Here are some quick reviews of various meals I’ve had over the last few months. I was not in blogging mode for any of the visits; thus, the short reviews. The list is roughly in order of enjoyment.
Pizzeria Mozza (LA) – I was in LA for less than 24 hours but I managed to convince my pho-loving-ten-dollars-is-enough-for-food friends that, yes, this upscale pizza place might be worth it. It probably didn’t hurt that Mario Batali’s name was attached to it. And what pizzas they were! The crust was crunchy and doughy, full of flavor. However, it was the red sauce in the prosciutto pizza that told me I needed to return – amazing stuff – used all too sparingly.
Tailor (NYC) – The opening reviews slammed the place but I found them hard to believe. Sam Mason could do no wrong at WD-50; his desserts were often the best part of an already enjoyable meal. I ordered both the savory and sweet menus – 8-9 dishes in total – and everything was pretty good (for those that don’t me personally – that’s like saying “Mikey likes it!”) In particular, the inventive ice creams are highly recommended.
Range (SF) – When I read the opening reviews of Range, I thought here-we-go-again, another ingredients-first-San-Francisco restaurant from the Chez Panisse school of cooking. There’s nothing wrong with that, except that we have a few thousand of them. Then Michelin gave them one star and I thought over-rated. But my friend kept telling me it was worth it. And it was – it’s ingredient-first but the cooking was precise and the ingredients were better than I can procure at the farmer’s market. A great casual place to eat in San Francisco, in the same league as Blue Plate and Delfina.
Burger Joint (NYC) – I heard about this tucked-away spot and Luxeat’s review reminded me just in time for my last NYC trip. The line was long and hectic, but 20 minutes later, I ate a great hamburger. For the Californians, yes, this was better than In’n'Out – no question. Skip their fries.
Ino Sushi (SF) – Ino is a small sushi counter tucked inside the Japantown Plaza that is known but not terribly popular. Aside from Sebo, it probably serves the best sushi in San Francisco proper. I’d rate it a 7/10 on my sushi scale – not a destination but worthwhile if find yourself craving sushi in the city. My only real issue is that he doesn’t serve real wasabi.
El Paseo (Mill Valley, Bay Area) – When Michelin ran through our town last year, I read one interesting post that insisted El Paseo should have earned one star. Curiously, I’d never heard of the place and I grew a small fascination with it. The highlights were a high-quality piece of lamb (hard to find here in the States) and an impressive wine list (think French, not California wines.) Overall, the meal felt disjointed and inconsistent.
Spotted Pig (NYC) – I didn’t really do my research but the name led me to believe I’d be eating a lot of ham. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case; instead, I found myself in a quirky pub whose menu was transplanted from San Francisco. My burger with roquefort cheese was good, but I’d rather eat the Burger Joint (see above) one for 1/2 the price.
Sakae (Burlingame, Bay Area) – Sakae is often listed as the Bay Area’s best sushi restaurant. I tried a few lunches and dinner here but I fail to see the fascination. The fish is ok but it’s nowhere near the levels of the best in America. The rice temperature is a little cold and it doesn’t approach the levels of Masa or Sushi Yasuda. Some people have told me you need to become a regular to get the best; I don’t see enough potential to warrant the cost. Sebo and Ino are better in my book, unless you’re stuck on the peninsula.
Perbacco (SF) – Yet another Italian restaurant in our fair city. I only remember overcooked pasta and meat. Given the other options (Quince, Delfina, Rivoli), don’t bother – not even close to being in the same league.
Mijita Cocina Mexicana (SF) – The taco joint in the Ferry Building by Traci Des Jardines. Over-priced tacos without any of the soul, for the business-suit crowd. The only redeeming quality? They serve Mexican Coke – real cane sugar instead of HFCS. I could take a $4 train ride to and from the Mission and still come out ahead. If you need lunch in the Ferry Building, get a sandwich at Lulu’s Petite or oysters at Hog Island.
Until the next great meal…