Tag Archives: good service

I’ve Gone to GoPago; Meatballs for All!

26 Jul

I am very happy to announce that I am now working with the awesome team at GoPago. This free mobile app combines all of my favorite things: reading menus, restaurants, shopping, customizing, ordering, purchasing, technology, efficiency, community and my smartphone. The community aspect is of the utmost importance to me so please be sure to follow us on Twitter @go_pago, on Facebook and on the app to keep the community expanding and to let me know what you think!

Speaking of expanding, the amount of restaurants offering our services is ever-growing but I wanted to highlight a few dishes at some of our restaurants because I am currently meat and chickpea ball obsessed. I have already written quite extensively about my love for the Meatball Gigante at Tony’s Pizza Napoletana. Although, if you can’t order one of the 25 made daily, the regular size are equally delicious and a more manageable ball.

For my vegetarian friends, GoPago has three Sunrise Deli locations where you can try one of the best falafels in the city. The Super Falafel with eggplant and potato included in the pita pocket or lavash wrap is the way to go.

For those looking to combine the best of both worlds and marry the most awesome things together, like GoPago does, I have an awesome Frankenstein-esque ordering  kind of solution. You must try the dish I recently wrote about that combines Italian with Middle Eastern. The Safeehat Falafel at Jannah, which is basically a pizza with a falafel crust and the most delicious toppings: pesto, eggplant, roasted red bell pepper, green and red onions, shitake mushrooms, tomato, feta, and goat cheese.

I want to offer you $10 in credit to try some of the restaurants out, since I am so excited about my new role, the company, the app, and these food selections. Simply download the app and enter my special promo code “Meatball” to try one of these awesome dishes, all under $10, for the next 48hrs. Come over to the new way of ordering/paying quickly and let’s have a ball!

Hey Tony, That’s A Good Meatball…

17 Oct

Meatballs are my absolute favorite! They are the lasagna to my Garfield and if anyone ever wanted me to give them singing lessons (trust me, they don’t) I would be like Adam Sandler in The Wedding Singer and let cute little old ladies pay me in meatballs. One ball per hand and a special squeeze for good luck is all I need to make me happy.


There is an Italian, with East Coast/Jewish influences, gourmet-to-go spot near my house called Pasta Gina, I just call it Dammmmn, Gina that serves up some delicious balls and is my regular go to joint. But when we are talking sit down restaurant and a serious meatball no one makes a bigger, better ball than Tony’s Pizza Napoletana. I am not much of pizza person, I get bored after a slice or two, but Tony’s is the hands down best and the people behind the World Pizza Cup in Naples agree with me. I am a huge fan of the New Yorker pizza with natural casing pepperoni and fennel sausage as well as mozzarella and ricotta, but if that is not enough meat and cheese for you…then you must, I repeat, must order a Meatball Gigante with Sea Salted Burrata ($13). The meatball is absolutely enormous with burrata on top. It is such a major meatball that it definitely wouldn’t fall off the table with a sneeze, unless maybe it was done by a giant.

I get a bit baffled about how something so large can be so evenly and perfectly cooked but I don’t worry much as I am too busy sticking my knife and fork into this monstrosity. It is the size of a softball or a grapefruit and each piece of the ball gets re-dunked in the sauce for extra coating and then forked with fresh burrata and ribbons of basil. This dish is truly a victory and is a great starter for those who won’t or can’t be satisfied with just pizza alone. The meatball gigante also comes in more fun options like wild mushroom, pancetta, and robiola or with a farm egg and calabrese but for me I like the cheese, please.

Just For You(.S.A) Cafe

28 Jul

Just off the main Dogpatch strip, 3rd Street, lies Just For You Cafe where posters that say Neverland and feature the King of Pop reside near a Smashing Pumpkins concert sign: a little slice of my kind of Americana.

