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Restaurants & Bars 4

Victorians and Chow (part 1)

jaweino | May 26, 200205:18 PM

The group started gathering at our flat at 9:30AM for Mimosas and Bloody Marys. By
10:20 we were all acquainted and sufficiently fortified to set out on our walk. The
Victorian tour started 2 blocks away at the corner of California and Buchanan. From that
corner all three styles of Victorians (Italianate, Stick, and Queen Anne) are readily
observable.. To help guide us and give us some history of some of the buildings Derek
brought a copy of HERE TODAY and I had a copy of PAINTED LADIES. As we were
observing one example of an 1885 Stick/Eastlake the next door neighbor, Mr. Joe Blue,
the Director of the Golden Gate Bridge, invited us into the back yard of his very well
restored 1885 house to see the beautiful original glassed-in gazebo in a very lovely
garden. We continued down California savoring the Victorians and other historic
buildings culminating in the recently restored Queen Anne Colonial Revival house on the
corner of Franklin and California. From there it was a short walk to our first food stop,

We arrived at Swan at 10:50, and found immediate seating for all 8 of us with room to
spare. A crew from The Discovery Channel was taping a segment for a show called
Cheech Marin’s San Francisco, so look for Hounds in the background when that show
airs later this year. Swan opened in 1912, and the stools at the bar were bought used at
that time. It is now run by 5 or 6 brothers, and before them by their father. Most of us
had some of the excellent New England Clam Chowder. Limster won’t find many places
in Boston that make a better one. The broth is creamy, buttery, and delicious without a
hint of flour, but with lots of clams. Several people tried a sampling of the oysters. They
had Blue Point, Kumamoto, Miyagi, and Belon. The ranking seemed to be unanimous,
placing Kumamoto at the top, followed by Miyagi, Belon, and Blue Point. Limster will
check whether Blue Points are better on the East Coast. Ruth had the Crab Cocktail
which she deemed excellent, but she would have preferred a little less sauce. I had the
Smoked Salmon, which was outstanding. It is house-smoked, sliced to order and served
on sourdough toast with capers. In case they didn’t put enough capers on the plate they
brought me the jar. The flavor was delicately smoky and the salmon was rich and buttery
and cut to just the right thickness. As we left we were each given a SOD sponge.

From there we walked to The Queen Anne Hotel on Sutter. This hotel was originally
built in 1895 as a girls finishing school for the mistress of a state senator. We had the
opportunity to explore the interior and see some of the rooms. We then proceeded to
pass some of the finest Victorians. Some of the highlights were: Temple Ohabei Shalom
built in 1898, and now in the process of being converted to a Japanese Seniors’ Home.
The redwood facade has been made to appear as if it were stone. We then went on to the
block that SF Weekly claims is the only block in the city that is completely Victorian
(actually there is one non-Victorian on the corner); and an 1886 Stick/Eastlake that was
moved 12 blocks in 1974. We ended up at BENKYO-DO (see link bow) to try some
Japanese Sweets.

We got a box of ten different Manjus. We had traditional ones with red bean paste on the
inside and mochi (pounded rice flour) on the outside. We had one with the process
reversed so that the red bean paste looked liked chocolate frosting. There was a deep
fried dough one filled with red bean paste that was like a Japanese jelly donut, a pancake
sandwich with bean paste between two pancakes and one with a flaky pastry covering.
There were also several made with white bean paste. We took our box outside, and sat
on a little stone wall/bench next to a fountain to divide and consume them. A comment
was made that the texture was better in the ones we had last week, but we ate those
whole without subjecting them to the trauma of being torn to pieces, so it wasn’t a fair
comparison. After we gobbled up the 10 pieces we took some photos and started down
the hill to MOZZARELLA DI BUFALA where an excellent lunch awaited us.


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