The basement restaurant is an odd duck odder still if the basement is in a museum in a relatively remote park. Yes, my 16-ton hints do pertain to the Moss Room, the venture orchestrated by Loretta Keller and Charles Phan that opened last fall in a subterranean sector of the new Academy of Sciences building in Golden Gate Park.
A word, if I may, about that building, which faces its nemesis, the DeYoung Museum, across the concourse the way Minas Tirith faced Minas Morgul in The Lord of the Rings: one fair, the other sordid. Read more »
Few neighborhoods in Paris are more full of cultural flavor than the Faubourg St.-Germain, the Right Bank district whose main thoroughfare, the Boulevard St. Germain, is the home of the Café Flore (the original!) and the Deux Magots. Picture Sartre thoughtfully smoking a clove cigarette, with a demitasse emptied of espresso sitting on the table in front of him.
Although the Faubourg St.-Germain is very near the Sorbonne, its bohemian life is mostly a relic. These days the area is expensively residential, and its shops and restaurants reflect this affluence. Read more »
In an era when the naming of restaurants resembles the naming of Japanese cars the ideal being a single, elegant, mysterious word like "Incanto" or "Lexus" it seems rather daring to give a new place such a defiantly plain, yet weirdly complex, name as Flour + Water. One suspects that the idea is to suggest simplicity and forthrightness, but a certain austerity is also implied not to mention the ubiquitous ness of flour in this country. We eat way too much flour, too much of it white and refined. It silts up our insides. Read more »
The tagine is something of a unicorn in the kingdom of food. Many people will recognize the word as referring to a stew of Moroccan or other north African provenance, but it also refers to the pot in which the stew is cooked. And, though you may be an inveterate Moroccan-restaurant-goer, chances are you've never seen the tagine pot in its full glory. Read more »
Heresy is the true spice of life, and it was with this thought in mind that I sat one evening in Bar Bambino, a two-year-old wine bar in a most unlikely location a heretical location? and had a beer. The beer was a Moretti but also dark, a La Rossa. I'd never before seen Italian dark beer, either here or in Italy, and, truth be told, I didn't know the Italians even brewed dark beer. The party of the second part, a beer skeptic, reached across the table to take a sip from the large, shapely goblet.
Fish might not need bicycles, but does a restaurant with an Italian name need pasta? Terzo does offer fish on its menu and pasta too, though rather glancingly, considering that many of us would put pasta right at the center of Italian cuisine. But despite the name "terzo" means "third" in Italian and is meant to suggest the public spaces where people gather when they're not at home or work Terzo isn't quite an Italian restaurant. Read more »
Although Brick shuffled off this mortal coil toward the end of April, it did leave part of that coil behind, in the form of an impressive brick wall. That wall now belongs to the city's second iteration of Fly and remains the dominant physical feature of the space, along with stretches of purple paint and hangings of wall art fashioned from bottle caps that glint in the changing light.
In good times and bad, the death of restaurants isn't unusual. Read more »
For a small restaurant, Contigo is physically complex. As you enter, you glide along a six-seat food bar at the edge of a display kitchen, while beyond the host's checkpoint opens a two-level dining room enclosed by white oak banquettes, like the remains of a Viking ship. (The wood was actually recovered from a Connecticut barn.) One sidewall consists of a bank of stainless-steel refrigerators, standing at attention like troops awaiting review; opposite is another bar smaller, emphasizing wine, and partly recessed in the manner of a church nave. Read more »
When Hawthorne Lane became Two late in 2007, I quietly mourned. The original restaurant had been, from its opening in 1995, one of my very favorite places in the city none better and when you are sitting on top of the world, where is there to go but down? The idea of attracting a younger clientele made a certain steely-eyed business sense; nearby Bizou had become Coco500 largely for this reason, so there was precedent. Read more »