Prabhakar Ragde's Profile

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Italian charcuterie, pasta bolognese, and duck in sf

Avedano's in Bernal Heights has very good porchetta, a bolognese I have not tried in the freezer case, and both duck breast and duck legs (prepared confit also).

Tycoon Thai -- New Thai/Lao option in the Tenderloin [San Francisco]

I dropped in for lunch today. The space is small but airy and pleasant, with a few low two-tops and four-tops, and three high four-tops. I was by myself, and could sample only one dish, the Nam Kao Tod (rice ball salad). This was not quite as flavourful as the one I had at Champa Garden SF a few months ago, but it had good texture and taste. I accompanied it with a pint of Lagunitas IPA (alas, they were out of Sculpin, which I'd love to have scored at $4!). Service was attentive and friendly. I will definitely go back to try more of the menu.

Has anyone used this mole base?

If by "red mole paste" you're referring to the Mole Teloloapan at La Palma, I like that a lot. It costs $11/lb, but has a nice, complex flavour. I'll try the Las Cazuelas when I'm in SF next and compare.

SF Trip 2015

The bread pudding is really good at Hooker's as well.

Siem Reap Updates?

Thanks for this recommendation. We had the four-course "best Cambodian cuisine" menu at Mie Café tonight, $20, really nice.

patisseries in Bay Area (SF and East Bay) that sell caneles

I've just finished a cannelé from Les Clos, the café and wine bar on Townsend near 3rd. I make it a point to try various versions of this underappreciated pastry (originally from Bordeaux) when I visit France. It is hard to find them in North America, and when I do, they tend to be disappointing, though curiously enough a baker in the otherwise-a-culinary-desert-that's-DESERT-not-dessert of a town where I live most of the time (Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario) makes a better version than the ones I tried last time I was in Paris.

Anyway, I haven't had much luck recently in SF (though historically I had good ones at the original Bay Bread and at Patisserie Delanghe), the best being from Le Dix-Sept at the Noe Valley Farmers' Market, costing about $3.50 and being just all right. (I have been to Mission Beach Café two or three times trying to get one and they never have any.) Edit: I haven't had one from Boulette's Larder, but my partner did, and said it was all right but not worth what it cost.

This cannelé from Les Clos, though, was just $2. Though I got it to go in mid-afternoon and ate it after 4pm, and it probably came out of the oven in the morning, there was still enough crunch to the crust, which was dark without being burnt. The interior had good texture and nice flavour, perhaps a bit strong on the rum, though I like rum. Too bad this place is so out of the way (at least for me). The atmosphere seemed nice, and I will go back at some point to hang out and try more of the menu.

Anchor Oyster Bar question... [San Francisco]

Some places have opened up in the vicinity recently which you might want to try out.

Beso is run by the Bizou people, mostly traditional tapas. My experience there wasn't great, but it may be worth a visit (as might Canela). I haven't been to Hecho, but it looks like a good bar with at least competent Mexican-style food (think Tacolicious) that might be a bit too expensive (like most places in this nabe). Hearth Coffee have ambitions food-wise; pastries and desserts are made in-house, and there are fancy sandwiches, two beer taps, one wine tap. They may have happy hour still (I stopped in just after hard opening), which makes selected noshes and tipples affordable. I have had decent Mexican food at Tacos Club, and the people there are nice, but there is almost no seating inside. And I've heard the burger at Hi-Tops is good, but it's a sports bar and not open until 4pm, which means I haven't gotten around to it yet. (Hi-Tops isn't new.)

After living in the Castro part-time over the past twenty months, I still don't know of a local place that you can hang out in and relax and have decent, casual food that doesn't cost too much.

Helping a sweet tooth discover the Bay Area... (Oakland/ Berkeley/ SF)

When in SF, I live within walking distance from Tartine, but I tend to hop the bus to b. patisserie on California near Divisadero. The lines are much shorter and move faster, the service is more friendly and helpful, the seating more pleasant (though starting to be almost as hard to snag), and the selection of what I want to eat is greater. Their kouign amann is amazing, their bostock, brioche tart, and scones are quite good, the filled croissants and plain croissants are good; I have not tried their cakes, mousses, macarons, or bread, but they all look very tempting.

