Food and Beverage News from San Francisco by Carol and Joe Davis, epicures with a unique and
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Food & Beverage Cuisine International
"Toque of San Francisco"
March 2005

Carol & Joe Davis
Dining Detectives

San Francisco Fine Dining continues to enhance the quality of life in the Bay Area for locals and tourists alike. We had the opportunity to enjoy fine cuisine paired with excellent “Bubbly” at Jeanty at Jack’s in San Francisco’s Financial District at a Champagne Dinner. We had the pleasure to meet Regis Camus, Genologue - Directeur Vignes Et Vins from Piper- Heidsieck Champagne in France. Through his interpreter, Christian Holthausen, we learned of Regis’s love of Champagne and were able to taste their latest releases. They were so excited that the latest harvest is the best since 1990. In France, we were told that Champagne is known as “The King of Wines and The Wine of Kings.” We particularly liked the Piper-Heidsieck Rose Sauvage which paired perfectly with the Tomato Soup in Puff Pastry. Proprietor and Executive Chef Philippe Jeanty, who also happens to be from the Champagne region of France, created the entire superb dinner. We particularly loved the fabulous Steak Frites, which is a Rib Eye Steak with Béarnaise Sauce on the side, the Puff Pastry Tomato Soup and a superior dessert of Crème Caramel that was the finish to a great dinner.
Once again, this year we took advantage of San Francisco’s annual world class dining event called “Dine About Town”. This successful promotion allows diners to enjoy over 100 of San Francisco’s restaurants at discounted prices for 3 Course Lunches or Dinners. It is a win- win as the restaurants stay busy in the normally slow month of January and convert some of these new customers into regulars. It’s a great opportunity for the diners to try a variety of new restaurants. In fact the San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau reports that participation by diners was up 37% over last year and that nearly 90% of the restaurants will participate again next year. We had a fabulous lunch at Farallon near Union Square. The undersea décor is stunning and was matched perfectly by the sophisticated Coastal Cuisine. Executive Chef Mark Franz and Restaurateur Pat Kuleto have collaborated to create this unique dining experience.
The Farallon Prix Fixe Lunch consisted of a three course tasting menu. The Cauliflower Soup with parsley coulis was an excellent starter. The Seared Hawaiian Tombo Tuna was accompanied by wilted baby spinach, tiny white beans and topped with a fantastic piquillo pepper rouille. The Pumpkin Spice Cake with orange caramel sauce, cream cheese Chantilly and rum raisins was the perfect finish to an extraordinary lunch. The cuisine was so tasty and the portions were so large that this could easily have been priced twice the $21.95 and been worth it.

Oola Restaurant opened in SOMA with owner/Chef Ola Fendert at the helm. Try the Caesar Salad, Seafood Chowder and Lamb Daube. La Suite is the latest “Place to be Seen” on the Embarcadero. Chef Bruno Chemel and Jocelyn Bulow have created a new “in” spot. We look forward to dining there soon. For a quick tasty casual lunch or to linger over a glass of wine or an espresso try Il Massimo on Market Street. We particularly enjoyed the Panini sandwiches on freshly baked focaccia and the healthy house-made salads especially the Beet Salad. They have live music at lunchtime. We loved the opera singers. We’ve heard good things and look forward to enjoying a classic Italian dinner at Buca Giovanni Ristorante Tonno Rosso has a new Owner, Chef Faz Poursohi. The cuisine is Mediterranean with Italian influences.
The Wine Country also continues to be a great destination for Bay Area Fine Dining. We recently dined at Ledson Hotel & Harmony Club located on The Square in Sonoma. Try the Cream of Artichoke Soup made with puree of Jerusalem Sun Choke topped with Chive Oil. It is difficult to find a better soup! Another must is the Seared Foie Gras with a Mulled Wine Apple Napoleon and Pear Sorbet. It just melted in your mouth having a distinctively delicious consistency and delicate taste and aroma. Our favorite Entrée was the Fennel Crusted Salmon with Sautéed Escarole, Celeriac Ravioli and apple tarragon broth. It was pan fried after being wrapped in fennel, creating an extremely moist center with a superior crust. The slice Fuji apples made this a World Class Entrée. The Petite Filet Mignon with Lobster Griddle Cake, creamy spinach and lemon tarragon butter was our second favorite. The delicate lobster flavor really came through to pair with this perfectly prepared Filet. The Pommes Frites were the final touch and we loved their extra salty crisp taste. The Desserts were all beautiful to look at and you could see that considerable effort went into their preparation. Our favorite was Michele’s Peanut Butter Waffle Cup with Chocolate Ganache & Banana Gelato. This was unique with excellent texture. The Wines of Ledson Vineyards are sold at the Winery and are featured here at The Ledson Harmony Club & Hotel as well. We enjoyed Ledson 2001 Reserve Russian River Chardonnay and the Ledson 2003 Russian River Chardonnay with our Oysters and the Seared Foie Gras. Their 2001 Russian River Ancient Old Vine Zinfandel paired perfectly with the Filet Mignon. Dessert wines were hard to pass up so we enjoyed the 2000 Madera Port and the 2003 Orange Muscat.
In Healdsburg Charlie Palmer’s Dry Creek Kitchen is also an excellent destination. Try the delicious Langoustine “Cappuccino” and the Steak Frites and enjoy some of Sonoma County's great wines.
In the East Bay, Montclair Bistro recently opened to great reviews. Chef Henry Vortiede brings a wealth of experience and is now realizing his dream of owning an up-scale, friendly and charming California/ French Bistro. He studied at Le Cordon Blue and L’Academie du Vin in Paris and his excellent dishes reflect his training. For an Appetizer you must try the Seared Day Boat Scallops, Sonoma Foie Gras with a port reduction sauce on toast. It was decadent but luscious. An excellent Entrée is the Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb with white beans and a vegetable boquetiere which was prepared pink as ordered, tender and spiced perfectly. For dessert we enjoyed Pastry Chef Ray Onate’s signature Frangelico Grand Marnier Soufflé with crème anglaise and whipped cream. Montclair Village has gained a terrific addition to Oakland’s already excellent dining scene.

