Tag Archives: expensive

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!

http://www.giltcity.com/san-francisco/fleurdelys

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

 

Frances SF: Pride All Around

8 Aug

Imagine this if you will: You are a little over a week in to living in a brand new city, you’re there on one of the city’s biggest event days, and with dinner plans at the hardest place to get a table in town. That entire situation was me at Frances on the first big day of Pride. I was walking from my new apartment to this restaurant that I knew very little about, except that it had a waiting list that was in the “months” time frame. My walk had me tweeting away as sports cars were blasting Bob Dylan, plums were falling off trees and onto my head, and I began seeing naked men in pink tutus on every block. I was invigorated. Being able to walk less than a mile through a maze of entertainment and energy to a fine dining establishment had me more than excited. The reservation was early and the excitement of Pride was just beginning to brew. If you can see from the main picture the restaurant is nestled just away from the heart of the Castro in subdued colors and minimal signage, but on this night to the right was a man with pink hair and short shorts and black angel wings.

My dining companion had to wrestle the special day parking situation and I was seated. My waiter was adorable as can be and when I said I wanted a cocktail but needed help deciding he recommended I’d get the Strawberry Fizz because today was such a festive day. The drink was refreshing, fruity, and full of champagne…all of my favorite things. The restaurant was modern, minimal, and a perfect juxtaposition to all of the excitement going on this day.

My dining partner The Dapper Diner joined me for dinner a few minutes later and I had been so busy perusing the menu that I knew exactly what we would have. One of the coolest things about Frances is their wine blends. You choose either red or white and  you get it in a glass pitcher, but the best part of all is that you only pay for what you drink, a dollar an ounce.

For me, the most interesting thing on the menu was the Applewood Smoked Bacon Beignets served with maple creme fraiche. I loved the concept of this dish but unfortunately they weren’t as light as I would have liked and the dipping sauce was off. Perhaps our batch wasn’t straight out of the oven or something but I wasn’t in awe. However, this dish has such a potential and sounds so promising that I am sure I will always order it, even if I don’t absolutely love it.

The Panisse Frites on the other hand, a dish that I wasn’t that excited about, blew me away. The concept was simple, chickpea fritters that could be dipped like french fries into a Meyer lemon aioli and yet these were addictive little suckers. They were gorgeous to look at and the most awesome consistency, think of the smoothest mashed potatoes known to man.

The Dungeness Crab Salad, was yet another dish where Frances fooled Carina. This was an appetizer that we added to our order at the last minute, neither of us really thought much of the description. It was crab served with cherokee tomatoes, sweet herb vinaigrette, and baby lettuce. This dish was on my top 2 dishes of the night it was well-balanced, light, and perfectly dressed. It is funny because for the most part I thought I have reached the point in my life when I can look at a movie trailer, a dress on a rack, or a dish on a menu and know how it will fit and what I will love. I cannot tell you how exciting it is when I am more than surprised. Melissa Perello, the chef /owner of Frances, takes her dishes to places that can’t be captured by simple menu descriptions and therefore the element of surprise is always there. Perhaps this is why Fifth Floor received a Michelin Star under her leadership.

The White Corn Soup with shrimp, basil, and creme fraiche was all in the presentation. I was sure that this was going to be a favorite, but sadly it was not. It was a beautiful dish but the taste didn’t quite match the elegance of its description.

I am a sucker for pasta and will pretty much always order either mac and cheese or gnocchi on any menu when it is offered. The Ricotta Gnocchi with green garlic, english peas, and morels was denser than I would have liked and again didn’t match up to the perfection that was the crab salad.

For the entrée, I had the Herb Stuffed Guinea Hen, which was served creamy polenta, chanterelles, white corn and an apricot. This site is called Mission Fruition and I love all dishes with fruit components and this was quite good. The sauce was way too salty for me, as I am ultra-sensitive to salt but between the polenta and the apricot I was able to cut most of it. The mixture of light meat and dark wrapped together in crisped skin was perfection.

My dining partner had the Napa Valley Lamb with summer squash, baked ricotta, and braised lamb crespelle.

We finished off the meal with a shot, shot, shot, shot. At Frances they have these Market Shots, which according to them are: “Whatever we find at the market gets juiced, spiced and spiked.” On our night we had a delicious berry shot, which was a perfect end to the meal and got us ready for dessert.

