Toque of San Francisco December 2011
Elizabeth Falkner from Orson
Nancy Oakes from Boulevard
Xavier Salomon from Ritz Carlton HMB
We visited The Grand Tasting Tent in Union Square on Sunday afternoon. We appreciated that it was not too crowded which allowed us to mingle with chefs, winemakers, mixologists and brewers and feast on showcase dishes from local restaurants. We also enjoyed the cooking demonstration by Gary Danko and Joanne Weir. All of the cuisine that we tasted was delicious and there was plenty of it. Our favorite dish was a Spanish Style Pulled Pork and Beans made by Elizabeth Falkner from Orson orsonsf.com or you may also know her from Citizen Cake. Other chefs whose cuisine we particularly enjoyed included Nancy Oakes from Boulevard, Xavier Salomon from Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay and Bruce Hill from Bix. The wines, beer and spirits also flowed freely. We enjoyed offerings by Russian River Winegrowers including Davis Family Wines, Bordeaux Wines, Anchor Brewing Beer and Skyy Vodka.
Spanish style pulled pork and beans
Davis Family Wines
San Francisco is a World Class Culinary Destination and SFChefs 2011 was an enormous success. We are looking forward to attending again next summer.
It was another San Francisco summer day with the fog thick in the morning but by late afternoon it was sunny, windy and beautifully mild. The Bay glistened as we walked down The Embarcadero to our dining destination. The Plant Café Organic Restaurant is located at PIER 3 which in a recently renovated historic green waterfront building which has rooftop solar with on site electrical energy production. The Plant opened a few years ago and has been known for great Bay views for Breakfast, Lunch and Cocktails but had a limited Dinner Menu. Now Executive Chef Sascha Weiss, who we were pleased to meet and chat with, has added a new Dinner Menu which makes it a true evening option and a real dinner house. They use organic and locally sourced ingredients, offer fresh Organic Juices and have menu items that are Vegetarian, Vegan and Wheat Free.
We were seated on their heated outdoor waterfront patio where we had a lovely Bay view and were impressed by the décor which included lovely sunflowers on every table. We ordered cocktails including a perfectly potent Cosmopolitan with fresh lime juice and a tempting, tasty and tart Red Blossom made with Square One Vodka, Kombucha, fresh berries, hibiscus and framboise.
Pan-Seared Day Boat Scallops
The Appetizers that we chose were all quite impressive, fresh and flavorful. We enjoyed the spicy Shrimp Dumpling which was a tasty shrimp wonton with roasted poblano chili broth and cilantro. The Duck Shitake Spring Roll was wrapped in rice paper with soy ginger sauce and sliced mango were also excellent. We also loved the Linguini with Maitake and English Peas. The fresh pea pesto and lemon basil was a perfect light sauce for the luscious pasta with peas and mushrooms. The Pan-Seared Day Boat Scallops with luscious mango lime reduction and citrus were crispy and juicy. We also loved their Soup of the Day which was a made with delicious fennel, tomato and basil. Next, we had a Pizza. The Wild Mushroom Pizza with truffle oil, mozzarella, parmesan and evoo had a great thin crust and was quite aromatic....truly fantastic! The Entrée that we enjoyed was the coconut crusted Pacific Halibut with coconut lime reduction and a side of kale.
The Plant Café Organic has a full bar and offers over twenty interesting wines by the glass for pairing. We enjoyed the 2010 Biohoff Weinwertel Austrian Gruner Veltliner, the 2009 Navarro Anderson Valley Riesling, the 2008 Domaine Carneros Pinot Noir and the 2006 Michele Schlumberger Dry Creek Merlot.
As you know, we always save room for Dessert. We loved the Raw Raspberry Cashew Cheesecake with young coconut pecan date crust and blackberry pepper sauce. It was amazing....vegan, subtle and nourishing! The TCHO Chocolate Cake with Blue Bottle coffee ice cream and almond-cocoa nib tuile was decadent. A pot of French Press Blue Bottle Coffee and a sweet Yalumba Botrytis Voignier after dinner drink from Southern Australia were the perfect finish to our excellent dinner.