You seat yourself and begin browsing a menu that is a road trip across the U.S.A. and Mexico, a bit of everything from po-boys to pancakes. For my recent meal I had an order ticket that zigzagged the contiguous states. I began in the big apple with a Reuben. I don’t need to tell you how hard it is to find decent corned beef in this city and this hit the mark. Most of their sandwiches come on homemade bread but this one is on Acme rye, relax, I totally wasn’t kvetching. Since I’m American, hells yes, I got fries with that.

Although I dipped into the great southwest for my fry dip. Without question the best thing at Just For You is their Hatch, New Mexico green chili sauce. It is tongue-numbing good. Put it on your eggs, fries, home fries or grits but just order a side of it ($2.95) and put it somewhere. My waiter of the day explained that he personally drives to SFO every week to pick up these green chilies from the town of Hatch. Within seconds my Reuben turned into a dip and my mouth was joyfully on fire as I dove into the chili sauce thickened with chicken stock.

For my lunch dessert, I finished off with another Just For You and NOLA specialty, beignets: sweet pillowy goodness. There are only two types of patrons at this café: those that start with beignets and those that finish with them. I’m like Brian Wilson; a closer. Towards the end of the meal I noticed that I was completely covered in white powder: I don’t have a coke problem; I have a beignet problem. It’s my problem, get your very own addiction that is just for you!

Il Cane Rosso: Can Really Cook

26 May

Tyler, Emily, Michelle, & Chef Ryan Pollnow photo from Il Cane Rosso

Sure, San Francisco has Off The Grid and farmers markets every day of the week but ask anyone and they will tell you that the ultimate mecca for foodies is the Ferry Building. The options are overwhelming, especially on Thursdays and Saturdays when it joins forces with the farmers market and even more food stands. It is like a Hindu god with multiple arms and you are unsure of which of the limbs to grab; it all looks so good and you are so hungry. My one always safe bet is Il Cane Rosso. I can’t ever be disappointed, even on those rare days that I am good and just order a half sandwich and soup, I may long for the reunion of the other half the sandwich but one half is more valuable than 5 mediocre sandwiches. The brisket sandwich puts me in my place in the best possible way, just me lost in the moment with this sandwich. You see I share the Liz Lemon philosophy, “Can I share with you my worldview? All of humankind has one thing in common: the sandwich. I believe that all anyone really wants in this life is to sit in peace and eat a sandwich.”

When I was invited to a special winemaker dinner at Il Cane Rosso, I was excited for many reasons. First, I knew and loved the wine and the winemakers because the agency that I work for, Ink Foundry, reps them. Romililly is the brainchild of two cute young brothers and it is a labor of love and a family affair. Aaron and Jesse grew up in the wine business because their uncle was August “Joe” Briggs and when it came to naming their very own Russian River Pinot the grandmother wrote down the name of her grandkids Jesse Robert (RO), Aaron Michael (MI) and  little sister, Susan (LILLY) and Romililly was born. As much as I love a cute story, I also love a good glass of pinot and this one stands tall. I was in LA at the beginning of the year for another winemakers’ dinner and was blown away. The second reason I was so excited was because I knew Il Cane Rosso slays lunch so I was beyond anticipation to see what they could do to dinner.

The first course was Local Sardines “Scapece” with rhubarb, shaved radish & fresh mint paired with a 2010 August Briggs Rose. Any of the initial hesitation that I had with the idea (read: fishiness) of sardines was immediately mediated when I paired the small fish with the rhubarb and mint in the bite. The dish just went so beautifully and was so balanced.

The following course of Fregula Sarda & parmesan brodo with spring vegetables, fresh herbs & wild flowers paired with the 2009 August Briggs Chardonnay was easily the main highlight of the night. I am a sucker for a good soup and this broth and aroma was simply heavenly. I wasn’t familiar with Fregula Sarda and, yes, it sounds like a Harry Potter word but it is actually an Italian couscous. Since I am looking for a Jewish man obviously Israeli couscous is more on my radar but I am now a convert. Every element of this dish from the peas to the flowers can best be described as spring in a dish.

