Three weeks ago I posted on a local’s favorite for Paris restaurants. I decided to continue this concept in a series over a number of weekends. I will ask friends in different cities to provide their selections. This week John Maloney of KM Cluster and Colabria offers selections for his home town, San Francisco. John provided such a comprehensive three part list that I will do this over the three days of this US Labor Day weekend. Listed below are places that are special every day. I enjoyed researching their sites and now want to try some. Tomorrow, I provide John’s selections for top ethnic restaurants followed on Monday by his places for special occasions when money is not a concern.
Chez Panisse (Berkeley) opened its doors in 1971, started by Alice Waters. It started a movement and there are books and DVDs. This is one I have been to several times and enjoy simply eating upstairs at the Cafe. The restaurant, located downstairs, is open for dinner Monday through Saturday. It is located at 1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, California 94709. Café Reservations: (510) 548-5049 Restaurant Reservations: (510) 548-5525.
Fifth Floor features Laurent Gras' modern French cuisine. It is located at 12 Fourth St, San Francisco, CA 94103 in the Palomar Hotel, Tel: (415) 348-1555. You are greeted by parquet floors and zebra-patterned carpets that lead to the bar and on into the 70-seat dining rooms, warmed by dark chocolate walls and shimmering cherry drapes. Gras came to Fifth Floor from New York, where he was executive chef at the Waldorf Astoria's Peacock Alley. His SF place is not to be confused with one of my favorite places for lunch in London at Harvey Nicks.
The Slanted Door “is a modern Vietnamese restaurant that showcases the abundance of organic produce, ecologically farmed meat, game and poultry, found at small farms around the San Francisco Bay Area. The Phan family opened the original Slanted Door in 1995 with a vision to blend Vietnamese cooking technique with local ingredients. The new restaurant takes this vision even further in an exquisite environment, designed by Olle Lundberg, overlooking the San Francisco Bay.” It has a new, permanent home in the northeast corner of the newly restored Ferry Building at the foot of Market Street. To make a reservation call them at 415 861 8032 between 10:30 AM and 10 PM every day.
Boulevard is run by Chef Nancy Oakes. It opened in 1993, “created in partnership with designer Pat Kuleto, the elegant, yet warm and welcoming interior of Boulevard is the essence of the Belle Epoque style. It is a glorious setting for Chef Oakes hearty, flavorful, beautiful cuisine. American regional flavors, French influenced style, enthralling design, form the entire experience at Boulevard.” It is located in San Francisco's waterfront area in the historic Audiffred Building, 1 Mission St, San Francisco Ca 94105. Tel.: 415 543 6084
Jeanty at Jacks is Parisian style restaurant founded in 1864. As the site says, “The food at Jeanty at Jack's will be true to a Parisian brasserie, platters of shellfish, beet and mache salad, home-smoked trout and potato salad, steamed mussels with fries, sole meuniere, grilled ribeye steak with bearnaise, cassoulet with duck confit, flavorful cheeses and, to finish, tart tatin "a la mode," profiteroles, crepe suzettes and creme brulee - to name a few.” It is located at 615 Sacramento Street, San Francisco, CA 94111 – Tel. 415-693-0941.
Zuni Café is eclectic, internationally inspired but rooted in the foods of the Mediterranean. Like many of the places on this list, it has a cook book. It receives many positive reviews and several suggest trying the roast chicken, bread salad, Cesar salad, polenta, and the decadent desserts. It is located at 1658 Market Street, San Francisco, Tel: 415-552-2522.
Additional Tips: San Francisco is a tourist city with a lot of terrible, really awful restaurants. Stay as far away as possible from any restaurant that advertises at all! If you heard of it in any print media it is already way too late.
While the food is great, most all are very noisy. Service is generally weak, rather laid back, so be prepared. For all the above, reservations are definitely required, usually two to three months in advance.