unclefishbits's Profile

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13 French Laundry 4 top reservations open for within 3 days time. [Yountville, Napa Valley]

Well... that's it. I am sort of joking, but it is freaking obvious how we get a 2 top nowadays. That's brilliant. Wish I could go. Instead, I will pretend I would have spent the $1500, put it in savings, and go back to the south of france when I save enough. lol

13 French Laundry 4 top reservations open for within 3 days time. [Yountville, Napa Valley]

Me too, good sir. Me too. LOL

13 French Laundry 4 top reservations open for within 3 days time. [Yountville, Napa Valley]

Thanks for this. It's possible the winter goes soft, and with weather conditions, they have a lot more available. Honestly I probably only tried to book during high season.

Love all the thoughtful responses. I am just tired of the complexity of booking any sort of restaurant.

Frankly, I am sort of down to wait in line at 4.15p for a fun State Bird meal, rather than attempt to book through the hoops on fire. lol

Tech has made it this way for everything tho... I know this case is re: weather, possibly.... but even camping spots have bots buying up spots 6-7 months out when those things are released. Things have to change. Booking a table at a restaurant, frankly, should be commensurate with the entire flow of the experience. But that's just me. =)

13 French Laundry 4 top reservations open for within 3 days time. [Yountville, Napa Valley]

It's possible, but I can't imagine that many dump just prior to the cxl policy. It would seem more even keeled and thoughtful than my knee jerk reaction, though. I just think it's obvious that some other methodology on booking needs to be researched. Wise, sanguine thoughts tho... thank you.

13 French Laundry 4 top reservations open for within 3 days time. [Yountville, Napa Valley]

Bots suck.

There were 13 last night, 11 right now....

4 top French Laundry rez available for within a few days time. Great if you want to last minute book, awful if you are a restaurant trying to plan on revenues. Awful if you are trying to book a real time, and not last minute.

Can anyone do anything about this? Go back to phone only?

http://www.opentable.com/nextavailabl...

HOW TO COOK A GOOD STEAK WHEN THE GRILL ISN’T AN OPTION

I had to sign in so I could thank you. For about 5 years, I have used and thought of this simple recipe every time I cook one. Since they changed the layout, you aren't as easy to find.

So simple, so delicious. Hooray. Cheers.

I just thought I would bring it to your attention that the internet loves you, and still uses your advice 6 years later. =)

Mar 24, 2013
unclefishbits in Home Cooking

AQ or Commonwealth and dinner in Marin County

OH WOW. So funny.... I had no idea they do brunch. Thank you. I must say that Piatti in Mill Valley has an EXCEPTIONAL traditional brunch with great bloody mary's, great menu, great service. But I will definitely poke the wife awake early some AM and head over. She's hard to wake up, but a 10.30am Oysters Bingo is disgustingly compelling. =)

AQ or Commonwealth and dinner in Marin County

lovely "elevator pitch" contrasting the restaurants. Cheers!

Best commercial blender?

It's a fantastic blender. Also, it comes with a tamp, and a few other things that make it rise above something like blendtech. thanks for the input!

Oct 28, 2012
unclefishbits in Cookware

Blue Bottle at FPFM?

proper cold brewed ice coffee is a labor of love, and even if you drink coffee black, it packs such a bunch sometimes people use cream and sugar when they, otherwise, would never do so. It's definitely a different taste, but it's fantastic. Actually... blue bottle might already mix it with cream? Anyhoo... yum.

AQ or Commonwealth and dinner in Marin County

You might consider Nopa or Dixie in SF. Full disclosure I know Joe at Dixie. It's Bay Area w/ slight touch of southern ingredients. Nopa is more than 5 years old now, I think, and a really great scene for simple, unpretensious but delicious food. *AQ is probably the best choice tho*. If you are adventurous maybe Incanto for awesome offal.

