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Best pizza in the East Bay

Personal faves:

Emilia's for hybrid New York/Neopolitan
Pizzaiolo/Boot&Shoe for Californian

I also really enjoy East End, A16, and Nizza la Bella. We've been looking for a place that will replicate the style prevalent in southern France (thick layer of 4 cheeses, often gruyere/mozzerella/roquefort/parm, with sauce) and haven't quite found it, although Nizza la Bella came closest after we asked them to add some blue and sauce to their Bianca con Formaggio i Funghi (ricotta, mozz, gruyere, parm). East End was less accommodating - their Mousetrap (fontina, mozz, provolone, blue) hit the flavor pretty closely, but they weren't willing to double the amount, per my husband's request.

I had Slicer for the first time this week and thought they got the NYC street slice flavor down, but the crust was super tough. One of our friends who'd had it before thought it was anomalous batch.

Mar 29, 2014
daveena in San Francisco Bay Area

88 Sports Bar and Korean Grill (Alameda)

This bar used to be Scobies - they apparently had some Korean menu items on the menu for years, after the current owners bought it, but they expanded the menu and renamed the bar back in October.

The menu is pretty wide ranging, with lots of sojubang standards (dukbokki, fried chicken, samgyeopsal), a lot of different soups, soondubu jigae, plus the usual "non-specialized" Korean restaurant standards (bulgogi, bibimbap, etc).

Since it's a bar, sojubang seemed the way to go, so we ordered their house spicy chicken wings and a mixed dukbokki. Chicken wings were good, with a thin, spicy soy glaze. They also have a more classic Korean version with a gochujang glaze we haven't tried yet. I really liked the mixed dukbokki (rice cakes, eggs, fish cake, dumplings, sweet potato noodles) - it had a thinner, less sweet, less pasty sauce than the version at Da Sung Sa. Dukbokki texture was perfectly tender and chewy, and I strongly preferred the slippery clear sweet potato noodles to the ramen noodles at Da Sung Sa. I don't love a thick coat of gochujang on everything, so this version was more to my taste. I will say, though, that the 88 Sports Bar version is a few dollars more and has a lot less "stuff" (dumplings, etc) than Da Sung Sa.

Minimal panchan, and it was just ok, but I don't expect panchan at a sojubang anyway.

The Yelp reviews aren't very good (a fair number of them give poor ratings because of cost, which is more expensive than Oakland Korean restaurants, or because of failure to honor Restaurant.com and other coupons), but it looks like everyone who's had the dukbokki thought it was good.

I plan to sample off some other parts of the menu next time, but I can't imagine they can execute every item on the menu well - I can't think of another Korean restaurant with as broad of a menu, and they do some "Western" stuff as well.

Mar 29, 2014
daveena in San Francisco Bay Area

Souk Savanh Restaurant, lao and thai cuisine [Oakland]

Had takeout from them this week and was impressed. Mok pa was great, very light texture, flavor dominated by dill (I think other places go heavier on lemongrass/kefir lime)

Good nam kao, although the only herb included was mint.

Papaya salad was intensely salty/funky/spicy - we definitely missed the rice that we'd ordered but that didn't make it into our takeout bag. There were no visible chilis but it was crazy spicy (I don't know how many chilis we ordered, I think my husband just asked for it hot).

Kow Soy Boran (hofun noodles, homemade soybean paste, ground pork, cilantro, onion, bean sprouts, cabbage, chicken broth) was soothing and satisfying, with a gentle funkiness from the soybean paste.

Mar 29, 2014
daveena in San Francisco Bay Area

Sticky Rice Cafe: Laotian, Thai (Oaktown)

We used to go there regularly when it was Black and Silver - for some reason we started going less after it became Souk Savanh. I think we had a good meal there but we really loved the male chef who did all the crazy Raiders murals for Black and Silver, and he had to leave to take over a family business in another state. Then we found Sticky Rice, which is on a marginally less sketchy block - we tend to go for dinner, so we appreciated that there was at least a bar next door and some foot traffic on that block other than sex workers. Although, I'm thinking it may be time to go back to Souk Savanh - thanks for the reminder!

