Saturday, February 22, 2014

Week 8 - Tadich Grill

My dad took us here last weekend, it had been recommended by a friend of his.  Tadich Grill, as it turns out, is something of an institution.  It has an old school feel when you walk in - bustling waiters (all men, and all wearing what I can only describe as lab coats), wood paneling, a feeling of history lending it a certain unassuming elegance.

Actually, "something of an institution" might be and understatement.  The restaurant was established in 1849 (before California was a state) and, according to their website, is believed to be the third oldest continuously run restaurant in America.  (Not to be confused with the Old Clam House, which claims to be the oldest restaurant in San Francisco which has been operating continuously at the same location.  A location which, incidentally, we can see from our house.)

It would be a great place to take out of town guests, but maybe for a very early dinner.  Tadich Grill does not accept reservations, so if you show up wanting a table at a regular dinner hour on a Saturday, be prepared to wait.  You could probably be seated pretty quickly if you wanted to sit at the long bar, but that doesn't work very well with more than two people.  We eventually got a table, hidden off in a little alcove, it was really wonderfully cozy.

The menu is expansive, but the focus is all seafood.  We ordered the Seafood Cioppino, the Dungeness Crab Cakes, and the Dungeness Crab and Prawns a la Monza and everything was delicious.  In fact, I wish some of that a la Monza right now.  No idea what that means, but it was tasty.

We ordered the rice pudding for dessert.  The Tadich Grill take on rice pudding could perhaps at best be called "unconventional".  Between the three of us we ate about half of one order.  Next time I'll skip dessert.

Would We Go There Again

With out of town friends who like seafood and don't mind a wait, yes.  Just the two of us, if we happened to find ourselves downtown on a weeknight, yes.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Week 7 - Dumpling Kitchen

Sometimes Nalani wakes up on a weekend morning and demands dim sum.  This usually results in a drive down the peninsula, but today we went to Dumpling Kitchen in the Outer Sunset.  To be clear, Dumpling Kitchen is not a dim sum place, but it does fill a similar place in the heart, and stomach.

There was a short wait, and then they sat us at a communal table.  We thought the communal table was kind of cool.  Nothing improves the Shanghai dumpling experience like having a couple Chinese ladies at your table.

Since every single order contains about a million dumplings, it's basically impossible not to over-order.  So, come with a lot of people, or do what we did, and take home three meal's worth of leftovers.

We thought the Shanghai style steamed pork dumplings were awesome.  We also really liked the wontons in chili oil, and the green onion pancake.  The Beijing style sweet buns were just greasy bread served with sweetened condensed milk.  Which, now that I describe it, sounds like it could be really good if you were in the right mood, but we didn't much like it at the time.  Overall, we thought the food was great.  The ambiance I believe could be described as "unpretentious".

Would We Go There Again

Yes.  It was delicious, it's a nice quick motorcycle ride from our place, and it was the cheapest place we've been to so far this year, by quite a bit.  And, you know, when the Sunday morning craving for something dim sum-esque hits, well heck... I wouldn't even feel obligated to shower before going here.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Week 6 - 20 Spot

We went to 20 Spot with Kelly and Stacy last weekend after the symphony.  It's a cute little place in the Mission, made especially atmospheric by the rain.

It's cozy, just a counter and a few tables, including a larger communal table.  I'm sorry to say, I made a small blog-related error.  I don't know why.  Maybe it's that we were with friends.  Maybe it was that I didn't have my real camera with me.  Heck, maybe it was even that the food was just so darn delicious.  But whatever the reason, I forgot to take a picture of pretty much every dish we ordered until it looked something like this:

That was the Burrata and Beets.  We also had a half dozen oysters (very good), the deviled eggs, the raw hamachi, and the steamed mussels.  Everything was very good, delivered by helpful, friendly staff, in pleasant surroundings (there's really cool cut paper art on the walls).  And we had a wine that was just great.  So great, I can't remember what it was.  I think a Sangiovese.

Would We Go There Again

OK, here's the thing.  I feel like I've been too liberal in the WWGTA section so far.  Even when, realistically speaking, a return visit is unlikely, I've hedged.  But the fact is, there are a zillion restaurants in San Francisco, and almost that many good ones.  If we go to a place and there's something we don't like about it, we're probably not going to go back, no matter how good it may have been in other ways.  A "no" doesn't necessarily mean the place is bad, or that we didn't have a nice time, or that we wouldn't recommend it to someone.  It just means we wouldn't go out of our way to eat there again, for whatever reason.  Moving forward, I'm going to try to be more decisive in this section.  So let's just get it out there: no.  We wouldn't go back, and here's why: it's loud.  Real loud.  Shout to be heard by the person next to you loud.  Leave with a hoarse voice and ringing ears loud.  Maybe I'm starting to exaggerate, but make no mistake, it's loud.  Not a big deal for many people, I'm sure, but we really like to be able to converse without undue strain.

Maybe if we went back on a week night it would be quieter.  Aw, crap, I'm starting to hedge again.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Week 5 - Local Mission Eatery

(A small technical note: some of our vast hoard of readers have reported that they have been unable to leave comments on the blog.  I believe I have fixed that problem, so please try again.)

They didn't name it Local Mission Eatery because it's close to us.  They named it that because all of their ingredients, all of their food and drink, is grown, raised, and produced in California.  So that's cool.

We had a reservation, but they weren't quite ready for us when we arrived, so they set us up at a standing counter, and brought us some wine menus.  They were very apologetic, but in fact the wait was quite short.

We sat at the chef's counter, which we always enjoy.  The view into the kitchen is interesting, plus we like sitting next to each other.  One of the cooks was a woman, which is always nice to see in a profession which is still largely male-dominated.

Most of the dishes are small plates, and even the larger entrees can be ordered in half portions.  We love this sort of dining, because we get to sample more things.  We had the Crispy Green Garlic Fritters, a cauliflower dish, potato gnocchi, and trout.  Everything was fresh and wonderful and delicious.

Nalani and I each had two glasses of wine.  Each time we ordered the wine we had some trouble deciding and asked for recommendations.  Instead of just making suggestions or offering verbal descriptions, they poured us a taste of each of the wines we were considering, which I thought was really nice.  The second time we were ordering, our server said, "Please tell me you want the charbono."  I laughed and said no thank you, I'd only had a charbono once, and I really didn't like it.  He said he'd bring us a pour of the two wines we were interested in, plus the charbono, and he wouldn't tell us which was which.  They were all better than the charbono I'd had previously, but there was one I didn't like much, and I pointed it out.  Our server laughed and shrugged and said, "Yup, that's the charbono."

When they brought us our check they'd accidentally left off two of the glasses of wine that we'd ordered.  I pointed this out, and they said, "Thank you for your integrity" and then charged us for only one of the two glasses.  Cheers to that.

Would We Go There Again

Absolutely.  Definitely.  We had a great time here, and we thought the food was great, and it's close to us, and it's not over-the-top expensive.  We'll be back.