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Restaurants & Bars 4

SF Visit Report (Isa, SlantedDoor, Mama's...)

kweesee | Jan 23, 200812:14 PM

As promised I am reporting on the places I ate during my visit to SF last weekend.
Friday night: In & Out - of course we've all been here, but just had to mention it. yum.
Saturday breakfast: The Butcher and the Chef. We actually tried to go to Mama's but the line was so long and the waitress said there would be at least a 40 minute wait. I was told to go early, but apparently 9:20am wasn't early enough! Crazy! So I went to TBTC as suggested by chowhounders (from my visiting SF~slanted door post). It's in a really cute neighborhood, easy parking, and no line! The decor was cute, small round tables like a French cafe. The FOOD WAS AWESOME!!!!!! We ordered:
*French Toast - "the best french toast EVER" my friend claims and he didnt stop talking about it all weekend.
*Smoked Salmon Benedict - salmon was very fresh and they used a sliced baguette type bread instead of english muffin. The hollandaise sauce was delicious! 3 of us ordered it and all loved it.
*Waffles - one of the best waffles I've ever had - light & fresh. (The other best was at bellagio)
The waitress (asian female) we had was super friendly and accomodating (our party of 4 turned into 5, then into 7). The manager (male) was EXTREMELY rude. We notifed the waitress that another friend was coming and ordered a benedict for him. When he arrived, we took a chair from another empty table, and he came over and said "Did you just seat yourself or were you seated by us? You know we have other people waiting to be seated." All of us were so shocked we weren't too sure what he meant because it was so bazzar.
Saturday dinner: Hunan Garden, Palo Alto. We went for Peking duck, which I thought was alright. The duck wasnt bad but I am not a big fan of the Taiwanese gua-baw style bun. I prefer the traditional Peking thin wraps. The buns fill you up and people ended up just eating the duck alone, which is not as fun as eating it wrapped up into a little roll.
Sunday breakfast: Mama's on Washington Square. My friend totally hyped it up because he heard great things about it. We got there at 8:15am and there was a line too! craziness! When we were let in, we stood in line for another 10 mins+ to order. We were both drooling over all the dishes they were making. The two of us ordered 3 dishes:
*Shrimp benedict with avacado & tomato - tasted pretty good, they used small shrimps instead of bigger shrimps diced - which i would have preferred. the crab benedict sounded good too.
*French toast special (3 types, banana nut + cranberry + cinnamon) - nothing special especially compared to TBTC's french toast mentioned above.
*California Omlette (bacon, avacado, jack cheese)
Sunday lunch: Slanted Door. I got a 2pm reservation on opentable for 4 of us. I was excited to try this place because of the 71 replies I got on the split opinions towards SD. For those of you who didnt read that post, basically half the people were saying it's a great experience and high quality food, and the other half felt that it was way overpriced for vietnamese food. First of all, I think that too many people have the wrong perception of what certain cuisines should be like or cost. For example, the Chinese, Vietnamese, Mexican, Thai, and Malay food here in the US are mostly pretty cheap and casual. A lot of people fail to acknowledge that what's available here does not fully represent what is available in those countries. Most importantly, people often these countries each have hundreds of restaurants that are high end and/or trendy with delicacies not available here.

So, my opinion on SD is that it is not overpriced, overrated, Vietnamese food. Everything we ordered was fresh and tasted unique. It wasnt just soy sauce, sesame sauce, and ginger -- which what most people add when they want to make something 'asian,' We ordered:

Prather Ranch beef carpaccio - beef and sesame crackers very fresh. great appetizer
*Grilled lemongrass pork over rice noodles with imperial rolls - very authentic, light, fresh, and crispy
*grilled 5-spice chicken - it was super juicy and you could taste the spices that were not overwhelming.
*meyer ranch shaking beef - soft, great flavor, with unique taste
*hodo soy beanery organic lemongrass tofu - this seemed like a dish i could order in asia because how authentic it tastes.
*Pear crisp - soft pear and great cinnamon taste. better than the one at universal cafe.
*Creme Brule - one of our friends ate the whole thing in a couple minutes.
Sunday afternoon tea: Rotunda. I've never seen tea bags used at nice tea bags. kind of dissapointing. They give you HUGE popovers which I'm not a big fan, and I find it kind of weird for afternoon tea. The sandwiches and desserts are mediorcre. The ambiance is nice but the food and tea was blah.
Sunday dinner: Universal Cafe. this is my friend's favorite restaurant in SF, so I wanted to try it. The food was great. Will just mention the good ones.
*Grilled Flat bread appetizer, with potatoes, parsley, and cheese. our favorite.
*spinach fettucini w/pork shoulders. yum. portion just right
*charcoal-grilled hanger steak
Monday breakfast: we tried to go to 2223 market in castro but it was closed so we went next door to this diner looking place. anyone know the name? i ordered the carnitas sandwich with avacado and tomatoes and it was GREAT! it was very heavy for breakfast but the bun was soft and the meat was yummo. i was really food-coma'ed all day though.
Monday afternoon tea: Samovar's. none of us liked our teas. the quality was not that high. we did order a fruit plate with crackers, cheese, and honeycomb, which wasn't bad. wont go back here again
Monday dinner: Isa. I've heard WAY too many good things about this place, so I had to try it. This place is not as French as I expected (it had paella & risotto). It is tapas style so the 8 of us ordered 17 dishes. Everything was extremely good except for the paella which tasted really seafood-y. Our faves were:
*seared grade a foie gras - one of the best ive ever had, so fresh, soft and didnt taste really heavy. we split it but i think we all wanted mored
*roasted lamb tenderloin - didnt have that heavy lamb taste that people are scared of
*flat iron steak - soft soft and great flavor
*King trumpet, Morel & Shiitake Mushroom Risotto
*Potato Wrapped Halibut

I love SF!
Thanks to all the chowhounders who made recs.

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