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2-3 nights at The Empress in Victoria

Thanks so much Anne, this is all really helpful.

I'm working out a rough itinerary right now and I'll post an update when it's complete for feedback and further refining.

Aug 25, 2015
OliverB in B.C. (inc. Vancouver)

2-3 nights at The Empress in Victoria

Added: Dutch Bakery & Coffee Shop + Jam Cafe for breakfast.

Also The Old Vic!

Wondering if it would be completely foolish to have dinner in The Empress Room at the Fairmont one night? Would that be a wasted meal?

Which establishment serves (in your subjective opinion) the best & freshest fish/seafood in the city? Are the best fish eateries all situated around the Wharf?

I've read good things about Uchida. I would love really good Japanese since it's non existent in San Francisco. My wife and I spent 6 weeks in Japan last fall and we haven't really eaten Japanese food since.

Aug 25, 2015
OliverB in B.C. (inc. Vancouver)

2-3 nights at The Empress in Victoria

One more question: is the dining room at the Union Club of B.C. open to the public for lunch... or any meal?

Also, I'm going to veto Italian and French cuisine as we have excellent regional Italian in SF and I'm native to Montreal and return several times a year, so French in BC doesn't interest me. Is ReBar primarily aimed at vegetarian/vegan eaters? Looks like it's brunch focused too, which doesn't really excite me. I think I have daytime meals covered and really need a couple of dinner suggestions. Is Ferris the best oyster bar in the city? I'm running out of ideas for the evenings... I suppose we can just stay casual around the Wharf. I'd appreciate some alternatives and a little guidance.

Aug 24, 2015
OliverB in B.C. (inc. Vancouver)

2-3 nights at The Empress in Victoria

Mid-30's couple from SF and I would very much welcome your advice and suggestions for all meals. We both favor local institutions and places of strong historic/cultural resonance over the latest flavors of the month.

The Legislative Room in the Parliament is definitely on the list, either dinner or lunch - recommendation/preference?

I assume that Red Fish Blue Fish would receive the highest CH endorsements for a casual lunch option, correct? Anything else worth noting around the Wharf? Barb's?

I'd like to do afternoon tea service in the Empress Room one day and we'll surely find ourselves in the Bengal Lounge for a nightcap or three. Otherwise, can anyone offer feedback on the food/kitchen at either of the hotel restaurants?

I have John's Place in my crosshairs for breakfast but only based on what I've read on the forum; is this still recommended?

We'll be swinging by the Six Mile Pub one afternoon or evening to soak up some drafts and atmosphere. I take it we should avoid the food menu?

Other places that I've read about but haven't formed an opinion on one way or the other: Olo, Rebar, Brasserie L'Ecole, Fish Hook (redundant with RFBF?), The Fish Store, Ferris, Padella, Stage, Catalano and Blue Fox (for breakfast). Any opinions on these; any alternate or preferable suggestions? Are there any old Victoria staples or venerable long-standing dining/drinking establishments that I've missed?

I'm guessing that we should probably focus on seafood (coming from SF) as we surprisingly don't have that many exceptional offerings in the Bay Area. Are there any local/regional dishes that we should try? What about local or artisanal food shops, confectioneries, etc. that we should visit? Good cocktail bars?

I'd really appreciate any help in guiding and refining our eating & drinking plans. Thanks so much!

Aug 24, 2015
OliverB in B.C. (inc. Vancouver)

best french toast in SF Bay Area?

My wife always orders the challa French toast at Wise Son's whenever we go for brunch.

The Rotunda at NM

Similarly, how would you rate the quality (not the value!) of the afternoon tea service? Are the sandwiches freshly made and are the scones and sweets freshly baked and/or noteworthy?

Are portions generous enough that we'd likely leave satiated and content after a 2:30pm seating with an earlier breakfast that morning or is it not really a substitute for mid-day/afternoon meal?

The Rotunda at NM

I've been thinking about booking a table for Sunday/Monday of Labor Day weekend as it's something we (the missus and I) have long wanted to experience. I'm wondering whether to go for afternoon tea and champagne (2:30-4pm) or an earlier a la carte lunch? Has anyone been lately and if so, would you be so kind as to steer me in the right direction? Is it advised perhaps to book later in the afternoon as an elegant "in-between" meal splurge (ie. salads, Brut Rosé, desert/sweets) or does the food warrant focus on it's own merits? Tea service or full lunch service?

Thanks!

best place for oysters on Tomales Bay?

