Monday, June 09, 2008


1911 Fillmore Street (@ Bush)
(415) 771-7779

Italian in Lower Pac Heights/Fillmore

Photos courtesy of Tinwin's new SLR!

Mike and I have been meaning to go here for awhile now, basically since Michael Bauer's raving reviews and my pastry chef friend was filling in there. After a few unsuccessful attempts (no reservations = ridiculously long waits), we finally made it out a little after its 5:30pm opening. Unfortunately for us, we were a few minutes too late because the first seating cut off a few people before us. Sucks! We weren't that hungry yet anyway, so we decided to stick out the almost 2 hour wait (RIDICULOUS).

We did "chef's seating," aka counter overlooking the extremely narrow kitchen and I think one of the line cooks hated us cause we were so loud. It's not our fault the place is so noisy! Can't hear anything. At least he couldn't spit in our food since we were watching him make it.

The food was pretty solid. I got so many recommendations to just go with the apps and not so much the entrees, and I have to agree with that, even though we got two pasta dishes anyway. They're very aggressive with the salt, which is what I prefer (cooking 101: season your food), but for others it was too much in some dishes. We had:

- fried cauliflower: unbattered, the frying was subtle and just added a nice crisp. This was one of the salty dishes
- fried bay scallops: they fried some small lemon slices too. The scallops were tiny.
- House-made sausage w/ braised fennel: the fennel was very nice
- Grilled romano beans
- Clams in lobster brodo: could've done without
- Potatoes: tasty!
- Grilled porcini: plump and juicy
- Canneloni
- Amatriciana: Mike thought it was decent, but I couldn't taste anything but tomatoes.

We didn't do dessert because we decided to go to Bi-Rite (salted caramel!). Everything was pretty decent. I'm not sure if I would go back, even without the wait. The apps were solid, but not enough to fill you up - I'd get hungry again like 2 hrs later. Maybe it would be better for lunch?


Sunday, June 01, 2008

Michael Mina: Proof That Breakfast is the Best Meal of the Day

335 Powell Street (& Geary, inside the Westin St. Francis hotel)
(415) 397-9222

Fine Dining, Contemporary American in Union Square

Located in Union Square's fancy shmancy Westin hotel, this restaurant is known for its trios. We went for my dad's birthday, and in true family fashion we tried to cover all our bases. Service was good, ambiance nice although loud since it's an open space to the hotel lobby, and the food was good. Ah, the food. I'd say it redeemed the more disappointing fine dining meals that I've had in the last year, thanks to the pastry department (even though their pastry chef is vegan...).

- sea urchin custard w/ dashi gelee + rice crispy ball things: buttery and smooth
- fried crab ball w/ pickled vegetables: nice chunk of crab, but mine was soggy
- eel on top of stuff I don't remember: fishy

- (mine) American kobe + foie shabu shabu: I'm sick (I should really be asleep right now) so I wanted something soupy. It was aiiight
- scallops: small! my sister and aunt liked 2/3
- watercress stuff: my uncle said it was just ok
- foie: seemed like it was the winner at the table

Shabu shabu, halibut w/ lobster pot pie in the background
- duck: I was surprised that in all 3 parts the duck was cooked the same way (seared), although one of them did include a confit. It was cooked very nicely though - juicy and tender.
- halibut: big disappointment. I don't think fish should be poached! That reminds me of when Richard from Top Chef did his crappy sous vide salmon
- Beef: I didn't try it, but my dad said it was interesting
- Lobster pot pie: crowd-pleasing table-side presentation. Nice rustic copper pot with the pie crust, cut open, then plated meticulously in front of us. Compared to how it actually tasted... presentation wins out hands down
- Lamb: I didn't try it, but my uncle finished it before I was even done with the second portion of my duck!

breakfast for dessert, the "mission," frozen bon bons (hazelnut + chocolate, green tea + white chocolate)

Desserts: THE BIG WINNER (their website has the current menus with full detail)
- "Mission": the most incredibly silky flan, a tres leches guava cake, and a mole pudding (I could really only taste the Mexican chocolate so it didn't really feel like a mole to me)
- "Breakfast": a tangy yogurt mousse, a fun milk + cereal, and a french toast w/ maple syrup ice cream (my least favorite of the trio)
- "PB sandwich": There were a lot of components to this dish, but the most interesting was a sourdough ice cream, that didn't really taste like sourdough to me. Not sure how they made it
- "Chocolate + flowers": didn't try it

The creativity of this restaurant really shined through their dessert menu, regardless of how biased I might seem. That's probably the best dessert I've had in a long time!