Sunday, August 26, 2007

Les Amis Revisited...

Les Amis Revisited

Wow. Wow.. And WOW!
Went for my girlfriend, Alish's birthday and my god were our socks knocked off!
Every Dish was really Great and the Service was Fantastic...
Chef Thomas Weibull was on fire! He's made some new changes to the Menu and they are pretty spot on.
I mean, I knew the guy had skills, but he's proven to have 'mad skills'... For reals..
Above are photos of our Gastronomical Journey...

Allow me to Break it Down...
For Apps we started with a Sonoma Foie Gras Mousse Amuse that was paired with a Cherry Compote and a Buttery Crisp which added great Texture to the Sweetness of the Fruit and the Creamy Foie Mousse. A Delicious start..
We then had the Laura Chenel's Chevre Parfait which was absolute Heaven! I mean it was So Good that it made your eyes roll back kinda Good. The Creamy Chevre sat on a Medley of Beets, Tomato Gelee & was sprinkled with a Walnut Salt. You just have try it to really understand how Good it is...
Our final Apps Dishes were the Napoleon of Dungeness Crab, which paled in comparison to the Pan Seared Scallop Dish, which came prepared with a Carrot Puree and a Vanilla Creme Anglaise. Let me tell you, this Scallop Dish was Incredible...
All of these Dishes were beautifully presented and as far as the Combinations, it was Pure genius as far as we were concerned..
And these were just the Apps! No kidding..
Now onto the Entrees...
There were five of us and these are the Dishes that we had and shared:
I had the Pan Roasted Cod on top of a Spanish Chorizo Raviolo, Sauteed Bloomsdale Spinach and finished with a Lobster Sauce. I lreally loved it, but I also loved what everyone else had as well, if it can be believed... Believe you me, there was a Whole Lotta Love goin' on!
The other Dishes were a Veal Loin topped with Crispy Veal Sweetbreads,
A Sauteed New Zealand Thai Snapper with Fried Basmati Rice Pilaf, Langoustine and a Citrus-Ginger Beurre Blanc and the Trio of Cloverdale Rabbit prepared as a Rabbit Tortolloni, Lapin aux Langoustine and a Marinated Rack. All very nice and executed well...
Bravo Chef Thomas! Bravo...
I gotta give props to a fellow Philly-Pino, no doubt. (Philly-Pino meaning he from Philly and he Filipino, like myself)
For Dessert, and what is slowly becoming known to me as your proverbial 'Happy Ending'...
We had my favorite Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee with the Mango Raviolis in a Raspberry Foam and the Panna Cotta, both of which fulfilled my 'Happy Ending' to the night.
I can't end this review without giving props to our Server, Jesus. Not only were his timing and teamwork with Chef Thomas exceptional, but he had the cutest ass dimples this side of the Mississippi!
In all seriousness though, Jesus really was on point with Service. We never at any time were wanting for anything, whether it be Water, more Bread & Butter and, of course, more Wine...
It was quite Impressive.
This place really is Special, and not in a short bus kinda way...
The Interiors in its Rustic Elegance that I love and the Atmosphere with its Warmth and Romance really draw you in in the evenings and these things, together with the Wonderful Service and the Great Food make for a truly Great and Memorable Experience...
So here it is...
Take people here for a quiet Business Lunch where you can talk or perhaps even make a deal...
As for Dinner, go here for a Date, Birthday or Special Occasion and you will not be disappointed.
Honestly, I would choose this restaurant over the likes of any other Contemporary French restaurant in the City any day...

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Kabuto Sushi

Kabuto Sushi
Category: Sushi

Neighborhood: Outer Richmond
Price Range: $$$

This is probably one of my favorite Sushi Joints in the City. Reason being that they have one of the most unique & inventive Sushi Menus I have ever seen. Seriously, with such items as as Foie Gras Sushi served with a Balsamic Raspberry Sauce (can you say, Yum?), and Lamb Apple Nigiri, which is Grilled Lamb topped with Sliced Apple and a Cherry Balsamic Sauce. I mean, how do they come up with this stuff?

Other Faves are the Barbeque Duck Nigiri served with Japanese Spicy Mustard and
Hamachi Pear Nigiri which has Yellowtail topped with Sliced Pear and a Kabuto Fruity Mustard Sauce.

I mean, SO good!