For dessert we had the Bittersweet Chocolate Pot de Creme and the Almond and Semolina Crostata. I am a girl who likes my men like I my desserts: Fruity! So the chocolate belonged to my dining partner and let me tell you that it was as rich and decadent as can be. I wasn’t sure what to get on the dessert menu and nothing was really jumping out at me so I ordered the crostata basically because of the red plum, nectarine, and raspberries. It was also served with the most delicious English thyme ice cream. Once again, the dish that I was look forward to least was the dish that won my heart. The pastry on this dish was to die for, as was the fresh fruit and savory ice cream.

While were having dessert in this quiet tranquil little restaurant nestled in the Castro, all of the sudden we were shaking with the loud sounds of a gang of motorcycles riding by. I asked “Dykes on Bikes?” and within seconds the restaurant agreed and confirmed that it was Dykes on Bikes who just rolled through the streets. I smiled and when we were walking out I tweeted: “Dykes on bikes just rode in front of @FrancesSF. I love San Francisco fine dining.” The next morning, I received a tweet back from the restaurant saying, “We love our neighborhood, too.” This was really the most fantastic restaurant and dining experience. Perhaps it was because of the excitement of Pride or me settling in to my new home but this is my number #1 on San Francisco restaurants. I may have had a more put together meal at Prospect but this was non-corporate and just felt like what you’d imagine a great San Francisco restaurant to be: fresh, local, neighborhoody, and full of great people and great food.  I was happy to learn that my favorite bookstore (Omnivore Books) owner took famed NYT food writer Frank Bruni to Frances when he was in town. I, in turn, will take my favorite foodie friend The Minty there on Friday when she is visiting from Los Angeles. If you want to see real SF Pride, they are serving it up beautifully at Frances SF.

Frances SF
3870 17th St
(between Pond St & Noe St)
San Francisco, CA 94114
Neighborhood: Castro

(415) 621-3870

frances-sf.com

The Dapper Diner

http://twitter.com/thedapperdiner

The Minty

http://twitter.com/theminty

http://theminty.com/

Prospect SF: My Last Word

20 Jul

Finding your signature cocktail may be equivalent to finding your stride and for the last month mine has been off. I have moved to a new city and left a project and a mindset behind. Perhaps it is the sluggishness of summer or my own letting go that has halted me on the updating of Mission Fruition. Don’t worry folks, I have been having foodgasms left and right around this fine city but I have been lacking on the discipline of sitting down and writing about them…I also blame this on the tropical vacation I was on last week. Anyway, my new dining partner that has walked me through these food adventures is no other than The Dapper Diner. We share a mutual hatred of hugs, a love of fine food, and he impresses me every meal with his bow tie and food/cocktail knowledge. Our most recent fantastic foodie experience happened at Prospect. I would say that it’s the long-awaited new restaurant of the Boulevard restaurant team, but the first time I heard about it was when I was asked to go with Double D (Dapper Diner). Beforehand, on a cocktail outing, we had discussed signature cocktails and while I agreed that I needed one I wasn’t sure which one to go with. I am a whiskey girl with a hankering for citrus, so perhaps a whiskey sour. The Dapper Diner took that up a few notches with a cocktail suggestion that I had never heard of: The Last Word. I would like to say that he suggested this because he knows of my love of words but alas I think it is the character flaw known as stubbornness. Regardless I was intrigued and he told me it should be my cocktail but with rye substituted for the traditional gin base. A cocktail with a cool name, a special request, and prohibition era. Cherry-Cherry-Cherry we have a winner and I had a new signature cocktail. Here is the classic Last Word:

  • 3/4 ounce gin
  • 3/4 ounce lime juice
  • 3/4 ounce green Chartreuse
  • 3/4 ounce maraschino liqueur

When I arrived at Prospect on a Friday night, DD had already cased the bar and assured me that Chartreuse was there and tonight was the night I would try out my special drink. The waiter was so very official and took notes on my special drink order and substitution. My cocktail arrived with no problem and it was love at first sip. Carina got her signature cocktail and got her proverbial groove back. The menu at this hip, modern, and packed restaurant was exciting and I wanted to order it all. My ever shrinking wallet decided that we should limit ourselves to three appetizers, two entrees, and two desserts. That may not seem like cutting back but DD and I have hit the town harder ordering entire menus, and then there was the dinner at Frances (coming soon to Mission Fruition). With “restraint” we began the meal with Buffalo Carpaccio, Yellowtail Crudo, and Black Cod.

All of our appetizers came from a series of suggestions. The buffalo carpaccio was something of my own suggestion. I had the most amazing venison carpaccio once that was such a brilliant red that I checked with the waiter that this meat was also as red as can be. The waiter assured us that it was stop light red. I don’t know what color has to do with anything, but for me on this night it was of the utmost importance. The carpaccio was served with fried oysters, aioli, and basil. The carpaccio was perfect “melt in your mouth” meat and the oysters added this delicious salty and smoky quality.

