Tag Archives: restaurant

Boulevard, San Francisco

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It was about time. For ages, I’ve heard about Boulevard, at the end of Mission Street next to the Embarcadero in San Francisco. I’ve walked by it so many times. And yet, i’ve never paid a visit to one of the most famous restaurant in the city.

A few nights ago, a few friends and I decided to go. Just like that. Because when the economy goes down, you need to find a few crazy things to keep you alive: your family, your job, and of course, good times with friends. It’s on this last option that we bet on for that night. And it worked!

We called very late on a thursday night asking for a table for three. The receptionist told us that they would have a table in 30 minutes. That was perfect. Just the time we needed to move from the bar we were in, to the restaurant.

We arrived there. The place was packed. Since we were actually a bit early, we ordered a bottle of wine at the bar. Very soon after, they came to tell us our table was ready. They actually put us in one of the best table. The one by the corner, facing the Bay bridge. My friends being true French gentlemen, and knowing that this was my first time at Boulevard (they had been there at other occasions) decided to give me the best seats. So here I was. At Boulevard. Admiring the Bay Bridge at night and about to eat some amazing food.

The waitress came by very quickly and was extremely polite. We gave her our order and very soon, we were served with our first starters. As good Frenchmen, we decided to try the sweetbreads. And let me just say this: that was absolutely awesome! Just thinking about it makes me want to drive right back there and order some more! The sole was also very nice, especially accompanied by the rock shrimp and the maine lobster bouillabaisse.

As a main, I ordered the Lamb T-Bone (medium rare of course!), with some nice shiraz from california. The combination of the two was just magic, and the lamb cooked perfectly. As in really medium rare! My friends decided on the duck, and they both looked very happy. Note that at this point, we were not sharing dish anymore, as we all became way too selfish to get all we could from this amazing feast!

Finally, once we were done with our main, we decided to order all the cheeses. Yes, ALL the cheeses! We also decided to order a bottle of cabernet franc, highly recommended by the sommelier, which really pleased us.

After all this, as if we didn’t drink enough, we decided to opt for some calvados. Just to make sure we were making this dinner one of the best dinner ever. That was actually quite good, but at this point, what wouldn’t have been good?

So yeah, we had a great time. The food was delicious. The wine was phenomenal. And we had a great time. Good food, good drinks, and great company. What could you ask more?

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Fleur de Lys, San Francisco

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I’ve been meaning to write this post for quite a while, but for some reasons, never got really inspired. For her 30th birthday, I took my wife to Fleur de Lys, in San Francisco, on Sutter Street. I’ve heard so much about this place since i’ve landed in the city that I always wanted to try it. But my (bad) experience at la Folie, which received the same treatment as Fleur de Lys in terms of reviews, discouraged me for a long time to do it. Yet, i thought this is a place I must try.

Once I decided on Fleur de Lys (honestly, hungry french man must eat there at least once!), i went online to check things out. The reviews were quite good (as they usually are), and i got very intrigued by the chef, Hubert Keller. Born in France, he moved to San Francisco in 1982, and since then, got many awards.

According to Wikipedia, in 1988 Hubert Keller was ranked as one of the “10 best new chefs in American” by Food and Wine Magazine. In 1997 he won the James Bead foundation award for best chef in California. Fleur de Lys in San Francisco has been ranked as one of the top 40 restaurants in the United States in 2004, 2005, and 2006 by Gayot restaurant guide, and was awarded one Michelin star in 2006. Fleur de Lys has also been ranked as one of the top 25 restaurants in the United States by Food & Wine magazine.

Quite impressive all this… But what about the food at Fleur de Lys?

Well, my overall comment would be the it lived up to the expectations, without blowing me away. The best dish i had was some beef cheeks, which I usually fear, but those were perfectly braised and served with a very nice sauce. This result in a very light dish, which complete perfectly the meal. To start, I had a roasted maine lobster, followed by some hawaiian prawns on fennel confit.

The lobster was all right – i actually only found one restaurant in my whole life that managed to impress me with lobster. That was a small place, in Ouistreham, in Normandy, that has made lobster with lentils and the combination of the two were just mind blowing. In this case, it was an ok dish, and it was served with a great artichoke puree. The prawns were actually quite good, and they go very well with the fennel!

