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Mourad (from Aziza) [San Francisco]

We went to Mourad last night and were deeply happy with the food and flavors -- it was a great experience. Although the a la carte choices looked delicious (and we'll be back to try them), we opted for the tasting menu to get the broadest experience.

*Everything* was good -- technically accomplished, intentional (but non-precious) flavor and texture combinations. Some standouts for us...

"Caviar, smoked brioche, maple, almond" -- a twinkie-like brioche with a maple/almond crust, topped with caviar. Simple and salty/sweet.

"Salmon, potato, cranberry, mussels" -- salmon cooked perfectly (glazed and smoky), potatoes covered with coins of pickled radishes...flavors played off each other nicely.

"Radish, calcots, harissa, sweet herbs" -- balanced bitter/sweet dish...radishes aren't generally my thing but I could eat this all day.

"Couscous, flowers, herbs" -- served by itself, lemony and floral, complex -- paired with a red from Andalucia and the combination was outstanding.

Should note that we also did the wine pairing and it added to the experience -- some unfamiliar choices (sake for one of the courses) that really worked well.

The desserts were amazing, too -- that appears to be no news to anyone who knows the chef's work, but we hadn't had it before. White chocolate and dijon and the sugar puffs were particular favorites.

Service started out bumpy and there were some hitches, but it was abundantly clear that folks were "on it" and cared about getting things right. From outward appearances, it seems to be a very committed team.

We'll be back. Delicious!

La Mission Berkeley

I work up the street and come here regularly: super-friendly staff. I would recommend the Mole Poblano burrito to anyone -- it's rich and delicious (and huge...definitely a half-at-night, half-for-lunch-the-next-day choice). Also really like the fish tacos. They just opened for breakfast as well and seem pretty busy, although I haven't tried those options yet.