Recommendations for mid-range sushi? [San Francisco]

Thanks. The one dinner I had at Live Sushi was not stellar; the one lunch I had at Tataki on California was better. I will give Domo a try. Someone mentioned Warakubune on Church, anyone been?

Marina O'Laughlin on San Francisco's restaurant scene

I second this opinion of Nopalito, which always makes me feel good about having visited. The Guardian article was a bit rah-rah in places but I was glad to see a mention of El Gallo Giro, which is my personal choice for tacos (I am also glad to see rainfall in this season, but sad that it keeps me from eating at a taco truck).

What is your favorite Indian restaurant and why? How much are you usually willing to pay?

Meh, but that's true just about anywhere in North America for me. I do not have a car and cannot get to the places in the South Bay and the south East Bay. Dosa Fillmore can be nice, though expensive and more "fusion" style. Vik's in Berkeley has some good dishes on weekends and is the best dosa I've had in the area (I did not care for the dosas at Dosa). Udipi Palace and Gajalee are okay. Pakwan and Guddu de Karahi were disappointing. I conclude that the best approach is to make it yourself, time consuming though that may be.

Cafe St Jorge [San Francisco]

I was not happy with the pasteis de nata I had at Cafe St. Jorge. I can't believe that the Bay Area is incapable of yielding up an excellent example of this fine pastry.

are CHILES EN NOGADA available anywhere yet?

If I make it myself, I'll use heavy cream instead. Also drizzled pomegranate syrup, because the seeds tend to wreak havoc with my braces.

I had an inferior version this weekend in Austin that made me appreciate La Torta Gorda's more.

are CHILES EN NOGADA available anywhere yet?

Torn between going back there and trying to make it myself. I think the price has gone up. Also, both times I've had it, it seemed to take forever to arrive. I think I made the mistake of going at 11:45, hoping to avoid a lunch rush, but they are working on standing takeout orders.

Tacos al pastor at Street Taco (Upper Haight, San Francisco)

I had lunch at Street Taco today. The food was good, but, to my surprise, I was not as happy with it as with my previous day's lunch at Tacos Club on Market near Noe. The made-to-order tortilla got soggy quickly, and I had to finish my taco with a fork. Portions are generous. The spicing was a bit muted compared to Tacos Club (no spit, small cubes of meat, doubled commercial tortillas). The horchata at Street Taco was a bit sweeter than the one at Tacos Club, so once again the latter won out. Both were creamy without being chalky and didn't taste of chemicals. At both places, staff were friendly, and the physical space was spare but pleasant.

Tacos Club is, I believe, from the same team who own Talavera in Berkeley, which I ate at and enjoyed about a decade ago. I will return to try their mole and their platanos. Street Taco has more choices of meats, and cheap, tasty eats are hard to find in the Upper Haight, so it's a good address to keep in mind.

What's up with Acme? [San Francisco]

Thanks, Robert. I will look for "long". I used to buy from San Pablo, and pain au levain was my favourite; I will give it another try from Ferry Plaza.

What's up with Acme? [San Francisco]

We have been buying from the Ferry Plaza location. Their pain de mie used to be a good choice for sandwiches, but they seem to have started baking it in open-top pans (the top of the loaf is rounded now), and the dense crumb is gone. It is just plain white bread now. A recently-purchased sweet batard also lacked texture and didn't seem much different from the pain de mie. Is it just me, or are others noticing a decline in quality?

Yank Sing Settlement Labour Dispute [San Francisco]

The details are pretty bad.


The settlement only covers the stolen tips. There's also paying below minimum wage, not paying overtime, and violation of working conditions such as shift breaks.

Glad the employees managed to take collective action.

Help this cave dweller, navigate Asian food in SF.

Chili House is low key (not low rent) and has a neighbourhood feel to it.

Recommendations for mid-range sushi? [San Francisco]

Thanks, all. Okina has been on my list for a while; I should make a reservation. Will check out Saru as well, it is close to home (I don't have a car). The others are pricier than I want right now, but I will keep them in mind.

Recommendations for mid-range sushi? [San Francisco]

SF is known for excellent food in the middle price range. Can hounds recommend sushi places that fall somewhere between the high-end megabuck omakase experience and the cheap tasteless assorted nigiri lunch special? Looking, as always, for a good quality-price ratio. Thanks.