Huge fan of buckeye, will drop everything to go and *eat in the bar not the dining room*. Wait for bar seating.... the atmosphere is better. 100% agreed on the Bingo. It's INSANE.

Their sister restaurant is as convivial as the bar, and just as enjoyable... in Mill Valley, it's Bungalow 44. Only thing is that they aren't 100% consistent on their meats... steaks often overcooked. Just order rare if you like medium rare.

Le Garage is good but a bit over-celebrated. Fish is very low key and fresh sustainable seafood, delicious, but cash only and overpriced. Le Garage's sister Restaurant L'apart Resto.... it's where you are in San Anselmo, and *I would suggest that's your move*.

Murray Circle (full disclosure I helped build and open Cavallo Point where it's located) has come way down in fine dining experience and is more similar to Buckeye now, since Joe Humphrey left. That might work if you want a stellar view and location, it's under the Golden Gate.

Picco comes highly suggested, but I haven't dined there yet.

For Italian, I used to like Don Antonio in Tiburon, but it's come down a bit - so Piatti is quite nice. Sushi Ran in Sausalito is fancy, expensive sushi (I think a wee bit overpriced), but for a no frills but affordable and okay sushi experience I would do Robata in Strawberry/MV.

SO, after my ramble...

I say AQ, and L'Apart. Yup. That's what I'd say, and now I am jealous. =)

Best commercial blender?

I hate lots of appliances in the kitchen, but am wary of ditching many for one that doesn't do everything.... I used to work in a kitchen and seem to remember a proper commercial blender being able to do just about everything, and is potentially capable of ridding of a residential blender, cuisinart (I don't mind prep work with knives, I quite like it), and juicer? They do just about everything.

But - Is that realistic?

I know Blendtech and Vitamix are exceptional, but any of you prefer industrial / commercial blenders over those? What do you use? Can they actually juice? I am not opposed to spending the money on something that will last forever and slim down on kitchen appliances. Any advice helps! Thank you!

(pic not related, just a dose of fun)

EDIT:

most comparisons are old. This one is recent, but i would love to hear all your experiences recently. Thank you!

Vitamix vs Blendtech: http://kimberlysnyder.net/blog/2012/0...

Oct 27, 2012
unclefishbits in Cookware

SF Michelin stars 2013

I would give Thanh Long *something*. Boring place, boring interior, stellar, unbelievable food.

SF Michelin stars 2013

Dustin... +1 to steak comment, but then I get the steak and think I should have done it at home. My wife and I have been so soured on the dining scene, we have been doing 4 or 5 coursed menus just for fun, because we love it, and it's usually a better experience - though the prep work is what you actually pay for in the restaurant because a day's worth of cooking.... not so feasible. =) But we have been recreating some french dishes and it's just been a blast. Coi might have finally put us over the top on the Michelin orientation of restaurants. Even La Folie recently, with slow, friendly service and a stellar menu was just "we're over it". Maybe it's the final bills are precisely 10% - 15% too high.... sticker shock is still present at that level. =)

SF Michelin stars 2013

EXACTLY. It's the same with Frenchie or L'ami Jean in Paris, etc. It's so unpretentious that it's insulting. There are a number of examples like this....

SF Michelin stars 2013

Yay! I am tired of the ahi tartare.

SF Michelin stars 2013

If you have a problem with the Michelin System, so does Vanity Fair in this incredibly SCATHING article: http://sf.eater.com/archives/2012/10/...

SF Michelin stars 2013

Lol on fries. no frying! Eating in France did help me realize how much the industrial revolution (like farm trucking: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nI3Avp...) disconnected Americans from food sources. Distribution created such a dramatic shift in awareness of what food is, people don't even think "cow" when they eat "burger" or "pig" with "bacon, etc.

Robert - your comment is so on point. Both of you.... it's always been the way things are done in, say, Provence, so there's no annoying marketing trend or capitalizing off a ridiculous concept like "local" - because that is simply what it is.

