Monthly Archives: June 2007

Piccino

I was not meant for physical labor. I’ve got soft hands, a weak back and a penchant for sipping cocktails while other people take care of the hard stuff.

Yet I’ve spent the past month or so building a full scale prototype of an environment (that’s all I can say, per a stringent NDA) in a warehouse space in Bayshore. Me, lifting and cutting and gluing and sweeping…and today, hauling 5000 pounds of heavy-as-f*ck furniture out of the back of a truck, into our space. (The 5k is no exaggeration. I’ve got the receipt.) Sure, it made me feel all butch. But the glow was short lived.

All of this preamble, of course, explains why my workmates and I deserved—DESERVED, I tell you!—a decent, leisurely lunch in the sunshine today. We found it at Piccino, on 22nd in Dogpatch, a stone’s throw from the delicious Beignets at Just for You.

Piccino just got a write-up in this month’s Gourmet, so expect them to be even busier than they already are. The space itself is tiny, so there’s not much room for the impending crowds. It’s worth the wait, though.

The menu is slim and fresh. Five or six thin crust pizzas (three vegetarian among them), a panini (today’s was Beehive cheddar and Fuji apple), two salads, a soup (also vegetarian today) and two desserts. I opted for the Baby Lettuce salad and the Roasted Turnip, Potato and Parmesan soup. Both were tasty, and best of all, left just enough room for their Yellow Nectarine Tart and a cup of Blue Bottle coffee.

There’s no limit to the restorative power of slow mid-day meal. Though, to be honest, a follow up nap would really do the trick.

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Joy!

My birthday is almost here. And while turning one year older may not thrill me, the prospect of dinner at Manresa certainly does.

July 7th. I can hardly wait.

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Medicine Eat Station

I could write a full review of Medicine Eat Station, but I’m too disappointed.

More like heartbroken.

Man, have they changed.

It ain’t what it used to be, folks. Not by a long shot. Gone are the tasting menus, and the endless varieties of vegan deliciousness. Now there’s a counter where you step up to order, and bento boxes filled with fish.

My bento (with Miso-glazed Tofu) was artless and pedestrian. The “glazing” was so thick, it was more like a maple-y paste. My partner’s fish was fishy in the extreme.

Save your money and go to Cha-Ya on Valencia.

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Coco 500

Let’s get this out of the way. I like Coco 500. I really do.

But that doesn’t mean the place is without its faults. It’s no veggie haven, I’ll tell you that much.

Coco 500 is usually my “go to” restaurant for dining recommendations. Meaning when a coworker asks where to go for a great meal that won’t break the bank, I send them to Coco 500. I like the simplicity of the menu. I like the food’s flavor profiles. I like the atmosphere—sort of California-warm, casual elegance. So it seemed like a no-brainer for entertaining my out-of-town aunt on her big visit to San Francisco.

For the most part, I’m still happy with the decision. But there’s one thing I’ve just got to get off my chest…

Coco 500 has great vegetable sides in their “California Dirt” section of the menu. Friday’s list included Local Asparagus with Davero Olive Oil and Lemon, Roasted Fingerling Potatoes with Sea Salt and Herbs, Star Route Farm Swiss Chard with Garlic and Peach Farm Summer Squash with Lemon Verbina. Yum, right? So I asked the waitress if the chef could make a plate, blah, blah, blah, and she said, “Absolutely.”

When she returned to the table, she let me know that the chef would be happy to prepare the King Salmon entree, sans salmon, plus asparagus, for $19.00. WTF? The salmon dish included tzatziki and a quinoa tabbouleh. Nineteen bucks for some asparagus, tzatziki and some quinoa. Forget about it. It felt like a “fuck you” tax for asking.

Instead, I opted for the ravioli and asked them to skip the prosciutto. Which was, in retrospect, a huge mistake. Without the added zip of the meat, the ravioli fell flat. Sigh.

On a happier note, though, we got one hell of a wine recommendation. A Catherine and Pierre Breton Bourgueil (2002) that was funky, funky, funky—in the best possible way. After about a half hour on the table, the bottle opened up and blew our minds. All the edges were sanded off the barn(yard) for a smooth roll in the hay.

So Coco 500 has one foot on my recommendation list, and one foot on my shit list. But what are you gonna do? That describes half the restaurants in San Francisco, I suppose.

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Foreign Cinema

I didn’t expect much from Foreign Cinema, and I wasn’t disappointed.

Let me back up.

Yesterday was a day as San Francisco as they come—summertime cold with an arctic wind. It was my partner’s birthday, so we went shopping for expensive sunglasses (mmm…Prada), drank in the afternoon (mmm…gimlets) and watched a cardboard robot fight in an alley off Valencia (mmm…weird—and easily the best part of the day). We were high on love for our freaky city. Why not top it off with dinner at a San Francisco institution?

There are a lot of things to love about Foreign Cinema. It’s an ideal urban oasis, set back off the street with a long corridor that makes you feel as if you’ve truly arrived somewhere. And the whole showing movies on the big, white wall thing is a stroke of genius—a gimmick that doesn’t even feel hokey. The scene makes you feel like you’re on vacation in your own town.

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Sadly, the food doesn’t measure up. Continue reading

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