Category Archives: Knife: Recommended Eating

As Quoted: A Nice Fancy Fast Casual Cafe

aq_proslowsAs Quoted shows solid evidence the trend in fancy-fast-casual minimalist dining isn’t going away anytime soon. The menu is super gluten-free-allergic-to-everything friendly, which, guilty, I adore.  The coffee is Andytown, an excellent SF choice. Don’t come here muddy or wanting space; it’s one of those white-walled-bring-the-kids-and-grandma places.

Flour & Co: A Nob Hill Heaven

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Flour & Co. Pros and Lows
Flour & Co. is, um, awesome. They have house-made gluten-free English muffins and Stumptown Coffee, I mean really, do I need anything else? Ok, fine, cookies sure. They’re super nice, the place is adorable and the other lunch items are equally attractive. Honestly slightly relieved this is located across town or else I’d live there. And last time I checked it wasn’t the best idea to live on chocolate chip cookies alone.

Local Mission Eatery: More Mission Deliciousness

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Local Mission Eatery Pros and Lows
Local Mission Eatery does a lot. Part cafe, part coffee shop, part fine(ish) dining – and everything on all the menus is, yep, you guessed it, with some local flare. The entire package offers breakfast, lunch, dinner and brunch but I’m just going to make most of my noise about the back counter, aka, Knead Patisserie.

The little back counter is the outlet for Four Barrel coffee (no espresso) and a fabulous line up of baked things. You have to deal with that part prior to ordering anything else from Local Mission Eatery proper. I’ve no idea why they set it up this way and find it kind of odd, but the fact is if you want a delightful breakfast, lunch, brunch or dinner on 24th St. in the Mission, here’s your spot.

Local’s Corner: More Delicious Delightful Mission

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Local's Corner Pros and LowsLocal’s Corner is a gem. I’ve been for brunch and dinner and would go again in a micro-minute. Life just gets in the way.

The space, for starters, is clean, cute, and has a large open-kitchen that you can gaze into if you’re not into conversation. It’s the usual (awesome) local-purveyor focus, which, fine, could be called a trend, but I’d prefer it not – it’s just better food when it doesn’t come in a can from China, most of us agree on this. The unique approach to this is how they’re a pescetarian restaurant – a lifestyle that more and more food-focused people are turning to. I’m a fan and hope to get back there soon.

Shangri-La: Sunset’s Chinese Veggie Heaven

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Shangri-La Pros and LowsThe Avenues can make your head spin if you’re an Asian cuisine enthusiast. There is so. much. out here. I’ve also realized that just about most of it has MSG. Bleh. I’d prefer to avoid that at all costs, not to mention any sketchy meat products. Those two goals make Shangri-La a total win. It’s vegetarian and MSG-free.

The produce might not be uber organic, local, but when you’re craving a mountain of MSG-animal-free veggie chow mein, this is your spot.

galette 88: FiDi Cute Crepe Lunch

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galette 88 gets easily classified into the category of, I went there once, I likely never will again, but I liked it enough to blog about.

galette 88 Pros and LowsIt’s only open for a tight lunch shift Monday-Friday in the Financial District and I don’t work there. So, yeah, my crepes and coffee were a distant memory. Nonetheless, if I had the option to lunch there, I would. Often. It’s a lovely cafe with monster windows, Aspen tree trunks, giant benches and top-notch buckwheat crepes of all varieties. Put a mixed green salad and a mug of Four Barrel next to me and you’ve got me nailed. Consider that as close to cafe bliss as you can get. They also rent out their space, which makes excellence sense. The kitchen could handle a pop-up, not to mention the capacity is generous for City size.

Sweet Woodruff: Neighborhood Cafe Perfected

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Oh, I miss Sweet Woodruff and I only went once; is that possible? It’s such a charming spot. Perfect for solo, urban dining, for lunch, brunch (weekends) or dinner. The food is top-shelf quality, the people are sweet, the space is small but not a closet and you’re not going to drop half your pay check there. I’d LOVE to go for brunch but can only comment on the dinner. Sweet Woodruff Pros and LowsIt opened right as I was leaving the neighborhood and even though I was broke as ever, heartbroken as could be, I knew it would soften me slightly to go. I had a divine, seasonal little gem salad and lamb stew. I probably got one of their cookies although I have no photo evidence to prove it. If you can – do go, but don’t go with a vegetarian or more than one other. And if you make brunch, brag about it to me so I can live vicariously through it.

