Appetite: Warm elegance, cocktail science

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By Virginia Miller of www.theperfectspotsf.com. View the last installment of Appetite here.

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Come, join me by the fire ... Photo by Virginia Miller

Deep South elegance in a San Mateo cottage: Dollie Marie's
I can never get enough of that unique-to-the-US cuisine: Southern cooking. Enter Dollie Marie's, delightful, boisterous Chef Gator's latest, whose restaurants I've had the pleasure of eating at through the years (and sadly saw close), from Noe Valley's Alcatraces to Gator's in downtown San Mateo. When Southern cuisine has a touch of white suit jacket (the waiters), fine dining elegance at reasonable prix fixe prices of $38 for three courses or $49 for four, I'm lured in.

Add in an amuse bouche, a palate cleanser, homemade candies, and courses cooked with love and finesse, place it in a gorgeous cottage, fireside glowing, each room lined with photos of Chef Gator's family through the generations, and I'm won over. I'm already thinking about when I can next make it to this new gem in the Bay Area dining scene, tucked away off El Camino Real in a non-descript part of San Mateo. For less than the cost of many mid-range San Francisco restaurants, there's the finest frog legs I've ever eaten, blackened catfish, alligator and caramelized onion gratin, turtle soup, pan-fried oysters and bananas foster. Service is attentive and the atmosphere welcoming, like dining in a friend's New Orleans' home. You feel like it's a special occasion, even if it's not.
1602 South El Camino Real, San Mateo
650-638-938
www.dolliemaries.com

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(c) The Exploratorium, www.exploratorium.edu / Photo Credit, David Barker

1/20 - Science of Cocktails
Yes, there is a science, in creativity and experimentation, to cocktails, and next Wednesday at the Exploratorium there's a one-of-a-kind event, answering questions like "Will drinking absinthe make you hallucinate?" and "Which hangover cures actually work?" Unfortunately, this night is now sold out, though word on the street is that the Exploratorium's website will recap recipes and experiments you can try at home post-event. Maybe Science of Cocktails will become a tradition, returning next year - especially since so many of us SF locals geek out on the craft of mixology. Why not explore the physics, chemistry, and biology of the delicious drink you hold in your hand?
Wed, 1/20
7-10pm
Palace of Fine Arts, 3601 Lyon Street
visit.exploratorium.edu/events/science-of-cocktail