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Mr. Jones, you must gather up your posts and put
out a Restaurant Guide to SF. Those are great
notes, on a par with those of Serena Jutkovsky
(I think....), who was such a great reviewer
way back in the 60s and 70s, totally uncompromising in terms of a fair review.
I thought that MASA'S had some growing pains
initially (before Masa Kobayashi's murder ),
and that Julian Serrano was good but not as
good as the press insisted. Now that I've read
your notes, I am tempted to fly back ASAP to
go there. Thanks, again!
Great review Jonesy. My wife and I had diner at Masa's on our wedding night back in the spring of 1988. Hard to believe that was 14 years ago but the experience was the same. Incredible attention to detail. I remember being served a baby lobster that was totally devoid of it's shell but 100% intact. I never figured out how they did that. I think this place might be on the schedule for our 15th anniversary.

Ciao
First I'll start out saying Fleur de Lys will reopen on July 20th.

Last night went to a new restaurant in Redwood City on the SF peninsula, called D'Asaro. Chris Fernandez is the chef. He worked with Paul Bertolli at Oliveto, so he knows his Italian. As it was a beautiful night we sat outside. Started with a glass of Prosecco, very refreshing. Mrs G had the tomato mozzarella salad and I started with butterflied shrimp with bread crumbs baked in the wood burning oven and topped with lemon oil. Both were very good. Then Mrs had the Riccotta Gnocchi and I had the roasted pork on white beans with sage. Both delicious. We drank a '97 Val di Suga Brunello di Montalchino, good but nothing exciting. Our server seemed to be in a bad mood, but performed all the neccesary functions. Will go again.
Jones, thanks again for some great reviews.

Since there are a lot of people who remember the earlier days of Masa's, can anyone remember the name of the sous chef who took over after Masa's unfortunate murder? If I remember correctly, this person did quite well and Julian Serrano had difficulty replacing him when he left.

I remember the days when getting reservations at Masa's was like getting reservations at the French Laundry now, except I think you had to call exactly 3 months ahead.
Wow. This is a great place to get information. I recorded the Chefs of San Francisco series, which had one show on Masa Kobayashi. Unfortunately it was on beta, so I kept my betamax just so that I could see these and other classics. The one thing that I remember about the session with Masa is that he always had 4 stocks going all of the time.
Really liked an Italian restaurant about 1/2 block down the street from the St. Francis, Casa-somthing or Villa-somthing. A place where you could have a nice lunch sort of an Italian bistro or trattoria.
So many choices, nice to hear Fleur de Lys will be open. Not enough time for all the options available.
The one restaurant I'm sure we'll visit is Yak Sing(??) dim sum restaurant not far from the Park Hyatt, across the street from the large parking lot by embarcadero. My wife has a thing for it.
Never been to the Campton Place, a friend told us they had a so-so experience for some reason and we were just not interested.
Gfroerer you are going to make me a hero. I'll be able to tell my wife about the move and she'll be thrilled. You've saved us a lot of frustration. Thank you!!!!
Hope she does not end up saying "it was better at the older place".
GMT thanks for the info, will try Lee Hou. If anything just to compare to Yank Sing and compare.
Gfroerer: Wasn't it great? I hate to dress up,
but I made at least two trips to SF from Fairfield
just to go there, especially for his out-of-world
Sunday Brunches. And, Lark Creek Inn was really
wonderful when it opened. Sad to hear that it
has suffered.......
Many of the "good ol' places" are sad now: SEARS "FINE" DINING, GOLDEN SPIKE, EAGLE CAFE,
JULIUS CASTLE, et al. Some of the losers were
still losers last I checked: FORNOU'S OVEN,
CARNELIAN ROOM, LE TRIANON (biggest rip-off,
next to MODESTO LANZONE'S),et al. However, Mr. Jones has the most current info and has impeccable taste, so perhaps my data is just too old.
GMT, your post reminds me of old times. Seems like we ate at some pretty good places during college, when we could not afford it. Now that we can, we hardly go out at all (except when we travel).

The Lark Creek Inn, Walnut Creek branch, was very disappointing. Good salad (although pears and candied walnuts are getting old), but the shrimp/pasta dish my wife had was dismal.

Also had a tape of the chef of Le Trianon (Roger Verge?). Was pretty famous way back (like Ernies), but the food at their peak is nothing like the great restaurants now.

I, too, am a fan of Hubert Keller and Fleur de Lys. I still remember when he was working out of a small kitchen at Sutter 500 (which was a cafe with a very small section for fine dining).

The best dim sum, in my opinion, is at Seafood Harbor in Millbrae. Even with the highly reputed Harbor Village and Fook Yuen nearby, I think it is better. Had lunch there twice with two biotech CEO's (both Chinese) and we all marvel how something simple as ha gow can be so good. Best dim sum in Silicon Valley is ABC.

