Yesterday was a good food day for me.
Went to Swann's at noon on a friday. Dumb idea. The line had enough people on it to fill the place twice. (I'd only been at 8:30AM previously). And be advised, Swann's is only opening up the counter at 11AM now instead of when they open early in the morning. But you can do takeout until 11.
So instead, we went to Tajine a block away.
Keep in mind, I'm kind of a pushover for Moroccan food. Even when it's only fair, I still like it. So, I kind of think that SF has no GREAT Moroccan food.
But this was really very nice. We split a chicken tajine (olive and lemon) and a brochette royale mixed grill (chicken, lamb and kutfa).
First, the tajine: very nice. The sauce was really tasty. Different than I'm used to in that it had a richer texture. Odd in that it was sprinkled with french fries; would have preferred a side of couscous or rice. While the flavor was great, there were only slivers of preserved lemon, I would have liked a couple of bigger pieces in there. Still, I would come back for this. It's a dish I love and the best version I know in SF.
Second, the mixed grill: Very nice portion, three skewers + rice & two puddles of salads. The chicken was the best of the 3 meats. The lamb and kofta not as good. The rice was transcendent, great saffron and slight herb flavor. The zaalouk (eggplant salad) and shalada (tomato/parsley/lemon juice salad) were great. Next time I will try their 'mosaic of salads' which has those and two more.
Also, the bread was fantastic. Genuine moroccan style bread, pefect texture outside and in, fresh and nice flavor and warm.
Our server was delightful. The mint tea was nice (though it did not have big leaves of tea in the glass like they do in Morocco). And when we were all done, the nice lady we were speaking to on line at Swann's was just about at the head of the line.
So. Very good, not great. I will definitely return here to fill my craving for Tajines in particular (go figure, good choice of name!). To put it in context with my other two go-to Moroccan places:
-- Aziza is great but a whole other thing. Higher end, higher concept, smaller portions, much more expensive. Non-traditional Full bar.
-- El Mansour -- least good food of the 3, but a really fun evening, great for dates or small parties, fun tent, belly dancers, it's nice to get a full multicourse menu.
-- Tajine -- low-key, traditional, delicious, inexpensive. If high concept non-traditional bothers you, this is the best of the three.
... and for dinner I met friends at Tadich. What a great place! I've lived in SF 20 years and never been. I went with the traditional favorites. Martini, oysters, cioppino. These are 3 things I love and all were fantastic.
Lovely cold martini, and they carry my favorite, Plymouth gin.
Oysters were delicious, cold, good cocktail sauce and served with ample horseradish and lemon (a whole plate of quatered lemons on the table!).
The cioppino was fantastic, best in SF, and this is a dish I really like. Perfectly cooked scallops and shrimp (these nearly always come overcooked!) and fish and crab. Kind of skimpy on the crab is my only complaint. The broth was fantastic, I finished it all with my spoon.
Dessert, not so good. A bourbon bread pudding, nothing to write home about.
Also, I totally loved our booth. Like a little wooden room with a table in it, but open on top. So you have privacy, but you still feel the hustle bustle of the place. I was meeting old work colleagues, so this was perfect. We could talk and catch up, but still felt we were somewhere fun.
We did have to wait about 20 minutes, but it was 6:45 on Friday, and they were happy to make a martini to help the wait go by.
It took a long time to get there, but now that I know it, I will definitely return.