Monthly Archives: June 2008

Couleur Cafe, Potrero, San Francisco

Yesterday night, we went for dinner at Couleur Cafe, a French restaurant in the Potrero neighborhood of San Francisco. As a disclaimer, I want to clarify that I actually didn’t go inside the restaurant. It was so warm that we ate on their terrace, in front of the building.

The menu is very simple, with traditional dish you would find in a French brasserie. The service is good and the atmosphere very casual. I like eating outside. In Paris, it happens so often. It’s almost a must do when the sun shines. For some reasons, they aren’t that many places in San Francisco with outdoors (Chez Spencer has a cool one). If you know any of them, please let me know! Now, let me tell you a bit more about what I ate at Couleur Cafe.

As a starter, I had a frisee with lardons and a poached egg. The salad itself was great, the lardon so so and the egg is always this magical thing in a salad. I just love to break the yolk and see it getting mixed with the dressing. It gives so much taste and consistence. Overall, that dish was good.

After that, I picked the Moules Marinieres. I love mussels. Well cooked, they can be a real treat. The traditional marinieres style is pretty basic, but can be very tasty. Usually, folks let some onions and shallots heat up in some butter, before throwing some dry whine wine, then the mussels. Cover. Cook under very high heat until the mussels have opened. And you’re done. Super basic. Super easy. Always tasty.

As far as I’m concerned, I always add celery (at the same time as the onions and the shallots). And of course, parsely at the very end (otherwise your parsley cooks and become all brown). Finally, the secret of mussels is obviously the fries! You can’t eat mussels without French fries!

The dish I had yesterday was good. It was not the best mussels I ever had, but it was very correct. I think I would have added some parsley and more celery, but that’s probably just my tastes. They actually have tons of other mussels recipes (including one with merguez!) and I’m quite looking forward to try them!

Readers often ask me to include the price of the dishes I have. As far as I remember (yeah, we had some wine!), the overall price was very correct. The mussels and fries were $18 and the frisee was $8. See, it’s not that bad!

Couleur Cafe

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The Slanted Door, San Francisco


The Slanted Door, on the Embarcadero, or at the Westfield shopping center in San Francisco is by far one of my favorite restaurants. Modern Vietnamese food has been served in that place for years, and I’ve never, ever, been disappointed by a meal there.

It opened first in 1995, on Valencia Street, in the Mission. It was a huge success, and the owners, the Phan family, decided to move to the Embarcadero. They just opened a second location in the food court at the Westfield shopping center.

The vision is pretty straight forward: vietnamese food, with organic and local ingredients. This lead to the creation of some fantastic dish, like the noodles with dungeness crab. My favorite there? Easy!

The spring rolls! Honestly, there are some of the best spring rolls i’ve ever eaten! They have different versions, but the meat fresh ones are delicious, and I quite like the crispy ones, wrapped in salad leaves with mint. The fresh ones are accompanied by a peanut sauce from out of this world. I’ve tried to do the same at home and failed miserably. Luckily for me, the rolls are available at the “out of the door”, the take away store from the slanted door. Talking about “out of the door”, I heard they’re going to open one in the Fillmore area. Since i live near there, I just can’t wait!

I’ve tried many dishes in that place and I have yet to get one that I don’t like. It looks like I’m not the only one as the menu hasn’t changed in all those years. Why would you change a winning team?

The Embarcadero location is very nice. The best spot is the tables with the sofas facing the bridge, especially in the evening. Very romantic, and also very San Francisco! Mind you though, you do want to book in advance. There is very little chance of walking in and getting a spot, even though it happened to me once but I had to sit at the bar (which is not unusual for me!).

The Wesfield location is perfect for a break in a shopping day, even though it is not as pretty and nice as the other one. The menu is exactly the same, even though the service is sometimes a bit slow. Don’t try to get a table there between 12:30 and 1pm. It’s just packed and unpleasant. If you could get there a bit early, it’s perfect.

And you’ll enjoy it! Try it!

Site: Slanted Door

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Top 5 restaurants in San Francisco

I had the chance to talk to a group of French entrepreneurs/leaders today (tres sympathiques!). The minute I told them I write a blog about food in San Francisco, they asked me where they should go. Then it hit me: I need to write a post about my top 5 restaurants in San Francisco. So here it goes.

This post will focus on high end restaurants. The average price in those places is between $100 and $150 per person. I will definitely give my top 5 in a cheaper range later.

So interested? Let’s start!

1/ Gary Danko: lot of my friends tell me I’m crazy to think this is the best place in the city, but honestly, I don’t think I’ve found anything that I like more than Gary Danko. The atmosphere is great, the service is impeccable, and the food is just unbelievable. It’s not that easy to get reservations, but not impossible. As far as I’m concerned, if someone wants to make me a very happy person, just invite me there! I highly recommend the frogs legs, wrapped in pancetta, which is one of their signature dish (and one of the first one they had on the menu).

2/ Jardiniere. First, I love the fact they serve food until late, even though their tasting menu is served until 9:30pm only. The atmosphere is very chilled, with a piano bar in the middle of the room, and two floors of dining tables. Second, the food never disappointed me, even though I’ve been there several times since I used to live a few minutes away. It’s a great place for a quick drink, or a fantastic and elaborated meal. You don’t have to mind the opera or ballet crowed, as this is their primary audience target. Their wine list is also very comprehensive, and if you don’t mind the price, you’ll have a great time.

3/ Dining Room (Ritz Carlton). Very French. Very traditional. And yet, fabulous. The food is great. The decor very classic. And the service absolutely perfect. I remember when I went there, I was telling my wife that I would love to know the score of a game that was playing at the time of our dinner. A few minutes later, the waiter would come and put a piece of paper next to me with the score. Very classy. As far as I remember, the staff was French, which, when you’re French yourself, can make the experience much better. The cheese selection was phenomenal.

4/ Ozumo: On the Embarcardero, Ozumo is one of the those trendy and yet amazing place to have sushi. They have the finest selection of Sake, and delicious sushis. Reservations are quite easy to get, and the place is huge and can also accommodate working meeting (they have private rooms). I’ve never been disappointed with their sushi and some of their dish like black cod are a delight.

5/ Mezes: I’ve already written a review of Mezes, and I actually think it’s one of the best places in the city. Simple, delicious, tasty, it’s one of those places where you will always have a good experience, if you like mediterranean food. A good place to visit!

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