Category Archives: Bistro

San Francisco – Monsieur Benjamin

For our last meal in SF, I wanted to try the one Corey Lee restaurant I had yet to experience. Moneieur Benjamin is the most straight forward of the three serving up traditional French bistro food.  After some big meals outside SF with friends we decided to go fairly light. The escargots were my favorite since it went beyond the usual butter and garlic preparation. The bone marrow was chef Lee’s homage to Blue Ribbon in NY which was the first restaurant he worked in, unfortunately while the bacon jam was good it didn’t hold up to the oxtail marmalade served at Blue Ribbon. Our main was very tender and had good flavor but was overly sweet, even after dumping lots of salt and pepper on it I wanted to ask for some hot sauce to balance out the dish.

For dessert walked a few blocks to Smitten Ice Cream for some extremely rich dessert.

DSC00609_edited

Escargots Bordelaise: mushroom duxelles, garlic parsley

DSC00610_edited

Marrow Bones “Blue Ribbon”: bacon marmalade, country bread

DSC00611_edited

Tripes a la Provencale

DSC00613_edited

Brandy

DSC00616_edited

Chocolate

DSC00618_edited

Brown Sugar

San Francisco – SPQR

After a long day of wine touring and driving we wanted something a bit on the lighter side but still interesting. SPQR is probably best known for their pasta but it was my least favorite dish, olives dominated a bit too much but if taken out of the equation the pasta and seafood tasted fantastic. The crab was perfectly crispy and paired well with the salad. The bun was my favorite, it was basically a char siu bao with the filling on top rather than inside. Of the four types of preparations on the pork, we all agreed the porchetta was incredible, nice amounts of fat and succulent meat.

DSC00597_edited

snow pea, bufala ricotta, marinated mushroom, meyer lemon, “cover crop” and horseradish

DSC00598_edited

venere rice crusted soft shell crab, “funghi sott’ olio”, persian cucumber and salad burnet

DSC00599_edited

smoked wagyu shortrib bun, beef verjus

DSC00601_edited

squid ink spaghettia, red wine braised octopus and mussel “puttanesca”, black olive crumb

DSC00602_edited

“degustazione” of suckling pork, charred onion, blenheim apricot and smoked bacon sauce

DSC00603_edited

dark chocolate and raspberry

Healdsburg – Bravas Bar de Tapas

Instead of heading to Napa for wine tasting as we normally do went to Sonoma instead. Of the four wineries we visited our favorite was the most rustic, no fancy tasting room and no other guests. Just two people with a small bar counter to the side in the lone barn housing the production equipment and barrels of wine.

Of course for this drinking marathon needed a good base to start they day and Tartine rose to the occasion but we did have to wait a bit for the chocolate croissants to come out of the oven.

DSC00552_edited

Croissant, ham & cheese croissant, chocolate croissant, morning bun

After our first two stops went to the quaint town of Healdsburg for some tapas. As usual I ordered with my eyes and when the calamari came we were only able to eat half, but I overhead the table next to us discussing how good it looked so I just picked up the plate and gave it to them. They all agreed with me that it was the best thing they had there although the foie gras bocadillos were also amazing.

DSC00578_edited

crab toast, chicken & ham & cheese croquetas

DSC00580_edited

Clams: cava, garlic, chili flakes

DSC00581_edited

Foie gras, crispy serrano ham, orange marmalade

DSC00582_edited

Crispy pig ears, anchovy vinaigrette

DSC00583_edited

Calamari, salsa verde

Whidbey Island – Willowood Farm Benefit Dinner

On the evening of March 6th, 2017, a devastating fire destroyed the historic Smith Barn, along with the livelihood of the Smith Family and Willowood Farm. While I knew nothing about the farm, I knew many of the restaurants they supply and this was very sad news to hear. Many of her chefs quickly began talking to each other and Willowood’s owner to see what they could do. This was one of the first benefit dinners and I made the trek to Whidbey Island for the first time to show my support. The evening lasted over four hours but felt faster with all the great conversation to be had. Each chef gave a brief talk about their connection to Willowood and one consistent theme is how the farm connects so many disparate people into a family.

