Finally decided to sit down and describe my food from The French Laundry. It was interesting that everything had an art deco style – signage, serving platters and plates. These are just some impressions, but I am struggling to recount my meal. I think the perspective is also very different now that I look back on it.
Salmon tartare with creme fraiche with red onion wrapped in black sesame seed tuile
Wow. The tartare was smooth and buttery and the creme fraiche was creamy and cool as well. A soft little crunch to the tuile, it was definitely an amuse that had me craving more. As my friend J said, “Mmm… meat on a cone!” Continue reading
It’s challenging to begin even writing about a dining institution like The French Laundry. In the past few years, TFL has quickly become an institution that is very much admired. As the flagship of the Thomas Keller empire, I would suspect that it is also the best place by which to judge his philosophies. Keller was not there the day that we dined there, but if he is a truly great chef that shouldn’t make much of a difference.
I’ve been very fortunate this year to have had the chance to dine at Alinea, the restaurant of his protege, Grant Achatz. I approached this meal with some concerns about whether it would live up to the amazing experience that I had at Alinea. And with a hefty price tag of $240, I was definitely skittish.
Ordinarily, the reservation process is complicated and a PIA waiting on hold. Fortunately my friend M’s sister is the reservationist. I knew I would be heading out to the Bay Area for a friend’s wedding so we decided that we would take the plunge and get a reservation with plenty of time to spare. And just so you know… no I can’t help you score a reservation, and bribing her will not work. She’s a strict cookie. Not to mention generous…
I promised an update. And now I deliver. It was a whirlwind week of working my tail off with the occasional stop to grab some sandwiches. So here are the quick details:
No Name Restaurant (Seaport/World Trade Center): At first you think this place is a find. In a stranded-seeming area of the Boston Seaport, you take a quick look at the relatively short menu and think it’s one of those perfect little hole-in-the-walls. Well apparently it has been there too long and is resting on its laurels. I got a fried seafood platter with scrod, oysters, scallops and shrimp. It was terrible. No flavors of the sea. Just fried crumbs. Not even salt. Depressing. Avoid this place.
Pressed (Seaport/World Trade Center): If you’re stuck in Seaport, go to Pressed, the panini shop nearby. It has a pretty decent Cuban, but avoid the sandwiches with prosciutto. They grill them so hot they end up cooking the prosciutto. Maybe ask them to put it on the side for after the press. Also get a bottle of Harpoon Brewery’s root beer, orange cream soda or cream soda.
Anyone who reads this blog on a regular basis, knows that it’s quite rare that I make harsh judgements, especially because I frequently only have the opportunity to visit a restaurant once. But my meal at Ame had me walking away angry. Ame is one of the top ten restaurants in San Francisco according to the San Francisco Chronicle. In general, I trust Michael Bauer’s opinion, but good God, I really feel like the ball was dropped on this one. To rank in the top ten in SF, I think consistency is the name of the game. Continue reading
After my last visit, and my discussion with my bud, Bill Addison, I knew that it was crucial to hit a taqueria this time around. Bill wrote an article reviewing an insane number of taquerias. So armed with his top 20, we all figured that Cactus Taqueria in Oakland was probably the geographically and culinarily-optimal choice. There is a Cactus Taqueria in Berekeley, but according to the article it isn’t as good. We rolled up to Cactus, and it looked a lot like Chipotle. So I wasn’t quite sure what I was in for. I felt certain there would be some disappointment. Well, disaster averted. Cactus came through like a champ.
I ordered a carnitas chile verde taco and a horchata. The pork was tender, moist and delicious. Perfect, tender pinto beans. The chile verde was bright, and then the flavors were heightened with a selection of pineapple habanero and other salsas with a smattering of queso fresco. Man… it was sooo good. The horchata was also excellent – smooth and milky with a perfect hint of cinnamon.
Just to compare I stopped at Andale, a kiosk at SFO. Okay not exactly an optimal comparison, but it was pretty darned ugly. Dry pork, lackluster filling. The horchata tasted like pink bubble gum. Disgusting. I took two sips, decided that I did not need to pay twice, and binned that sucker.