Toque of San Francisco January 2010
By Carol & Joe Davis
It has been a busy end of the year as the Dining Detectives have dined all around the San Francisco Bay Area from The Wine Country to San Jose. We also enjoyed the great city of New Orleans.
The Restaurant at Meadowood … The Best Dinner of 2009
Meadowood is a World Class Resort which exudes casual sophistication, nestled in the hills of St. Helena just off the Silverado Trail It is very woodsy and secluded and our dining experience was much like being on a country estate. We enjoyed an exquisite perfectly paced fine dining experience at The Restaurant at Meadowood. This evening we had the choice of two Tasting Menus. We ordered both the Eight Course Chef’s Tasting Menu and the Fall Menu. Executive Chef Christopher Kostow’s creations were so unique, both menus were fantastic almost beyond words!
| Surprise Extra Starter
||Lobster roasted in Lime Salt
The Chef’s Tasting Menu featured the following:
Cold Smoke Toro :
Osetra Caviar, Crème Fraiche and Warm Brioche
Barely Cooked Foie Gras :
Oyster, Romaine and Asian Pear
Lobster roasted in Lime Salt :
Squash, Apple and Vadouvan
Pressed Local Chicken :
Red Abalone, Matsutake and Broccoli
Poached and Roasted Beef Tenderloin :
Chanterelles, Parsley Root and Truffle
Beignet of Blu Del Moncenisio :
Dried Apricot Puree and Nasturtium
Toast and Jam :
Silverado Strawberries and Toast Ice Cream
Pain Perdu :
Plum, Candied Bacon and Corn
| Poached and Roasted Beef Tenderloin
|| Dried Apricot Puree
We enjoyed the surprise each unique course would bring; the presentation, the textures and the medley of flavors. We chose the menus with optional Wine Paring, so our wines were perfectly paired with each course taking into consideration our personal preferences. The service was attentive, relaxed and the staff was very knowledgeable.
Sous Chef Chris Dettmer
Executive Chef Christopher Kostow, Sous Chef Chris Dettmer and their hard working team in the kitchen created cuisine that is worthy of their Two Star Michelin Rating, which they have earned for the past three years! Only three other restaurants in Northern California earned a Two Star Michelin Rating.
900 Meadowood Lane
St. Helena, CA. 94574
We have always enjoyed the upscale Shopping and Dining at San Jose’s Santana Row. It is especially lovely during the Holiday Season as they do a wonderful job decorating with beautiful lights and a magnificent Christmas tree. Santana Row has always offered fun dining but the bar has been raised with the recent addition of Roland Passot‘sLB Steak. At this Modern American Steakhouse, Chef Chris Joslyn and his team prepare sumptuous dishes in a lively chic setting. There is a stylish lounge-bar area, dining room with a communal table, a private dining room that seats 35 and an open air patio with awning for al fresco dining. They serve both lunch and dinner.
| Smoked Salmon Pizzette
|| BLT Salad
We sat in the main dining room which gave us a view of both the lively street and the open kitchen in the back. We knew we were in for a treat as we tasted the breads which were outstanding. We enjoyed both the olive infused rolls and baguette and the butter was extra good. We ordered some cocktails including a Grey Goose Martini with two olives and a Mandarin Orange Cosmo with fresh squeezed lime and perused the menu. The starter that we loved was a Smoked Salmon Pizzette with crème fraiche, dill, basil and capers. It was just delicious! The Allan Scott New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc paired perfectly with the pizzette. Next, we had one of the best salads we had tried all year. The BLT Salad with crisp Baby Iceberg wedges, perfectly prepared bacon, flavorful tomatoes, Point Reyes blue cheese and blue cheese dressing. This salad is really meant for two and it was delightful. The steaks are all Prime Steaks and are from naturally raised beef. Our favorite was the 20 oz. Porterhouse which was prepared medium rare, as ordered and was quite delicious as you get the best of both filet and New York cuts in the porterhouse. The Twenty Roses Napa Valley Cabernet paired perfectly with this luscious steak. We tried a few of their sauces and really liked the Horseradish Cream and Green Peppercorn. Next time, we were told that we must try their signature Tomahawk Chop which is a steak for two. The sides that we really enjoyed were the Truffled Mac and Cheese with fontina and emmental and the Creamed Spinach which had plenty of garlic which is just how we like it.
| Chef Chris Joslyn
|| Pumpkin Spice Crème Brule
Our favorite dessert was a Pumpkin Spice Crème Brule that was a wow…spicy, light and lovely. An espresso and the Royal Tokaji 5 Puttonyos Hungarian dessert wine were the perfect finish to an excellent meal. LB Steak has been open for about six months and was packed on the night we dined. This is not a stuffy steakhouse and you have the option of ordering a Hamburger at dinner. It feels like you are in a toney but non-pretentious restaurant in NYC which is even dog friendly, with water bowls outside for pooch. Bring your friends and family as LB Steak is the new fun place to be on Santana Row.
