Wednesday, February 06, 2008

2007 SeeUsEat Awards

It's time for the second annual SeeUsEat Awards. Looking back over our meals from the past year was a true pleasure because we ate a lot of great stuff in 2007. This year, just like last, many of our awards are being given to restaurants outside the Bay Area. Without further ado, the awards go to:

Best Overall: Alinea
Alinea was, by far, our best eating experience of the year. The food was delicious. It was innovative without being gimicky (for the most part). The service was friendly, yet distant; just the way we like it. The decor was stunning, if understated. It was totally worth the 24 hour trip to Chicago. And the price for 24 courses was about the same as for 5 courses in Vegas. All we can say is wow, and if you are ever in Chicago, make a reservation.

Best Newcomer: Spruce
Our favorite new restaurant that opened this year was Spruce. It is the San Francisco outpost of The Village Pub in Woodside and we were quite impressed. We ate there in the first month and it seemed as if they had already worked out all the kinks. The service was great. The decor was warm yet sophisticated. The food was tasty and the portions were large, which was certainly refreshing. We can't wait to go back.

Best Buffet: The Buffet at the Wynn, Las Vegas
You can usually find at least a few good items to gorge ourselves on at a buffet, but the Thanksgiving buffet at the Wynn Las Vegas had the largest variety of tasty foods this year. We ate so much that we had to retire to our room and lay flat out on our backs with our pants unbuttoned.

Honorable Mention for Best Buffet: Palace BBQ
We have to tip our hat to Palace BBQ. Although Wynn won for the variety, Palace is definitely the most interactive and the most low-carb friendly of buffets. We love cooking an endless supply of meat and seafood on our own grills in the center of our table.

Best Bathroom: Bushi-Tei
Honestly, we don't even remember what the bathroom at Bushi-Tei looked like. What we do remember is the Japanese toilet. At Bushi-Tei you can spray your nether-regions with warm water, then dry them with a steady stream of warm air all with a touch of a button. It's an experience that is strange and wonderful, all at the same time.

Best Decor: Mix
In terms of food, Mix was an expensive disappointment. But we would suggest going there for a drink just to gaze at the decor. The entire two story interior is white, but in many textures and shapes. It is futuristic and soft at the same time and the views of the Las Vegas strip can't be beat.

Honorable Mention: Alinea
The decor at Alinea was futuristic and, yet, somehow, warm. When you walk into the door of the all-black building, you immediately walk down a hallway that gets smaller the farther you go, until you finally reach a door that opens (Star Trek style) into the restaurant.

Best Light Fixtures: Town Hall
Town hall has great, very large, semi-rustic chandeliers that are a pleasure to look at.

Best Dessert: Coi

Warm Chocolate-Tea Brioche Pudding with Pickled Mango and Coconut Ice Cream
Wow. This dessert was so great we are still talking about it. This is the only dessert Alexis has ever seen Giao finish, ever. It was not very sweet, had a touch of sour and was everything you could want in a dessert if you are not a sweets person.

Best Single Dish: The Egg at Coi
Coi hit the mark again with this amazing dish. It was soft and eggy and the foam was pure essence of parmasean. The presentation was also wonderful.

Honorable Mention for Best Single Dish:
Veal Brains from Per Se
These brains were so smooth, so pudding-like, you really couldn't tell you were eating brains.

Best Snack: Bacon Dog in the Mission
We had heard of the infamous bacon dog...and finally we happened upon it. It was tasty and bad for you and really, mayo in a hot dog is a revelation.

Honorable Mention for Best Snack: Poutine at Salt House
This Quebecois treat was taken up a notch by the people of Salt House. The gravy was rich, filled with succulent short rib bits and was not starchy at all. Who would have thought that someone could make the combo of fries, cheese and gravy even better?

Best Delivery/Takeout: Split decision for Manhattan Hub and Mixt Greens

Ever since Philly-native Giao found a decent Philly-style Cheesesteak near his work at Manhattan Hub, he's gone at least once a week. His only complaint is that the amount of meat they use is inconsistent and much too small for a real Philly steak. He usually has to order 2 of them, making this nostalgic lunch an expensive one.

Alexis loves Mixt Greens, also close to work, but not on her own dime. Their "make-your-own" salad has tons of options and the grilled filet mignon is an excellent addition to a salad of organic greens.

Best Value: Ad Hoc $45 per person

While writing value and Thomas Kellar in the same sentence seems strange, we defy you to feel any stirrings of buyer's remorse on this prix fixe where you can (and will) go back for seconds at no extra cost.

Best Service: Per Se
In another nod to Thomas Keller, the service at Per Se was out of this world. Service at Keller's restaurants is exemplified by their invisible attentiveness. At one point, Giao had eaten a single bit of brioche with his foie gras when it was replaced with another dish of piping hot brioche toast...and he didn't even notice until he didn't see a bit mark in his toast.

Most Innovative: Sesame Noodles at WD-50
These noodles were presented as paste in a tube. When we squeezed the tube into the hot broth the paste became slurpable noodles. Yummy and fun.

Best Cheese Course: A16

This cheese is both decadent and humble. The cheese is packed in cream, then drizzled with olive oil and sea salt. We eat it with a fork and throw away the toast. Giao even orders it for dessert.

Best Pub: Norton's
We love Norton's for 2 reasons:
1) The waitress, Loriann (who always is on top of it and finds us a table even when it is packed).
2) The cheap and tasty wings.

It is a great financial district pub that's perfect for an afterwork drink or a football game.

Best Hidden Treasure: Tekka
Tekka is the only place we have ever eaten that banned us from taking pictures because the sushi chef "doesn't like the internet". We can respect that because the down-home Japanese omakase was one of the best we've ever has, and cheap to boot.

Best Charcuterie: Spruce
House-cured charcuterie has been all the rage this year and our favorite was at Spruce. We especially loved the foie-gras mousse with port reduction.

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