Hi everyone. Thanks for the suggestions. Just returned from 5 nights in SF. Highlight was the new Cortez restaurant last Friday (just reviewed this past Sunday:
Small plates--my mother and I had two plates each plus dessert. With the wonderful bread, we could not finish our desserts despite the small size of the plates. My mother and I shared the carrot and giner soup shots (served in two tiny shot glasses for $6; bit heavy on the ginger). The butternut squash ravioli was good--but only 4 raviolis. Her Salmon and my sea bass were very good (again small servings). I had the chocolate peanut butter truffle cake which was amazing. My mother also enjoyed her dessert. The place is nicely decorated and the service was fine.
On Saturday, we went to the Ferry market, and bought great goat cheese to take home and had wild mushroom scrambled eggs and fresh OJ for breakfast. Warning: in rainy weather, not much choice of where to sit. We then went on a walking tour of North Beach and Chinatown with Melanie's uncle Ben Tom. It was a lot of fun starting with biscotti and cafe au lait at Cafe Roma and ending with dim sum at Pearl City. We went to Beach Blanket Babylon (mother enjoyed the outrageous hats), but, the sleeper surprise later that night was when we stopped at the Bolivian restaurant Pena Pachamama around the corner from Beach Blanket Babylon. They had a pena that night with the house band--part of Savia Andina which was a very famous Bolivian group which toured internationally (mother was thrilled since she had owned all of their early albums). Great birthday spot--3 people were there celebrating birthdays. Folkloric dancing and music for dancing. The food is nouveau Bolivian (e.g., vegetarian saltenas)--the warm atmosphere made we wish we had something like this back home.
On Sunday, we got to Dottie's 5 minutes after they opened and ended up having to wait 45 minutes to be seated. Blueberry cornmeal pancakes, fresh grapefruit juice, and fresh fruit salad (raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, kiwi, pineapple etc.) were worth waiting for. Then attended the 9 a.m. service at Glide Memorial Service. The gospel music really raised the rafters. What an experience.
The cafe in SF MOMA opens at 10 a.m. and is a nice place for a quick late breakfast, lunch or snack near the convention center. My chicken ravioli was a bit too al dente for me, but the tomato cream sauce was yummy. Other folks I knew were enjoying their food.
On Tuesday, the California Culinary academy was extremely slow service--if you go for their $14 3-course lunch on Tuesdays or Wednesdays, make sure that you make reservations early--we had the last seating at 12:45 p.m. and I think that is why it was so slow. By the time we got to dessert, they had only 2 of the 5 choices left--but the apple strudel with caramel sauce and (nutmeg?) ice cream was yummy. My salmon was undercooked and the caesar salad was just so-so. The bread was cold. My mother enjoyed her fig, goat cheese and spinach salad (it was very good) and her canneloni with beluga lentils. I didn't enjoy her rice pudding with mango but she did.
Didn't think Sur La Table near Union Station was worth the trip. Also thought the food at the peruvian restaurant Fina Estampa was so-so (carrot cake for dessert at a Peruvian restaurant?).
The Food Lover's guide to SF was a great help in planning our trip.