The Yellowtail Crudo was another melt in your mouth dish. The dish ordering recommendation came to the DD from a well-known SF chef’s wife. Clearly that woman knows how to marry and how to order. The dish was phenomenal. White miso, pickled cucumbers, and more topped the thin piece of yellowtail and a perfectly salted seaweed cracker accompanied it.

The appetizer that was the real show stopper was the Black Cod, which was served in a curry sauce with a shiso shrimp fritter and shitakes. The flavors were all perfectly layered and I kept wanting more and more to have the lingering taste of  lemon grass. A big thanks to Kels Eats for declaring to us on Twitter that this is a must have dish. It truly was.

The appetizers were all so appealing that I wasn’t all that into any of the entrees. They didn’t look bad but let’s just say that it would be a shame to go to this restaurant and not indulge in at least a few of their appetizers. For the main course I finally decided on the Halibut and DD had the Pork Cheeks.

I was pleasantly surprised by my halibut, which was served with carrots, pistachios, cioppolinis, and basil butter. It was a nice light dish and the fish was so perfectly cooked and moist that it lead DD convinced that they sous-vide it. It was another just perfectly balanced dish. I am always the first to complain that every dish is too salty, thankfully, this was not. The only strong salty component I got was from the pistachios, which added an unusual richness to the dish.

The pork cheeks with grains, fennel, kumquats, garlic and radishes may have been the richer counterpart to my light entree but it still was not that heavy. The fennel was the perfect touch and after seeing it grown wildly all over my neighborhood I have been waiting to see it pop in dishes. After all, everything about San Francisco points to local. The two entrees may not have been quite as imaginative as the appetizers but they were both solid dishes that showcased the quality of ingredients beautifully.

For dessert we had the Caramel Popcorn and the Peach Pie with Muscovado ice cream  and brown butter crumble bourbon. The popcorn was a gourmet fiddle faddle of sorts with Cacao Nibs and Salt. The dessert was fine but more of a snack when you can’t quite indulge in a real dessert. I indulged and the peach pie was delicious. Fresh peaches, good pastry, and the perfect end to a delightful meal.

I can’t say that Prospect was totally my kind of restaurant. It didn’t have the character or neighborhoody feel that say somewhere like Frances had but everything about the meal completely hit and exceeded the mark. Service was on point, all of the dishes were delicious, and I got served my first new signature cocktail. I have yet to go to Boulevard but it is clear to me that these people know exactly what they are doing. They know how to create the dining experience for all of your senses and I am sure it doesn’t hurt to be that close to the Ferry Building. I have zero complaints. Anticipation met and exceeded expectation. My last word on Prospect is “Mission: Fruition.” Okay, I know that is two words but I have to start branding.

Prospect
300 Spear St
(between Folsom St & Harrison St)
San Francisco, CA 94105
Neighborhood: SOMA

(415) 247-7770

www.prospectsf.com

Manresa: The Best Birthday Dinner and Perhaps the Best Meal of My Life

21 Oct

Uncouth Gourmand with Chef David Kinch

After a full work week and endless birthday surprises from my partner, I headed home to see the other woman in my life, my mama. I flew in to San Jose on Saturday afternoon and I began celebrating a long weekend in Santa Cruz with my family. My mom picked me up at the airport and I told her that all of LA is abuzz about a restaurant in Los Gatos called Manresa. Los Gatos is a small affluent town in between Silcon Valley and the beach town of Santa Cruz where I grew up. It is where I spent a lot of my high school days when I wanted to get away from my hippy upbringing and wanted to get in touch with my preppy side. I actually think that the reason I live in Pasadena is because it is so similar to Los Gatos except in a big city. Pasadena is equipped with a Bentley dealership, J. Crew, and an Old Town area just like that of Los Gatos. It is close to interesting areas (read: a LOT more culture)  but somewhere where I, as a girl, am totally comfortable living alone and walking freely at any time of night.

Manresa is closed from Monday to Wednesday so we made a reservation and showed up on Sunday night at 5:30 just the two of us as my brother had a babysitter. I told the babysitter that we would be back at 9pm at the latest. I know how tasting menus work and yet we didn’t even finish dinner until 9:40. My mom said when making the reservation that it was my birthday and upon walking in we were seated right by the window and there was a discreet birthday card waiting for me signed by all of the staff at Manresa. It was a charming touch. My mom and I both wanted the full restaurant experience from Chef David Kinch, who beat out Bobby Flay on Iron Chef, and went with the tasting menu. It was not cheap at $160 a person with no wine included. I had a few glasses of a sparkling riesling and my mom got a chardonnay. We were told by our fabulous waitress, Debbie, that the menu would start at the sea, go to the garden, go back to the sea, then to land with a poultry and a meat dish, and finish with two desserts. She mentioned that it changes over the course of the night and that it is best to get there early. The first thing we were served were some amuse-bouches.

