Posted in Food, San Francisco

Michelin Rated and Swanky To Match

Luce restaurant is located in the new InterContinenal Hotel on Howard St. in San Francisco. It’s sleek, modern, sophisticated. It’s like the W Hotel, but without the focus on being trendy or hip. It’s all about sleek sophistication here.

The restaurant was recently rated with a Michelin star;  something given to only the best restaurants in the world. Luce had all their ducks in a row the evening I went with my girlfriends for dinner. The drinks were perfect, the decor and lighting were perfect, the presentation of all our dishes were perfect.

The chef sent out a beautifully presented amuse bouche that had a surprisingly complex yet subtle flavor. It was a taste of lentils, perfectly tender octopus with a chorizo consume and topped with a small egg. It was probably the highlight of the meal, honestly, because it was such a surprise in its well suited combination of flavors.

We started with the kona kampachi tartare and the roasted bone marrow with grilled bread and roasted garlic. Both dishes were excellent and elegantly presented. The bone marrow was rich and fatty, but it was delicious, especially with the garlic. It was perfect on the grilled bread, both as textural contrast but also to mellow out the fattiness of the dish.

The tartare was simply prepared and another textural winner with the baby green cauliflower and diced pickled apples. Fresh and delicious. The perfect opposite to the rich marrow.

For the main course we ordered the shortrib and wild mushroom pappardelle and the slow cooked beef tenderloin. Again, beautiful and uncomplicated presentation. The flavors were again, rich and delicious and the ingredients were obviously of superior quality.

The biggest thing lacking at this perfection striving restaurant,was the service. Though it was seemingly casual and friendly, our waiter was aloof and disingenuous. He barely paid attention when we spoke, unless to order. He just plain didn’t care. And that shouldn’t exist in a restaurant with such praise.

Luce on Urbanspoon

Posted in Events, Food, Peninsula, San Francisco

Sunday Brunch, Revisited

Courtesy of

It’s hard to find good, inventive, interesting brunch spots in the city and beyond.  I realize this every time I try to book a brunch reservation for myself and some friends.

A brunch post I wrote in the Spring of 2007 still remains one of my most popular posts of all time, especially around Easter.  Since it’s now a little outdated, I decided to do a new and improved 2010 post on the same subject.

When choosing the places for this list, I tried to avoid the ones with the “typical” brunch menu of just a few egg dishes and the obligatory french toast.  The ones I picked have a little bit more culinary creativity for their Sunday afternoon menus.  I haven’t been to all of them but I have heard good things about all of them, so you’ve been warned.

SPQR (SF) – Things may be a little different here now that Chef Nate Appleman’s gone, but the brunch menu still includes some interesting items like Fritto misto of rock cod & vegetables and Crispy pig’s ear.  This is a casual spot where the tables can be close together, so it’s not the best place to take Grandma.

TI COUZ (SF Mission District) – This is one of my fave lunch spots of all time, if I can ever get a freakin’ table!  But if you do, it’s worth it!  Super casual atmosphere (and sometimes ambivalent service) here.  Rustic French buckwheat crepes (you have to be a fan of these or don’t even bother going) and big bowls of coffee give this place charm.  I love having a scallop, cheese and mushroom crepe with mushroom sauce and a hard pear cider.  Yummers!

BOOGALOO’S (SF Mission District) – This casual, funky restaurant was my fave spot to grab breakfast/brunch when I was in college.  Why?  A dish they call the “Temple o’ Spuds.”  It’s a decadent, delicious mound of home fried potatoes with sour cream, cheese, salsa, scallions and even a fried egg on top if you ask for it (you need the protein, I guess).  They’ve also got some very inventive twists on old brunch favorites.

BUSHI-TEI (SF) – This is where Asian and American cuisines fuse.  The brunch 2-course prix fixe menu is a revelation at just $25.  Even the traditional dishes are done with a twist of sophistication and whimsy.  Very elegant.

BERETTA (SF Mission District) – Prepare for the parking hell that is the Mission. But there’s an extensive menu of antipasti of all kinds, risottos, and pizzas.  All very fun, fresh, and good for groups.

FARMER BROWN (SF) – This place is in a VERY shady part of town.  But if you’re a fan of fried chicken and biscuits with gravy, this is your kind of place.  The Sunday brunch buffet is chock full of food-coma inducing foods that’ll stick to your ribs.  But it’s a very hip, urban, quirky place.  And they’ve got LOUD live music (it’s good, though) and tasty strong cocktails.  Great for a good time, not for intimate conversation.

ABC SEAFOOD RESTAURANT (Milpitas & Foster City) – Why not dim sum folks?  It’s the quintessential Chinese lunch when getting together with family and friends.  And they’ll always accommodate a large party.  The food here is fairly reliable.  Like with any dim sum joint, arrive before noon or after 1:30 to avoid the long waits and always call ahead if you have a large party.

ASTARIA (San Mateo) – They have the usual brunch subjects, along with some lovely “comfort food” entrees like Shepherd’s Pie or Buttermilk fried chicken.  This is a good family option with lots of different choices for everyone.  FYI, I used to work here back when it was still a Lark Creek property. 😛