But when the Waters thing returned here, the rubber band shot all the way to the other side and this wonderful re-connecting with unbelievable product garnered this haughty, pretentious side that is so wildly impractical, and mildly insulting. I think those "I know my Farmer" stickers are *SO* vain, because the level of privilege that people are mired in is absurd. We are so lucky to be able to have these farmer's markets, etc - but it shouldn't be about "who's better".

I remember an economist article where someone said, "now something as prosaic as picking an apple has become emblematic of education level & sophistication". That's not okay.

But my wife and I shop at the Marin market for the week, and have returned to daily shopping instead of spending the $400 on a month of preservative laden and packaged food - so there is a middle ground for all this pretension, etc. I think we're just getting back to where the French have been the whole time - where it is simply how things are done, and that's not what is worth talking about.

I hate being out and getting food I should have just prepared myself at home. I do my best to avoid that possibility. But then again, chefs are so insecure about standing out within the confines of the Michelin system, they over manipulate the product simply because all Bay Area chefs are working with the same inventory. A friend mentioned the only real way to stand out is start growing your own vegetables, which is happening. My friend in Boulder was doing that for his restaurant 15 years ago, our catering friends in Carmel Valley do it for everything they use, a hotel I am involved with in Willamette Valley just upped their acreage for their chef..... that's a REALLY cool trend to me.

But obviously, after years of watching people wrestle with inner demons and put it on a plate, I enjoy simplicity.... and we're back to it taking all types of people to run all types of restaurant for all types of guests. =)

SF Michelin stars 2013

This is great confirmation about how much of this relies on the fallibility of the human condition and personal preferences, you know? If a small group of people on a like minded board are going to clash, there is no way a couple people can make a city happy. =)

Dunstable - it makes me realize again that you are right - there is a time and place for 14 courses, just as there is a time and place to not have it. One preferences will define the frequencies. =)

Fun chatting tho. Cheers all!

SF Michelin stars 2013

I really respect that response. A lot. Good food for thought. I am tired over the overly reverent "local" stuff. I am also tired of the chefs going to farmer's markets just for the twitter shot of adoring fans when they could get the same produce sent to their restaurant for cheaper. Yes to your comments... yes. =) I do think the attention to Michelin retards the overall development of the scene, however. As to the comment of Coi, were definitely speaking of different tastes, because I have never been so bored in my life than with that dining experience.

Again... totally respect and understand your opinions, smart enough to sway me back to the middle. As I said, it takes all types.... and well said.

SF Michelin stars 2013

lol.

Dustin - you are right. It's just the nature of what you enter (I don't mean chef school kids buying into celebrity stardom bs, I mean classical trained chefs who ground it out), is so absolutely different from what the result is. When I started in hotels, I (sort of) knew it was an underpaid, 6 or 7 day a week, 12-14 hour a day job. I knew that.... and it's what I got. Same with my architect friends with carpal tunnel, fashion people that are too old at 23, etc, advertising guys who just want to sleep at home for once..... they all knew what they signed up for, but cooking and the restaurant biz has had such changes, I think it's a little different for those chefs, especially the classical trained ones.

But, essentially, you are right and I agree and could ramble and wax forever on this stuff. lol. pardon that.....

SF Michelin stars 2013

well said... but I also think it (so you don't need to read the essay) homogenizes talent, and limits people to work within the confines of these old systems, rather than challenge themselves to simply do food well, and not worry about the blinders in place.... It derails innovation to some extent, & doesn't give proper deference to product and location.

SF Michelin stars 2013

First, I adore Dom, but laughed pretty hard at the "trapped prisoner" comment in this Eater article:
http://sf.eater.com/archives/2012/10/...