I've barely touched the surface as far trying half their Menu. It's nuts...
The Sashimi is incredibly fresh and I just love Kabuto for its inventiveness. Did the ol' Toro Sashimi test and it passed with flying fish colors..
Really great place for inventive and unique Sushi which cannot be found elsewhere.
Only thing is that it is a tiny place and the wait can be incredibly long, but certainly well worth it...

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Foreign Cinema

Foreign Cinema
French, American (New), Brunch
Neighborhood: The Mission
Price Range: $$$

I've been here several times for Dinner, for an afternoon Wedding Reception, a 40th Birthday Soiree and now, once for Brunch. And I have to say that although the food is decent, nothing to write home about but decent nonetheless, I really like this place for the Concept and the execution of that Concept...
For me, this place is very special...
With candles burning on all of the tables, and although some do not like the close proximity of the tables, I kinda like the Coziness of it all... One thing that struck me with the candlelight, was that when you looked up at the canopy above, the candles reflected its lights, which really added to the ethereal Ambiance of the Place... When I lived in Germany, I used to go to the movies fairly often and I remember how some places had candles or little lights that emulated candles on a narrow tray-like table that encompassed the back of the seats in front of you. And believe it or not, they even served food!So back to my review of the FC.... I'm not going to go into this elaborate drawn out critique of the food, because to me, the star of this place is the wonderful Atmosphere and the Great Service....

Service was good the 1st time we went, but this last time, we had by far, THE BEST Server ever!!! Kiersten made our dining experience extremely fun & memorable! She was on top of everything and really made us feel special. Thanks Kiersten! If only all People rocked it like you... You knock that shit out of the park! For real...
3 Stars because I know I will be back, but Kiersten bumped it up a whole other notch...
So 4 Stars from the Raptor.
You go, Girl!

Brunch was good as well...
I tried the Two Poached Eggs with Grilled Duck Breast, Warm Salad Greens, Croutons, Currants, Shitakes & Sherry, which I thought was quite good. We ran into my Girl, Kiersten, who remembered me, gave me a big ol' hug and sent us complimentary Glasses of Campagne.
See? I told you she was good...

My Friend's Wedding Reception & Another Friend's 40th Bday Soiree:
My Friends, the Valdellers had their afternoon Wedding Reception here a few years ago and it was fabulous and Very Cool. We started with the Reception and Cocktails in the Main Dining Room area inside. The passed Hors d'oeuvres were really really good... Impressive.
We then were ushered to the Outdoor Courtyard for Lunch which was also quite good. The Dancing part of the Reception was held in the Modernism West Gallery, which was a perfect spot for the 1st Dance, Cake-Cutting & Dancing...
Also, my girlfriend hosted her 40th Bday Soiree in the Modernism West Gallery and it was Fantastic! Once again, the Passed Hors D'Ouevres were Delicious and Plentiful. It's a Brilliant Place to host a Party...

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


Category: Italian (Ligurian/Piemonte Regions)
Neighborhood: Financial District
Price Range: $$$

Ah, Perbacco... What Can I Say?
Perbacco = For Bacchus translated. Brilliant.
One could say that I Live my Life Perbacco... Corny, but True.
I've been here three times already and I really like Perbacco a lot. Once for Happy Hour, another time for a Client Lunch and now Dinner.
I'm gonna break it down for the Dinner... Went last Friday night for my girlfriend, JZ's Bday Dinner and we were extremely impressed by the Service and the Food. When we sat down, there was a bday card from Perbacco as well as a bottle of MV Laurent-Perrier Rose Brut from Champagne, France waiting for us chilled. Highly Recommend. (Note: The Champagne was a call-ahead present from her boy in NJ. Take some notes Boys...)
After we were sat, the Restaurant Manager came to our table to greet her happy birthday and to thank us for choosing Perbacco for her celebration... Nice.

Perbacco has quite an extensive Wine List. We enlisted the help of the Sommelier to help us choose a good wine to go with our Dinner and he recommended us a fabulous Chardonnay called Karia by Stag's Leap Cellars. It was Lovely. Lovely that we had two bottles of it...

The Food:
We started off with the Tasting of Salumi and the Heirloom Tomato Salad prepared with Sea Salt, Olive Oil, Manodori Balsamico and Fresh Basil. It was a perfect combination and a great start to our Meal. FYI - Perbacco is known for their Salumi, which they cure themselves and for their Pastas which they also make themselves.
We were a party of 4 Lovely Ladies (E4) and we decided to Do the Dinner Family Style. So we shared 2 Pasta Entrees and 2 Meat Dishes.