The Plant Café Organic is committed to furthering sustainable practices and healthy living. We loved the whole experience, including the fresh creative cuisine, lovely décor, dramatic Bay View, experienced fun staff and light background music. We also enjoyed chatting with fellow diners, which included locals and others in town for business or vacation. We appreciated that there is parking at PIER 3, as we hate to get parking tickets! You will truly enjoy Plant Cafe Organic and isn’t it great to eat healthy!
The Plant Café Organic
Piers 3, The Embarcadero
San Francisco, CA. 94111
Urban Tavern near Union Square in San Francisco has been open for over three years serving California Cuisine using seasonal, fresh and local ingredients. We had heard that they had a new menu and new Executive Chef and decided to get a CITY fix on a Tuesday night. The restaurant looks just as “cool” as when it opened. The “Gastropub” as it is known is stylish but casual and draws from both locals and tourists and was packed on the Tuesday night that we dined. The full sized Horse Sculpture named Urban made by Arizona artist Doug Owen is still striking as the centerpiece of the restaurant. We sat at one of the comfortable booths but saw many other happy guests at the communal table, as well as the marble bar.
We ordered cocktails to start. The Cosmopolitan made with Grey Goose Vodka and a Cucumber Mint Martini made with Square One Organic Cucumber Vodka, mint, lime and fresh cucumber were perfect to sip on while we looked at the new menu. The Cosmo was ordered “strong” and it was ideal. We were pleased to see that there were small plates, starters and entrees that were all very reasonably priced. We try not to eat too much bread but enjoyed the Acme Rolls that came with Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
The Appetizers that we tried were all delicious. We really loved the Baked Oysters O’Farrell made with lacinato kale and parmesan cheese. The oysters were warm, delicious and an original interpretation of Oysters Rockefeller. Another excellent choice is the Potted Egg soufflé made with Bellwether Farms ricotta cheese, free range organic egg, topped with sautéed Chanterelle mushrooms. This was amazing and very unusual! We also loved the Fruits De Mer with calamari, shrimp, citrus, quinoa anchoiade, fennel and pancetta crisp. It had great flavors and was perfect to share. We had to try the Chili made with Painted Hills Ranch grass fed all natural beef and Rancho Gordo Beans. It was actually very light, spicy and delicious but should have had a little more beef. Our next course was the Tavern Green Salad which was made with local lettuce, golden beets, toasted walnuts and a luscious green goddess dressing. They have a special talent for salads so be sure and try them!
The Entrees feature fresh fish, a variety of meats as well as unique pasta dishes. We loved the Duck Confit which came with Quinoa pilaf, cranberries, rose and frisee. The duck was very tender and the quinoa was a delicious alternative to rice. The Whiskey Roast Pork Shoulder which came with kabocha squash, roasted Brussels sprouts and a molasses glaze was also a hearty entrée and quite tasty.
The Wine list features over 100 local California Wines with many available by the glass.
We chatted with Sommelier / General Manager Steven Kleinfeld who helped us with our wine choices. Our favorite white wine was the 2009 Gamble Family Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc. It was a perfect Sauvignon Blanc for our taste as it had citrus notes and was bright and effervescent and paired well with our starters. Our favorite red wine was their Urban Tavern custom bottled 2010 Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel made by winemaker Jeff Morgan which was bold and paired well with our entrees.
We managed to save room for Desserts and were glad we did. Our favorite dessert was the Butterbourbon Pudding which is made with dark chocolate and black pepper Madeleine. If was so fantastic that we got a dessert high! Can’t wait to have it again! The Urban Tavern Peanut Butter Cup which came with Sea Salt Brittle and Peanut Ice Cream was also delicious. A 2010 EOS Tears and Dew Late Harvest Paso Robles Mescato and a double espresso were the perfect pairings and finish to our excellent dinner.
