Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Big Pours, Bizarre Interiors

Talk about a generous pour ... Latin American Club sets you up with a big 'un. Well done, I say.

Lucky for me, AG was giving me a ride home (so I could drink my wine with abandon) following our visit to new-kid-on-the-block
Ristorante Specchio, a cavernous space on Mission St. that was sadly—and I'll admit, alarmingly—empty, save for 2 other diners last Thursday night. Well, turns out, the food was good—though really you'd have to be a complete kitchen idiot to mess this one up. After all, Specchio's 2 cooks could focus their full attention on our meal. Softball if ever there was one.

That said, everything—the beet salad with toasted pine nuts; homemade egg pappardelle with wild boar bolognese and juniper berries sauce; and pork chops with gorgonzola cream sauce and sauteed spinach—was well-seasoned, balanced in flavor, and cooked to just the right done-ness.

It's solid rustic fare, albeit in a somewhat bizarre interior (read: the nude mannequins have got to go).

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

What went down at Uva Enoteca

OK, so I didn't spend a lot of time taking pictures of the multitudinous small plates the 3 of us ordered at ever-so-welcome and affordable newcomer Uva Enoteca in the lower Haight. We were too busy enjoying them ...

Of course, I didn't love everything—like the cold dice of roasted celery root tossed up with a bit of pomegranate and sage; it was a tad underseasoned and flat in flavor. As well, the diminutive salame and mozzarella pizza could've done with a hotter oven (and perhaps a more delicate hand?) as its crust was a tad too chewy and dense for my taste.

But here's what went down and what went down really, really well (helped along of course with a few quartinos of red wine):
- the deep-fried gnocchi generously sprinkled with parmesan and served with a pesto aioli
- an assortment of 3 cheeses served with the loveliest of sides including castelveltrano olives, marcona almonds, a luscious truffled honey and more
- pan-fried Brussels sprouts with crisped up pancetta and onions bits
- a soft, oozing blob of creamy, curdy burrata ringed with tangerine slivers and chervil
- oven-baked orecchiette pasta with the most heavenly crumble of wild boar ragu

Mario Batali has taught his disciple well ...

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Dragonfly vs. Slanted Door

It's been a long time since I checked out Dragonfly on the rec of my Lonely Planet writer friend (she's penned the SF guide for the past few years) who claims this resto is better than The Slanted Door. No way, I said. That just can't be. Charles Phan practically walks on water ... he can do no wrong ...

Well, Dragonfly's shaking beef (bouncy cubes of filet mignon sitting on a bed of arugula) was pretty Ah-mazing ... as amazing as Phan's rendition.

The stir-fried garlic noodles brought oohs and ahhs all 'round. Super fatty, super garlicky, super delicious.

But the steamed sea bass, though tender and moist, fell a bit short. I'm just not a fan of the banana leaf ... the fish was overwhelmed by it, and no amount of spiced soy sauce could neutralize its flavor.

As it stands, Slanted Door and its quick/casual cousin Out the Door still reign supreme, but Dragonfly certainly finished a strong second ... I'll go back some day ...

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Here Comes the Sun

JA and I ducked into The Grove to get out of the dreary, drizzling cold ... and found a little bit of sun inside. I was wondering why the barrista was huddled over my caffe latte for so long—and was starting to think I woulda been better off getting my joe elsewhere, but when he slid the cup towards me, and I spied the sunny face looking up, I couldn't help but smile.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

The Rotunda's Ethereal Popovers

If you've ever made it to The Rotunda at Neiman Marcus, then you'll know about the popovers. Huge, hollow puffs of heavenly goodness served up with strawberry butter, they're passed out to each and every lunching lady (and gent) who makes it up to the top floor.

Of course, you can't just have the popovers—ginormous though they are. So I orderd the seafood cobb salad with fresh crab and shrimp and a spicy remoulade along with a bit of bubbly to go with ... making this a lovely respite from the hum-drum work day.