After trying to get some suggestions on some new places for this trip http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/863548, ended up with a nice food tour. Here's a short report:
Day 1 - got to city around 11:30 AM
**Tony's Pizza Napoletana: Got there about 20 minutes before opening, 2nd party in line. By the time they opened, maybe 6-8 parties in line.
Meatball gigante with mushrooms and pancetta: Huge, nice texture. Didn't realize it was a cream sauce we got on top so more creamy than tangy from the marinara underneath. Solid but nothing outstanding
Margherita: Delicious, great char on the crust along with the bottom. Sauce and middle quite soupy, if this is proper Neopolitan pizza, geez book me a trip to Naples now. Even the next day cold, last 2 slices were delicious, dip the crust with the chili oil provided on the table.
**Gary Danko: Got a little heat for this choice, but wanted to cross it off my "been there" list. Like everyone said, comfort high end. Nothing challenging, but executed well and delicious flavors. Standouts were the scallops with lentils, Guinea hen breast (perfectly cooked with crisp skin), and lamb loin. Happy with the cheese selection, but disappointed with the accouterments, just bread and grapes....where's the honey, crisp bread/crackers, jellies, nuts and dried fruit (my friends and I are quite elaborate for our cheese and charcuterie parties)
Ferry building farmer's mkt: Always a favorite, got some fruit and Boccalone chub salami
**Roli Roti porchetta sandwich: Passed right by it without realizing it, minimal line @ 9:30 in the morning. Really good, much better than Meat and Bread and Vancouver which is literally just porchetta between bread. What elevates this version is the wonderful bread, bright chervil and carmelized onion. Fantastic and with some morning coffee, sharing a sandwich between 2 left us satisfied for awhile.
**Blue bottle coffee: Not a coffee connoisseur, but just ok, not as good as Philz or Dripp in Chino Hills, CA. But again, I'm not a coffee non-purist so maybe I'm missing something.
**Wing Sing: My usual cheap and comfort snack, 3 shu mai and 3 pan fried dumplings, engorged to 3x's normal size...$2.80
**Knead: By the time we got there wasn't anything left, had a sea salt cookie, more like a cookie/macaroon.
**Philz: Ambrosia brew, delicious
**Tartine: Gougere delicious and tender as always. Bf loved his usual chocolate croissant, loves that's it's double ribbon of chocolate.
By this time between our walking from our hotel to Ferry Building to Chinatown to Coit Tower. Then BART to Mission @ 24th, walked up to 16th station back...feet are tired. Nap and rest at hotel before dinner.
**AQ: Walked from hotel near Union Square Park....haven't really walked through Tenderloin ever. Beautiful space within and seated promptly for our reservation.
Apricot: Really great, came with a panna cotta/flan of cumin seed or indian flavors with chunks of simple albacore tuna and along the rim of the plate some smoked ham. A light albacore broth was poured along the bottom, fantastic and subtle.
Cucumbers: Seared scallops (2), with some cucumbers, foam and toasted almonds. Scallops seared and seasoned perfectly, sauce along with foam and almonds, all harmonious.
Soft potato gnocchi: Very creamy and rich, on par with Craft's..maybe even better. The accompanying roasted tomatoes then curds and whey were nice, but then there's a little twist on the sauce, more jus like than tomato. Young rabe laid on top nice bitter counterpoint.
BBQ pork: Sous vide belly then a crispy skin prep, very tender and the shelling beans were fantastic. Less bbq "essence" than my last rendition at Ink a couple of weeks ago, but still very enjoyable. Cornbread more like a very creamy accompaniment polenta than cakey.
Strip loin: Perfectly cooked big medallions, nice crust on the outside. The eggplant on the dish is smoked over walnut shells and glazed in miso, very umami....the whole dish together, perhaps too umami rich if there is every such a thing.
Really enjoyed AQ, especially the smaller plates, innovative and delicious. Mains actually were quite substantial and I think perhaps we went a tad heavy with our choices (Bf wasn't feeling well so I ate maybe 75% of both our entrees, perhaps that was it). On another note....GREAT MAEKLONG MKT COCKTAIL!! Peanut infused mekhong with coconut milk, lime juice and kaffir lime leaves. As waitress said, more savory, but definitely still a drink....not heavy. It's like essence of Thai food in a drink.
**Brenda's French Soul Food: I thought this was just ok, single crawfish beignet way too bready..more like hushpuppy to handle the heavy filling. Shrimp and grits solid, perhaps too much cheese, had to break through the cheese layer to get to my grits. Bf got the fried chicken benedict, left the side of potatoes.
**Philz: Iced mint mojito coffee....delish and refreshing, definitely unique
**Craftsman and Wolves
Gougere: Possibly better than Tartines? Huuge and cheese with lots of bits of bacon
Rebel within: Biscuit outside delicious and savory, egg was indeed soft boiled and oozy
Salted caramel brownie: More cakey, 2 layers with the salted caramel layer in between
Pomme d' Amore: Delicious, I'd describe it as a big french dan tat with puff pastry, sweeter custard and little surprise with the salted caramel inside. Inhaled my half in 3 seconds.
Chocolate croissant: Defintely more flaky and butter than Tartine's version, only 1 ribbon of chocolate so the bf was a little disappointed with that, I ate the rest, croissant heaven...
Lemon/ricotta tart: Shape of a poptart, nice bright lemony flavor....
Overall, really impressed with AQ. Your bakeries as always, awesome....pricey. I'd be 20 lbs heavier (and poorer) if I had bakeries like these around me. Unfortunately we did't get to any ice cream places and Golden Gate Bakery was STILL closed for vacation....can't wait to try some new places next time!!!