Saturday, January 27, 2007

Dinner at Coi, San Francisco, CA

For Giao's birthday we had dinner at Coi, a place that neither of us had been to. It is the new offering of D. Patterson of Frisson and Elizabeth Daniels. It was a great find. The food was truly amazing and the decor was cozy and chic at the same time. There were a few mis-steps with regards to service, but that shouldn't deter you from making a reservation. The food is worth it. The 11 course tasting menu was $105 per person, which was expensive for sure. But again, the food was sooo good. Back to the service: the waiters were friendly, but they made a few glaring mistakes. Firstly, they forgot to bring Giao's sparkling water and we had to ask again 10 minutes later. Then they accidentally poured some of Giao's sparkling water into Alexis' tap. This would have been fine had they simply replaced the glass, however, they laughed it off, didn't apologize and left the partially sparkling/partially tap water on the table for her to drink. For a restaurant this expensive, that error was unacceptable.

Porcini Gelee with Pickled Watermelon
The gelee was a bit too firm in texture, but the watermelon pickle was interesting, and the plating was beautiful.

Pink Grapefruit with Ginger, Tarragon and Black Pepper
This was served with a dot of the house scent (strange, yes) that you dab on your wrist and inhale as you eat. This dish was interesting: salty, sweet, sour and bitter all at once, but it was not particularly enjoyable.

Desietra Caviar with Sauteed Bone Marrow and Beet Puree
This was salty an sweet, surprisingly warm and contained the perfect interplay of crunchy and soft textures. Delicious.

Sea Bream Sashimi with White Soy, Yuzu and Chives
This was simple, elegant, incredibly fresh and oddly meaty. Very, very good.

Soft Cooked Egg Yolk, Bacon, Spicy Onion relish and Parmasean Foam
The best dish of the night and easily the best dish we've had so far this year. This dish was so amazing. It sounds simple, but the flavors were indescribably good. I don't know how they make a foam that is the pure essense of parmasean, but it was ethereal.

Turnip Apple Soup with Black Tea Gelee and Shiso
We could clearly taste the apple and turnip components of this very smooth soup. The tiny apple pieces added a nice crunch and burst of flavor.

Yuba (tofu skins) Pappardelle with Curry Coconut Milk Sauce
This was good, certainly, and an interesting use of tofu skins, but it wasn't particularly memorable.

Hokkaido Scallop in Mousseline with Butter Poached Oyster and Peppercress Sauce
The scallop was barely steamed and v ery tender and Alexis even liked the oyster. The sauce was subtle and lent itself well to the fish flavors.

Foie Gras Poached Squad with Endive, Hibiscus and Vanilla Sauce
There was no actual foie gras in this dish, and the strong flavors of the sauce sort of overpowered any trace of foie flavor, but this bold dish was bright and rich at the same time.

Venison Loin with Cabbage, Peppercorn Sauce and Mashed Potatos
The venison was very tender and the sauce and cabbage went nicely with the meat. It was very good, but not very innovative. The potatos, which were usually don't like, were certainly palatable.

Stilton Panna Cotta with Toasted Walnuts and Black Pepper Gastrique
This was a very inspired take on the cheese course. The texture was a bit off (a bit gritty) but the flavors were strong and delicious.

Blood Orange-Juniper Berry Soda
These sodas are usually too sweet, but this one was rustic and not artificially sweetened. It was also only slightl carbonated. It was a surprising pleasure to imbibe.

Warm Chocolate-Tea Brioche Pudding wth Pickled Mango and Coconut Ice Cream
This was truly a joy to eat. Giao has never eaten more than a bite or so of a dessert and he ate every bite of this one. The dessert was not too sweet and the pickled mango added a great texture and sourness to offset the sweetness. Wow.

Peanut Butter Cookie and Warm Milk
The cookie was warm and chewy. We don't really like to drink milk...

Food: 3
Decor: 2
Service: 1
Health Code Violations

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Afternoon Snack at Straits Cafe, San Francisco, CA

After seeing a movie in the new Westfield Center in SF, we decided to stop off for a roti prata at the Straits Cafe in the same mall. It was much hipper than the other 2 locations, and more expensive, but it was pretty damn good for mall food.

Roti Prata $7
Smaller in portion and more expensive than any we've tried, this version didn't quite live up to what we expected. It was much drier and not as stretchy as the version at either the Straits Cafe in Palo Alto, or the one on Geary in SF.

Food: 1
Decor: 1
Service: 1

Health Code Violations

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Breakfast at Home

This one had sauteed hot links, a fried egg, homemade guacamole, sour cream and salsa.

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Friday, January 26, 2007

Dinner at Basil, San Francisco, CA

It was a friend's birthday and he had to find a reservation for 25 people with 3 days notice. He did well with Basil, a standard Thai place who was accomodating in space and also provided a family style prix fixe meal for the occasion. Usually we find Thai food a bit sweet. However, tonight we found the food pretty good, overall. It was $25 a head, not including tax, tip, or drinks.

Shrimp Chips
Standard, but a nice snack to munch on while waiting for the rest of the food to come out.

Fried Shrimp and Spring Rolls with Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce
Crispy and tasty.

Green Papaya Salad
All you could really taste was the acid in the dressing.

Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce
The chicken was flavorful and juicy. The toasts points were totally unnecessary.

Duck in Coconut Curry
Rich and succulent.

Phad Thai
Not too sweet, which was a nice surprise. The shrimp were well cooked as well.

Fried Shrimp
A bit too sweet for us.