The major fallback of Fleur de Lys is the service. They want to show you so much love that it becomes overwhelming. Leave me alone when i eat! I’m fine! Plus, there is clearly something wrong when they start to say things like “pardon my reach” thousands of times during a meal. Just walk behind me and you don’t need me to pardon your reach!. Finally, and that was the “coup de grace”, they opened a bottle of alsace white wine and served me a glass. The wine was corked. I called the guy, and tell him: dude, the wine is corked. He looked at me with weird eyes as if I just talked a different language. I asked him to try the wine to confirm. He denied, and walk away with the glass. He came back a few minutes later to tell me that i was absolutely right and that the wine was corked. So why the hell did they serve this to me? Rule #1 in a restaurant, you taste what you serve. If you open a bottle of wine, treat yourself with a small taste. Honestly!

So overall it was ok, with some clear flawns on the service. I wouldn’t say don’t go. That would be terribly unfair, as the decor and the food is good, but maybe you want to warn your waiter to give you some space and make sure the wine is good 🙂

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Thank you @ileavache, Sociale, San Francisco

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I wanted to thank @ileavache for the advice posted on this post, which lead me to go and try Sociale, on Sacramento Street, in San Francisco.

The patio is great, and the restaurant in general is actually pretty cool. Upscale but not pretentious. Just a good place to hang out, have great food and relax for a bit. Oh yes, the food is good. Yes it’s not super cheap, but good italian food has its price, and the least I can say is that you will not be disappointed at Sociale.

To start, I had the porcini mushrooms salad. And that was yummy! Very fresh, absolutely delicious, light, the way a salad should be! My second course was the pan seared halibut. halibut, well cooked is always nice. At least, I rarely had a bad experience. This time didn’t fail me, it was perfect. The asparagus were also extremely tasty.

My wife had the tuna pappardelle and that was by far the big winner. Best fresh pasta I ever had in San Francisco. By far. The combination of tuna, currant and capers works very well with the pasta, and it was a delightful experience.

As far as the wine is concerned, their wine list isn’t huge, but we managed to find a decent wine for $40. OK, still a bit pricey, but come on! When very hot outside, a nice and fresh meal, on a nice patia, in laurel heights is totally worth it!

Site:
Sociale

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Delfina, San Francisco

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Last night, I paid a visit to Delfina, a pizza restaurant on 18th and Dolores in San Francisco (note that we went to the pizza place, not the restaurant). This was long due as I’ve heard this is one of the best places for pizzas in the city. My friend Lucas goes there very often, and he suggested to go there before he flies to Costa Rica for 10 days.

Lucas arrived at the restaurant at 8pm and put our name on the waiting list. Delfina doesn’t take reservations. At 9pm, we managed to get a table for 4.

The menu is pretty short but has all the must have of a good pizza place: a huge selection of pizzas and some nice appetizers.

We decided to pick 4 appetizers: warm olives, cucumber salad, tuna salad with beans, and sands. The four of them were good, my favorite being the tuna salad (the most original by far) and the the cucumber salad being probably the most predictive. It’s not bad to know what you’re going to have, but i think there is room to make pretty funky stuff with cucumbers. In this case, it was clearly fresh, but could have done with more spices.

The pizzas were clearly the best part of the meal, and what Delfina is known for. We all had the prosciutto with arugula salad. Maybe that’s a bit of an overstatement, but that was one of the best pizza I had in San Francisco. The crust was thin and nice, while the ingredients were real. Many times, when you eat pizza, the ingredients don’t have a taste. It’s just lost in the tomato sauce and the cheese. This time, it’s right there, and that’s what it is all about.

Is the place worth 1 hour wait? Probably not. But I would say it’s definitely a great place for pizza!

Site:
Delfina – (this is the restaurant)

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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!

Site:
Couleur Cafe

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The Slanted Door, San Francisco

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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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Fish., fish restaurant, Sausalito

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I love fish and seafood. On this foggy day in the city, we decided to go to Sausalito to check out some tiles. And suddenly, i wanted fresh fish & seafood. Badly. I wanted to eat by the bay, watching the boats. Outside. And I wanted potentially some oysters, to go with a simply cooked fish. Does such a restaurant exist? Yes, and it’s called fish in Sausalito!

The setting (as the picture taken from my table can testify) is perfect. You’re right on the bay, watching boats go by. It’s a very casual place, far from being pretentious, except maybe for the price. You can’t say it’s cheap: a main course will cost you around $30, oysters are $3 each, and you can get a fresh trout salad for around $15.

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I decided to get a whole sea bass. I used to eat seabass all the time back in Europe and loved to grill it. It’s not the same type of bass as on the pacific coast, but they were offering to grill it as well, so i decided to give it a chance. Many times, in the US, they’re trying to make things too complicated. Fish is so simple, and at the end of the day, you can try all you want, but if the fish is not good, it’s not good. Fresh fish is the secret to cooking fish.