Urban Tavern continues to be one of our favorites for Downtown San Francisco Eating, Meeting and Drinking as it is close to shopping and the Theater District and has 5 hour free validated parking while dining. The menu has something for all tastes and the service is friendly and professional. We are pleased to report that Executive Chef Colin Duggan was recently promoted after working at Urban Tavern for over four years. He brings a wealth of local and international experience and has now been able to refresh the menu using his own flair.
333 O’Farrell Street
San Francisco, CA. 94102
Lake Tahoe is beautiful year round and a great getaway from the Bay Area. Hikers and boaters love it in the spring, summer and fall and skiers love it, as it affords them a spectacular winter wonderland. All visitors and locals have one thing in common and that’s right, they appreciate excellent cuisine. Wolfdale’s in Tahoe City has been open since 1978 serving East-West Fusion Cuisine created by Restaurateur/ Executive Chef Douglas Dale using fresh, seasonal, local ingredients. The restaurant is right on the Lake with fabulous views and has outdoor dining in warmer seasons. The interior décor is sophisticated with a striking bar, interesting art and lovely flowers on each table creating wonderful atmosphere.
We ordered Manhattans and Cosmopolitans from their full bar to start and warm bread with soft butter was soon at our table. The menu has both Small Plates and Entrees so you can enjoy many tastes or have a dinner entrée. As ever, we have to try a number of menu items and fortunately we came with friends, so we could share. The Combo Teaser Appetizer with Edamame, Gomashio, Asian Beets, Wolfdale’s Smoked Trout, Olives and Scallops was an amazing starter! The flavors of each taste really popped and we knew we were in for an excellent dining experience. Next, we had their very fresh Hawaiian Ahi Poke Cones with wasabi cream which were not too spicy and quite delicious. The combination of crispy texture of the cones and delicate ahi is fun to experience. The 5-Spice Pork Belly Spoons with Guacamole and Teriyaki was also excellent. The Asian Carpaccio Rolls of Beef with Asian Beets, Arugula and Ginger Cream was thicker than most carpaccio but beautifully presented and quite nice. Another great small plate was the Chili Rellano Tempura with Smoked Chicken, Queso, Tomato Sauce and Guacamole.
Our next course was Soup and Salad. We loved both the Traditional Caesar Salad with anchovies and the Kabocha Pumpkin Soup with Apples and Chestnuts. The entrees are generous portions. Our favorite was the Thai Seafood Stew with shrimp, scallops, halibut, shitake mushrooms, spinach and Jasmine rice. This entree is a beautiful composition of flavors creating a lovely stew. The Alaskan Halibut with Asian glaze, wasabi cream, snap peas and Jasmine rice and the Mushroom Tortellini with tomato sauce, sautéed mushrooms, and roast peppers were both delicious, as well.
Wine Buyer JB Jim Budny has created an extensive Wine List. We enjoyed the 2008 Sherwin Family Vineyards, Spring Mountain Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.
As ever, we saved room for Dessert. The White Chocolate Crème Brulee with Berries was incredible. We also really loved their Fig Apple Sorbet and their Coconut Sorbet which is a perfect light choice for dessert. We finished our meal with a Graham’s 20 yr. Tawny Port and Espressos
We highly recommend Wolfdale’s Restaurant which is located on the Lake in Downtown Tahoe City for dinner or for cocktails and small plates at the bar. The fresh, seasonal cuisine is unique with flavors from Asia and Europe with California flair. Service is very friendly and professional. We also highly recommend the Sunnyside Lodge just a couple of miles away HYPERLINK "http://www.sunnysideresort.com/" www.Sunnysideresort.com where we stayed and had a fabulous time. Our room was perfect and the view of the Lake was spectacular. The stars at night and the fresh Alpine air made our trip to Lake Tahoe truly memorable.
