Commonwealth (San Francisco)

2224 Mission Street (Mission District)
San Francisco, CA 94110
Tel. 415.355.1500
Chef Jason Fox

"A progressive American restaurant in San Francisco's Mission district." This is how Commonwealth describes themselves on their website. Jason Fox, who used to be the Chef at Bar Tartine, is now the Executive Chef of Commonwealth. Having eaten at Bar Tartine the year before and enjoying a good meal, we had heard great things about Commonwealth. Commonwealth strives to be a restaurant that has finer dining at reasonable prices, which is something that we love.

seaweed flecked house made potato chips (complimentary)
The chips texturally were similar to Lay's but had a flavor that would most likely to be found in Japan Lay's and not in America. The seaweed flavor wasn't an "in your face" seaweed flavor, but more of a light dusting of seaweed. 

malt vinegar foam
The chips were meant to be eaten with the malt vinegar foam, which added a nice acidity.  This tasted like a  salt and vinegar chip...correction..a seaweed and vinegar chip.

shishito peppers, goat cheese and rose petals (6)
The peppers were nicely blistered. The addition of the goat cheese went really well with the peppers to help lessen the heat from these peppers. Luckily, we didn't have any that were over the top spicy. The rose petals visually were a beautiful addition to the dish and lent a slight floral scent to the dish.

garden tomatoes and basil, black olive crumble, smoked bread, idiazabal cheese (13)
This is what I consider a fancy version of a caprese salad. The dish was beautifully plated on a piece of slate. Every component of this dish worked well together.

summer squash, chilled soup, fried blossoms, shaved salad, vadouvan (9)
One of my favorite courses of the night. This was a chilled soup, which is something that I don't always have the opportunity to try out, with the exception of a gazpacho. The shaved salad was placed in the chilled soup which texturally added to the already delicious vadouvan flavored soup (vadouvan is like french curry spice). The addition of the fried squash blossoms, although unnecessary, were delicious as well.

potato gnocchi, corn, maitake mushrooms, sage, parmesan reggiano, truffle oil (12)
Another favorite of the night, was this gnocchi dish. The gnocchi were perfectly prepared to a pillowy consistency. This was a very well composed dish with the corn adding a sweetness and slight crunchiness, the mushrooms and truffle oil adding an earthiness and the parmesan adding a salty cheesy flavor. Delicious!!!

marrow stuffed squid, tamarind pork, shelling beans, black garlic, cilantro (13)
Compliments from the chef for our anniversary! What a nice touch by the staff at Commonwealth. The squid was nicely cooked. The marrow and pork added a meatiness to the dish. Didn't really care too much for the beans. This was Commonwealth's version of surf and turf. 

corn custard, sea urchin, chorizo, lobster emulsion, jalapeno (15)
This was one of the dishes I was most looking forward to as I perused the menu. What's not to love about sea urchin, chorizo, lobster, and corn custard? The corn custard itself was very light, almost like a panna cotta with the essence of corn. I couldn't really detect too much flavor of lobster though. The jalapeno flavor kind of hits you on the palette and creeps up on you. The sea urchin and the corn custard had a nice creaminess that went really well together. 

grilled lamb tongue, chard, burnt eggplant, miso and mint (12)
This is the only dish of the night that I did not enjoy. Reading the description, I thought that the miso flavor and mint would work wonderfully together.The dish in my opinion was over salted and lacked the complexity that I was expecting. I really couldn't taste the miso.

frozen matcha meringue, pistachio, summer berries, strawberry consomme (8)
I believe this dish involved the use of liquid nitrogen to freeze the matcha meringue. I enjoyed the taste of the matcha with the berries and the consomme.

Commonwealth in my opinion has met its goal of serving upscale food at reasonable prices for a larger segment to enjoy. The dishes at Commonwealth are beautifully composed and for the most part were all very good. If you are looking for a reasonably price restaurant that is serving innovative dishes, I would definitely give Commonwealth a try.


Tomales Bay Oyster Company - Marshall

15479 Highway 1
Marshall, CA 94940

This is definitely one of the best oyster experiences I had!   There is nothing better than sitting outdoors, soaking in the sunshine, breathing the fresh air, and shucking your own tasty oysters fresh from the farm.  And not to mention, eating as much as you want without burning a hole in your wallet.

We arrived at the farm around 10:00am and were the first few to have claimed our spot next to the water.  More people started coming in around 11-12pm, bringing out their big coolers, E-Z Up canopies, red and white checkered tablecloths, boombox, and large amounts of food. I looked around and thought... "they know how to work it."

I first ordered a dozen for a mere $10!! Great deal and it's fresh. You have a choice of x-small, small, medium, or large.  X-Small ones were perfect.  The Tomales Bay worker said that he doesn't know why people get the mediums, or especially the large ones.

