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Restaurants & Bars 4

Trip to SF and Berkeley

kevin | Mar 22, 200802:46 PM

recent trip to SF

I forgot to post up on these boards, but here's a few comments on places visited on past trip, in no particular order.

Memphis Minnie's visited only for the sake tasting, had a veggie dog from Rosamunde before (which is not a good idea - basically a Tofurkey brand sausage, so nothing interesting, but was feeling quite virtuous to be in the Lower Haight so go figure).

The sakes were nothing exceptional but good, I guess you really do have to have it with some sliced beef brisket or pastrami sandwich on Wednesday. I noted that put pimiento cheese on their burgers, which is interesting and points to some Low Country influences (Is shrimp and grits a possibility in the future?) Did order the banana pudding for dessert to wash it all down, good stuff.

Trip to Toronado bar for some beers, to bad it's cash only, but there's a running theme with all those Cash Only joints in SF. Had a couple beers, and a hand-pumped one, which you find almost nowhere. But I was let down by the lower number of beers on tap, some have said that this is the Best Beer Bar in America, but I find a lot to argue with that.

We visited Jai Yun the night before at their new location on Clay (If I'm not mistaken, they moved from their more cramped, and Christmas light tinged location at 930 Pacific). Reservation are required, so we made a reservation that morning. And we were going for the all vegetarian meal, although over the phone I think the chef Nei didn't ask about what price point we'd be dealing with. But we did get the reservation after some difficulty in commnication between the two sides. We arrived at what seemed to be a stretch of Chinatown severely lacking in tourists and heavy foot traffic. But we were here for Jai Yun not a $1 firecracker or other touristy tcotchtkes.

We ordered up the $45 vegetarian menu (Does anyone happen to know what the 80 dollar or 100 dollar vegetatiran menu will get you? I understand the $100 meat, fish, and veggies menu will get you shark's fin, maybe some more exotic mushrooms, and abalone?)

The little panchan-like dishes to start off the meal were swell, especially the lotus in vinegar. The pickled cucumbers were swell too, after that, was a little more than a half dozen dishes most with mock meat and the superb fried eggpant, this must be one of the best if not the best eggplant dishes ever. Sadly, there was no dessert to finish off the meal. We washed it all down with a Tsing tao and a soda. The service was swell, and there were about two other tables occupied along with us. The new location seems to be at least double the size in the number of tables and square footage as the previous location, although it seems like they're doing the same number of covers here per night as they would at the old one.

For breakfast one day, I had a pot of tea, and the poached egg (cooked in that newfangled machine) at the Guerilla Cafe. It's a swell place if a little to cute.

I visited Gregoire's for lunch for a catfish sandwich with roasted peppers and french fries. it's an ok meal but nothing exceptional. I guess the coolest part about this joint is that served French food at a takeout stand. But some of the food is just not that intricate or novel nowadays. I also wish they'd served a sandwich with a potato or at least have smaller sizes for the fries rather than one size fits all. A meal with a drink ran me about 17 bucks. Not cheap, but not that great either to demand the prices.

It was off to Sketch for dessert, specifically their faboulous ice milk almost "ice cream". when I visited a couple yrs back the ice cream served up here was truly some of the very best I have ever had. So arrived at Fourth St and entered Sketch and noticed to my dismay that they wouldn't be scooping the ice cream but rather it would arrive out of a machine that wouldn't be out of place at a Pinkberry or local fro-yo shop. This saddened me. And when I tried the ice cream, it saddened me even more. The magic was gone, the ice cream was not good at all. Pedestrian at best, and I had been one of Sketch's biggest fans on my one and beyond blissful visit there. Also, if you're trying to get two flavors they have to come from the same machine or else you have to buy to separate scoops at full price. What a fleecing to boot. I really wanted to love it again, but alas Sketch had gone severely downhill.

Also, visited Swan Oyster Depot, and in a nutshell: overpriced seafood, with cans in the back (not good), and gruff service that's not real but more of a shtick to show the tourists that this is the real SF.

I'll end on a positive note though. Jai Yun was still beyond tremendous, and I hope it does survive even with it's cash only policy and severely limited hours.

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