Wolfdale’s Cuisine Unique
6400 North Lake Blvd.
Tahoe City, CA. 96145
Ajanta on popular Solano Avenue in Berkeley has been open for almost twenty years serving amazing Indian Cuisine. They have also been a Green certified business since 2004. The colorful yet serene atmosphere includes décor that features large bold Indian Art inspired by the Ajanta Caves in Maharashtra India and light Indian background music. There is a low noise level, as the tables are nicely spaced and the interesting ceiling art lighting defuses the sounds. The cuisine is healthier and lighter than most Indian Cuisine, as they use locally sourced and mostly organic seasonally fresh and natural ingredients including organic chicken, natural seafood, as well as hormone and antibiotic-free meats. We ordered Taj Mahal Indian Beer which had a rich malt flavor as we looked at the menu. We enjoyed chatting with Chef/Owner Lachu Moorjani who offered some suggestions on what we should have from their new enhanced menu.
We really enjoyed all of our Appetizers. The Salmon Tikki Fish Cakes made with fresh wild salmon, potatoes, breadcrumbs, and spices was served with yogurt- mint-cilantro sauce. The Tandoori Fresh Dayboat Scallops were marinated in yogurt and spices then roasted in their Tandoor Oven and served with yogurt-cashew-tamarind sauce. The Tandoori Portabello Mushrooms which were marinated and grilled tasted fabulous because of the cloves and spices. We also loved the Tandoori Chicken Chaat which was chicken pieces marinated then grilled in the tandoor oven, shredded then tossed with oil, lime juice, red onions, ginger and spices. It was very distinctive. The Daal Soup is a must! This lentil based soup made with mung beans was just delicious and very nurturing. As we enjoyed our appetizers, we loved the aromas from the spices in the sizzling dishes, as they were headed for nearby tables. It was really fun watching what our neighbors were being served.
It was time for the Entrees and we noted that all Dinners are served with Basmati rice and a side dish of spinach and potatoes. We ordered Onion Kulcha which we were advised was traditionally eaten with the entrées. It was a fabulous house made Naan Bread stuffed with onions and served with mango chutney, pickled carrots and hot pickles. We opted to try some of the new menu items that were just added, as well as some favorites that have been on the menu since they opened. We loved the Marzwangan Korma boneless leg of lamb braised with pureed red bell peppers served with tamarind, ginger, cream, and spices including paprika, cardamom and cloves which is a dish from Kashmir in Northern India. The Hyderadadi Murg Korma boneless organic chicken pieces simmered in a sauce made with onions, garlic, coconut milk, lemon juice, cashews, yogurt, sesame seeds and spices from Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh in Southern India was also delicious. We also loved the Green Fish Curry made with Ling Cod fillet pieces simmered in sauce made with cilantro, mint, onions, garlic, green chilies, coconut milk garlic, cashew powder, lime juice and spices which was served medium hot. The Badal Jaam sliced organic eggplant which is pan fried, brushed with homemade tomato sauce, spiced with mango powder and black rock salt, and served with a thickened yogurt sauce topping was also excellent. You must have the Lamb Rib Chops which are marinated in yogurt and spices then grilled in tandoor. Regulars consider this very popular dish to be the best choice on the entire menu and we agree that it was excellent. The Saag Paneer pureed organic spinach with paneer cheese cubes cooked with spices was delicious as well.
Chef/Owner Lachu Moorjani
The wine list features wines from India, California and around the world. We enjoyed the 2008 Sula Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc, Nashik, the 2008 Sula Vineyards Chenin Blanc, Maharashtra which were light wines from India and the 2010 Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough which was light and lively from New Zealand. These lighter wines paired well with the Indian Spices. The 2007 Cotes du Rhone Rouge, M. Chapoutier, Belleruse from France paired perfectly with the Lamb Rib Chop.
