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

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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

Zuni Café, San Francisco, 12/29/17

one side of exterior
one side of exterior

Zuni is a huge place on two levels with tons of different seating areas, a kitchen in the middle of the downstairs with wood burning ovens and a large copper bar area with seating.  There is also a small area with several types of oysters waiting to be shucked and eaten.  Table clothes are covered with paper but still a nice cloth napkin.  There are lots of windows to the busy streets outside that pass by two sides of the pie shaped restaurant.  Brick walls and exposed steel give the place a casual feel. It still attracts a lot of people even thought it’s been around for 30+ years and the chef who brought it fame, Judy Rodgers having passed away in 2013.  We’ve been there a couple previous times in years past and I think it’s as good as ever.  Service is friendly, helpful and makes your dining experience fun.  The food is simple yet made with great ingredients and prepared well for a wonderful outcome.  I would give the place a hearty recommendation.   Continue reading

Al’s Place, San Francisco, 3/4/17

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Exterior

Al’s Place is a hopping restaurant.   A good sized place, it has tightly packed tables in a hectic, noisy and rushed atmosphere.  We got there early and it was already full but it looked like they were trying to turn the tables 3 times in an evening. So don’t go for a lingering dining experience. The service is friendly and helpful but the entire staff seemed to share the room so no connection is made with any particular server. The food was fine but very variable in goodness. Plates are made to share and you can chose the ‘family style’ option where the chef picks a selection of plates from the first three sections of the menu and a dessert for your table to share.   Continue reading

Petit Crenn, San Francisco, 3/4/17

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building

Petit Crenn is a small place with 14 closely spaced 2-top tables for reservations and a good sized bar to accommodate walk-ins. One side is windows looking out to the street and another side is a long bench seat with tons of pillows.  There is rock music in the background but it’s not loud enough to impact conversation.  The high ceiling  has ropes dangling with lights on the end for the tables.  They referred to themselves as a pescatarian restaurant and thus their Croque Madame has no ham.  For lunch they have a brunch menu but at night they offer a tasting menu only.  Service is helpful and efficient. Continue reading

Keiko à Nob Hill, San Francisco, 3/3/17

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building

Keiko à Nob Hill is named for the female chef, Keiko Takahashi.  While she works her magic in the kitchen the small elegant restaurant is well overseen by her husband Seigo Takei who also has a huge selection of wines to chose from for your meal. They have been in this location for 5 years and he uses much of the space to store wine that is not listed. The fun is in the talking with him about what you like and letting him chose something you don’t know about and he did a marvelous job.  He will work within your price range. They do offer a couple levels of wine pairings.  They only do one seating each night in the building that has residential units above.  The comfortable seating is well spaced with low lighting accented by candles and soft jazz music in the background.   Continue reading