Tag Archives: san francisco

Rock shrimps and prawns salad

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The weather has been extremely warm recently in San Francisco. Last week-end, I was supposed to cook a three courses meal for some friends, and it was so hot that I was really wondering what type of food we could have with this temperature. All kinds of ideas went through my mind, but I decided to create a very fresh salad, with prawns and rock shrimps. 

Rock shrimps are actually quite interesting to cook with. It can be very mushy and not good if you’re not careful. But if fresh and well cooked, it’s delicious. 

The recipe for this salad is very simple. For your preparation, minced some garlic and shallots, roughly chop some mint, and finely chop some cilantro. Throw the prawns in some boiling water with lot of pepper and some salt, after 2 minutes, remove them, and then throw the rock shrimp. One minute later, they’re cooked! Throw the prawns and shrimp in ice cold water. 

Mix some mache salad with the mint, garlic, shallots and cilantro. Add some pepper and salt. Add the shrimp and the prawns. Then add the juice of 1 lime. Add a little bit of olive oil. Salt. Done

This is a very easy and refreshing dish. 

Have fun!
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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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Anchor Steam brewery, San Francisco

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Last week, we went to a private tour of the Anchor Steam brewery, in San Francisco, in Potrero Hills. I’ve never visited a brewery before. And yet, this has to be done one day. Especially the Anchor Steam one. It was a magic moment. Clearly one of the best thing to do in San Francisco if you like beer.

And maybe also if you don’t. Because that brewery is not just about beer. It’s a real testimony to perfection, tradition and passion. Of course, you get to taste the product 😉 (many times!), but there’s something much more interesting and fascinating in that building: pride.

Our guide, Tom, has been working at the brewery for more than 15 years. We asked everyone we met that evening, and all of them have been around for more than a decade. All of them are talking about their beer with a unique passion, that I haven’t seen in any company yet. It was just amazing. Their eyes were sparkling, and they were so proud of what they’re contributing to. The average tenure (i don’t have official stats on this one) is probably around 10 years. Just incredible.

We’ve asked about the process of hiring and it’s quite straight forward. We were told that they don’t necessarily look for people with brewery experience but that new employees usually spend one to two years working the bottles… Then you go up the ladder…

They also have a moral rule: you have to be at work for 4 hours before drinking your first beer! The kitchen and the bar at the entrance are the only two places where you can get beer on tab. Those are the only two places where employees are allowed to drink. It wasn’t always like this, and they justify that decision by the danger of manipulating the tools under the influence of alcohol. Of course, once you go downstairs, you have access to the huge barrel with real fresh beer. We even got a taste out of one of them!

So beside a cool job where you can taste beer most of the day, why are those folks so passionate about what they do? well, it’s just because the Anchor Steam brewery do things in a traditional way, using tons of manual work, like it was done decades ago. They’re not into the mass production. They argued that they’re actually quite happy that Sierra Nevada is producing 10 times more beer than them because they couldn’t cope with the demand by keeping their current methods. They want to be unique, they don’t want to be for everybody. In their mind, Anchor Steam is not for every beer drinker. It’s made for the connoisseur with the hands of some very passionate people.

I highly recommend you take 4-5 of your good friends, and try to get a private tour. It’s absolutely remarkable, and beside seeing the process of manually making beer, you’ll find there some amazing people.

Anchor Steam brewery contact details:
Anchor Brewing Company
1705 Mariposa Street
San Francisco, CA 94107
Tel 415-863-8350
Fax 415-552-7094

Check out some great photos taken by our friend Lucas!

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Tataki Sushi Bar, San Francisco

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Yesterday dinner, we went to Tataki Sushi Bar, on California Street in the lower Pacific Heights area of San Francisco. It’s just a few seconds walk from where we live and we had never tried it!

Tataki is tiny and very well decorated. We had no problem to sit at the bar (which is our favorite spot as you all know by now!) and we started reviewing the menu.

First of all, this place is all about sustainable food. I actually quite like that, especially since it was very discrete. I had read some reviews indicating that they don’t stop explaining why sustainable is, why they’re supporting it etc… Well, either this wasn’t true, or they’ve changed something, but there was zero mention of sustainable food by anyone there. Just a card on the table to make us aware of the issue, which i found quite subtle.

Like any good sushi place, you can find the classic sashimi, nigiri sushi and rolls. But Tataki is very good for the funky stuff…

Again, I had read reviews raving for their fancy rolls. So we’ve decided to focus on the rolls, and ignore the nigiri. We started with a Pacific Sunrise, which is basically cucumber rolled into 4 varieties of fish without any rice. Yes, a roll with no rice! Well, that was just a blast. They have this “tataki” sauce that they use for this dish, and that was just playing with all the tastes. So good. +1!

Then we had the 49er. Again, a big, big winner. We picked it because the guy next to us just had it. It looked so good that my wife just asked the chef to cook one for us. That turned out to be a great decision. It’s basically tobiko roll topped with avocado. Tobiko is the Japanese word for flying fish roe. It gives the roll a funky texture, and the mix with the avocado and the rice works very, very well.

The third roll we had was inspired by a review I had read. It’s called the “extinguisher”. Yes, you bet it was spicy! As in very spicy. Even the plate comes with real flames (from burning rhum on salt). This roll is a kampachi roll, with some very spicy sauce on top. It’s spicy enough to make you realize you’re eating something spicy, but you will be able to eat it, which is always nice. For me, that was the winner of the night, but it may just be because I love spicy food.

Finally, we had some sashimi, just to make sure we were also trying some classic dish. It was also very good, especially the salmon and the yellow tail.

Overall, we’re really glad this place opened in our neighborhood. Prices are reasonable, it is much, much better than Godzilla Sushi, the chefs are really nice and the service was perfect. What more could we ask?

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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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Tortilla Heights, San Francisco

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I’ve been meaning to write this post for a very long time. Tortilla Heights in the Lower Pac Heights neighborhood of San Francisco, on Divisadero, was one of my first disappointment with Mexican food. I decided to give it another chance. Why? Because every time i walk by it, it’s packed. So sure, people can be “sheep” and all follow the stupid one. But it’s been very consistent over the last months: the place is packed.

The bar is clearly a reason why the place is crowded. Nice and beautiful people all around (yeah, I know, I was the exception!), kind of trendy, it’s a very good place for a night out. But still, the restaurant was crowded as well. There must be an explanation. The last time I ate there, it was just dis-gus-ting. As in HORRIBLE. Wanna know how this time went?

Well, it actually went ok. Much, much better than my first time. Still not worth those good old mexican places, cheap and delicious, but it was ok. Honestly, there isn’t much to say about the food. It’s decent. I find those trendy mexican restaurants over priced in general, but you can’t say that it’s not good.

It is actually very similar to Left at Albuquerque on Union Street. Nice, fun, but nothing that’s going to knock you out of this world. When you live in San Francisco, I actually question the need for those places. Really. Sure, let’s have some nice bars, but trying to build an upscale Mexican place, when for a fourth of the price, you have much better food at La Taqueria, is just something I have a hard time to comprehend.

Anyway, that place is probably going to be full tonight again. And I may go back there. Just for the fun though, not for the food.

Site:
Tortilla Heights

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