We saved room for Desserts. Our favorites were the Mango Mousse made with pureed mangoes, cream and gelatin and the Kulfi which is a frozen dessert made with thickened milk, cream, pistachios and flavored cardamon and keora. We finished our dinner with Masala Chai Indian Tea served with milk and a touch of spices and a Peet’s Coffee. The Tea was particularly enjoyable because it wasn’t sweet, which is just how we like it.
Ajanta has been named Best Indian Restaurant in the Bay Area multiple times and continues to add new menu selections to evolve. We enjoyed our dinner and were motivated to try to create some Indian dishes at home so we purchased the Ajanta Regional Feasts of India Cookbook and Shanti’s Spice Box which includes 30 pre-portioned packets of spices. This will be fun! Ajanta is open for Lunch and Dinner nightly and offers Late Bird Specials after 8:30 PM. This was such an enjoyable dining experience and we look forward to returning again very soon!
1888 Solano Ave
Berkeley, CA. 94707
We enjoy our day trips to small towns in the Bay Area and are always looking for new and interesting dining destinations. We went to Downtown Pleasanton for their Annual Antique Fair a few weeks ago and noticed that there were quite a few restaurants with both indoor and outdoor dining options on Main Street. Nonni’s Bistro which recently opened in July 2010 was quite charming and inviting so we decided to sit outdoors and have Brunch which is served on weekends from 8:00 A.M to 3:00 PM. The décor is welcoming and pleasing with Scandinavian colors outside and interesting Art on the light colored walls inside. The tables are spaced nicely but not to far if you want to chat with other diners. We loved their fabulous Scandinavian Eggs Benedict which is made with house made Ice Smoked Salmon, braised spinach and onions. We were also impressed by their Curried Egg Salad Sandwich from the Lunch menu made with arugula, scallions, and shredded carrots. We were told that they had live jazz on Thursday and Friday nights starting at 6:00 PM and returned for dinner on beautiful warm evening.
We ordered wines by the glass and perused both their Small Plates Afternoon Menu which is available Thursday thru Sunday starting at 4:00 PM and their nightly Dinner Menu. We enjoyed their house-made Smoked Salmon Carpaccio which was served with capers, onion and hardboiled egg. It was delicious! Next we had their luscious Mushroom Soup which was served in a small tureen. It was made with pureed Chanterelles, Button, Portobello and Porcini mushrooms. Our favorite small plate was the Risotto with Short Rib with red wine reduction. It was really luscious and the portion was large enough to share or be an entrée. Our favorite Entrée was the Prawns and Gnocchi which consisted of sautéed white Mexican Prawns tossed with chicken Italian sausage, peppers, onions, and mushrooms in a light cream sauce. The menu also has Classics such as Beef Stroganoff, Coq Au Vin, Moules and Frites, Steak Frites, Salmon and Braised Peppered Short Ribs.
As ever we saved room for dessert. The Espresso Chocolate Pot Au Crème was exceptional. It was light, not too rich and delicious! An Espresso and a Muscat after dinner drink were the perfect finish, as we relaxed and listened to the light live jazz by Twos Guys who added to the evening but were not too loud so you could enjoy conversation during dinner. The Wine List features local Livermore Valley, California and International wines with quite a few choices by the glass. We liked the 2010 Hannah-Nichole Sauvignon Blanc and the 2009 Tamayo Ryland’s Block Malbec.
We enjoyed chatting with Restaurateur/Executive Chef Jon Magnusson who was born near Reykjavik, Iceland. He honed his culinary skills in Europe, South America and for many years in Carmel, California before opening Nonni’s Bistro.
Nonni’s Bistro features excellent European Cuisine made with fresh, local and healthy ingredients. They are open 7 days for Lunch and Dinner and be sure and try the Brunch on the Weekends.
