Food and Beverage News from San Francisco by Carol and Joe Davis, epicures with a unique and
insightful perspective on Food in the Greater San Francisco Bay Area


Toque of San Francisco 2

The restaurant scene in the San Francisco Bay Area continues to amaze. New restaurants continue to open at a dizzying pace with new and veteran chefs who continue to please the dining public with fresh recipes and pleasing presentation. The demise of the free spending Dot-Com generation and the lack of tourists and local customers due to the September 11th tragedy contributed to a downturn in business this fall. We continue to do our fair share of dining out and believe that the local cuisine is better than ever with more choices and more competitive pricing. The dining public is more informed and pickier than ever and chefs and restaurateurs are rising to the challenge.

Harris Steakhouse, 17 years of San Francisco tradition, offers a huge Porterhouse Steak and incredible Maine Lobster. Great cocktails with a view can be enjoyed at ParAgon located in the newly renovated Claremont Hotel in Berkeley. A Cote on College Ave. in Oakland boasts the small plate format with flights of wine, making them incredibly successful. Momo’s across from Pac Bell Park in San Francisco with Peter Osborne owner-chef is still busy serving great food, even though Barry Bonds is finished hitting home runs for this season. Momo’s has terrific ribs. At Spenger’s in Berkeley the seafood is as fresh as ever. Also still very busy. Il Porcellino in Montclair Village (Oakland) is one of our favorite local Italian Restaurants, Corrado Vannini is the proprietor and he has the friendliest staff! E & O Trading Company in S.F. has great small plates in a unique casual atmosphere. Bubba Gumps Pier 39 has an excellent Shrimp Bucket. Tadich Grill in S.F is still the best “Power Lunch” in town. The Magic Flute, 20 years in S.F with Phil and Debbie LaCavera owners serve a great grilled Rib Eye Steak. Mac Arthur Park still has superb ribs and is one of the last restaurant/bars to still have free hot snacks at Happy Hour. A quick trip to Las Vegas gave us the opportunity to enjoy the Steak, Steak Frites and Crepe Bananas Foster at Chef/owner Gabino Sotelino’s Mon Ami Gabi in the Paris Hotel.

Newly open …Martini House in Saint Helena, Pat Kuleto and Chef Todd Humphries... Cozmo’s Corner, Executive Chef Steven Levine in San Francisco… K & L Bistro in Sebastopol, Karen and Luke Martin owners/chef… Izzy’s Steakhouse in Corte Madera… Purple Plum wonderful “southern comfort food” in Glenview (Oakland) Sharon Anderson/ Sherrie Sparks Chefs… California Harvest Grille Corte Madera, with Chef James H. Benson Executive Chef and Mark Stark chef de cuisine…Charlie Palmer’s Dry Creek Kitchen in Healdsburg was packed recently on a Sunday night while other local restaurants were very quiet. Still can’t beat Ondine in Sausalito, great cuisine, loved the Two Way Duckling, classy atmosphere and The City View.

Just Desserts is a local success story that has opened a new state of the art plant in Oakland. Congratulations on 27 years of fabulous desserts by Gail Horvath and Elliot Hoffman.

Gone but not forgotten;
Cypress Club S.F., Livefire S.F., Basque S.F., Cajun Moon Petaluma, Avenue Grill Mill Valley

In Progress- Nick’s Cove Tomales Bay another Pat Kuleto project, Sally’s Valhalla is rising again In Sausalito, Nunzio Alioto and Rick Jones, proprietors, Jeffrey Freburg is the chef...

The San Francisco Examiner has put together a great new Food section including interesting articles by Editor Patricia Unterman, Anne Crump, Debbie Morse, and Jeremiah Tower. Over at The Chronicle, The Berkowitz vs. Bauer Brawl continues…In a recent review Food Editor Michael Bauer, who just received an award as the Best Restaurant Critic by the trade organization Association of Food Journalists noted that Dennis Berkowitz’s newest restaurant Connors & Berk in Burlingame had a fatal flaw… The Baked Potato was too big. The 2002 Zagart survey is out and Boulevard in S.F. is #1 in popularity again. The French Laundry in Yountville topped the best food category.

The St. Francis Hotel was the local site of the SummuS Tasting Tour. A large group of local restaurateurs and wine writers gathered for this event. We sampled a variety of Banfi’s wines and understand why Tuscany’s Castello Banfi was recently named International Winery of the Year again at the VinItaly wine fair in Verona. Christina Mariani, family proprietor, guided the group through a tasting of SummuS 1997 and Pre-releases of 1998 and 1999. Peter Fitzharris, general manager at Tuscany in downtown Napa summed it up by saying that SummuS was a big, bold Tuscan wine that would pair perfectly with any steak.

The Campton Place Hotel was the site of Autumn Wine Press Review. We had the pleasure to taste some recent releases and meet some winemakers. Some of the wines we sampled and enjoyed included:
Brutocao Cellars 1998 Napa Valley Estate Grown Zinfandel , Grgich Hills 1998 Zinfandel, Goosecross Cellars 2000 Sauvignon Blanc, Ballentine Vineyards 1998 Bg Zinfandel, Crichton Hall Vineyards 1998 Chardonnay.

The WineBrats led by Joel Quigley had an excellent event in San Francisco where their mission of inspiring education of wine and food was realized. Chefs w/out Hats Disco Inferno Tour 2001 included cooking demonstrations, wine tasting and a fashion show. It was held at Ruby Skye open to the public and a true San Francisco Happening. The Chefs included Scott Dammann of Eastside West, Yoshi Kojima of Mc2, Douglas Keane of Jardiniere, Bridget Batson of Hawthorne Lane, Elizabeth Faulkner of Citizen Cake, Scott Warner of Rose Pistola and Michael Quigley of Café Lolo. We sampled some of the chef’s favorite appetizers and were impressed. The wineries included Gallo of Sonoma, St Supery, Glen Ellen, Sterling, Korbel, BV, and Ruffino. Our biggest surprise was the taste of the Gallo of Sonoma Chardonnay, definitely worth checking out. Look for a book about the 2001 Tour and check out their website for more information on this and upcoming events.
Until we eat again……

The facts
and only the facts.
Together, Joe and Carol understand what "people of taste" expect in a good dining experience. They also understand the importance the Chef plays in a restaurant's success! Thus, when a Chef makes a move in San Francsico it is a Big Event!
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See Who is Where... and what they are cooking.
See Who decided to dedicate their life to Food... and start a New Restaurant.

Christina Mariani, Castello Banfi
Chef's without Hats Tour
Elizabeth Faulknen, Citizen Cake
E and O Trading Company, Steak Tartar
MacArthur Park Ribs
Peter Fitzharris, Tuscany Restaurant