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San Francisco Bay Area Trip Report

(Long) Trip Report from my last AMAZING SF visit and what to try next??


Restaurants & Bars San Francisco Bay Area Trip Report

(Long) Trip Report from my last AMAZING SF visit and what to try next??

j.jessica.lee | | Feb 19, 2010 06:50 AM

Hello SF Chowhounders!

Many thanks for your incredible help last time. I had an amazing time in SF and have been itching to get back for some more good eats since then. I will be back for work in March, but am coming out a week early to explore more food/restaurants and just relax after a crazy few months.

So last time, I went to a few places.

Oh my goodness.... I had the frangipane croissant, pain au chocolat, bread pudding, passionfruit lime bavarian (which I have since made about 5 times from the cookbook - AMAZING recipe, NEVER fails me!), chocolate eclair, and morning bun. I ADORED the frangipane croissant. It was huge, but amazing. I loved that the outer crust was so "well-done" but that the innards were so buttery, soft, and yet had a nice structure to it. It had chew and substance and the almond filling was just great. I am actually usually more of a pain au chocolat fan, but this one blew the PAC out of the water, though the PAC was by any other standards, incredible! I've had many, many croissants in France and of this style, I would say it definitely competes with the best. The bread pudding was sadly disappointing. Not much flavor there and the fruit seemed to be an afterthought. It was too soggy and as I said, the fruit was meh. The bavarian was really great. Not too sweet. And I would strongly recommend trying to make it at home. It is a little time-cnsuming but TOTALLY worth the time investment. It wows every time and is sure to be a hit. The eclair was GREAT. I usually don't like eclairs that much, but this was amazing, mostly due to the good custard inside and the INCREDIBLE, thick layer of deep, dark, rich chocolate on top. The morning bun was excellent, but definitely paled in comparison to the PAC and frangipane croissant.

That being said, I am DEFINITELY going back to Tartine a few times this trip. It's worth repeating for me.

WOW, this ranks up there with Tartine. It was AMAZING! I had Fatima's Thighs and a Plum and Custard Kolach. UNBELIEVABLE!!!! The flavors were just perfectly balanced and the pastry work was top-notch. The bun of the kolach was perfectly buttery, soft, pillowy and housed the excellent custard and VERY flavorful and potent plum compote. Fatima's Thighs (hehe) was just delicious as well with the orange blossom water essence and the almonds inside. I want to make it back here as well if possible. I also visited the incomparable Berkeley Bowl right afterwards.

I had the yeast glazed, apple fritter, and chocolate custard filled long john. The yeast glazed was probably the best version I've ever had. Of course, I am from the east coast, which doesn't have the donut tradition that the west coast does. The fritter was very good, but not my favorite of the three. The long john was AWESOME. Also want to try to return here! I tried to go to Dynamo, but it was closed the day I went.

I had the salted caramel and mint chocolate chip and had a taste of the honey lavender. SOOOOOOOO amazing. The concentration of flavors and then the texture and richness of the ice cream. DEFINITELY going back.

I was only able to try a few dimsum to go from here as I was alone and on the way from the airport. I got the char siu bao, har gow, and one other that I can't remember. They were much much MUCH better than anything you can get here in NYC. So this time I am going to go back with a group of friends and try a big variety.

Wasn't too taken by this. Probably should have tried the actual restaurant, but didn't have time. It was decent, but I wouldn't return for this.

We had the $9 lunch and it came with the side dishes which were delicious. The main dish was a DISASTER though. The noodles were WAY too spicy (and I am Korean) - so spicy that I could not taste anything after a few bites. I also enjoy fatty foods, but this was absolutely SWIMMING in oil. I took a few bites and could not finish it. It was by far the most disappointing experience I;ve had in a while. I know many have praised it, so perhaps I went on a very off day.

ACME BREAD (Ferry Building)
I had their (forgot the exact name) cheese bread and foccacia. It was excellent!! Great flavor, good crust, nice chew, and didn't hurt that the cheese was so delicious.

We had a few things from here that were good, but not memorable. I wouldn't run back here.

I had a few things from here and was absolutely blown away by their burnt caramel almonds. I bought two bags as presents and boy were those presents very very well-received! A definite must-try.

Salted peanut cookie and rich chocolate cookie with sea salt. Great flavor, very good cookies. Not rushing back here though.

BLUE BOTTLE (both locations)
I ADORED this coffee. Really rich, strong, deep, velvety. Excellent. I prefer sitting down but I didn't really like the Mint Plaza location. I like the vibe at the stand in Hayes Valley, but wish we could sit!

It was awful. Nowhere NEAR the flavor and depth and richness of the coffee at Blue Bottle. Perhaps I caught it on an off day? But I am definitely not going back to check.

I had a field day here! I bought a whole bunch of vegetables here and made a farmer's feast for my friend who I was staying with. Standouts were the lobster mushroom from Far West (though ALL the mushrooms were unbelievable - the lobster was just unlike anything I've tried before!) and the stand with about 30 different types of salad greens. The lady there was SO kind and so helpful - I discovered purslane there and have fallen in love. Definitely going back.

WOW!!!!!! I loved this too! I tried a barbecued oyster and cedar planked salmon and a crab cake. They were all delicious, though I do slightly prefer my oysters raw. I was leaving the next morning, so I just browsed really and was disappointed not to be able to get anything and cook with it. This time, I will definitely go up and have a ball. I took all my food for lunch that day and drove down to the water by Sausalito and sat in my car (it started raining....) and ate while looking out over the water. It was a magical day.

Can't beat the price and the oysters were good, although not the best oysters I've ever had.


I am thinking of Koi Palace return visit and of course Tartine, Birite, farmers markets, etc. But I was thinking of trying Manresa or Commis, Aziza, Canteen (brunch - how are those pancakes??), Brenda's for the beignets, Pizzeria Delfina (how does it stack up to Motorino here in New York?), Frances, Spruce, Contigo.... I am also in search of AMAZING seafood. What are your thoughts on these places I mentioned and do you have any other ideas?

Thanks so much!!!!!

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