The main course was Braised Range Brothers Pork Cheek with preserved plum mostarda, smoked lardo, which was paired with the wine of the night the 2008 Romililly Pinot Noir. Now obviously this site is Mission Fruition and I love fruit worked into almost every dish, especially my meat, so I am sure you can imagine my delight with the plum mostarda (a condiment made from candied fruit and mustard). One of my favorite wine bloggers Sonoma William of  Simple Hedonisms even made this note on the 2008 pinot, “Wonderful expression of RRV fruit, balanced with nice acidity. Modest red color and red fruit, soft finish. Pairing wonderfully with pork cheek.”

Valley Ford Cheese Company Estero Gold with lavender roasted strawberries, toasted hazelnuts & balsamic with the 2009 Romililly Pinot Noir closed the meal. Also I also got a handful of the famous caramel corn. Even with four courses and four glasses of wine, I left feeling completely satisfied but not unbearably full, which was good because right after dinner I saw Diddy Dirty Money with Tamara Palmer. What I love about Il Cane Rosso and Romililly is that even though they are full of flavor they both are much lighter than what you’d imagine. Il Cane Rosso despite knowing meat so damn well has a knowledge and use of produce and herbs that never allows the meat to get weighted down in the mix.

Keep your eyes out for upcoming Il Cane Rosso events and your tummy and mouth open for their nightly 3 course dinners for $25. Romililly isn’t an easy wine to find but it is definitely a pinot worth seeking out, as it won’t soon be forgotten…follow the brothers on Twitter @RomilillyWines for all of the latest.

The P Mack and Its Babies: The Pub at Ghirardelli Square

18 Mar

Fortunately, I have never been pregnant but my taste-buds and cravings would tell you otherwise. I have been known to go from pickles to gummy candy to frozen grapes on many a nights. I love craving stories almost as much as I love insider restaurant stories and on a recent visit to my new favorite stomping ground, The Pub at Ghiradelli Square, I heard a story that combines both. I have become friends with the owner, Scott Broccoli, as I do some projects for him, and he told me this story that I am about to share with you. Scott is a new first time father and when his wife was pregnant she was really craving a Big Mac. He worried for the love of his life and his unborn child and said, “You can’t eat that, you’ll kill our baby!”  I am a huge Mickey D’s fan (nothing makes me happier than boot-shaped chicken nuggets in sweet and sour sauce) but I appreciated the sentiment.  He attempted to create his own bigger, better, Big Mac that was healthier because he knew exactly what was in it. His wife approved and he added it to The Pub menu. Now it is the must-have item for pregnant women throughout San Francisco. He named it the P, for pregnant, mack. Well, that is great and all, but I have only ever experienced food babies and this burger satisfies my every craving. Also, their kitchen is open til 1:30A, something all Baby Daddys -and all of my future boyfriends- need to know because I foresee this midnight craving. I first ordered it with salad to try to be “healthy” and within seconds I traded it in for french fries to get the full effect (you can also get it with tots!)

The end of January brought Scott’s first child and the P Mack also gave birth. Along with the real life baby Lucca, came Lil Luccas to The Pub’s specials: a twin slider version of the P Mack. I will admit it, I tried both, and I preferred these cute little babies. They were more manageable, I could hold one in each hand (double fisting, yo) and didn’t get as messy. In case you’ve been living under a rock since 1950: the Big Mac secret ingredient is thousand island dressing. I love the sauce at The Pub; all of my fries were dipped into the delectable sauce oozed from my burger(s). The crunch of the pickles was so nice that I asked for an extra side of pickles. Again, I am not pregnant but at The Pub I can eat like I am.