For the Pasta, we had the Agnolloti filled with Roasted Veal and Savoy Cabbage. This was my Favorite, as well as an overall Ladies Pick. Our second Pasta Dish was the Pappardelle in a Braised Short Rib Ragu and we thought that was delicious as well.

For Our Mains, we had the King Salmon with Roasted Padrone Peppers, Artichoke Passato & Melted Cherry Tomatoes. Sounds pretty fancy, huh? Our other Entree was the Grilled Lamb Sirloin Tagliata with a Summer Bean Salad & MInt Salsa Verde. Both were good, but I think the Pastas were more of the Star.

For Dessert:
They brought us a Warm Pistachio Cake with a Cherry Compote and Vanilla-Thyme Syrup, which was Divine. It even had Happy Birthday written on it in Chocolate Sauce. We also had the Gelati Misti, which was a Trio of the following Flavors - Chocolate/Vanilla & Caramel with Sea Salt and a Vanilla Strawberry Twirl. All Delish...

Here's the Breakdown:
-Definitely Try - The Salumis & The Pastas. It's what their known for so don't sleep on 'em.
-Service is Exceptional.

Additional Info from My Prior Experiences:
-I tried their Burrata, which I thought did not touch the Burrata at A16.
-I read that their Breadsticks are the Best. Comes with a tasty Verde Sauce. YUM...
-Had the Salumi Misti which was the Chef's Selection, which I highly recommend. We do this sort of thing for Sushi, why not Salumi?
-Next time I want to try some of their Crudos. Sounds like a perfect little plan for Happy Hour, no?

Mangia, People... Mangia!

Monday, August 20, 2007


Category: New California
Neighborhood: Laurel Heights
Price Range: $$$

I usually wait until I've visited a restaurant at least 3 times before I hand out such a high score. Went opening night on August 3rd for my Girl, J's birthday and it was truly a great dining experience. And that's pretty amazing for an opening night. I mean, sure they need to work out some new restaurant kinks, but believe you me, these kinks were minute. Very Impressive.

We walked into this extraordinary, warm and beautifully defined space and were greeted warmly by the staff. We had to wait about 30 minutes until we were sat, but the Restaurant Manager and the Hostess checked in with us periodically to let us know how much time it would be. Until then, we enjoyed our Cocktails and were appeased.

Once we sat down, we found the Wine List to be extensive and a bit overwhelming, so we summoned for the Sommelier to help us choose a Bottle of Wine and ended up with a nice Viognier. Big Fan of Viogners lately. Light & Refreshing.
One odd thing about the experience was that the Sommelier asked if I wanted to go back with him to the Wine Cellar to choose a bottle of Vino. It wasn't in a downstairs dungeon or anything, but in the back of the restaurant in these beautiful glass-doored rooms. It was Huge! In retrospect, I would have gone, it was just unexpected as I've never been asked to do that before. I mean, is this something that I just am not aware of? Ah well...

For our Appetizers, we shared a Salad of Heirloom Watermelon & Sardines. I know, it sounds like a strange combination, but I am seeing this in many other restaurants of this calibre/genre. It was not a fave of the Ladies, but I liked it ok. We also had a Crudo of Arctic Char, which we all liked a lot.

For Our Mains, I had the the Pan-Roasted Duck Breast topped with Buttery Foie Gras. Loved it... Duck + Duck = How can you go wrong?JZ had the Short Ribs which were fantastic, although I like the one from Range a little bit more. J had the Ribeye, which was good, but she's a 'No Blood' kinda gal, so I can't really give it my true opinion as I like my Meat medium rare...Unfortunately, I cannot remember what Mills had. I think she had a Chicken Dish...

For Dessert, we had the Semolina Cake which was a hit with the Girls and no, not 'my Girls', I meant My Ladies... (see our Photos above)

I think I am learning that I am of the Light & Refreshing Dessert category. I thought Service was pretty good for Opening Night.

I am sure that I will be back to do it again...

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Gary Danko

Gary Danko
Category: French, American (New)
Neighborhood: Fisherman's Wharf
Price Range: $$$$

Coming Soon...

I've been to Gary Danko about 4 years ago and am in need of a Raptor Revisit before I blog it...


