Toque of San Francisco May 2010
Dining in Palo Alto has just achieved a new level with the addition of Baume. Restaurateur and Executive Chef Bruno Chemel who has received stars and accolades from Michelin, The New York Times and Five Star Ratings brings his signature “Molecular Gastronomy” to Palo Alto. This Contemporary French cuisine features California and Asian influences using seasonal and locally sourced ingredients. He was the top Graduate at Culinary School in Moulins, France and honed his culinary skills at Cliquo in Honolulu , Chez TJ in Mountainview, Aqua in Dana Point and Le Chantilly in New York . He also studied Macrobiotic cooking while in Japan for four years. Baume is an intimate 22 seat restaurant which is named for French chemist Antoine Baume. The décor is elegant and features pendant light shades, Zen Art wall hangings and lovely drapes made in Europe.
The cuisine combines the modern with the ancient and is scientifically classic but gastronomically modern. The menu is unique as they list the ingredients for each multi-course price fixe lunch and dinner. The ingredients that were used in our meal included Asparagus, almonds, parmesan, shallots, young garlic, sake, scallop, bass, saffron, fennel, pastis, beef, truffle, espelette, yuzu, parsnip, tarragon, strawberry, vanilla, chocolate, green tea, liche and lillkoi, foie gras, apricot, curry, miso, mizuna, rice liquid nitrogen, tete, de moine, lavender, carrot and pineapple.
We began our gastronomic adventure with Specialty Cocktails. The BomaTini was quite a treat, as it is made with passion fruit and Grey Goose vodka. The Equinox Sparkling Wine from Santa Cruz with frozen Cassis stick was also quite refreshing. We opted for the 12 course Asparagus Tasting Menu, which began with excellent House-made Soy Nori Flatbread made with seaweed accompanied by parsley tofu spread, olive oil and grilled asparagus tapenade. We then enjoyed the freshly baked baguettes and wheat roles. Our meal included a delicious Asparagus Salad with Shallot Vinaigrette, pickled peppers and micro beans. Next, we had the luscious Young Garlic Asparagus Soup with Rosemary ice cream.
The Osetra Caviar- Asparagus Pana-Cotta was a fantastic intermezzo that tasted like a lemon dessert. The Asparagus Nitro- Foam was quite unique. We loved the Seared Foie Gras with pickled wild asparagus. The main course was a spectacular Grass Fed Filet with asparagus and truffles. Dessert consisted of Meyer Lemon Ice Cream with white Asparagus Granite and tasty Asparagus Spiced Cake in Cubes.
Each Course had wines paired from the Wine List which features wines from around the world. We particularly enjoyed the Domaine du Suland white wine from France , the 2007 Bartolo Minerva Rhone Blend from Santa Clara Valley and the 2006 Michael Martella Fiddletown Grenache.
Baume serves both lunch and dinner. You’ll enjoy the cuisine which has French, California and Asian influences. The Tasting Menus offers variety but you won’t find too many competing flavors, as on some other restaurant’s tasting menus. It is quite an exciting experience! Executive Chef Bruno Chemel loves to try new things, so each time you dine you will be surprised. Baume is destined for stars!!
We lived in Sausalito for many years and always love coming back to dine. We have enjoyed both lunch and dinner many times at Poggio and consider it to be the heart and soul of Sausalito, as it is friendly, lively and exudes neighborhood charm. It is a Classic Italian Trattoria with a changing daily menu. Executive Chef Peter McNee’s seasonal menu is “Garden Driven” featuring herbs and vegetables from their own organic garden in Sausalito.
