|Toque of San Francisco January 2007
Dining About Town
By Carol & Joe Davis Dining Detectives
Happy New Year 2007!!!
San Francisco continues to have a vibrant dining scene with Cuisine from around the world. We dined at Asian, Hawaiian Fusion, Indian, Turkish, Vietnamese, French and English restaurants over the past few months. Chefs from around the globe love to come to San Francisco to offer the delicacies of their homelands to the discerning diners of “The City by the Bay”. We met Famous Chefs, Aspiring Chefs and Almost Famous Chefs. January is always a great time to try new restaurants and visit favorites as The San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau www.onlyinsanfrancisco.com sponsors “Dine About Town” where for the Sixth year over 100 local restaurants offer prix-fixe menus with 3 course lunches for $21.95 and 3 course dinners for $31.95.Reservations can be made by contacting the restaurants or at www.opentable.com.
We attended the Asian Chefs Association Annual Gala www.ACASF.com at Roy’s in San Francisco. The Asian Chefs Association is a community of Asian and Asian inspired chefs, hospitality professionals and food writers who joined together to create a community to share their passion for Asian Cuisine. We enjoyed the tasting where we were able to sample Asian cuisine from over a dozen restaurants. We met Roy Yamaguchi who was the host of the event and is the founder of the 33 Roy’s Restaurants worldwide. Roy’s Misoyaki Charred Butterfish and Mongolian Grilled Baby Ribs were delicious.
Executive Chef/ Owner Weerayut “Oudi” Uted from Flavor in Dallas
Some of our other favorite tastes were the Marinated Atlantic Salmon wrapped with Pandan Leaf and honey dipping sauce created by Executive Chef/ Owner Weerayut “Oudi” Uted from Flavor in Dallas, Texas and the Organic Chicken Liver Mousse with spiced Brioche Serrano ham apple skewers created by Executive Chef Jonnathan Leiva from Jack Falstaff in San Francisco.
Executive Chef Jonnathan Leiva from Jack Falstaff in San Francisco
The most unique and tasty dessert was the Caramel Lady Apples with Pistachio from Bacar Restaurant in San Francisco.
575 Mission St.
San Francisco, Ca. 94105
La Provence Executive Chef Mikael Audrey , Proprietor Lionel LaFite and Executive Chef Lionel Balbastre
There is a fun casual bistro atmosphere and delicious cuisine from the South of France at La Provence in Noe Valley. Co-Executive Chefs Mikael Audrey and Lionel Balbastre recently came to San Francisco from France and are very talented, as well as young and eager to please. We started out with the La Pissaladiere Appetizer. It was a fabulous Provencal Pie garnished with caramelized onions, bell peppers, olives and anchovies and is a true South of France style dish. Next we loved the taste and fabulous texture of the Montagne de Piquillios which is a Skinless Sweet Pepper stuffed with Cod “brandade”, red pesto and a cold yellow pepper coulis.
A house specialty that you will adore is the Saumon aux Herbes Anisees, which is made in-house. It is a delicious cured salmon (salt and anis herbs) smoked on a pine branch with fennel salad and sumac. For a Main Course you’ll enjoy the Soupe de Poissons Canebiere, which is a homemade soup of clams, shrimp, codfish, scallops, and anglerfish perfumed with saffron, tarragon with “rouille” crouton. It had an excellent broth and inspired us to make a similar dish at home. The Dessert we enjoyed was the Panna Cotta with shredded cocoanut and mango.
Don’t be afraid of the French Wine list, just let them know the type of wine you like and Proprietor Lionel LaFite will suggest wines that pair with the Provencal Cuisine and match your taste. We gained a new appreciation, as now we know that there are many types of French wines. We loved the Chateau Fontvert Cotes du Luberon Vermentino which paired perfectly with the La Pissaladiere and the Chateau Fontvert Cotes du Luberon Syrah which paired perfectly with the Soupe de Poissons Canebiere. La Provence also shows classic French Movies at the Bar and we love their flair and slogan “You’ve got taste. We’ve got flavor”.
La Provence Cuisine Soleil
1001 Guerrero St.
San Francisco, Ca. 94110
Pisces is Aqua’s upscale Seafood Bistro in Burlingame where you’ll find a great selection of fresh seafood and an excellent wine list. We met Aqua’s Corporate Executive Chef Laurent Manrique who is famous for his inspired seafood menus and culinary passion, as well as Pisces Executive Chef Dmitry Elperin who gained valuable experience as the Sous Chef at Aqua in San Francisco.
The first course we enjoyed was the Lobster Salad with butternut lettuce, ruby red grapefruit and tarragon vinaigrette. Next we were treated to Dungeness Atlantic Crab Cakes with Piquillo Pepper Aioli Sofrito Vinaigrette. The entrees that we loved were Atlantic Skate Wing in a classic Grenobloise sauce with Pickled Ramps, French Fingerling Potatoes and the Pan Roasted Bass served with Bay Turnips, baby carrots, pearl onions, sauce Matelote. You must save room for the Pumpkin Pot de Crème dessert which was luscious.