Mar 23, 2014
daveena in San Francisco Bay Area

Chat Patta Corner and Dana Bazar, Fremont - Fresh Pani Puri

Chat Patta Corner is still going strong. We drive to Fremont to eat there a few times a month, usually to the Ardenwood location so we can sit. My favorite is the tikki chole - we tend to go for dinner, and while I crave the sweet/sour/spicy//yogurty flavor combo, I also want something hot, so a piping hot spiced mashed potato patty topped with spiced chickpeas, topped with sauces and yogurt does the trick. We'll also usually get one or two of the cold chaats (honestly, we have a hard time keeping them straight, so we order semi-randomly and have yet to be disappointed), and either a paratha or one of their simple thalis.

I'm more likely to order pani puri at the Dana Bazaar location - partly because I'm more likely to be looking for a snack than a meal, and partly because the mob of folks waiting for pani puri at Ardenwood can be a little too much when I just want dinner.

Mar 22, 2014
daveena in San Francisco Bay Area

Hopscotch (Oakland)

Had a really good meal here the other night.

The starters we had were refined and would not have been out of place at Benu. The Yonsei oysters (with sea urchin, salmon roe, and citrus soy) were a perfect sweet briny bite, and the risotto with asparagus, red wine and quail egg was everything I look for in a risotto (deep umami punch, slightly loose texture, perfect chewiness).

The mains were more rustic but satisfying in their own way. I loved the quail stuffed with rice, a new dish they were testing out that night. The First Base Burger was very good but I found it a little overpowered by the pickled onions. Fried chicken was excellent.

Dessert was donuts with butterscotch custard - the donuts themselves are good but not particularly notable. The custard was great, with a deep burnt caramel flavor. I'd eat a tub of it straight.

With all the other newer, hotter places opening in the last few months, it seems much easier to make same day reservations now. While it's not a cheap meal (we averaged $50 pp with one cocktail each, after tax and tip) it's a really good value.

Mar 22, 2014
daveena in San Francisco Bay Area

Sticky Rice Cafe: Laotian, Thai (Oaktown)

Recent disappointing meal. Crispy rice salad not as fresh as before, although still enjoyable, and Kao Poon was bland and sweet. We asked the chef if the recipe had changed and he admitted that a large number of his customers are vegan/vegetarian, so he stopped putting fermented fish sauce/crab paste in the soup base.

It's the most convenient Lao place for us, so we'll probably still go back for Nam Kao and Larb, but I'm a little bummed about the Kao Poon.

Mar 22, 2014
daveena in San Francisco Bay Area

Any transplants from LA to SF (or vice versa I suppose) that would enjoy a discussion of food/restaurant theory?

When I think about my meals at AC, I actually don't remember anything about the poem/menu, or the weird technical stuff. I remember the most pristine seafood I've eaten outside of Sushi Yasuda (her menus are heavily sea-based - the only "meat" course was quail, which worked for me).

The dishes that I remember best are a giant, beautiful, barely cooked prawn, and a perfect raw oyster with a bit of citrusy foam.

I remember that you hated WD-50. I did too. But AC's philosophy and approach are completely different. The main ingredients are usually very simply and classically cooked and allowed to shine. Accompaniments may be foams or gels or powders, and the whimsical presentation may be too twee for many, but I think it is completely inaccurate to say that her dishes are "probably as far toward the other end of the ingredient vs. technique spectrum as you'll find locally." If you actually look at those pictures you're referencing (I just did a random Google Image search, to make sure my meals there were representative), the core of almost every dish is a simple, minimally cooked piece of seafood, or some beautifully cooked vegetables.

Mar 02, 2014
daveena in San Francisco Bay Area

Quality cheese (for wine pairing) between Mountain View to San Mateo?