425 Main Street
Pleasanton, CA. 94566
We always enjoy walking around Berkeley near the University, as it has such an eclectic nature. We have been very successful finding quite a few reasonably priced restaurants with great food and character. We had heard that Joshu-ya Brasserie on Dwight Way just off of Telegraph had a new owner, a new expanded menu featuring contemporary Japanese Cuisine and was recently renovated. So we decided to try it for dinner. The decor features a Sushi Bar, bamboo accents, two dining rooms, as well an outdoor patio. The menu is extensive and the cuisine is made with the highest quality seasonal, sustainable and locally sourced ingredients. We began our dinner with a cold Sho Chiku Bai Nama Sake. This organic rice sake was smooth and had a hint of fruit. A cold Draft Sapporo Beer also helped to wet our appetites.
Chef/Owner Jason Kwon
Our favorite starter was the Seared Hokkaido Scallops served in a wild mushroom bacon sauce nestled in a blend of mashed potatoes. Next, we had the spicy and ultra-fresh Jalapeño Hamachi Carpaccio with sweet ponzu. This was a perfect pairing of sweet and spicy with the Jalapeno pepper. The Tuna Tataki with mustard sauce was also excellent and included a salad with luscious dressing. We are glad that we tried the Miso Soup, as it was perfectly balanced. You must have the Creekstone Farms Angus sliced Rib eye which was prepared with a white wine butter sauce. The Alamos Malbec from Argentina paired perfectly with the beef. We saved room for Dessert. The Chocolate Cream Cheese Cake with Cherry Blossom Ice Cream was a unique and tasty finish to our well-paced dinner.
We were impressed by the quality of the cuisine. We chatted with Chef/Owner Jason Kwon who told us that his happiness is derived from seeing the smiles on his customer’s faces. Joshu-ya Brasserie serves healthy and tasty Japanese cuisine catering to students, locals and discerning Japanese cuisine fans. They offer California & Argentina Wines, Japanese Craft Beer, Sake and Sake cocktails and are open for lunch and dinner.
Angus Sliced Rib Eye
Cheese Cake with Cherry Blossom Ice Cream
2441 Dwight Way (at Telegraph Ave)
Berkeley, CA 94704
The Left Bank Brasserie has been serving French Bistro cuisine in Larkspur for more than 16 years. Restaurateur Roland Passot has created a wonderful dining destination where the food has been consistently delicious, the service has been consistently friendly, knowledgeable and attentive and the atmosphere is always lively and relaxed. Every few years there is a new chef who helps to keep the cuisine fresh and spice things up! The new Chef De Cuisine Fabrice Marcon is originally from France and has worked at Michelin Star restaurants in Europe, as well as in San Francisco and the Napa Valley. The cuisine is still prepared with Farm to Table, seasonal, locally sourced ingredients but Fabrice adds some slight nuances that have amped it up!
We chose to dine inside this evening even though the sidewalk seating on this warm summer night was also inviting. We love the décor in the 112 year old Blue Rock Inn building which includes a large stone fireplace, mahogany bar and colorful French Poster Art. We ordered Saint Geron Sparkling Water and Cocktails to start while we looked at the menu. The Watermelon Refresher with vodka, watermelon, cucumber and lime which was refreshing as advertised and an excellent Cosmo with Grey Goose which was made with fresh lime juice was especially good and wet our appetites.
The Appetizers that we tasted were all better than ever. We loved the Mousse De Foie De Volaille which was spicy, creamy, smooth chicken liver mousse served with toast, relish, olives, and pickles. The Croquettes De Morue which was Crisp Salt Cod Fritters with cabbage, fennel coleslaw and saffron aioli was also delicious and a French favorite! You must have the Steak Tartare which was excellent chopped natural beef with capers, shallots, egg and Dijon mustard. We were quite pleased that we had the Soup of the Day which was Pureed Corn Soup served in a Turin. It was fragrant, nourishing, light and served nice & hot. The Entrees are hearty portions. Our favorite entrée was the Magret De Canard Aux Peches This was a delicious roasted duck breast with peaches, chickpea fritters and a phenomenal gastrique sauce. The Halibut was great tasty as well. You must try their sides. We loved the Sautéed Spinach with roasted garlic, as well as the Mashed Potatoes which were light, fluffy and delicious.
