Toque of San Francisco August 2010
We love French Cuisine and were thrilled to hear about Chevalier which is in Lafayette and has been open for almost two years. As we entered, we were greeted by Executive Chef-Owner Philippe Chevalier who was born in Vendee, France. He has been a chef in Europe and around the globe and accumulated many awards for his cuisine which uses ingredients that are predominately locally sourced, organic and sustainable. We felt very comfortable as the décor is stylish and every table overlooks their lovely outdoor dining patio which has beautiful roses.
We ordered Perrier Sparkling Water, enjoyed the live French music and perused the menu. Our first course was the most outstanding Soup a L’Oignon Gratinee Onion Soup with gruyere cheese and baguette croutons that we had ever tasted! The appetizers were both delicious. The Escargots de Bourgogne were Burgundy Snails in shell with butter, parsley and garlic that were excellent and the Duo de Foie Gras Chaud et Froid which was Rougie pan seared Foie Gras served with brioche croutons, spinach and brandied wine sauce and foie gras tourchon served with brioche toast and caramelized pears was spectacular. We enjoyed the 2007 Raymond Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc which paired perfectly.
We loved our Entrees! The Rack of Lamb and the Beef Rossini Filet topped with foie gras both came with bacon wrapped green beans and fabulous Pommes Dauphines which are light puff potato beignets. A French Burgundy wine paired perfectly.
The desserts were delicious. We enjoyed the Grand Marnier Soufflé served with Napoleon Sauce. Remember to order it when your Entrée arrives as it takes 25 minutes to prepare. The French classic Il Flotante Floating Island with crème anglaise topped with roasted almonds was also a treat. Port and an espresso was the perfect finish to this excellent dinner.
The secret is out for those who don’t already know, Chevalier serves fantastic authentic French Cuisine! This is a fun dining experience as it becomes very lively in the evening. We chatted with people sitting across from us and the energy in the restaurant was very festive. On our next visit, we will try their three course Prix Fixe Menu, which is an excellent value for only $39.00.
We always enjoy being one of the first to try a new restaurant, so we can report on it to our readers. Bistro Central Parc is a new Bistro in San Francisco that serves tasty French fare with California influences made with fresh, seasonal, locally sourced sustainable raised and organic ingredients. We enjoyed chatting with French Native ExecutiveChef/Owner Jacques Manuera who has been in the restaurant business for many years in San Francisco and graduated from Culinary Institute in Strasbourg . He is very charming, exudes a joie de vivre and is very proud of his new restaurant which he started with four walls and spirit. We also enjoyed and watching Chef Nicolas Jardin who is from Marseilles in the exhibition kitchen. The décor features interesting lighting, crisp clean lines, big windows and there is an exquisite custom Wood Front Door.
We began our dinner with a classic bottle of Perrier. The Hors d’oerves that we ordered were all excellent! The Trio of Tartare de Saumon which was comprised of Salmon tartare, caviar and gravlax was delicious. The Galette de Pommes de Terre Brie Chaud was crunchy, flavorful and fantastic….Warm Brie on potato pancake with Mizuna Salad. The Brandade De Morve made with cod and breadcrumbs is a French classic and too marvelous for words! We only wish our mothers had made this dish for us.
Our Entrees were both reasonably priced and quite delicious. Bouillabaisse is known as a Southern France Marseille seafood specialty made with fish, clams, mussels and crab rich flavorful fish soup base. It was perfect! Beef Bourguignon is a delicious Classic French stew consisting of beef in rosemary-red wine sauce, carrots and potatoes. The beef was extremely tender and the flavors were lovely.
The Wines that we enjoyed included 2007 Meursault Louis Latour, France which paired with the Hors d’oerves , the 2006 Bordeaux “ Grave de Vayres” which paired with the Beef and the 2007 Chilean Sauvignon Blanc which paired with the Bouillabaisse. The Nougat Glace Dessert was spectacular. A Dow Crusted Tawny Port in a red glass and a Double Espresso was an excellent finish to our fabulous meal.