We have enjoyed dining at Le Colonial on Cosmo Place many times over the past twelve years. So, we were quite pleased to hear that they started to serve Weekend Brunch. Their A La Carte menu created by Executive Chef Joe Villanueva features contemporary twists on traditional Vietnamese French Cuisine. The décor is like an exotic paradise evoking the tropical elegance of French Colonial Vietnam in the 1920’s. We loved the palm trees, tin ceiling, vintage lamps, photographs, bamboo birdcages and rattan furniture. You truly feel like you have been transported thousands of miles to another place and a hundred years to another time! We were seated in the main dining room and started out with a few of their Specialty Cocktails. A Grey Goose Cosmo with extra lime juice and a GiGi made with Grey Goose “ La Poire” Vodka, St Germain, Elderflower liquor and Lillet Blanc served up with a float of sparkling Rose’ were an excellent way to relax as we perused the menu. We ordered a bottle of Badoit French sparking spring water and listened to Lindsay our knowledgeable server explain the new menu and make some recommendations.
The Appetizers that we enjoyed were the Du Du Tom tasty and crispy lettuce wrap made with green papaya, carrot , cilantro , shrimp and peanut and the Bahn Cuon steamed chicken ravioli with bean sprouts which was spicy tender and unique. It would also make a nice entrée. Next, we had the traditional Soup. The Pho Bo made with oxtail, rare beef tenderloin, rice noodles, cilantro, scallions and crispy shallot. This was excellent comfort food which left a spicy taste in your mouth! Our favorite Main Course was the Bo Luc Lac, which was a fabulous wok seared filet mignon made with sweet garlic soy sauce, baby mixed greens and toy box tomatoes. The Com Trang steamed jasmine rice, with scallion oil and cocoanut was a perfect accompaniment. You must have the side dish Bap Cai Non which is flash fried Brussels sprouts, portabella mushrooms, sweet chili sauce, and crispy shallots. This sweet and delicious side was like no Brussels Spouts you’ve ever had before and will bring haters to their knees . We saved room for dessert and enjoyed the Vietnamese Flourless Chocolate Cake. It was flavored with Vietnamese coffee, topped with whipped cream and crispy banana wonton and was the perfect finish to our three hour brunch. While dining we enjoyed chatting with Sommelier William Boumier who helped us choose wines to pair with our brunch. We particularly enjoyed the 2007 Fitz- Ritter Gewurztraminer from Spatlese, Pfalz , Germany which was sweet and herbaceous and the 2008 New Harbor , Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand which was crisp and fruity. He also explained the difference between warm weather Sauvignon Blanc which is fruitier and cool weather which is grassier.
Le Colonial serves dinner nightly, has live music in the lounge and now serves Brunch from 11:30 – 2:30 on Saturdays and Sundays. You will feel like you are on vacation enjoying Patio Dining on their lovely covered outdoor veranda. We also appreciate that they have Valet parking available.
We have dined at Chez Papa many times and always feel right at home. Actually, when asked to recommend an intimate fun restaurant in San Francisco we normally say “Try Chez Papa on Potrero Hill.” It is the quintessential French bistro with a casual interior, comfortable red chairs and metal tables, as well as outdoor sidewalk dining typical of bistros in the south of France . The atmosphere is lively but not too noisy and there is light jazz in the background. We met the new Executive Chef RodolfoCastellanos Reyes who hails from Oaxaca, Mexico , the culinary capital of Mexico. He worked as a youth in his family’s restaurant, went to culinary school then to Monaco and San Francisco at Jardinière, where he honed his culinary skills. He told us that he was quite pleased to be at this popular dining spot on Potrero Hill and would continue the tradition while adding some of his own twists.
We ordered some Sparkling water and perused the menu. We were pleased to see that Sun –Thursday there was a three course Prix Fixe dinner with multiple choices for only $35.00! The two starters that we enjoyed were the Roasted Wild Mushroom Tart with parmesan cheese, frisee salad and honey vinaigrette which was luscious and the Kobe Beef tartare with quail egg, Dijon mustard, ketchup, parsley, shallots, capers and cornichons which was spicy and fresh tasting. The main courses that we loved were the Lamb Daube with rosemary wine sauce and seasonal vegetables which melted in your mouth and the Sautéed Petrale Sole with leak fondue, Dungeness crab and fine herbs with winter citrus which was light, delicious and heavenly! We normally have their fabulous Mussels but preferred to try some new things and were glad we did.