Melanie, any hints on how to tell if a Red Hawk is properly ripe before you buy it? I started getting a lot of young, almost chalky Red Hawk after it won some prestigious prize a few years ago. I assumed they were selling them earlier to keep up with demand. I guess you could try poking it to see if there's any give. It's still ok when underripe though.

I've at least learned to not buy Epoisses that's visibly saggy in the middle. I made that mistake the first time I bought it and assumed the ammonia bite was supposed to be there. A perfectly ripe (or even underripe) Epoisses is great with pinot, but one step in the wrong direction and I think it would kill the wine.

My washed rind of choice right now is Langres. I haven't lived in the South Bay for years, but my bet on the two places most likely to carry it would be Milk Pail and Los Altos Whole Foods.

KK, since you're specifically pairing for pinot, I would probably avoid anything too sharp or tangy and focus on funky, mellow, mushroomy cheeses. Along with the washed rinds above, I'd think about brescianella, and I'd look at some creamy mixed-milk cheeses (La Tur, which can sometimes be found at Costco, Robiola due Latte). I think Brebirousse, a brie-style sheep, would be great too.

Since the knowledge of the person manning the cheese counter can vary, my strategy would be the following:
1) Zero in on creamy cheeses with rinds, and cheeses in round boxes
2) In a store where they don't cut the cheese to order, look at the date the cheese was packaged and only select ones that were cut within a day or so. For cheeses in boxes, do not purchase if the middle is sagging (overripe and ammonia-y)
3) Choose a mix of different milks, whether separate or blended, and a mix of washed rind and non-washed rind

I think this would get you a mix of cheeses that would pair well pinot, even if you didn't recognize the cheeses themselves.

Mar 01, 2014
daveena in San Francisco Bay Area

How is SF's 38 Essential List (Eater SF)?

For me, everything was very salty and fatty - it was all pleasurable at the first bite, but the taste became monotonous very quickly. I actually can't remember anything I ate there, except the burrata (which was good, but not any better than anyone else's burrata). I was annoyed by the long-winded explanations of what everything was, and annoyed by seeing the same items come around over and over. I just can't imagine that a dish that's circulated around the room a few times is as good as one that was ordered and fired on the spot (when I go to dimsum I prefer to order off menus too). It seemed extremely inefficient and gimmicky.

But, like I said, every food writer on the planet loves this place, and if it's number one on your list, you should go. Just go early so you don't have to wait on line too long, I'd hate to send somewhere there for a 2 hour wait.

I think the quail was ok... I'd take a Cambodian style stuffed quail over it any day though.

I find both Bar Tartine and Rich Table creative but unpretentious, and deeply satisfying.

I've loved every incarnation of Bar Tartine, and I'm sure a large part of it is that the bread is still my favorite bread on the planet. I tend to make the bread the center of my meal, and make sure to order something soupy, or saucy, to complement it.

Rich Table's chefs trained and met at a NYC restaurant I loved years ago (Bouley), and have also spent time at SF restaurants that I enjoy (Coi and Quince). The classical French technique + great pasta + a bit of molecular gastro + casual atmosphere and reasonable pricing combo works for me.

I actually haven't been to Flour + Water - I'd like to at some point, but I'm not willing to wait hours for a table, and I can't make it there at opening time. I have heard great things about the pasta tasting menu.

Ultimately, though, I think you should listen to your gut (sorry) re: the menus that really appeal to you. It is hard to calibrate your tastes to those of the posters on a board that's not your own. Taste is subjective, and there are lots of posters on this board that I respect but don't necessarily agree with. If it helps at all, though, LA poster Porthos may as well be my twin.

Feb 28, 2014
daveena in San Francisco Bay Area
2

How is SF's 38 Essential List (Eater SF)?

The SF list is pretty good overall. There's a big chunk that seems to be perennially on the list (in comparison, NYC's list has an enormous turnover rate. NYC also includes all boroughs plus Jersey City, so the pool they're drawing on is absolutely enormous).

The only obvious miss for me is Greens. Maybe at this point it would be unfair of me to judge it on 2 meals I had over 5 years ago, but they were so disappointing I haven't been willing to give it another chance.