Bistro Central Parc
It’s hard to believe that Palio D’Asti has been open for 20 years! It seems like yesterday that we had lunch there with our friend Alex. Located in San Francisco ’s Financial District, the restaurant features an interesting décor including fabulous posters, Tuscan plaster, metal sculptures and stone pillars. They serve a seasonal changing menu created by Executive Chef/Owner DanielScherotter who was trained in Italy at La Academia Italiana della Cuchina in Bologna and was a chef in Italy before coming to San Francisco . His Old World techniques combined with local and seasonal ingredients creates a Culinary Tour of Italy.
We started out with a tart and very refreshing Cactus Cooler House Cocktail. It was made with Stoli, fresh Prickly Pear and lemon juice served shaken on the rocks with lemon. Our first course was the Antipasti E Stuzzicchini. We loved the Asparagi alla Napoletana which was grilled local asparagus with sun dried tomatoes, Buffalo Mozzarella, Castelvetrano olives, extra virgin olive oil and sea salt. We also loved the Capesante in Peperonata which was Roasted Day Boat Scallops with crispy fried capers and braised hot and sweet peppers. Sparkling Prosecco DOC Valdo, Brut, Valdobbiadene , NV paired perfectly with these dishes.
Next, we enjoyed the Insalata Nostra which was a delicious Dungeness Crab and Avocado salad with raw and pickled artichokes, fennel, arugula and lemon. Our pasta course Primi Piatti was the Fedelini con Granchio comprised of Fine Linguini with Dungeness Crab, San Marzano Tomato sauce, calabrese chilies, flaked red peppers and oregano. It was bold yet subtle pasta. The entrée Secondi Piatti that we loved was the Corona d’Agnello which was luscious Mustard Crusted Rack of Suckling Lamb with lamb shank sugo, snap peas, baby carrots, pistachio and mint.
The Wine Spectator Award winning Wine list features wines from around the world. We enjoyed the 2007 Hall Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc and the 2006 Mario Perelli Minetti Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.
We saved room for Desserts- Dolci. We loved the Panna Cotta Sanguinosa topped with Blood Orange sauce and citrus compote. The Tiramisu which was a Classic “Pick me up” of Lady Fingers, espresso, rum, zabaglione and mascarpone cheese was divine! As we lingered over a perfect Mr. Espresso, we enjoyed chatting with General Manager Martino Di Grande. He told us that as a thank you to their loyal customers Palio D’Asti is having a 20 th Anniversary drawing. Now through July 28, 2010 each time you dine for either lunch or dinner, you can enter to win by giving your server a business card. Prizes include a Cocktail Party for 20, an Iron Chef Mixology Event for 12, a Special Wine Paring Dinner for 6 , a case of Gianni Fission’s Italian Wine,18 three course dinners for 2-4 and 20 gift cards.
We enjoyed our dinner and friendly service at Palio D’Asti and look forward to tasting more of their regional Italian Cuisine soon.
It is hard to believe that Italian Colors Ristorante has been open in the Montclair hills of Oakland since 1993. We have dined there many times and enjoyed their Italian cuisine. Executive Chef/Owner Alan Carlson who is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York has continued to create new Italian menu items that reflect the changing tastes of his loyal customers. We sat on the mezzanine level in the dining room and started our dinner with some of their Specialty Cocktails. The Colors Cosmo which is made with vodka, Cointreau, fresh lemon juice, frambois, and a Prosecco float served up with a twist was so tasty we had a second one! The Colors Margarita made with Sauza Hornitos reposado tequila, cointreau, Amaretto, fresh lime and orange juice was also worthy of a second. As we perused the menu, we enjoyed listening to the classical guitar music played by Michael Wollenberg. The homemade Focaccia was soon delivered to our table and we enjoyed this bread because they have a special recipe which makes it slightly sweet.
The Primi Piatti starters were all excellent. We loved the Gnocchi Bolognese which is made with slow braised beef, pork, porcini mushrooms, onions, carrots, tomato, herbs and cream. We also enjoyed the Sweet Corn, Crab and Prawn Chowder which had a wonderful consistency and great flavor. Next, we tried the Dungeness Crab Antipasti which was a lovely presentation, tasty and light and included papaya, avocado, English cucumber, red bell pepper, scallions, mixed greens and chili lime vinaigrette. The Pizza Napolitana made with tomato sauce, fresh buffalo mozzarella and basil was sweet and light and had an excellent thin cheesy crust. Our entrees were both fabulous. The Fresh Red Abalone Dore made with lemon caper butter sauce with house made lemon ricotta ravioli was very special. In fact, it was one of the most amazing dishes we have enjoyed in years. The Grilled Angus Rib Eye Steak was charcoal grilled which made it very flavorful and juicy. It was served with garlic mashed potatoes, veggies and red wine demi glace and was better than most Rib Eye’s we have had at “Steak Houses”. The wine list has reasonably priced selections. We enjoyed the 2008 Pio Cesare Cortese Di Gavi (Alba), the 2008 Mantanzas Creek Sonoma Sauvignon Blanc and the 2005 Watts Old Vine Zinfandel.
