Posted in Events, Food, San Francisco

Some Enchanted Evening

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Courtesy of www.caffesociale.com  

The minute you step off the Sacramento St. sidewalk and through the gate down the brick alleyway, through the foliage, past the flower shop and the spa, you see it:  the charming twinkle lit courtyard of Sociale Restaurant in San Francisco.  But you’d swear you’ve stepped into a picturesque Italian postcard.

Call ahead and request a seat in the courtyard (much more interesting than their indoor seating) and you’ll be golden.  My hubby and I were celebrating our anniversary and this was the perfect restaurant. 

He started with the Duck Meatballs in a hearty tomato sauce, and I ordered the Bone Marrow appetizer.  The Bone Marrow was tasty, but nothing exciting.  It turned out to be the weakest part of the meal.  But my husband loved his dish, and I don’t blame him.  The meatballs were dense and earthy with the rich duck meat and herbs.  They were moist and flavorful.  The tomato sauce was sweet and bright.  A great match for the rich meat.  It was so delicious my husband practically licked his bowl clean.

We then moved on to our Wild Boar w/Pici Pasta and Ribeye Steak entrees.  The wild boar meat gave my pasta dish depth and richness.  The meat was moist and flavorful.  And the tomato sauce was surprisingly sweet.  Again, a perfect foil for such a rich meat.  The pasta tasted housemade and was cooked perfectly al dente.

My husband’s steak was cooked to an absolute perfect medium rare and it was obviously a quality cut of meat.  The meaty flavor wasn’t weighed down by too many flavors and it benefited from the grill and its perfect texture.  The fresh corn and dandelion greens tasted just picked and worked well with the steak.  All in all, two great entrees.

The meal was paced so well with perfect spacing between courses and the service was unpretentious and helpful.  Our server went above and beyond to make our meal memorable.  She helped us get the very last fruit sorbet of the night (The Jasmine and Cassis Sorbet was so subtle and fragrant.  A real winner.) and even an extra chocolate chip cookie because she knew it was our anniversary.  (It was probably the best cookie I’ve ever had in my life.  Really, it was that good.)  And when we couldn’t decide between different entrees, she steered us in the right direction.

It was a perfect destination if you want an intimate setting, good food, and unpretentious service.  It would also be great for out of town guests, too.  The ambience is really this restaurant’s best attribute.  So if you have an occasion to celebrate, there’s really no better place to go.

Oh, and the other big thing is EASY STREET PARKING!  When was the last time anyone said that about San Francisco?

Sociale – 3665 Sacramento St. – San Francisco – 415.921.3200

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Posted in Food, San Francisco

Food as Medicine (CLOSED)

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I’ve been wanting to visit this place for a while because of it’s intriguing premise.  Medicine Eatstation in the Crocker Galleria in San Francisco, serves a type of cuisine called “shojin” style Japanese food, but with a modern twist.  Shojin is the ancient food of Buddhist temples where they believe food is medicine.  Sort of takes all the fun out of eating, but I’ll give it a shot.

The restaurant is heaven for vegans, but they recently added some protein “add-ons” to the menu.  The decor is thoroughly modern Japanese with its stark white walls and its zen-like space.  The light wood rectangular tables exemplify the clean lines of the place.

Service is friendly and helpful.  They seem happy enough to answer any questions.  The food is Japanese, but the ingredients, presentation and innovative preparation are what make it different.  They also offer refrigerated ready to go bento box options, as well.

All their ingredients are organic, locally grown, sustainable, and healthful.  Their preparations truly highlight the freshness and flavor of quality vegetables.  I had the Wild Mushroom Ramen with a side of Sweet-soy Marinated Whitefish for protein.  The mushrooms, carrots and peas were bright with flavor and their preparation highlighted their pure natural sweetness and farm-fresh texture.  The noodles were perfectly chewy but firm, and the broth had a classic smoky soy flavor.  But as with a lot of Japanese food, it was a bit too salty.

The fish was delicately mild and tenderly fried.  The tempura-esque batter was so light that it broke apart with the first bite.  It was so light and mild that it bordered on bland.  But it was its texture that made the dish.  Only the accompanying sweet soy-like dipping sauce gave it the extra punch of flavor it so needed.

The worst thing about this place is that it isn’t cheap and the portions are far from hearty.  But the dishes are pretty to look at with their artfully stark and simple presentation.

It’s definitely worth a try just for the experience.  But $16 for a small bowl of pretty ramen and four tiny pieces of delicately fried fish isn’t my idea of a practical, affordable lunch.

Medicine New-Shojin Eatstation 161 Sutter St. – S.F. – 415.677.4405

Posted in Events, Shopping

Great Spring Sale Offers

Two great sales/special offers to tell you about… 

H&M is offering a Friends and Family discount of 25% off ALL your purchases!  The catch is you MUST register online before Monday, May 21st to receive the special discount offer.  Just go to this website and fill out the form: http://www.hmfriendsandfamily.com/  You will eventually be emailed your discount offer.