Best chinese food value (great food, dismal atmosphere) in the avenues is Jumbo on Noriega (near 22nd or 23rd). Took 3 people from Japan (our distributor) and they were shocked that we had 8 mainly seafood dishes, plus an extra lobster dish for $70. We could only eat 1/2 the food since I ordered a set menu for 8 and added a dish. In the Richmond district, still tend to go to Ocean.

Funny thing is that whenever we get a chance, our treat is to get Pho (Vietnamese rice noodles). I get the large beef ($3.95) and my wife the large seafood ($4.95). We enjoy this as much as meals 10X the price.
GATC: Is the Harbor Village the huge-looking place next to a delapidated bowling alley on
a corner? This place was great, but I don't remember the name as we went there during a flight
delay at SFO on my way home to Japan. The food was
pretty good, though my dad was shocked at the prices-----my students (Japanese) were impressed.
Fook Yuen: well, the service is, as my Chinese friend called it, the "different F.Y.". The last
time I was there, the waiter got into an argument with a customer, and a semi-free-for-all resulted.
Tales to tell my grandkids, if I ever have any.....
Thanks for other tips: I have no idea when I can
return, but I will most certainly check them out!
By the way, JADE VILLAGE in Oakland has the best dimsum in the East Bay, according to (the same)
Chinese friend.
gfroerer, yes it is one block north of Fook Yuen on the same side just north of a metered parking lot. Sorry, I meant Flower Lounge in my prior reference. At a 4th of July party, I had a discussion with a well to do Chinese lady who lives in the peninsula and we argued over the best dim sum in that area (all films made in the Far East has to go through her family). She loves Flower Lounge (which can be good or great, but is overpriced IMO). We had a legal victory celebration there and we had a very good $700/table dinner that was almost as good as the $70/table at Jumbo, but the attorney's were paying for it and they had originally recommended Tommy Toy's (no comment). I'm more of a food over atmosphere person, so I'm not crazy about paying for decor (which is too gaudy for my taste anyway).

I get my pho at a little dive in the Lyon Shopping Center on Warm Springs and Dixon Landing at the border of Fremont and Milpitas. Have also had good pho from a place on Park Victoria and Calaveras (237) in Milpitas. My wife had awful pho from Oakland chinatown (they cooked the bean sprouts!). I would think the pho is best in Silicon Valley where there are hundred of thousands of Vietnamese. If I get at take out ($4.75 large seafood) for my wife, it is better than getting flowers. I tried to make it once and the rice noodle part is easy, but it takes about $15's worth of bones and 24 hours of boiling to make a $5 bowl.
GMT, gfroerer, sounds good to me. I can offer my home anytime if we want to have a get together with a lot of wines and food. The BAWE (Eric White, skwid, Lafron Rochet, js, Rhonefan, cooker are regulars) can get together with some notice. Maybe a dinner in SF would be nice as well. Lots of options. Just give us some notice and we'll plan it out.
Thought I would hijack Jones’ thread for a minute for a review of my own…

Teri and I dined at Moose’s last evening. Moose’s is located right on Washington Square in North Beach, so parking is a nightmare. Valet parking is available for $9 for three hours, with a $3/hr charge beyond that time. We were seated immediately on arriving approximately 10 minutes early for our 7:00 reservation. The restaurant was reasonably busy for a summer Tuesday evening with better than two thirds of the tables filled. The dining room is pleasantly appointed, with an open kitchen at the far end of the room, and a satisfactory noise level making dinner conversation quite easy.

Moose’s boasts a reasonably extensive wine list, with very good regional, varietal, and pricing diversity. Wine markup is about average, and corkage is a reasonable $15.00.

What drew us to Moose’s on a Tuesday evening was the fantastic deal offered right now Monday through Wednesday. Moose’s is celebrating their 10-year anniversary by offering a three-course prix fixe menu priced at $19.92. The menu changes for each of the three days offered, and represents a stunning value for this quality restaurant. Please note that Moose’s web site is not fully updated with these daily offerings – in this case, two of the three courses did not match what is listed on the web.

1st course: Squash Tempura with corn relish and mushrooms. How did they do this?? Packed with flavor, savory to the last morsel. The Tempura was impossibly light and airy containing a perfectly cooked, steaming hot little squash, served over a wonderfully flavored vinaigrette based corn relish with mushrooms and parsely. The If you think you don’t like squash this could easily change your mind. Paired well with a split of 1997 Trimbach, 'Cuvée Frederic Emile Riesling (served a bit too cold, but superb as it warmed up just a tad).

2nd course: Red wine braised veal short ribs, French green lentils, red onion relish. Perfectly prepared short ribs were fork tender, incredibly meaty, and had a rich yet delicate flavor. The lentils were just slightly undercooked for Teri, but I found the firm texture very pleasant. The components all married well to provide a harmonious flavor, with the red onion adding a nice zing to the other flavors. Surprisingly filling dish and paired will with the 1997 Dante Rivetti Barbaresco “Bricco De Neveis” that I had brought in (see comments soon in the tasting notes forum).

