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Restaurants & Bars 1

Silks -new chef, guest chef, foam (long)

Stanley Stephan | Jul 12, 200211:45 AM

After completing a particularily grueling project, I decided to treat myself to dinner at Silks. This week Michelle Bernstein is the guest chef. Also, there is a new chef de cuisine, Rich Gonzalez.

Bernstein is at Azul in Miami, which has been getting alog of presn. It was named this year as one of the Fifty best new restaurants in the world by Conde Nast Traveler. Link is below.

There was a tasting menu ($75) paired with wine ($30). I also tried a dish by the new chef Rick Gonzales. It seems foam has come to San Francisco. I've been reading so much on this board about El Bulli and restaurants in the East that are doing foams that I was curious. Actually I was alarmed at what I was perceiving to be a new trend of the moment.

Foam reminded me in appearance and texture of creme fraiche. There is a whisper of flavor. A low whisper. So it is not a bad trend to me.

I do want to make a comment about a dish I did not have that seems to be the thing to order at Silks. It is the watercress salad and crispy goat cheese. The watercress has a hazelnut dressing. Next to it is the goat cheese surrounded by a spectacular filo dough crust. The first one I saw impressed me. The table next to me was practically rolling on the floor with pleasure, but in a refined way, this being Silks.

The two stand out dishes for me were the sauteed Florida Snapper over Black Thai Rice with slivered Mangos. This was paired with a Masek wine from Austria. I may have the name spelled incorrectly. I was a little tired. The black rice was in a deep burgandy sauce that was wonderful and brought out the smokiness of the wine. Sorry, I'm not a wine person, buth the wine was extremely tasty.

The other disk I really liked was the stewed oaxtail ravioli paired with Turnbell Merlot. The ravioli was about the size of an egg roll. In side was diced juicy oxtail. There was a wonderful orange flavor that followed the deep rich oxtail.

Based on this dish, this seems to be what Bernstein does best. There is the first flavor and then a second flavor kicks in. I'm not sure how that happens, but it is very pleasant.

This being Silks, all the dishes were beautifully presented, in some cases jewel-like.

Also on the menu was one of Bersteins signature dishes. Two Tartares:
- Hamachi Tartare, Ginger, Shallots, Creme Fraiche and Caviar.
- Tuna Tartare, pinapple, roasted Peanuts and cilantro.
I'm not a tartare fan, but I liked the hamachi best. A little sushi roll slice it did the flavor trick. First the taste of the hamachi followed two beats later by a kick of ginger. This was paired with Cakebread Sauvigon Blanc.

The Boullabaisse with lime, Chiles and Cilantro was a reinvention of the dish. really generous chunks of fish with shrimps, a mussel and a perfect clam. The clam was wonderful, very cherrystone like, barely cooked, with the salty taste of the see. I would have almost paid the 75 for a plate of those clams. I was left to savor this one. There was more of a sauce at the bottom of the bowl. No fire in this dish. Reminded me of a Cambodian red sauce. It was paired with Chateau St Helena Chardonay.

The one dish I tried by Gozalez was the light cream of English Pease with Parmesan Foam and Serrano Ham Crisps. Beautiful green soup. The ham crisps were a knockout of intense flavor. I'm sure I misunderstood the waiter since he said they had been aged 18 years. Cant be right. It was paired with a Russez Pinot Grigio which had a beutiful copper color. Based on this dish I think that Silks will continue to have delicious and beautiful food.

The meal ended with an egg cup filled with an icy full flavored honeydew soup with creme fraiche ice cream. Very delicous and refreshing.

Bernstein isn't my favorite chef. Her flavors are sometimes subtle. But I do believe she belongs up there with the top chefs in the country for dishes that incorporate many ingrediants with each flavor complimenting and not fighting each other.

Berstein will be here through the 20th. Next week some of the menu changes. It will include:

Grilled cuttle fish over slow rasted beets with mojo de ajo ragout of jumbo summer asapragus, Morel mushrooms, tomato confit, pooached quali eggs, lobster vinaigette.

Fennel dusted sweetbreads, scallops, buttery cabbage, crisp lardon, star anise, orange glaze.

Ahi tuna poached rare in green tea, brrown sushi rice, sauteed pea tendrils and toasted garlic.

Black cod steamed with foie gras and julienned vegetables, Nappa cabbage, beurre rouge.

Braised short ribs falling off the bone, thai chiles, orange rind, creamy polenta, daikon radish.

Silks is my favorite restaurant. The service is always top notch. Also great for the single diner. It was late and I just dropped in without my usual book. Without my asking I was offered magazines and a book. They had not trouble with a single booking. The table next to me had a real power group with a banker who had helped start up Starbucks and was long time family friends with Bill Gates wife's family. A funny comment I overheard was "The father's a god damn liberal. But what can you do, the son's the richest man in the country". My point is that even riff raff like me received the same attention to detail and wonderful service as the power table next to me.

If you ever go to Silks, sign up for their mailing list. You learn of events like this. Also, a free glass of champagne was provided.

I really am late for an appointment, so excuse the spelling errors. No time to proof read.


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