The wine List features 25 wines by the glass. We enjoyed the 2006 Trecini Sauvignon Blanc from the Russian River Valley which was very lively and fruity and paired well with both the Tart and Sole. The 2006 Chateau Bonnet Andre Lurton Bordeaux paired well with the Tartare and the 2005 Maxime Chomel Crozes Hermitage Cuvee Sassenas Rhone paired perfectly with the Lamb and was full bodied and toasty with hints of oak.
The desserts were both delicious. We loved the Chocolate Fondant & Crème Anglaise which was delightful yet not too sweet. The Apple Tarte Tatin & Crème Fraiche was also fabulous! Our double espressos were perfect….strong, hot with a lovely crèma. The 2005 Domaine de Durban Muscat de Baumes de Venise, Rhone dessert wine was the perfect finish to our fabulous meal.
Chez Papa Bistrot serves excellent French cuisine. The presentation is lovely, the flavors are rich and the entrees are generous servings. The Prix Fixe menu is also an excellent value! We also appreciate that they use black napkins which leave no lint on black pants. We’ll be back again soon!
Chez Papa Bistrot
Downtown Berkeley now has a great new restaurant that features seasonal farm fare and organic fruits and vegetables that are carefully sourced and thoughtfully prepared by Executive Chef Sean Baker who honed his culinary skills at Millennium. They serve Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner in a comfortable environment which is very active and lively. The décor features tables made from reclaimed wood, recycled vodka bottles for lights and an open exhibition kitchen. The philosophy is 50/50 Vegetarian and Omnivore and includes Vegan offerings as well.
We started out with Organic Cocktails including a tasty CapRock Organic Vodka Martini. The Small Plates that we enjoyed included the Vegan Mushroom Bruschetta with morel mushrooms , leak cashew sauce, red dandelion greens and shaved spring onion and the Omnivore 28 month cured ham with grilled Castelfranco, marinated crescenza and cardoon-almond salsa. Both had subtle flavors and were neither too rich nor too salty.
We loved the Lindencroft Farm chili-chorizo Soup with red Russian kale chickpeas and cilantro. It had a wonderful broth. The Vegan “Charcuterie” looked and tasted excellent. The Shaved Asparagus with heirloom carrots, peas, chili oil, and mint was quite spicy. The Chickpea “pate” with grilled endive, young radishes and roasted King Trumpets was also a treat. The Salt roasted fingerling potatoes with roasted Hen of the Woods mushrooms, rabe leaves, spring onion butter and Spanish red spring garlic were excellent. The Roasted Beets with their tops included a walnut herb sauce which was excellent! The Fried Tofu Skin Bruschetta with avocado, spicy baby fennel escabeche was fabulous as well. The Entrée that we really enjoyed was the Pork Cheeks with caramelized onions and bacon with a green garlic fava bean puree. While dining, we also enjoyed visiting with our neighbors in this friendly setting.
We saved room for the desserts. We loved the Home made Ice Creams and Sorbets which were really luscious and had intense flavors! The Wine List features many Biodynamic, Organic and Sustainable grown wines. We enjoyed the 2007 Spot–On, Orsi Vineyards, Mendocino Pinot Blanc and the 2005 Old River , Ponderosa Vineyards, Sierra Foothills Cabernet Sauvignon.
Gather which has only been open since the beginning of the year was packed on the Thursday night that we dined. Featuring Vegetarian, Vegan and Omnivore fare with generous portions in a friendly upscale atmosphere in one of the Greenest buildings on the West Coast, makes Gather a great new dining destination! There is even reasonably priced parking underground in the Building.