(where I posted the below

)

Second - this is a tome, but not a rant. I am just drooling thoughts here:

Coi is a perfect example of this errant stasis consuming this city's adoration of Michelin. Michelin, bless them (especially in Europe), is a dinosaur, stuck in the 20th century, say 1993. Not only has food changed, but systems are in place that create groupthink and inbreeding. They will catch up in time, but for now, these ratings, albeit great for discussion, suffer the allegiances of fallible humans. For now, we're beyond the vapid "plate of figs" comment, and now dealing with some severely ingrained problems with our food scene. This isn't earth shattering, but it's important to talk about.

Michelin is working against us now, by celebrating these archaic methods of preparing food. Patterson is just dandy, but our Coi experience was depressing, and deflating.

Let me make this simple: There is a quiet, important, revolutionary "happening" in food and beverage that will not really take form for a couple years. To most it will sound obvious, so I will sound idiotic. But the nature of an unpretentious food scene is that it doesn't have the flash to gain glossy magazine or Food section articles. Yet.

Chefs are burnt out. They are ground into dust by the machine that is our F&B industry. Investors, Owners, other people's expectations, the social reviews which have pros and minuses, the uncontrollable guest experience on the floor with cell phones, cameras, etc - it's different than when they signed up for it. People who entered the industry to feel a connection to the food, and act as tradesmen to spend their life energy sharing a bond over this food - have become married to a system that chews people up, and spits them out.

So, like what is happening in Paris, people are ripping tablecloths from the table, pairing down service, pricing wine inventory fairly to enhance the meal, rather than increase revenue, and generally reducing the pretentiousness of the experience of food. This is where the out of touch, completely in
their own world chefs are romanced by the Michelin system that obscures function for form. It limits the ability of chefs to find their path, because they are being trained to work within the confines of ancient expectations. It's incredibly limiting, and homogenizes the potential variability of exciting new cooks.The fact is, *ESPECIALLY* in San Francisco, in the epicenter of some of the finest food sources in the entire world, it should be fine to level ego in an attempt to showcase accessible product *before* form. The trapped prisoner analogy is good, because the errant, knee jerk over-manipulation of food and experience is driving a disconnect between this epic product and our sense of place. It also just looks INCREDIBLY insecure. Maybe it's because some people lack formal training, and over compensate. I don't know, but I am also not suggesting formal training is mandatory, either.

I don't vouch for these as the finest restaurants in the world, but Cosentino's vibe at Incanto, Nopa, AQ, Dixie, Fremont Diner, State Bird Provisions, & even the endless gastropubs like 15 Romolo popping up, are all celebrating food over Michelin-stylized pomp and circumstance. When you eat that food, the sense of connection to food and place is unbelievable. This was refreshing to see in Paris, but only now do I realize that it means it doesn't get the attention it deserves - because the scene is driven by Michelin. Bib Gourmand or not, we need to re-center the discussion about what it means to eat food, and how we want to relate to it. Taking some of the most beautiful and accessible product in the world and making it inaccessible and unrecognizable doesn't seem like a thoughtful approach to cuisine.

Many can argue against that, for sure, but these are all personal opinions. My wife and I just realized that a 2 1/2 hour meal and 3 excellent courses is a lot more meaningful to us than a 4 1/2 meal where it's like watching someone work out 14 personal issues.

The world needs all type of restaurants, but to the people who entered the business to work with beautiful food, and make it beautifully so you can enhance people's lives - it's become a broken system of alliances and false allegiances; an exhausting day to day battle with the business of food, and not food itself. It's more like playing the game of politics than enjoying the beautiful, quiet moments in the kitchen. I feel so bad for chefs right now - especially the ones locked into this game by their investors or people's expectations. Of course they chose that path, but there is no way it was what they bargained for. There is no way they could expect these changes.

As for this Michelin list - I cannot wait to come back and see what this SF list looks like in 10 years. Even 5 ..... there is a conscious change coming in how we approach our chefs, and food, and I think it's going to be wonderful for everybody. Just my 2 9/10ths cents.

Dishtip?

