Category Archives: American (Traditional)

San Francisco – Absinthe Brasserie

I’ve recently been told to write less, and just add more pictures. So this is my attempt on being a minimalist.The bread and butter was.. well.. just bread and butterSome beautiful and fresh oyster shooters with a spicy Bloody Mary sauce up in the top left.Phenomenal Duck Leg Confit Golden Peaches, Watercress and Goat Cheese.Beef CarpaccioBeef Short Ribs with Mirepoix, German Butterball Potatoes, with a Pinot Noir Jus.Alaskan Halibut with Sweet Shrimp, Mussels, Saffron-Chorizo Broth, Crostini, and Rouille.Grilled Skirt Steak Frites with Green Peppercorn Jus and Caramelized Onions served with Mixed Greens and Fries.Honey Upside Down Fig Cake with Fresh Figs and Ice Cream

Not Pictured: Yellow Watermelon Sorbet

Absinthe Brasserie Scores:
Food: 7/10 – Although all the ingredients in the entire meal were absolutely fresh, there wasn’t a single stand out dish that would expedite my return.

Restaurant Environment: 8/10 – A relaxing brasserie/tavern feel, having a relaxing absinthe based drink at the bar is simply divine.

Service: 7/10 – Nothing over the top, but servers were there when you needed them.

Value: 7/10 – With everything on the menu under $30, it’s affordable but doesn’t scream value.

Overall: 7/10

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San Francisco – Wayfare Tavern

What more can I say about chef Tyler Florence? He is my culinary god that I worship day and night. I can safely say that he is one of the sole reasons that manifested my food obsession. The days of Food 911 and Tyler’s Ultimate were the good days of Food Network, unlike the new-age shows dominated with cupcake decorating and cake building. Maybe it’s all the Bourdain I’ve been reading, and his hatred of everything Food Network. Whatever it is, I’m growing further and further away from this once sacred channel. Sorry about the side rant, where was I? Oh yeah, when I heard Tyler (we’re on a first name basis now ok?) opened his new restaurant Wayfare Tavern in San Francisco, it instantly rose to the top of my restaurant bucket list.As I made my way into restaurant, my jaw literally dropped, flabbergasted. Seeing Tyler stand in the kitchen with his arms crossed, I felt like a young teeny-bopper seeing Bieber for the first time in person. Screw Bieber-fever, this was Tyler’s Ultimate Fever. We’re lucky enough to be seated at a booth next to the open kitchen, I saw Tyler wave at me (not us, just me). However, I thought he was waving at somebody else, disregarded the gesture, and refocused my attention to the waiter. Again, I peeped over at the kitchen, and Tyler waved again. Acting like a dumbfounded idiot, I reciprocated with the most awkward wave that I will remember for the rest of my life. Sigh.

The meal started with warm buttery popovers that were crusted on the outside and ultra soft on the inside, served with some softened butter. Just awesome. I love when restaurants actually are meticulous and put some TLC in the bread they serve.

While sipping on some amazing Napa grown wine, a flurry of dishes is brought out before us.

