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San Francisco Gourmet's Profile

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Die Hard New York Chowhounders Coming to San Francisco...Farallon or Aqua?

I agree. Aqua has much better food and a refined ambience, whereas Farallon has solid food in an almost whimsical setting.

I, too, am not clear on what "corporate creation" means. Aqua was started by restaurateur Charles Condy with chefs George Morrone and Michael Mina at the helm. Condy subsequently expanded by opening Pisces, Charles Nob Hill, etc., but I don't know whether that alone ought to discredit Aqua in any way. After all, Thomas Keller has significantly expanded his holdings in recent years, yet The French Laundry still ranks high on any list of U.S. restaurants.

Caramelized Brioche a la Winterland, SF

Yes, the black flecks are the seeds from a vanilla bean.

I have never seen a recipe for brown butter ice cream, but what would happen if you took a standard butter pecan ice cream recipe, skipped the nuts, and browned the butter before proceeding?

Caramelized Brioche a la Winterland, SF

Really? See, I would have thought that brioche submerged in creme anglaise wouldn't really absorb that much of the custard, and especially not enough to release quite a bit of liquid upon being cut with a fork (as the Caramelized Brioche at Winterland often did). That's why I presumed that the kitchen was soaking it in a pre-cooked custard mixture, but I may very well be wrong. I guess this is yet another variant to add to my list of experiments!

Caramelized Brioche a la Winterland, SF

I was at Winterland last night for my second dinner in three days, largely due to a desire to get one more order of that fantastic brioche. I did not know the origin of the ficelles, but my dining partner and I pretty quickly recognized the brioche itself as coming from Pascal Rigo's Bay Breads.

We tried to get the waitstaff to give us some clues on how the dish is prepared, and we were only partly successful. According to one server, the brioche is "soaked in custard before being baked." I interpret this to mean that the bread is soaked in a mixture of eggs, cream, sugar, and vanilla bean -- i.e., before that mixture has been heated to form an actual custard. After baking, the brioche is sprinkled with a generous heap of sugar, and a torch is presumably used to caramelize the surface. (Another server told us that the caramelization process is performed twice, to create an extra thick sugar crust.)

Now, how long should the bread be soaked, and in how much of the custard mixture? How long should the brioche be baked? I need to pull out my standard recipes for bread pudding, tres leches, etc., and start experimenting...

Updated: List of good little neighborhood spots in SF

I would also recommend the Riptide Roll (unagi, avocado, tempura shrimp) and the Drum Roll (crab, mango and mint). On the latter, crab and mango have such a natural affinity for one another that I don't know why every sushi place in town is not offering a similar roll.

Special Occasion Restaurant for Visiting Family

For a top-tier experience, I would say The Dining Room at the Ritz, Masa's, and Fleur de Lys -- in that order.

Winterland Report - July 13th

I had the lamb on my last visit, and I thought it was excellent. I didn't care much for the lamb sausage ravioli on the side, but the breast meat was very tasty. And unlike others, I actually enjoyed the vanilla in the jus -- although the flavor tends to get a bit lost when competing against that of the meat...

Winterland closing!!

I had great service at Winterland two nights ago, but I know that the service at the restaurant has always been somewhat uneven. Sam, I'm sorry that you didn't have a chance to order a dessert; the Caramelized Brioche with Brown Sugar Ice Cream is absolutely fantastic. So much so, in fact, that I just may have to drop into the restaurant tonight for one last order!

winterland is closing

I was at Winterland this evening as well, and I agree that the food was excellent. The Poached Egg, Tuna Tartare & Carpaccio, Warm Chocolate Cake, and especially the Caramelized Brioche were all fantastic. I, too, am quite disgusted with Bauer's narrowmindedness...

Palo Alto - near Stanford Theatre - worthwhile place (but ok for kids too)? Bella Luna...? Evvia?

I think a credible case can be made that Evvia is the best restaurant in Palo Alto, so I would certainly recommend it. Bella Luna is fine, but it's nothing special in my book.

Restaurant in SF where you can wear Pajamas and eat in bed?

Keep in mind, however, that the restaurant just hired a new chef (Jon Stevens) to replace opening chef Jerry McGinnis.

Boston hounds coming to SF for special dinner

I completely agree -- The Dining Room at the Ritz is the best restaurant in the city as far as I'm concerned. Masa's and Fleur de Lys are also solid choices, but they are step behind The Dining Room.

Restaurant in SF where you can wear Pajamas and eat in bed?

I don't remember hearing about pajama parties, but Supperclub has beds in lieu of dining tables.

Good little neighborhood places...

I'll second Roti, and add Fresca, Incanto, Aziza, and Thep Phanom.

Dinner recommendations for Palo Alto/Menlo Park area?

If it's Mediterranean that you seek, you cannot do better than Evvia -- which serves excellent Greek food. (The Greek salad is outstanding.) An excellent upscale Vietnamese place is Tamarine; a very good Indian fusion place, relatively new to the scene, is Junnoon.