The Pub at Ghirardelli Square
851 Beach St
San Francisco, CA 94109

(415) 351-0500


Umi has some Ultra Yummy Options

12 Jan

One visit to True Sake in Hayes Valley and I left with a bottle of sake that drank like a Riesling and a restaurant name scribbled on a receipt. The restaurant was Umi and it was the recommendation of the worker who just moved from Japan. I felt as if I had a secret password that I just really wanted to try out, so the next day I headed to Portrero for a meal that has yet to been forgotten. I love Japanese food but it always seems like there is a bit of a sacrifice that I have to make. I either go to a place with awesome sashimi (Shimo in the Outer Richmond), an izakaya for small plates (Izakaya Sozai in the Inner Sunset), and then yet another place  for a perfect bowl of katsu don. At Umi it is a one stop shop; you can get all of these things and more with each item cooked or uncooked beautifully. The Broccoli Rabe ($4.50), which is blanched and then topped with Goma dressing is my favorite way to start off my meal at Umi.

Along with their regular menu you will receive another menu with their daily specials on it, including what fish has just been caught and is the freshest. I always order a large sampler (variety, folks) of the Sashimi Specials ($13.00-20.00) and am never disappointed. Amberjack, mackerel, and yellowtail, oh my! Even if it is unlisted on the special sashimi menu, I order Hotate Nigiri ($4.50) because a raw scallop is one of life’s greatest foods. I was once asked on a date what is something that really makes me sad and my answer was, “Cooked scallops and salmon. Why do people do that, don’t they know how good it is raw?” I got a look of bewilderment in response and I thought to myself about my favorite twitter hashtag #1stworldproblem.

Everyone is at a difference stage in their sushi development, so whether you are stuck on California Rolls or can’t eat shellfish, Umi has options. My former business partner had an unfortunate seafood allergy so she always stuck to porky goodness on our Japanese meal outings. She got me hooked on Katsu Donburi and, trust me, the version served up at Umi is perfection. A hot rice bowl with pork, onion, and egg on top is perfect on a cold day when you don’t feel like cold light sushi.

I am now passing the word onto you, Umi is the spot for all of your Japanese food needs. There is no sushi bar to sit at but there is either a patio area or indoor seating, talk about options.


1328 18th St
San Francisco, CA 94107

(415) 355-1328

Fleur de Lys: The Black Feast

6 Jan

White Parties a la Puff Daddy are so 2000 and late. The new trend is Diddy and Black Feasts. Fleur de Lys is home of the other chef Keller, Hubert, and is notorious as one of the classiest joints in San Francisco; even if one of the housewives spit out foie in her napkin, sacrilegious!

Anyway, on January 21st, Fleur de Lys will be home to a Black Feast of epic proportions known as, Le Regal Noir. You get dressed up in black velvet and black diamonds and enter the private dining room for 5-courses of “Black”: think black truffles, black cod, and everything else black and decadent. The drinks poured during the special night are as impressive as any Hamptons party:

  • Krug Champagne
  • Black Bottle Cabernet wine with dinner (valued at $1,000 per bottle)
  • Pouring of Angel’s Share International’s The Black Mirror, a 47-year-old single malt scotch whiskey from Scotland (valued at $375,000 a cask)
  • Exclusive, not available to the public, specially created black, hand-rolled Payne-Mason cigar for each guest ($120 value)

The price tag isn’t cheap but it is well worth it and it includes tax, tip, valet, and a ton of other perks and specials that are available for this night only.

Head over to Gilt City and make your ticket purchase and feel free to buy one for me while you are at it!


Here’s to making 2011 as luxurious, black, and wonderful as possible!


8 Great Things I Ate Since Moving to SF (that I didn’t already mention)

16 Nov

I have lived in beautiful San Francisco for 5 months and now feel like I want to give something back to my SF friends. I have eaten some amazing things since moving to this city by the bay and I wanted to share some of my favorites with you. San Francisco, my favorite city: where the  women are strong and the men are pretty…and the food is life changing.