334 Santana Row, Suite 1000
San Jose, CA. 95128
Lake Chalet Seafood Bar & Grill
Executive Chef Jarad Gallagher
We were very excited to hear that the Lake Merit Municipal Boat House in Oakland had been restored and the Lake Chalet Seafood Bar & Grill was now open. We appreciated that valet parking was available in the evening, as parking can be very difficult around the lake. The restaurant features Modern American cuisine with a focus on Seafood. The Executive Chef Jarad Gallagher is well respected having worked at One Market Restaurant, Michael Mina, and The French Laundry. There are multiple rooms to dine in, an 80 ft. bar with Raw Bar and outdoor dockside dining all with views of the lake. On our first visit, we sat in the main dining room which has a warm modern décor. We started out with a Ginger Cosmo made with Citrus vodka, ginger syrup, lime and cranberry. This freshly made specialty cocktail was so tasty that we had to have a second. The first course of our well paced meal was the Dungeness Crab Cakes with popcorn puree, daikon sprouts, and pickled onion petals. Next, we loved the English Pea and Ham Hock Soup with Crispy Brussels sprout leaves and crème fraiche. We hear that their vegetarian and vegan versions are excellent as well. You must try the Crispy Brandade Fish Sticks with cured salt cod, aioli malt vinegar reduction and wild arugula which had an excellent texture.
|Brandade Fish Sticks & Gulf Shrimp & Spaghetti
|| Ginger Cosmo Cocktail
Pasta lovers will enjoy the Pacific Gulf Shrimp & Spaghetti with basil pesto, garlic cream, baby fennel, peas and chili flakes. A hearty entrée was the Liberty Farms Duck Breast with corn polenta, Swiss chard and roasted fig duck jus. The 2007 Mac Murray Ranch Pinot Noir paired well with the duck. The Parmesan French Fries were an excellent side dish. Our favorite dessert was the Coconut Cream Pie with chocolate sauce and toasted coconut. We returned a few weeks later on a warm afternoon and sat outside on the dock for a more casual lunch on a sunny warm day. We enjoyed the Lake Chalet Burgers and Chalet ales, as we overlooked at the fabulous view of the Lake and Oakland hills. The dining in Oakland just gets better and better and The LakeChalet is a new major contributor to putting Oakland restaurants on the map.
1520 Lakeside Drive (near 17 th St.)
Oakland, CA 94612
Chef-Owner Jude Affronti
The town of Healdsburg surrounded by over 100 wineries is a great Wine Country destination for both dining and shopping. Some of the best restaurants in the Bay Area are located here, as well as some of the most interesting specialty shops. We recently dined at Affronti which is a new restaurant and Wine Bar in downtown Healdsburg that features Mediterranean Cuisine small plates and over 30 wines by the glass chosen by their Sommelier Adam Jed. This contemporary and stylish restaurant offers Courtyard Dining and a beautiful Wine Bar all tucked away, just off the Square. The inviting environment has a horseshoe shaped wine bar, very stylish interior featuring local art, Venetian plaster walls, leather chairs and outdoor waterfall with lush plants. All the cuisine is made with locally sourced ingredients by ExecutiveChef-Owner Jude Affronti who was Chef d Cuisine at Mario Batali’s Restaurant Po in NYC and taught at the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco for the past five years.
We enjoyed Prosecco di Voldobbiadene and Thumbprint Pinot as we perused the small plate menu. We loved the variety of small plates. Nonna’s deviled eggs were quite tasty. The Squash Soup with bacon and the Country Pate with cornichon, grain mustard and toast were also excellent. Our favorite dish was the house cured Sardines with horseradish-celery root. The Pacific Red Snapper en papiote with white wine and leeks was also very tasty and healthy. There is Live Jazz on Thursday nights and a Sunday Jazz brunch. Affronti is a perfect place to enjoy small plates and big wines. We look forward to returning!
235 Healdsburg Avenue
Healdsburg, CA. 95448
Left Bank Brasserie Larkspur
House smoked trout
The Left Bank Brasserie has been in Larkspur for over 15 years serving French Bistro fare. As restaurants mature local tastes change those that adapt evolve and grow. Bay Area residents love French cuisine but are also drawn to other European Style Fare. Owner Roland Passot knew it was time for some changes. He decided to keep some classic French Bistro dishes but bring in a new talented local chef to incorporate new menu items made with more fresh, local and sustainable ingredients and make Left Bank Brasserie a more approachable everyday place to dine. Executive Chef Sean Canavan who was trained in Europe and worked for many years at Kokkari, Jeanty at Jack’s and La Folie in San Francisco is the new chef and BrandonPeacock is the Sous Chef.
The décor is unchanged and still festive in the 110 year old Blue Rock Inn building in downtown Larkspur. The large stone fireplace and mahogany bar and colorful French posters make the restaurant inviting and there is both indoor and outdoor dining available. We started out our dinner with Specialty Classic and Contemporary cocktails from their Full Bar. We enjoyed the Eva Green which is made with Pinnacle Vodka, Cointreau, lime and Chartreuse and also a Classic Cosmopolitan. We opted to have mostly new menu items but could not resist a few of the French classics. We started out with a few delicious appetizers. The Salade au Crab which consists of Dungeness crab, avocado, mango with a Meyer lemon – vanilla vinaigrette was light and delicious. The Truite Fumee which is their House smoked trout with horseradish and crème fraiche was fabulous! We also enjoyed the classic Escargot with garlic butter and Pernod but will ask to have more garlic next time. You must have the Soupe a L’Oignon Gratinee as it is THE BEST traditional French Onion soup we’ve ever tasted. The seasonal Squash Soup was excellent as well.
