San Francisco Dining 2010

by formerchef on November 13, 2010

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In early September my husband and I took a quick three day trip up to San Francisco to celebrate our wedding anniversary. When discussing what we wanted to do for the big event, we decided that rather than have a party, we just wanted to go to San Francisco to eat. We took a similar trip last year and had such a good time we were really looking forward to our return. Below are some of the places we went while in San Francisco. If you want to see more of our trip in detail, please check out the San Francisco 2010 page on my travel blog.

Out The Door:
Out the Door is owned by the same people who own the Slanted Door Restaurant in the Ferry Building. There’s no big sign outside, just a small “OTD” painted on the front door. This is upscale Vietnamese street food and most of it was very good, albeit not exactly authentic. We were here for lunch with my husband’s Aunt and started with decent spring rolls filled with shrimp, pork and vegetables and a Vietnamese crepe which gets wrapped in lettuce and dipped in sauce and was very tasty and similar to the ones we had in Hue Vietnam last year.

I ordered the pork over rice noodles with crispy imperial rolls which was similar to one of my favorite dishes, Bun Cha. This was probably the best dish of the bunch. My husband got a wide noodle (which weren’t) with flank steak and Hungarian peppers which turned out to be a bit bland and his Aunt got a nice looking chicken salad. They didn’t have any Vietnamese beer on the menu (is it possible to get here in the US?) so David got a Belgian wheat beer. Lunch for three was around $65 before tax and tip.

Perbacco:
Perbacco was full when we arrived for dinner, but we only had to wait about three minutes before we were seated (we did have a reservation). This place had been on my list since our visit last year and I was hoping it would still be as good as the recommendations had been back then. Fortunately, they did not disappoint.
Our server was wonderful; he recommended specific dishes, was able to answer questions about the menu and even brought us wine to taste. I really like that the restaurant offers many of their wines by the 1/4, 1/2, and full liter. They also offer pastas in small and large sizes.

We shared an appetizer of heirloom green tomatoes, burrata cheese and fresh corn. Then we shared langaroli al brasato which was a pasta filled with beef cheek, served with a velvety sauce made with quince (sugo di cugna) and a crumbled hard Italian cheese called Cusie al Castagno on top. The flavor was outstanding, really enhanced by the sharpness of the cheese.

For my entree I had a cooked-to-perfection, roasted veal loin, first cooked sous-vide,with porcini mushrooms and artichoke hearts and my husband had a roasted quail breast stuffed with foie gras and served with braised chard and chanterelles, also excellent, though very rich.
It’s hard to miss the cheese table when you walk though the restaurant so of course we knew what David was having for dessert; one of the three blue cheeses from Italy and a 20 year tawny port. I had the burnt caramel gelato with vanilla sea salt. Heaven. Dinner was $143 before tax and tip.

Ferry Building Farmer’s Market:
The Ferry Building Farmer’s Market is one of my favorite places in San Francisco. Saturday morning we arrived around 10:30 am and by that time the market was in full swing. David couldn’t resist buying a maple-bacon beignet from a bakery stand, and I bought some intensely flavorful and juicy organic green and purple pluots (see the photos at the top of the post). We wandered the market for a while, admiring all the offerings, but the real reason we were here was the Roli Roti truck.

Sometimes our experiences with places, food, are not as good as the memories were the first time around. I’m happy to say, the porchetta sandwich from the Roli Roti truck is notone of those disappointments.  The pork is perfectly seasoned and they make sure that each sandwich gets its share of the sliced pork meat and crispy skin. The bread is soft, but doesn’t fall apart, and the addition of caramelized onions and peppercress perfectly compliment the roasted pork. It is, hands down, the best pork sandwich I’ve ever had.

We got in the long line and waited about 20 minutes to get our sandwich. We sat in the sunshine for a while enjoying our food, watching the other market-goers, and watching the seagulls and a duck dive for fish off the pier. After a while we went inside the Ferry Building, but the shoulder to shoulder crowds drove us out in short order.

Dave’s Bar:
After a lovely afternoon spent at the Museum of Contemporary Art, we stopped in at a bar called Dave’s, on Third St, between Market and the museum. We’d passed it on the way to the museum and my Dave wanted a hat with their logo on it (his name and a martini glass). We ordered a couple beers on tap and what turned out to be a giant order of “small” nachos as a snack. This place is an odd cross between local dive bar and tourist stop. You could tell there were some regulars sitting there at the bar in the middle of the day, every day.

