I spent Saturday involved in very un-French pursuits—no petanque, profiteroles or pommes frites for me, unfortunately. Years ago, when I was working at a cooking school in France (an experience that was in equal parts miserable and glorious) we celebrated Bastille Day by producing 1,000 gougeres (cheese puffs) and 1,000 palmiers (elephant ear pastries fashioned from puff pastry that we made from scratch) for the celebration in the town square. By the end of it I was so tired and so sick of pastry that I didn’t even attend the party.
Last Tuesday, I met my friend Tasha at Sebo—her hands down favorite sushi restaurant in the city, and maybe even the world. It was a timely visit since I had just read “Waiter, There’s a Deer in My Sushi”—one of the most emailed New York Times articles that day—about how chefs in Japan are dealing with the tuna shortage. Anyway, one extreme solution was to use smoked deer meat for its maguro-red color (ew). Horsemeat was another solution, but I’m not going there.
Photograph courtesy of Scott Peterson
People continually ask me what my favorite restaurant in the city is, and I’m always at a loss to answer. I have favorite diners, favorite pizza joints, favorite five-stars, favorite neighborhood spots, favorite classics, favorite newcomers, and finally, the most important and difficult category: favorite places to take visiting out-of-towners.
Don’t go to Espetus, the Brazilian steakhouse on Market Street at Gough, unless you’re starving, because you’re in for a fixed-price, all-you-can-eat session of marathon meat-eating, which stomach needs to be empty to fully enjoy. There is no menu and no ordering. I suggest starting with a glass of sangria or a caipirinha before heading up to the salad bar, where you’ll find soup, paella and roasted potatoes in addition to fresh vegetables. With your drink, the Gaucho-styled waiters deliver a coaster-sized chip colored red on one side, green on the other. Keep the green side up, and the waiters will come to your table bearing huge skewers of meat fresh from the fire in a continual revolving feast.
Farina at 10 days.
Most (smart) people wait a good few months before dining at a brand-new restaurant, but not me. I’m always too curious, too impatient and, some might say, too stubborn to follow rules like that. So last Friday night I got one of my favorite friends to meet me for dinner at Farina. It was the restaurant’s 10th night open, but you’d never know it.
Hopfinger vs. Tucker. Where do you put your money?
I’m one of those…how shall I say…opinionated individuals. Even when I’m really trying not to express obvious displeasure or great thrill, I’m an open book. This quality makes me a terrible poker player (4 aces! Whoopie!) but a good source for candid, genuine, often unsolicited, advice and recommendations. Tonight I'm attending an event that is tailor-made for my particular skill set.
Nobu-san at work.
One day my friend Jen was walking along Balboa and stumbled upon Tekka—a diamond-in-the-rough, 10-seater izakaya/sushi spot in the Richmond. It’s a true mom-and-pop run by Nobu and Yoshimi, a husband-and-wife team from Japan, and while the rules are extensive, the end result is more than worth it.
The best is yet to come: Clown Alley becomes Pickles.
Friends, we’re about to become a world-class burger town. If you were among those who scoffed when Daniel Boulud first presented his $40 foie gras stuffed burger at his restaurant in NYC, thinking it would never come to our shores…well, let’s just say you might be eating crow.