than usual, we are very fond of French Garden/Sebastopol. Be warned it is a large restaurant and when crowded can be noisy, but on an early weekday evening it can be a delightful place, being a converted former home. The food is quite good and the service is better than average. IF, and a big if, it is cool enough, there is a table in the bar area (which is separated from the restaurant's dining rooms by a full glass wall) that is right in front of the fireplace. I don't know if it can be reserved or is first-come basis, but I've always thought it's one of the most romantic little tables around.

Have fun in Sonoma and Hawaii, and congrats!

Sep 18, 2014
jaiko in San Francisco Bay Area

Three nights' dinners in Napa Valley

We have found over the years that hotels seem to make much more effort to properly train all their employees, including restaurant staff. As you noted, Lucy is part of the Bardessono Resort, and everyone from the valet staff to hotel reception and all the restaurant staff, are wonderful to deal with. Auberge du Soleil, the restaurant inside the Relais & Chateaux resort of the same name, is the same way - as is Aubergine, down in Carmel at L'Auberge Carmel.

In SF it's always such a shifting community, it's almost impossible nowadays to keep a properly trained staff together as a working unit. A lot of the tired old "classic SF" restaurants had terrible food, but the waitstaffs were often top-notch, long-time pros. You find that only rarely here.

Sep 15, 2014
jaiko in San Francisco Bay Area

Mustards Grill: My Theory [Napa]

I may be going off on a tangent here, because we couldn't stand Mustards and ranked it dead last out of seven Napa Valley restaurants on one of our 2011 Napa trips. We're retired, so we make 2 trips/yr to Napa and usually 3-5/yr to Sonoma. We stay several days and eat out both L/D.

There are a large number of restaurants like Mustards around (and no, we didn't like Goose & Gander much either, which we just visited last week) that are what we view as "value" restaurants. That is, for the price they give generous portions. Logically, this isn't sustainable: food and labor costs rise over time, they don't drop. Something has to give.

An example of this is Oenotri, whose exquisite, wonderfully passionate food was amazing in 2011. On the same trip when we visited Mustards, we ranked Oenotri's meal as good as the one we got from Ken Franks at La Toque.

But in 2013 Oenotri's execution slid downwards although the portions had grown substantially, and out of six restaurants on that trip we ranked it dead last. Clearly our opinion was in the minority; there was a line out the door when we left, vowing never to return.

I want to thank Robert L for posting the link to Daniel Patterson's tirade. He has a point: there is a lot of "sameness" to Bay Area menu descriptions. But still, the ingredients these days are so much better than they were even ten years ago...and a description, no matter how many ingredients are listed, isn't a recipe.

As we all know, give ten chefs the same 15 ingredients, and you'll get 15 very different dishes. Nowadays chefs feel pressured to continuously produce something new, different from what they did last night or last week, let alone a year ago.
I think Mustards' style of cooking, with high quality ingredients but in larger "value" portions, is more common than ever. If we had to pick a restaurant that does this style - do we call it "refined casual", as opposed to Chipotle "fast casual"? Eh, whatever...our pick would be Market Restaurant in St. Helena. It is not a style we like, but the food was excellent and the portions sizable. If you could stick Market's chef and staff into Brix's gorgeous restaurant/patio, you'd have a match made in Heaven.

BTW, we loved Brix under Chef Chris Jones, but on this last trip, they tied with Goose & Gander for last place. Chef Robert Hohmann did not impress us or our friends despite the (here it is again) growth in portion size. The starters were decent, the entrées were uneven, the desserts disastrous; it didn't help when the service bordered on incompetent.

And I hate to tell all you young'uns out there, but it's true what they say…once you're past 60, you really can't eat as much as before [smile]. My spouse can still eat a 24-oz rib-eye by himself, but he can't manage a substantial lunch AND big dinner, the way he used to!

Sep 15, 2014
jaiko in San Francisco Bay Area

Anyone used Good Eggs/Fair Share specialty food delivery services?

Thanks to all who responded! I'm really excited to hear such positive feedback. It'll save me a lot of time, so I think I'm going to sign up when I get back from our trip.

