I spent last week in SF and got to try some restaurants I've read so much about on this board. I work outside the city and only have the opportunity to dine in SF. Here is my view on the few restaurants:
Aziza: I went there on a Friday night. The ambiance is very pleasant and gives a bit mystic aura with the earthy colors. It was a very busy night - the waiter didn't come to our table until 10 minutes after we were timely seated. It took another 10 minutes and a friendly reminder to get water on the table. I don't have Moroccan food very often and think the menu items are interesting. I ordered the giant fava beans, halibut clay pot and pear/fruit plate while my buddy had Mediterranean dips and lamb on the bone. The fava beans are my favorite – the dish achieved the perfect balance between tomato-ish acidity and the bean’s creaminess. The halibut was a bit overwhelmed by the saffron sauce for my taste. The fruit plate is excellent – the grapes were ripe and sweet, the pear was divine – it melts on my tongue! My buddy liked his food as well. The waiter gained his redemption in my eyes by recommending a wonderful pinot. The wine is not cheap but worth the money. The restaurant reminds me of Evvia (spelling?) in Palo Alto.
Coco500: my favorite on this trip. The environment is chic, modern and clean. The menu is simple and non-pretentious. I had the fried green beans, Russell sprouts, and trout (that night’s special). The Russell sprouts were very unusual – I never had them this way, slightly sautéed with pine nuts and topped with cheese. Super delicious. The trout was delicately prepared. The lemon cream sauce was gentle and complimented the fish very well. The server was polite, professional and has a good sense of humor.
Biscuits & Blues: I like their chicken & sausage gumbo soup – spicy, hot and hearty. The chicken and sausage jambalaya was good, I’d like rice to be firmer (less mushy). The irony is that I had to order biscuits separately since the place doesn’t offer it as a side to the soup. The biscuits were mediocre at its best. They were a bit ashy and barely warm – I can get hot biscuits at KFC for heaven’s sake!
Golden Era Vegetarian Restaurant: I had a quick dinner before a lecture. The tofu and eggplant clay pot was too soupy for me. But the chicken and broccoli was delightful.
Jeanty at Jacks: the tomato soup was as fine as I remembered from a visit a few years ago. I soaked the puff pastry in the soup and slurped it down with a spoonful of the creamy sweet tomato soup. Yummy! I had the coq au vin, which was chicken stew with mushroom and bacon. The chicken was very tender and flavorful. But the dark sauce was very salty and completely smothered the meat.
Michael Mina: I guess people going there were not expected to be fed. Just to experience creativity in culinary art that night. The seasonal greens were pleasant but were a long way away from 5 servings of veggie as recommended by the government in terms of quantity. I got some lobster samplers worthy of note. The lobster corn dog was my favorite. I ordered Japanese butterfish for entry. I am not thoroughly impressed – the food was good and fresh, the preparation, cooking method, garnishes, etc. were not so innovative (I may have been expecting something like the fish baked in a piece of tree bark ). The berry dessert was fabulous and the portion was probably bigger than the entry. I left nothing on the dessert plate anyway. The environment was posh (less gaudy than some hotel restaurants I’ve been to). The server provides fine services without being officious. Bottom line is that I’ve been there, done that and can cross this one off my list now.
I enjoyed this little SF sampling tour and wish I can go back soon!