Canard aux Choux
The Entrees were hearty and quite flavorful. The Canard aux Choux which is roasted duck breast with hazelnut Spatzle, braised red cabbage and huckleberry sauce was excellent. The classic Boeuf Bourguignon traditional beef stew with baby carrots, pearl onions, lardoons and egg noodles had a fabulous sauce and excellent mushrooms. The Wine List features wines from France, California and around the world. We particularly enjoyed the 2008 Domaine Auchere, Sancerre, Loire, France Sauvignon Blanc which was crisp and dry and 2006 Claudia Springs “Klindt Vineyard” Estate, Anderson Valley Pinot Noir which paired perfectly with our entrees.
We saved room for desserts and are glad we did. We enjoyed the Profiteroles which are Cream puffs with French vanilla ice cream served with warm chocolate sauce. The Fondant Au Chocolat which is a gooey center Chocolate cake with French Vanilla Ice cream was also exceptional. Cappuccinos and espressos were the perfect finish to a most enjoyable meal. The Left Bank has been open for 15 years and has evolved. The décor is still inviting, the service is still crisp yet friendly and the cuisine is as tasty as ever, yet even well-priced. The addition of more European menu items to go along with the classic French Bistro menu and the use of more local ingredients continues to make The Left Bank a destination restaurant for lunch or dinner.
Left Bank Brasserie
507 Magnolia Avenue
Larkspur, CA. 94939
| Peppered Lamb Loin
||Seared Sea Scallops
We had a terrific dinner at Bayona which is in a romantic Creole cottage in the French Quarter. Executive Chef Susan Spicer serves Contemporary Cuisine and has received many accolades over the years. We sat outside in their garden patio and enjoyed the warm night air. The appetizer that we really enjoyed was the Seared Sea Scallops with fennel Barigoule, chick pea pancakes and pesto. Our favorite entrée was the Peppered Lamb Loin with Goat cheese and zinfandel sauce.
430 Dauphine St.
New Orleans, LA 70112
Sautéed Monkfish with Lobster Risotto
We enjoyed dinner at GW Fins which is an upscale fish restaurant in The French Quarter. The Sautéed Monkfish with Lobster Risotto, sugar snap peas and lobster butter was delicious. The crisp and service along with the friendly atmosphere contributed to our excellent meal.
808 Bienville Street
New Orleans, LA 70112
The Gumbo Shop has been open for over fifty year in The French Quarter near Jackson Square and is located in a quaint 1795 building. The interior décor features old murals with scenes of the Mardi Gras. We enjoyed both their famous Gumbo and the Creole Combination Platter which consisted of Shrimp Creole shrimp cooked in Creole sauce, Jambalaya with smoked sausage, shrimp, chicken in a seasoned sauce cooked with rice and rice and red beans. Amazingly the fare was initially bland but not so after a major dose of Louisiana hot sauce.
630 Saint Peter Street
New Orleans, LA. 70112
Farallon wins Shuck and Swallow
Winners from Farallon’s… Ryan Simas and Aaron Young
The 16 th Annual Shuck and Swallow Oyster Challenge hosted by McCormick & Kuletos Seafood Restaurant was won by the team from Farallon. Ryan Simas shucked and Aaron Young swallowed 155 oysters to beat teams from a dozen local restaurants including Spenger’s, Anchor & Hope and Asia de Cuba.
Taste of Petaluma
We once again attended the Taste of Petaluma which is a fun foodie event and fundraiser for Petaluma’s Cinnabar Theater produced by Laura Sunday.
Local restaurants and wineries offer their best tastes to attendees who stroll around to restaurants and shops in historic downtown Petaluma. We enjoyed some great food, wine and beer on our many stops. McNear’s taste was delicious Memphis Pork Sliders and Beer Flights of Great White, Coconut Porter, Kona Longboard Lager and Anchor Steam..Risibisi’s taste was Marco Palmieri’s Risotto with Italian sausage, peas, mushrooms and parmigiano cheese.
| Trader Joe’s Crème Brule
Everest Indian Restaurant had Chicken in apricot sauce with fresh Naan bread. Riverfront Art Gallery hosted Trader Joe’s Crème Brule which was excellent. Haus Fortuna hosted Aaron Jones Catering who had excellent Grilled Prawns with pesto and Korbel Champagne poured by Crystal Peterson.
Korbel’s Crystal Peterson
Sugo Trattoria had Eggplant 2-ways. The Petaluma Market Chef Federico Muneton had Seafood Stuffed Filet Mignon with Béarnaise sauce. We also enjoyed tastes from De Schmire Restaurant’s Chef Andrew Lujan, Rocker Oysterfeller’s Executive Chef Brandon Guenther and Springfield Place’s Chef Scott Price.
Executive Chef Brandon Guenther
Until we eat again…………