Category: Italian/French
Neighborhood: Pacific Heights
Price Range: $$$$

Also in need of a Raptor Revisit...
Although from what I remember, this Place was pretty Special.
It had the Rustic, yet Elegant Interior that I love... And they, too, are known for their Pasta Dishes. I remember having an Agnolotti Pasta Dish which had Rabbit in it, which I thought was Divine..
Another thing that I recall is the Service and a Dessert that I had paired with a fantastic Sauternes.
I remember our Server even writing down the name of this Sauternes, but somehow, I lost the card he wrote it on... Ah well, a Revisit is definitely in order...

More Coming Soon... I hope.


Farina Focaccia & Cucina Italiana
Category: Italian
Neighborhood: The Mission

Price Range: $$$

Wow! People are really gettin' their panties up in a bunch about this place! For those of you that do not reside in San Francisco, there has been a lot of controversy over this new kid on the block in the Mission District of SF. There have been folks that live in the neighborhood, that are unhappy because Farina has outdoor seating and a rooftop deck. There a number of other reasons, but personally, I like the idea of having this type of place in the Mission, rather than having to trek across town to North Beach. And if the Sidewalk and Rooftop thing is such a neighborhood problem for some, then maybe they should consider moving to the 'Burbs'. Isn't this part of what living in the City is all about?

Anyhow, I thought the Service was great and the Food was damn good.

Here's the Breakdown...
We started with the Scallop with the Arugula Pesto Appetizer which was good. We then, on a recommendation by our server, shared the Pasta Rags with the Pesto Sauce, which was amazing Not too grainy or oily... the flavor was just right. I loved it... Oh & re: the peeps who say that the dishes are so 'oily', I would have to disagree. Aren't a lot of Italian Dishes drizzled with Olive Oil? Whatever the case, the Olive Oil that they do use is Delicious... So 'Mangia'! I say...

Another great thing about this place is that they make their own Pasta, so the Pasta is not too heavy, which I Love. We then had the Tuna Steak which had great Flavor, but we both agreed that it could have used more Fresh Mozzarella and Roasted Tomatoes. C'mon now, Chef. Don't be chintzy...

The kicker was the Dessert. We had the Blackberry Panna Cotta, which was so light and delicate, it was absolutely Divine! Not a Dessert person usually, but lately I've been really feelin' some of it and this is one of the desserts that is converting me... Yet another Happy Ending.

All in all, I know this Restaurant is in its growing stages, but I had a Great Meal and will definitely be back....

UPDATE 8/2/07:
OK... I went back on a Thursday nite with Good Friends, because I just could not wait to go back and needless to say, it was AWESOME!
There were 3 of us and the place was hoppin', so we opted to sit at the Bar. Molly was our bartendress & server and she was great.

The Food:
We started with the Fig & Prosciutto app and the Gem Lettuce Salad. The Figs were so fresh and the Prosciutto so damn BUTTERY, the whole thing melted in our mouths...
As far as the Entrees, we all shared 3 different Dishes and had one phenomenal Food Orgy...
Yeah you heard me right, a straight up Food Orgy...
Nipples were hard, Eyes were rolling back and a lot of Moaning and Drooling...
Yes, it was that ridiculously good.
Let me break it down:
MC had the Filet Mignon which had a Layer of Parmesan Cheese incorporated into it and was topped with Fresh Truffles... Like just Melted...
I had the Tortelloni filled with Spinach & Ricotta in a Walnut Cream Sauce... YUM...
RAZ had the ULTIMATE Dish - a Veal Chop that was the Fattest & Thickest & Straight Juiciest Veal Chop that we had EVER seen! I mean it was nuts, I tell ya, and obscenely Delicious!
Yes, the nips are hard just thinkin about it... That nite I had to hold them down for fear of poking an eye out. For Real, that’s no joke.

The VIBE in that place is Great - Lively & Bright, Filled with Lots of Natural Light...
White tile on the walls, white marble bartops. I just Love it...
And because the Menu changes often, I feel the need to keep going back for fear of missing out...
Definitely a new addition to my Top Faves and absolutely cannot wait to go back again!

Les Amis

Les Amis
Neighborhood: Financial District
Price Range: $$$

Let's See...
I give it 1 star because I know the Chef...
And another star because he's from Philly... LOL

No seriously, in all honesty, I really do think this is a fabulous place... I've eaten here a few times now and all of the Meals have been Solid. For those that may be skeptical of my being unbiased due to the fact of the above, you need only read my reviews on Yelp to see that I am a bit of a tough critic when it comes to Food.
And being that I am from Philly, I'm all about keepin' it Real...

