Posted in Food, San Francisco

Hubert Keller’s Classic Flagship

Hubert Keller has gotten a lot of press lately with his top three finish on Top Chef Masters last year and the new Burger Bar in Union Square.  But it was Fleur de Lys that put him on the map before all else.

This restaurant is one of those places that’s quintessential San Francisco: classic, sophisticated, and intimate.  It’s known for its service and it definitely didn’t disappoint in that area.

The staff is obviously trained well since all the courses were placed perfectly, timed perfectly, and explained to you perfectly, all while being friendly and unintimidating.  That’s no small feat in this town.  I wish the food were as impeccable as the service, though.

I can’t exactly put my finger on it.  Perhaps I’ve been spoiled by all the different newer restaurants around town.  But nothing I had really “sang” to me.

We both had the 4-course menu, starting with the Foie Gras Pate w/Aspic, and the Dungeness Crab Salad with Roasted Beets and Goat Cheese.  These two dishes were the highlight of the entire meal.  The crab was fresh, sweet and meaty.  And the goat cheese was perfectly creamy and not gamey at all.  But the beets were boring.  And my Hubby is a freak for pate, so he loved his dish.

Then I had the Maine Scallops with Pinenuts, Potato and Sundried Tomatoes, while he had the Jumbo Prawns with Pork Belly pieces.  My scallops were tender, sweet and cooked perfectly.  But I found the sundried tomatoes way too bold for a delicate dish like this.  And the potato seemed oddly out of place on the plate.  I wanted to love this dish but it just didn’t work for me.

Meanwhile, his prawns and pork belly were all cooked well and melded together nicely, but the dish was almost a bit dry, both in texture and in pairing.  Again, off.

For our entrees, I got the Filet Mignon with Truffled Lobster Mac and Cheese.  The beef was cooked to tender perfection.  But the mac and cheese was slightly disappointing.  The lobster and truffles totally overpowered the dish, leaving it difficult for me to appreciate any cheese flavor.  And the texture was more gummy than creamy.  Another disappointing overall execution.

The hubby had the Buffalo Strip Steak with Lemongrass and Ginger.  It was all prepared nicely, but the strong Asian flavors seemed strangely out of place at a restaurant with French overtones.

I ended the meal with a cheese plate that had some very distinct elements.  There was a swiss from the Netherlands, a blue cheese from Australia, a French “cheddar”, and a local cheese that had the texture of brie.  None of it worked for me, surprisingly.  They were either way too mild or way too strong; nothing in between or memorable.  And I love cheese!  How could they have gone so wrong?  Frankly, some textural contrast like a good piece of toasted bread would’ve been nice.  And the golden raisins on the side were again, boring and unimaginative.

My Husband finished with a Grand Marnier Souffle that was huge.  He enjoyed it, but almost wished he’d ordered the Lemon Cheesecake instead.

All in all the appetizers and the amuse bouche of Cream of Asparagus and Cauliflower and Pumpkin Seed were the highlights of the meal.  Most everything else seemed outdated and boring, yet overly complicated.  I wanted to like this restaurant more, but the combinations on the plate just didn’t work.

But again, the service is perfect and that alone would make it a lovely celebration or date night restaurant.

Fleur de Lys on Urbanspoon

Posted in Events, San Francisco

BlogHer Food and I Come Full Circle

BlogHer Food 10

For me, the second annual BlogHer Food Conference was more than just an event.

This time last year, I was totally bummed the event had sold out by the time I’d heard about it for the first time from my food blogger friends. I went searching on the BlogHer website and realized I was just SOL. But as a blogger and a woman, I was intrigued by the company. So I wandered over to the “Jobs” link on the bottom of the page. With the economy in a serious funk, I had been out of work for over 12 months, sent over 200 resumes, and was just plain discouraged. I sent my resume in thinking I had nothing to lose.

I’m so glad I did.

Me & Luce Executive Chef, Dominique Crenn, along with Danielle Tsi (@istelleinad).

This year, I not only got to go to BlogHer Food at the San Francisco InterContinental Hotel as a food blogger, I was there as a member of the BlogHer staff.

I’d spent a lot of years conducting interviews for radio and television, but I was truly honored to moderate the two panels I was on: “Our Food Future: Kids, Cooking and Health” on day 1, and “Food Diplomats and Cuisine Ambassadors” on day 2. There’s nothing like the topic of food to get people talking, whether it’s about starting your own food revolution in your community, or sharing stories about how family and food can create wonderful memories.  I was delighted to help guide the panel and include the audience in on the conversation, as well.

Aside from the usual “cliques” that emerge at blogger conferences like this, I was overwhelmed with how friendly and supportive everyone was. I had the pleasure of meeting so many people I’ve both admired and followed, as well as reacquaint myself with old friends.

Fellow panelists Laura (@whats4dinnermom) and Diana (@dianasaurdishes).

I don’t know what it is about a BlogHer Conference, but they always manage to make the vibe totally about community. I know I work for them now, but I got to attend this conference, for part of the time anyway, as an attendee and observer. Whether I work for BlogHer or not, this is an event I’ll be attending for years to come.

A quick shout out to some of the many wonderful people I chatted with at BH Food (in no particular order):

@catchthebaby (& Charlie)

Posted in Food, Lunch, San Francisco

The Sentinel Doesn’t Impress

I’ll start by saying this: it was a good sandwich, but by no means is it great.  I don’t agree with the countless “Best of” lists that say the corned beef is the best sandwich in San Francisco.

It’s a take out counter that moves fast but is still amazingly friendly.  I ordered their famous corned beef sandwich with cabbage, russian dressing and melted gruyere on housemade foccacia.  Perhaps it was the foccacia that lost me.  I’m not a fan since it was a bit of a greasy mess.  I would’ve preferred it on some other type of bread that didn’t compete so much with the other elements of the sandwich. I did like the crisp fresh texture of the cabbage, and the meat was tender, but it wasn’t buttery like corned beef should be.

Granted, I haven’t yet tried the roast beef sammie, which people say is also damn tasty.  But I would easily take a sandwich at Naked Lunch (YUM!) over another one here.  Plus, it’s overpriced at $8.75 a pop.

The Sentinel on Urbanspoon