Virginia Miller

Seafaring

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APPETITE Fish makes me happy. Raw, grilled, seared, any which way. One new restaurant and one established favorite are glorifying the fish, and seafood in general, in many formats.

LOCAL'S CORNER

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New cocktails now

Flaming Spanish coffee, kumquat shrubs, 'infierno tincture' .... fresh delights at Comal, Copita, Grand Cafe, and Absinthe

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virginia@sfbg.com

APPETITE Wet your whistle: Here are a handful of spots in Berkeley, Sausalito, Union Square, and Hayes Valley with new drinks to put on your warm weather radar — and accompanying bites to go with.

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Comforts of the flesh

Meat's a treat at Presidio Social Club, American Eatery, and O3

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virginia@sfbg.com

APPETITE Oxtail three ways, a hammy biscuit, gourmet meatloaf... comfort comes in each of these forms at new spots (or in the case of Presidio Social Club, with a new chef) in meat dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

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Appetite: 2 new Bay cheap eats spots

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In the spirit of my recent "new SF cheap eats" article, here are two noteworthy new cheap eats joints East and South: Berkeley and Palo Alto.

ASIAN BOX

Asian Box is a newer take-out shop (with one narrow communal table inside and a couple tables outside) in a mobbed Palo Alto strip mall. What could be just another casual Asian food joint has two key things going for it. One is two former San Francisco chefs behind it: executive chef Grace Nguyen, of Out The Door’s Bush Street location, and Chad Newton, who many of us followed at Fish and Farm (where he created one incredible burger).

The other is that Asian Box’s affordable food ($6.95-$8.25) is ultra-fresh and satisfying.

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Sushi east and west

Revamped Joshu-Ya Brasserie and new Saru Sushi Bar increase our sushi diversity

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virginia@sfbg.com

APPETITE Despite the countless lauded sushi restaurants I've eaten at in NY and LA, I find San Francisco more than keeps up, whether due to the staggering range of fish (and lovably surly attitude) Roger delivers at Zushi Puzzle (www.zushipuzzle.com) (pencilfish or flying fish, anyone?), the sustainable efforts of Tataki (www.tatakisushibar.com) and Sebo (www.sebosf.com), or the pristine precision of Sausalito stalwart Sushi Ran (www.sushiran.com), which tops overrated Nobu (www.noburestaurants.com) restaurants, in my book.Read more »

Appetite: More Upper highs and Valley loves

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In this week's Appetite column in the paper, I ran down my picks for the best spots to eat a quality meal (without the expense of other areas) in the Upper Haight and Cole Valley region. Below are more of my favorites from my home 'hood, including picks for coffee, brunch, and cocktails -- including delicious sangria, a cheese gem, and a woeful tale of a hot dog scramble to avoid.

COFFEE: Coffee has long been rough in the Haight. Until Haight Street Market opened a Blue Bottle kiosk in their store, one couldn't get a proper cup. While appealing cafes like Reverie boast a welcome back patio, and the La Boulange chain on Cole serves substantial pastries, none offers a cappuccino or espresso to satisfy coffee snobs. But just in the last week or so, there's a quiet coffee revolution afoot with two new cafes. Flywheel Coffee Roasters looks like a hipster Mission coffee spot with a handful of laptops and industrial-stark interior. Though they aren't going the foam art/microfoam route at this point and they have not begun roasting their own beans in-house as they plan to, initial cups are promising. The other new spot is Stanza in the Coco Luxe space. They'll be doing coffee cuppings on the first Thursday of each month (7pm) and have their coffee roasted by Augies in Southern California. They DO have foam art and proper cappuccinos. A welcome neighborhood addition.

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Upper highs, Valley loves

Appetite: Jerk-spiced duck hearts, kambocha squash spaetzle, mango curry -- the best of Upper Haight and Cole Valley

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All together now

Communal dining spirit enlivens new spots: Mission Bowling Club, Mozzeria, Castagna, and Claudine

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virgnia@sfbg.com

APPETITE Incredible burgers in a bowling alley, SF's deaf community gathering over Neapolitan pizzas, brothers serving food from their hometown of Nice in a tiny restaurant, dining around a U-shaped counter off a FiDi alley... each of the restaurants below opened within the last 6 months, providing a unique communal experience (and, most important, fine food to go with) that makes one feel like actually engaging with, rather than ignoring, fellow diners.

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Appetite: Pebble Beach Food and Wine Fest delighted with celeb chefs, wine copter

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Despite chilly breezes and outrageously high ticket prices ($500 was cheap), PBF&W, April 12-15, was a bustling, fun-filled weekend, with celebrity chefs, after (and after-after) parties, copious amounts of caviar, champagne and white Burgundy sipped overlooking the waves from the Inn at Spanish Bay fire pits, and a helicopter ride with sommeliers(!) to Carmel Road's vineyards.

3 spring cocktail trends

Sip on this season's haute new libations, from wine cocktails to fizzy bottled daiquiris 

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Spring imparts new life and lush green after winter rains. It also ushers in a glut of new cocktail menus, emphasizing the best produce of the season and exciting new trends.Read more »