 
First Crush:
For dinner, we met up with one of my husband’s colleagues who was in town visiting a friend. We wanted something more casual so we chose First Crush, a wine bar/restaurant only two blocks from Union Square. First Crush offers more than a dozen wine flights (tastes of three different wines in a theme) and small plates which is a nice way to eat and share everything with the table. Unfortunately, I was so wrapped up in our conversation, I forgot to take pictures of anything but the menu after the first two plates; the cheese and the charcuterie.
The other items we did have were all quite good. Out of their small plates ,we also had Snake River Farms Pork Belly, Crispy Veal Sweetbreads with Truffled Scrambled Eggs (this was a big hit), and a Green Chard Gratin with Swiss Cheese and Bacon. We also ordered one of the large plates, the Oven Roasted Duck Breast with Caramelized Figs and Duck Confit which was excellent.
We had a couple desserts too, but since I didn’t take pictures of them or the dessert menu, I can’t remember what they are. Dinner for two, including champagne, wine flights, and a couple extra glasses was about $120 before tax and tip.
 
Ton Kiang Dim Sum:
This morning we met my sister-in-law, her husband, and their two boys (ages 1 and 4) for dim sum at Ton Kiang in the Richmond District. We arrived at 10:30am and were sat upstairs in an almost empty room. The upstairs room has larger tables than downstairs. The place filled very quickly and by the time we left there was a long line waiting outside (and yet no one in line for the dim sum place next door).

The various dim sum dishes we had were all very good. We ate wonderful shrimp and mushroom dumplings, sticky rice and meat wrapped in leave packages, roasted duck, Chinese broccoli and too many other various dumplings to count. I was so taken with my adorable nephews that I completely forgot to take photos of the food! The check for 4 adults and 2 children was about $80 before tax and tip.

Katan-ya:
For dinner, we decided to go casual and (hopefully) less expensive and and walked over to check out Katana-ya, a ramen place I’d read about which was just around the corner from our hotel. This is a teeny-tiny place, seating maybe 30, but there was only a small wait so we went back to hotel planning to return later. This was a mistake. By the time we returned, there were a lot more people waiting and a dozen names on the wait list. We added ours and settled in for what turned out to be over an hour’s wait.

The food was very good. Here, it’s all about the ramen, but they have a large sushi menu as well. We ordered ramen with Pork belly, some sushi and were fortunate to be able to sit at the sushi bar to watch the guy behind it work. Dinner, including beer, was about $50 before tax and tip. Katana-ya, 430 Geary St, San Francisco, CA 94102 (415) 771-1280

For more food and travel check out Wanderfood Wednesdays.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Charles G Thompson November 13, 2010 at 12:26 pm

San Francisco has to be one of the best food cities on the planet! I ALWAYS eat extremely well whenever I go and I’m not talking only in high-end places. I like the cross section of places you went to; all the food sounds wonderful — pasta filled with beef cheek?! Yum. The Ferry Building is always a stop I make, such a great foodie mecca. Sounds like a great trip!

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2 formerchef November 13, 2010 at 6:59 pm

Charles, I agree, SF is one of the best food cities on the planet. As much as I love LA, and the diversity we have here, I find myself jealous of people who live in San Francisco sometimes.

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3 Joan Nova November 13, 2010 at 6:56 pm

I just came back from a long weekend in San Francisco attending the FoodBuzz Festival which was 3-days of tastings. Reading this post, I feel like packing up the suitcase and going back to try these restaurants. I did get to eat Roli Roti porchetta sandwich which I was looking forward to from my trip the year before.

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4 formerchef November 13, 2010 at 7:00 pm

Joan- thanks exactly why we went back; there’s no shortage of great places to try. And then there’s Roli Roti!

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5 Angela@spinachtiger November 13, 2010 at 10:11 pm

Now I read this after returning home. But, I also had a great time, just returning from 8 days out there. We took some time in Napa too. I like the descriptions on the post. Making me hungry for that porchetta sandwich which I did get to try and I want it again. Yes, I agree, it’s the best pork sandwich I ever had.

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6 formerchef November 13, 2010 at 10:35 pm

Ah ha! Another porchetta sandwich convert! :-)

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7 wandering educators November 17, 2010 at 1:11 pm

yum – but that sandwich – enough to plan a trip around! thanks for all the great tips – and mouthwatering photos!

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8 Anna November 17, 2010 at 1:51 pm

Great post. My husband and I share the same sentiment any time we’re celebrating. It’s all about the food!

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9 Nancie November 17, 2010 at 2:54 pm
10 Ryan Hoody May 1, 2012 at 1:10 pm

Wow! You two know how to enjoy your food when traveling. The thai food looks amazing, although the pilsener from Dave’s bar would probably get my business first. Great pictures of the food–so much detail, and you were able to capture the intricate colors well. Does anyone in the restaurants find it odd you take pictures of the plates? I do the same from time to time and always get a few looks. I like to think they believe I’m some high profile critic. If only they knew!

Thanks for the post,

Ciao

Ryan

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