Preface: Please excuse all typos. As always, thank you to this board for your suggestions.
Up from LA with my wife for weekend soiree. Many past meals in the Bay and last weekend was no exception. Arrived at Union Sq on Sat about 1 PM. After checking in we walked over to Shalimar Gardens. New second home to the original, which I have enjoyed in the past. Upon entering the Gardens you lead downstairs revealing a round foyer decorated with tiles. The cool "starfish" floor plan offers a couple of dinning room options. The decor in the rooms is somewhat low-key when compared to similar establishments. Where the decor was sub-par, the food more than made up for it. We ordered a couple of beef skewers-well spiced ($2 each), the lentils, spinach and potatoe, rice and some plain naan. You can bring in some beer from the liquor store on the corner of Taylor & O'farrell (Taj Mahal, Anchor Steam) without any charge. Food was under $20. Great way to start the weekend.
Saturday 8 PM resv at Bizou. Worked up a hunger after the walk. Bizou was crowded and bustling when we arrived. Simple bistro setting dominated by the bar. Light colored walls, maple tables and chairs keep the ambiance light and fun. Unfortunately, the food was not. We came to sample Chef Kellar's signature dish, the beef cheeks. The meal began with an amuse bouche of beet, salmon, creme fraiche en croute. Starters were an heirloom tomatoe and goat cheese salad and a watercress, endive, bluecheese and walnut salad. Next up, the cheeks. This dish consists of beef cheeks, literrally, braised for hours, breaded and then fried. It is topped with a giant dollup of horseradish creme fraiche. The plate has watercress and roasted potatoes. There is some wine/au jus reduction on the plate and I wish there had been more. The meat is fatty and rich, yet comforting, but why the breading? I was able to get most of it off but then I had to wrestle the creme fraiche. Pretty soon everything was swimming in horseradish creme. I think this dish would be better if prepared with more simplicity in mind. Perhaps serve the creme fraiche in a ramakin. I will say that the meat went well up against the 99' Pegau. We were too full to have desert.
Sunday morning we meet friends at City View in Chinatown. No wait at noon, as we were seated immediately. We really enjoyed the dim sum. A lot of seafood and good baked bbq pork buns. $50 for the four of us and we were stuffed. I'd recommend it, though admitedly I am no expert. The best dish, IMHO, was the shrimp and spinach wrapped and shapped like flying saucers that were fried.
Sunday night, 7:30 PM resv at Watergate in the Mission. I had met the concierge in our hotel earlier and in passing mentioned our dinner plans for Sunday. Though she mentioned good things about the areas restaraunts, she seemed "concerned" that we were taking BART to 24th & Mission in the evening. I'm very happy we decided to stick to our plan as Watergate was a pleasant surprise. BTW, BART was no problema. I'd seen the menu on the net and was impressed by the $25 3 course meal-deal. We brought along a 91' Ch. St. Jean Cab. Sauv. Resv. Amazing balance in this wine and wish I had more bottles. First courses included the butter lettuce and shallots in grapeseed vinaigrette and the seared day boat scallops with goat cheese mashed potatoes, tomatoes, caper in mussel saffron sauce. Both dishes were well presented and conceived. Main dishes were the grilled ribeye steak in a green pepper corn sauce, pommes frites and sautéed asparagus and 1 of 2 evening specials ($5 supplement), the veal chop with oyster mushrooms in au jus, mashed potatoes and spinach. Very nice. My only criticism is that the mushrooms did not stand up to the veal. Oyster mushrooms are not as bold as porcini or shitake which might have been the better choice. Certainly though the meal was very satisfying. Desserts were the ginger creme brulee with raspberries and the pecan chocolate tart with chocolate truffle, vanilla ice cream and brandy anglaise. Some coffee and we were on our way. Very good meal, satisfying and recommended. The staff is well trained, the food is pleasing and flavorful. How they do it for $25?