In Berkeley we dined at Filippos, a new fun casual and reasonably priced Italian Restaurant. Filippos serves a great Fruita di Mare that we had with fettuccini, clams, mussels and prawns. For dessert the Panna Cotta is a must Adam Keough, the new Executive Chef at Garibaldis in Oakland is excited about being able to create his menu using so many fresh vegetables and California raised meat, fish and poultry. We enjoyed the Wild Nettle and Ricotta Cannelloni which was prepared with roasted garlic cream, macadamia nuts and ricotta salata cheese. The Neiman Ranch Pork Chop with Parsnip puree, baby turnips and honey lime leaf glaze was also delicious.
On the Peninsula in Burlingame we had an enjoyable lunch at Straits Restaurant. Chef Christopher Yeo has added to the fine dining in Burlingame with his Singaporean/ Asian Cuisine. We enjoyed the Roti Prata which is a Crisp griddled Indian Flatbread with curry dipping sauce. It was fabulous. The Fugi Apple and Prawn Salad with poached shrimp, Fuji apples, cilantro and jicama in lemongrass- mint vinaigrette was very refreshing. The Nasi Goreng, spicy fried coconut rice with prawns and mixed vegetables was delicate. We have heard that it is a “hot spot” for dinner. We’ve also heard good things about Stoa in downtown Palo Alto and look forward to dining soon.
In Marin E & O Trading Company has arrived in Larkspur Landing with its fabulous Southeast Asian Cuisine. We have always enjoyed the San Francisco Sutter Street location and were glad to see they had expanded to Marin County. New Executive Chef Barney Brown from Honolulu, known as “the pioneer of Pan-Asian tapas” overseas both locations and brings his flair to an already successful menu. Try the Indonesian Corn Fritters with chili soy dipping sauce! Mango Glazed Thai Ribs are just fabulous!! They are rubbed with brown sugar and glazed with mango mustard sauce. They were so good we had a second order. Save room for the Fried Bananas dessert.
Until we eat again…..

All Photos © Joe Davis
Ledson Chef Darren Robey
Jeanty at Jack’s  Tomato Soup in Puff Pastry
Chef Faz
E & O Trading Company Indonesian Corn Fritters
Farallon Undersea Decor
Adam Keough, Executive Chef at Garibaldis
Montclair Bistro, Chef Henry Vortiede
Regis Camus, Piper-Heidsiek Champagne
Riedel Extreme Wine Tasting Event-Rick's’S Wine Cellar
Buca Giovanni Restaurant  Executive Chef Vic Casanova 
Highland Park Scotch Ambassador Gerry Tosh
Stoa Restaurant Executive Chef Brandon Paige