40 Hours in San Francisco

I spend the first half of this week in San Francisco for work. Although I wasn’t even there for two full days, I was fortunate to be able to enjoy two great meals.

Chez Panisse – 1517 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA

Straight off the plane, I headed to Berkeley on Monday for lunch with my grandparents and aunt who happened to be in town. My grandparents have lived in Berkeley for years and wanted to give my aunt and I a chance to try Alice Water’s famous Berkeley restaurant. This restaurant opened 40 years ago and started the homegrown, health food concept that  is now visible across the nation. Alice Waters is a passionate advocate for a food economy that is “good, clean, and fair.” The restaurant experienced major damage from a fire in the spring and just re-opened about three weeks ago. The menu at Chez Panisse changes daily. We ate upstairs in the more casual café and enjoyed all of our selections (though we we not overly impressed with the service.) I ordered a little gem lettuce salad with poached shrimp, grape fruit and crème fresh. Then I had a pizzette of leeks and clams. My aunt ordered a fried calamari dish that was served with a zucchini salad. My grandmother ordered a beautiful looking tagliatelle with a fresh pesto made with parsley.

I didn’t take any photos of the food but here my aunt and I are outside the restaurant.

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The Slanted Door – 1 Sausalito, San Francisco Ferry Bldg #3, San Francisco, CA

After a great lunch in Berkeley with family, I went back to the city to quickly check into my hotel before dinner with my colleagues at The Slanted Door. We sat in the private room which was perfect for our group because it was mostly enclosed by a glass and had a curtain that blocked the noise from the main dining room.

Since we were in the private room, we had to order from the prix fixe menu. We left the ordering up to one person in our party and lucky for us everything he picked was great. (We did have one vegetarian in our group so he received his own items in place of those he couldn’t eat.) Our three appetizers were:

  • crispy imperial rolls with gulf shrimp, pork shoulder, glass noodle, roasted peanut
  • barbecued willis ranch pork spareribs with scallion, cilantro, honey-hoisin sauce
  • grapefruit and jicama salad with red cabbage, pickled carrot, candied pecan.

I thought the spring rolls were just on par with any others I have had elsewhere. The pork spareribs were very tasty (I do love anything with hoisin) but messy. Fortunately, the waiter bought us damp towels once we were done with the appetizer course. I thought the grapefruit and jicama salad had good flavor but it was 95% red cabbage. I would have enjoyed more jicama.

For the entrée round, we ordered:

  • cellophane noodles with green onion, dungeness crab, sesame
  • sesamepan-seared day boat scallops served with lotus root, fennel, chayote, grape tomato, red curry sauce
  • organic chicken claypot with caramel sauce, thai chili, fresh ginger
  • grass-fed estancia shaking beef, cubed filet mignon, watercress, red onion, lime sauce.

I’m not a big scallop fan but everyone seemed to enjoy them. The cellophane noodles were a huge hit. The chicken had great flavors but it came out after the other items so I could only manage a taste because I was so full.

For our vegetable, we ordered the dirty girl farm spicy haricots vert with beech mushroom, roasted chili. They were a good compliment to the other items so rich in flavor.

For dessert, we were served homemade donuts with a butterscotch dipping sauce and a cheesecake that came with a blackberry sauce and featured an amazing crust.

Lava Lounge – 527 Bryant St, San Francisco, CA

On to the real reason I went to San Francisco….on Tuesday evening, I hosted about 125 guests for a reception and also took about 60 clients to the Giants/Red Sox game. The only food I sampled at Lava was the truffled tofu fries and they were amazing! They were lightly battered and tossed in truffle oil  and served with lemon soy-dipping sauce.

Here are some photos from AT&T Park:

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Although my trip to San Francisco was quick, it was a success overall. I had a chance to visit with family, hosted a successful event and enjoyed a few great meals! Next time, I’ll have to make sure to get some sightseeing in.

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