• Restaurants

AL’s Place—A Favorite New Spot in SF

AL stands for Aaron London, the young energetic chef of Ubuntu fame (renowned for vegetarian food in Napa Valley). This newly opened San Francisco restaurant on the corner of 26th and Valencia is a standout. Beautifully presented, but in a very noisy, but pristine white environs, AL’s Place seats only forty-six diners. All the dishes we ordered—including meat and fish—were standouts. London’s confidence and virtuosity with vegetables is no surprise and is reflected in the unusual combinations of fruit and veggies he dreams up. Seafood is peppered in many main dishes, while other meat...

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Son of a Gun—On Target

  A few weeks ago we had the pleasure of going to Son of a Gun, a newish West Hollywood restaurant. Small, intimate—when we first drove by, we had to circle the block twice to find it—the food is original and delicious. We started off with the hamachi with vinaigrette apple and radish sprouts. Hamachi with Apples, Sprouts and Vinaigrette Sashimi-grade yellow-fin tuna with tart apples and a light splash of rice-vinegar dressing and a sprinkling of green spouts. This precious appetizer deserves a shout-out. Next, we had the steelhead roe which was good, but not memorable, the uni with burrata...

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Aldea—“An Epicurean Hamlet”

  Aldea drama We ate at the fabulous Aldea, a Michelin star restaurant in Manhattan’s Flatiron neighborhood, and for those of you who are going to be in New York City, this is our new gourmet discovery. Aldea means “village” or “hamlet” in Spanish and is a blend of Portuguese and Spanish small plates. Chef Mendes’s menu is eclectic, highly original, and mixes a smattering of popular Asian ingredients with his Iberian-influenced dishes. Sardines Citrus Radish Salad The Aldea restaurant menu includes a variety of shellfish, various preparations of salt-cod, or bacalao, rice dishes and Iberian-cured...

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“Home on the Range…with Frances”

  We had the good fortune recently to celebrate the culinary fare at two popular San Francisco restaurants, Frances (3870 17th Street) and Range (842 Valencia Street). Both had imaginative menus and we felt so lucky being able to reserve a table on a weekend night. Friday night we dined at Frances, a very small elegant restaurant, not too formal and not pretentious. The key for us is to test the chef’s skills with their small plates. So, we started with bouchées, as distinguished from appetizers. Our party shared the caramelized cipollini onion tart with dates and whipped blue cheese,...

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FWD—Fishing with Dynamite

Hamachi I first learned about this restaurant in Manhattan Beach (Los Angeles) in a January 22, 2014 New York Times review. It is amazing that such a tiny restaurant in a beachy little neighborhood received coverage from the premier East Coast cognoscenti. First and foremost, Fishing with Dynamite is a knockout—East Coast meets West Coast for superb service either at the tiny bar (where we loved sitting) or at a table. The place is lively and even the manager chatted with us, offering his views on this new restaurant’s mission and philosophy in a down-to-earth manner. I really expected it to...

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La Balena—A whale of a meal

For a town like Carmel, it is exciting to find a restaurant that can really rival a good one in San Francisco.  I think La Balena nails it! We started off with Polpo Grigliato (grilled octopus with potatoes, anchovy aioli, lemon and parsley).   I have to confess that I am obsessed with this cephalopod. If octopus is on the menu, I have to try it. This is one of their signature antipasti, theirs is a bit salty but having said that, I would still order it again and let them know to be cautious with the salt. Others obviously like the polpo just the way it is. Then we had the Delicata salad: warm...

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