#1 Strawberry Earl Grey Donut from Dynamo Donuts. I am normally a girl that doesn’t like donuts, they make me unbelievably thirsty and since I don’t drink coffee or milk I am out of luck. It’s as bad as a cop working the night shift without his cream filled fried dough friend. Thankfully, that is not the caliber of doughnuts that Dynamo serves up. This place is cool as hell. They post their daily donuts on their Twitter page, you order outside and then you can come inside and eat up. The Chocolate Spice donut gets a lot of attention but it is not the one on my taste bud radar. The best donut I have had here is the Strawberry Earl Grey donut, apparently it is not in the regular rotation because I don’t know anyone else that had it, but it is absolutely perfect. I am fruit girl that  loves Earl Grey tea so much that I plan on naming my firstborn son Grey. (To which my mother says, “But everyone will call him gay” and I respond, “Pssh, I should be so lucky!”) If this special donut isn’t available, then I like the Apple Bacon and the Banana Dulce de Leche, but really you can’t wrong at this place. All of the donuts will cream your hole!

#2 Dim Sum at Hong Kong Lounge. It is strange because everyone seems to think of San Francisco and Dim Sum together and yet finding a good dim sum place seems to be everyone’s mission. There is the all-famous round-eye place known as Yang Sing, which I have yet to try. In fact, I haven’t tried a lot of dim sum places, but for now Hong Kong Lounge is my dim sum place. You get a (raffle) ticket and have to wait a minimum of an hour for a table and you are then escorted into the large banquet room for quite a feast. There are no carts so boo on that but I do love all of their shrimp dumplings. It is clear as the dumpling itself that the pork filled dumplings play second fiddle to the stuffed plump huge pieces of shrimp.

#3 Falafel at Old Jerusalem Cafe. Alright, let’s talk balls…the falafel at Old Jerusalem Cafe are as scrumptious as can be. The shape of these babies resemble a mini bran muffin and yet the taste reminds you that this is a damn well-seasoned falafel. When I first ordered them I was getting it to go and by the time I arrived at home there were several balls missing from the bag and I was in delight with the flavor that these little balls packed. I made myself save some for a salad the following day and I was quite impressed. One of my dates told me that you can order these little guys stuffed, now that is something that I would like to try, but for now the unfilled ones do the trick quite nicely.

#4 Pho broth at Pho Hyunh Hiep 2. Pho is something I take very seriously, before moving to San Francisco it was Golden Deli in San Gabriel that had my heart. Moving to San Francisco meant that I needed to find a new pho go to place. Even though I always forget the name when I recommend this place, Pho Huynh Hiep 2, I can use the simpler name  and call it Kevin’s Noodle House. Apparently this place has a few locations but it is the spot on Irving that does it for me. They are surrounded by several other pho joints but this one serves up my kind of broth with the hint of anise, cardamon, and cinnamon without being too overpowering.

#5 Shabu Shabu at Shabu House. Speaking of broth, shabu broth bores most people to death because of the lack of flavor. Shabu House brings something quite exciting with their spicy miso broth. Despite being a fairly lazy person in most aspects of my life, I love Do It Yourself kinds of meals. I like to crack crab, tear pizza, peel artichoke petals, and pull my nuts in two. Therefore, getting my own pot in front of me to cook my meal was quite exciting and the broth actually has a nice kick.

#6 Fried Rice Ball Salad at Champa Garden. Okay, this dish isn’t in San Francisco. It is across the bay in Oakland, but it is so unbelievably delicious that it had to be included. Champa Garden is not in the best neighborhood but step inside and you are lucky if you can find an open table in this small restaurant. The fried rice ball salad has crispy rice, preserved pork, limes, cilantro, and a variety of herbs and lettuce to wrap this salad up. The pork makes this salad but it is a refreshing flavorful package that makes this the most awesome salad ever. Plus, I like to pretend to sound gangsta and say that I am a Champa, it is an upgrade from calling myself a Food Baller.

