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Restaurants & Bars 2

SF Trip Report from PDX

mczlaw | Sep 3, 2005 02:10 AM

Spent four days (Mon.-Thurs.) in SF this week with my 8 y/o daughter. Ate well throughout. Relied in part on info gathered in this forum. Thought I would post my quick impressions, fwiw:

1. Slanted Door: I liked the room: light, bright, high ceilinged, bracket-shaped. Big, noisy and very crowded on Monday at midday. We had no rez, but were able to share community table at 1:15 after 5 minute wait. Plenty of room to ourselves. Friendly, efficient service. Food: B (specialty Shaking Beef--steak chunks with red onion--was very good but didn't knock my socks off. Daughter had 5 spice chicken that was also nice, but nothing special.)

2. Coco500: I was impressed with the look and feel: cozy; chocolate tones throughout. Chronicle's Michael Bauer in attendance at the bar (line of questioning to hostess on departure ferreted this out; otherwise, I wouldn't know him from Adam). Whatever Mr. Bauer may have to say, this place ought to be full all the time. (Monday night it was only about 1/2 occupied.) Young French server very nice and on top of things. Cocomole "tacos" appetizer (mole/beef daubed with guac on individual corn chips) kicked ass; buffala mozzarella salad good, but not distinguished (others' heirloom and cherry tomato salads looked great); duck confit w/peach (me) and cracker-thin wood oven pizza (la nina) excellent. Duck skin crackling and salted just right; interior dark meat was steaming hot, rich and tender. Gracie was allowed to go off the board for her pizza, getting plain cheese instead of the margherita or the sweet corn. I enjoyed the cracker thin & crispy crust, though topping was on the bland side (not the restaurant's fault, though). Two chocolate desserts rocked world (both taste and creativity). Of course, if you are calling yourself "Coco" anything, your chocolate desserts better not disappoint. I will give this place an A. (If someone would let me know how the reviews turn out, I would be grateful. They were also awaiting a 7 x 7 review.)

3. Ton Kiang. The best dim sum I have ever had. This came highly recommended by two SF expats living in PDX, one a noted chef, the other my frequent dining companion. They didn't lie. Pork buns, baked and steamed, chicken in foil (oy vay!), multiple variations on shrimp, fried taro (creamy in the middle, the most delicately crunchy exterior) all clear in taste, minimal to no grease. Sesame balls sweet, doughy and so right. I'm pissed that I couldn't order the duck, which came by at the end after I had paid and was too stuffed to grunt another order anyway. Only downside: expensive--about $40 just for me (though eating enough @ 10:30 am to last easily 'til dinner).

4. Zuni Cafe. A SF classic, I understand. The specialty wood-oven roast chicken for 2 was very good, though possibly not enough for 2 hungry adults, and wait went the full indicated 50 minutes. (We ordered at 6:45.) Liked the small seafood platter as app ($24 for 6 oysters, 4 clams and shrimps with lovely mignonette and aioli dunks). The child noshed on the shoestrings while I ate my shellfish. They were fine. Gateau (which struck me as being more a plain, if tasty, chocolate cake with a dollop of whipped cream) was enjoyable, though not monumental in any sense. Mountain gorgonzola w/wildflower honey, by contrast, titillated most major taste receptors. Service was efficient, but inobtrusive. Tables very close together; my daughter held court with neighbors (H&W who got Gracie going; single older lady; gay guy couple), good shtick and nice folks all, fortunately for me. B+.

5. I'll put in a quick plug for the Sheboygan Brat w/ kraut, Gulden's spicy brown and a bit of the proferred bbq sauce at the ballpark (where we watched the Giants win a day game as Elvis left the stadium multiple times). Flavor, snappy casing, condiments and bun that stood up to it all merit a solid B.

6. Finally, by sheer coincidence, was in the house for the last (for a month, so they said) dinner service at Tartare. I know that Michael Bauer trashed this place. A shame. I find the twisted knives that don't fall over on their sides practical, the curiously shaped dishes visually entertaining. I had no trouble with my spoon and saucer and wonder about Mr. Bauer's hand to eye coordination as well as his preoccupation with trivialities. As for the food, the child's steak was wonderful, as was the pinot noir reduction with chantarelles that accompanied it. My four-course included the foie gras tuna melt as well as a tuna tartare app. (Message for all restaurateurs: skip the ahi and give me some serious tuna. Blue fin would be nice as a high end standard; maybe even albacore which I liken to edible silk.) Service was wonderful; much entertainment for the child, but they only did about 10 or 12 covers for the close, so there was plenty of attention to go around. I wish George Morrone the best, though naming the upcoming, new incarnation "George" as he is apparently thinking about does not show great insight, imho.

Anyway, I thank SF CH's again for the input and would be more than happy to return the favor for any of you venturing north (helpful hint: skip Seattle).

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