Tuesday, July 8, 2008

SF Eating: Take 1

The co-owners of Salt House restaurant

I spent this past weekend in San Francisco, where the weather was delightful. We ate some excellent food. Here is a quick review of my culinary journeys:

Salt House — Housed in an old printing press building just south of Market Street, Salt House has a lot going for it. The vibe is pleasant from the moment you walk in the door. The exposed brick on the wall and the rustic surroundings are quite cozy, and the food is excellent. I started with four of the Kumamato oysters and then ordered the duck as my entree. Both were superb. My dining partner was equally pleased. But dessert for both of us was disappointing. The apricot-cherry tart that I ordered was lukewarm and tasted bland, and the ice cream atop it was also unappealing. But the wine list was diverse and interesting. I would go back, but I would probably ask a few more questions before diving into dessert.

Michael Mina — This restaurant at the Westin-St. Francis Hotel has been the star on the city's restaurant marquee, almost since it opened. I started with the trio of foie gras selections and followed with the trio of lamb (a chop, a shank and a saddle). Both dishes (or both trios) were absolutely marvelous. I skipped dessert, but my dining partner felt his berry medley was mediocre. The staff reacted the way they should have; they said they were sorry and promptly offered us each an excellent glass of dessert wine. Michael Mina is a class act. The wine list is priced in the stratosphere so beware.

Yield — This wine bar at 2490 3rd Street (the city's old Dog Patch neighborhood) is wonderfully relaxed and unpretentious. The wine list isn't huge, but it covers all the key bases, and I give Yield credit for having a Carmenere among its choice of red wines. Yield tries to feature selections from wineries that are family-owned and whose grapes are grown organically or biodynamically. I drank a small glass of Mourvedre that was lush and spicy. They offer cheeses, flat bread, olives and toasted almonds to accompany their wines.

Serpentine — This restaurant in an old warehouse just across the street from Yield, was a very pleasant experience. The heirloom tomatoes with an avocado puree were amazing, and the lamb entree I ordered was excellent. Desserts (is this a pattern?) were only so-so. We brought in a wine and paid the corkage fee so I can't comment much on the restaurant's wine list.

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