The biggest omission for me is Atelier Crenn. It is by far my favorite high-end restaurant in the Bay Area (I prefer it to the French Laundry, Manresa, Coi and Benu, have not been to Saison).

Among my favorites:
Lers Ros Thai
Bar Tartine
AQ
Rich Table
La Ciccia
Cotogna

Worth going to:
Nopa
Frances
SPQR
Aziza
Range
Perbacco
Foreign Cinema
Commonwealth
Delfina
Zuni
Coi
Humphrey Slocombe

OK but overrated:
Bar Agricole (great cocktails, ok food, worst cheese plate I've ever been served)
Mission Chinese Food (individual dishes are enjoyable but unbalanced menu makes it hard to create a meal that's not all super salty/blasted with Szechuan peppercorns.)
State Bird Provisions - high end stoner food, and a worker's comp fiasco waiting to happen. Apparently I disagree with every food writer on the planet about this one.
Yank Sing - expensive, great vegetarian dumplings, but in general I'd rather drive to Daly City to eat at Koi Palace, where they're always rotating in new and interesting items.

Feb 28, 2014
daveena in San Francisco Bay Area
2

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

I had the opposite experience! I think the BL one I had was undercooked, almost gummy, while Fournée's was super caramelized and crunchy on the outside.

Feb 18, 2014
daveena in San Francisco Bay Area

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

Second Fournée. They have the best ones I've tasted, better than Boulette's Larder and La Boulange,

Feb 17, 2014
daveena in San Francisco Bay Area

Oakland Chinatown--best of, by restaurant

Sounds like it's time for me to go back to Shanghai restaurant again. I had a bad run of visits a few years ago but everything you described sounds great.

Dec 10, 2013
daveena in San Francisco Bay Area

Casa Jimenez (former El Taco Zamorano Taqueria) - - my beloved carnitas are back in Oakland!!

This is our current go-to when we're craving a plato of whatever. Nothing new or life-changing here, just really good execution of standards (enchiladas, tacos, chile relleno, various stewed meats, fried whole red snapper). Good corn tortillas, good rice, good beans, good salsa.

They now routinely have some 8 or so beers on tap. I've been enjoying Goose Island's Matilda on my last few visits.

Neighborhood isn't great, but they usually staff two armed guards during the evening, if that makes a difference to anyone.

Dec 08, 2013
daveena in San Francisco Bay Area

Desco - Regional Italian in Old Oakland

I like this place a lot - I was a fan of La Strada when I lived in the South Bay, and was really happy to see Donato Scotti and his casonsei replace Borga Italia, which I'd had high hopes for but which had such terrible service that I walked out without ever being able to order dinner.

So far, I've enjoyed every pasta I've had there, although I'd have to say - I think the casonsei were better at La Strada. Or maybe my tastes have changed. I don't think I'm crazy, though to say that I'm pretty sure the shape was different - a sort of 4-point (maybe 3-point) package where the edges all pointed up, so that the bottom was flat and got super browned in butter - it's more of a half-moon ravioli type shape now, which doesn't allow for as much browning. The pappardalle with lamb cheek sugo and the chitarrine with clams, olives, calamari, mussels, chili and bottarga are both great, and while the spaghetti carbonara isn't the best of it's class, it is still very satisfying. Portions are not enormous, but managed to be filling.

The one miss so far has been the Piatto Della Casa, a platter of smoked duck, rabbit terrine, and roasted porchetta - the one I tried was underseasoned, and the terrine was dry somehow.

Service is fast and professional, which makes Desco a reasonable lunchtime option. You can be seated, order a plate of pasta, pay, and be out in 30-40 minutes, without actually feeling rushed. $9-13 for pasta may be more than I'd normally pay for lunch, but honestly, it costs about as much and is way more restful than getting lunch from a food truck. They've also added less expensive sandwich items ($7-10) that I haven't tried yet.

