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


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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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Toque of San Francisco
By Carol & Joe Davis

San Francisco is a great town for a big party especially if you want to get the word out about something new. The Omni Hotel had an “invitation only” Grand Opening Gala and did it right! The Gala started with Mayor Willie Brown being lifted on a “cherry picker” to cut the giant red ribbon on the new Hotel. Then, sparing no expense the guests were treated to lavish food and drinks and entertained by the fantastic Teatro ZinZanni and Maria Muldaur.

We arrived at around 5 PM at the newly renovated 1926 Florentine Renaissance, Classic Style Omni Hotel on the corner of California and Montgomery in San Francisco’s Financial District to find a throng of reporters and luminaries ready to see the Hotel and enjoy the festivities. San Franciscans are known to dress for the occasion and this evening it was 1920’s Flappers and Dandies outfits with beads and boas available for the underdressed. The hor d'oeurves and wine started coming and we were set for some fun. Willie Brown kicked off the festivities by toasting the Gala with a giant Martini. We chatted with Bob Sambol and Bill Lennox, Proprietors of Bob’s Steak & Chop House, the restaurant in the Omni ( They were pleased to be in San Francisco and enjoying the challenge of not only serving dinner like at there other restaurant but large country breakfasts and hearty lunches as well. We look forward to dining at Bob’s soon.

We had a chance to preview the Deluxe Guestrooms and The Presidential Suite which was decorated in 1920’s and 1930’s décor and could easily see that this $100 million renovation had brought something special to San Francisco. Four of the conference rooms were set up with abundant tasty food and drink. We enjoyed a Belvedere Martini while we talked to KCBS Food and Wine Editor Narsai David about how fabulous the party was and how lavish the food was. Crab, Shrimp, Sushi, Rare roast beef, cheeses from all over the world left no one hungry or thirsty.

The entertainment in the Grand Ballroom was equally fantastic. Teatro ZinZanni’s Nino Frediani was the “Juggler Extraordinaire” and enlisted us in his zany antics. Svetlana, the Contortionist moved in ways we couldn’t believe and other performers Galina and Eugeniy Voronin showed why Teatro ZinZanni on the Embarcadero continues to sell out. Maria Muldaur, Grammy Nominated Blues Vocalist, sang a variety of songs which included her signature classic tune “Midnight at The Oasis” followed by loud applause. We ventured back into the conference rooms and after one more martini and a few more giant prawns and dessert, we happily exited the charming Omni Hotel into the cool yet refreshing San Francisco night. The Omni Hotel and Bob’s Steak House are welcome additions to San Francisco.

As ever, we have been doing our fare share of dining around town. It’s hard to believe that Roy’s of San Francisco ( has been open almost 2 years and we hadn’t been there. We had dined at and loved Roy’s of Maiu, Hawaii in 1996, Roy’s at The Inn at Spanish Bay, Carmel in 1999 and now we were about to see if San Francisco’s Roy’s was just as wonderful.

Roy Yamaguchi has both Japanese and Hawaiian roots and is the Chef/ Restaurateur/ Food Channel/PBS TV personality and author of Roy’s Feasts from Hawaii. In the late 1980’s, Roy began to get recognition as a master chef. He pioneered a classical French inspired Euro-Asian Cuisine, also known as Hawaiian Fusion Cuisine. Roy is known for blending European sauces, exotic spices and fresh local seasonal ingredients. Over the years his empire has grown to more than 30 restaurants from Tokyo to Texas. We believe that Roy is the originator of the entrée presentation which is centered on the plate and then layered to combine textures and flavors. We dropped in for lunch and had a chance to enjoy some of Roy’s best. All the signature dishes that we had eaten in the past were as delicious as ever. In fact, San Francisco’s Chef John Sikhattana worked at Roy’s in Maui when we dined there in 1996. The Blackened Ahi Tuna in hot soy mustard sauce, Szechwan spiced BBQ baby back pork ribs , Japanese Hamachi Tartare with capers and garlic miso aioli, and Macadamia nut crusted local Mahi Mahi in Maine Lobster brandy cream sauce were all sensational. We couldn’t resist taking the Sake Flight; Wind, Sky, Rain and Snow which allowed us to taste all four of Roy’s “Y” Junmai Diaginjo Sake offerings. Worth the trip. We ended this great dining experience with a number of fantastic chocolate desserts which were delicious yet not too sweet and we must come back for Roy’s Chocolate Soufflé which is served melting hot with raspberry and anglaise sauces. Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion Cuisine in San Francisco is fantastic!

