Benu (update), San Francisco, 3/16/19

gates
gates

It’s been 3 years since we’ve been to Benu and I don’t know that I detected a lot of change in the interior, however they said it was completely re-done since we were there.  Classical music is in the background and completely fits the soothing peacefulness of the place.  The well spaced large bare dark wood tables are set with comfortable seats, exquisitely thin stemware and gilded flatware and chargers.  Service is friendly but totally professional, shown with their knowledge of our previous visits and orders.  You feel elegantly at home.  Everyone still has a tasting menu and the food is fantastic.  Pacing is spot on and portion controls allows you to really enjoy the meal with its amazing flavors and textures.  The spectacular visual affects (down to the presentation plates) of the food are not for show, they match the quality.  If you can, get there, you won’t be disappointed.   Continue reading

In Situ, San Francisco, 3/16/19

exterior
exterior

In Situ is the one Michelin star restaurant inside the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.  It is a very modern large place with a separate entrance from the street, so you don’t have to be in the museum.  A couple of long wood tables with bar stools are up front opposite a painting created for In Situ.  The other tables are small blond wood and appointed with bench seating or wood chairs. It’s very bright and open and a really interesting ceiling sculpture of wood is a highlight of the decorating, as there is surprisingly little art on the walls.  Their concept is to present some of their own creations but also to feature some highlights from their ‘current collaborators’ or well-recognized chefs around the world.  We have been lucky enough to visit some of these places in their home countries and had the original take on the dish and when possible I have posted those pictures following the ones from In Situ.  The chefs do advise and approve of the version of their dishes and I thought they did a good job.  It’s a fun concept.  Service was excellent.  Our server Katerina, from Lithuania,  was most helpful and interested in seeing pictures of the corresponding dishes.  She even brought us an extra dessert, one developed by their staff, so we could get a real sample of what was going on there.  I would recommend the place for a fun lunch. Continue reading

Birdsong, San Francisco, 3/15/19

exterior
exterior

Birdsong is a good sized one star Michelin place that has opened in May of 2018.  Most of the space in the dining room is taken up by the large kitchen which is surrounded by a low counter and seats.  A few tables are on the outer edge of the place and we were lucky to snag a table right across from the kitchen action.  There is a comfy little reception area as well as party rooms downstairs that they were nice enough to give us a tour of after we ate.  Windows to the street are on one wall and the bare light wood tables are set with a large cloth napkin that houses the evening’s menu. Everyone receives the same tasting menu.  Clear glass ball light fixtures hang from the ceiling that add good lighting but most light comes from the glow of the kitchen which is filled with action.   Lots of plants, background rock music and wood beams soften the affect of the exposed ductwork.  Service was exceptionally friendly and helpful.  After they clear that there are no allergies or dietary restrictions the menu starts promptly and pacing continues at a good rate throughout the evening.  Portions are well done to not stuff you before the end. Continue reading

Nico, San Francisco, 3/15/19

exterior
exterior

Nico opened in May of last year at this new location.  It is a fairly small place with one Michelin star rating.  Windows to the street make up one end of the place and the open kitchen is opposite that side.  One wall has a bench seat with a line of small light wood tables opposite it.  Exposed brick is on the walls, rock music plays in the background, a wide plank wood floor are all the backdrop for a friendly staff.   The small menu has  series of smaller plates to share or snack on and 3 larger plates for main courses.  From talking to the waiter it sounded like a lot people just come to the 5 seats at the bar and enjoy the snacks with drinks rather than come in for a meal.   It was a nice place but the food had mixed results. Continue reading

Atelier Crenn, San Francisco, 3/14/19

exterior
exterior

Atelier Crenn is a small restaurant with only 8 tables.   It’s been several years (pre Frankie site) since we were there and since then Chef Dominique Crenn has become the first female chef in the U.S to attain a  3 star Michelin rating.  It is a warm setting with paintings by chef’s father Allain decorating the walls.  They re-modeled 2 years ago and now round polished wood tables are set off with dampened lighting and music playing softly in the background.  The presence from the street is very discreet with no name, just the number marking the place.  They have 2 seatings for a multi course tasting menu, for which wine pairings are offered.  The evening we were there it was a spring menu that featured many items now grown on their own farm and locally sourced other ingredients.  Dishes are complex yet simple with a depth of flavor and texture in each dish that is amazing.   Many had a tableside finish that was a nice show and added to the information about the dish.  A poem greets you at the table with each line symbolizing a part of the meal to come.  Afterward you are presented with a summary of your courses. Service is friendly and helpful and pacing and portion control of the meal are good.  Chef Crenn did come out and greet each of her guests and allowed time for a bit of conversation.  Continue reading

Angler, San Francisco, 3/14/19

building
building

Angler opened in September 2018 and is the newest venture for chef Joshua Skenes, however he has chosen to be a creative force rather than the chef.  It is a large place and lots of mounted fish and mirrors cover the walls.  The front of the restaurant is windows to the busy street outside with perfect views of the Bay bridge.  Opposite the windows is the large open kitchen and another wall is used to house a long bar with some seating.  Seating at tables is at fairly close-set small bare wood dark tables, some of which are served by bench/wall seating.   Many chairs are draped with small blankets which could either pad the chair, keep you warm or could just be a decorative touch.  Lots of flowers soften the steel structures and exposed brick and the large white cloth napkin is a nice touch.  A second room has stuffed mounts of warm blooded animals.  Rock music from the 80’s era plays fairly loudly in the background and it felt a bit out-of-step with the casually elegant setting, but is a known touch of Skenes.  The menu was small at lunch but several types of raw oysters were available.  Otherwise for a restaurant that is focused on fresh, local seafood there were surprisingly few local seafood options other than one type of oyster.  In fact for main plate options, there were 3 seafood and 3 meat.  Service was friendly, helpful and efficient. Continue reading

Roli Roti, San Francisco, 3/14/19

stand
stand

Roli Roti is a food stand by the Ferry Building and the location does move, so just look for the line.  The secret is to get there when they first open, and then there is no line and it’s easier to find a seat somewhere in the area to enjoy your sandwich.  They are only open on Thursday (10 am – 2 pm)  and Saturday (8 am – 2 pm) but their signs encourage you to hire them to cater your next party.  They have the rotisserie going as you walk up and you can see the chickens and pork rotating slowing dripping their fat and juices on the potatoes below.  I have been many times and it’s a great snack – the smell is wonderful – but I’ve only tried their porchetta sandwich.  They cut the meat while you watch and load it onto a wonderful soft, chewy roll and then cover it with onion relish and arugula greens.  There are bits of the crackling crust of pork intermixed with the tender, juicy pieces of pork.  I will admit that some days have yielded a better tasting meat than others but it always is rich, decadent snack or meal.  Try it if you’re there at the right time and then on Saturday you can walk through the wonderful farmer’s market behind the building or cruise through the fun shops in the building. Continue reading