Local chefs tend to run into one another at Annabelle Lenderink’s La Tercera vegetable stand at the Tuesday Ferry Plaza farmers’ market during chicory and shelling bean season. One day she introduced me to Mr. Pollo, actually Manny Torres Gimenez, the chef-partner at Mr. Pollo, a literal hole-in-the-wall on Mission Street. About three months later I found it — four tables, two stools and a tiny open kitchen with bad ventilation, plus a few tables on the sidewalk. Read More
Beast and the Hare is San Francisco’s version of a London gastropub, a friendly, informal neighborhood place that specializes in rich, meat-centric dishes complemented with glasses of artisan beer and robust wine.Its chef-owner, Ian Marks, who worked for two years at the Fatted Calf, has a deep understanding of charcuterie and the ameliorating effect of fat in cooking. Pick any dish on his sexy little menu to explore how skillful manipulation of the no-no’s of lean cuisine create dishes to die for. Read More
Kam’s Restaurant, an unnoticeable Hong Kong-style coffee shop on the same block as the Balboa Theater, has been open there since 1974, but three months ago owner Kathy Wong hired a new chef, Yip Fung, formerly of the R & G Lounge. Wong herself is a Chinese tea and Italian coffee expert, and her partner Sarah Chu specializes in Asian-style desserts. With a daily menu of specials, and another of chef’s recommendations, both written in Chinese and English, the experience at Kam’s evokes Hong Kong’s worldly embrace of South Chinese and Western culinary customs. Read More
Citizen Cake, Elizabeth Falkner’s buoyant, artistic bakery-cafe and restaurant, has found a happy new home in Pacific Heights.
The other night I was having dinner at one of the small slate tables along a wooden banquette that runs the length of the narrow storefront — a glass pastry counter and a marble bar with seats take up the other side. Read More
In a town with no shortage of izakayas — Japanese pubs — the new Chotto stands out for its aesthetic.Taking the high road at every juncture, owners Tad and Zerlayna Horie and their chef, Armando Justo, have created a smart and serene little dining room and sake bar with a big selection of small dishes, and a handful of artisanal sakes, all at excellent prices. (Justo is a 10-year veteran of Yoshi’s and Ozumo when the brilliant Sho Kamio headed the kitchens.) Read More
An army of cooks in black T-shirts work with concentration in the open kitchen of Plum, a new Daniel Patterson production in Oakland. Patterson, who opened the high-end Coi four years ago and then the wonderful Ferry Building counter restaurant Il Cane Rosso, went for something in between at Plum, a moderately priced outpost of contemporary cooking which applies new kitchen technologies to an ever-widening market basket of ingredients. Read More
In all of the Mediterranean — Italy, France, Spain, Greece, North Africa, the Middle East — no cooking is more lush, varied and anthropologically rooted than Turkish, a grand confluence of Central Asia (manti), Persia (kebabs) Arabia (halva) and the West (eggplants, tomatoes, peppers).
At the new Tuba, chef-owner Ali Yaldiz, who comes from a long line of chefs and bakers in the central Turkish city of Kayseri, takes diners on a buoyant tour of a cuisine that straddles East and West. Read More
In San Francisco’s restaurant scene, the bar has risen to star status while the kitchen plays a supporting role.In an odd plot twist, bartenders have taken on the role of chefs with a complex mise en place of house-made syrups and infusions, seasonally sourced components and even customized ice cubes. But at the new Comstock Saloon, in a location that has been a watering hole since 1907, we get an ensemble production in which food and drink equably share the stage. Read More
What happens when two highly trained French chefs — veterans of such temples as the French Laundry and the Ritz Carlton Dining Room — turn their talents to Asian street food? Spice Kit, a brilliant fast-food concept based on hand-held meals from Korea and Vietnam. Like Charles Phan at the Slanted Door, founders Will Pacio and Fred Tang use high-quality, sustainably produced local ingredients, and they apply cutting-edge cooking techniques to the preparation of meat and poultry fillings — the centerpieces of their short menu. Read More
Last year’s “Where to eat in 2010” column sent readers to Quince, Wexler’s, Contigo, Flour and Water, Nopalito and Out the Door in Pacific Heights, among others. Given the economy, it was an amazingly fertile year for new places. The pace and quality has only risen during 2010, keeping San Francisco one of the top culinary destinations in the world. Really.Cotogna490 Pacific Ave.(415) 775-8508 Read More
After the economic doldrums of 2009, when many best bites materialized from behind self-service counters, 2010’s choicest morsels moved back to the dining room. The year saw a surprising number of restaurant openings from hot-shot chefs, who knowingly kept things affordable.The Pot Sticker150 Waverly Place, San Francisco, (415) 397-9985 Read More
In a city of Cantonese eateries, a new Sichuan restaurant becomes an event. Chef Truman Du and dining room manager Jenny Wu recently took over the long-lived Chinatown operation called The Pot Sticker, and breathed life — and a lot of hot pepper — into it. Both partners worked at the refined Z & Y Sichuan Restaurant a few blocks away on Jackson street. Read More
I thought I knew good pizza until I ate a margherita at L’Antica Pizzzeria Da Michele in Naples 10 years ago. After waiting outside the small shop for 30 minutes, I was finally seated at a shared marble table, luckily, right in front of the blazing pizza oven where I witnessed the whole process: The set-up cook pressing each soft, puffy dough onto a peel, ladling it with marinara, blanketing it with shredded fior de latte mozzarella, and splashing the top with olive oil from a spigoted bronze pitcher. Read More
Face it. Most of us cook the same dishes over and over. It takes an extraordinary recipe to catapult a new dish into a fortress of dependable and beloved old standbys.
Janet Fletcher, a master Napa Valley gardener, a professional chef and author of 20 cookbooks, has created more smart, appealing and reliably delicious recipes for Bay Area home kitchens than any other writer I know. Read More
When Mike and Lindsay Tusk opened their ground-breaking Quince six years ago, San Franciscans had to trek to the East Bay to get cooking anything like it. Tusk, who worked with Paul Bertolli at both Chez Panisse and Oliveto, gave The City his own version of this simple-yet-imaginative cooking that uses beautiful, seasonal ingredients and traditional techniques. With only 15 tables, Quince quickly became impossible to book. Read More