Monday, February 13, 2012

Eating Out in San Francisco

My favourite trips are ones where we have access to kitchen facilities.  That's a big part of the reason why we often opt to stay in hostels.  

There's part of me that feels that, as a food blogger (and someone that enjoys food, in general), I should be exploring as many restaurants as possible while travelling.  But, the truth is that I generally prefer cooking my own food.  Without fail, my most memorable meals are ones that use simple, fresh ingredients.

Case in point.  Let me start with my favourite meal while travelling in San Francisco.

This meal was actually from a small cafe in Sausalito.  We took a day trip to Muir Woods, to see some massive Redwoods.  On the way back, we had about an hour in Sausalito to explore.  We didn't know where to go to eat, but took our chances on the Sausalito Bakery & Cafe.

Fresh fruit, fresh Greek salad and a blueberry bread pudding that is to die for!  I think I need to add bread pudding to my list of recipes to try.   

This is the stuff that long-lasting cravings are made of.

Sausalito Bakery & Cafe on Urbanspoon

I also really enjoyed San Francisco Fish Company's fish and chips at the Ferry Building.  Maybe I'm easily impressed, but I've never been served take out fish and chips with both tartar and fish sauce.  Not to mention that the fish was really fresh.  I'll vote this meal as my 2nd favourite.     

Continuing on, my third favourite meal came from The Grove on Mission Street.  We went for an early breakfast and both liked our food and the energy in the tree-filled space.

The Grove Yerba Buena on Urbanspoon

I enjoyed my meal at the Sears Fine Food, a San Francisco institution.  It was about as enjoyable as the meal at the Grove.  But, a bill for breakfast that was somewhere in the neighbourhood of $45.00 somehow affects the taste left my mouth.

I don't think they're hurting for customers, though.  This is the lineup out the door as we were leaving the restaurant:

I had the french toast, which was pretty standard.  I wish it included more strawberries on the side.  I think I had 2-3 little bits of strawberry/slice.  

I thought it was pretty funny that when I asked about the extra cost for syrup, the waitress explained that that's just for maple syrup.  She explained that syrup comes with the french toast and that it tastes totally fine and that it's not necessary to get the maple syrup, unless your from Canada.  I didn't know we were so particular about our syrup.     

R got Sears' World Famous 18 Swedish pancakes.    

I was a bit worried that these pancakes might, each, end up being the size of the plate.  But, the proportions turned out to be reasonable, given the number. 

Sears Fine Foods on Urbanspoon

Boudin is a prominent fixture in Fisherman's Wharf.  They have quite the operation going there.  Between a takeaway counter, specialty food shop area, bakery and full service restaurant, it's the kind of place you have to visit at least once.

They're known for their sourdough bread.  I thought it was quite cool to watch the baskets of bread travel around the store.

You can also spend some time watching the bakers making various shaped bread creations.

We also went for dinner at Bistro Boudin, a full service restaurant.  The service was very good, but the meal was mixed.  I order Angel Hair Pasta with Grilled Shrimp.  The menu indicated that it included vine-ripened tomato arrabiatta and garlic.  I liked the tomato sauce.  But it lacked the spiciness you would expect of an arrabiatta sauce.  I also wasn't keen on the spice on the shrimp.  It tasted like a cajun seasoning, which didn't really work with a simple tomato sauce.  After donating my shrimp to R and adding chilli peppers to the tomato sauce, I was content.

R ordered the Sourdough Gnocchi Al Pesto with Lobster.  I didn't really see the appeal in what appears to be a fried chive topping.  R enjoyed his meal, but was quite happy to be given half of my meal because he was still hungry after finishing his.

Bistro Boudin on Urbanspoon

Near the end of our trip, we were getting tired.  It was raining for two days straight and I really didn't want to figure out three meals a day anymore.  We decided to just go out and find a place to eat, which was a mistake because we ended up getting soaked while walking to the Ferry Building.  We ended up going to Gott's Roadside

I got a grilled cheese sandwich, which is something I've never ordered at a restaurant before.  R is an expert grilled-cheese sandwich maker, so I haven't felt the need to order it elsewhere.  In general, the food was okay.  But, combined with being tired and wet, I just wanted to get back to the hotel, take a warm shower and go to bed.

Gott's Roadside on Urbanspoon

I had the highest hopes for what turned out to be my least favourite restaurant experience.  Our friends raved about Fang Restaurant before we left for San Francisco.  So, we were eager to the try the place.  We made a reservation for 7:15 and showed up at that time.  We waited for 40 minutes for a table to become available.  I felt like I was in combination of Seinfeld episodes.  What is the point of taking reservations if you can't keep the reservation?

We also knew to expect the owner to come by and inquire about whether we had been at the restaurant before.  Since we hadn't, we knew there was a good chance that the owner would just say "ok, I'll take care of you."  I was pretty leery about this because I had a couple of dishes in mind, but Mr. Fang was gone before I could say anything.

The first dish, which was a pork sandwich, was decent.  But, not something I would have ordered.

The other dishes, a crunchy rice, creamy lobster soup and white fish were dishes that I would never order and didn't enjoy.  But, I guess what annoyed me more than anything is that I had to ask for a glass of water 5 times before someone actually brought one.  The last request was more of a minor freak out where I basically said, "what does a person need to do to get water in here?"  I know, not the best version of me...but I was hungry, disappointed with the food, still adjusting to a time difference (and hence eating at what seemed like 11:30pm) and very thirsty.

I would not go back to this restaurant.

Fang on Urbanspoon

Aside from eating out, we generally picked up food at grocery stores.  We quickly learned that having store membership cards can make a big difference in the price of the products.  This led to kind of an awkward, "we are the worst liars ever" situation.

Basically, we overheard a customer telling other tourists was his Safeway card number was.  When we went to check out, we said we have a membership, but didn't have our card.  So, the cashier said, "just enter your phone number into the typepad."

WHAT?  A phone number?  This was not part of our deception plan.  We explained that we just want to give our Safeway number.  She repeated that we should just enter our phone number.  I'm thinking "LOOK --- I don't know this guy's phone number, I just know his Safeway number."  She could tell we were utterly confused, so she explained that our phone number IS our Safeway number.

Oh...yes...of course.  What was I thinking.

The best part is when the cashier starting calling R this other guy's name: Thor.

Stay tuned for another San Francisco post sharing some of the sites we visited.



That Girl said...

See - this is what I was talking about. I've been going to the bay area several times a year for 11 years and have never been to Sausilito!

Also, if it makes you feel better, the supermarket memberships often send coupons and discounts to the owners based on how much they spend, so you were actually helping that guy out. Although they're free to join, so you guys could have just signed up.....

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

I haven't eaten at Boudins but your mom and I watched them make bread. The last Foodbuzz was held across the street from Sears, but I have yet to try it! I hope you were able to go to the bakery in North Beach where the macaroons are the size of your head:D SF is definitely a foodie town.

Miss Jen said...
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steverd said...
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steverd said...
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Jerry said...

Great round up - we have a safeway card (they are free) that we use in california since we get here once a year at least. Have you tried Blue Bottle Coffee? A grilled cheese at the American grilled Cheese restaurant? The slanted Door? Some amazing burittos in the Mission?

San Francisco has so many great food options - lucky you for being there for a nice long time!

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