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The very first thing looked just like dessert but was actually quite savory. It was a black olive madeline and a red bell pepper gelee. The next thing we were served came on the waiter’s platter and was a foie gras croquette they recommended taking it all in one bite as it was hot and could squirt. I really am not trying to be uncouth/vulgar, I swear. However, I had to eat so quickly I forgot to take a picture and I was kindly asked by the host to not use flash, I apologize for the sub-par photo quality. However, this foie gras one bite was hot and delish, it warmed me up and definitely tantalized my palate.

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soft boiled egg

The next amuses were a foie gras soup with a fried squash blossom on top and a soft boiled egg with sherry vinegar and maple syrup. It was all delightful little one bites and I could tell my mom was loving it but wanting something substantial. It was around this time they brought out fresh bread and butter. My mom has never been to France and I always tell her that the number one reason to go is for the butter. She has yet to have french butter but was going crazy about the butter they presented to her. She told the waitress and she mentioned that they have a cow in Watsonville and that they make their own butter. My mom used to teach special ed in Watsonville and was once again impressed by all of the touches.

eating bread at Manresa

Manresa in Los Gatos

garden salad

The real courses began with oysters that were a little to salty for both of our tastes but I could tell instantly that they were extremely fresh. I wish they were plain instead of covered in seaweed and buckwheat. However, I heard the table next to us with a surfer remark that it was so salty it reminded him of just picking an oyster up and eating it on his surfboard. I think that is a great compliment. I have always been more a fruit person and my mom has always been a little bunny (it’s no wonder I am a funny bunny) that loves vegetables so she loved the Into the Vegetable Garden salad. We learned that they have 2 acres on a farm in the Santa Cruz mountains area of Bonny Doon where they grow everything. This sealed the deal. I was in love. It was like he was making and serving my backyard. Chef David Kinch even oned up his Bobby Flay victory when it was revealed that he lives in Santa Cruz. I knew I had to meet this man and the waitress arranged a kitchen tour for us at the end of the meal. I was now on my second glass of bubbly and was ready for whatever courses would be thrown my way. The next one was by far my favorite, it was an abalone soup with sea urchin and foie gras in a light gingery broth. It was incredible. Sea urchin has become one of my favorite foods and I was amazed that we had now seen foie gras in 3 dishes.

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black cod

manresa chicken

The next few dishes were black cod and a farmed chicken breast both were good but not mind blowing like that soup. The last dish once again won me over. It was a Napa Valley spring lamb and tongue confit with carrots with orange purée and exotic spice. It tasted very Moroccan to me and as someone that normally doesn’t love either lamb or tongue, I was truly impressed. I couldn’t get enough of this particular dish.

lamb manresa

We asked if we could get both dessert courses at the same time as we had a babysitter to get back to and they happily obliged. I am quite positive that this is the kind of restaurant that never says the word, “No” unless of course it has to do with camera flashes. The dessert course was the The Flavors of New Orleans equipped with beignets, bananas, and pralines and then a pumpkin soup which was poured over ice cream. One of my other favorite touches was that the last thing brought out looked just like the first, except it was a regular madeline cookie with a strawberry gelee. It was the perfect bookend to an absolutely exquisite meal.

dessert manresa

We were taken back to one of the cleanest and best run kitchens I have ever seen. The only one that compares is the Baazar and they have a much larger operation going. There was something so charming about seeing the chef working, knowing the area where their garden is, knowing where their cow and thus butter comes from that made this meal so enjoyable.

manresa kitchen

Chef David Kinch made sure we enjoyed our meal, which of course we did and I can honestly say it was one of the top dining experiences of my life. It was also so special for my mom to get a taste (pun always intended) of the food world that I have become such a fan and groupie of. The next day my mom made me lasagna and she was back in her own kitchen. We may not have had our napkins folded back in to a cone every time we went to the bathroom but it was no less of a great experience. I think 2 weeks is a long enough birthday celebration. I am done. I can buy my own food and drinks now, but thank you to all that joined in my festivities. I am sure that this will be a truly great year in my life.

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Janis Ost and Carina Ost