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Petaluma Post Review
Dining Around
the Bay


Toque of San Francisco June 2006

Summer in The City By Carol & Joe Davis, Dining Detectives.

The San Francisco Bay Area has a diverse population and with it comes Cuisine from around the world. We had the opportunity recently to dine at Italian, Asian, Cuban, Indian and French Restaurants as well as those that feature California Cuisine. All had the finest in seafood, meats and fresh produce. Dungeness Crab is a San Francisco tradition and there had been no better place to dine on this delicacy than Spengerâs in Berkeley.

Spengerâs Executive Chef, Romero Miraflor

Dungeness Crab

We always love to dine at Spengerâs for fresh seafood. We recently had the opportunity to attend a Special Event called Crab Psychology 101. It was fitting that the event take place at Spengerâs since John Spenger originally founded the restaurant as a Crab Stand in 1890. The fun focus of our class, which was led by Spengerâs Executive Chef, Romero Miraflor, was to learn about Dungeness crab, determine crab-eating habits and to decide whether we were a ãPickerä or a ãPilerä and enjoy a fabulous Crab Feast. We learned that Pickers break up the crab, detach, or pierce the crab shell with a sharp instrument and proceed to eat it ãbite by biteä with loud exclamations of joy! A Piler however, scoops out and digs out all the crabmeat from the shell quietly accumulating a heap of the delicacy to enjoy silently only after the pile is completed. The whole Dungeness Crab we feasted on that evening was fantastic! We all were in agreement that no matter how you eat it that crabmeat is very flavorful and a sweet and delicate meal.

Spengerâs Fresh Fish Grotto
1919 Fourth St
Berkeley, Ca 94710

St Regis Hotel
We had a terrific time at the Variety Childrenâs Charity of Northern Californiaâs  festive Black Tie Event and Auction which was aptly named ãChefâs Bestä at the St. Regis Hotel in San Francisco. KGOâs Gene Burns was the celebrity host who introduced each chef, as they demonstrated how to make each course. We feasted on a five course dinner prepared by St. Regis Chefs from around the world. 

at St Regis Hotel Executive Chef John Jackson

Filet Mignon

Gene Burns Cooking Demonstration St Regis

Anthony Bourdain Chef/Author

San Franciscoâs Executive Chef John Jackson prepared a fabulous Blue Fin Tuna Cured Tableside on Himalayan Salt with Foie Gras and Jerusalem Artichoke Terrine with long pepper spiced tomato gelee. The Phoenicianâs Executive Chef Paul Carter treated us to a delicious Citrus Monkfish, sauterne and Petit Vegetable Nage. The EntrŽe prepared by The St. Regisâ Beijing Executive Chef Marco Mazzei was a fantastic Grilled American Waygu Beef Filet Mignon with celeric truffle puree, sweetbreads, and porcini stew. Dessert was a delightful Blood Orange ãCreamsicleä prepared by San Franciscoâs Executive Pastry Chef Bridget Labus. It was a fabulous Dining Experience. We enjoyed the silent auction where we won the bid on a signed copy of Anthony Bourdainâs Les Halles Cookbook.

St Regis Hotel
125 Third St.
San Francisco, Ca 94103

3 Blocks off Restaurant (3bo)
In the North Bay we found a new fantastic destination restaurant called 3 Blocks off (3bo). The Cuisine is California and the portions are very generous and the flavors are exquisite taking advantage of the freshest ingredients. Chef De Cuisine, Ryan Schroeder prepared the most outstanding cuisine we had had in quite some time! We particularly enjoyed the Figs and Cambozola with Grilled Ciabatta. It was sweet and mild and the flavors of the figs blended perfectly with the flavor and texture of the creamy Cambozola The Chilled Pink Gulf Prawn Antipasto Fresco had fabulous prawns along with pickled green beans, Mozzarella Cheese and tiny cherry tomatoes. 

3 b o Chef De Cuisine, Ryan Schroeder


Brined Pork Chop

We decided to have a Pasta course before the Entrees and are glad we did. The Sweet English Pea Ravioli with truffled Gulf Prawns in local sheepâs milk silk cream was outstanding. It had a delicate sweet almost lemony flavor and was truly ultra gourmet. We will admit that one of our Dining Assistants who hates peas wouldnât even have a taste, which worked out fine·as there was more for us. The Entrees are called Big Plates for a good reason. They are sizeable portions with impressive presentation. Our favorite was the Brined Pork Chop with Polenta stuffed baked apple and ginger ale carrots, port demi-sec. You wonât find better pork or preparation anywhere. The Butterscotch Brioche Bread Pudding dessert topped with White Chocolate Lavender Gelato was fabulous. It was lighter than most and got high marks from even those who donât normally like bread pudding. The Meyer Lemon Custard Cake with brown sugar sauce was served warm and just melts in your mouth. It had a sweet lemon taste and not tart at all. 3bo is worth the drive from anywhere in the Bay Area.

3 Blocks off Restaurant (3bo)
220 Western Avenue
Petaluma, Ca. 94952
707- 778-8211
707-778-8219 Fax

Mantra Restaurant and Lounge

Palo Alto has a new addition to the dining scene called Mantra Restaurant and Lounge, which features California Cuisine with East Indian and French influences. Executive Chef Robert Ciborowski who was formerly at The French Laundry makes great use of their Indian Tandoori Clay oven and Madras spices.