#7 Chicken-Fried Rabbit at Comstock Saloon. I have already exhausted every innuendo and pun to express my love for rabbit but it is truly one of my favorite meats. The chicken fried rabbit at Comstock Saloon was one of my first dishes after moving here. I was catching up with an old friend that I hadn’t seen since high school and was sipping a whiskey cocktail. The fried batter on the delicate meat and the chili vinegar sauce was the topper on this night. Comstock Saloon is so effing cool and this dish along with the rabbit toast and the celery salad is a fantastic classic cocktail companion.

#8 Cioppino at Tadich Grill. For the last several months I have been writing for SF Weekly’s SFoodie and after I read their list SFoodie’s 92 best dishes in San Francisco I knew I needed to try their #1, which was Tadich Grill’s cioppino. I am a cioppino lover and my favorite restaurant version is at Phil’s Fish Market in Moss Landing, that is my fish stew standard. A few months ago, I was having a perfect San Francisco day, I was driving (remember I only moved from LA 5 months ago) the weather was sunny and breezy and as I was driving down a hill, I spotted Tadich on my left. Again, I am still very LA so I called them from my car and asked if I could get cioppino to go. They are very San Francisco and said that I can’t call in my order but I can park right in front in the white zone and order at the bar. (I don’t want to jinx it but I have never gotten a parking ticket since moving here, I have parked in front of driveways and had expired metters but they aren’t as pesky about parking here, maybe that’s becaus eI am the only driving fool.) Anyway, walking in, I completely stepped back in time. It wasn’t in a themey way, it was just Tadich. I actually would have loved to eat it there but I had other places to go and sun to soak in before the fog rolled in. I was a little shocked by the price, over $30 for a bowl. However, it was a mighty big bowl that did not skimp on seafood in the slightest. When I had the first bite it was clear to me that I now live in San Francisco and this is my kind of food. You break a tough piece of classic SF sourdough and you dunk away. The sweet crab and the plump scallops melt in your mouth and this is truly a San Franicisco treat. My colleague, Jonathan Kauffman, at SF Weekly said it way better in the beginning and end of his article,

“Admit it: Every time you walk into Tadich Grill you fall back in love with San Francisco….We love the cioppino at Tadich not just because it’s a great dish but because it is ours.”

San Francisco, I officially love you, thank you for feeding me so damn well!

Benu: Where the Whole Menu Will Blow Your Mind

22 Sep

If there is one thing I stand for, it is curves. I love them on my body, on my plate, and in my words. I am currently enrolled in an Art of Languaging writing class where we try and look at words in different ways, whether it be the sounds or lines. Looking at the word Benu to me is the epitome of curvaceous. The b and  e are a bubbly opening and then you have the up and down, yin and yang, open wave form of n and u. I am not a design person, so excuse me for explaining this clumsily, but as I walked down the steps from the host to the carpeted dining room and I looked up, I somehow saw the word “benu” in the design. The ceiling had the “nu” hilly form. It is a rare thing when the aesethic style perfectly matches the name and idea of the establishment. White, minimal, clean, and bosomy.

The design of this place was rather overwhelming. I kept trying to remember the last time I saw plush carpet in a restaurant and how nice and luxurious it was. Only one painting adorned the wall in the dining room and it was far away from me. I was convinced that I had the best seat in the place. The silverware design with the fork with five tines and knife on a handcrafted smooth wood rest was as elegant as can be. My favorite musician, Regina Spektor, was playing throughout the restaurant and the mood was set. My eyes and my my ears were stimulated and I was waiting for my mouth to get in on the action.

When the hard deciscion of the day is whether to get the tasting or a la carte menu, you have what I like to call Princess Problems…life ain’t bad. My dining partner already had the tasting menu and it was the description of the duck entree that swayed me to the a al carte side. Have no fear, we still each ordered a dish from each menu section. The first thing to come to the table is the Buckwheat Lavash, seasonsed with nori and seasame, which are stood upright in a slotted box, similar to that of Dexter’s blood files. Next, is the amuse bouche, pictured above, it is a dashi broth with a tomato water sphere and summer blossoms. It was a lovely pop to the proverbial cherry (tomato) of the meal.

