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Eat + Drink

7 Things in Food

Check out these 7 things—all happening this week.

1. Green delivery: This is the first full week that Grub Hub—online delivery guide and ordering service—is purchasing carbon offsets for every delivery.

2. Dine like it’s 1998: In celebration of 10 years in business, Absinthe is rolling back prices on signature dishes and cocktails from January 20 to February 1.

3. Go ‘shroomin’: Black Truffle dinner at Palmetto is tonight (January 22 at 7 p.m.). Start with beef carpaccio and shaved celery salad, move to pasta, then roasted guinea hen and finally a duet of desserts.

The Fifth Floor Goes to Gascony


Chef Laurent Manrique is getting back to his roots.

Chefs get excited about things: “The Bay Area is almost the same latitude and longitude!” Laurent Manrique, the chef of Aqua and now consultant to the Fifth Floor, was telling me the other day, referring to the likeness of our geography to his native homeland, the Gascony region of France. They have a wine country (OK, so theirs is Bordeaux, one of the most famous wine regions in the world), forest, mountains (OK, theirs is the Pyrenees), and an ocean in close proximity—and so do we!

Santa Cruz Root Beer



My quest to find the perfect root beer continued with this oddity, purchased at the Ashbury Market. As you might expect, my quest will continue. This organic root beer is clear. Wearing its lack of artificial coloring on its sleeve might allow Santa Cruz to feel morally superior, but, come on, root beer should be brown and served in a frosty mug. (OK, I’m the one who put it in a wine glass.) Anyway, the flavor was not particularly rooty. It was more gingery and spicy. It’s drinkable, but not really satisfying as a root beer. Next!

Brooke’s Benefit



Last week’s benefit at Cantina for bartender Brooke Arthur of Range was a big success. The bar was packed, as so many people turned out to donate and raise a glass in support of her and her recovery.


Cantina’s Staff Appreciation Party

We had the holiday, no, staff appreciation party for Cantina employees and friends last week. What was supposed to be a leisurely Sunday lunch followed by a mellow bar crawl  for us to hang out together beyond the confining box of the bar didn’t go as planned.

We went to Bodega Bistro— one of my favorite restaurants in the city—for lunch. Unfortunately, lunch was planned for 2 p.m., but the kitchen shuts down at 2:30. So instead of eating slowly and in a relaxed manner, we sort of pounded the food, as well as the copious amounts of wine we brought (most of which we left to the good staff of the restaurant, which closed while we were still there, though they mercifully let us stay and continue to make fools of ourselves).

Mini-Mandarin Mania



Photo by Stefanie Michejda.

Sparkling Wine Snuff Film

It felt kind of creepy to watch this, so passing it along to you makes me feel, well, sleazy. I know, it’s scary what can happen to you in Europe, as depicted in movies like Hostel, Hostel: Part 2, Midnight Express or the YouTube video of the giant robotic arm of Belgian customs snapping the necks of 3,200 bottles of innocent, whimpering California wine. Like lambs to the slaughter, lambs to the slaughter . .

The Fairest Fast Food of All

Last week, a little-reported bit of food news crossed my desk: Chipotle, that chain of Mexican fast-food restaurants founded here in the Bay Area by Steve Ells (former cook at the now defunct Stars) has gone on record as saying that it will serve some 52 million pounds of naturally raised meat in 2008, marking a 40% increase over last year. I’ve read enough Michael Pollan to be skeptical of the phrase, “naturally raised meat,” but figured it warranted a second look.

Here's to Our Health

San Franciscans have a village mentality. Leave the big-box stuff to the Los Angeles and Miami; let New York have its sweeping fine-dining restaurants. We’re proud of our casual, but conscientious, neighborhood joints that don’t cost an arm and a leg—the little guys, owned and run by a chef who knows your name: the Delfinas, Terzos and Blue Plates; the SPQRs, Mavericks and Frescatis.
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