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restaurants

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.

Under Construction: Waterbar


Rough sketches of the main bar and dining room.

Growing up, I wanted to be an architect, then a doctor, then a lawyer, then an environmental lobbyist (like Annette Bening in the The American President), but luckily I became a writer. Now I get to learn about such a wide array of activities, issues and events. One day, I could be covering an exotic locale, and the next I could be wearing a bright yellow hardhat and touring what’s likely to be a landmark SF restaurant.

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.

Just Like Us

I’ll admit that one of my guilty pleasures is reading bad celebrity magazines. I usually restrict my reading to airplanes and at the dentist’s office (where no magazine, no matter how trashy, will distract me from my fate). But I’ve never really understood Us Weekly’s “Just Like Us” bit, where they catch celebs jogging, say, or buying toothpaste, then slug it with “Stars! They’re Just Like Us!” Yeah, just like us, save for the million-dollar paychecks, throngs of paparazzi and houses in Beverly Hills. Well, like somebody’s mother once said, we all put our pants on one leg at a time. And, apparently, like Crest.

Big-Time Chef Goes South



Chef Luke Mangam at South, the day before its big opening party.

Running with the Fishermen



I just got back from a week’s vacation in Cartagena, where fresh-picked fruit and just-caught fish are always at your fingertips.



The eating was good, which is one reason why I stepped out to run a few miles on the beach every other day, despite the three-digit temperatures. During these morning runs, I’d exchange thumbs up with all the fishermen pulling in what looked like very heavy nets. With such abundance from the sea, it’s no surprise that breakfast was my only fish-free meal.

Learning to Let Go


Her name was Lolo, she was a showgirl

Cal-Mex Hits Maine

I’m always reminded that some of the best things are the most unexpected. Happy accidents, I think they're are called, and they seem to occur most just when you stop looking. I spent last week touring around the great state of Maine, visiting farmers and checking out local restaurants (did you miss me?) and in the process was reminded of the greatness of serendipity.

Shabu-Shabu Elimidate


There's lots to throw into the soup at Mums.

No one told me not to go on a date to Mums in Japantown, now part of the new Hotel Tomo, for shabu-shabu. So I'm telling you now: Don't go on a date to Mums for shabu-shabu.

Sicilian on Fillmore

My list of restaurants to try is as long as I am tall, and it’s elaborately broken down into more specific categories: just opened, classics I’ve never been to, classics to repeat, etc. To my frustration, the list grows longer and longer, even though it feels like I’m an eating-out machine.
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