Under the small appetizer section I chose the apple, bacon, celery branch, walnut, mimolette, mustard, beer. Once again, the hilly form was showcased and I was really excited by the textures and tastes. The apple was peeled and perfectly sweet, the bacon was thin and crispy as can be, and the beer was a foam. This was a playground for the palate and I was going from the cheese swing to a dip in the mustard pool. Everything in this dish was fun and whimsical. My dining partner ordered a much more grown-up appetizer, the monkfish liver torchon, almond, endive, cherry. It was creamy, decadent and silky. The pairing, with the cherry and bread on the side, showed me that this is the foie gras of the sea.

The following menu section was pasta, and I chose wisely with the risotto, sea urchin, corn, lovage, black truffle. The dish came lid on and as soon as the server removed it the aroma of truffle filled the air. Uni is one of those foods that literally changed my life. I own the domain Looney Uni dot com and everything about it is the sexiest food ever. It reminds me of a tongue that just perfectly melts itself in your mouth. It is like velvet. I have heard it described in much more sexual terms but this is the ingredient that does it for me. This combination of the creamy risotto, sweet corn, fragrant black truffle, and fresh uni worked beautifully. This is quite possibly the most perfect dish I have ever had. My dining partner had this dish on his first visit and although he said he wants three of these dishes he ordered the rigatoni, sea cucumber, oxtail, wood ear mushrooms, star anise, red wine, butter in effort to try something new. It was rich and earthy but it couldn’t hold a candle to the risotto.

On to the fish and shellfish portion, I ordered the big fin squid, pork belly, turnip, cucumber, mizuna, preserved plum. The squid was thick, but not rubbery, and it worked well with the plum sauce. The pork belly was fatty and crispy, as it should be. My companion had the more interesting dish, the shrimp boudin, snapping turtle, vegetable matignon, burnett. The boudin had plump chunks of shrimp and the snapping turtle in the broth was rich and flavorful.

As I mentioned, it was the description of the duck that brought me over to to the a la carte side. Duck, artichokes, chanterelles, coriander, lemon, olive oil are all of my favorite ingredients, so clearly this was my dish. This dish did not disappoint in any way. It was a beautiful duck breast and then duck mousse under the crispy skin. The artichoke puree and the hearts themselves added this creaminess to the plate that complemented the duck very nicely. Part of the reason I love artichokes so much is because of the aftertaste, that herbal aftertaste that reminds me so much of green tea. This crisp flavor along with the lemon and coriander left the most delightful taste in my mouth and mind. My dining partner, thankfully, preferred his own dish more, which was dry-aged, “pré salé” lamb rack, garlic sausage, cauliflower, date, pine nuts, ginger. I liked this dish a lot, especially with the lamb dipped in the cauliflower puree but I preferred my tailor made dish. It is always nice when the orderer prefers their own dish.

When it came to dessert we ordered the soft chocolate ganache, feuille de brick, banana ice cream, Bourbon caramel, ginger and the blackberries, douglas fir meringue, candy cap sablé, natural cream. Both desserts were interesting, but that candied ginger several different ways and the banana ice cream were the stars of the dessert show.

At the end of the meal, you receive a lovely treat along with your bill and seasonal magnet, you get a box of chocolate. Forrest Gump is correct, life is like a box of chocolates and at Benu you can be assured that life is pretty damn good and delicious. There was not a bad dish in the meal and everything was meticulously made, presented, and served. Clearly Chef Corey Lee’s time at French Laundry was well-served, as nothing about Benu seems like it comes from a restaurant that is only six weeks old. This is a well-designed and executed restaurant and if there were any kinks that still need to be work out I, as a diner, did not see them. Sommelier Yoon Ha was on point with every single wine he paired for us, and a meal here without consulting with this guy is just plain silly. My favorite pairing of the night was the late harvest riesling for the monkfish and uni risotto from C.H. Berres.

