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Robin Rinaldi

Let Us Now Praise the BLT

When the days get cold and dark like this, nothing quite does it like basic comfort food. My current kick is the BLT: a little genius of a sandwich that’s stellar when tomatoes are in season, bread is fresh and bacon is high-quality, but is even damn good when all its elements are merely mediocre.

My current three local BLT faves are each a little different in scope and genre:


Liverpool Lil's BLT with avocado.

1. Liverpool Lil’s version is simple and down-home, with basic sliced bread and the always-nice addition of avocado.

Fry Me a River (of Smelts)

Here are the things I dig about the new Bossa Nova on Eighth Street in SoMa.

1.    The supercool website, which will make you want to book a flight to Rio in about two minutes flat.
2.    The live music every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, courtesy of Brazilian hottie Antonio Guedes.
3.    The $7 caipirinhas, especially the classic.


Bossa Nova's fried smelts + caipirinhas.

A Lone Voice of Creamy Dissent

Here’s a sight that epitomizes the San Francisco version of a Saturday night dinner party—dessert at my house last Saturday night.



It doesn’t get much better than five flavors of Bi-Rite Creamery ice cream, plus fresh berries. But let’s talk about those five flavors for a second: Coffee Toffee, Butter Pecan, Mint Chocolate Chip, Cookies ’n’ Cream and Salted Caramel.

Health, Meet Pleasure

A few years back in Philadelphia, I remember reviewing a raw food restaurant that nearly made me gag. By the end of the meal, the cold slivers of carrots, cucumber, sprouty things and all manner of mushroom, combined differently (but tasting the same) in nearly every dish, had created a watery, almost grassy feeling in my gut that was the exact opposite of satisfaction or fullness.


Cafe Gratitude's chile relleno with red rice.

Make Food Not War

While on Lower Haight last night I stumbled upon a new restaurant called Baghdad Nights (682 Haight St., 415-861-6111) with elaborate, colorful signage and a flyer advertising belly dancing in the window. Turns out it’s a new (and as far as I can tell, SF’s only) Iraqi restaurant, staffed by Iraqi-Americans—each last one of them super-friendly and attentive.

Sens and Sensibility

The one and only drawback to Sens, the new restaurant that draws on talent from several trustworthy corners of our local food universe—a general manager and sommelier from Kokkari, chef from Plumpjack Café and pastry chef from Citizen Cake and French Laundry—is getting to it, via an elevator and hallway buried within the promenade level of the mall-ish Embarcadero 4 building. But the location pays off once inside, where your view from the dining room or spacious patio is of swaying palms lined like sentries in front of the iconic Ferry Building.

Fishy Penance

I am not an advocate of a low-carb diet—or any diet for that matter. But let’s face facts. Sometimes—like for instance after a week in Philly spent stuffing your face with cheese steak, pizza and homemade ravioli, and with the holiday binge fast approaching—it pays to slow down a little.

Philadelphia Freedom

I enjoy comparisons. Comparisons, after all, are what we use to make most decisions. “Do I want oatmeal or pancakes for breakfast?” To decide, you mentally compare the two. “Should I continuing dating Jake, or is it just going to end badly, like Jack did?” Again, you compare. “Do I take the high-paying but boring job or the low-paying creative job?”

Jonesing for Comfort

When I got word there was a new comfort-food restaurant in the Marina called Jones, I paused, because back in Philly, where I used to review restaurants, there was a comfort-food spot by über-successful restauranteur Stephen Starr called Jones. Turns out this Jones is not related to that Jones (it’s a common enough name, after all); it’s actually a re-do of the Marina Sports Bar & Grill owned by One Industry Group, the guys behind Mas Sake, Impala and Suite One8One.

Seattle vs. SF

Like many of us, I tend to think of Northern California as the culinary womb of the country—the place where perfect produce is grown, organic chickens run free and bold Cabernets outshine those watery vintages they produce in France. But a recent trip to Seattle instilled a seed of doubt about our status as the capital of all things fresh and local.
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