Tuesday, April 10, 2012

SF Gate/Chronicle 100 Places I've been

First off, I think it's funny that MB starts his article with some claptrap about chefs finally embracing California Cuisine. The problem I have with many restaurants in SF, and especially those that MB favors, is that they are too geared towards California Cuisine. Sure, I like food where the ingredients star, but seems like California Cuisine has become code for the most obscure heirloom fresh farm ingredients on our menu. If the food is good, I don't need a primer on where it came from, how it was raised, how many hours it rode. Just give me some good food goddamit. OK, rant over. Here's where I've been.

Absinthe: Went there after it opened about 10 years ago. Thought it good, but overpriced. Recently visited for lunch and the dining room was much smaller and cramped feeling than I remember and the menu was terribly disappointing. Food was good, but choose from not very interesting sandwiches/salads or overpriced entrees (sorry but $25+ for lunch entrees is too much). Does not belong.

Acquerello: Again, was there like a decade ago. Food was amazing and I still remember a pasta with a truffle cream sauce. Astonishingly good food, but back then, decor needed an update. If they haven't done so, then it really needs one now. Belongs.

Betelnut: It's been like 15 years. Remember it as a great, lively environment with much better food than was expected. Belongs.

Boulevard: Only had desert here, but it was fantastic. Belongs.

Chapeau: Anyone who knows any details about MB knows that he absolutely loves this place. I went to it when it was further out in the Richmond and thought it a good French Bistro, but not particularly memorable other than the most crowded dining room I've ever been in. On the fence.

Coco500: Took the baby there about three years ago. Was good, but not terribly memorable, mostly cause of the rugrat. On the fence.

Delfina: In my mind, the most overrated restaurant in SF. I was there shortly after it opened with as much fanfare as I've ever seen, and thought, mmm, interesting, rock salt really does make the flavors jump. It's good, bordering on great, but, at least in my experience, I didn't see a lot of originality or creativity and the food was so simply prepared that I felt it wouldn't take much effort to duplicate at home. But maybe that's the ingenuity of great cooking. Still, left a bit disappointed. I need to go back and try to block out the expectations before saying it belongs (though it probably does).

Fifth Floor: Went here for desert and cheese course. Felt a bit stuffy, but that's actually okay with me. Need to have dinner to have a decent opinion.

Foreign Cinema: Been here twice. I don't get it. That's okay, but I don't get it. Doesn't belong.

French Laundry: Funny that MB takes out Jardinierre because of price, but doesn't say anything about French Laundry. Money being no object, best meal of my life. Belongs.

Gary Danko: Better value than places like French Laundry. Some of the best service (I'll take a bit suffocating over ignored any day). Absolutely belongs.

Greens: Been here twice and didn't really understand it. Food seemed inventive in theory, but it never really grabbed me. Still, the view is amazing, it has a sneaky awesome wine list and probably belongs for these two elements alone.

House of Prime Rib: I've been going at least once a year for 35 years. Belongs.

Incanto: One of my favorites and I'm surprised that stuff MB actually liked this place. Menu is wildly inventive, straying far beyond MB's usual chicken/fish/steak wheelhouse. Absolutely belongs.

Koi Palace: Went here for my college graduation five years ago. Absolutely great, but the bigger the group the better. Belongs, but there are a lot of great Asian places not mentioned, so it feels a bit forced.

Mateo's Cucina Latina: Food is great, but watch out for the prices. It would be better integrating it's Yucatan heritage into the name rather than the generic "latina". Probably belongs, but again, there are a lot of great latin restaurants that get no love from MB.

Nopalito: I'm surprised that he dings other joints for losing focus. The menu here isn't particularly dynamic and the setting kinda sucks. Used to go here quite a bit, but the food isn't what it was. Doesn't belong.

One Market: Went here for the pig tasting menu. Strangely uninteresting. Would like to go back. Incomplete.

Piperade: Maybe the best tapas place in the US. Absolutely belongs.

Slanted Door: I've been here quite a few times over the years. I think it's living on its legacy a bit. Still, the digs at the Ferry building can't be beat. But there's a lot of much better Vietnamese food in the bay area. Belongs thanks to it's location and reputation, but I don't think I'd put it there.

Town Hall: Went there a few weeks ago for a work dinner. Not terribly memorable. Not really sure if it belongs.

Yank Sing: Food is pretty darn good. I want to dislike this more as a round eye version of dim sum, but can't seem to do it, especially after being in HKG. Belongs.

Zarzuela: Good, but not near the caliber of Piperade. More like comfort tapas. I don't think it really belongs.

Zuni Cafe: Every time I go here, I have so much fun. Food isn't always memorable, but such a good time. Belongs.

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