Beginning with the Seared Sonoma Foie Gras served with roasted plums, tarragon and sea salt on grilled sourdough. What a phenomenal dish. The plums were sweet and succulent and a perfect complement to the buttery foie gras.Next on tap was a pretty similar dish, but something that I always order in the Salt Roasted Bone Marrow. The marrow is plated over a bed of Parsley-Shallot Salad with a Veal Demi-glaze on a Sourdough Toast with Molasses Butter. I’ll have to confess that I do love the foie gras more than this dish, but the bone marrow was no pushover either. I just think it was missing the unique element of something sweet to balance the saltiness.Our final appetizer was the Santa Barbara Sea Urchin from their raw bar. The sea urchin is presented on top of a Sweet Corn Puree, Bread and Butter Pickles, and Chervil. The dish was absolutely superb, and epitomized San Francisco dining with the use of fresh, in season, ingredients. The lightness of the sea urchin and sweet corn paired perfectly with the saltiness of the previous ones.On to the main events! This is Tyler’s rendition of Steak and Eggs. A Petit Filet Mignon topped with Soft Eggs, with toasted Dungeness crab, Asparagus, and a buttery Béarnaise. He should’ve called it the most decked out Egg’s Benedict in the world. Again, you notice the quality of ingredients in every bite and the perfect execution of every dish.The Wood Grilled Chicken Paillard is an artistic masterpiece of colorful ingredients served with Marin Organic Tomatoes, Frisèe, Bacon Lardons, Watercress and a drizzle of Roasted Chicken Jus. Honestly, if this is the kind of dishes that farmer’s eat, you can call me Old McDonald, because I’m putting on my overalls and carrying out my pitchfork.Finally, comes my dish, their Organic Fried Chicken dipped in a Buttermilk Brine, served with Roasted Garlic, Crispy Wood Herbs, and Lemons. To quote Usher, O-M-G! Drop everything you’re doing and fly out to San Francisco, make your way into Wayfare Tavern and order the most amazing Fried Chicken you’ll ever have in your life. The chicken feels as if it’s quickly fried and then finished off in the oven, since there’s no oily residue at all. The herbs and crust are simply divine. Every bite I smear the roasted garlic like it’s butter and squeeze some of the fresh lemon. This is in a whole different class of Fried Chicken, screw Shake and Bake, KFC, Popeyes, even the highly touted chicken at Blue Ribbon doesn’t compare. Mr. Florence, I see you in an even higher light.You might ask yourself, can this meal get any better? And my answer to you would be yes! (emphasis on the exclamation mark). Along with the three entrees, we also ordered a couple of sides, which included the best Macaroni and Cheese in the world. The Baked Mac and Cheese is laced with Jack Cheese, Garlic Breadcrumbs, and topped with Chives and Smoked Olive Oil. The cheese not only had extraordinary flavor but also had the perfect consistency, not too thick and not too watery. The use of larger macaroni pasta was a magnificent touch. Please, no more, this food-gasm is unbearable (in a great way).Our final dish was the Creamed Corn that was also topped with Smoked Olive Oil and Chive Blossoms. Continuing with the theme of the day, flawlessly executed and just marvelous to eat. I honestly think I’m running out of synonyms for this entry.But wait! There’s more! You thought that was all that we ordered? Keep dreaming, I have to end this momentous night with some dessert. Enter Big Papa’s Banana Cream Pie, filled with Banana Custard, Vanilla Wayfares (get it?), and topped with a Toasted Meringue. I’ve always loved banana cream anything, but just imagine Marie Calender’s Banana Cream Pie stepped up a few notches and that’s what we get here. Although it is a bit sweet, sharing this dessert amongst a few friends ends up being the perfect finishing touch.On our way out, we’re even presented with little Ginger Snap cookies that would’ve made the Keebler Elves quit their jobs.

I truly can’t say much more about how utopic the night has been. I enjoyed beyond a doubt one of the best meals of my life with some of the greatest people (Thanks Tiff and Vanessa). My only advice about eating at Wayfare Tavern (which would’ve made my night complete) is what I learned at the end of the meal. Is that Tyler loves meeting his guests and fans and is a very approachable individual. If you were like me and were simply waiting for him to come around and interrupt your meal, you’d be at a loss. Our waiter told us that we should’ve asked him to meet Tyler. But this only gives me more reason to head back to San Francisco and visit Wayfare Tavern Again.

Wayfare Tavern Scores:
Food: 10/10 – My first and quite possibly only perfect score. Not only did I enjoy great food, it was a great experience.

Restaurant Environment: 10/10 – To personally be at your restaurant shows a lot and how much you care about your actually restaurant.

Service: 10/10 – A kind staff and great recommendations, helped garnish a perfect score.

Value: 10/10 – To set this straight, you can’t enter Wayfare Tavern thinking Dollar Menu, but for what you get. I’ll gladly pay my first born.

Overall: 10/10

Boston: Kingfish Hall

Disclaimer: This post may destroy what little credibility I had. But because of my eternal hatred of the Boston Celtics and the city of Boston, it was inevitable.

