Toque of San Francisco May 2011
We dined at and reviewed Baume in Palo Alto about a year ago and predicted that they would get a Michelin Star. We are pleased to report that we were correct. Restaurateur and Executive Chef Bruno Chemel, who has now received stars and accolades from Michelin, The New York Times, Food & Beverage and others has created a fabulous menu comprised of Contemporary French cuisine with California and Asian influences using seasonal and locally sourced ingredients. A Graduate of Culinary School in Moulins, France he also studied Macrobiotic cooking while in Tokyo, Japan.
The restaurant is named for French chemist Antoine Baume and only serves a Prix Fixe menu featuring either the 8 course Menu Gastronomique or the 12 course Menu Decouverte both with optional Wine Pairing. The cuisine combines the modern with the ancient and is scientifically classic but gastronomically modern and is prepared with the highest level of creativity and execution. Each course is truly a work of art! The restaurant seats only twenty-two so you feel very special, as it is a personal and perfectly paced dining experience. The service is excellent and the Wine Pairing is customized to both the cuisine and your particular tastes.
Every elegant unique course of the Menu Decouverte can only be described as beautiful art with fabulous flavors. The cuisine that we experienced and loved consisted of luxury ingredients. We particularly enjoyed the luscious Caviar Smoked Brioche, The Duck Foie Au Natural was amazing, Our favorite soup ever was the Tale Soup with Pumpkin Seeds Ice Cream. The Halibut with Curry-Leeks served with New Caledonian Prawn Mousse and Pork Loin were also fantastic. The desserts were also incredible. The Sweet Lime Caramel Bonbon, Chocolate Tarte, and the Madeleine, Warm Citrus, Raspberry Sphere each had fantastic flavors.
Baume earned One Michelin Star in 2010 and continues to be one of the best and most innovative and memorable restaurants in the Bay Area. The menu does change daily to reflect the ingredients that are fresh and seasonal. We must return soon as they now also serve lunch.
We have dined at Chez Papa Resto on Mint Plaza in San Francisco many times over the last few years and have always enjoyed the excellent French cuisine, stylish décor which includes Murano Glass chandeliers and chic black color scheme and the upbeat fun City atmosphere. We were excited to hear that they had recently appointed a new Executive Chef who has great credentials and global culinary experience. Executive Chef Steven Rojas graduated from The Cordon Bleu School of Culinary Arts and has already received One Michelin Star as Executive Chef at the Saddle Peak Lodge. He was born in Southern California and has worked with award winning chefs in Argentina, Spain, Los Angeles, Chicago and now in San Francisco.
The restaurant was very lively on the Friday night that we dined. House Cocktails were the perfect way to settle in and begin our dining experience. We loved the smooth and cold Paris Right Bank Martini which was made with rosemary infused vodka garnished with a cheese stuffed green olive as well as their just perfect Cosmopolitan. We enjoyed people watching as we could see both the bar and elevated communal table where there was drinking, dining and making new friends. We looked at the focused menu then relied on Jerome, our knowledgeable French waiter to help us with our choices.
The appetizers that we tried were all amazing and could easily be enough for a lighter meal. The La Belle Farm Foie Gras Mousse with hazelnuts, yazu puree and toast points was both rich and so flavorful. You must have the Charred Octopus with red pepper broth, Meyer lemon puree and La Ratte potato foam which was crunchy and had a smoky charcoal taste. Another great choice is the Snake River Kobe Beef Tartar with Dijon mustard, capers, shallots and garlic. It was nicely spiced and we enjoyed the tableside preparation where it was turned into a heart. Our entrees were both excellent as well. The Braised Beef Cheeks with brown butter beet puree, pickled Romanesco and compressed potato fondant was very tender and delicious. The Seared Steelhead Trout with apple soubise, celery root tartar and crispy pig tail was healthy and prepared to perfection. We added a side of their market vegetables and were happy we did as they were also luscious.
The Wine List created by Wine Director George Aknin features French, California and wines from around the world. We enjoyed the 2009 Shannon Ridge Lake County Sauvignon Blanc which was light, lively and fruity with our appetizers. The 2009 VDP, Cotes de Gascogne, San de Guilhem was a mellow white wine which paired perfectly with the trout and the 2009 Georges Duboeuf, Saint Amour Beaujolais was so easy to drink with the Beef Cheeks.
You must save room for dessert as the Molten Almond Cake with honey ice cream and crispy Meringue was fabulous. We lingered and enjoyed an Illy Espresso which came in an oversized cup and a unique and tasty Absinthe Lucid (Combier Loire). There are many myths that Absinthe is a drug and can make you crazy but alas it is just a strong alcohol made with anise and herbs.
