Bar Tartine - San Francisco

561 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
Chef Jason Fox

Tartine Bakery is our favorite bakery in all of California and beyond. When we heard that Tartine Bakery had opened up a restaurant, this place quickly shot up our list of places to eat in San Francisco. Like Tartine Bakery, Bar Tartine is equally if not even more difficult to find. With no signage and dark green colored paint, driving by you would think it was a dive bar, but fortunate are the ones who know what happens inside these doors.

The bread at Tartine is considered to be the best in all of San Francisco. The exterior is crispy and has an excellent crunch while the innards of the bread are moist and of perfect consistency. The bread here is worth the carb intake. Gorgonzola stuffed Medjool dates (6)

We decided to start our date with some dates. The combination of the dates, gorgonzola, and balsamic vinegar was too sweet for our liking. We felt that it needed something else to balance the overpowering sweetness of the dish...like bacon. Our favorite date dish to date is A.O.C.'s version with roasted dates, parmesan, and bacon - a perfect combination of sweet and salty.

Sonoma foie gras mousse, brioche cannoli, quince, frisee, huckleberry, Tasmanian pepper gastrique (15)
We love to eat foie gras whenever we have the opportunity to, which isn't very often because it is usually way too expensive. When I saw that they had it on the menu, I was immediately intrigued by it. I should have suspected something when the price of the starter was only $15 but had to order it anyways. This dish was actually not bad if they didn't call it a foie gras mousse! The foie gras was barely present in this dish; we could barely taste that livery goodness. The mousse was well executed, however; it being extremely light and airy. The quince and gastrique added a nice sweetness that went well with the slight bitterness of the frisee.

Marin Sun Farms marrow, grilled bread, arugula, persillade (13)
We recently read Service Included, by Phoebe Damrosch, a foodie book about a waitress' life while working at Per Se, a Thomas Keller restaurant. In one section of the book, Damrosch writes about her quest to find the best bone marrow in all of New York City. This inspired us led to order the dish when we saw it on the menu. When we received our marrow and scooped that gelatinous fatty marrow out, I was surprised at the pinkish color, since my memory of pictures I've seen showed a more brownish color. I am not sure if I enjoyed my first experience with the bone marrow. I didn't hate it nor did I love it. To me, it is akin to spreading fat on bread with salt and herbs, but I'll have to give it another shot.

Grimaud Farm guinea hen, artichokes, corona beans, cipollinis, marcona almond-chocolate emulsion (26)

A Guinea hen is not a sleazy, slimeball hen from Italy. Nor is it a cross breed of a guinea pig and a hen (That would be weird). It is actually a bird that is similar to a pheasant or a turkey. I have no idea as to what part we were eating that night, but we enjoyed whatever it was. The meat was tender and juicy without a hint of any dryness. The meat was a tad on the salty side, but just a tad. I enjoyed the artichokes and the cipollini onions, which were nicely cooked. Nothing against the beans on this particular dish, but I am just not a bean lover with the exception of BBQ beans. As for the marcona almond-chocolate emulsion, I don't recall it being very marcona almondy or chocolatey. Overall, we enjoyed this dish.

Honey-roasted pears, thyme ice cream, semolina financier, maple walnuts (8) Isn't everything honey-roasted delicious? The pears were roasted down to a perfectly soft yet not mushy consistency. But the real star of this dessert was the thyme ice cream. The presence of thyme was definitely there but not overwhelmingly so. The slight tartness of the pear was fantastically paired with the thyme ice cream. The semolina financier (which tasted similar to cornbread) coupled with the mapled walnuts added a nice textural contrast for the dessert. This dessert was a two thumbs up.

Our dinner at Bar Tartine started off a bit shaky with the gorgonzola stuffed dates and the non-foie gras mousse dish. We neither disliked or liked the bone marrow dish. But the meal finished off on a happy note with the guinea hen and the honey-roasted pear and thyme ice cream dessert. The waiter was efficient, courteous, and knowledgeable. We ordered a glass of wine that we weren't too fond of, and the waiter happily replaced it with another that pleased our palates. The menu and the ambiance of Bar Tartine are both intriguing enough to warrant a return visit to try other items on the menu.


A 16 - San Francisco

2355 Chestnut (Marina Neighborhood)
San Francisco, CA
Chef/owner: Nate Appleman

The name A16 originates from the highway(also known as thewood-fired pizza highway) that runs from Naples to Canosa, Puglia - home of the Neopolitan pizza. True to the road from Naples to Canona, Puglia, A16's cuisine is focused on southern Italian, particulary the Campania region. A16 has seasonal menus inspired by local produce, heritage meats, sustainable seafood, and Italian tradition. Pictured here is Nate Appleman, the executive chef and co-owner of A16 and SPQR, who became one of the few American pizzaiolos certified by the Verace Pizza Napoletana Association. We have never had a pizza from Italy or Naples, so this is as close as we will get for now. We photographed him checking on the pizzas to make sure they are cooked to perfection. A16 has seating that wraps around the area where the chefs are prepping, plating, and cooking. I always enjoy sitting at this area to watch the chefs in action.Tripe napoletana with onions, tomato, white wine and breadcrumbs (10)
We were never really that into offal until the last few years. On our recent trip to New York, we had pig's head torchon at Momofuku Ssam Bar, crispy pig's foot and tripe at Babbo, and sweetbreads at Eleven Madison Park. Once we saw tripe on the menu at A16, we knew this was something that we had to order. For me, eating tripe is almost like eating pasta but a tad chewier. The tripe was soft and had the perfect texture as it rolled over in my mouth. The sauce was wonderfully rich and well seasoned with herbs, onions, and tomatoes. Delicious!!!