Judahlicious: Sunset Vegan Heaven

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Judahlicious is very important to me. The Sunset is very important to me. But Judahlicious? Is unforgettable. Not due to the stellar juices, the “heart of darkness” coffee or cashew-based sauces, but because I was there when I received a very important phone call that was another crucial point along my second-life path.

My landlord called me to tell me I got my studio after my divorce. It was a sunny afternoon. I was alone then, like I am now, and like I am when I am often at Judahlicous. There have been many of Sunday mornings at that cafe, sucking down the hot coffee, waiting for my Acai bowl (they’re amazing), reading Twitter, and remembering that I can be here, in this City, in a happy, healthy cafe, with or without a partner. After 12 years with someone, it’s incredibly hopeful and crucial to have these moments. Because of its place on my life-journey, I also love bringing important people here – including my new girlfriend (BIG YAY!). That’s an epic other story, so for now, heartbreak and romance aside, I’ll explain its pros, cons and idiosyncrasies like any good food-blogger should.

Judalicious Pros and LowsSo why should you go to said cafe? Your own healing process will guide you to the right places at the right times, no question, however, even if you’re not in a place of pain, come here for the Acai bowl – I get the Jungle Style raw version. It’s huge, creamy with berry Acai, and super crunchy with spiced house-made granola. Pair that with their strong, deep coffee and you’ll be convinced your hangover can be cured with health-food. The waffle is equally as delicious, as is the Nahbo Taco and Dahnu Wrap.

And why shouldn’t you go? It’s not cheap. Spending more than $20 on a meal there can easily happen. It’s also not big. They don’t have any private tables inside. I’d guess the indoor seating capacity at 14 and once a mom, her stroller and her kids occupy one of the community tables, the space is more or less spoken for. They’re also kind of bad at maintaining anything beyond the counter. The food/drinks are consistently perfect, but they’re often out of coffee, or water, or water cups or numerous other things on the serve-yourself station.

Let’s just say half the time I get my coffee down the street at Trouble. No complaints!

Square Meals Batter Bakery: A Lovely Deli Cafe

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Square Meals and Batter Bakery are a unique venture. They existed independently without a cafe space for before fusing together approximately two years ago to open the space on Polk Street. They’re still separate, (different names, different marketing), but the bottom line is that you can get a lovely meal in a cute space no matter if it’s breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner.

Square Meals attempts to capitalize on urbanites’ needs for good quality locally-produced meals but who don’t have the time nor space to make it themselves. They started solely as delivery service and currently push that and their take-out; however, I’ve never used them for such things. My demographic is different. I more often than not seek and enjoy spaces where you can actually (gasp) stay, with or without company. And being a total sugar-carb addict, I’ve followed Batter Bakery and let myself get a cookie from her tiny pick up window down in the Financial District once.

Needless to say, I was elated when this place opened up while I was living in the neighborhood.

Last I checked about a year ago, Russian Hill residents haven’t gotten obsessed with this place nearly as much as say, La Boulange down the street. I can’t imagine why not – it’s awesome. Great coffee (Sightglass), a killer baked-things selection (including cupcakes, scones, granola) and delicious egg-and-vegetable main courses (for brunch). Recommended by me unless you’re with more than two or three people – place isn’t huge – and if you’re hoping to spend less than $15 a person.

Bar Agricole: Awesome in Everything

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Let’s start with the hours of Bar Agricole. Their website, nor Yelp! really cover them accurately. I called and talked to one of them moments ago, so my little ‘Quick Guide’ below should be accurate.

Perhaps you’re now thinking, Really? They’re open at 10a Monday – Saturday? That’s what the guy on the phone said… I remember when the announcement came over the blogs that they were doing a coffee service durning the week. YAY! I thought. Give me any reason at all to hang out in that epic interior and I will. Put a mug of French Press Four Barrel ($2) and shoot me; that’s pretty much as good as gorgeous coffee gets. However; a little thing called reality prevents me from chillaxing amongst the award-winning beauty most days. Oh, yah, it’s that thing called a job and very fortunately I have one (thank God). I’d rather that than the free-time, no question.