Finally, dessert was a lush warm chocolate cake with vanilla bean ice cream, boring on the outside until you mined the decadently rich gooey chocolate filling in the center. No dessert wine, enough was enough.

Very nice meal and a bargain that’s hard to beat.
I went to Elisabeth Daniel last night. Elisabeth Daniel is a small one room restaurant located on Washington in between Sansome and Montgomery. Inexplicably, there is no valet parking service at the restaurant. The room is quite clean with muted greys and black furniture. A single backlit vase of flowers provides the only thing of interest in the room. The aesthetic sensibility of the restaurant reminds me very much of Manhattan.

Service was quite good although a bit ham handed at times. The room was about three quarters full for much of the evening. The noise level was higher than anticipated although I suspect it was elevated due to a 8 top that kept having random couples walk in to scream, giggle, hug and then leave only to be followed in by another couple that would do the same thing.

One can order a la carte (entrees in the 25 to 35 dollar range), five course menu (about three course choices within an individual course), or the chef's tasting menu. We chose the tasting menu which for seven formal courses cost $70 (a relative bargain for this type of dining). What you were served on the tasting menu was completely random and each individual course was different for each diner at the table. I applaud the portion size chosen by Daniel Patterson. This really was a tasting menu and not seven full sized courses that would tax Paul Bunyan to finish.

An amuse bouche of pheasant mousse with raspberry gastrique was pleasant to look at but nothing special on the palate. The first course consisted of a frothed warm carrot juice reduction with pickled cucumber and chiles. Sweet, sour, and light heat proved to be a pleasant combination.

A red pepper ice with roasted eggplant puree was more interesting than delicious. Salmon confit with sea grass was exquisite. Medallions of foie gras and raw duck which was then cooked in the bowl via beef and wild mushroom consomee was well done but has been done before. Lamb loin with english peas kept the feeling of season with us. Wild fraise in rose water and strawberry chutney was a very light exciting dessert. Very slightly seared tuna was suspended upwards in a lemon pepper aspic - vertical cuisine at its finest. Sevruga caviar and crawfish flan was marred by the excessive use of salt. A deep chocolate tartwas silky, decadent and restrained at the same time.

One cheese course consisted of perfectly mature red hawk with candied walnuts. This now classic (or cliche) combination was enlivened by the use of cinnamon on the walnuts. the combination worked beautifully along with a glass of Riesling Auslese 98 (did not catch the producer)($18.75 for 3 ounces). The other cheese course was a aged goat and was rather pedestrian and non descript.

The palate cleanser was a telicherry peppercorn ice with mint essence. I loved the pepper ice.

Corkage is $30. As a result, I ordered from the list. Overall, the list has decent prices considering the level of cuisine (SQN E-Raised 4257, Araujo 97 $247, Dalle Valle 97 $275). Extensive verticals of Guigal Cote Rotie single vineyards were available. Half bottle selections could stand some improvement. Every glass in the restaurant including the water glasses were Reidel. Plates were by Bernaudaud. Can't complain about these choices.

We started with a half bottle of 1992 Chateau Fuisse Pouilly Fuisse. 92 was a great year for white Burgundy. This wine is at its peak but could easliy last in half bottles for a few more years. Lots of racy and evolved Chardonnay flavors of minerals and steel. Reminded me quite a lot of Puligny. $57 for the half bottle. 89 points.

The red of the evening was a 1985 Cote Rotie Les Jumelles from Jaboulet ($157). Wine service was well done. The wine was decanted tableside on a cart. The cork came out soaked through so all of us were concerned about the bottle. The sommelier did not taste the wine beforehand. This mature wine (can hold for another five years tops) showed developed ethereal flavors of leather, red fruits, slight pepper and some smoke. on the palate, the tannins ahd turned silky and gave one what one is looking for when they lay Cote Rotie down for an extended sleep. Age had turned the wine in to something closer to Pinot than Syrah. The maturity of the wine allowed it to pair well with most of the rather unusual courses that were put in front of it. 90 points.

Overall, Daniel Patterson is continuing to perform at a high standard despite his recent troubles with Elisabeth. More daring cuisine than can be found at other restuarants in the Bay Area. Some courses don't always sing but they are always interesting. More intellectual than hedonistic. Less "wows" but lots of "hey I am stealing this idea". 91 points.

ps I tried to max the tip at $20 for a bottle of wine but my fiance said I was a cheapskate for trying to lower the overall percentage in that manner. I always agree with limiting a tip on wine in theory but in practice it is tougher to do.

[ 07-12-2002, 04:05 PM: Message edited by: JonesWineNo1 ]

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