Chez Papa Resto is a popular downtown restaurant which features contemporary French cuisine in a very stylish atmosphere and also has outdoor dining when the weather permits. It was voted as a top 100 Bay Area restaurant for the past two years and with their new executive chef there is no doubt that they will continue to get rave reviews and please their sophisticated clientele.
Chez Papa Resto
The Petaluma dining scene continues to evolve to accommodate the seemingly never ending appetite for quality cuisine. Luma Restaurant in the Riverfront Warehouse District at the corner of First and G. Streets was recently opened by Restaurateurs Timand Kate Tatum to be a local friendly neighborhood dining destination. The stylish interior features a bar area for drinks or dining, an exhibition kitchen with Wood Burning Oven and comfy booths and tables creating a cozy but not too busy or noisy atmosphere. We ordered some wine and settled in as we looked at the menu and the specials board.
We were extremely pleased with all of our Starters. The creamy and delicious Nanny Bea’s Chicken Liver Mousse was topped with clarified butter and came with chopped egg, onion and a crostini. The Duck Confit Salad with persimmon, pomegranate, apples, and five spice vinaigrette was excellent. We also loved the house ground Luma Meat Balls which were made with both pork and beef. The Baked Pear with blue cheese, figs, walnuts and port glaze was unique, firm and delightful! Next, we had the Tomato Ginger Bisque which was the Soup of the Day. It was silky, smooth and tasty. The Pizzas are a must and you can create your own by choosing from a list of additional toppings. Our choice was a unique Wood Oven Pulled Pork Pizza.
The Entrees were quite impressive as well! The Red Wine and Coffee Braised Short Ribs with roasted root vegetables and mashed potatoes were flavorful and tender. The Lomo Saltado was an interesting Peruvian beef stir fry over ginger basmati rice which was quite satisfying. We’re glad we listened to our professional server Christine who recommended the Herb Roasted Half Chicken with lemon dark chicken jus and fabulous mushroom bread pudding. This was our favorite! You must also have the Crispy Brussels Sprouts with pancetta as a side dish. The texture and flavors were superb.
The Wine List is focused with excellent local and International choices. The 2003 Stubbs Chardonnay, Marin County and the 2009 TuTu Pinot Grigio Napa Valley paired well with our starters. The 2007 Stubbs Pinot Noir and the 2009 Chapoutier “Bila-Haut” Grenache, Syrah, Carignan , France paired well with our entrees. We relaxed with coffee which came in oversized cups and perused the Dessert menu. We also ordered Sonoma Valley Portworks Deco Port with essences of natural chocolate and Grahams aged Tawny Port and were ready for a fabulous finish. The Almond Panna Cotta with brandied cherries, the Deep Chocolate Pot De Crème with orange Chantilly cream and the Pear Bread Pudding with port caramel sauce were all excellent. We loved the dessert presentation and all were served with stylish long spoons and forks. Perhaps, making it easier to share! Luma, with their accomplished Chef Jen Solomon has once again helped raise the bar for excellent, reasonably priced dining in Petaluma. It may have started out as a neighborhood restaurant but will surely become a destination from around the Bay Area.
We love to venture into the different sweet neighborhoods of San Francisco and invariable find restaurants that are gems! We heard from friends that there was a French Bistro in Glen Park that we had to try. When asked about our favorite type of restaurant, we always say French Bistro and Le P’tit Laurent is the perfect example. The décor is charming, featuring Venetian plaster walls, pressed tin ceiling, French Deco style poster art, wood floors and lovely chandeliers. The restaurant was busy on the night that we dined but the noise level was low and everyone appeared to be enjoying themselves including the single diners at the bar, who were chatting with old friends and meeting new ones.
We started with a bottle of Perrier and a Grey Goose cocktail from their full bar. Our first course was the Soupe a l’Oignon Gratinee which was a delicious onion soup with subtle flavors and less cheese which made it lighter. The Salade Frisee aux lardoons et oeuf poche which was Frisee salad with bacon and poached egg came dressed with tasty sherry vinaigrette. The Hors d’oeuvers that we really enjoyed included fabulous Sautéed Sweetbreads with walnut crust and mushroom coulis. You must have the Escargots de Bourgogne au beurre d’ail et persil. These Escargots from Burgundy in garlic parsley butter were extra fresh, tender and delicious. The main course that we loved was the hearty and delicious Le Cassoulet Toulousain Maison which is made with duck leg confit, pork, Toulouse sausage, Jarret d’agneau braise, haricots verts and jus d’agneau.