So yes; they have Four Barrel coffee and espresso after 10a Monday through Saturday, and of course during their luxurious brunch service on Sundays. If you’re a fancy-food person – book a reservation and go. I’ve been a few times and would recommend their brunch over their dinner any day. And if you drink, all the better. Their cocktails are divine. Dinner? Meh. It’s beautiful, but their menu is tiny as are the portions. Last time I was there for dinner, my pescetarian-best-friend immediately asked the server, “Where’s the rest of it?” She’s sassy, but had a point.

farmtable: Small, Superb and Sometimes Snobby

 

 

 

 

I admit I’ve been conflicted by this farm:table post.

First, the positives: Farm:table is the best coffee-breakfast-lunch cafe, without a doubt, in the lower Nob Hill/Tenderloiny area. (Over the past year and a half, I’ve gotten incredibly well versed in every nook and cranny of this particular neighborhood, considering it’s my home.) The coffee is Verve, a total fave, plus they have it on French press – oh, hell, more points scored with me again. It’s rich and buttery and with a touch of cream, you have a meal in a glass; properties I adore with the coffee stuff. They also have SUPER bubbly water that they make on the spot with an old-school soda maker. Again, major points with me in the beverage department. Teas are top notch and they also feature a fresh juice.

Love to Bread

The food menu is short, simple and highlights the stellar ingredients they pull in from the top-notch local vendors. Breakfast fare consists of three options: a cereal with luxurious yogurt and fresh fruit; dense whole-grain bread, smeared with Marscapone and seasonal toppings (think hazelnuts and heirloom apples); hard-boiled eggs with a baguette and seasonal toppings (think warm-bacon vinaigrette and chard). The assortment of baked-goods comes either from their tiny oven (they like to make pie) or from Black Jet Bakery. They often have egg sandwiches available also.

Lunch has a similar set up: three items (soup, sandwich, salad). One of my favorite farm:table memories was when I got two of their sloppy joes on challah bread to-go, brought them back to the apartment, and my girlfriend and I ate ’em on the fire escape. I think it was the second meal we had while living in the City. I was freaking out by how I much I loved the cafe and how we were ‘so set’ since it was just two blocks away.

Now to the not so positive…

Yes, it’s hilariously tiny. Reading the reviews on Yelp is pretty entertaining. This one might be the best. Yep; just one table. A small one. Saddle up and get cozy with your neighbor, whatever they’re reading, whatever they’re talking about and whatever they’re eating. You’re basically on top of each other.

And, whatever, it’s cash only, but I’m used to that by now and totally support it for small businesses.

So really – why don’t I go there three days a week? Why doesn’t my girlfriend (a full-time student who lives in coffee shops) go there every day? Because she basically got in a fight with the barista once over the fact she wasn’t willing to make her an iced Americano. I’d rather not get into it but let’s just say it got awkward. The girlfriend also tried to say, ‘Hi,’ to one of the owners when she saw him on the street and he totally ignored her. Ouch. Considering we’d been going there a ton, (always tipped well), saw him at parties, plus have MAD LOVE for their cafe and all the other coffee people in the area, she felt, well, dissed. That wasn’t the reason we’ve spent the last few months away – it was really the tense argument over the coffee drink. Plus, I’ve been solo a few times and have heard them be pretty harsh on customers after they leave…

Before I sign off on this, I need to say a few more things in the food-service-industry-attitude conversation. I get it. I’ve been there – and I DO FEEL you that dealing with public customers is terribly difficult. I’m not being sarcastic and I totally agree. Plus, coming from Portland, Oregon, this topic has been hashed out in great length considering that is the headquarters of over-qualified baristas. Do I expect you to be nice? Honestly, no. Do I expect to be friends? Uhh, no. Do I expect you won’t make fun of me, my girlfriend or my friends? Hell yes.

And will we – the customers with upmost appreciation for your products – continue to support the farm:tables of the world, while hoping we catch you while having one of your better moods? Survey says yes, considering the food-desert climate of our neighborhood. Lack of competition is on your side for now. We just passed it today.