1190 California Drive
Burlingame, Ca 94010
We enjoyed a great meal at Troya on Clement St where we had a chance to experience Turkish- Mediterranean Cuisine. Chef Mehmet Vural was born in Turkey and learned his craft at his family’s restaurant and has brought his experience to Troya. We loved the Turkish Lentil Soup. It was made with pureed red lentils, red pepper paste, cooked with mint, black pepper, cumin and garlic.
Another unique and delicious starter was the Mucver, which are zucchini cakes made with egg, green onions, dill and mint and served with homemade garlic yoghurt. Our favorite entrée was the Iman Bayildi which is a fabulous Eggplant sliced lengthwise, stuffed with fresh tomatoes, onions, garlic and parsley, cooked with olive oil and served with rice. The dessert we found to be truly exceptional was the Kunefe. It was made from freshly shredded kadayif dough, unsalted cheese inside and topped with pistachios and homemade syrup. It was quite delicious, unique and light. We loved ending our meal with the strong taste of Turkish coffee.
Hue L’Amour Executive Chef Doanh Huynh
We enjoyed Vietnamese Cuisine on Van Ness Avenue in San Francisco at a new restaurant called Hue L’Amour. Executive Chef Doanh Huynh grew up in Hue, Vietnam and is realizing his dreams by bringing the recipes of his homeland to San Francisco.
Hue L’Amour Fried Bananas Cookies and Cream Ice Cream
The interior of the restaurant is inviting with stylish comfortable custom furniture from Vietnam, large murals on the walls depicting life in Vietnam and the Bar which looks like a ship. For Appetizers we enjoyed the Beef Carpaccio which was thin sliced beef marinated in lemon juice topped with peanut, onion, mint leaves and sesame seeds, served with a fish sauce. Our favorite Entrée was the Saigon Chicken marinated with white onion, and a special spicy homemade sauce served with spinach and lemon dipping sauce. The Stuffed Squids with ground chicken, black mushrooms, onions, cilantro and whole black pepper in a spicy shrimp base sauce was also quite tasty. Make sure you have the Hue L’Amour Special Rice. A great way to finish is dessert and Vietnamese Coffee. You’ll enjoy the Fried Banana which comes with cookies and cream Ice Cream
2080 Van Ness Avenue
San Francisco, Ca. 94109415-567-1700
There’s a buzz about Indian Food and for good reason, as Mantra in Palo Alto has a new Executive Chef Sachin Chopra. Chef Chopra began his culinary career in Delhi India where he received his Culinary Degree from the prestigious School of Pusa. We had enjoyed Mantra’s cuisine on a previous visit but it was even better the second time. Mantra has great atmosphere and we found it to be livelier and less formal than before but the service and attention to detail were still very professional. For Starters we loved the Garlic Chili Flake Naan, which is baked in-house and was the best we had ever tasted!
The Dal, which is a seasonal lentil dish, was a perfect compliment with the Naan. Next we enjoyed the Large Day Boat Scallops marinated with mustard, coriander and fennel sautéed and served with melted leeks and a light onion soup and salmon caviar. A glass of the Pomelo 2005 California Sauvignon Blanc paired perfectly. We were impressed that our wine was served in Riedel glasses. We also enjoyed the clay oven roasted Rosemary Ponzu- Mustard Lamb Chops served with raw papaya, spices, cilantro salsa verde, roasted mashed potatoes and Banyul’s sauce. The Joseph Drouhin, Chorey les Beaune 2003 Burgundy paired perfectly with the lamb. The refreshing finish to our meal was Indian Kulfi Ice Cream and sorbets.
Mantra Restaurant and Lounge
632 Emerson Street
Palo Alto, CA 94301650-322-3500
This year we enjoyed Thanksgiving Dinner on a spectacular sunny day at the Pelican Inn in Muir Beach. This wonderful country inn captures the spirit of a 16th Century English Inn and Restaurant and is only about thirty minutes from San Francisco. We sat by the fire with other happy diners and enjoyed a fabulous and all too filling traditional Thanksgiving Dinner. The Starters included Smoked Salmon Pate, Butternut Squash Soup, English White Chedder, Stilton and Grapes. The Entrees were Roasted Turkey, Prime Rib with Au Jus and Horseradish and for the vegetarians Vegetable and Ale Shepherd’s Pie. The Sides were Whiskey Yams, Corn Pudding, Red Beets, Minted Peas and Carrots, Cranberry Sauce, and Mashed Potatoes. Dessert was Pumpkin Pie, Apple Crisp or Chocolate Cake. It was a great way to enjoy Thanksgiving!
Pelican InnMuir Beach, Ca. 94965415-383-6000 www.PelicanInn.com
Almost Famous Chef Competition
We attended the People’s Choice Tasting Gala and National Finals of the S. Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef Competition at The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone, in St. Helena in the Napa Valley. Each of the 10 regional winners had to prepare their signature dish for the 200 guests who were there to judge and vote for the “Best” that evening. Celebrity judges chose the overall winner after 3 days of competition. The Almost Famous Chef Competition Winner was Ranbir Batra who was from Chicago and had qualified as the North Central Regional Winner. He won $10,000 and a job for one year working for a Celebrity Chef. His signature dish was Tandoori and Tamarind Lamb Duo served with a Cauliflower Puree and Crimson Lentils.
“Until we eat again…”
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