Thursday, May 19, 2016

U.S. Adventures: San Francisco, Spring 2016, Vol. II

Ok, I am going to have to make this one a little briefer (ok, maybe) and try to get this trip finished up—there were just so many restaurants!

So let’s hit some highlights. State Bird Provisions first of all. One of my favorite meals of the trip. So, you know that dim sum I talked about in the first post about SF? Well, this is dim sum but not Chinese food. It’s cool, hip, food but served in little portions and brought around on trays and carts (and a few things you just order if you want). My kids couldn’t wait to eat here now that they had discovered the joys of dim sum. Highlight here? The state bird dish—fried quail ($15). So, so good. It was served on these lightly pickled veggies with some super thin cheese on top that just melted into the dish. We were fighting over it (quails ARE small) so we got another one. We also had two of the tuna dishes—it was tuna crudo in a wonderfully, slightly acidic broth. Just perfect. There were many other things too, fried biscuit with burrata, pork belly, beef tartare ($14) with rosemary vinaigrette and little biscuits, chicken liver and several other things. Really, everything was good. And the menu changes frequently—this is totally a place I would go a lot. I would skip dessert though; it was the only thing that was really lackluster.
State Bird Provisions

Also, SPQR. We went there on our last night. Look at their menu online, check out the pasta section (most between $27-$28), and you will understand why I constantly bitch about Italian restaurants in Indy. THERE IS MORE TO LIFE THAN RED SAUCE. We shared everything and had a couple of the specials involving truffles—an egg raviolo, which is one of my favorite things on earth (it’s a giant ravioli filled with an egg yolk). This one was dusted with copious amount of truffles and I really wished I had it all to myself. The other truffle dish was a simple butter sauce with again, lots and lots of truffles. Another dish with pasta, lemon and crispy shaved slices of garlic was another big winner—loved the slight acidity of it. The only one we thought was just ok, was what she described as “grown up mac and cheese” with slices of cured beef and on top of a pesto sauce. It was fine, but couldn’t measure up to the others. Pasta and dessert was all we had here, because it was the last night of the trip and to be honest, we were pretty full, but everyone loved this place. The cheese plate ($17) was the highlight of dessert, although the pretty chocolate dessert was good too.
Hubby and I ate at Octavia by ourselves one night, while our kids hung out with their old babysitter. This is a warm space that is quintessential San Francisco with its laid back vibe. The food is very good as well, although didn’t stand out in the same way as some of the other places. Loved their version of a “deviled” egg ($5), which was actually a whole soft-boiled egg that was heavily seasoned with pepper and spices and served with a chile relish. I was really glad to still have a bit of my bread that they bring to the table to sop it all up with though. They should probably give you a little something with it for that purpose (although that bread, I’m guessing it’s Acme, is so so good.) The best dish of the evening was probably the smoked trout salad with grilled asparagus, roasted shallot jam and sherry vinegar. Oh my, that fish just melted in your mouth, and had a slightly more mild taste than typical smoked salmon. And I just loved the play of flavors with the shallot jam and the vinegar. A wonderful dish.
We also shared the pappardelle with toasted walnut and brown butter pesto, aged balsamic and cress ($14 for an appetizer size). Again, there’s more to life than red sauce—this wonderfully balanced dish had heartiness from the nuts as well as a nice hit of acid from the vinegar. We rounded out with the Sonoma duck breast ($32), that was served with charred green garlic, roasted kale, butter beans and salsa verde. Loved the salsa verde for a bright kick, but the duck was just a touch overdone for me. We also shared a wonderful melty chocolate dessert.

We had a lunch at Hog Island Oysters that we all really enjoyed—this was one that has been on my list for a while. Hubby and I have been to the actual place where they raise and harvest the oysters and now they have a casual restaurant at the Ferry Building. They don’t take reservations, and were hopping so we sat at the oyster bar, which was fun. Seriously, a lot of oysters going out of that place. Hubby had these amazing grilled oysters ($13) with just a simple cayenne and citrus seasoning. So, so good. I had some fried oysters on what was basically a deconstructed potato salad—also delicious. I tell you what though, my son’s grilled cheese ($12) with three kinds of gooey, non-traditional grilled cheese cheeses, was amazing. I couldn’t stop taking little bites of it. My daughter had a lovely seafood stew ($20)—it looked pretty and the clams and mussels were delicious. The bits of other things, especially the octopus, was a tad chewy though.
Hog Island Oysters

A quick lunch at Belga as we shopped one day on Union Street proved successful-they kids plowed through yet another cheese plate ($16) and hubby and I shared a lovely arctic char and cream cheese toast with capers and pickled red onions ($8) and frites ($9). The country pate ($6) we also had was a bit of a let down though.
We also had a dinner at Limon, which was a favorite quick, casual spot that hubby and I enjoyed back in the day. It’s a Peruvian restaurant, and we love the lomo saltado ($16.95), which is a beef tenderloin dish stir fried with onions, tomatoes, fries and soy sauce. It’s served with rice. It is just so darn good. The empanadas are nothing to be sneezed at as well. The small plate of fried chicken was just ok—kind of dry. And my kids had the rotisserie chicken, which they are known for, and weren’t super impressed with it either. But I would happily eat that lomo saltado any day of the week—there is just something about the seasoning that makes it cravable. Also, a bite with a fry soaked all in the juices of this dish is delicious.
Of course we also had to get our Dungeness crab fix, and luckily for us, they opened the season the week we were there. We were headed to Alcatraz (kids had never been), so we hit Alioto’s, which is our favorite wharf place to grab some crab and a great view. My favorite is the simple steamed crab, but we also got one roasted in garlic and butter. The sourdough bread is the best too. It’s Fisherman’s Wharf, so take it with a grain of salt. But you can’t really mess up simple crab.
Finally, on our way to the airport, we had to hit our standby, Barbara’s Fishtrap in Half Moon Bay. The same waitresses have been there since I have been going, which is nearly 25 years. Fried shrimp. Fried fish ($13.95). Clam Chowder. Cash only. It’s a requirement for us. It was a great send off too.

It’s my second home and the city that made me love food. I definitely agree that part of my heart remains there.

No comments:

Post a Comment