As timing would have it, my trip to San Francisco last week came right on the heels of Michael Bauer’s controversial article, The Dish on Los Angeles. Unlike many Angelinos, I did not get the impression that his article was maligning our entire restaurant scene. I thought it was a pretty standard assessment of a certain class of restaurant – the good, the bad, and the Patina Group. I did find it puzzling that he would be so suprised by the “industry” types he ran across, considering the fact that he mainly ate at “industry” restaurants. Everyone knows you don’t go to the Ivy to actually eat. You go there to be photographed by the paparazzi so everyone will know that you are straight/still in love with your wife/signing with Fox. Another charge lobbed against Bauer was his narrow scope. He stated that his selections were made with care using a combination of guidebooks and advice from friends. But that book was more likely the Zagat Guide than Counter Intelligence. Bauer does address and acknowledge the lack of “ethnic” restaurants as as well. I have no beef with the man and do not feel the urge to challenge him to a culinary dance-off.
As I prepared for my trip to the Bay Area, however, a few people suggested that I “take them on”. An epicurian throw-down! But as I said, I have no beef with Bauer, and I am not exactly in a position to go toe-to-toe with a bonifide restaurant critic, much less take on an entire city. So this posting is not meant to be a culinary dance-off.
That being said, I did just eat my way all over San Francisco and I can’t wait to dish!
I arrived in San Francisco with a few business colleagues last Friday for a 6-day conference, to be followed by two days of sight-seeing with my husband. I didn’t do too much research beforehand, knowing that my dining choices would be limited by the conference. The only advice I sought was from the good people over at www.roadfood.com who always know where to find the hidden gems.
After my friends and I checked in, we decided to have a nice evening out at Millenium, a white-tablecloth vegan restaurant in the ultrahip-looking Savoy Hotel. Our reservations were for 9:30 pm. We were starving, so we arrived an hour early, and sat at the bar and ordered drinks and an appetizer. One of our foursome was not ready when the bartender took our orders, and the bartender never returned to take her order. We were sitting by the cash register, which you would think put us in the thick of things, but we had a very hard time getting another bartender to finally take her drink order. The deep-fried wild mushrooms I ordered as a starter were excellent hot, and the chutney was a nice accompaniment. But as the mushrooms cooled, the coating became an unappetizing dried-chickpea-like goo. Our reservation time came and went. Finally the hostess told us we would be seated any minute, so I settled up the bar tab.
As we continued to wait, and wait, the fast food across the street began to call to me. Finally, an hour after our reservation time had passed, I told my vegan friend that I loved her but that I was going across the street. She decided to just place her order to go. I ended up at Taqueria El Sol. They made me a beautiful made-to-order carne asada burrito. I walked back across the street and shamelessly set the bag on the bar while my friend waited for her to-go order. Later, in our room, she said the tempeh was excellent. My 4.95 burrito was also damn good.