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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Gourmet's Restaurant Issue Turns Up a Couple of Gems

Posted By on Tue, Sep 29, 2009 at 3:45 PM

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Gourmet often comes off as a prissy yawn-fest with pretty pictures of food we couldn't afford without an expense account. However, its October issue -- The American Restaurant -- is one of the best in recent memory, a scintillating bathtub read, to be sure. As you'd expect from such an old-guard publication, celebrated Bay Area eateries receive plenty of accolades. In the Good Living section, food critics from around the country skip through their home-base cities with a theoretical budget of $1,000 apiece. Patricia Unterman blows half her load on 11 courses at Coi, for "astonishingly diverse local ingredients -- wild leaves, seaweed, coastal grasses, and heirloom flora and fauna -- foraged [by a chef] who regards gathering and cooking as a single activity." Low-balling her estimates -- assuming she was hypothetically dining with a hypothetical companion -- she drops two more c-notes on meals at Aziza and Flour + Water, and rounds out her escapades with trips to Boulette's Larder, Nopalito, and Humphrey Slocombe, among other establishments.

Elsewhere in the issue, Fanny Singer, aka Alice Waters II, offers up her local faves, gravitating, in her own words, toward "low-key restaurants -- many serving authentic ethnic eats". She big-ups Mayan pork palace Poc-Chuc, which makes us happy, and gives cheerful props to Catalan-influenced Contigo's brilliant octopus salad. As much as we like seeing Pizzeria Delfina hyped, we are even more pleased to read about a couple of joints we, due to our narrow-mindedness and lazy blog-reading habits, have not, to our recollection, before heard heartily recommended. We never thought we'd say this, but: Thanks for the tips, Gourmet.

There's no way Tortas Los Picudos slings the best torta in town, but we'll let that go. Off to Eiji and Pagolac.

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Andrew Simmons

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