Beso [San Francisco]

We visited this new restaurant (opened on 18th St near Castro in August) on Hallowe'en evening. The neighbourhood is crazy then, but I scored a same-day early reservation on OpenTable that afternoon. Beso (by the Bizou people) focusses on Spanish food (specifically Catalan tapas), along fairly traditional lines, though with a few locavore twists. It's a narrow, low space, mostly hard surfaces, fairly inviting in design, but noisy.

The highlight of the meal was the ensalada de berza (kale, squash, pear, orange, raisins). Bizou Group has their own garden, and the flavours really came through, not too complicated, yet diverse enough to be interesting.

The other dishes did not click as well. A chalkboard special of bruselas con chorizo (Brussels sprouts) was a bit soggy, and the little cubes of chorizo did not integrate well. I'd been caramelizing my own sprouts through the summer, and expected at least that much flavour, which I didn't get.

The dish I was looking forward to, fidueà negra (spelled "negre" on the menu, which also lists "pimientos de padròn" as containing shishitos) was a disappointment. It was quite muted: it needed more oil, more garlic, more salt, more squid ink, and more time under the broiler to crisp it a bit. Even the allioli was pallid; you could have convinced me that they forgot the garlic. And the price ($32, for a 12" pan filled to less than 1" thickness) was too high for what was delivered. I have had better renditions of that dish in Barcelona, and locally, at B44 and the late lamented Barlata.

I had a glass of manzanilla sherry to start, and then ordered a fino when that was done. What came was tinted light brown, and without tasting I guessed it was a palo cortado, a fact confirmed by the bill. I didn't correct the mistake because I'd been contemplating that option, but it was nearly twice as expensive. In general, service was pleasant but a bit amateur and intermittent, and the prices a bit on the high side for the given quality.

I'll keep an eye on the place, because the neighbourhood could use more decent options (I walk down to the Mission or take MUNI elsewhere when I want to eat out) and I hope they'll get the kinks worked out as they mature, but as it stands I don't see any reason to choose Beso over Contigo, just over the hill in Noe Valley. I have not tried the other nearby competitor, Canela.

Saint Frank Coffee Shop (Russian Hill, San Francisco)

You have considerable experience with wine, though. And I suspect you would be the first to call foul on someone saying "This is a wine you can only appreciate if you have considerable experience with wine." I have been working on home espresso and home roasts for many years, and my sense of it is that, while there are nuances and complexities one learns to appreciate, and espresso is an acquired taste, it doesn't take that long to acquire it. If it sucks for you, I bet it will suck for me also.

I liked the atmosphere at Sightglass SOMA, and the food was good when I visited also. Would that work for the kind of business meetings you're talking about?

Please review my itinerary - lunch

Five lunches on one weekend?

I would drop Mission Chinese, which is past its pull date.

Saint Frank Coffee Shop (Russian Hill, San Francisco)

That speaks of inconsistency, which is not good. But that is really a function of the individual barista. Go back when someone else is at the machine and it might be different.

Saint Frank Coffee Shop (Russian Hill, San Francisco)

That sampler sounds pretty comprehensive; I can't imagine you missed something.

Admittedly, I have stopped trying, but I don't remember an SF espresso that I consider amazing. Linea Caffe may be the best of what I've had recently, and Sightglass SOMA was decent. Four Barrel, meh; Ritual, forget it.

Phan's South at SFJazz is now Mexican (SF) -- anyone been?

I tend to wait for reviews on non-downscale Mexican; they'd need to compare to Nopalito for me. But there's no fideo seco at Nopalito. You know it's not that hard to make at home? You just have to make sure to break the noodles fine enough, otherwise browning them gets tricky. And it isn't quite the same, but try fideo/fideuà at a Spanish or Catalan place (B44, for example).

Chili House at 8th and Clement? [San Francisco]

If anyone knows where the "green citrusy variety" of Sichuan peppercorns can be bought (fresh or soft-preserved, not dry) I would love to get my hands on some.

Four Days in San Francisco-- Please Critique (apologies for the long intro)

That is my impression as well.

Thin sliced bread for tea sandwiches

It's supposed to be firm, but the last loaf of pain de mie we got (from the Ferry Plaza shop, a couple of weeks ago) was fluffy. Hope it was just an aberration.