With that said, before I delve into the Details of the food, I really must give props to the Chef & Staff. As soon as I walked in the enormous red doors, I was immediately greeted by the Maitre D & Sommelier, Pascal Fosse. He is not only charming, but he was very accommodating and extremely knowledgeable when it came to the wines. Kudos Pascal and many thanks for a great dining experience!

And just as many have said before me, the decor is as said, intimate and cozy, especially in the evening for dinner, where one would say that it was rather romantic...

Moving onto the Food...
We started off with Soup & Appetizers - my companion had a Puree of Parsley Soup with a Sweet Garlic Flan, which we both thought was divine... I chose the Spiced Squab and Sonoma Foie Gras Mousse, which I thought was lovely. Next we shared the Crisp Veal Sweetbreads, which I thought were quite good as well. Admittedly, Sweetbreads were a first for me, so I am no expert by any means.
For my Entree, I had the Citrus Marinated Liberty Farm Duck Breast, which was well-prepared. This was accompanied by a Duck Confit Caillete Red Beet Jus which was really delicious...

For Dessert, I had the Creme Brulee which came with these heavenly Mango Raviolis, floating upon a Raspberry Foam...
Can you say 'Divine'?!!!
Talk about your Happy Ending, People, I certainly got mine that night...

All in all, I highly recommend this place, and not because I know the Chef, but because Chef Thomas Weibull has mad Skills, the Service is impeccable and to quote a fellow Yelper, the Restaurant is 'wonderfully intimate'...
A great spot in the FiDi that is great for Business Lunches and Romantic Dinners.

I say, Give Les Amis a try...

Universal Cafe

Universal Cafe
Category: New American/Brunch/Organic

Neighborhood: The Mission
Price Range: $$

WOW! This place is Fantastic! Went there for Lunch and boy were my socks knocked off! Not to mention that the service was super friendly, and the moment we walked in were greeted and felt right at home.
And then came the Food...
I mean, I literally had a 'Moment' with my Food and for those that know me, that does not happen very often with me, but when it does, it's huge. I could barely contain myself! My dining companion told me he was getting turned on by my excitement alone... uh huh... yeah, it was just that Good...

So what did we have?
Mind you, I can barely do the Food justice with mere words, you will just have to go and try it....really.
I had a perfectly Grilled Wild King Salmon on Foccacia with Early Girl Heirloom Tomatoes, Arugula and a delicious Basil Aioli, which essentially made the dish for me. Don't know what it was, but that dish just had me at 'Hello'... *sigh*
My companion had the Grilled Flatbread with Summer Squash, Sun Gold Tomatoes, Fresh Oregano and Goat Cheese, which was really delicious.

And then came time for Dessert...
Yes, Dessert is generally not my thang usually, 'cause I'm more a Savory Girl rather than Sweet, but we went all out and had the Heirloom Plum-Apricot Crisp with Vanilla Gelato... Wow!... SO F-in' Good!

Overall, I had a great Food Experience there and I absolutely cannot wait to go back!
People, I think I have a new Favorite...

Update: 6/30/07 the next day...
Couldn't stop thinkin' about how good the Food was at Universal Cafe, so when friends that were heading into the city the following morning, asked me where to go for Brunch, I instantly suggested Universal Cafe. Needless to say, they were extremely impressed.

Overall, all of the Dishes were really great and truly knocked it out of the park...
The two dishes that stood out the most were the Grilled Flatbread with Wild Mushrooms, Spinach, Spicy Pepper Feta and Fresh Oregano (Fantastic!) and the Charcoal-Grilled Niman Ranch Lamb Burger on Brioche with Radicchio, Carmelized Onions, Goat Cheese & Aioli. My friend said that the Lamb Burger was The Best Lamb Burger that he has ever had in his life! Had a taste myself and I had to agree.

Props to the great Staff as well. Cathy & Adam are friendly & very personable. Kudos!
Tip: There can be quite a wait for this place, but trust me, it's well worth it...

The Slanted Door

The Slanted Door
Category: Vietnamese/Asian Fusion
Neighborhood: Embarcadero/Ferry Building
Price Range: $$$

I've been to the Slanted 3 times now and the 1st time, I went for a special occasion Dinner. We thought that the food was pretty good for Vietnamese, because of its use of high quality Meats and the Like, but it was a little hard to justify spending so much for a Vietnamese Dinner (not that hard really, but you get my drift right?). Although I love Vietnamese Food, the Hole-in-the wall Family-style Establishments like, Yummy Yummy in the Inner Sunset & Vietnam on Broadway, have always been my preference..

