Restaurant Review

Jardiniere

After 11 years, still breaking out the bubbly beneath the gardener's dome
|
()

paulr@sfbg.com

Fizz, like buzz, is evanescent by nature, so I was not totally surprised to see that the champagne-bubble lights that once hung in the air above the bar at Jardinière were nowhere to be seen when we stepped inside on a recent evening. Had they been removed as a discreet way of acknowledging the rapid defizzification of American life? Or just switched off? Read more »

Beretta

Radio Free Valencia
|
()

paulr@sfbg.com

Restaurant archaeologists might not have much occasion to use carbon dating, but we do have the space at 1199 Valencia Street as a window into the past, and therein hangs a tale of the city. A decade ago, the occupant was Radio Valencia, a cheerful boho cafe that served art displays, live music, and ecologically sensitive sandwiches. It was, in its faintly grubby coolness, the epitome of the 1990s Mission District. But it closed around the turn of the millennium, first giving way to a Thai restaurant (J.J. Read more »

Olema Inn

The custom of the country
|
()

paulr@sfbg.com

If Marin County is a state of mind, would it be catty to describe that state of mind as schizophrenic? Despite a compact geography, Marin shows the world a surprising number of faces; there's Mount Tam, Muir Woods, Black Sands Beach with its sporty naked people, the writhing population centers in the southeast (my least favorite quarter), and — my most favorite — the rolling, wooded, gently farmed county to the west.

West Marin is an enchanted realm, a genteel Arcadian dream. The city is just 20 miles distant, but one does not feel it. Read more »

Club Waziema

A pool-hall feel at Divisadero's unaffected Ethiopian delight
|
()

paulr@sfbg.com

As the fireworks display known as Indian cuisine finds a measure of American celebrity, some of us are left to wonder about an equally spice-rich tradition that remains slightly obscure even in a sophisticated international city like San Francisco. The foods I'm referring to are from East Africa — from Ethiopia and its northern neighbor (and once unwilling province), Eritrea — and maybe the African connection gives us our first clue about their relative obscurity. Read more »

Roti

Playing with dals
|
()

paulr@sfbg.com

Since the crash of Tallula a few years ago, the Department of Innovative Indian Food has undergone some slight shrinkage. True, the overall standard of Indian cooking in the city has continued to rise, and we've been treated to spots that emphasize regional Indian cuisine, such as Dosa. But where oh where is the restaurant that will cook a well-spiced duck in the tandoor, then serve the meat in slices as part of a salad with arugula and bing cherries? Read more »

Tataki

Hook, line, and sinker
|
()

paulr@sfbg.com

Earlier this spring, a young colleague wrote to ask if I knew of seafood restaurants in the city that emphasize sustainability. While I could recall plenty of sightings of sustainable seafood items on various menus in recent years, I could only think of two seafood restaurants that answered to his description — places, in other words, where sustainability is central to the restaurant's consciousness and is a basic element of menu composition. Read more »

Spork

Behold, a shiny spork
|
()

paulr@sfbg.com

Spork's sporks are surprisingly elegant utensils, considering that the word itself is lovably ugly, like a dog with a crumpled face, hopelessly short legs, and/or absurdly wrinkly skin — and considering that the thing itself, a spoon with a clipped mustache of fork tines, is no lovelier. The spork might be the apotheosis of Southern-fried American cheesiness; it's easy to picture one replacing the pitchfork in a redraw of Grant Wood's American Gothic, with Homer Simpson as the farmer. Read more »

Poesia

I like to watch
|
()

paulr@sfbg.com

Since my Italian is limited to a few cuss words plus "prego," I was not able to follow the ins and outs of the Italian film being shown, Foreign Cinema–style, on the rear wall of Poesia, a lovely restaurant opened by Francesco D'Ippolito in March in one of the Castro's most haunted locales. Read more »

Pizza Place on Noriega

Dude, where's my pizza?
|
()

paulr@sfbg.com

Surfer dudes are people too, and they get hungry just like the rest of us. Surprisingly, San Francisco has such dudes; unsurprisingly, they tend to cluster at the city's western edge, a land whose great highway is the Great Highway. Just beyond the Great Highway is the beach, pounded by surf, and surfer dudes (of any and all sexes) love the surf. Fog? This is irrelevant. Read more »

Loló

When Turkey met Mexico ...
|
()

paulr@sfbg.com

The turkey is native to Mexico and one of the few animals to have been domesticated by the Indians. Turkey is central to Yucatecan cooking in particular — and by "turkey" I of course mean the bird, the roasted star of so many Thanksgivings, not the country east of Greece. No turkeys there (though plenty of lamb) or really any other connection to Mexico. Which makes Loló difficult to explain.

And what is Loló? A kind of soda? A male stripper? Read more »