Make sure you save room for dessert. We loved both the Sour Dough Belgian Waffle with fresh berries and vanilla ice cream which was light and lovely and the Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp with vanilla bean ice cream which was tart and tasty. Italian Colors Ristorante has both indoor and outdoor dining and is a worthy destination for excellent Italian cuisine.
Italian Colors Ristorante
We’ve always enjoyed our trips to the Palm Springs area for rest, relaxation and of course the excellent dining. We know Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion Cuisine Restaurants well, as we have met Roy and dined at his restaurants in other cities. We even own one of Roy ’s beautiful cookbooks and have recreated the cuisine fairly successfully but only after several hours of preparation. Roy Yamaguchi has built an empire since 1988 with his unique Hawaiian Fusion Cuisine and now has over thirty locations around the U.S. Each restaurant has its own local flair but stays mostly true to Roy ’s menu. Rancho Mirage’s Chef/Partner CharlesAndres has added his own touch to Roy ’s famous cuisine to cater to the clientele that can range from golfers to families who are locals or tourists, as well as celebrities who like to winter in the Desert.
We were warmly welcomed as we arrived by Managing Partner April McCaa and were seated at a comfortable table in the center of the dining room with a view of the exhibition kitchen. The atmosphere is sophisticated yet casual and we started out with Roy ’s refreshing Fresh Hawaiian Cocktails. We loved the Original Hawaiian Martini which is shaken, not stirred and made with Maui pineapples, Skyy Vodka, Stoli Vanilla Vodka and Malibu Coconut Rum served with a slice of fresh pineapple. Equally enjoyable was the 1988 Cocktail which is a tribute to Roy ’s opening year in Honolulu . It is a perfectly balanced blend of tart grapefruit and tangy pomegranate with Absolut Ruby Red Vodka, SOHO Lychee Liqueur and Patron Citronge Liqueur served with Lychee garnish.
We perused the menu then opted for their three course Seasonal Spring Fusion Prix Fixe Menu which was well priced at only $35.00. There are multiple options for each course which makes it a great way to order. The appetizers that we really enjoyed were the Mochi Crusted Ahi Sashimi with ponzu, truffle emulsion and the Wagyu Beef Pot Stickers with kim chee cucumber and hot Firecracker sauce. The entrée that we loved was the Herb Grilled Lamb Chops with port wine bordelaise sauce served with herb au gratin potatoes, carrots and broccoli. The wine list is extensive and the Rutherford Ranch “ Roy ’s” Cabernet paired perfectly with the Lamb Chop. The Desserts were both fantastic and so were the espressos. We loved Roy ’s signature dessert which is the Melting Hot Chocolate Soufflé that is a Flourless chocolate cake with a molten hot center served with excellent vanilla ice cream a la mode. The Strawberry Cheese Cake with kaffir lime essence was also terrific. The cuisine was both excellent and reasonably priced. The attire is Desert Casual and we enjoyed the overall atmosphere of the restaurant and the professional friendly service. Roy’s Rancho Mirage is a worthy dining destination!
Roy ’s Rancho Mirage
A recent business trip brought me to Houston where I had only one night to dine on my own. I asked a friend who travels constantly and is very knowledgeable about restaurants where I should dine in Houston ? He quickly said you MUST go to Pappas Bros. which is a Classic Steakhouse that has been open for over 60 years serving excellent steaks. I opted to sit at the counter, even though I was offered a table. When dining solo it is always appreciated that there is counter seating, especially when the exhibition kitchen is right in front of you and there is a TV for watching sports. After perusing the extensive wine list, I chose a robust 2005 Amizetta Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon as I knew there would be a Prime USDA Dry Aged Ribeye on the way.
