Monday, December 20, 2010

Holiday excusion to San Francisco 2010

One never tires of San Francisco. I especially love a holiday visit, as the city is filled with the most
beautiful Yuletide decorations. Our stay at the Westin St. Francis Hotel was a wonderful one, as expected.
A huge edible all sugar Castle that rotated with a train rounding the bottom of it,  adorned one of the entrances, surrounded by a white gate and dozens of admirers, day and night.
The St. Francis is an amazing hotel with so many beautiful things that one must try to focus on one thing at a time, lest you might miss something. Everything is very old and extremely ornate, as the original St.Francis was built at the turn of the Century. The Great Earthquake and the fire that followed destroyed some of it as well as all of Union Square, but it was built again, in all of its glory two years later. Check it out at, and if you ever get a chance to stay here, do so, and in the Main Bldg. which is the older historic one.

I enjoyed the city, as I always do, shopping at my favorite jewelry store for a new and unusual piece, visiting the wonderful little British tea shop that carries unique and whimsical gifts, a stop at the Ghiradelli Chocolate Shop in the Square, the sound of the trolleys, the beautiful and huge lit Christmas tree and ice skating rink at Union Square, the sights, smells, and sounds of the Wharf....

San Francisco is a treat...A visit there is on my list of guilty pleasures, and there's a lot there to love...I contend that once you have been there, you simply must return, time and time again....(think that I have a
former blog about returning to San Francisco...check it out...)

Now...I will give you my newest/and or updated restaurant reviews from one of the best Foodie destinations there is: Three restaurants to be exact..An updated review of "Slanted Door", and reviews of two new restaurants, "Wayfare Tavern" by Tyler Florence, and "Orson" by Elizabeth Faulkner...

I have dined at "Slanted Door" before, and though it was nice, I was not overwhelmed, and needed to be.
Glad that I gave this very popular establishment another shot, as this time it was absolutely sublime..
Amazing cocktails, BBQ spareribs, Daikon Rice cakes, Cellophane Noodles with Crab, and Caramelized
Shrimp, creating a delicious way to spend the evening. This is the kind of restaurant, especially on a Saturday
night, that one feels quite special dining in...There is definitely "magic" in the air, as well as dollars, for this is certainly not a dining destination for the frugal-hearted, but oh-so absolutely THE  dining destination for the foodie...This is haute Vietnamese at its best, and I daresay better than you have or will ever eat it...
For a more economical version, there are a couple of "Out the Door" locations in town, with take out from
the same restaurateur, and though not all of the menu is available there, it is known as a very tasty alternative, and it can be eaten there or taken home, at a fraction of the cost. "Slanted Door" is located in the Embarcadero at the Ferry Bldg (more about that in a minute).
Just remember to get reservations early if you ever plan to dine there. (

Another very delicious dinner was had at Tyler Florence's new restaurant, "Wayfare Tavern." Located in the Embarcadero Area, it simply does not disappoint. Other than the cocktails, which could use some
improvement, everything we tried there was outstanding. Loved the atmosphere, (old world tavern, duh),
it is quite popular, though they do take reservations. I recommend the fried chicken (brined and brilliant), the deviled eggs (capered and anchovied with love), popovers (who knew that these could actually be delicious?), brussel sprouts (mustard braised and ham hocked, so divine that I felt weak in the knees), oh, I could go on and on...Suffice it to say that everything that we tried was ambrosial...(

Finally, one of the best burgers EVER, along with their duck fat fries (yes, we have actually found a way to
make french fries even MORE sinful), can be had at "Orson", the new restaurant in the Soma area, opened by the famed pastry chef Elizabeth Faulkner (of "Citizen Cake", and many appearances on Food Network...You know, the one with the short, spiked platinum hair? No, not the loud one, the quiet one...Oh well...)

Her "Orson" is a very modern, futuristic space with sparse surroundings, and will not be everyone's "cup of tea" to speak, but is definitely mine...My Mother looked almost faint when we first arrived, as the ambiance was a bit um, "frightening" shall we say, though she appeared to feel much better after a strong scotch on the rocks...

There is a film, usually old, that plays on the huge wall behind the bar...When we arrived it was a video of
a fire in a fireplace, helping to give a "cozy" feel to all of the surrounding steel...Actually I felt quite at home, as it reminded me of so many places that I frequented in the 90s'...Remember that cold, white, steel, too contemporary for comfort, design of the 90s? That's exactly what Orson looks like...

The menu looks extraordinary, and I'm certain that it is all tasty, but we were all in the mood for the burger.
"Orson Burger with Duck Fat Fries" (grass fed beef, parmesan bun, truffle mayonnaise, cob relish, and
house made steak sauce...)

The description of a dish is an important job...Indeed, I do like this one, AND it also delivers!
To make sure that the duck fat fries are decadent enough, they are accompanied with a browned-butter
bearnaise...Ketchup just can't do these jewels justice...gotta have the browned-butter bearnaise to really feel
guilty, remorseful, and luxuriously happy...

When finished, one simply MUST remember that DESSERT is what has made our Elizabeth famous, so 
to continue support for the chef, dessert is to be ordered..
Our favorite was "Guilt By Association", (hazelnut cake, salted malted milk chocolate ice cream, malted almond crunch)
The description is drool-worthy, don't you think?
Delicious and interestingly constructed, as all of her desserts are..Nothing here is as you have seen it 
before...This goes for not only desserts but other items as well.
For example, her version of Caesar salad is literally an "explosion", due to the pop rocks hiding in the romaine, that "explode" with the dressing....
It's quite evident to me, that Ms. Faulkner believes in having fun while dining on her decadent cuisine, and I
am all for it....I shall return....(

One of the greatest things about San Francisco restaurants, at least those that I have visited, is  that they
use only locally farmed, organic, and sustainable products. This makes such a huge difference in the taste of their food...One place that you must visit/experience is the Ferry Building.
Visiting the Ferry Building  (especially on Saturday morning) is wonderful, as all of the farms are represented there, and touting all of their very best wares..Do not eat before you go, as noshing here is a glorious experience.
I've decided, that for a more economical foodie experience here, I could almost stay at a hotel near the Ferry building and eat there most of the time. Places like Boulette's Larder, Il Cane Rosso, Cowgirl's Creamery Artisan Cheese Shop, Acme Bread Company, and Bocccalone Salumeria, as well many others, could make for some delicious meals, and a bit less expensive way to go..(Right, like that's gonna happen...) Just say'n.  (a delicious destination)

I hope that you visit San Francisco if you never have, and return to it if you've already been, as it is one
of the most delightful places to spend a few days, especially for a holiday visit...