Moussy’s is a new friendly casual San Francisco French Restaurant that was named after the small village in the Champagne region of France. It is located on Bush near Polk, just downstairs from The Alliance Francaise which has French classes and events. The atmosphere is warm and inviting in this subterranean cool location! There is a small bar area, open exhibition kitchen and candles on the tables making the restaurant quite intimate and the feeling of an authentic French dining experience. We met Executive Chef Nathan Ivry who told us how happy he was to be there and be able to add his own touch while offering classic French cuisine.
The starters that we enjoyed included Marinated Olives with Herbs de Provence, Grilled Washington Steamboat Oysters with Beurre Blanc and garlic bread crumbs which were heavenly and the Foie Gras Torchon with caramelized pineapple, pistachios, griddled toast and ginger gastrique. The main courses were healthy and hearty portions. We enjoyed both the Grilled Prime Hanger Steak with foraged wood ear mushrooms, asparagus and natural reduction and the Spice Crusted Ahi Tuna with heirloom potatoes, baby spinach, artichokes and a tomato-shellfish broth. We also had a side of their superior tasting Herbed Pomme Frittes with spicy aioli.
The Wine List features global small production wines at reasonable prices. We enjoyed the Segura Viudas Cava Brut from Spain , the 2004 Beaucanon Estate, Napa Valley Cabernet Franc, the Les Tours Pinot Noir from France and the La Cross Napa Valley Merlot. The dessert that we really enjoyed was the Warm Chocolate Cake with caramelized bananas, walnuts and fleur de sel. We particularly loved the banana flavor and texture. Double Espressos were a great finish to our relaxed and enjoyable French dining experience.
Moussy’s serves dinner Tuesday – Saturday with Happy Hour 5PM -7PM offering a special menu and wine flights, live Jazz on Wednesday nights and Brunch on Saturday and Sunday. What a fun experience with great atmosphere, service and food.
Just off Times Square you’ll find a great Italian restaurant called Carmine’s. Places like this are why we love New York ! They serve Classic Italian cuisine, family style with generous portions that are perfect for sharing. Founded in 1992 by Restaurateur Artie Cutler to be similar to an Italian wedding feast or the way it used to be at grandma’s house Carmine’s was an immediate success and was also packed the night we dined. Our first course was their classic delicious Home Style Antipasto. Next, we enjoyed tasty crispy Fried Calamari. Carmine’s salad was the perfect intermezzo before the heartier dishes arrived. We loved the classic Pasta with tomato sauce and herbs.
We always love to dine at classic Steak Houses. The concept is simple, a great steak and a bottle of Cabernet. Sparks Steak House in New YorkCity was established almost fifty year ago and has been pleasing steak lovers at the current location since 1977. The décor is simple yet elegant and even though the restaurant seats over six hundred including their private rooms, it is always smart to make reservations. The best way to begin your dining experience is at the bar for a cocktail. Bar manager Adnan Nuredini, who has been there for many years, is welcoming and happy to pour your favorite drink while asking where you are from. The Macallan 18 old scotch served neat was just was perfect. Our table was soon ready and we appreciated that they asked if we just wanted to transfer the bar tab to our dinner bill, which we did. At our table we ordered a bottle of Jordan Napa Valley Cabernet from their award winning wine list and perused the menu. The chilled fresh raw Oysters on the half shell were light and a perfect starter. Next, it was Prime Time. Our Prime Sirloin Steaks were perfectly prepared medium rare and were complimented with side of tasty Creamed Spinach. We saved room for Dessert and are glad we did. We really enjoyed both the chocolate cake and the cheese cake. Sparks Steak House is also known as the establishment where Gambino Crime Family Boss, Paul Castellano and mobster, Thomas Bilotti were gunned down in 1985. The hit was said to be ordered by John Gotti. Great steaks, the Wine Spectator Grand Award since 1981, a friendly Bar Tender, the story of a mob hit… No wonder it has been called The Greatest Steak House in Manhattan !!
Sparks Steak House
Until we eat again…………
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