The Left Bank has an Award Winning Wine List. We like that wines by the glass come in small carafes, so you can monitor your pour. We enjoyed the 2009 Domain Tremblay, Quincy, Loire Valley Sauvignon Blanc which was crisp and had citrus notes and the 2009 Kunde, “Magnolia Lane” Sonoma Sauvignon Blanc which had grapefruit and floral notes with our appetizers. The
2008 Davis Family Vineyards, “Guyzer Block” Russian River Syrah which was rich and velvety paired perfectly with the duck.
We always save room for Desserts and are so glad we did. We were very happy with the Warm Beignets with coffee crème which were light, lovely and definitely some of the best we’ve ever tasted. The Mousse Au Chocolat was an excellent creamy chocolate mousse with rich chocolate topping and fabulous caramelized bananas. Illy Espressos served piping hot were the perfect finish to our excellent dinner!
The Left Bank in Larkspur is a perfect destination restaurant for Lunch, Dinner or their popular Sunday Brunch. We were pleased to see that the cuisine was better than ever and the service was still excellent. Rob, our server, was very knowledgeable and helpful and enhanced our dining experience. We knew that this was the place to dine, when we noticed our “Foodie” friends from Palm Springs at a nearby table. They always dine at the Left Bank when they are in town!
Left Bank Brasserie
507 Magnolia Avenue
Larkspur, CA. 94939
We were very impressed with the décor and attention to detail as we entered The Southern Pacific Smokehouse. Their beautiful Bar was straight ahead, Exhibition Kitchen, Outdoor Patio and Main Dining Room with tables and small and large booths were to the left and the Smokehouse Lounge which is where they have live entertainment was off to the right. They just opened in May serving contemporary wood fired American Cuisine made with mostly local produce and ingredients. The 2000 pound Ole Hickory Smoker called Mabel is where their BBQ is slow cooked over hickory wood. The Executive Chef is Ryan Barnett who grew up on a farm and trained at the Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts.
Alex Bachman their Mixologist and Sommelier stopped by our table in the main dining room and encouraged us to try their Hand Crafted Cocktails. We were very impressed by the Corpse Reviver #2 which is a classic cocktail created at the American Bar in the Savoy Hotel in London by Harry Craddock in the 1930’s. It is a true classic and one of the best we’ve ever tasted! It is made with Bombay Gin, Cocchi Americano and Cointreau then lemon seasoned with a touch of Leopold Brothers Absinthe. The light flavor of the absinthe was amazing! We also loved the Moscow Mule which is another classic that was served in a copper mug made with Vodka, Lime and Ginger Beer. Stephanie, our server who was very knowledgeable assisted us with our menu choices.
Smoked Chicken Tortilla Soup
The Starters are all generous servings and well priced. We loved the Garlic and Herb Flatbread which was finished with parmesan and extra virgin olive oil. The Crab & Shrimp Cakes with fennel and arugula salad and lemon-cayenne emulsion were tasty too. You must have the New Orleans style Shrimp and Grits with glazed shallot cream sauce. It’s a little rich but worth it! We were impressed by the tomato based Smoked Chicken Tortilla Soup with Queso cotija, crème fraiche and lime pepper tortilla strips. Next, we had an excellent Wood Oven Pizza created with Smoked Chicken, Bacon, Brie and Pear puree.
The Entrees can be ordered in small or large sizes and they are very flexible with substitutions of sides which accompany the entrees. We loved the Smokehouse Duo of Dry Rub Baby Back Ribs and Pulled Pork which was served with mashed potatoes and sautéed arugula and spinach The Smoker gives the meat a wonderful taste, makes the ribs so tender that they fall off the bone and the pulled pork fantastic and lean. We enjoyed the SP BBQ sauce which was served on the side. They do offer fresh fish specials including Salmon in season as well as Pork Chops, Chicken dishes as well as Burgers and Sandwiches.
