Between catching up from our four month Asia trip, weeklong trips to LA and New York, finishing my book (which is scheduled for September publication) and the winding down of Joyce’s consulting career, we missed all too much of what was going on in our adopted home town of San Francisco: restaurant openings, museum and gallery exhibits, wine tastings, plays and much more.
This required a concerted effort to make up for lost time while simultaneously keeping up with the many new doings throughout the city.
This series of blog posts examines our experiences with four of our favorite city leisure pursuits: art museums and galleries, theater, wine tastings and last, but certainly not least, keeping up with all of the city’s new restaurants, while still having time to revisit many of our favorites. The particular highlights and lowlights of this process are split into four posts.
Luckily, unlike with the case of museum and gallery exhibits and plays, new restaurants tend to stay open long enough to visit on a more leisurely basis. Even so, we are too anxious to discover new finds to wait for too long before visiting new concepts or particularly interesting new places from noteworthy chefs. So, in addition to getting reacquainted with some of our favorites, we got our first tastes of a number of new ones. Our favorites of this new crop included:
- TBD, the wonderfully casual small-plate restaurant from the people who brought us AQ. A regularly changing menu of about 16 items that are suitable for sharing. Not a clunker among the roughly ten dishes shared among four of us, ;
- Verbeena, the San Francisco-based spin off of Gather (Berkeley) that specializes in innovative preparations and artistic presentations of dishes from fresh ingredients from local, artisanal producers. Focus especially on some of the vegetable-based offerings (a specialty of Gather).
- Kin Khao, a Thai restaurant that produces fascinating, and from our visit (unfortunately, unlike those of the Chronicle’s Michael Bauer), excellent recreations of authentic Thai dishes. The best way to go is with a crowd, so you can sample many of the wonderful dishes.
- Fog City Diner, with its new design, concept and chef, is a casual and friendly winner, with a broad range of interesting and tasty dishes and helpful service.
- Stone’s Throw, an impressive start from a team dedicated to applying training in four-star restaurant cooking and service to a Russian Hill neighborhood eatery.
- Hong Kong Lounge II, where we relived our recent time in Beijing and Hong Kong with very good Shanghai dumplings and Peking duck, and a slightly less satisfying surf clams in black bean sauce with peppers and onions.
Unfortunately, not all new restaurants achieved (at least to our tastes) similarly noteworthy results. We were particularly disappointed in two new restaurants for which we had high initial hopes:
- The Coachman, Charles Phan’s attempt at British food went, at least in our view, terribly wrong. While the menu we initially saw online had some interesting dishes, these had disappeared from the actual menu by the time we arrived. We made due with a couple of very disappointing standard dishes, including a prime rib which had more fat than meat and little taste.
- The Square, a casual restaurant from the proprietors of the wonderful Sons & Daughters, whose new restaurants “straight-forward food” was certainly that, although to our tastes (and our one and only visit), simplistic and disappointing.
But while we have made a small dent in the number of restaurants that opened since last fall, we have many, many others to go. Among those we are most anxious to try are Tosca Café, Nico, Akiko, Ichi Sushi, The Commissary and Ala Romano.