The Wine List features wines from around the world. We enjoyed the 2009 Dry Creek Sauvignon Blanc, 2007 Patriarche Bourgogne Chardonnay and the 2009 Syrah Merlot Pays d Oc Reserve de Chasse. We noticed that when ordering wines by the bottle the wine was decanted for fuller flavor. Desserts are a must! We loved the Tarte Tatin et Glace Vanille which was warm apple tart with vanilla ice cream and the fantastic Profiteroles Glace Vanille with warm chocolate sauce.
Restaurateur Laurent Legendre’sLe P’tit Laurent in San Francisco ’s Glen Park district is our kind of restaurant. It features seasonal French fare using fresh locally sourced ingredients created by Chef Julio Caceres who trained in San Francisco at the Culinary Academy and learned the art of French cooking while working under French Chef Henry Bolltrider. Reservations are accepted and Sunday through Thursday they offer a three course prix fixe “Neighborhood Menu” with multiple choices for $22.00.
We look forward to returning!
Le P’tit Laurent Restaurant
We had a fabulous dining experience at Alexander’s Steakhouse when they opened last fall and were glad to hear that they were starting a Sunday Night Prime Rib Special for $35.00. The Special includes a Hamachi shot, Prime Rib and one side dish. As we were being seated in a comfortable booth in the main dining room we noticed that both the bar area and the stylish restaurant were quite busy.
We started with cocktails including a Grey Goose on the rocks with olives stuffed with blue cheese and a very tasty Cosmo! Bread and Butter were soon at our table, as was sparkling water. We loved all three types of bread and an especially delicious olive bread. We both ordered the Prime Rib rare, one with a side of Spinach and one with a side of Marbled Potatoes. We love that they bring little extras through out the meal. The Chilled Cucumber Soup to start was delicious. Next, we enjoyed our Hamachi Shot made with truffled Ponzu Sauce, chili, avocado, frizzled ginger and cilantro greens. A Mandarin Sorbet arrived after our shot and was the perfect intermezzo before our entrée. The 2009 Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc paired perfectly with our starter.
Then it was Prime Time… as our stunning Prime Rib arrived. It was rare as ordered , crusted on the edge and perfectly pink in the middle. It was beautiful! We were offered three types of horseradish including creamed, roasted garlic and harrisa. They were all interesting but be sure to also ask for fresh grated horseradish. It has the texture of parmesan and was fantastic. Alexander’s uses a special roasting process that made this Prime Rib one of the best! The 2009 Domaine Grand Montmirail Cote du Rhone Granache from the Rhone Valley in France paired perfectly with our dinner.
We were quite full but decided to have Espresso and Dessert. The Winter Solstice was a great choice as it was light and refreshing. We also enjoyed another of their extras which was their signature Cotton Candy to finish our fantastic meal. Restaurateur JC Chen and Executive Chef Jeffrey Stout once again raise the bar with their fabulous Prime Rib. The slow roasting keeps the juices in the meat and the fresh grated horseradish is a cut above. The full menu is also available but the Prime Rib Special has become quite popular. We’ll be back again soon.
It’s hard to believe that Ozumo in San Francisco has been open for ten years. We have dined there numerous times enjoying the Japanese cuisine and were interested to see what changes may have occurred as they recently appointed a new chef. Executive Chef Alex Morgan is a graduate of The California Culinary Academy’s Le Cordon Bleu program and brings a wealth of experience from around the world including restaurants in Tokyo , Costa Rica , Spain and the U.S.A. Ozumo has an exciting active Bar area, Sushi Bar, Sake Lounge and Robata Grill. The stylish décor features Sake Hangings, steel screens, walls of Sake bottles and Ochre wallpaper.
We were seated in the main dining area where we could see the active Sushi bar. We also had fabulous views of the Bay and Bay Bridge , as well as the Embarcadero lined with huge palm trees. We ordered a bottle of Voss sparkling water then chose the Chef’s Osusume seven course Dinner with Wine and Sake Pairings which allowed us to be able to taste multiple menu items.
