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Archive for June, 2005

Canteen (SF) – Small but Forgettable

I live in nob hill/union square/tenderloin depending on who you ask and it’s mostly known for cheap, ethnic places. Lately, there’s been a buzz building about Canteen – a small diner attached to the trendy Commodore hotel. It’s Wed evening, I’ve just spent a weekend eating through the horrors of Las Vegas, might as well give it a shot.

Dennis Leary, formerly of Rubicon, decided to forgo the world of corporate kitchens for his own small place – the Howard Roark of the SF dining scene. Read the rest of this entry »

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Sent Sovi (Saratoga, CA) – Youthful Exuberance

My mission this year is to try out-of-the-way restaurants in the area. I find myself enjoying restaurants outside of the city more and more; less crowds, more serious eaters, and better food (I’m a grumpy old man at 30.) Manresa, Farmhouse Inn, Sawa Sushi, Cafe Gibraltar, Flea St Cafe, and La Salette have convinced me the north & south don’t get their culinary dues & respect.

Sent Sovi was near the top of my list; a Caribbean-influenced chef cooking French cuisine. Sounds interesting enough, I’m game. Went on a Sunday night, the place is fairly small (~ 15 tables), and there were only 5 parties or so around 8pm. Sat down, checked the menu, and decided on the tasting menu. Read the rest of this entry »

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Farmhouse Inn (Forestville, CA) – Country Eating

Farmhouse Inn is one of my favorite go-to restaurants in the area. It’s a nice 1 hour drive from the city and I think the restaurant really epitomizes what Sonoma County is all about (re: the down-to-earth revel-in-the-bounty of its beautiful countryside.)

Setting
The restaurant itself is fairly small (15 tables or so) and the decor is rather folksy. Ernest Hemingway quotes adorn the walls, candles are soft, and the dress tends toward the casual.

Cuisine
The cuisine is Californian w/ some French and Italian accents. Fresh local ingredients in season, simpler preparations, nothing experimental; the emphasis is definitely on comfort. Read the rest of this entry »

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Sawa (Sunnyvale, CA) – Transcendental

Everyone has their favorite sushi place and everyone is convinced theirs is the best. After trying most of the ‘big-time’ sushi places around the US (Masa, Kuruma, & Yasuda), I will say Sawa Sushi is the best sushi in America. Sawa is only for those who can appreciate the difference between a very good and a great piece of fish.

Background:
Sawa is very expensive and it is very exclusive. From the outside, it looks like any other sushi restaurant among the south bay sprawl. Meals can range from $150 and up, if he even lets you in. Obviously, with prices like those, he doesn’t want surprises. If he lets a stranger through the door, which is rare, he will weed out potential gourmands with “No rolls… (10 seconds of silence) No menu… (10 seconds of silence) No prices….”

If you are still brave enough to sit down, you will be rewarded. Read the rest of this entry »

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Woodward’s Garden (SF) – Epitome of SF

I last went 2-3 years but I always recommend this restaurant as a date spot. It’s intimate without being a cliche and the food is honest without being fussy.

The Space
Lots of construction outside w/ the bridge, many unsavory characters walking by outside, small space, maybe 10 tables, very intimate, lots of artwork on the walls… It’s got that ‘diamond in the rough’ feel, as well as that ‘hip, funky’ SF vibe going for it. Read the rest of this entry »

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