Joel Vincent

Technology. Wine. Family. (maybe not in that order)

SF Restuarant Round-up

A Full Belly.com, a site we enjoy reading from time to time, provides this good round up of recent reviews of restaurants in San Francisco. Certainly we’ve been anticipating our chance to hit Tartare and if you’re up for a really grand feast (by “up” we mean “have a wad of money you’re itching to blow on a spectacular dinner”) the Ritz Carlton Dining Room is the place to be.

Vivi’s is a big advocate of cutting through the hype of wine to find true gems among reasonably priced wines. When it comes to restaurants, sometimes a splurge is worth it. One tip to keeping your bill down, check to see if the restaurant has a corkage fee. Then you can bring your own bottle. But, you should know, as a courtesy, you may want to ask the Sommelier if he/she would like to share a glass with you. Its just a polite gesture.

Anyway, on to the review round-up.

Browse A Full Belly.com if you get a chance. Its worth the visit.

SF: Review Roundup
Today’s review roundup includes: Tartare, Ritz-Carlton Dining Room, Olema Inn.

SF Weekly Meredith Brody reviews Tartare (550 Washington; 415-434-3100):

. . . We were led to a table for two along the banquette and began perusing the deceptively short menu. I say “deceptively” because, although there were only 18 dishes with brief descriptions, the imaginary tastings they set off in my brain — the part that decides what I’ll be eating — were complex. The menu has four categories: “raw and rare,” comprising five tartares; “naked and natural,” including two carpaccios, oysters, and a salad; “simply soup,” with four offerings; and “old and new,” five entrees. Classic hand-cut beef tartare — well, the mind thinks it knows what that will be, but even if you’ve had numerous tartares, and I have, I’ve never had one with habanero-infused sesame oil, plums, and mint before. King salmon tartare with house-ground banana curry? Carpaccio of opakapaka with orange oil and toasted cumin? And the “simply soups” weren’t simple at all: How about a garlic parsley bisque with black mussel flan?
Olema Inn makes diners feel that that they’ve enjoyed a reprieve from the rigors of urban life, without sacrificing the quality of food that a city has to offer.
. . . The soup was an ethereal yet deep-flavored cream of corn, with a dusting of smoky paprika and a knot of boned pork sparerib meat, infused with ginger, in its center. The cream of corn was genius on its own, and didn’t quite seem to need the chewy meat, even as an interesting textural contrast.
The tuna tartare was a fresh take on a dish that has become a cliché — heated with peppers, cooled with mint, and sweetened with diced plums. Chester adored it, as he did the ostrich tartare, wittily served in what I thought was an exceptionally thick-walled oval soup bowl, which turned out to be an actual ostrich egg shell. The beefy meat was well served by its chunky Roquefort vinaigrette and cracked pink peppercorns: a crunchy and creamy dish.

SF Examiner Patricia Unterman reviews Ritz-Carlton Dining Room (600 Stockton St.; 415-296-7465):

Traditionally, hotel dining rooms have suffered a bad rap for overpriced, fancy but soulless institutional cooking. The Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton, however, is one of the best high-end restaurants in The City. Run almost like an independent — except that it’s subsidized by the hotel — the Dining Room offers a $68 three-course menu with lots of choices, augmented by little surprises sent out by the kitchen.
Recently, after seven successful years, Sylvain Portay left the Dining Room and Ron Siegel moved over from Masa’s to succeed him. Siegel became an international celebrity a few years ago by defeating the “Iron Chef” on Japanese, and then American, television. Now he offers Japanese-inspired dishes on the Dining Room menu and weaves Japanese ingredients into non-Asian dishes as well. Though you’ll find plenty of western luxury items like caviar and foie gras, Siegel does some fairly austere presentations featuring Japanese luxury ingredients like coveted matsutake mushrooms and toro, the rich foie gras-like belly meat of the highest-grade yellowfin tuna.

SF Chronicle Michael Bauer revisits the Olema Inn (10000 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., Olema; 415-663-9559):

Vigil’s food is the star. The chef takes one of West Marin’s most important products — oysters — and spotlights them with eight different toppings ($14 for eight), four raw and four cooked. They’re simply some of the best around, whether you choose the Flying Fish Roe version, with a Sauvignon Blanc mignonette, fresh scallions and tobiko; a la Russe, with caviar and a cool lemon cream fraiche; Royale, with lemon bearnaise and crisp shallots; or Dizzy, with warm bacon, garlic, fennel and the crunch of warm bread crumbs.
His seasonal menu consists of four salads, five appetizers and seven large plates, including a nightly fish special such as Kajiki ($23), a line- caught marlin from Hawaii. The rich meaty medallion sits atop a blend of fresh runner beans and strings of onions, thickened with flakes of crab and surrounded by a ring of pepper sauce with the smoky nuances of a well-made romesco.
. . . Olema Inn makes diners feel that that they’ve enjoyed a reprieve from the rigors of urban life, without sacrificing the quality of food that a city has to offer.

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