The Bird, San Francisco, 3/10/18

logo
logo

The Bird is a large place that specializes in a spicy fried chicken sandwich. It has a cute fox with a sandwich in it’s mouth as the logo.  It is a small menu that also includes fries and egg biscuit (though I saw no one with this option).  It is busy but the line moves quickly and seats turnover rapidly.  It was mostly filled with young people but it was a friendly crowd with no one staying long.  Beverages included a large selection of beers, which they give you a ‘cozy’ to hold it in, and other bottled/canned drinks.  It was like a fast food place where you go to the counter to order and get a number they call when your food is ready.   They also serve apple fritters which are usually just available in the morning but they still had some when we arrived for an early lunch.   Continue reading

Commis, Oakland, 3/9/18

entrance
entrance

Commis is  a 2 star Michelin restaurant that is located a short BART ride from San Francisco.  It is a long rectangle of a place that is mirrored on the other side by a bar (CDP) that offers some snacks and can serve as a waiting area for your restaurant table.  When you enter the restaurant the first thing you see is the open kitchen and the bar seats surrounding it, which are available for reservation.  Two small tables are across from the bar and the rest are toward the back. It is a small place made more spacious by the open slit in the wall between the bar and the restaurant.  They serve only an 8 course tasting menu, with a few extras thrown in and offer wine pairings.  We enjoyed the company of friends the evening we were there and they generously provided the wines we drank.  You get a copy of the evening’s menu when you finish the meal.  The noise level is good, even with music in the background, and service was attentive and efficient.   Continue reading

Californios, San Francisco, 3/8/18

building
building

Californios is a small place that has been around just 3 years but already has 2 Michelin stars.  They serve only a surprise tasting menu of around 16 courses, and they will give you a list of what you had at the end.  Portion control is outstanding – there’s enough to taste but no one course fills you up so you don’t want the others and you are satiated at the end of the meal.  There are a few seats at the bar and a number of small tables.  We were lucky to get some counter seats where you get to watch the cooking and have a chance to interact with the chefs, but it’s best to ask for these seats when you make your reservation if you want them.  It is a lively, fun vibe with all the staff being really friendly and helpful.   Continue reading

Spruce, San Francisco, 3/8/18

building
building

Spruce is a large place and a one star Michelin restaurant.  There is a long bar with lots of seats as well as a good sized dining room with lots of interesting art and mirrors.  They also have a large party room in front and a substantial wine cellar.  Nice white clothes cover the tables that are set with matching napkins.  Some music is in the background and the lighting is lowered with the vibe being subdued and elegant.  At lunch they have an a la carte menu but also a pretty good deal in a fixed price Harvest Menu which is a three course menu for just $38 and wine pairings are available for $15, which include a small glass of quality wine with each course.  We chose for this options.   Continue reading

Eight Tables by George Chen, San Francisco, 12/30/17

Frankie posed with the sign outside
Frankie posed with the sign outside

Eight Tables has been open about 3 months and is a surprise on your first visit.  Located down a nondescript alley and then up an elevator in one of the last buildings, you open into a beautiful modern and elegant restaurant with just 8 tables well spread out.  The light wood, plush leather banquettes, lots of mirrors, background jazz music and tons of service people all dressed in beige bode well for a lovely evening, and the place did not disappoint.  Attention to detail is throughout the environment, food and people.  Chef George Chen was inspired by an historic style of dining called “Private Chateau Cuisine” which is now being seen again in China.  It means an elaborate meal presented in an intimate setting.  He is a presence in the restaurant coming by to visit each of the tables several times during the evening.  He is a terrific host.   Continue reading

Swan Oyster Depot, San Francisco, 12/30/17

front
front

Swan Oyster Depot has been around a long time and always popular but of late the popularity has shot up so that you can regularly depend on at least an hour wait to get in and this is even if you line up prior to opening.  Trick there is to get there early enough to be in the first wave that is seated on the only 18 stools.  Another option is to order the food for takeout but I don’t think it’d be the same to eat it without the show behind the counter.  It is a sliver of a restaurant with passage for about one person behind the stools – some of that was due to coats being hung on the hangers.  It hasn’t changed in the number of years we’ve been going, even the personnel.  You get to walk through part of the kitchen to get to the one bathroom but most of the food is assembled or readied up front.   Continue reading

R.T.B., San Francisco, 12/29/17

building
exterior

R.T.B. opened last May and was considered a pop up.  They have taken on a permanent space, though, and are gradually making it into their own.  A 2 story place, it’s still really small – 4 tables up and 4 down.  Background music plays, the lovely finished wood tables with comfortable chairs, candlelight, minimal decorations and nice large cloth napkins along with the friendly service contribute to the cozy, comfortable ambiance of the place.  Pacing was wonderful and personell were knowledgeable about what they were serving.  They serve only a tasting menu with some supplements available and there is no written copy.  They offer wine pairings but we chose to order our own wines.  They have a large selection of champagnes.   Continue reading