“I miss it,” the girlfriend said.

“I know,” I said. “Me, too.”

Bar Jules: Brunch Perfection

Bar Jules is the kind of place where it’s hard to be in a bad mood. They’ve done such a stellar job at creating a homey, simple, American/French bistro.

I’ve gone twice for weekend brunch and the experience was heavenly.

The space doesn’t have much but the essentials – a bar with a dozen stools looking into the kitchen, the chalkboard menu, and a handful of two-tops. Light pours in and illuminates the grass-colored main wall.

The menu changes, but always focuses on the local-fare. For lunch-brunch, there’s often a pork cutlet of some kind, a Marin Sun Farms burger, a fancier egg-dish you likely wouldn’t make at home (fried eggs with Becker Lane pork shoulder, creamy polenta and brussel sprouts) and holy-lord, that savory chicken sandwich with which I’m in love. It’s not giant, it’s not mini, it’s just right. Real roasted chicken with a few fresh vegetables (perhaps peppers, tomato, lettuce, depending on the season), and a delicious aioli between grilled wheat levain.

The coffee is Blue Bottle; however, they only have the standard offerings – no iced coffee, no americano, no faux sweeteners.

Other items to note: of course it’s crowded, but thus far it hasn’t been obscenely so. Maybe the wait pushes the two hour limit around dinner, but we’ve gotten to sit down within 30 minutes; yet another simple joy.

Outstanding in the Field: Most Beautiful Edible Experience of a Lifetime

Finally, now that I’m mildly caught up on blogging, I can freak-out over this epic experience that was Outstanding in the Field.

It crossed my radar thanks to a friend/co-worker/boss (Hi, Joseph!). When he told me about these events, I couldn’t get the idea out of my head… A giant table in the middle of a field? Drinking incredible wine, eating incredible food – all amongst the most gorgeous locations across the WORLD?! Whoa. I so want that.

Of course – beauty doesn’t always come cheap in this world, nor does it come without a little old fashioned competition. My friend urged me to hover over the site until they released tickets. It wasn’t until I was alone – at night – pretty drunk – that I actually let myself get a pair. “You did what, that costs what?!” my partner exclaimed. Oh, and, oops, it was over PRIDE WEEKEND no less. We? Were bad gays this year. But I have no regrets – not even for a moment. We rented a car, got a cheap hotel room in Santa Cruz (that effed up our reservation and almost didn’t let us stay there, but that’s another story), then drove out to Everette Family Farm. It wouldn’t be the first time the bug to become a farmer has bit me and it surely did again here. Their spot is perfect, just a few miles outside Santa Cruz and in this sunny valley filled with trees and a bubbling creek.

The Everettes are lovely. They’ve owned the farm for a few years and have been dedicated to making a living as small-scale organic food producers. They amaze me. They luckily have a good-sized apple orchard, not to mention a good-sized client for their apples (Martinelli’s Apple Juice Co.). They do a fare business at the farmers’ markets around Santa Cruz and have a few restaurant accounts as well. Not to mention the most adorable road-side stand I’ve ever seen. Can you tell I’m in love with these people?

So they hosted the thing, which they have done for four or five years. Neither they nor the Outstanding in the Field director could remember. Now meet – Jim Denevan – founder and creative master-mind behind this foodie circus. I only spent a few hours with this guy, amongst 100+ diners, but he’s a solid force, no question. His visions are huge and he’s executed so many of them into reality for us all to share. So he got this idea to pack up a few friends, drop in on farms around the country, and recruit the finest chefs in the area to throw a giant dinner party. Our version had Santa Cruz chef Santos Majano of Soif creating lovely simple dishes such as – stewed spinach, braised rabbit, mussels with garlic bread and strawberry shortcake. Apologies that I don’t have more details or photos of the food – I almost didn’t want to waste the time or energy taking all that stuff down. Plus we sat next to super nice people (Hi, Katie and Andy), and I kind of hate being that food photographer.

Did I mention that the table was on a creek bed? The water was inches from our feet – I was just dying with appreciation for life. Thank you for letting me share it here with you.