Upon my recent journey to Boston (to watch my Lakers take on the Celtics for Game 5 of the Finals), I made my way through Fanueil Hall and found myself at Todd English’s Kingfish Hall. On a shitty note, since I was not allowed to bring a DSLR into TD Gardens, the following pictures are from a regular point and shoot.The underwater scene was pretty typical. Along with their fisherman’s wharf-esque bar area, the decor wasn’t very impressive and was rather tasteless.Do New Englanders eat anything else besides Lobster?The bread was warm and soft, with a sweet yet sticky honey glaze. Ok all jokes aside, the Clam Chowder was spectacular. Super creamy, thick, and flavorful, this was one dish I could not bash. Wood Grilled Swordfish with Fried Essex Clams, Chorizo Mashed, Cherry Pepper Vinaigrette, Broccoli Rabe and an Orange Aioli. New England Lobster Boil. A giant boil of Lobster, Steamers, Kielbasa, Corn on the Cob, and Baby Red Potatoes. My ultra gripe about this dish was their steamers. The clams were full of sand and were as tough as rubber. tsk tsk. The sad thing is, I loved the kielbasa the most out of anything on this plate.

Kingfish Hall Scores:
Food: 0/10 – Because it was in Boston

Restaurant Environment: -500/10 – Because I was surrounded by Celtic’s Fans and because it was in Boston

Service: .5/10 – Our waitress was awesome (even though she knew we were Lakers’ fans), but I think she poisoned my food and added sand to my clams – that happy face demon of a woman.

Value: -250/10 – I hate contributing to the Boston economy, and boy did I contribute.

Overall: 0/10 – Because it was in Boston

Blue Ribbon Brasserie

A popular question that many people would like to know the answer of is where do restaurant chefs go to eat? In New York, it has to be Blue Ribbon Brasserie. This is the place where the chefs gather at 2am after a long and arduous shift. This is theplace where you would’ve saw Anthony Bourdain kick back and have a couple of drinks (he did name it his favorite place to grab bone marrow). This is the place where my friend (who is a chef) called “an American institution.” This is the place I definitely had to try to see what the fuss was all about. You know it has to be a restaurant delegated for chefs when you have to slice your own bread. By the way, I’m thinking about starting to implement the “Bread Theory.” In which, a restaurant is just as good as the bread the serve pre-meal. We’ll see how this turns out. Don’t let this picture fool you, the restaurant was actually a dungeon of darkness. Ahh.. the almighty Bone Marrow and Oxtail Marmalade. Absolutely splendid, but the best I ever had? That still goes out to my personal biased and neighbors of Blue Ribbon, Minetta Tavern. Regardless, the bone marrow is done to perfection.

Satisfyingly unctuous and paired with a sweet marmalade, the only downside to the dish was the fact it was served on such spongy bread. Perhaps a textural contrast with a toasted baguette next time? The Striped Bass entree is served with Red Pepper, Roasted Garlic with a Red Wine Sauce. This is the dish I should’ve ordered.Instead I ordered the trout. Oh bland, flavorless, boring trout. The trout is grilled with almonds and served with fennel and orzo. I honestly have had better tasting food on an airplane than this trout. This dish might have manifested a new hatred towards trout. From this day forward, I will never order trout again. Finally, we come to the reason why we actually came to the restaurant in the first place, for their beloved Fried Chicken with Mashed Potatoes and Collard Greens. The fried chicken was nicely seasoned and packed a bunch of spices. Pairing it with the honey gave it that extra edge. However, for $26, I could easily buy buckets and buckets of Popeye’s and feed an entire community. They even give me free packets of “honey.” I mean, I could see why this Fried Chicken is raved, but for me I’ll stick with my $3 3-piece meal. I even get a biscuit.

Blue Ribbon Brasserie Scores:
Food:  6.5/10 – Maybe it’s because I had huge expectations. But major points off for serving a bland dish.

Restaurant Environment: 7/10 – You’re average Brasserie feel, but sitting us next to the kitchen was a minus.

Service: 7.5/10 – They granted us a couple of special requests, but nothing spectacular.

Value: 5/10 -While it doesn’t leave you wishing you had more shares in Apple, it’s not the cheapest place of the litter.

Overall: 6.5/10