I was so surprised when the dish arrived at our table. Grilled fish, lemon, green asparagus and potatoes. That’s it. No artificial cream or ketchup or any kind of fattening sauce. Not just the fish. Second surprise was to see they actually stuff the fish with lemon and some parsley. Very basic, but that’s how you’re supposed to grill fish! In Greece, when they grill fish, they just add some dry oregano, lemon and olive oil on the fish and you’re done.

Right there, as I was looking at my plate, I was in heaven. The real deal though, was yet to come. How would it taste? Well, it was perfect. Perfectly cooked, and really fresh. Even though I had to pay $33 for that dish, it was absolutely worth every dollar of it! Also, if you’re not really hungry, you could share this dish easily.

So Fish. did it for me. I will surely go back as this is really the type of place I enjoy. If you know a nice and simple fish restaurant, please don’t hesitate to comment on that blog. I’d be happy to check your suggestions and try them!

Site:
Fish.

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Angele Restaurant, Napa

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On Sunday, since the weather wasn’t very nice in San Francisco, we drove to Napa and stopped at Angele for lunch, by the Napa river. We’ve been there once, while we were staying at Milliken Creek Inn, and had a wonderful time.

The expectations were very high…

and I was wondering if our first experience was just lucky or if this place is indeed that good. I haven’t heard many people talk about it. Folks are all chatty about Bouchon, or other type of French bistro, but I don’t think Angele ever came up in a discussion.

And yet… I rate my lunch there as one of the top 5 meals I had in the last 6 months. Not pretentious, outstanding service, and more important, delicious and tasty food! What more can you ask for? Oh yeah, price… well, most of the entree are between $15 and $19 so I’d put this in the “affordable” category.

My wife and I had scallops to share for a starter. It was a special for the day, and… very yummy! Seared on top (with some syrup that just gave it a great texture!), accompanied by a puree of leeks, cooked perfectly (you know, when it’s almost raw inside!). It was splendid. My parents in law had a “Salade Lyonnaise” (Frisée Salad, De Puy Lentils, Poached Egg and Lardons) which they adored as well as a Classic French Onion Soup that triggers lot of questions such as: “how do I make this at home, this is so good!?”, which tend to be a very good sign.

For the main, I had hand cut pappardelle with cipollini onions, mushrooms, cavolo nero, and parmigiano reggiano. I loved the fact it wasn’t too crowded in my plate (you don’t want too much fresh pasta!). On top of that, the tastes were going gangbuster! It was incredible. The combination of the mushrooms and the cavolo nero worked at perfection.

My wife had the salmon, which she loved (pink inside, very crispy outside) and my father in law had the duck confit which he finished in no time (another good sign!).

All in all, I think this is a splendid place for tasty, fresh and simple food. It will become one of my regular place when I go to the wine country for sure. Much more so than Bouchon!

Site: Angele Restaurant

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Harri’s, Steakhouse, San Francisco

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Yesterday, we took my parents in law at Harri’s, at the corner of Pacific and Van Ness. Harri’s is a classis San Francisco establishment, and above all, a real steakhouse.

As all good steakhouse, the entrance showcases the aged meat and also has a butcher counter in case you want to buy some meat to go. I’ve seen this in many other steakhouses, and I really like the idea.

There are three main rooms. The Van Ness room, which is the main room. Very elegant, comfortable, it is very traditional and very San Francisco. I had dinner there a few times, and always had a good time. There are two other rooms. The library, which is where we had dinner yesterday, and another more casual one. The library is very intimate, as there are only 4-5 tables, a big painting of Mr Harris (i assumed it has to do with the restaurant!) and a fire place. It’s much more quiet than the main room even though the air conditioning is a little bit too strong in my opinion.

We had New York steak, Rib Eye steak and a Prime Rib of Beef. It’s the first time i’ve seen my parents in law eating the whole thing, without leaving a piece of meat in their plate! Quite impressive. I concluded they really liked it.

On my side, I had the Prime Rib and I have to say, it was delicious. Perfectly cooked, which is what those steak houses are really good at. I’ve asked for medium rare, and I got medium rare! The quality of the meat was really good – tender, tasty… all you can ask from a piece of meat!

The vegetables were also perfectly cooked. Crispy and not over cooked as in most restaurants. Finally, the wine list is huge, and you will definitely find your happiness in there. I picked a Ridge Zinfandel (my parents in law never had Zin before). You can’t go wrong with Ridge. The combination of the wine and the meat just made this meal perfect.

Of course, Harri’s is not cheap. I couldn’t go there every time I want a piece of meat (a steak will cost you roughly $45)! But for a special occasion, it’s a great place to try. Enjoy!

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