Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The 2006 SeeUsEat Awards

All year we've been eating our way through San Francisco and beyond. We've looked back on all of the restaurants we've eaten at in 2006 and we've come up with the winners. Here they are:

Best Breakfast: The Pork Store
The Pork Store never disappoints. It may not be edgy, or high end food, but it is exactly what you need after a hang over, or if you're just feeling like comfort food. The portions are large, the prices are affordable, and you don't mind the wait in the line our the door because they serve you coffee in line.

Best Brunch: Canteen
Canteen is elegant, cozy and hip all at the same time. The booths are tiny, fitting 2 comfortably and 4 a bit more uncomfortably. The food is somehow homey and interesting at the same time.

Honorable Mention for Brunch
: Foreign Cinema
Although the waitstaff are generally unbearably holier-than-though, Foreign Cinema is a great place for a late weekend brunch in the sun. The outside area makes you forget about how much cooler your waiter is than you.

Best Overall: The Dining Room at the Ritz Carlton
The food is always amazing, especially with Ron Siegle as the chef. The dished are interesting and use the best quality ingredients. They even serve you fresh wasabi, grated tableside, with wonderful bites such as spot prawn sashimi. The food is often playful and the service is impeccable.

Honorable Mention for Best Overall: Range
If The Ritz didn't have such amazing tasting menus and great service, Range would be getting this award. Range is fun, casual and the food is also amazing and affordable.

Best Newcomer: Range
At Range, not only are the prices reasonable and the staff knowledgeable and friendly but every singe dish we had was impeccable and inspired. Range is now the first restaurant we recommend to people.

Honorable Mention for Best Newcomer: Scott Howard
Scott Howard has created a great little spot with interesting tasting menu and a friendly atmostphere. You can order the full menu in the bar area, so don't worry if you've forgotten to make a reservation on a Friday night. Also, the chef is accomodating. He made us a variation on the tasting menu when we came back and discovered it hadn't changed since the last time we were there.

and Umami
Although obviously still working out the kinks, Umami will be a great place. Most of the food was amazing, and what wasn't was still very good. The bar was hopping. The decor is ecclectic, yet well put together and they have the coolest bathroom sinks we've ever seen.

Best Buffet: Ritz Carlton, Singapore
The breakfast buffet at the Ritz Carleton in Singapore was about as varied as one could want. French pastries, bagels with lox and cream cheese, a selection of fine cheeses, Japanese style breakfast, dim sum, congee, fruit. There was something for everyone, and something different to try each day.

Honorable Mention for Best Buffet: Espetus
For about $30 you get endless types of grilled meats, shrimp and pineapple, plus the (somewhat lackluster) salad bar. You always eat too much, but you feel like it was worth it at the end.

Best Bathroom: Astrid y Gaston
Not only the best bathroom in Lima, but the best restaurant bathroom we've ever been to. It smelled good. It was light and airy. It was modern and interesting in decor. It was everything you could want in a bathroom.

Best Decor: AME
The red, black and wood theme at AME in San Francisco comes off elegant and subdued rather than garish. The wall of wines is also spectacular. The only "3" we've ever given for decor. (And the food's pretty good too.)

Best Light Fixtures: Cortez
Although the food is pricey for the portion size, have a drink at the bar at Cortez just to look at these amazing light fixtures. They are sculptural, colorful and reiminscent of childhood.

Best Dessert: Astrid y Gaston
I don't know what these were called, but I do know that Alexis had finished the whole plate before Giao got back from the bathroom. These deep fried donut balls filled with molten bittersweet chocolate were not too sweet, and contained a perfect play on textures. They were sophisticated and homey at the same time.

Honorable Mention for Best Dessert: Hawthorne Lane
Hawwthorne Lane has the best sundae Alexis has ever had. We couldn't give them the top award for a sundae, since a sundae is not particularly original, but this one was truly delicious. Bittersweet, crunchy and delicious.

Best Single Dish: Fried Shallots and Crab with Watermelon in a Yellow Watermelon Soup at Michael Mina
It's very difficult to choose the best single dish we had all year, but we had to. The interplay of succulent, sweet crab, with the subtly sweet melon was perfection in a bite.