Mantra Executive Chef Robert Ciborowski

Prosciutto Wrapped Swordfish

We loved the Mantra Bread Basket. It consisted of fresh made to order spicy minced lamb filled Naan, Onion Infused Kulcha bread and fresh Paneer Wheat Parantha. Our favorite starter was the Yellow Fin Tuna ãRibbonsä with soy beans and Yuzu Gelee, fresh Wasabi and Toasted Orange Oil. The entrŽe that we highly recommend is the Prosciutto Wrapped Swordfish with golden pineapple puree and sautŽed tart dried cherries. The flavor of the swordfish was enhanced by the subtle sauces. For dessert have the Petite Lemon Tart with Ginger Crme Fraiche, Satsuma Orange and Cranberry Chutney. It was the perfect finish to an excellent meal. Mantra is located off University on Emerson and the food, service and ambience created a delightful evening.

Mantra Restaurant and Lounge
632 Emerson St.
Palo Alto 94301


Gourmet Wood Fired Pizza is the hot new cuisine in Oakland.

Pizzaioloâs Executive Chef-Owner Charlie Hallowell

Pizzaiolo Rocket, Speck and Parmesan Pizza

Pizzaioloâs Executive Chef-Owner Charlie Hallowell who came from Alice Waterâs Chez Panisse has created a small, high energy, loft like restaurant that is highly touted and for good reason. We loved the Pizzaiolo Rocket, Speck and Parmesan Pizza with its thin crust and fresh ingredients. The Jerusalem artichoke Soup with Tuscan Olive Oil was also delicious. If you want pasta you will be pleased with the Fettuccini with asparagus, cream, black pepper and Parmesan. This is fun casual dining.

5008 Telegraph Ave
 Oakland, Ca. 94609

La Taza de CafŽ
Cuban and Latin American Cuisine are also the rage in Oakland. Executive Chef ãDonä Diego Escobar brings his talents from Habana to this new upbeat dining establishment.

La Taza de CafŽ Executive Chef ãDonä Diego Escobar

Maduros Sweet Fried Plantains

Lamb Chops

This is a great place to start out with a Champagne Mojito made with Cristalino Cava and a fresh mint twist. We loved the Camarones Al Mojo De Ajo which is sautŽed prawns, garlic, onions, dry sherry lemon butter sauce. Youâll also enjoy the Chops de Cordero which are fabulous Grilled lamb chops, dark rum mint reduction served with horseradish mashed potatoes. No Latin meal is complete without Platatons. Try the Maduros sweet fried plantains. They were fantastic. Flan is a perfect finish. La Taza de CafŽ
Has it all ·.Tapas, Sangria, Live music, and patio dining. A very festive evening!

La Taza de Cafe
3909 Grand Ave
Oakland, Ca. 94610

Grasingâs Coastal Cuisine

Executive Chef- Owner Kurt Grasing

Warm apple bread pudding with crme fraiche

We always make time to enjoy Grasingâs Coastal Cuisine when we go to Carmel By The Sea .Here one can savor the bounty of Californiaâs coast while enjoying Central Coast wines. Executive Chef- Owner Kurt Grasing uses fresh local ingredients which makes the difference. We loved the butter lettuce salad with Blue Cheese, Candied walnuts and marinated peas. The mushroom ravioli with saffron sauce was excellent. Save room for the Warm apple bread pudding with crme fraiche, ice cream and strawberries!  Next time weâll have to try his other restaurant Kurtâs Carmel Chop House   which features Steaks and Chops.

Grasingâs Coastal Cuisine
6th & Mission St
Carmel, Ca. 93921

Michael Mina Bellagio- Las Vegas
For a true elegant dining experience nothing quite compares to a Michael Mina restaurant. On a recent trip to Las Vegas we couldnât help ourselves and dined at Michael Mina Bellagio. It is known for innovative seafood, fabulous meats and small dishes with incredible tastes. The Signature Trios are an excellent way to taste seafood or meat prepared three ways. Our First Course was fantastic. It was the Crab Stuffed Prawns with Chilled Soups. The three different preparations which consisted of Asparagus Vichyssoise, Tarragon Lemon, Carrot-Ginger Orange Coriander and Tomato Gazpacho, Avocado, Chile Lime were equally delicious. The incredible EntrŽe Trio was Olive Oil Poached Rack of Lamb- Tortellini. 

Trio Crab Stuffed Prawns with Chilled Soups

Trio Olive Oil Poached Rack of Lamb- Tortellini

Michael Mina Signature Desserts

All three preparations which included Watercress, zucchini, white anchovy, Basil, pine nut, garlic and Nicoise olive, parsley, pearl onion were fabulous tastes. Heather Debor, the Pastry Chef, sent out a Sampling of Michael Mina Signature Desserts. Our favorite was the Chocolate Dessert which was the Gianduja Semifreddo, praline crunch caramel Mousse. It was awesome. The Panna Cotta was excellent. It was made with coconut, mango and passion fruit. The Old Fashion Root Beer Float had Sassafras Ice Cream, root beer sorbet and came with warm chocolate chip pecan cookies. It reminded us fondly of our misspent youth. Michael Mina restaurants are now in other cities as well, including one in San Francisco.

Michael Mina Bellagio
3600 Las Vegas Blvd. South
Las Vegas, Nevada 89109

Mon Ami Gabi
Another great restaurant in Las Vegas is Mon Ami Gabi which is in the Paris Hotel.

Mon Ami Gabi Steak Frites


We had a terrific time at this high energy French Bistro. They have all types of casual French cuisine but our favorite is the Steak Frites. For dessert save room for the crepes. Wine, Steak, Las Vegas· a great concept.

Mon Ami Gabi
The Paris Hotel
Las Vegas, Nevada

Until we eat again·."


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