And secondly, BCBG’s first phase of sale markdowns starts Thursday, May 17th.  Select items will be 50% off, but as usual, the longer you wait, the deeper the discounts may get.  This chain will sometimes mark items down to 75% off by the end of the season.  But of course, some of the best items and sizes will be long gone by then.

Happy shopping!

Posted in Events, San Francisco, Shopping

I Heart a Good Sale

I’m not a fan of finding the same selection of merchandise at every department and chain store (Gap, Macy’s, etc.).  And I don’t like thinking about whether someone at the office will end up with the same purse I got over the weekend because I found it on sale at a big department store.

Well there’s a remedy for that.  I love finding “secret” sales to ensure a different shopping experience, and I Heart Independent is a different kind of shopping experience.  

A good friend of mine is putting on this shopping event.  And unlike most sample sales, you don’t have to have an invitation, sign up for anything, or pay up the wazoo for “premier” status.  Admission is free!

You’ll find high-end, handmade products like jewelry, clothing, handbags, all at discount prices.  The event will support Bay Area artists and designers and help them reach a larger audience through their one of a kind merchandise.

This shopping event will be on Saturday, May 19th, at Jillian’s restaurant in the Metreon.  The Fifth and Mission parking garage is right across the street so it’ll be easy to get to.  For more info, visit their website at www.iheartindependent.com

Have fun!

Posted in Food, San Francisco

There’s plenty of Range here

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We were running late for our reservation at Range on Valencia St. in San Francisco.  I was enjoying myself a bit too much at the Jeremy’s Anniversary Sale buying a Theory jacket for just 40 bucks.  But I digress…

I called the restaurant to let them know we were running late, so I did my part.  I expected to get some attitude when I got there, especially since they’d recently been named one of the Top 100 Restaurants by the SF Chronicle, yet again.  But they were nothing but accomodating, and even told me there was no need to apologize.  Right then and there they’d already exceeded my expectations.

We started with a golden beet salad that was the special appetizer of the evening.  It was served with watercress, creamy dollops of mild goat cheese, and drizzled with a light hazelnut oil.  There was plenty of salt in the dish, but fortunately salty is right up my alley so I enjoyed it.  The sweetness of the beets was balanced by the creamy tang of the cheese.  A subtle, sunny dish and a great start.

I ordered the halibut with leeks, mushrooms, and a mustard butter sauce as my entree.  The dish was subtle, beautifully presented, and perfectly cooked.  One more minute of cooking and the fish would have been overcooked and tough.  The sweetness of the leeks came through and gently stood up to the buttery, slightly mustardy sauce.  All this was perfect for a firm yet light piece of halibut.  And the mushrooms gave just a touch of meatiness to the dish, though I would have loved just a few more.  It was a masterfully prepared dish.

My pal, Sara, ordered their classic roasted chicken dish with sausage and croutons.  The dish was rich, moist, and delicious.  And the green olives added a bit of zestiness to what was a delightfully meaty, homey dish.

I was slightly disappointed with my Apple Rhubarb Crisp.  The nutty topping was pretty good, but the fruit bordered on sour.  I know that’s what the ice cream is for, but the crisp should have been able to stand on its own.  It didn’t.  I expected more out of their pastry chef after all the raves I’ve heard from others.

Nothing we had was over the top.  Everything from the service to the decor to the food was subtle, accomodating, and well balanced.  Everything was a careful, masterful play of tangy and sweet, bright yet subtle.  The dishes may seem understated, almost ordinary on paper.  But it’s clear the restaurant has an attention to detail and the aim to please.

Range – 842 Valencia St. – San Francisco – 415.282.8283

Range on Urbanspoon

Posted in Events, San Francisco, Shopping

A Jeremy’s sale, again?!?!

In the words of my pal J. Lo, “For the love of god….does it ever stop?” 

Apparently not.

Seems like I’ve been heading to Jeremy’s Department Store every weekend in April and May with all the sales they’ve been having at both their San Francisco and Oakland locations.  Now I get word that, yet again, they’re marking down all their sale merchandise another 40% off! 

I was already so proud of my last purchase there.  A beautiful eggplant colored silk brocade Theory jacket I’d gotten for just $40 last week.  It had been marked down, not once, not twice, but three times!  (Retail price was $400!)  I don’t even want to know how much it would be if I’d waited until this weekend to get it.

But lucky you because my loss is your gain!  I have to admit the sales have been phenomenal each weekend I’m there, but this may be your last chance to find a few gems, May 12th and 13th.  I’ve noticed the pickings have gotten slimmer and slimmer each weekend…

How much do you want to bet they’ll be having another sale NEXT weekend?  (By then all they’ll have left is damaged goods, literally!)