Restaurant Review

Mood elevation

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paulr@sfbg.com
Among proper names that suggest height or loftiness, few have a grander pedigree than Ararat, the moniker of the mountain or mountain range where, according to the book of Genesis, Noah's ark was supposed to have made landfall after riding out the flood. Today's Mount Ararat, a volcano rising nearly 17,000 feet above sea level, lies in northeastern Turkey, near that country's borders with Iran and Armenia. Read more »

Aslam's Rasoi

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paulr@sfbg.com
If Rasoi, a gently fading South Asian restaurant on the tumultuous Valencia corridor, had collapsed altogether in the face of last year's Dosa challenge, shock would probably not have been the general reaction. Dosa (which opened last fall with a South Indian menu) was and remains the new wave, and its swirling, youthful crowds would not seem out of place at the entrance to a popular nightclub. Read more »

To be continued . . .

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paulr@sfbg.com
Time's arrow flies in only one direction, pace Martin Amis and Captain Kirk, and with this verity in mind we should probably be more careful than we are about distinguishing between a progression and actual progress. The former is inevitable and constant, the ticks and tocks of the clock; the latter is neither. Read more »

Town and country

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paulr@sfbg.com
It is safe to say that when city people talk about going on a jaunt to the country, the country they are talking about going on a jaunt to qualifies as the country mostly by virtue of not being the city. Jaunters are not proposing to leave civilization; city people do not drive to Healdsburg on a tranquil Saturday afternoon in June, braving bridge traffic and 101 traffic, so that they can milk cows or pull weeds at a biodynamic winery. Read more »

The road to Mecca

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paulr@sfbg.com
Judging a book by its cover might be a sin, but how about judging a restaurant by its name? In most cases this is probably at least premature, if not quite a sin, though the name Mecca presents a strong temptation. Here we have a restaurant that opened a decade ago on a stretch of mid-Market that wasn't exactly Shangri-la; the neighbors included a Ford dealership, one of the tattier Safeways, and, a bit later, the sex club Eros. Read more »

Morphology

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> paulr@sfbg.com
The popular imagination supposes that restaurant writers are Olympians, dispatching thunderbolt justice to places that scorch their garlic (a sin smellable from several blocks away) or fail to refill the water glasses, or whose restrooms are in a state of untidiness that would make the White Glove Lady shriek. But the real powers of restaurant writing, at least as I have understood it, are more subtle and have to do with bringing attention to worthy spots that might otherwise languish unnoticed. A kind word or two might help a small place breathe — or not. Read more »

Island in the sun

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paulr@sfbg.com

Of the great Mediterranean islands, Sardinia is probably the least well known. Crete has its Minoan past and the mythic connection to Atlantis, Sicily its mafiosi; Corsica was the birthplace of Napoleon but Sardinia is best known for lending its name, after a fashion, to a small member of the herring family, the sardine, which is abundant in the island's waters and usually ends up being salted, boiled in oil, and packed in tins for export.Read more »

Umlaut with that?

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paulr@sfbg.com

A friend from LA said, upon stepping into Lettüs Café Organic, "I feel like I'm back in LA. On Rodeo Drive somewhere." Ah, Rodeo Drive, home of the Polo Store, haunt of Nancy Reagan. Lettüs isn't quite the kind of place where you'd expect to see Mrs. R. Read more »

Tea rex

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paulr@sfbg.com

Tea might be yang to coffee's yin in the morning land of Caffeination Nation, but despite the presence, in yin as in yang, of humankind's favorite stimulant, tea is surely one of the most soothing ingestables known to us. It is what you have a cup of when it's raining, or you're feeling blue or a little achy; as with chicken soup, its healing powers are legendary. The very picture of a cup of tea, wreathed by wisps of delicate steam, tends to set the mind at ease. Read more »

Get thee to a naanery

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paulr@sfbg.com

Polk is a many splendored strasse, with lower lows and higher highs, socioeconomically speaking, than practically any other road in town, with the possible exception of Market Street. Below California, there is still an agreeable crunch of urban grit under your feet, you still see the occasional boy hustler, and the restaurants tend toward the ethnic and cheap but this neighborhood is the western edge of the Tenderloin, after all.Read more »