For my 2nd time there, I hosted a work Luncheon there, where there was a Prix Fixe Family Style Menu. We were sat in the glass-enclosed private room in the back. I have to say that the Service was on point and the servers waited for me to eye-signal whatever was needed, whether it was the timing of the Courses or if I noticed that someone needed a Drink. They were really great and made me look really good in front of my bosses & associates, which is cool...
The Food was the perfect amount for 14 people and everyone was very impressed...

My 3rd time there was when my coworker & I decided to just meet there for Lunch without a res. It was really busy, so we opted to share a Series of Small Plates at the Bar...
We started with Yummy Oysters & Wonton Soup, which were Quite Good... We also had the Shrimp & Pork Spring Rolls, which were noticably better as far as Quality of Meats and Freshness of the Veggies, besides which the Sauce really made it...
Next we had the Hamachi Sashimi which was my favorite part, because it consisted of big Buttery slices of Hamachi Sashimi which were topped with Crispy Garlic Bits, a Fine Chiffonade of Basil and a Yuzu Vinaigrette.. WOW! That was Seriously Delish... A Must-Try whenever I go there...
Our Main was the Shaking Beef with White Rice which I have had all 3 times and it was consistently well-prepared with the Niman Ranch Filet of Beef and the Tangy Pepper Sauce it comes with... Order it.

All in all, this Place is really great. And hey, if anything, although it can be loud, it's a beautiful space in the Ferry Building looking out at the Bay. If you haven't been, you should go.

Saturday, August 18, 2007


Category: Italian (Tuscan)
Neighborhood: The Mission
Price Range: $$$

I've been here several times now and the Food has been extremely good.
This place is considered one of those must-try SF institutions in the City and sadly, it took me a long time to actually try it... But now that I live in the Mission, it has become a great go-to place for bringing guests for a quintessential San Francisco Meal.

For my most Memorable Meal there thus far, I had the Alaskan Halibut Roasted with Artichokes and Potatoes Sott'olio and Black Olive Tapenade and it was absolutely Delicious!
Simply & perfectly prepared and a really great combination of flavors. I truly enjoyed it!

This place is Solid.
Solid as a Rock... Peaches & Herb-Style.

I will definitely be back and will be sure to give you more Delicious updates...


Category: American (New)

Neighborhood: The Mission
Price Range: $$$

I went here at the prodding of my friends on a Thursday night and I hafta say that I had a really great experience. Although this review may have a slight bias, 'cause my friends happened to know Carlos Yturria, the restaurant manager that night and we really got the royal treatment (and that is no exaggeration by any means).
The Drinks were truly an experience in itself, and Dominic Villegas, the bartender, or more appropriately, Mixologist extraordinaire, really showed us his skills in the form of true Mixology. His 'signature cocktail' of the day was truly something to write home about, 'cause I had 3 of those badboys. Carlos introduced us to a number of different wines to go with each of our dishes, whereby he took us on a world tour, from Spain and Italy, France and California, with the different variations of wines from each region. We had so many that I cannot name them all, but the one that stood out was the Petalos from the Bierzo region of Spain. It was definitely my favorite.

Now let's talk Food..
We had the Salad with the yummy lil' salty bits of Deep Fried Capers. Deep Fried Capers, who knew? We also had the Asparagus with the Egg and crispy Bread Crumbs, which truly blew all of us away. I mean, rarely does a Veggie dish warrant that kind of props, but that Asparagus dish was the friggin bomb and that's no joke.
For Apps, we also had the Clams in Green Garlic Sauce which was delicious, the Mushroom Ravioli in Brown Butter Sauce, as well as the Arctic Char Crudo with Meyer Lemon and Maldon Salt. All delicious.
What knocked my socks off, as well as those of my dinner companions, was the Coffee-Rubbed Pork Shoulder! Can you say 'YUM'? That Pork Goodness was braised for 14 hours and it just straight melted in your mouth. The flavors were right on. Needless to say, we licked that plate clean.
A perfect finish to the Meal was the Crepes with Huckleberries paired with Pecan Praline Ice Cream. Talk about your 'happy ending'...I'm getting warm and fuzzy just thinkin bout it..

Now, what have we learned?
Asparagus with Crispy Bread Bits
The Salad with Deep Fried Capers
The Coffee Rubbed Pork Shoulder...
The Petalos..
and the Crepes with Huckleberries and Pecan Praline Ice Cream = HAPPY-Ness

This is a great place for New American Cuisine in the Mission. Two thumbs up...
I will be goin back for more...


