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OliverB's Profile

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Coi moving to Alinea's ticket system & lowering some prices

The only problem that I can forsee would be for larger groups of 3-6 people who don't necessarily want to cover the entire tab in advance as it would require someone covering the bill for the whole group upfront. My inlaws are coming to visit for a week in October and my wife and I have not been eating out much as we've been saving for an exoribtant 5-week long honeymoon at the end of the month. I made numerous reservations for the week of my inlaws visit, but would not have done so if it meant putting the full charge on my card. As Coi typically requires a few weeks advance notice to secure a reservation, hopefully this doesn't discourage folks from booking. While I think it's a great idea, I could see it working both ways and anticipate that there might be people who aren't happy about pre-paying for dinners three to four weeks in advance.

Jul 27, 2014
OliverB in San Francisco Bay Area

Coi moving to Alinea's ticket system & lowering some prices

Of course, but I was suggesting something more along the lines of a Tuesday night vs Friday night menu. Perhaps prices will be significantly lower on certain nights to reflect low demand, regardless of 5-7 or 8-11 (in other words, slow week nights where there aren't necessarily any "peak times"). It would make sense from a cost perspective to keep the overhead lower when attendance is slower, which would typically mean spending less on expensive ingredients and possibly reducing the number of courses. Similar to lunch vs dinner menus at many prix-fixed restaurants. I think it's a great strategy to fill tables on slower nights and offers good incentive to diners, but I just wonder if the deflated prices will reflect back onto the menu for "off nights" mid-week. I don't expect to see any difference on a Thu-Fri-Sat night, though I'd be more than eager to book a happy hour table and save $$.

On a separate note, has anyone used this ticketing system before and how does it work - is the meal fully pre-paid in advance at the time of booking (not counting drinks or extra orders of course) or are your payment details simply pre-authorized and held until you receive the bill?

Jul 26, 2014
OliverB in San Francisco Bay Area

best cioppinno?

Strange, do you know what the dish is/was? I know it's made with swordfish, potatoes, and fennel (not sure about the broth-stock base or flavor profile) but I imagined it a modernized take on cioppino; perhaps with a Mexican influence. It certainly didn't look anything like cioppino from the photos I've seen, but it did look interesting. I wonder why they would have called it that.

Jul 26, 2014
OliverB in San Francisco Bay Area

Afternoon tea places for a birthday?

Try Tal-Y-Tara Tea & Polo Shoppe.

Best scones in the city and great atmosphere!

Jul 26, 2014
OliverB in San Francisco Bay Area

best cioppinno?

While not a traditional preparation, I'm looking forward to trying the cioppino verde at Verbena next month.

I usually only order it at Tadich (ocassionally Scoma's though I find it subpar compared to the former) which probably isn't tops in sourcing the freshest seafood, but it's still delicious and my favorite setting to eat it.

Jul 26, 2014
OliverB in San Francisco Bay Area

Coi moving to Alinea's ticket system & lowering some prices

The big question is whether the quality of ingredients varies between weeknights and weekends. Are diners essentially paying for the same meal at reduced cost simply because the day(s) of the week and/or times are less in demand (thus lowering competition for seating and leaving otherwise unfilled tables) or will the overall level of ingredients and preparation also reflect the lesser demand and lower price point by offering a "step down" from peak hours and weekend service?

Jul 26, 2014
OliverB in San Francisco Bay Area

Food Itinerary -hit it or miss it?

I have been anticipating a meal at Saito for years and was expecting to finally experience it on this trip. We were greatly looking forward to it and I'm disappointed that we won't have the opportunity to do so.

Jul 21, 2014
OliverB in Japan

No luck with Momen in Osaka... alternatives

I'm bummed that we couldn't get into Momen for our November trip... our concierge informed us that they're booked solid until the end of the year and that it's difficult to get reservations even for regular customers.

I had Ippoh on my list as an alternative, but we are hoping to land a reservation at 7chobe in Tokyo (with Kondo as backup), so I wonder if this would feel redundant or a significant step down from that meal?

I also had Koyoshi for sushi and Hajime Yoneda.

We are spending 5 weeks in Japan and up to this point, have avoided any fusion or international cuisine. I'm not entirely sure about Hajime Yoneda as we are from San Francisco and this doesn't seem that different than restaurants such as Benu, Coi, Keiko a Nob Hill, etc. I could be mistaken; perhaps there is no comparisson?