The desserts that we tried were both amazing, very large and made to be shared. The Banana “Nilla” Pudding was excellent and the Cranberry Bread Pudding with Ice Cream was also great, real comfort food. They both tasted like they were made by “Mom”. We took some of the Banana “Nilla” Pudding home and it was even better the next day! A Galleto D’Oro Western Espresso was the perfect finish to our dinner.
The Southern Pacific Smokehouse is a great new American Grill which has already gained a loyal following including some music celebrity sightings. We heard that Kenny Loggins dined there when he was in town for his performance at the Sausalito Art Festival. It is great spot for large parties and is family friendly with a Children’s Menu. The Smokehouse Lounge has live entertainment on Tuesday- Saturday nights featuring Blues, Acoustic, Country and a Magic Show. They are open for lunch and dinner 7 days a week starting at 11:00 AM and have a Weekend Brunch with Punch including adult libations. This is a welcome addition to the dining and music scene in Marin!
Southern Pacific Smokehouse
Vintage Oaks Shopping Center
224 Vintage Way
Novato, CA. 94945
We are so lucky to live in Northern California where it is common to be able to dine outdoors on summer nights. We had heard good things about the Riverside Bistro which recently opened in the old J M Rosen’s space in the Golden Eagle Shopping Center and decided to bring some friends to try their American Cuisine. There are great views from the dining room and their covered patio overlooking the Petaluma River. The dinner menu features just enough choices for everyone and the prices are very reasonable with entrees all under $20.00 and a $5.95 Kids Menu. We were seated on the patio right next to the river and settled in for an evening of river watching and dining. Sammie, our server, was soon at our table and we ordered some Calistoga Sparkling Water, a Stella Artois Beer which is on Tap and a bottle of 2009 Clos Du Bois Sauvignon Blanc. We were told that on weekends they have live Jazz including local favorite Peter Welker and vocalist Jeff Oster on Fridays from 6:00 PM-8:00 PM and Surprise Jazz musicians on Saturdays from 6:00 PM-8:00 PM.
The Starters that we had were reasonably priced and delicious! We loved the Tiger Prawns Cocktail which had large fresh prawns and a spicy cocktail dipping sauce. The Crab Cakes made with crab claw meat and a spicy remoulade dipping sauce was outstanding and better than some we’ve had for twice the price. We also enjoyed the Jalapeno Poppers which was a unique appetizer with a raspberry dipping sauce.
The Salads were both superior as well. The Caesar Salad made with crisp romaine hearts, house made crunchy croutons and shaved parmesan cheese with house Caesar dressing was light and tasty. The Spinach Salad with roasted beets, walnuts, dried cranberries, bleu cheese and bacon tossed with a vinaigrette dressing was delicious and very fresh.
New York Strip
All of the Entrees are served with house salad or soup of the day. We enjoyed the Clam Chowder, as we had already ordered salads. The 10 oz. New York Strip Steak grilled medium rare as ordered, served with garlicky smashed potatoes and veggies was our favorite entree. The Sautéed Scallops served over Penne Pasta with mushrooms, spinach, green onions, shallots and parmesan cheese in white sauce had large scallops and was quite tasty once we spiced it up with salt and pepper. The 2008 Coastal Vines Sauvignon Blanc paired well with the scallops.
We saved room for Desserts and were glad we did. The classic J M Rosen’s Cheesecake had a hint of lemon and was as we remembered... it creamy and outstanding! The Chocolate Cake was moist and light but not too sweet or rich. We lingered and enjoyed coffee as a cooling breeze came up. Dining at Riverside Bistro on the patio watching the Petaluma River activity was a great way to spend the evening. We look forward to returning for weekend jazz, as well as trying their weekend brunch.
54 East Washington Street
Golden Eagle Shopping Center
Petaluma, CA. 94952
The 11th Annual San Francisco Dine About Town is scheduled for January 15th-31st, 2012.
Happy Holidays to all!!
Until we eat again……..