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my little touristy trip report

Hungry Celeste | Feb 9, 2008 05:51 PM

Ferry Building: what a farmer's market! The Saturday AM scene was great; I enjoyed lots of samples, gawked at gorgeous produce, bought some St. Benedict's yogurt, and laughed at the $2/each oysters (my local oysters run 25 cents/ea at happy hour). Stood in line (just 2 or 3 people long) for Blue Bottle coffee; macchiato & cappucino were Rome-worthy (my personal coffee standard, set at Tazza D'oro & Sant'Eustachio). The building itself was fun, too--loved the food stalls & bookstore, but found the gardening/decor/herb stores rather boring. The place needs a good, comprehensive spice merchant, don'cha think? Tacos at Mijita were tasty, big enough to split into two, but not earth shattering. A duck & fig jam sandwich & garlic chips from Lulu Petite was a great choice for the ferry to Alcatraz--it beat the boat food by a mile. Recchuiti chocolates were good, but I preferred the diverse selection at CocoBella a short walk away (Amedei bars!)

Zuni Cafe: gnocchi, roasted rabbit w/veggies & mashed potatoes, duck breast w/roasted sweet potatoes & broccoli. Tasted DCs' roasted chicken & bread salad. All were excellent...I can see why this place is a perennial favorite--relaxed, flattering lighting, attentive service, and solid, easy-to-like food.

Dim sum: City View on Commercial; bustling, packed to the gills right around Chinese New Year with people. Tasty, hot, fresh, and frequent offerings came streaming out of the kitchen--their sticky rice in lotus leaf was especially delicious. CV is spacious, multi-level, and it has friendly, efficient service. Servers answered my dumb questions with a smile.

Red Blossom Tea on Grant: Peter & Alice rock. Go listen & learn from them; I ended up with a great selection of teas, cups, and accessories.

In & Out Burger: after hearing the hype, all I have to say is, Eh. It was a better than average fast food burger, but nothing more. More about the lettuce and tomato than the standard-issue skimpy fast food patty (I know they grind their own beef, etc, but it was still a paper-thin excuse for a burger). Actually, the fries vastly outshone the burger.

Chez Panisse: lunch was fun--salad w/goat cheese, pizetta w/anchovies & red onion, a chicken paillard w/potatoes, spaghetti carbonara. All was well until an obnoxious guy sat down at the next table: too much cologne, for starters. Then he accosted the waiter: what happened to Laura Chenel? Why no LC goat cheese on the menu? He took umbrage at the waiter's characterization of the changes in LC ownership/management, began berating the poor guy, and demanded to see the chef. Mind you, I'm all of eight inches away from M'sieu Unhappiness, trying to have a nice lunch. Turns out he is somehow affiliated with the French corporation that purchased LC a while back and is annoyed that CP no longer uses their products. Every time the waiter returned to his table, he started in again. To the server's credit, he brought us some marinated olives and asked if we were comfortable with the situation. I got to listen to the whole friggin' story AGAIN when the manager came over. Sigh. What a pill. And our lovely server brought us a complimentary bowl of tangerines & dates and apologized profusely for the boor next door. Thanks to M'sieu, I'll never buy LC goat cheese (high end or mass market), but I do have a story to go along with my CP lunch.

Tadich: char-broiled halibut topped with dungeness crab, fried prawns, long branch fries. What a great old place; old-school service & menu...worth the short wait on a Friday night (no reservations). Next time I'd opt for the shoestring fries and the cioppino.

Also went to Lori's Diner (basic diner food), Quince (see separate post), Naan-n-Curry (great breads, so-so to decent curries/dal, though if I lived near one I'd probably eat the breads frequently), the Tonga Room (skip it), Cafe Roma, bought coffee at Graffeo's, and otherwise snacked our way through lovely San Francisco.

The surprise of the trip was the quality of the food at Sutro's at the Cliff House; we went for the sunset & sat in the bar, not really expecting to dine well at all. Interesting cocktails & better-than-average food, including an excellent burger (though $16, it was worth it) and a nice tuna sashimi w/avocado. I'd go back in a heartbeat--that view would make cardboard taste good, so it was great to have good food AND a view.

Thanks, SF hounds, for your suggestions, and I'm already looking forward to a return trip.

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