LOL.

looked up "soup" in Monterey..
http://www.dishtip.com/food/search?fo...

it nailed vivolo as the best chowder, but maybe those 100's of web mentions are mine. =

)

I will keep trying to break the site. Will report back. ha

Dishtip?

Has anyone used this site?

http://www.dishtip.com

It's not reviews on restaurants, but single dishes... looking for the best chowder, or rueben, or chocolate creme pie, or whatever. It's intriguing, but was wondering if anyone had used it?

For Fun! - Your Top 5 in SF Bay, standards or up and comers?

Welcome and cheers Sparkerly! =) Saison it is, overwhelmingly. It's sort of exciting. I have kept meaning to try Atelier Crenn, as I love that Dom is so involved on twitter, with people, etc... but it looks like art over function, a bit? I guess I will have to try it someday. But Saison for the next big meal, for sure. Thank you!

For Fun! - Your Top 5 in SF Bay, standards or up and comers?

I need to watch some of these shows! It's a great point. It's just so funny, that a move back to simplicity with non pretensious food means that people won't notice because it's precisely unpretentious. *YOU* do, and others on the board, and foodies around get it.... but it will be nice to see the scene develop. Lockwood had a place called Fork in Marin, The Alice Waters stuff is rooted and informing new people. Stuff like Nopa is about 5 years in.... it's just refreshing. It's exciting to go out to a good meal with friends and enjoy it, rather than go out with good friends to an exciting meal that grabs all the attention.... =)

For Fun! - Your Top 5 in SF Bay, standards or up and comers?

It smacks a bit of the insecurity around no formal training? Maybe? I don't know. the tomato dish was delicious, but it was surreal to take a perfect, natural object in taste and quality, like a tomato, and then make it nearly inaccessible and bizarre. I felt bad for the poor thing. It was amazing, I have nothing but respect.... because it's just my opinion vs his execution. My opinion means little. I will say, we went on Wed Sept 19th, and the ENTIRE evening there were 3 other tables, only. That seemed weird. Also saw Patterson talk w/ Pepin at Herbst. The way he speaks about chefs at cooks, craftsmen not artists.... seems disconnected with what is happening in his kitchen. But I am just some random guy talking on line.... so who cares. =)

For Fun! - Your Top 5 in SF Bay, standards or up and comers?

I was thinking of this... the fig comment. Chatting on a different board, we touched on the newfound awareness that is leading to a less pretentious food scene.

Hawks Head surprised me, in Mill Valley. I have to go back before endorsing it. But for as often as I finish a 4 hour experience and think "pretty good", I finish a 3 course two hour meal and think "outstanding". I am starting to understand I really like unpretentious.... a lot. the high concept stuff is silly...

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyl...

The new lack of pretentiousness in SF is so under the radar, people don't realize what's happening. A full reaction to the machine of white tablecloth, multi coursed, inaccessible food, molecular bs, etc..... Uppity reviewers and cow towing to Michelin inspectors... it's all paving it's way to simple, fresh, accessible, delicious, food.

It's exciting.

It's also exciting to see how few people are noticing this. Costentino sort of did his own offal thing, then David said the "figs on a plate" thing, and it brought the city back to self awareness. I think people like Joe Humphrey (Dixie) are ahead of the curve... people don't get it because they want it to be concept "it's southern!", or they want it to be fine dining...

but if people stopped being so self involved and allowed the chef to do what they wanted to do, instead of assuming they should defer to what the public expects of them.... our food scene would be the best in the world.

And it still is.... =

)

But interesting times. Can't wait until people realize there is parity with Paris' Gastropub revolution.

For Fun! - Your Top 5 in SF Bay, standards or up and comers?

I love it. I realized I am insufferable when I couldn't choke out "is that shaved truffles or truffle oil" in asking a simple question at a restaurant, because I felt so pompous. LOL. I am far more specific than I ever thought I would be. I can't help but think the entire SF food scene is hilariously ungrounded and totally pompous.... still, post fig call out.