Our first course was the Chawan Dofu which was delicious tofu soup made with wild mushrooms and truffle oil. The soup was very unique and the flavors were rich and the texture was perfect. The 2008 Monterey Chalone Chardonnay which was light and more like Sauvignon Blanc and Masumi “okuden kantsukuri” junmai Sake paired perfectly. Our second course was the Hanabi which was a luscious sliced hamachi with avocado, ginger and jalepeno ponzu. This is the most popular dish on the menu! It is quite beautiful and the flavors are dynamite together. The 2008 Napa Valley Sterling Sauvignon Blanc which was light and crisp and the Dewazakura “dewasansan” junmai ginjo Sake also paired perfectly. Next, we enjoyed delicious Yaki Tako which is grilled baby octopus with radicchio, endive and shungiku pesto. The 2008 Paso Robles Tablas Creek Rhone Blend and Koshi no kanbai “muku” tokubetsu junmai Sake, were enjoyable as well. The Tontoro which is Berkshire braised pork in shoyu dashi was very sweet and exceptionally tender. It came with fried Brussels sprouts and mustard vinaigrette which perfectly complimented the sweetness of the pork. The 2007 Lodi Cosentino “The Zin” Zinfandel and the tedorigawa yamahai junmai Sake again paired perfectly. Our next course was Sushi. The Sushi Osusume selection of nigirizushi and akebono maki was fresh, amazing and truly fantastic! It came with the best pickled ginger we had ever tasted. The 2007 Loire Valley Chateau de Sancerre and the Ozumo “Seitoku” junmai ginjo Sake were the perfect compliments. Our next course was the Gindara saikyo miso and sake kasu marinated Black Cod which was incredible, perfectly browned and a wow! The 2008 Burgundy Olivier Leflaive Chablis and nishida “dentshu” tokubetsu junmai Sake paired nicely. We ended our fabulous meal with a Tea Service and a delicious Amaimono dessert with lemon, pomegranate and grapefruit.
Restaurateur Jeremy Umland has created a sophisticated environment at Ozumo that appeals to both locals and tourists alike. You can enjoy over 100 brands of Sake, a cocktail from their full bar, the Izakaya small plate menu, Sushi, Entrees or as we happily did their Chef’s menu. We truly enjoyed all the Sake pairings and we look forward to learning more about all the amazing varieties of Sake.The cuisine is better than ever and we look forward to returning soon!
Charlotte North Carolina is known as the Queen City. It was named after Queen Charlotte who was a Patroness of the Arts and wife of England ’s King George 111. It is a new Southern city with quite a few skyscrapers. With big buildings, comes the dream of opening a restaurant where the cuisine is as good as the panoramic skyline views.
Bentley’s Restaurant on 27
We were in Charlotte, NC. for the first time and asked friends to recommend a restaurant with great food and a vibrant bar scene where we could both dine and soak up the local color. Blue Restaurant & Bar was their first choice! On the night that we dined, the restaurant and bar were packed. We enjoyed a drink at the bar and spoke with both locals and visitors who were attending a conference at the nearby convention center. We began our dinner with a piping hot Lobster Bisque.
Blue Restaurant & Bar
The Capital Grille
Once again this year we were thrilled to attend the 36 th Winter Fancy Food Show www.FancyFoodShows.com at Moscone Center in San Francisco. The mood at the show was upbeat as Specialty Food sales are on the rebound from the previous two years. There were 1,300 companies from 35 countries showcasing over 80,000 specialty food and beverage items. The attendance was up as well with more than 17,000 attendees. We particularly enjoy this show as we get to seek out new and interesting foods from around the world as well as sample new items from companies that we know. There is no way to taste everything even if you attend all three days but here are a few of the items we tasted or enjoy currently at home.
We enjoyed the gourmet spreads including a luscious Caramelized Onion Confit from Hand to Mouth www.Hand2mouth.com. Laxmi’s Delights www.laxmisdelights.com featured delicious Flaxseed spreads. We love the Briannas Home Style Dressing’s Blush Wine Vinaigrette www.briannassaladdressing.com and were glad to see that they have some new dressings. We enjoyed premium organic breads and loved the corn cakes from Pastry Smart www.pastrysmart.com and met Chef Mark Ainsworth who was formerly Pastry Chef at the Ritz Carlton. The Petit fours from Divine Delights www.divinedelights.com were amazing. Tasty almond rice pops with blueberries from 180 snacks www.180snacks.com are gluten free, vegan, trans fat free, kosher and still they were delicious. Mareblu Naturals www.mbnaturals.com featured oven roasted natural snacks. We also enjoyed the Chocolate Cranberry Bog Frogs from Cape Cod Provisions www.capecodprovisions.com. We enjoyed the Asian Curry Instant Miso Soup from Sushi Now www.sushinow.com. Wild Planet www.wildplanetfoods.com offered great tasting sustainable seafood from the Pacific Northwest and they are proud to utilize local fleets and fisheries. One of our favorite seasonings that we use for a Cajun smack on chicken and fish is Slap Ya Mama Cajun Products www.slapyamama.com from Ville Platte , Louisiana . Food as Art was on display as well with a Mona Lisa portrait created with 12,000 Jelly Belly www.jellybelly.com jelly beans by California artist Kristen Cumings.
The Summer Fancy Food Show will be held at the Washington Convention Center in Washington D.C. July 10-12, 2011
Until we eat again…………
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