This entire meal was a Mission Fruition accomplished. I left the restaurant, full, satisfied, and with all of my senses on overload. When you walk back on to the street from the serene courtyard you can spot a window into the kitchen. It didn’t occur to me until now, but there are no windows in the dining room. You are completely removed and truly get to embark on a culinary journey. It was until I downloaded the picture did I spot the Chef, Corey Lee, in my kitchen picture. Holla! This guy and his masterpiece of a restaurant are well on their way to earn Michelin Stars all their own. Bravo Benu!


22 Hawthorne Ln
(at Howard St)
San Francisco, CA 94105
Neighborhood: SOMA

(415) 685-4860


When Surrounded By Hot Gay Men…Grab your Rabbit (Pot Pie)

10 Aug

My first house guest in my SF apartment was my favorite guy from LA, Edward. We both love Hillary Clinton, Will & Grace, Dexter, Sweet Tea Vodka, and Diet Coke. He is pretty much my dream man. We spent the first two nights of his visit in gay bars in the Castro. It was ridiculously fun to be spun around on the dance floor by hunky men while Lady Gaga was blasted. Perhaps I love to be tortured because these nights were heaven for me. My bestie, Edward, left for a few days to spend time with his family and when he returned to SF for one last night he brought his niece that was a day shy of two years old. Clearly this was a trip of torment: hot men that have no interest in touching me beyond the dance floor, the cutest toddler that I couldn’t steal or eat to pieces, and my Edward taunting me by us being back in the same city. After all of this pent up frustration, a girl needs some relief. As a girl in a new city that release normally comes in the way of food. After a day at the zoo, and a cocktail, Edward and I headed to one of his friend’s houses for drinks and dinner. A couple of glasses of wine in, I divulged about about my bad SF dating luck and how I just want a nice Jewish banker. Edward’s friend laughed as clearly he fit that profile, although he was yet another one not on my team. I laughed at my own misfortunate and after we polished off a few bottles of wine we walked to a local restaurant called Mission Beach Cafe.

To be honest I remember very little about the starters we ordered, perhaps that’s because we moved on to bottle #3 when we arrived. I remember the beef had hot peppers and an Asian marinade. I also remember ordering the salad based solely on the fact that there were gold and red beets and artichoke hearts. Although there was a tofu or something in the salad that, for me, threw off the entire dish. Edward got the burger, which I just learned was on the 7×7 10 Best Burgers in the City list. It was massive with Prather Ranch Beef, aged gouda, caramelized onion, and an oven-roasted tomato. Edward, of course, opted for the bacon and avocado addition. While his entree was an enormous, his friend had sadly thin pieces of branzino.

Finally, Carina’s bad luck took a turn. I got the mama bear (not too big and not too small) perfect portion. I also got reunited with one of my favorite foods: rabbit. Edward somehow always manages to bring me good rabbit luck, like the time I got the white mole rabbit from Fig in Santa Monica with him. On this night I ordered the Rabbit Pot Pie, which I was told was a favorite at Mission Beach Cafe. Apparently in the Fall, there are Pot Pie Tuesdays but while we are still in summer this rabbit pot pie will certainly do. As soon as my dish arrived the aroma was oozing from the puff pastry and as soon as I broke it with my fork I was hypnotized. It smelled phenomenal. The carrots were roasted, there were fresh English peas and the rabbit reduction was perfection. Mission Fruition, this is the dish! I do not yet have an adorable tot, or my very own hunky Jewish banker, but I can order delicious food. When you are feeling all pent-up with frustration (sexual or otherwise) head to Mission Beach Cafe where their rabbit pot pie will take care of you…real good.


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