Category: Italian/Pizza
Neighborhood: Marina/Cow Hollow
Price Range: $$$

Here's the Breakdown:
Started with the Mozzerella Burrata that people rave about and let me just say that I completely AGREE. It was to die for and not to be missed... Who knew that something so simple could be SO flippin' good?

We then had the Funghi Pizza with Pancetta, which, for that style (Italy), was one the of the best crusts that we've had ever had.. And LOVE me my Pancetta! As a matter of fact, I would marry it if I could...

Next we had the Scialatielli with local Calamari, Zucchini, Basil, Chiles and Pinenuts which was just alright... We shoulda had the Maccaronara as everyone suggested...
There's always next time, right?

We ended with the Roast Lamb Loin and the Cannellini Beans for our side which were both nothing to write home about.. Honestly, we could've done with out this part of the meal and just stuck with Pizza & Pasta..

The Service was good, as was the wine.. I am no connoisseur when it comes to wine and we did not recognize much on the wine list, but the bartender and servers were very knowledgeable and helped us choose...

As far as the loudness, we sat in the very back room which was great, because it wasn't so loud back there and we could actually hear one another..

All in all, a 3.5 experience...where the 1st half of the meal was great, but could've done with out the 2nd half..

Must Try: The Burrata (I still dream about...really, it was that good.)
Without a doubt.


Category: American (New)/Lounge
Neighborhood: Financial District/Jackson Square
Price Range: $$$

Frisson is an Ultra Chic and Over the top Place with Uber-trendy Decor and Designer Cocktails.. Coming from Philly, this place appeals to me as it is one of restaurant/lounge atmospheres that are totally reminiscent of the Stephen Starr restaurant dining experience.. Think Morimoto's, Washington Square and The Continentals.

The food was New (American) and quite good, but the real star of the show for me just might be the Concept. Ultra-Modern Designer destination for the SAM (Stand And Model) crowd.
If I am in need of a Cocktail after work, this is definitely one of the places that I frequent...
Great Happy Hour specials -> 5 Drinks + 5 Apps at $5 each from 5-7pm.

Click here to connect to Frisson...


Category: Contemporary Japanese
Neighborhood: Market East (Philadelphia, PA)
Price Range: $$$$

Went back to my hometown (Philly) and went to Morimoto's with my cousins and was very impressed. The Iron Chef did not disappoint!
We had the Foie Gras which was one of the Best preps I've ever had - creamy, buttery & delicately sauteed foie that was paired with mandarin orange and gooseberries that has my mouth watering just writing about it! The Grilled Spicy King Crab Leg was so good that I found myself picking at the shell in hopes of finding more hidden treasures...

Overall it was an amazing dining experience... Morimoto's got Skills.
The Decor was a beautiful space done in modern minimalistic chic and matched the beautiful assault on my senses.. Absolutley Loved It!
My only wish is that we had a 'Stephen Starr' out here in San Francisco to create such remarkable and uniquely designed restaurants with equally remarkable food and drinks.
For those of you who do not know who
Stephen Starr is, he is a Restauranteur in Philly that has a reputation for his Unique Dining Concepts. Morimoto's was actually designed by a brilliant Designer, by the name of Karim Rashid. These Restaurants typically double as late nite Lounges, where one can either Hang Out, Drink Cocktails and even get little Nibbles later than most other Restaurants. To name a few - Washington Square, Tangerine, Buddakan, The Continentals. One great example in SF would be Frisson.

Link to Morimoto's

Pacific's Edge

Pacific's Edge
Category: American (New)/French
Neighborhood: Carmel, CA

Price Range: $$$$

This is where I went for another one of my Birthday Dinners in 2005. It's a very fancy & upscale Restaurant in Carmel. This place had the most stunningly beautiful Views, and is perched on a Cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean with massive floor-to-ceiling Windows that made the View the star of the show.

I hafta say, though, that the meal we had was secondary as compared to the gorgeous view.
Now, don't get me wrong, because the Service and the Meal were top-rate, but Food-wise, we had a Fantastic Meal at Passionfish in Pacific Grove the following night which knocked our socks off...
I think this is when I started to realize that my favorite Style of Food was more of the Rustic style.
Y'know, Restaurants like Quince, Zuni and Terra for example.
I mean, who knew? This proclaimed 'City Girl' has a little bit of Country in her after all!

