TBD–Totally Beautiful Dinner

IMG_2516-2The second San Francisco restaurant in SoMa from the entrepreneurs, Matt Semmelhack and chef Mark Liberman, TBD –“To Be Determined”– serves a very different menu from AQ (their first restaurant located next door). The menu focuses on wood-fired small plates, mostly served in cast iron pans, prepared on a custom hearth and grill in an open kitchen in a more casual setting than AQ.

Each dish was amazing. We started with warm Josey Baker bread with corn, cotijo and espelette, followed by a beet salad with grapes and walnuts just touched by a subtle fresh horseradish.


Beet salad with some bites taken out
Beet salad with some bites taken out

Then the heartier plates arrived: arepa (duck) with tomatillo, apples and manchego, roasted sunchokes in a red brick mole and grilled leg of lamb with carrot and mint (both part of the three-dish prix fixe menu), honey glazed brussel sprouts, octopus ceviche with lime and avocado served over a very light bed of hashed brown potatoes, and finally a shared desert included in the prix fixe selection–the lightest, fluffiest doughnuts resembling beignets and more than enough for the three of us.   All the dishes were amazing and made with loving attention to detail, encapsulating all the flavor a recipe could possibly have!


Grilled octopus
Grilled octopus

Moderately priced New American fare, TBD has totally beautiful dinners with a reasonable wine and beer list. (We had a delightful bottle of dry sauvignon blanc by Bodkin of Lake County.) As the acronym TBD connotes, the flavor and style of this restaurant is constantly evolving with an original menu, seasonal and artisanal freshness, and a culinary philosophy emphasizing experimentation!


For reservations–TBD, 1077 Mission Street, SF tel. 415-431-1826.





“Skeleton Twins” — A Second Chance


[Guest blogger Anthony Berteaux is a sophomore at San Diego State University majoring in drama and journalism. He writes a column for The Daily Aztec, (an independent campus newspaper) and his most recent article is “Die-in Protests Fuel the Fire”.]

Skeleton Twins


The best kinds of love stories are the ones that aren’t romantic and some can hit a nerve. In a culture of Nicholas Sparks, it is easy to forget that love stories aren’t just limited to romantic relationships, but encompass any authentic and special bond with someone else, whether it is a pet, a cousin or a friend.   The most powerful love stories can be the ones we share with family.

This is where the “Skeleton Twins”, directed by Craig Johnson and powerfully acted by former SNL regulars Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader, succeeds in recognizing familial relationships may be the most complex and emotionally resonant stories we can tell.

Wiig and Hader play Maggie and Milo, estranged twins, who begin living together after Milo attempts suicide.  Maggie is his only personal contact. Milo is a struggling gay actor and Maggie feels trapped in a happy marriage. They’re both cynical, somber and suicidal and it becomes clearer as the movie progresses that these twins are equally lost but need each other. They’ve spent ten years apart, but their struggles are analogous.

There’s a plot involving Maggie’s husband, a previous family suicide, Milo’s romantic past, and the siblings’ broken relationships with their parents. While Hader and Wiig look nothing like twins, there’s a chemistry there that isn’t just limited to comedy. They’re a tag team, competing and feeding off each other’s energies without being overwhelmed by the other.

This is a comedic movie, however, that doesn’t negate the very dark tone that comes with a theme like suicide. If you’re looking for a light comedy, this isn’t it.  This film reveals a dark sense of humor, not the type that we usually associate with Hader and Wiig. Again, it’s fascinating to witness the evolution of Hader, who pulls off dramatic even better than he does comedic roles. Perhaps, what the world lost in the genius Robin Williams, we can regain in some form in the gifts of Wiig and Hader.

“Skeleton Twins” is a truly honest potrayal of a powerful love shared between siblings. They are tethered by something larger than themselves. They may fight and bicker, but in the end, love prevails. The film demonstrates blood is thicker than water, for better and for worse.



“Gone Girl” –Fast and Furious

Gone Girl
Gone Girl

Probably the blockbuster film of 2014, “Gone Girl” has received both critical praise and Oscar buzz since its debut on October 3.

Sometimes, while bringing a book to life in a movie, a lot is lost in translation—-not in this case. Both the book and the film are so damn good, perhaps because the extraordinary author, Gillian Flynn, is also the screenwriter and she knows what is an essential distillation of the narrative.  Gone girl 2



The movie is a fast-paced dark and dangerous ride directed by the remarkable David Fincher (“Social Network”, and “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”). Like the novel, the film leaves you questioning how well you truly know those around you, perhaps especially the person you married. Are there secrets you may never know? Marriages can hide a lot when everyone is watching. “Gone Girl” is about concepts of masculinity and femininity, our ideal partner, the one we fantasize about, not settle for, and most devastatingly, about the compromises we sometimes make. In the case of the marriage between Nick Dunne (a not-so-different role for Ben Affleck) and Amy Elliott Dunne (the impeccable Rosamund Pike of Masterpiece Theater acclaim) the power game is a withering and frightening cat-and-mouse game literally turned into a blood sport.

Every character was cast almost perfectly. The acting keeps you engaged at all times–wondering, could this really happen or is it too preposterous? The music—-very eerie, contributed to making the suspense even more chilling.

See this movie.

“In a Better World”—Or Is It?

In a Better World movie

“In a Better World” (winner of the 2011 Academy Award for Best Foreign Film) takes place in a beautiful village in Denmark where Anton is a doctor who travels between his home and a Sudanese refugee camp where he performs surgery for the most heinous of crimes in a bloody civil war.   He and his family are faced with conflicts of their own: his son, Elias, who is angry at his parents’ pending divorce and at being bullied at school; and Marianne, who cannot forgive Anton’s affair.

Christian, a quiet and sullen ten-year old and Elias quickly become friends when Christian confronts some school bullies.   When Christian involves Elias in a dangerous act of revenge,   their friendship is tested, lives are put in danger, and their parents must face their own failure.

Directed by the idiosyncratic Susanne Bier (“Love is All You Need”), the battle presented is between revenge and forgiveness. The boys’ story and their parents’ frustration and anger are powerful and understandable, if not quite sympathetic. What Susanne Bier does is contrast people who are instinctively cruel with those who are instinctively kind. The outcome is surprising and unpredictable. A superb and original film!