Margherita Pizza with tomato, mozzarella, grana padano, basil, olive oil (14)
This is the one dish that I was really looking forward to eating at A16 because of the fact that it was created by the certified Nate Appleman. This certification means his pizzas follow the guidelines of pizzas found in Naples, Italy. I used to order pizzas bombarded with various toppings, but within the past few years, I have come to appreciate simple pizza pies. Dough, tomato sauce, cheese, and basil are all the pizza needs. I feel it is a true test of a great pizza. And this magherita pizza at A16 did not disappoint.

This pizza brought me to Naples, Italy (even though I have never been there). The sauce was a perfect balance of sweetness and tartness from the tomatoes. Individually, all these high quality ingredients are great. But eaten together, the grana padano (cheese), basil, sauce, olive oil, and crust, these ingredients taste so wonderfully together. They also offer hot chili oil that can be drizzled onto the pizza, adding spice to the pizza. My few complaints with the pizza was the dark blistered crust, which was a tad too burnt. And me being an American, I wish there was more cheese and basil.

A16 is a great place to have a delicious and simple meal with a wide range of choices of pizzas, pastas, salumi, appetizing appetizers, and delicious entrees. Everything at A16 is seasonal and market driven so you know are you getting the fresh of the fresh and the best of the best. Definitely worth a visit and worth coming back for!!


The Slanted Door - San Francisco

1 Ferry Building, #3
San Francisco, CA 94111

The Slanted Door is a modern Vietnamese restaurant located in the Ferry Building. It is regarded as one of the most well known Vietnamese restaurants in San Francisco and maybe even California or even beyond. The restaurant showcases the abundance of organic produce as well as ecologically farmed meat, game, and poultry found at farms around the San Francisco Bay Area. (Here is a picture taken by Christine, the professional photographer. She captured the San Francisco reflections off of the restaurant's door so well. I think we should sell this to them).The restaurant itself isn't your typical Vietnamese restaurant. Offering sweeping view of the San Francisco Bay and the Bay Bridge, The Slanted Door is very slick and chic with a modern look. We sat at the communal tables in the back of the restaurant. Normally we would rather sit at our own table or booth, but this time we actually enjoyed sitting with other patrons. We had the pleasure of meeting a couple who are regulars to The Slanted Door and helped us choose our delicious salad and were kind enough to share some of their spring rolls with us. We quickly discovered that they were fellow foodies and spent our lunchtime talking about food, restaurants, and travel. They even offered to give us an intinerary of Italy whenever we get a chance to go there.
Grapefruit & Jicama Salad w/ red cabbage, pickled carrots and candied pecans (9)
Upon the recommendation of the friendly couple, we ordered the grapefruit jicama salad. This salad is simple yet so fresh and delicious. The saltiness of the fish sauce, the sweetness and tartness of the grapefruit, sweetness and crunchiness of the candied pecans, and crunchiness of the jicama went very well togehter. This is a salad that I will definitely attempt to recreate in the future. A very light and fresh way to start off the meal!
Pho Bo - beef noodle soup with Prather Ranch london broil (6)
It was a chilly New Years weekend in San Francisco so we had to warm our bodies with some Pho. We were also curious how it would compare to our pho restaurants in Southern California. You know the restaurant is fancy when the waiter comes out with the bean sprouts, lime, basil and says "Here are your AROMATICS." We both looked at each other and knew what the other was thinking: "Did he just say AROMATICS?"
The pho itself was a good version. The broth was not quite as flavorful as I would have liked. The meat was high quality but I wish they would have used filet mignon like some of the Southern California restaurants. The pho noodles were quite fresh but they were disproportionate to the limited amount of broth. Overall, a good version of it but not quite what I was expecting because of my high expectations.
Bun Thit Nuong Cha Gio - Grilled Lemongrass Pork over rice vermicelli noodles with imperial rolls, cucumber, lettuce, and mint (12)
The Slanted Door's version of bun thit nuong was a good one, but nothing above and beyond any other bun thit nuong that I have had at any other Vietnamese restaurant for less than half the price. I must say, though, that the egg rolls had an excellent crisp and good filling ratio.
We enjoyed our meal at The Slanted Door, but with high expectations going into the meal, it was a bar that we set too high. Reflecting back on our meal at The Slanted Door, we didn't do the restaurant justice by ordering the items that we did. Since it was a lunch, we had wanted to eat light. To really appreciate The Slanted Door, one must order the more specialty items where the organic produce and farmed meats can really shine. Maybe on the next visit...