1st evening: The Slanted Door. After a long wait we managed to be seated, without reservsations, at the communal table. The place is noisy, the view is nice. Service was overly attentive and friendly, but the art of serving the dishes for each course simultaneously is simply not practised; and when you are eating with a person who will not lift a fork until all are served, this is a problem. How difficult can it be to time a soup and a salad to arrive together? We were just two people. Our neighbors had completely finished sharing one entre before the other one arrived. What's with that? And the food was very so-so. My halibut was fresh but uninteresting, and my vegetarian domestic partner had to make do with a plate of celephane noodles and bean sprouts that tasted as bland as they looked. Good spring rolls, but not exceptional. There must be a thousand local Chinese and Vietnamese places that do these dishes better and cheaper.
Day 2: Breakfast at San Francisco Seafood in the Ferry Building. Wonderful Crab Louie Salad with crusty French bread, a terrific dressing, and even the salad greens were exceptional. When I asked if I could buy the salad dressing they offered to just give me some. When I explained that I couldn't take it with me to Texas, they gave me the recipe.
Lunch: L'Osteria del Forno in North Beach. Wow! What charm. We especially enjoyed the chard cooked with Swiss cheese and egg, the very unusual and lovely minestrone soup, and the rustic salad of white beans, onions and tuna.
Dinner: Chez Panisse. Very nice, but I guess I'm a snob of sorts. I'm always happier with good food at some hole-in-the-wall place rather than at a hyped-up happening place. It was all very tasty, I just wasn't truly amazed by anything in particular.
Day 3: Saturday Farmer's Market. "Wow!" again. This is an event worth making a trip to San Francisco for, especially in the summer months when produce is in abundance. Delicious fruits and vegetables, lot's of interesting prepared foods and artisan cheeses, and many booths preparing hot and cold lunches. Lots of sampling. Beautiful flowers. Smoked meats. etc., etc. Not to be missed.
Lunch: Nirvana, on Castro between 18th and 19th. Excellent. Lots of vegetarian dishes for him, a lovely curried chicken with noodles for me. Put that plate of noodles from the Slanted Door next to either of our dishes at Nirvana (they cost the same: $10) and you would weep to see how pitiful Slanted Door is. Nirvana's dishes were attractive, colorful, and tasty. They contained interesting ingredients like fresh mango and roasted sweet potato. We also liked the salad with dried cranberries, which we split.
Dinner: Harvey's on Castro. A nice place for drinks and a sandwitch, and for people watching if you can grab a table by the picture windows up front. Wanted to try Sumi, on 18th, but they have no vegetarian dinners. I've eaten there before and was quite impressed.
Day 4: Today I'm going for a picnic lunch from the fabulous shops in the Ferry Building. We are staying across the street at the Hyatt, which I "won" on Priceline for $72/night. Then we are having dinner with my sister-in-law in Petaluma. She was once a chef at Chez Panisse, and owns one of the specialty shops in the Ferry Building, so this should be good. We fly back to Texas tomorrow.
End of report.