Aug 30, 2014
jaiko in San Francisco Bay Area

Napa restaurants assess the Northern California earthquake damage

I just checked Ca'Momi's website and they said they had a lot of cleanup to do as well.

We have a 3 day Napa visit already scheduled; we're hoping Ca'Momi will have a plentiful supply of their bigne and ciambelle for us to bring home on Sunday!

Fortunately, our meal reservations are mostly for Yountville and St. Helena, not as hard-hit as downtown Napa. Have our fingers crossed for the Napa hotel, though (not downtown, fortunately) - plan to call them on Thursday to make sure everything is working.

Aug 26, 2014
jaiko in San Francisco Bay Area

Anyone used Good Eggs/Fair Share specialty food delivery services?

The recent discussion of East Bay CSAs prompted me to finally Google to see what kind of other food delivery services are available. The most interesting one is Good Eggs and Fair Share - Fair Share has a seafood CSF, and works with Good Eggs which has delivery/pick-up services that offers many artisanal/direct producer products.

Yes, I could drive around to several different places in addition to my regular grocery shopping, but I seldom have time and would love to have some of this stuff delivered once or twice a month.

Has anyone tried them?

Fair Share CSF: http://www.fairsharecsf.com/weekday-d... (a very minimal website

)

Good Eggs: https://www.goodeggs.com/welcome

Aug 24, 2014
jaiko in San Francisco Bay Area

The Half Orange [Oakland]

Not an encouraging report, oh well. Jives with the reviews Porter got for his previous restaurants before he came to Oakland: his heart may be in the right place about "why tipping is bad" (he's quoted in the current issue of Edible East Bay about the Minimum Wage ballot initiative for this Nov's election), but his food just isn't that great.

Doesn't bode well for Salsipuedes, which he still plans to open.

Aug 23, 2014
jaiko in San Francisco Bay Area

Jack's Oyster Bar & Fish House-Jack London [Oakland]

I hope they pull it together altho we've experienced service issues at Bocanova (same owner) as well. Like Chris Pastena, I don't think these guys have a good handle on how important the front of the house is.

For a very short while on the Jack's website (it's now OVER, so don't look for it!) they were offering a prepaid special deal: $100/food & drink for $60. My DH loves oysters, so I figured I'd use the card to take him for his birthday dinner in October. Now I've got my fingers crossed! Will report back after the dinner.

Hopscotch's Itani wins the Knife Fight!

As reported by Berkeleyside Nosh, Chef Kyle Itani of Oakland’s Hopscotch appeared on Esquire TV’s “Knife Fight: Live Halibut!” — and won! His appearance on the reality show aired Aug. 19, but he told Nosh’s Ms. Barstool that the prized “I Won” cleaver (yes, that was the prize; the loser got a tiny cleaver) had been 'hidden in plain sight' at Hopscotch since January. Inspired by his experience on the show, Itani has created something new for the Hopscotch menu this month: poached Petrale sole, with miso sofrito collard greens.

Hopscotch, in Oakland's Uptown:
1915 San Pablo Ave, Oakland, ph: (510) 788-6217
http://hopscotchoakland.com/

Berkeleyside link to column (you'll need to scroll down, there's several food news items before the Itani paragraph): http://www.berkeleyside.com/2014/08/2...

Aug 23, 2014
jaiko in San Francisco Bay Area

Napa: Critique my Day

Castello di Amoroso (not Castillo) is fine as an architectural experience. Any SCA fans would be in heaven visiting it. The brick double-barreled vaulting in the basement is a superb example of brickmason craftsmanship that is slowly dying out even in Europe; only a mere handful of masons know how to do it any longer. Within our lifetime we will probably see a time when this will become a lost art like so many other old-world craft skills.

Stick with the Cab and chocolate tasting, which is actually quite enjoyable.

Aug 21, 2014
jaiko in San Francisco Bay Area

Modigliani Cafe (Oakland)

Details:
Modigliani Cafe
3208-3210 Grand Ave @Santa Clara Ave.
Oakland, CA 94610
Phone number (510) 986-1599
Hours: Sunday-Monday: 11am- 6pm; Tuesday-Thursday: 11am-8pm; Friday-Saturday: 11am-9pm

Minor presence on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Modigl...
Website with menu: http://modiglianicafe.weebly.com/menu...