GPS typically doesn't work very well in the area unless you're right in Point Reyes Station. If you've spent more than a couple of hours in the area, it's pretty easy to navigate on your own as it's basically one route that wraps around the Bay.

Suggestions for really good HEARTY soup!

Love Sotto Mare but I actually found it a little bland when I last visited a couple of month's ago. I went back to Tadich shortly after and found their cioppino had much more flavor.

best place for oysters on Tomales Bay?

You only need a reservation at Hog Island if you opt to shuck your own. Otherwise, they not only accommodate walk-ins but won't take reservations unless you're spending at least 2 hours and book a table by the waterfront. They have a fully operational "boathouse" rawbar that serves fresh shucked oysters, salads, cheeses, bread, crackers, beer and wine daily. While it's more fun to book a table by the grills and spend an afternoon, it's often easier to just walk-in and order at the boathouse which we've done many times.

Suggestions for really good HEARTY soup!

Sounds delicious, thanks Marssy!

I'm spending next Sunday in G.G. Park so this is great; I'll be sure to take a little detour and try it out.

Suggestions for really good HEARTY soup!

Any particular favorites that you'd recommend, Robert?

Suggestions for really good HEARTY soup!

Thanks!

Suggestions for really good HEARTY soup!

Another great recommendation that also happens to be really convenient as I live nearby and my wife often grabs takeout once a week after her yoga classes which are just up the street. Looking forward to trying it!

Suggestions for really good HEARTY soup!

Sounds great! I love these kind of suggestions as it's the sort of thing that would usually fly under the radar on CH but it's right in my groove - I know what I'll be having for lunch on Monday!

Suggestions for really good HEARTY soup!

Preferably without Asian noodles, though I will welcome all suggestions. I'm talking meal sized serving; soup as an entree. Stews are acceptable so long as they aren't thick enough to serve on a plate. I want ample and flavorful stock/broth as the highlight rather than the protein, if that makes sense. I'm open to any flavor, region, cuisine from all continents; South American, Middle Eastern, Eastern European, etc. I should note that I'm not partial to intestines and tripe. SF-only please. Thanks!

PS - if this somehow ends up in the wrong forum, it's because I've accidentally opted into the new CH beta site and I'm finding it unnecessarily complicated. This is meant for the Bay Area board!

best place for oysters on Tomales Bay?

The original thread was from back in September but to address Chowfish's inquiry above, my opinion is that Saltwater and Hog Island take the cake for their raw oysters. Saltwater being the more refined experience, however I can't say that I enjoy the non-raw bar offerings on their menu so much (we usually fill up on lunchtime mollusks, wine and fresh baked bread). The one time we stopped in for dinner was a disappointment for all in our party of four; both in respect to the limited menu (fairly unambitious) and limited range of the kitchen - preparation was very basic and no better than any one of us could have turned out. The Marshall Store is my favorite choice for BBQ'd oysters (done in many styles - and I enjoy them all!) and is worth visiting in addition to the others for a different experience. They also make great sandwiches and killer homemade jerky. Nick's Cove is a bust imo. My wife and I have stayed there in the same Big Rock Cabin consistently for the past several years over our birthdays, so I feel as though we've given them ample opportunity to prove otherwise, but neither the oysters nor the prepared dishes are up to standard for us. I can't comment on Tomales Bay Co. as I've never been. Conclusion: I think Hog Island and Marshall Store are the most uniquely local of all of the places. Nick's is fun to visit for ambiance and wine (avoid the cocktails) and Saltwater probably serves the best raw oysters of all three places if you find yourself on the other side of the bay, in Inverness. Hog Island is best recommended for a lazy afternoon by the water, drinking, shucking and grilling with friends. It's a fun and lively atmosphere and the backdrop is unbeatable. Marshall's cooked oysters are my personal favorite and they're also the most varied of any local menus that I'm aware of. I love all of these places but it's difficult to compare since each is unequaled in it's own way; which is a testament to the charms and flavors of the Tomales Bay region.

Bostonians with kids need to vet our dining plan

I'm not familiar with Bodega and have had mixed experiences with Bar Tartine. Some tend to love it and others not so much; I'm in the latter group. Locanda is excellent and my favorite of your selections, the menu is really well rounded and everything I've ever had has been excellent. SPQR is more hit & miss. It feels like the kitchen is more into experimenting, which doesn't always work. Some things are done really well and when they're firing on all cylinders, it can be great. I've never had a 100% consistent meal at SPQR however. We always end up with a couple of dishes that just don't seem to work for us. Don't bother with ramen in SF. There is really no good ramen to be found, unfortunately. You can find good Asian near GG Park in the Richmond District. If you're set on Japanese, there's a pretty good izakaya nearby - the name escapes me but I'm sure someone will chime in. I'll let others expand on the strength of Asian food in the Richmond as it's been several months since I've been out that way.