After popping 12 oysters in my mouth, I was content, but was needing more.  So.. another dozen!

Being first-timers, we only brought small packets of tabasco that we managed to find and keep from our drive up to San Francisco, a lemon, and a towel. We didn't even have a shucker.  The night before, we stopped at several places to buy one and even a General Store at a nearby small town, but no luck for us.  Luckily though, the man selling the oysters at this farm let us borrow his (what a nice guy). Whew!

We found a great tutorial on shucking oysters from youtube.com, and the farm also had some reading material as well. The important thing is not to injure yourself, while being careful not to let any shell remnants get inside and contain the oyster liquor inside the shell.

The damage I did.... 24 oysters later. All by myself....

What a peaceful view of the waters while enjoying the fresh oysters.  

This unique experience was worth the 45 minute drive from San Francisco.  The beauty and serenity of the place (before the crowds come) and the delicious, sweet oysters made it heavenly for me. Next time, I will definitely be better equipped with the right tools and ingredients.  Not to mention, a bottle of wine.


Bar Crudo - San Francisco

655 Divisadero St (between Hayes and Grove)
San Francisco, CA 94117

We decided to head up to San Francisco for our anniversary weekend. San Francisco is one of our favorite cities to visit because of the delicious food, the beautiful scenery, and the chill, cool, and unpretentious people. Our first stop was Bar Crudo, a place known for fresh and delicious seafood.

We came for their happy hour: $3 beers on a certain beers, $10 for 2 fish tacos, $5 for seafood chowder and $1 oysters from Point Reyes. We came there at 5:30pm and there were no seats at the bar but small wooden panels from the wall that you can stand and enjoy your beers and food. Luckily for us, they decided to offer the upstairs area as part of the happy hour area. Made for much more of an enjoyable and relaxing experience for us.


Crudo Sampler: (12)
Artic Char (horseradish cream, wasabi tobiko, dill)  This was my favorite! It was buttery like salmon.
Hokkaido Scallops (sweet corn puree, piri piri peppers, spanish smoked salt) The scallops had a soft texture, but the sweet corn threw me off a bit.
Tombo Tuna (avocado mousse, chili lime vinaigrette, peaches) This had some good flavors, but nothing memorable.
Butterfish (salmorejo, quail egg, jamon)

Seafood Chowder (5)
A hearty and comforting chowder with generous amounts of seafood. Good-sized chunks of fish, calamari, mussels, shrimp and potatoes. Also had chunks of chorizo and applewood smoked bacon.  Definitely a must order! 

Point Reyes Oysters, Marin ($1 each)
One of my favorite reasons to come to San Francisco is to eat and slurp on super fresh and tasty oysters.  These oysters did not disappoint. They were cold and fresh, and the accompanying mignonette was perfect with the oysters.

Service was great throughout our little dinner/snack. While chatting with the waitress, we mentioned we were up in SF for our anniversary and they were kind enough to bring us chocolates with a candle. We heart SF!!!!

If you are ever in SF and looking for a place that serves fantastically fresh seafood in a laid back and unpretentious setting, Bar Crudo is a great place to be.


Le Crêperie Bretonne - Paris, France

56 Rue Montparnasse, 75014 Paris
Tel. 01 43 20 89 58

If you're ever in Paris and craving crepes, Rue Montparnasse must have the highest concentration of creperies on one small street that I have ever seen. They should just change the name to Rue Crêperie. Since we weren't staying too far from this area and wanted some proper crêpes and not the pre-made ones we decided to give Le Crêperie Bretonne a try.

As you walk along the street you can take a peek and see the master crêpe makers at work. Not sure if the French sailor shirt is a uniform there or not but adds to the authenticity of the place, at least from a wardrobe standpoint.

No fat free margarine substitutes are used here. This is the real deal right here and they don't skimp on it either. 

Tight seating is the norm in Paris. During lunch, we saw many business people ordering their savory crêpes and sweet ones for dessert.

Crêpes are made with blé noir, buckwheat flour, although buckwheat crêpes are generally called galettes rather than crêpes. We decided to order the galettes for a lunchtime snack.

Check out the nice little pad of melted butter that is added.

Peeling back the layers of the gallete revealed slices of tomatoes and jambon with goat cheese. I am no galette or crêpe expert but these were nicely crisped throughout, especially on the sides.

The second galette that we ordered was the either a merguez or a chorizo filled galette with cheese. I preferred this more savory and amped up flavor galette to the fresher and slightly healthier previous one.

If you are in the Montparnasse and craving a crêpe, Rue Montparnasse is definitely the place to be. Now to decided which one you are going to eat at is up to you. Bon Apetit!