Another welcome addition to the San Francisco dining scene is the new Daily Grill, just off Union Square on Geary Blvd. For many years we have searched for an upscale yet casual restaurant, with popular prices for breakfast, lunch, or dinner while shopping or at the theater near Union Square. The Daily Grill fills that void with great atmosphere and a palate pleasing menu. The Bar is very inviting and the large dining room has beautiful décor which includes comfortable “intimate booths”. The Classic American Fare by Chef Gary Watanabe boasts large portions at sensible prices. If you want to make it in San Francisco…. you’d better deliver when it comes to Crab Cakes. All too often we’ve found all breading, no crab. Here the Daily Grill delivers! We loved the Dungeness Crab Cakes which had crab that was mixed with chives, served with a shallot white wine sauce. We also ordered and loved the Daily Grill Steak Tartare which was served with fresh ground steak and sliced tomato. The “totally tasty” entrée we tried was Pan-Fried Trout which was lightly floured and seared with lime-butter sauce and included spinach mashed potatoes. For dessert we couldn’t resist the Vanilla Ice Cream Hot Fudge Sundae topped with toasted almonds. We had a great time at The Daily Grill thanks to the friendly staff, our new friends Steve, Jeff, Ken, Keith and Bruce.

Newly open Max’s Diamond Grill across from Pac Bell Park has hit a home run with its great Deli food and Sports décor. We had a terrific lunch which included Matzo Ball Soup, Caesar Salad with anchovies and half a Corned Beef, Pastrami and Chopped Chicken Liver Combo Sandwich for just $10. Such a Deal!!! This is a bad place for a diet as all portions are excessive. This works for us.

A short ride up Highway One in Marin brought us to The Olema Inn. Chef Ed Vigil dazzled us with a delicious Epic Mache Salad with Brittled Hazelnuts and Hudson Valley Camembert Crepe. Our entrees included Grilled Neiman Ranch Center Cut Pork Chop served with Spring Onion Polenta & Dandelion Greens and Pan Roasted Chicken with Roasted New Potatoes, Sautéed Chard and Romesco Sauce. We could rave about this dining experience for hours…. so I guess you will just have to visit The Olema Inn and try it yourself! It is a lovely historic spot which can accommodate you overnight in the Bed and Breakfast upstairs. Be sure to make reservations!

Zino’s, our favorite restaurant on Sonoma Square recently closed. We always loved the Linguini with Clams at Zino’s and are sorry to see it go. The Rockridge district in Oakland continues to offer some of the best restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area. Citron, A Cote, Garibaldis and now a new restaurant… Chef Christopher Cheung’s Marica. We loved Marica, where we enjoyed the Warm Salmon Paillard with roasted peppers, wild mushroom compote and lemon aioli and the Seafood Stew with angler, scallops and shrimp in a brandy-lobster sauce served with gruyere soufflé. For casual dining we always enjoy Past Pomodoro (Italian food) and Rustica (Spit- Roasted Chicken).

The 2001 James Beard Foundation Awards were handed out and to no ones surprise the Best Chef Awards for California went to Nancy Oakes, Michael Mina, Philippe Jeanty, Hiro Sone and Mark Peel. Canyon Road Winery’s 2001 Sauvignon Blanc and Geyser Peak Winery’s 2000 Viognier, Block Collection was both were big winners in The San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. Ted Zagat was in S.F. promoting his new Bar Guide. Bix and Baccar were two of his favorites .Speaking of bars and pub crawling San Francisco honored its all time favorite columnist Herb Caen. We enjoyed his famous cocktail “Vitamin V” at The Daily Grill in S.F., Moose’s in S.F and The Hotel Mac in Point Richmond. Herb Caen’s drink “Vitamin V” was Stoli on the rocks in a wine glass with a slice of orange. Very potent indeed!

A business trip took us to Cincinnati where we were pleasantly surprised to find sophisticated dining. The Palm Court Restaurant at The Omni Netherland Plaza Hotel served us a great Swordfish entree. Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse, the place to see and be seen in downtown Cincinnati, has huge mid-western steaks in an upscale Art Deco atmosphere. We loved Jeff Ruby’s Jewel, Bone –In Rib Eye topped with Hudson Valley Foie Gras. Corporate Chef Jimmy Gibson and Chef Josh Freid do a fantastic job of pleasing locals, celebrities and tourists and made us feel at home on the road. Jeff Ruby’s could be a great success in San Francisco too!

Until we eat again….

Omni Super Seafood Appetizer
Omni Hotel Willie Brown Toasts
Bill and Bob at Bob's Steak and Chop House, Omni Hotel, San Francisco
Roy's Chef John Sikhattana
Roy's, San Francisco. Signature presentation Fresh Fish Dinner
Roy's San Francisco, Appetizer Delight
Daliy Grill, Steak Tartare
Olema Inn, Grilled Neiman Ranch Center Cut Pork Chop
Corporate Chef Jimmy Gibson, Jeff Ruby's Restaurants famous for Cinncy's Finest Bone in Rib Eye Steaks
Jeff Ruby's Presents - The Magnificent Midwest Jewel, Bone-In Rib Eye
Dessert!! Omni-Netherland Plaza Cinncy - Deco Hotel
Scotti's Family Italian Restaurant Cince 1912, Cinncy
Dining Detectives