Pizza Margherita: SFBA Dish of the Month August 2015

This is exactly what I thought as well and like doubledeuce80, this used to be my go-to date night spot for a casual evening in North Beach with a cask of house wine, fagioli or burrata salad, prosciutto and melon and a pizza to share followed by lungo espressos and maybe a slice of tiramisu. I was also really bummed that they fancied up the warm and inviting interior in the most boring and generic possible way. Gone are the nostalgic red checkered tablecloths and tiled floors; replaced by a sleek and soulless re-design with dark wood, track lighting, flat screen television, etc. They even turned the food counter display in the back of the dining room into a cheesy looking bar. It's like a bad cliche of what neighborhood gentrification is supposed to look like or something. My wife took friends for dinner only weeks prior to my last visit and said that it still had that old style family neighborhood feel so I guess the renovation must have been pretty recent. I won't likely be back anytime soon.

Roast Dungeness crab with garlic noodles: PPQ, Lotus or other? [San Francisco]

Were the Dungeness from Washington?

I used to love PPQ but haven't been in almost 2 years for some reason. I plan to fix that as soon as the local season rolls around!

Pizza Margherita: SFBA Dish of the Month August 2015

I just had dinner at BaoNecci two weeks ago and ordered the Margherita. I had not been in almost a full year but this used to be my benchmark for Neapolitan pizza in the city and truth be told, I was a bit disappointed. The crust was too soft, thin and watery even though sauce was minimal. I asked for an extra well done pizza, expecting a crispier yet still fluffy and charred crust. Overall I just thought that it wasn't nearly as good as previous visits. Anyone else feel the same?

Great spicy noodles without soup

Just one addition: if you're not entirely fixed on hot spice levels, I have to say that Azalina's hokkien mee is one of my favorite noodle dishes in the city. Thank you sopupcon for turning me on!!

Great spicy noodles without soup

Muracci's do a pretty good (though not earth shattering) udon noodle smothered in spicy beef curry. You can choose your level of spice.

I did a take-out order from SO Restaurant in SoMa last week and while it doesn't really fit the 'spicy' criteria, their black bean noodles were truly excellent though rather mild, despite the inclusion of diced jalapenos. They have many noodle dishes and while I won't list everything that we had in this particular thread, I'm eager to explore more of their menu.

Best pancakes in Bay Area?

I haven't had them in years but I used to really like Mama's in North Beach, minus the line-ups.

Who does the wall menus at crepe places?

This sounds like the setup to a really good Seinfeld episode.

They are done by a master painter who was driven out of his native Breton; alienated by his rebellious spirit, unabashed creativity and virtuoso technical abilities which flew in the conservative faces of authority in the crepe world.

Just kidding, I have no idea.

Anything good or noteworthy around Silver Lake?

Thanks SO much, ricepad! That is such a huge help and I really appreciate it!!

Jul 19, 2015
OliverB in California

Fresh pasta?

Does The Italian Homemade Co. not fit the bill?

Dirty Water - SF

Maybe they're Standells fans?

Japantown area [San Francisco]

There's a small and seemingly disengaged movement to save J-Town from it's inevitable wholesale cultural displacement, as I'm sure you know that much of the land and real estate has been purchased by wealthy SoCal investors who have been waiting for terms of due diligence to expire for the mall and hotel. I think the Kabuki is under threat as well. There's actually an ongoing "exhibit" (I use the term loosely) on the second floor of the mall in one of the many vacant retail spaces which is sort of a sad reflection on the way the community is ineffectually "mobilizing" to address the future of the neighborhood. Even passing through the mall, you would hardly know that it's there. I've seen more thoughtful and better realized projects in elementary schools. The city could care less (I wonder if the majority of the population is even aware of what's going on in that neighborhood) and I guess the residents and passive business owners aren't outspoken either which leaves me to wonder if there's any vested interest in preserving the cultural identity of Japantown for the future of San Francisco at all?

Japantown area [San Francisco]

I'm not sure why Octavia gets neglected so much on this board but you could add it to the list as well. While it's entirely different and perhaps not fair to compare, I much prefer it to SPQR.