I understand that it must be hard to offer advice given how vastly different all of these restaurant are in terms of style and cuisine, but is there one place which absolutely stands out as a must-visit?

We will have been in Kyoto for a full week prior to Osaka and eating high end kaiseki almost consecutively (Hyotei, Shoraian, Akiyama, Arashiyama, Hiiragiya, etc.). I think Gion Yata is our sole respite from over-the-top multi-course kaiseki and omakase.

I'm leaning heavily towards Koyoshi as a result. I just wanted to get a bit of feedback.

I should also note that the only reservation that we currently have in Osaka is at Kani Douraku Honten. Our hotel will be calling Kahala and Fujiya 1935 when they open their calendar for reservations for our dates of travel. Apart from these restaurants, we'll be doing the usual walk-in casual / late-night spots: Ganso Ajiho, Kuro-Chan, Mizuno, Daruma Kushiage Honten, Osaka Ohsho, Harijyu, Kamatake Udon, Kinryu-Ramen, etc.

I'm wondering how Koyoshi compares to the top end sushi counters in Tokyo? We will be visiting Endo Sushi at the Central Market for breakfast one morning. I assume you do not need reservations and that it's first-come, first-served with long lines at the door, similar to Sushi Dai at Tsukiji?

Anyhow, I'm really disappointed about Momen. Hopefully Kahala serves as a worthy alternative for the Kappo experience. I'm hoping to find someting equally special to replace Momen on our itinerary; any cuisine-style-price point.

Thanks for any input.

Jul 21, 2014
OliverB in Japan

Food Itinerary -hit it or miss it?

Ah I understand; that's really frustrating though.

I guess I should start considering other options as it doesn't look like I'm getting seats at Saito given the odds.

It had been numero uno on my dining list since I began planning this trip so it's really disappointing. I guess I should email The Pen and ask them to try for Sawada or Mizutani. They're already trying to line up reservations at Yoshitake for us. I wanted to do two high end sushi spots in Tokyo with Saito being the benchmark but I can see the odds aren't in my favor with this one.

Jul 20, 2014
OliverB in Japan

Food Itinerary -hit it or miss it?

How is Saito booked or unavailable until 2015 when they only accept reservations one month ahead? The concierge at The Peninsula is trying to book two seats for me in November. Are you certain they are booked solid until the new year and if so, how is that possible given their supposed scheduling policy?

Jul 20, 2014
OliverB in Japan

No reservations/single dining [San Francisco]

Even as a couple the counter wait is never that long. There are enough stools that we're usually seated within 10 minutes or shortly after ordering a couple of martinis, even when the room is packed. It's one of my favorites for solo meals and a lunchtime staple when running errands nearby.

PS - I'd definitely add Tosca to your dinner list.

Jul 18, 2014
OliverB in San Francisco Bay Area

Steakhouse at hotel or near [San Francisco]

Alfred's is one of my favorite restaurants in the city and one of the first that I visited with a close friend when I moved to San Francisco 3 years ago so it will always hold a special place in my heart. I usually pop-in at least once a month for happy hour cocktails in the bar, and every other month (okay maybe every three!) for a proper sit-down dinner.

That said, the quality and cuts of dry aged meat are not comparable to Harris' Steakhouse from my experience. They carry on Grison's Chop House tradition of only serving corn-fed Midwest beef and it's probably the closest you'll get to a classic KC steak in Northern CA. My friends did a ribeye cookoff last year and Harris' dry-aged came in second after Five Dot Farms grass-fed non-aged; the others were from Belcampo, MacGruder Farms, Baron's in Alameda, and Marin Sun Farms. Anyway, for my money Harris the best in the city... though admittedly I've never been to any of the chains or modern steakhouses because I have little interest.

You should give it another chance. I was just there two months ago with my dining group and had an exceptional meal. I ordered the New York Cut this past time. One friend ordered the lamb chops and they too were wonderful. Great chop salad and perfect cocktails too. They were even giving away free hardcover books at the door, though I didn't take one as my shelves are already overflowing

Check out the old wooden Grison's menu:
http://postcardy.blogspot.com/2010/06...

