Monday, January 31, 2005

Roses are Red and Zuni is Yummy!

It's Monday night -- guess what that means? I have two weekend nights of food experiences to blog about (yes, Aren and I are weekend-only diners out).

Until this weekend, we hadn't ventured into North Beach since moving up to the city. This is probably because I don't love going to Italian restaurants. I find that pretty good Italian meals are easy to cook at home, so I only want to go to Italian if it's amazing. My recent good experience at Oliveto, however, made me want to give the Italian dining scene a chance. We ended up at Rose Pistola, a fairly touristy restaurant (it's appeared on the Food Network) that gets solid reviews. The meal was, well, fine. We had a pretty tasty, unique appetizer -- chickpea farinata -- a pancake made of chickpea flour baked in the wood-burning oven. I had a pizza for my main course. It wasn't as crisp as a wood-oven pizza should be, but I still enjoyed eating it. Everything else was fair. I'm sure we'll go back to Rose Pistola at some point, but probably not in the near-term.

We went to Zuni Cafe on Saturday night. Well, first we went to Hotel Biron, a wine bar just around the corner from Zuni. It's very cozy and quiet and has a great selection of wines. I was a very bad girl and had a dessert wine from Vinum Cellars before my meal. I very much enjoyed my meal at Zuni. Some people say the restaurant is snobbish, but I've never found that to be the case. Perhaps that's b/c I always request a table in the more quiet upstairs, away from the bar where maybe all these beautiful/snobby people congregate? I tried Zuni's famous shoestring potatoes for the first time, which are clearly famous for good reason. We also spent a good part of our meal peering down at the tables below us to see what other people were enjoying.

I'm already looking forward to this weekend. We have some friends from Seattle (ex-SF-ers) coming into town on Friday. We're going to Chapeau! with them -- they are fellow food-lovers, so I'm excited to share one of my fave spots with them!

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Restaurants Galore!

I'm a little behind in my blogging, so I have *4* restaurant experiences to write about today!

Last weekend, Aren and I went to Cafe Claude with our good college friend. An SF expatriate friend of ours had recommended the authentic French bistro. I loved the atmosphere -- the restaurant is in a little alley near Union Square and features a jazz band during weekend nights. Unlike a lot of other bistros in the city, there was ample room between the tables. We shared pate to start, I had mussels as my main course, and I ended with a nice banana bread pudding. The food was solid, but not sensational. I'd, however, definitely go back both for the atmosphere and for the bistro's affordability. Entrees run between $10 and $15!

We also checked out Town Hall last weekend. The restaurant is being touted as one of the best new restaurants of the year. I love the look of the restaurant -- lots of wood, Craftsman-style furniture, and high ceilings. The restaurant is very loud, so I would suggest having a drink or two if you go there to help you forget the millions of voices around you. The comfort food was in fact yummy. We shared biscuits and ham to start, which reminded me of when I lived in Williamsburg, Virginia once upon a time. I had their famous duck and gingersnap gravy and then a cobbler for dessert. I went home a little tipsy and very stuffed! Unfortunately, I woke up extremely ill in the middle of the night. I was confident that my illness was due to overeating heavy foods. I immediately realized I was wrong when I went into work on Monday -- mysteriously, at least half the office had become extremely ill over the weekend. Turns out that we were not just treated with burritos at our office lunch on Friday, but salmonella! Nice!

Now for this weekend...Aren and I headed up to wine country yesterday. We visited both Duckhorn and St. Supery. We had a nice tour followed by an estate tasting at Duckhorn and left happy with a bottle of Merlot. The tasting was probably the best to which I've been -- it was long and leisurely and accompanied with explanations of the wines, as well as an overview of the winery's history. We stopped by Oakland's Oliveto for dinner on our way home. They have very good in-house salumi and good pasta dishes, very reminiscent of Delfina in SF.

We're going to my fave SF restaurant, Chapeau!, tonight -- I'll fill you in on the details soon!

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Boring Food, Fun Entertainment

Happy 2005! A and I went to Restaurant LuLu to celebrate on New Year's Eve (actually, we went to the XYZ bar first -- one of our fave bars in the city). LuLu was doing the whole prix fixe, first/second seating thing with a live band, party favors, and champagne toast. Our table was great -- it was smack-dab between a warm, open brick oven and dance floor. Aren and I had fun watching the mostly older crowd dance and joined in after finishing our meal. Based on reviews I had read, I knew that LuLu wasn't going to be one of my top restaurant experiences in the city, but expected it to be better than it was. I had plate-cured salmon, seared foie gras, scallops served over a bacon-y risotto, and persimmon bread pudding. The presentation and taste of my food seemed very mass-produced. One of my co-workers recently warned me about his Valentine's day theory. Since the Valentine's crowd is comprised of mostly special-event diners, the top restaurants let their quality slip on the special day since they're not worried about repeat business. Perhaps this theory could account for our New Year's Eve dining experience as well?