t says: Holy cow! It’s been a whole month since our last post! How shameful! I guarantee that we’ve been eating – it’s just that I didn’t have time to eat and type! So it’s time for a photostorm!!!!
t says: I’ve been holding back on this review for a while because I couldn’t figure out how best to do it. Normally, for a restaurant that was this delicious, I like to do a dish-by-dish review. But the lighting was so low that the photos all came out terribly. So now what? And I don’t have the gift of word necessary to carry you through an entire multi-course meal. So I decided to keep it tight:
t says: There’s no reason that Souvla and Sous Buerre Kitchen should be in the same review. They feature different cuisines. They’re in different neighborhoods. They are entirely different concepts (restaurant vs. order-and-sit). Really, the only thing keeping them in the same post is that they both begin with the same-sounding first syllable: “soo”. But if you look deeper, maybe there is a point, because one’s failing is precisely the reason why the other is a success.
UPDATE: OH NO!! Sous Buerre Kitchen has just closed!!! Read about it here: http://sf.eater.com/2016/5/18/11701524/sous-beurre-kitchen-closed-mission-san-francisco. I guess our review wasn’t far off from the truth!
t says: g and I literally just ate at Petite Crenn last night … and it. was. fabulous. Really. Every dish. Now, on one hand, we should expect it to be fabulous, as Dominique Crenn was just honored as “Best Female Chef” in the WORLD – the WORLD!! (and the DLROW, too, for all my neurology friends) But she really delivered!
Now, this post has no pictures – g was exceptionally self-conscious that evening, so photos were vetoed. But take my word as to why I think that this is the first SF restaurant we’ve gone to that’s worth the fixed price meal:
- Service was prompt and courteous. You think that that would be a “given” – but it was nice to see people serving us who appeared to be excited by the food – it was contagious!
- The room is casual enough to make you feel at ease. No white tablecloths. No excessive silverware. A higher-than-usual volume in the dining room allowed for more of a fun-night-out feel than a worship-at-the-altar-of-food feel.
- The wine list was reasonable. Ok – I take that back; I’m sure that it’s marked-up by a bajillion percent – but they’re bringing in things that are unconventional, so I’m ok with it (it’s like paying a “finder’s fee” for interesting wine). g had an actually wonderful rose cava (that I can’t find anywhere else in the U.S. except one retailer in San Jose …), and I had a Sauvignon Blanc that rode this very interesting line between New Zealand power and French austerity.
- Each dish was excellent. From the bread course, to the oyster, to the gnocchi, to the fish, to the salad (salad!!! the SALAD!), I was hooked. It was like this magical mix of Little Fish and Talula’s Garden and Ottolenghi, where the hits just kept on coming. The “weakest” course might have been the dessert, which was a mixed berry galette – but you know what – after so many other wonderful dishes, a humble berry tart which was nicely executed, was all I needed.
- We saw Dominique Crenn. Sporting her short hair, tattoos, and [we think] a dog in a pet carrier, it was like seeing Bradley Cooper in the wild (there’s more to this joke).
Even g loved the dining experience – and she’s as anti-fixed-price as they come. She has decreed: “yea … I’d come back … how about for my birthday?”. ‘Nuff said.
t says: There was this curious little frontage called “the Lab” in Dogpatch – we’ve seen it on numerous ventures to Piccino. Each time we peered into the windows and read the posted flyers we were intrigued; we had stumbled upon one of the sites of “Feastly”, which is essentially an organization that conducts pop-ups all over the country. As far as the Dogpatch site, I would say that it is reminiscent of “Cook” in Philly, but less “instructional” (i.e. you’re not all up in the chef’s business the entire night), and more like a venue that is forever a pop-up restaurant. Each night (nearly every night), there’s a different chef and “theme”. Hoping to be one of the cool kids, I dipped my toe into the water by making a brunch reservation for a Saturday.
April 2016, Saturday Brunch, Party of 2. The space is pretty simple. The tables are simple. The chairs are simple. They aren’t going to win any awards for decor … but we got the feeling that that wasn’t the point. This was not a showcase for “the next super chef” or “chef that’s so hot right now” (even though that’s what the website is espousing), rather, this was a space for some chefs to share their independent creations with a bunch of random people. The theme for the morning: crepes.
t says: Let’s just come out and say it: Tosca Cafe is a weird place. There’s no way to sugar-coat it. A North Beach staple, it’s been around a while – and when you walk in, you feel it immediately. I could have sworn that I walked into another decade (80’s? Early 90’s?). Be that as it may, there’s supposed to be some real talent behind the scenes, pulling the strings (April Bloomfield and Ken Friedman). So what was the food like? It varied …
I have no pictures of the desserts. Tiramisu was a notch above what I like to call “the usual Tiramisu” (like the kind you might get at something like the Olive Garden – if the Olive Garden serves Tiramisu). It wasn’t as good as the one that some old, frail Italian grandmother slaved over, but for a dessert that could be made ahead of time and sliced on demand, it was well put together. I think we also had some cannolis on the table, but I don’t believe I tried any.
So I’m not sure if the new ownership has truly innovated anything on the menu (or if they did, I dread what it used to look like), but the end result was “pretty good”. We’re glad we checked it out, but I think we’re off to bigger/badder/better places – after all, this is SF. (We heard that Cotogna is pretty darn good – that might be our next Italian destination).
t says: Since moving to SF, Trestle has been near the top of the list of restaurants to try. Every review reads something like, “$35 fixed price! The food is just too incredible for it to be $35! How do they do it!?”. g and I were totally “in” – but for the record, there’s also a pasta supplement (+$10), which we’ll get into later …
March 2016. Saturday Dinner, Party of 2 (or 4?). g and I nabbed a reservation for a few weeks in advance. Later, we happened to be hanging out with k and cm, and decided we should eat together. We called up Trestle and asked to add two to the party – they refused. We looked on opentable – and they had another two-top available within a half-hour of our initial reservation … so we got that one, too. We showed up to the restaurant, explained that we had two reservations, and they sat us next to eachother … with different servers … with the intention that we would keep it as “two separate tables”. I understand why they did it that way, and we’re fine with it – but it did add some fun to our dinner conversation (e.g. pretending not to know eachother, etc). It did confuse the servers that we were so friendly, even going so far as to sharing dishes (i.e. one said: “we’ve never seen this before!” – I hope someone let her in to the fact that we knew eachother). Anyways – it was entertaining, and we’re happy they took us, even if it was a bit silly.
So … Trestle … how was it? Well, $40 per person for dinner is sort of a deal (because generally, you’ll need one pasta supplement per two diners, at least), and no part of the meal was bad (which is good!), but let’s add some perspective. There are places in SF to get mind-blowing food in ample quantities that are just as inexpensive (Nopalito, Anchor Oyster), but those aren’t the contemporary-American-composed-dishes-in-courses restaurants. When you start stepping up to the “tasting menu” styles of restaurant, then yes, Trestle comes in at a deal. But I believe the flavors come in exactly at the pricepoint suggests; at no point did I every confuse Trestle’s dinner for some magical $100+ fixed price menu, or even an $70 one. It tasted like a solid $30-40 – and for that, in SF, they get props for not charging $70, $100, etc. Will g and I go back? Not on our own accord – maybe if we have some visitors from out of town and need to add a Contempo-American stop to the itinerary (but that’d be after Mexican, Seafood, Japanese, other Asian, pizza, and French).