Jul 17, 2014
OliverB in San Francisco Bay Area

12 days of Christmas/Meadowood and Guest Chefs in Bay Area Restaurants

I'm thinking of booking for the first night with Matthew Orlando or Esben Holmboe Bang, but I wonder if it wouldn't be advisable for one's first experience at Meadowood? Is the roughly $1,500 (I think) cost inclusive of an overnight stay for two with dinner and wine/champagne?

Jul 17, 2014
OliverB in San Francisco Bay Area

Steakhouse at hotel or near [San Francisco]

I love Alfred's... but Harris' Steakhouse on Van Ness corner Pacific is my favorite in the city!

Jul 17, 2014
OliverB in San Francisco Bay Area

SF/Napa Itinerary

Why only Una?

Frankly, SF has excellent pizza and I don't understand why it's not rated higher as a pizza city. I personally enjoy Caffe BaoNecci more than Una so if that's what you're after, it's an easy walk-in.

Jul 12, 2014
OliverB in San Francisco Bay Area

Has tomato season arrived yet?

Driving up the 5 last weekend we passed at least twenty tomato trucks and that's not an exagerration... I'd guess the season's here!

Jul 12, 2014
OliverB in San Francisco Bay Area

Restaurant suggestions in Mendocino and Fort Bragg area?

I second Cafe Beaujolais and will add that there are not many other good dining options in Mendocino. We actually ate there twice as a result of disappointing meals elsewhere and we tried many places.

Jul 12, 2014
OliverB in California

SF/Napa Itinerary

Agree re. pizza at Cotogna, if that's your prime motivation for lunch then I'd go elsewhere. The 24th Street Delfina unquestionably does better pizza than Cotogna. But you can do even better at BaoNecci or Tony's in North Beach, among other places. For a more sophisticated sit-down lunch with focus on other menu items, Cotogna wins hands down. Their sformatos are indeed exceptional, and the ravioli di ricotta is out of this world. Much more interesting than pizza at Delfina.

Jul 10, 2014
OliverB in San Francisco Bay Area
1

SF/Napa Itinerary

Cotogna definitely.

Friday lunch, I love Tadich so I'm biased. It's old fashioned San Francisco with character to spare, which you're not really experiencing with any of your other dining choices. Turtle Tower is overrated imo. It's a good consistent local option for people in the neighborhood, but nothing more. I've never been to Kin Khao so I can't comment but for atmosphere alone, I'd chose Tadich for a cioppino, sourdough, and martini. Others will probably disagree. I'm not really a fan of Chez Panisse, but if I were going to visit, I'd rather do lunch than dinner.

Jul 10, 2014
OliverB in San Francisco Bay Area

Please Help Critique My San Fran Eating Itinerary

My 2 cents:

Day 2 brunch: great atmosphere - insist on courtyard seating! I usually order crab legs but it's out of season. I've had mixed experiences with other dishes but it's worthwhile for the setting and my wife really enjoys their menu.

AQ over Chez Panisse without question; both for food, ambiance, and everything else. I've been to CP twice in 3 years and found it thoroughly disappointing and uninteresting on both ocassions, whereas AQ consistently inspires.

Day 3 brunch: approve!

Day 3 early dinner: not really a fan of either choices; both are "safe" I guess but I'm sure you have your criteria for deciding. I think there are more fun and satisfying options.

Day 4 breakfast: post neighborhood based on your plans if you want suggestions.

Lunch at Nopalito is fine.

Last night dinner: I'd chose Frances first, Nopa second. Wouldn't consider Bart Tartine or Agricole as they aren't on the same level at all.

Day 5: Never been to Plow so no comment.

Jul 10, 2014
OliverB in San Francisco Bay Area

Help me pick two: Nico, Verbena, Stones Throw, Baker & Banker? [San Francisco]

Thanks for the warning. To be honest, it was the least interesting of all options for me, so I think we'll give it a pass and maybe try it out on our own (not wanting to risk a mediocre meal on out-of-towners) in a couple of months.

Jul 10, 2014
OliverB in San Francisco Bay Area

Help me pick two: Nico, Verbena, Stones Throw, Baker & Banker? [San Francisco]

Thanks for the detailed feedback, ceekskat. I'm personally not a fan of mole but everything else that I've seen from online photos has looked delicious; especially their cioppino verde and seafood sausage with split pea miso. Their kaffir lime cheesecake looks like a winner too and as soon as I saw photos of the sprouted seed bread that you described, I knew my wife would be happy. Great to know they do cocktails well! I think I'll give this and Nico a shot.