Honorable Mention for Best Single Dish: Kobe Tartare at Umami
We eat A LOT of tartare and this Kobe version at the very new Umami was a standout. The beef came through loud and clear and all of the other flavors, while interesting on thier own, ended up supporting the beefiness wonderfully.

Best Snack: Roti Prata at Borobudur
Ever since we got back from Singapore we've been trying to track down the best roti prata. We think we found it at Borobudur, a Singaporean joint in the Tenderloin. The roti prata here is the perfeact balance of doughy and crispy, stretchy and flaking, and the curry could hold it's own. Sort of expensive, at $6 a pop, but it was a HUGE amount, filling us both us.

Honorable Mention for Best Snack: Lobster Mac n' Cheese at Circa
Although the SF Chronicle slammed this dish in their review of Circa, Bauer just doesn't know what he's talking about. The lobster mac n' cheese (with truffle oil) is decadent, sure, but it is also really, really tasty.

Best Condiment: Homemade Mayo at Fringale
Fringale, if you ask for it, will serve you mayo with your fries. And you should ask for it, because it is sublime. It is a bit lemony, super creamy, and lighter than air.

Best Takeout/Delivery: Mehfil Indian
We eat here way more than we should. They have the best naan we've ever had, reasonable prices and lots and lots of delicious food that tastes as good when it arrives (and it always arrives hot) as it does when you eat there.

Honorable Mention for Best Takeout/Delivery: Osha
Osha decent Thai food that arrives hot and amazingly well presented.

and Brandy Hos
Good, clean Chinese food. The whole steamed trout makes you feel like you are not eating takeout. And they deliver late.

Best Soup: Jeanty at Jack's
The ceam of tomato soup topped with a puff pastry crust is rich, delicious, smooth and simply epitomizes what a cream of tomato soup should be. But be careful because it will fill you up fast.

Honorable Mention for Best Soup: Cauliflower Soup at Nopa
This soup was ethereal yet rooted firmly in the ground. It was so smooth and tasted for purely of cauliflower.

and Asparagus Crab Soup at Tu Lan:
This soup is decadent and simple at the same time. It is cheap and tasty.

Best Thai: Pen Thai
It's generally hard to find Thai food that isn't too sweet or isn't just a noodle shop. Then we found Pen Thai, in the unlikely locale of Bothell, WA, near Alexis' parent's house. The food was a nice balance of savory and sweet and everything we ordered was great. Also, it was a very inexpensive meal.

Best Value (San Francisco only): Tu Lan
Tu Lan, on 6th and Market, is by far the best bang for your buck in SF. You can get a 5 course seafood meal for $10 per person and the table turnover is so high you are sure the ingredients are fresh. You can get a full meal for under $5 and still have leftovers. This place is great.

Best Uniform: Bong Su
Sexy and classy. We didn't take pictures of the waitresses, so you'll just have to go to find out. The food is also better than the Slanted Door, so you'll be eating a fantastic meal as well.

Best Pub Food: The Pig and Whistle
We used to go here for quiz night every Wednesday. They have daily specials and a standard roster of decent, filling, british pub food. Bangers and mash, pasties, etc. They also have good wings and jalapeno poppers, and all for a very decent price.

Best Sushi: Ariake
Always fresh, and they have the best seafood salad ever conceived of. It isn't cheap, but it isn't astronomical either. The atmosphere is pleasant and cozy and you'll be stuffed to the gills when you leave.

Best Service: The Dining Room at the Ritz Carlton
Absolutley impeccable service. It's hard to remember tasting notes for an 11 course menu, so when Alexis forgot to bring something to write with, they immediately supplied a small pad and pen. They always pass our water test and the waitstaff know the ins and outs of every single dish on the menu.

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"See us eat" people need to take a tip from "see how to tip". the people that hand out these cards have obviously never worked in the restaurant buisness before!
In fact, we do know how to tip. We overtip for great service, we leave 18% for average service and 15% for mediocre service. If you received a crappy tip from us, it is most certainly because we received sub-par service. Please feel free to leave a comment with the name of the restaurant in which you work and we will be more than happy to provide notes on improvements for service at your place of business. Also, one of us has worked in the restaurant industry, but is also a beleiver in meritocracy.
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