Dec 07, 2013
daveena in San Francisco Bay Area

Oakland Chinatown--best of, by restaurant

December 2013 update

Additional Tay Ho favorites -
Mekong Poor Boy noodle (rice noodles with coconut milk, shredded pork and pork skin, herbs, bean sprouts, scallion oil)
Saigon Noodle (noodles with grilled pork kebabs, scallion oil, fried shallots)

Tian Jin Dumplings - pork and leek dumplings, crepe with Chinese donut

Guilin Rice Noodle - noodle soup with ground beef topping, noodle with salty beef and crispy pork.

I would not recommend anything from First Cake anymore. Everything's gone way downhill.

Dec 07, 2013
daveena in San Francisco Bay Area

Oakland - Tian Jin Dumplings

Another addition to my weekly rotation. The crepes frequently sell out (I've seen people asking for them with the intensity of heroin addicts looking for their next hit), so I try to get them when I can, but a lunch of 15 little dumplings is also a satisfying option. The last time I got them, I went a little late and they ran out of their usual chili sauce, so they gave me a little packet of Tapatio instead. I <heart> Oakland.

Dec 07, 2013
daveena in San Francisco Bay Area
3

Classic Guilin Rice Noodles - Oakland Chinatown

Thanks to everyone who posted on this place. It's now in my weekly rotation. I've tried two different soups - the ground meat topping one, and the salty beef/crispy pork combo.

I tried the ground meat one first, because in my limited Guilin rice noodle soup eating experience, the topping was some sort of spicy ground meat. I ordered it to go, which was dumb (if I am to be honest, it was because I'd left my phone at work and I couldn't figure out how to entertain myself while waiting for my noodles), and it came with the noodles and toppings in a shallow container, and a quart of clear chicken stock on the side, plus a little container of their chili paste. With the chili paste and a small amount of broth mixed in (I probably only used half), these noodles totally hit the spot.

I had the salty beef/crispy pork version at the restaurant, and thought it was great. It's not an enormous amount of meat, but it's really delicious, and it was still pretty filling. I was extremely confused though - they brought out the bowl with noodles and toppings, and I waited for a while for the soup without starting until the waitress passed by and told me to eat them dry, and drink the soup separately. The little cup of broth came as I was halfway through the noodles - it was different from the ground meat noodle broth, cloudy and slightly medicinal. I enjoyed it between bites of dry noodle but don't know if I would have liked it as much mixed in.

I've been lucky to work in a neighborhood with a lot of different lunch options, but it's been hard to find a lunch that's quick, filling, and that doesn't leave me feeling greasy and heavy. I've actually also found that portion sizes for a lot of noodle soup and bun places are a bit too big, but my Asian guilt keeps me from leaving food on my plate, even when I'm full. I find the portions here just right, and I leave lunch feeling great.

Dec 07, 2013
daveena in San Francisco Bay Area
1

Pizzeria Mozza Butterscotch Budino - testing notes

Oh, excellent! It is a great recipe, and I haven't made it in the longest time... since the original post (was it really almost 6 years ago?) I've had various butterscotch budinos at different restaurants, and I still think Mozza's is the best. Thanks for bumping this thread!

Dec 06, 2013
daveena in Home Cooking

Trabocco Review (Alameda)

We had an uneven but promising first meal last night. The restaurant is glossy and modern, design-y in a way that is unusual for Alameda, and even more so given its location in the South Shore Shopping Center. The chef is from Abruzzo, a region I have zero familiarity with, but the menu is studded with dishes I haven’t seen before (chitarrine al cacao with rabbit ragu, gnocchi in a squash, mushroom and white wine sauce) that I assumed were regional.

Pizzas were very good – beautifully charred crusts, more tender than crisp, maybe a bit thicker around the edge than ideal, but very good. We enjoyed one with sausage and broccoli rabe, and one with crisp slices of potato and huge, fat, fresh mussels.