Jul 10, 2014
OliverB in San Francisco Bay Area

Help me pick two: Nico, Verbena, Stones Throw, Baker & Banker? [San Francisco]

Thanks, we'll save that for a more casual night out amongst ourselves in that case.

So the current choice is between Nico, Verdena, and Stones Throw. I'm leaning towards the first two and wonder how similar they are to one another, or to restaurants like Frances or Rick Table?

Jul 09, 2014
OliverB in San Francisco Bay Area

Help me pick two: Nico, Verbena, Stones Throw, Baker & Banker? [San Francisco]

Also, not our neck of the woods but I've been wanting to try Firefly and wonder how that rates among the above? I've mentioned before that my wife and I will be spending 5 weeks in Japan in October, so we haven't been eating out unless we have out-of-town visitors. I'd be willing to venture further from home, but wanted to try out some of our new-ish neighborhood spots. I'm still curious about Firefly though as it's a consideration. If it makes any difference, we also have friends visiting the weekend prior and we'll be taking them to State Bird, Rich Table, and Frances. All of which we've thoroughly enjoyed before.

Jul 09, 2014
OliverB in San Francisco Bay Area

Help me pick two: Nico, Verbena, Stones Throw, Baker & Banker? [San Francisco]

The in-laws are coming to visit for a weekend and writing it off as a business expense. I'm making the reservations. :-)

I'd like to try something new in our neighborhood. We're in Polk Gulch, walking distance to Nob Hill/Russian Hill and would like to try a couple of the above listed restaurants. I'm least enthusiastic about Baker & Banker as I've gotten some pretty 'meh' feedback from friends. Nico, Verdena, and Stones Throw seem a bit more interesting. I'm leaning towards the first two... any thoughts or suggestions?

Thanks!

Jul 09, 2014
OliverB in San Francisco Bay Area

Champagne: is it ruined?

We stopped at Langer's for a couple of hours and my wife stuck it in the trunk because it's not the best neighborhood to leave an expensive bottle of champagne out in plain view. I didn't realize of course and would have either taken it inside with us or stuck it underneath the seat. Unfortunately she left it in there for the entire 7-hour drive. It must have been boiling as we wound through the hills in the Grapevine! Even if it miraculously turns out to be OK the odds are it'll be mostly flat and the fine bubbles will have been spoiled. I'm crossing my fingers but not expecting much. I wonder if it makes any difference whether we let it sit at room temperature for a few weeks or just pop it in the fridge to slow chill tomorrow and give it a try?

Jul 09, 2014
OliverB in Wine

Champagne: is it ruined?

Thanks everyone for the advice and reassurance... and zin1953, oops you're right - I meant º F, of course! :)

I'll keep fingers crossed and report back.

Jul 08, 2014
OliverB in Wine

Champagne: is it ruined?

I drove down to LA with my wife for July 4th weekend with a vintage and rather pricey bottle of DP in tow. For whatever reason, we didn't get around to opening it up. We drove back to San Francisco this afternoon and my wife left the bottle in the trunk (unbeknownst to me!) for the entire trip. It was roughly 85-90c as we blew down the I-5. I just pulled everything out of the trunk and discovered the bottle. It's past 10pm right now and the glass is still warm. I assume the champagne itself must have been boiling in the trunk! Is this bottle toast or is there a chance it will still be good after chilling on ice? Is there any hope?

Jul 07, 2014
OliverB in Wine

Roadfood along the 5 btwn SF and LA?

Thanks for your help Judy, I think we'll take your advice and stick to a picnic lunch at one of the pullouts.

Jul 04, 2014
OliverB in California

Roadfood along the 5 btwn SF and LA?

Thanks Judy. I just realized there's Harris Ranch too. I've never eaten there before and wonder if it's conceivable to do a 45-minute in-and-out-the-door meal in their Horseshoe Lounge and if the food is any good? I suppose we could always stop there to stretch our legs and use the washrooms, regardless of whether we eat or not.

Jul 04, 2014
OliverB in California