Overall, it was a truly Romantic, Elegant and Beautifully Stunning Dining Experience!
Fancy Dining with Impressive Views...
And a Fantastic Meal that is sure to put a little dent in the ol' wallet..

Link to Pacific's Edge here.


Category: Seafood
Neighborhood: Pacific Grove, CA
Price Range: $$$

Went for my 2005 Birthday Dinner and had a remarkably great Dining Experience! Highly recommend if you ever find yourself down in the Monterrey/Carmel area. (Pacific Grove is right next door) We had told the restaurant in advance that it was my birthday and when we arrived the table was decorated with colorful confetti and ribbons, which I found to be so thoughtful...
We were greeted and served by an extremely friendly and attentive staff. They have a huge wine list that was very reasonably priced.
The menu was bold and fearless..even risky... But we found the execution to be flawless. They mixed Flavors and Textures that were beautifully matched - powerful and balanced so that it did not overpower the dishes. Overall, a truly memorable experience! Absolutely a 'Must Try' if you are ever in the area!

Click here for Restaurant Info.

Michael Mina

Category: American (New)
Neighborhood: Union Square
Price Range: $$$$$ (Yes. It was actually over $200 per person)
Michael Mina did not fail to disappoint in creativity and flair in regards to Food...And the Service was absolutely impeccable...
I went for one of my Birthday Dinners in 2006 and did the 7-course Seasonal Tasting Menu with the Wine Pairings. Every dish was in 'Trio' style.
I had told the restaurant that it was my birthday when we made the reservation and let me tell you, not only did they have thoughtful handwritten birthday card signed by Michael Mina (I'm sure he just signed the card, but hey, it was the thought that counts, right?), but they also gave us extra courses as well as extra glasses of wine & champagne. Needless to say, I was pretty plastered by the end of the night.
Note To Self: Wine Pairings on a 7 or more course meal is a very bad idea...

So anyway, because there was so much to the meal, I honestly couldn't even tell you about what I had. It was a Gastronomical Overload.
Because of this very fact, I would say that Michael Mina's was memorable, more so for the Experience. Don't get me wrong, the Food was great, but I probably would not do the 7-course meal were I to go again.

At the end of the nite, they had written a personalized 'Happy Birthday Rose!' in chocolate on my Trio of Dessert Dish...
It was truly a memorable experience! As was the bill at the end of the nite! Fortunately, with all of the wine and extra champagne, we were inebriated enough to numb the initial shock of receiving that bill...

All in all, I am sure Bacchus looked down at us and laughed his ass off...

Click here for to connect to Michael Mina.

Terra Restaurant

Category: Influences of Japanese, French & Italian
Neighborhood: St. Helena, California

Price Range: $$$

Went here in 2006 for my birthday dinner and this is in my Top 5 Greatest & Most Memorable Meals. We arrived at this historic, fieldstone building and entered into a room that was Welcoming and Homey.


White tablecloths and large floral arrangements complement rustic fieldstone walls, large arched windows and terracotta tile floors.
The backdrop of the restaurant itself was a perfect setting to showcase its true focus - the Food.

To Start I had the Kampachi Carpaccio which was a refreshing start that awakened and prepared my Tastebuds for what was to come next..

For our Entrees, my dining companion had the Broiled Sake Marinated Alaskan Black Cod & Shrimp Dumplings in Shiso Broth and I had the Lamb Loin Chops grilled to perfection with a Sunchoke Puree Side. I swear when we each took our first bites, our eyes rolled back in ecstasy for each of our respective dishes... My mouth still waters, my eyes roll back and my nips get hard at the thought of that perfectly prepared Lamb Loin (ahem..I know that's a bit crude, but God help me, it's the Truth!!!) I even had the giggles a little in the aftermath and felt compelled to shake the hands of the Owner & Executive Chef, Hiro Sone and his wife the Pastry Chef, Lissa Doumani to thank them for such a Fantastic Meal... It was that Good, People.

Chef Hiro Sone's Food is best defined as having Asian (Japanese), Classical French & Italian influences, which is something that you probably don't see too often. If you are more into his Asian/Japanese Style of Food, you should try his new Restaurant, Ame, in the City (SF, that is)...
Also quite good, but was not as good as Terra for me.

The night ended with a delicious Dessert of Strawberries in a Cabernet Reduction Sauce, which we both felt was the perfect ending to a truly spectacular and memorable Meal..
Compared to another birthday dinner I had at Michael Mina (I know, lucky me, huh?), this Meal topped it for me by a Mile...