The chitarrine was marred by crunchy clumps of pasta that had stuck together and not cooked fully, and the rabbit ragu was too heavy on sweet spices for my taste. Other pasta dishes on the menu (that we did not get to try) include an oxtail stuffed ravioli, and a butternut squash agnolotti.

The pork chop is a beautiful thing, smoky from the oven, a touch more done than I’d normally want, but so flavorful it made up for it.

The most compelling thing, though was the dish we couldn’t get – there is a different rotisserie meat each night, and we had the unfortunate luck to miss out on rabbit. They plan to rotate chicken, duck, rabbit, pork and goat in the future. I plan to call ahead on random days until I hit a rabbit day, and will try to pre-order one if they let me.

The restaurant was near full but not excessively loud, despite the general lack of soft surfaces, and service was enthusiastic, even exuberant. They have a private dining room for 16, as well as an outdoor patio space.

Dec 06, 2013
daveena in San Francisco Bay Area
2

Downtown Oakland Lunch Spots [split from Stag's Lunchette thread]

Do you have any idea what happened? I was looking forward to my Friday fried chicken sandwich a few weeks ago and was bummed when I couldn't call in - I kept hoping they were closed for the summer but I guess they're closed for good. Business seemed good every time I went.

Sep 21, 2013
daveena in San Francisco Bay Area

A90 - Berkeley [now "Build"]

I hated the Chipotle assembly line, and the logistics of having it there meant a slightly bizarre and fragmented dining experience that clashed with the relatively upscale interior (sit down, look at a laminated menu, place order, take a Post-It to the line?) but the crust was way, way better than I'd expected (flavorful, great texture, I think it was similar to Forge's) and I loved the pizza I ordered (no sauce, shredded mozzerella, mushrooms, egg, truffled pecorino to finish). I will go back, but I think the cafeteria line seriously detracts from the experience.

Jun 15, 2013
daveena in San Francisco Bay Area

Alameda recommendations

American Oak reopened a few weeks ago after a suspicious fire - food's as good if not better than before (although they dropped pizza from the menu). Stellar burgers, possibly my favorite in the Bay Area. Great cocktails.

Jun 15, 2013
daveena in San Francisco Bay Area

Baron Baking's Bagels. Anyone tried them?

Best bagel I've had on the West Coast by far. I like the small size, the chewy- (but not heavy-) ness, the slightly malty flavor. Chop Bar toasts them unless you ask them not to, but what's the point of having a great bagel if you're going to toast it?

Jun 15, 2013
daveena in San Francisco Bay Area

Oakland Chinatown--best of, by restaurant

My current faves (actually haven't changed much over the years, except for a general downhill trend for Shan Dong, and a general uphill trend for Spices 3)

Phnom Penh
samlaw machhou (hot and sour seafood soup)
Eggplant with pork

Chef Lau
Pumpkin fritters with salted egg
Potstickers
Salt and pepper fish

Café 88
Roast pork and rice

Fortune
Lobster noodles
Steamed clams with basil

BC Deli
bot chien triew chau (rice cakes with scrambled egg and preserved vegetable)
Banh mi (I usually order either the pork combo, the meatball, or the fish cake)

Tay Ho
Combo #11 (steamed rice noodles wrapped around minced pork and wood ear mushrooms, sweet potato fritters, shrimp and mung bean cupcake)
Banh xeo

Shan Dong
Pork and vegetable bun (the knife cut noodles have gone way downhill and are too gummy to eat now)

Pho Hoa Lao
Pho Bo Kho (beef stew with egg noodles)

Spices 3 – order everything “not too salty”, otherwise it can be inedible.
Ants on a tree
Twice cooked pork
Shanghai style rice cake
Cold spicy cucumbers

First Cake
Egg puffs

Jun 14, 2013
daveena in San Francisco Bay Area
2

Downtown Oakland Lunch Spots [split from Stag's Lunchette thread]

The fried chicken sandwich is very, very good. Actually, maybe the best one I've had so far. I didn't love the tabasco honey on it and will ask them to leave it off next time.