DSC00399_edit

Radish and black cod roulade – horseradish chantilly

DSC00401_edit

Head cheese – sauce gribiche, green onion

DSC00403_edit

Parsnip & celery root shooter – urfa chili, fennel oil

DSC00405_edit

Prosciutto – ricotta, basil pesto, pickled sweet peppers, miners lettuce, rye crisp

DSC00407_edit

Grilled octopus – chermoula, oil cured olives, belgian endive, cilantro

DSC00408_edit

Brown butter parsnips – parmesan, salumi culatello

DSC00411_edit

Grilled rabbit – creamy young leeks, rhubarb, chanterelle, thyme

DSC00412_edit

Clams – creole rice, maple brined pork belly, salsify, green onion, radish

DSC00414_edit

Buckwheat polenta dumpling – wild mushrooms, pork bolognese, onions

DSC00416_edit

Raspberry blueberry cheesecake pops, lemon zeppole, vanilla cremeux citrus vanilla compote

menu

Seattle – Staple & Fancy Renzell Dinner

Renzell is a new app trying to provide data driven ratings from its user base that I’ve been contributing to since I found out about it late last year. Unlike Yelp they aim to have a more objective rating system that provides valuable data back to the restaurants. They have events in their cities where members can redeem their points for events and this was the first one in Seattle.

Dinner was basically the same as their standard tasting menu which at $55/person is one of the best deals in town. Had a bunch of appetizers, a few pastas, one main and a dessert. Was a fun evening talking to other members who are passionate about food and debating which restaurants need to be added to Renzell’s list in the next update.

DSC00389_editDSC00388_editDSC00390_editDSC00392_editDSC00393_editDSC00395_editDSC00396_editDSC00397_edit

Redmond – The Stone House

After visiting a few wineries in Woodinville made the short drive down to Redmond to finally try The Stone House which people have been telling me for years I must check out. I’m sad I didn’t listen to them sooner as the meal was excellent. The pock belly was super tender and paired with the marshmallow was a new taste. I wish I had ordered the fish as it was better than my lamb, which was still good but not the same complexity of flavors. The donuts were super light which was good since K only had a bit I ate 3.5 of them.

20170312_182614

Pork Belly – Thai gastrique, tart apple emulsion, fennel-apple slaw, toasted ginger marshmallow

20170312_182838

Bone Marrow – bacon jam

20170312_190032

Black Cod – clams, bacon dashi broth

20170312_190038

Lamb – bread pudding

20170312_193456

Zeppole – lemon

Seattle – Tavolata Sunday Feast

We hadn’t been to Tavolata’s monthly feast in a while, so we forgot to pace ourselves since there is just so much food. March’s dinner was originally supposed to be suckling pig but turned out to just be pig, a welcome change to me since the dishes were more interesting and easier to eat. The last time I went to suckling pig it was presented whole to the table and I ended up carving it with a wide steak knife which isn’t the easiest thing to do.

Most of the pig was used throughout the meal and each course was somehow better than the last. I really enjoyed the meatball, I wonder how glorious it would be if I wasn’t forcing myself to eat at that point. We got two servings of each dish for six people, one of each would’ve been fine except for the salad and pastas which we ate 75% of both.

dsc00256_edit

Salumi Board: porchetta, capicolla, proscuitto, speck, mortadella

dsc00257_edit

Pork Fat Torta Fritta

dsc00258_edit

Pig Head Fritters: truffle aioli, meyer lemon

dsc00259_edit

Crispy Pig Ears: white anchovy, apple, cippolini agrodolce

dsc00260_edit

Bloomsdale Spinach: pancetta, huckleberry brown butter, semolina crouton

dsc00261_edit

Pork Neck Agnolotti: roasted carrots, pea vines, marjoram

dsc00265_edit

Pork Skin Cacio e Pepe: tonarelli, cracked pepper, pecorino

dsc00266_edit

Wild Mushrooms

dsc00270_edit

Charred Allium Tenderloin: onion soubise, vinaigrette

dsc00272_edit

Pork Meatballs: smoked pomodoro, cannelini beans

dsc00273_edit

Wine Poached Pear: pistachio, creme fraiche