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Friday - Tartine and Saigon Saigon (long)

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Restaurants & Bars

Friday - Tartine and Saigon Saigon (long)

Meredith | May 5, 2005 03:45 PM

I had a friend in from New York for the weekend, so we basically ate our way through the city. Some of the places were my favorites, some were places they felt they had to try but here is a brief round-up.
As I tried to do a brief write-up I noticed that I lack the ability to be laconic so I am doing it day by day instead.

Friday morning – Tartine
Even at 10 on a Friday there is a line here, but it is so worthwhile. I brought my friend here for his last visit and he has been waxing poetic about the croissant ever since. A tip I learned, do not try to take Tartine on a cross-country plane ride and expect it to taste good. Everything dried out other than the poppy seed loaf, leading me to wonder how much butter is in that loaf and whether I can get my hands on another fresh slice of it soon. We had the ham and cheese croissant (ask for it heated), the olive loaf with ham and a breakfast bun. I wish I had seen the bread pudding thread here before we went, I was eyeing it for a while, but 3 pastries for 2 people seemed a little much already.
The croissant is a thing of wonder, the olive loaf flavorful and egg-y, almost a cross between a frittata and bread. But the morning bun shocked me. I usually cannot eat sweet things in the morning, but this was worthwhile. Flaky and cinnamon-y sweet but without the cloying taste some breakfast pastries can get. I will order this again.

Friday night –
Saigon Saigon. We were out in the Mission and couldn’t get into our first choice so wandered down towards Last Supper Club on the wishes of other friends who joined me. There was a wait there too, and I pointed out Saigon Saigon desultorily to say that it was my favorite Vietnamese place in the city. Next thing I know, we are seated and ordering. I love this place, though do wish they could do something about the ambiance. I think what bothers me (only a little) is that they actually did try, the walls are well painted, they have framed posters etc, but the space is so cavernous that I always fear other patrons having to hear every word I say, or else having to speak in sotto voice all night. We had imperial rolls (standard), papaya salad with beef which I always love here, though am being slowly turned towards their chicken salad instead. Both are deliciously dressed with a light hand that allows the breadth of flavor to really shine. We had the hot and sour seafood soup – this was my first time ordering this and thinks, in the future, I would stick with the spicy coconut soup or the pho both of which are much tastier at half the price. For entrees we ordered black pepper catfish, a caramelized fish with a pepper kick that is one of my favorite thing on the menu. I normally do not like catfish but this actually works with the flavor and texture of the fish to complete the dish. The accompanying mango tempura was also well textured. We ordered the Shaking Beef, which vanished in seconds despite being at least twice as large as the rendition at Slanted Door. BBQ pork loin was also devoured, the pickled veggies on the side of this seem like a garnish but really add a lovely tang when eaten with the meat. We had the special noodles of the day, which I was actually displeased with. I had one bite and though they tasted like old socks. But only two of us felt that way, the other two loved them. The fried rice was also just okay. I think the starches here really aren’t the stars. With all that food, and beers, tax and tip for 4 people, it was roughly $25 each.

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