Pappas Bros. prides itself on making sure that your steak is cooked to your satisfaction. The server initially explained to me the difference between rare, medium rare and medium. On receiving my steak, I was asked to cut it down the center to make sure it was cooked medium rare (warm red center) which it was as ordered. I was told that they always cook steaks slightly under to accommodate those that really want it rarer or those that need to have it thrown back on the grill for another minute. My medium rare 16 oz. Ribeye was seasoned with kosher salt, pepper and butter and tasted fantastic! The side of Roasted Wild Mushrooms in glazed sherry veal stock which was cooked for four hours was the perfect delicious accompaniment.
I was in heaven with my steak, mushrooms, wine, the gracious service all while watching the Celtics win their NBA playoff game on the TV. While chatting over the counter with Chef Corby Wimp and Manager Pete Contaldi, I could sense their pride at being part of this Houston institution. Pappas Bros. Steakhouse graciously serves great food to satisfied customers and now I agree that it is a MUST dining destination when you are in Houston !
Pappas Bros. Steakhouse
We have roots in both Los Angeles and New York so the logical place to dine in Los Angeles would be a New York Steakhouse. Add to that, we were staying at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel downtown there was no better choice then go up the enclosed glass elevator from our comfortable 29 th floor room to L.A. Prime on the 35 th floor. We were immediately impressed by the panoramic views of the tall buildings in Los Angeles and the view of the hills. The décor in the restaurant is sleek and has both cozy, romantic booths and tables that all have spectacular views.
A basket of five fresh and delicious breads including Lavash, Date Nut, Pretzel, Cheese and Chibata was soon at our table. We ordered Waiwera Sparkling water and looked at the menu. A cocktail is always a great way to unwind, so we ordered Martinis which arrived in wonderful oversized glasses. We particularly loved the Goose a l’orange made with Grey Goose vodka and tangerine and fresh lime juices. We settled in and enjoyed listening to the background music including classics from the 1940’s which made us feel like we were in another place, at another time. We had noticed that they have a Premium Vodka Bar and decided to order a flight with recommendations from Bar Specialist Allen Aram. We tasted the Ed Hardy from France , Sonnema from Holland and Monopowa from Austria . We preferred the Sonnema which was smoother than the other two and the most to our liking with the interesting herbal infusion.
Our first course for dinner was their wonderful light Seafood Bisque. Next, we had the Fresh Jumbo Lump Crab salad with nori aioli, California avocado and Japanese cucumber relish. We also enjoyed the organic red and golden beet salad with blue cheese, candied pistachio, grapefruit garnish and sherry emulsion. It was pungent and light and we appreciated their flexibility in allowing us to have the blue cheese as a substitute for the standard goat cheese. A sorbet intermezzo helped cleanse the pallet before the main attraction.
We loved the bone-in Delmonico dry aged 24 ounce Rib Eye steak which came with roasted garlic and Daikon sprouts. The steak was medium rare as ordered and had a wonderful seasoning. The Wine list is impressive. We enjoyed the Duckhorn Decoy Meritage from the Napa Valley which paired perfectly with the steaks. A side of their luscious Creamed Corn off the cob was the perfect compliment to the fabulous steaks. Lingering and watching the sun set from our “above it all” 35 th floor vantage point was perfect with a hot and strong Espresso. The Vanilla Panna Cotta in a citrus soup with mango and market berries for dessert was a perfect way to complete our memorable dining experience. L.A. Prime has it all. The Steaks, the View, the Sunset, the Service, the Cocktails. We can’t wait to return for another fabulous dining experience.
We love L. A….. Prime.
We asked the concierge at our hotel, The Westin Bonaventure, where to have dinner in walking distance? He recommended Café Pinot. It is located in the heart of downtown adjacent to the historic L.A. Central Library overlooking Maguire Gardens. Café Pinot is part of Chef Joachim Splichal’s Patina Restaurant Group which has restaurants all around Los Angeles and beyond. They are known for fresh, seasonal, locally sourced ingredients and innovative California French cuisine.
SF CHEFS Culinary Event 2010
Taste of Petaluma
Fifth Annual Taste of Petaluma
Saturday, September 25, 2010 ,
Until we eat again…………
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