Minced Chicken
Standard and not memorable.

Steak with Peanut Sauce
Mmm...peanut sauce. The steak was nice and juicy also.

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Lunch from Mixt Greens and Mehfil Indian, San Francisco, CA

Mehfil Indian, winner of our Best of 2006 Award for Take Out/Delivery:

Chicken Makhni
As rich and bad for us as always. But, oh so delicious.

Saag Paneer
Creamy and iron-packed.

Not as good as naan.

Mixt Greens:

Cobb Salad
Fresh ingredients and juicy chicken. The dressing was a bit too acidic, but overall, it was good.

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Breakfast at Home

Hot Links and Onion Scramble

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Dinner at Home

Quick Spinach, Tofu and Shrimp Soup
A 20 minute week night meal.

-10 shrimp, peeled and deveined
-1 block tofu, cubed
-3 handfuls spinach
-2 eggs, beaten
-3 cans chicken broth
-2 tb soy sauce
-2 tb chili garlic sauce
-1 tb rice vinager
-1/2 onion, diced

Sautee onions in a bit of oil, the chili garlic sauce and soy sauce until soft. Add the tofu and stir to coat. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer. Add the beaten egg and stir. Add the spinach and simmer for 1 minute. Add the shrimp and simmer until just turning pink.

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Lunch at Work

From Manhattan Hub:

Cheese Steak $8
Pretty good. Lots of meat and cheese.

Leftover Blue Cheese Chicken Salad


Mid-Morning Snack at Work

Every year Alexis' mother bakes her her favorite cake, a dense german chocolate cake with a layer of strained fruit preserves, and FedExes it to her. This year's cake was made with orange marmalade instead of the stanard apricot, but it was still very good.

Breakfast at Home

Fried Egg

Leftover Chicken Tikka Masala
Goes surprisingly well with fried egg.

Pineapple Breakfast Cake
This was a "parting gift for the ladies" from Gary Danko, but it was rather disgusting--way too sweet. Alexis had a bite and threw it away.


Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Dinner at Gary Danko, San Francisco, CA

For Alexis' birthday, Giao took her to Gary Danko, a place he'd been, but she hadn't. It was very, very good, although not particularly innovative. The atmostphere was intimate and there was some surprisingly good art. The service was almost too nice and familiar at first, but we learned to like it. They passed the water test in an interesting way: they labeled the the water with the seat it was for, although they should have labeled it prior to bringing it to the table. The 5 course menu (you can choose any 5 courses) is $92 per person.

Beet Gelee on a Meringue with Caviar ("Gift from the Chef")
The flavors were nice, but there was not enough texture contrast.

Lobster Salad with Citrus and Mustard-Tarragon Vinaigrette
The flavors were very nice, but the lobster was a bit tough. The 3 kinds of citrus each provided their own flavor profiles to the dish. I think perhaps the chef is going citrus-crazy due to the crops dying the in inevitable increase in price of all things citrus.

Glazed Oysters with Oestra Caviar, Salsify and Lettuce Cream
This dish was truly ethereal. The lettuce cream was surprising in its depth of flavor. Even Alexis liked the oysters.

Seared Foie Gras with Caramelized Onions and Fuji Apples
The foie was large in portion and delicious. The apples were sort of unnecessary because the onions provided a sweetness of their own.

Pancetta Wrapped Frog Legs with Sunchoke Garlic Puree, Potato and Lentils
These litle frog lollipops were tender and delicate, although they did taste a bit like chicken. The lentils had a nice chew and the puree was falvorful and served as a good dipping sauce for the frog legs.

Roasted Maine Lobster with Abalone Mushrooms, Edamame and Tarragon
This lobster was incredibly tender. The edamame added an interesting twist as well.

Beef Tenderloin with Potato, Leeks, Bacon and Black Truffles
This dish was just ok. The temperature was off--Giao asked for rare and got something way closer to medium that he desired.

Herb Crusted Loin of Lamb with Soft Polenta, Olive Tapenade and Pepper Ragout
The lamb was tender and cooked perfectly. The polenta was tasty, if a bit gummy. The tapenade added a great saltiness, but the pepper ragout was totally unnecessary.

The Cheese Course
We both ordered the cheese course and so we got to try eight different cheeses. The waiter wrote them down for us. All of them were truly delicious and interesting except for the cheddar, which was not all it was cracked up to be. The cheeses were:
Capriole Farms Crocodile Tears (goat)
Ibbaye de Belloc (sheep)
Serra da Estrella (sheep)
Sweetgrass Dairy Double Cream (cow)
Goume an Santiems (blue)
Montbriar Rochebarron (blue)
Hooks Cheddar (cow)
Jivarat (rind washed in Sancerre)
Epoisses (this delicious cheese was so gooey it dripped through the holes in the bread)

Trio of Creme Brulee
Instead of 3 small 2-bite brulees, we were served 3 full sized brulees: hazelnut, dark chocolate and citrus. They were all very good, but we were so stuffed we could only eat a bit or 2 of each. The chocolate macaroon was very good as well.

Petit Fours
The lemon bar and brownie were great. The rest were forgettable.

Food: 2
Service: 3
Decor: 2

Health Code Violations

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Lunch at Jeanty at Jack's, San Francisco, CA

We went for a decadent, but small, meal so we wouldn't be too full for our big birthday dinner.

Escargot $10
These are tender and garlicky. We soaked up ALL the butter with the bread.

Cream of Tomato Soup $9
The Best Soup of 2006. This soup is so creamy and the crust is great for dipping.

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