Anya Fernald, chief executive at Belcampo Meat Co., thinks a lot about how her company's meat will taste. And she should, as head of a sustainable meat supply chain that includes a 10,000-acre organic farm and Temple Grandin-designed slaughterhouse up near Mt. Shasta, and now a butcher shop and restaurant in Larkspur, the subject of this week's full review. If successful, Fernald plans to expand her empire into points in Northern and Southern California over the next year.
In this week's review, I called out new Mission hotspot Trick Dog for coming dangerously close to being a parody of the worst kind of mixology bar (it isn't, by the way, because the food and drinks are almost uniformly awesome). This was very much on my mind during my visits, partially because the pretentions of mixology can get ridiculous in a hurry -- you know, just give me my goddamn drink already -- and partially because the past few years have been rich in mixology parody videos. Here are three of the best.
When you write criticism for a living, it's your job to dish out the bad along with the good. I had high hopes for 1058 Hoagie, the new sandwich shop from Adam Mesnick, the owner of the excellent Deli Board, but when I reviewed it this week in the paper I found some of the new hoagies to be lacking the creativity of his original hot sandwiches.
The review and its punny headline, "Deli Bored," caused me to became the subject of schoolyard name-calling on the sandwich shop's daily special board -- as Marcia Gagliardi at Tablehopper discovered and posted on Instagram with the caption, "This is what happens @1058hoagie when they don't like your review's headline: you become a special. Snark=snark."
I spent some time last week researching the history of the chicken wing and sports fans for this week's full review on Wing Wings in the Lower Haight, purveyor of lightly fried wings in all manner of delicious sauces. Of course I started with Calvin Trillin's seminal New Yorker piece from 1980, "An Attempt to Compile a Short History of the Buffalo Chicken Wing," which was every bit as funny and informative as I remembered.
I was an adult when I had my first oyster, though at 22 I was barely one. A local restaurant offered 50 cent oysters during weekday happy hours, and my friends and I started going because it made us feel like sophisticated high-rollers despite the fact that we were desperately broke (I couldn't even afford a glass of wine to go with them). But those first experiences awakened a lifelong love affair for the slimy bivalves, and I continue to seek them out at every opportunity. Especially Sweetwaters from Hog Island Oyster Co., the subject of this week's full review.
In this week's full review, I wonder if SOMA StrEat Food Park and other permanent homes for food trucks and pop-ups like SF FoodLab and The Guest Chef could become a new model of eatery -- a place with many of the amenities we've come to expect from dining out, but with an ever-changing lineup of chefs and menus.
There was a time last year when it seemed like you couldn't pick up a magazine without reading a gushing description of Noma, Copenhagen's temple to New Nordic cuisine, or its chef, Rene Redzepi. Like El Bulli before it, Noma became the kind of restaurant that people put a visit to on their bucket lists along with the Taj Mahal and Grand Canyon, and the press coverage got so saturated for a while that Eater started tracking what they dubbed the "I Foraged With Rene Redzepi Piece."
The New Nordic frenzy has since cooled to a low simmer on the national scene, but it's just heating up in San Francisco. It's the subject of this week's full-length restaurant review on Pläj, the new Scandinavian restaurant in Hayes Valley that fuses New Nordic and California cuisines. With it and Bar Tartine's new sandwich shop, which offers a menu of open-faced Danish smørrebrød sandwiches, we could be in the early stages of a New Nordic invasion.
When it comes to Thai food in San Francisco, I am first and foremost Team Tenderloin. The crunch of the rice powder, the lime infused spice of a dipping sauce or the chewiness of a pad see ew noodle seem somehow difficult to replicate outside of this not especially scenic neighborhood. Even Lers Ros's expansion into Hayes Valley or Thai House Express's partner restaurant in the Castro just don't quite do it for me. I'll forgo the shops and surroundings of these locations any day for my favorite strip of Larkin Street.
The food scene in this city moves so fast that restaurants more than five years old seem ancient and, three months after they've closed, are mostly forgotten. But the 75-year-old Original Joe's -- the subject of this week's full-length restaurant review in the Weekly -- was closed for five years after a fire shuttered its Taylor Street location, then opened in another part of town, and has been crammed since it reopened. San Francisco foodistas may have short memories, but native San Franciscans, who make up the bulk of Original Joe's fan base, do not.
In terms of the restaurant's looks and its welcome, John and Elena Duggan, grandchildren of founder Ante Rodin, have done a marvelous job interpreting their grandfather's restaurant in its new space. The food? Well, the Italian-meets-steakhouse food's certainly fine, quirks left intact but ingredients improved. In the case of a few dishes, it's excellent.
You could make a case for the diversity of the Bay Area's food scene just by focusing on roast chicken. We have more than one Jordanian roast chicken shop, as well as French and Italian roast chickens, all-American roast chickens, Hakka salt-baked chickens, and these days, a robust competition in pollo a la brasa, the subject of this week's full-length restaurant review.
Berkeley's new Brasa, the enduring Inkas, and the Bayview location of Martin Castillo's expanding Limón Rotisserie chain all specialize in Peruvian roast chicken, each with their own sauces and sides. The thing about roast chicken, though, is that finding a great one seems to be as much about luck and timing as it does about the cooks' skill with the spit. I ate a lot of ho-hum pollo a la brasa and one great chicken. Had I arrived at any of the three restaurants 30 minutes later or earlier, would my experience have been different? Possibly.