Random Tidbits 2 (In and Around San Francisco)
Here are some random, quick reviews of misc places that won’t make it into a proper review. I have been eating at a number of places throughout the Bay Area and, while I’ve discovered some gems, I’m still largely unimpressed with many of the offerings. Great casual eating city? Probably. World-class dining? In some cases.
Aqua (SF) – I had intended for this to be a proper review but it really doesn’t warrant it. 2 Michelin stars? Expensive food for the business crowd that’s ok if someone else is paying. The quality of fish, for a seafood-focused restaurant, is average. A hamachi sashimi was completely overwhelmed by grapefruit slices. Abalone served with pork belly was muddled.
Boulevard (SF) – A good meal in a convivial atmosphere that can be enjoyed with friends – but nowhere near great. It is over-priced for the quality of the food and over-rated within this city. We sat in the wine cave and it provided a nice bit of anonyminity and seclusion. For a mostly ingredient-first cuisine, I found the ingredients fairly average.
Canteen (SF) – Another restaurant I don’t understand. My first meal was good but a second visit left me wondering why people are going crazy over good, but very average, food. You can get the same meal at countless other places within San Francisco – why hassle with reservations in this tiny restaurant?
The Village Pub (Woodside, CA) – The VC haunt, at VC prices. They try to be a touch fancier than your typical ingredients-first Bay Area restaurant but you have to pay for that privilege. They make a big deal about their relationship with SMIP Ranch, but the food options lacked many vegetable choices. For the same price, we could have eaten at Manresa.
Spruce (SF) – The sister restaurant to Village Pub – slightly better but very over-priced. The food was better here, low one Michelin star territory, but it lacks much punch. You could be eating at any number of places in the country. But you will immediately remember where you are when you get that bill.
Pizzeria Picco (Larkspur, CA) – A nice lunch stop on the way to Napa or Sonoma. It gets a touch hot outside in the sun but the pizzas are pretty good. The crusts were a little soggy but I’d give the pizzas a B+. The much-vaunted Straus soft-serve ice cream was slightly disappointing, with the El Rey chocolate edging the olive oil with sea salt.
Seaweed Cafe (Bodega Bay, CA) – Pretty average seafood for a restaurant claiming to be seafood-focused. A salmon tartar was overpowered by ginger and spice; grilled sardines were very good; and black cod, that silky lovely fish, was overcooked. For the money, they are many better options throughout the Bay Area. If you find yourself in Bodega Bay, with nothing to eat, it’s probably your best option.
Wild Flour Bakery (Freestone, CA) – A welcome spot tucked deep in the Sonoma back trails. Their sticky buns are humongous, gooey, and not too sweet – perfect. A fun little place that is perfect to stop in for a snack.