Meaning, we sleep up here but get our cultural and culinary fix in SF. We just returned from a quick trip which was filled with less dining than usual. We did try Lichee Gardens on Powell where the food was quite good, especially the curry pan-fried noodles but the teapot was so filthy it made me question whether I should eat the rest of the meal. Monday found us at Memphis Minnie's on Haight St. The brisket was great, the rib tips good, should have skipped the chicken. The GM wasn't wild about the really sweet greens but the rest of the sides, mac n cheese, red beans and rice, and the corn muffin were well-executed. We got the opportunity to chat with Bob Kantor, the owner, to compliment him on a well-run, well-intentioned place. Go there and help him save real barbecue from extinction. That night we wound up at Shalimar on Jones and it was the best Indian meal we've had in a few months. The lamb curry was rich and the carrot cooked in milk with coriander and sugar was a dessert after my own heart, not too sweet and just the right thing after the spice of the meal.
Tried the Baglery on Polk on Tuesday. Just to be obnoxious, I have to say it. It's not New York. We're tempted to open a deli and call it "It's Not New York Deli", because that will be the inevitable comment from 75% of the customers. Wasn't bad, wasn't good. SF is not a bagel town. The burger at Taylor's in the Ferry Building was nothing to recommend either. Perhaps I'm just bitter about getting about a ticket. Nah, the GM's burger was cold, my patty melt had marbled rye (why?, what's wrong with monochromatic rye?) that had been sitting under the heat lamp for way too long. The quest for the perfect SF burger is still on.
Wednesday was a day for meeting new people and starting to really get to know others. Lunch at Fish in Sausalito fit the weather and the mood. We met a woman we've known for a while but have only recently found out just how fascinating she is. She lived in NYC in the mid-fifties-early sixties and was in a circle of amazing writers, musicians and artists. She's a terrific writer herself and we're quite thankful to be getting to hear more of her story. It was also nice to sit on the dock, eat a crab roll and watch the bay.
We had dinner with Pim who was one of the inspirations for this blog. A casual encounter at Kiss a few months ago led to discovering her blog via Saute Wednesday and my deciding that blogging would be a good outlet for me. We went to Ton Kiang on Geary and ordered too much food for 3 people but we usually order too much food for 2 people so this was a welcome change. The salt and pepper calamari was good but after her recommendation of Yuet Lee's version, I'd like to try it. I think I'd prefer the less battered. The peas shoots were great, bits of caramelized garlic offsetting the tender spring sweetness. The emein with crab was fine but nothing spectacular and I loved the oxtail clay pot even if it was a bit heavy for the season and the day. Most of conversation is not yet for public consumption but I will say we share an admiration for Delfina on 18th.
Between those two meals I was able to get yet more clarity on who we are as restaurant owners and what is appropriate for our location. We are a casual, friendly place with good, palate-pleasing food. While I might have fantasies about trying to be a high-end place at some point, it just isn't our location, and I must admit, it just isn't me. However, I don't think I'll ever lose the longing because I've never actually had the experience. If I get the chance I'd like to stage at a place like the French Laundry, or Daniel or some ridiculously expensive haute cuisine palace with precise, challenging plates, just to confirm I'm doing what I should be doing. And what I should be doing right now is getting to work.