I called in my order (during peak lunch hours) and it was ready in the few minutes it took for me to get there.

May 02, 2013
daveena in San Francisco Bay Area

Eating near Moscone Center - 2013 [San Francisco]

Oh, excellent. I forgot to mention, also - a friend of mine highly recommended Darwin Cafe (212 Ritch Street) but I got sidetracked by Ruchi and never made it.

Apr 24, 2013
daveena in San Francisco Bay Area

Eating near Moscone Center - 2013 [San Francisco]

I recently attended a conference at Moscone and took full advantage of the lists people have compiled in the past - I thought it would be worth it to start a 2013 thread.

In the Westfield Shopping Center:

M.Y. China - tried the wild boar scissor noodles, which I enjoyed because I love carbs. However, if I am to be truly critical, they were a bit sweet and soft for my taste. Decent wok char though.

Cupola - a plate-sized piadina was a satisfying and quick meal. It was quieter and more restful than M.Y. China - I will probably go back here in the future.

In SOMA, within a few blocks of Moscone:

Ruchi - I had the veg thali - it had a pretty good paneer tikka masala, plus rasam, sambar, buttermilk, rice, naan, pickle, and sweet vermicelli dessert. Saravana Bhavan it is not, but it was a nice break from all the Italian food I was eating that week.

Zero Zero - they have a great weekend brunch menu, and very few people at lunchtime on Saturday - I had some very good arancini, followed by biscuits and prosciutto gravy. The biscuits are outstanding.

54 Mint - I had a mediocre Roman-style artichoke (too tough and stringy, and I didn't love the soggy breadcrumbs), and a fantastic spaghetti carbonara. Their guanciale is insanely good - it's fried to the texture of chicharrones, with a crunch and meltaway like Cheetos. I will definitely return for this dish alone.

Apr 22, 2013
daveena in San Francisco Bay Area

Rich Table -- An Embarrassment of Riches [SF]

Having a larger group is definitely a good strategy - I went with a party of 6 a few weeks ago and thoroughly enjoyed my meal. The portions were larger and better suited to sharing than I'd expected.

I wish I'd written out our menu immediately afterwards, but forgot too, and as people have pointed out, in changes quickly, but I will reconstruct what I can.

Appetizers - we enjoyed the sardine chips and porcini beignets (the raclette is lightened with mashed potato). Our beignets were light and greaseless. I can see how it would be overwhelming to share these between two people (I think there were 5 portions per order of sardine chips, and 7 per order of beignets), but with 6 people, 1 or 2 of each was a treat.

Bread - I was not impressed with the Douglas fir levain. It reminded me of the Anadama bread my friend used to make for her co-op in college. Not that it was bad, it just wasn't what I expect, texturally and flavor-wise, from a levain.

Appetizers - I remembered loving the lamb tartare, and enjoying everything esle.

Pasta - texture was excellent (not soft as in some of the earlier reports), definitely heavy on the butter. I didn't love the chicken lasagna but enjoyed the pasta with lamb and the tajarin with truffles (I was pretty impressed by the amount of black truffle shaved onto the pasta). The pasta course was where I definitely felt the need for acidity - at one point I ran out of wine and was desperately trying to drain the last drop out of my glass to help clear my palate.

Mains - I thought all the mains were fantastic. I had read that the Riches met at Bouley, and I had that information simmering somewhere in my subconscious when I went, but I was still surprised at how much the entrees reminded me of Bouley (an earlier incarnation, Bouley Bakery, was my parents' favorite restaurant in NYC). Beautifully executed proteins with deceptively simple sauces, they showcased stellar technique, along with a bit of West Coast playfulness. The best of these was probably the rainbow trout, with a haunting almond milk sauce, and an impeccable brunoise of root vegetable. I honestly don't know when I've ever seen knife work like that in the Bay Area, but also - it tasted amazing.

Service was friendly, professional and efficient. I look forward to returning (and will definitely bring my parents the next time they visit).

Apr 22, 2013
daveena in San Francisco Bay Area