Aug 20, 2014
jaiko in San Francisco Bay Area

NAPA/SONOMA :: 1 Day Trip

To add a note of intentional sobriety:

You MUST be sure to check the map for current CA wildfire locations. Conditions are extraordinarily dry this year and there has already been one serious wildfire in Lake Cty which is the next county north from Napa Cty. In extreme smoke conditions freeways can and have been closed for periods of time.

The site is: http://cdfdata.fire.ca.gov/incidents/...

Please help me fill in a few (last minute) itinerary holes.

We liked Gaspar Brasserie, which is probably convenient to your hotels. And although I don't always agree with Michael Bauer, SF Chronicle food critic, he liked it also:
http://www.sfgate.com/restaurants/art.... We were there when it was half-full and it was noisy but not ear-splitting, but we noticed the crowds emptied out pretty quickly. A lot of people seem to just come for drinks and a couple of appetizers after work, then leave.

Gaspar serves until 11p on Fridays. Their lamb sweetbreads, if you don't mind gamy lamb (we love it, but not everyone does), are amazing and few chefs in SF serve them. The duck was marvelous, too. Chris Jones is the chef; Chucky Dugo the pastry chef (altho he may have moved on to a different role in owner LeClerc's restaurant group by now).

Gaspar (main dining room is upstairs
)185 Sutter St. (near Kearny Street), San Francisco; (415) 576-8800. www.gasparbrasserie.com

And there's nothing to apologize for in going to Yank Sing for dim sum. It's one of the better places in the Bay Area, which is remarkable considering I can remember going to the original Yank Sing on Broadway exactly 40 years ago: a plain, basic dim sum place when it was the ONLY good dim sum restaurant, far better than Hang Ah tea room. The owner, Alice, adored my husband when he was a 12-yr old teen and offered to adopt him.

We have always considered his parents idiots for turning her down, LOL! She later adopted a son who is now the owner of the current Yank Sing restaurants.

Michael Warring- on I-80 corridor in Vallejo

Nice! I really want to try MW, but will probably have to wait until later this year. Been trying to get back to Etoile @Domaine Chandon to try dinner, so it and the new chef at Brix will take up the evening meals on our next 2-day Napa at the end of August. Maybe in November, if we don't get washed away by the El Nino they're forecasting, LOL!

I'm getting the new Anovo sous vide device (comes out in Oct), but I fear the liquid nitrogen freezing will be beyond my capabilities to reproduce...thank you for giving such a complete rundown with photos, though. I'm collecting as many sous vide suggestions as possible.

Aug 11, 2014
jaiko in San Francisco Bay Area

(another) Napa Valley Itinerary Thread

Glad you enjoyed Lucy! I think it's often overlooked (better for dinner than lunch). The free parking - so useful when fighting summer crowds - and the lovely patio are real draws. Gardening is one of my major pastimes and I was wowed by the wonderful, Zen-like landscaping of their interior patio area. Very clean, serene, sophisticated yet casual design.

Lucy is inside the Bardessono Resort
6526 Yount St, Yountville, CA 94599
Dinner menu: http://www.bardessono.com/restaurant_...

In 2013 we went to both Lucy and Redd for lunches on successive days. We voted Lucy the better, hands down.

Aug 11, 2014
jaiko in San Francisco Bay Area

Suggestions for dinner in Healdsburg area

We agree, Bravas wins over both Willie's, to us. And don't miss the sherry flights, outstanding both dry and sweet! Love Bravas' patio, like Girl & Fig only bigger; like sitting in a friend's backyard.

Eating out in Healdsburg

One thing to note about Cafe Lucia, however - if you've been to La Salette on Sonoma Square, CL is virtually identical in menu. We had just been to La Salette a month earlier so were disappointed to see 90% of the same dishes on CL's menu. The decor is contemporary, but that seemed really the only difference.

Aug 11, 2014
jaiko in San Francisco Bay Area