I love me a good home cooked meal, especially on the food-centric holiday of Thanksgiving. But sometimes it’s fun to mix it up and eat Thanksgiving dinner out at a restaurant. I’ve done this a couple times over the years, and there’s something to be said about a Thanksgiving dinner without the muss and fuss. If you happen to be visiting San Francisco, there are plenty of restaurants from which to choose on this delicious holiday; here are a few that I’ve been wanting to try:
San Francisco Restaurants Serving Thanksgiving Dinner (2015):
1300 on Fillmore: www.1300fillmore.com 1300 Fillmore St. (415) 771-7100. “Thanksgiving Dinner with all the trimmings:” Three course prix fixe with optional sides ($9 each); $69 per person, $35 for children 12 years and younger. 20% gratuity added, 4% SF employer mandate, $25 corkage (750mL bottle). Menu.
Chou Chou Bistro: www.chouchoubistro.com 400 Dewey Blvd. (415) 242-0960. Three course prix fixe French dinner, optional sides ($7.95 each); $55.95 per person, $30.95 set menu for children. 18% gratuity added. Menu.
First Crush Restaurant & Wine Bar:www.firstcrush.com 101 Cyril Magnin. (415) 982-7874. Three course prix fixe Thanksgiving dinner; $65 per person, $35 wine pairing. 20% service charge. Menu.
RN74:www.michaelmina.net 301 Mission St. (415) 543-7474. Three course prix fixe dinner; $85 per guest, optional caviar doughnut ($50 supplement), optional Alba white truffle raviolo ($75 supplement). Menu.
Have you eaten Thanksgiving Dinner out at a restaurant? Tell me about your experience.
Yesterday we hosted my family at our home in San Francisco for a belated Thanksgiving Day celebration. Jack and I served Williams Selyem’s Holiday Cioppino with roasted seasonal vegetables (butternut squash, Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, and carrots). For dessert I served a homemade almond cake with vanilla ice cream from Bi-Rite Creamery. My family members contributed a delicious cheese and charcuterie platter, good bread from Della Fattoria, and a delicious lactose-free pumpkin pie (made by a certain lactose-intolerant family member who will remain nameless). And all day long we enjoyed our favorite wines from Williams Selyem, Kosta Browne, and Bacigalupi.
Jack and I have been wine club members at Williams Selyem for several years now, and one thing we always look forward to with our biannual wine pickup is the seasonal recipe that is included. We always make a point of trying out these recipes, and they have yet to let us down. Each recipe also includes a recommended Williams Selyem wine pairing.
The first (and favorite) recipe we tried was for Holiday Cioppino. Cioppino is a fish stew that originated in San Francisco’s North Beach (“Little Italy”) in the late 1800’s by Italian fishermen (mostly immigrants from the port city of Genoa). It is traditionally made from the “catch of the day,” which typically includes Dungeness crab, clams, shrimp, scallops, squid, mussels, and fish (all from the Pacific Ocean). The seafood is combined with fresh tomatoes in a wine sauce and served with toasted bread (preferably local sourdough).
Jack has made this Holiday Cioppino on several occasions: Thanksgiving for the two of us (when I had to work), dinner parties with friends, and (just yesterday) Thanksgiving dinner for my whole family (nine of us total). Jack has made modifications to the recipe over the years, but the base of the soup has stayed pretty much the same. It’s a great treat on these cold winter nights!
Today is one of my favorite holidays: Thanksgiving. I have so many fond memories of sitting around the dining room table with my family and enjoying the traditional feast of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, and cranberry sauce (the kind that “slides right out of the can”). Over the years, this tradition has evolved as school, work, and living across the country led to many nontraditional celebrations of the holiday, including “Friendsgiving” (potluck-style Thanksgiving with friends), eating Thanksgiving out at a restaurant, and “Thanksgiving for Two” with just my husband.
One Thanksgiving that really stands out in my memory is from ten years ago. My brother Mike and his wife Kelly were living in Washington, D.C. and they took the train up to visit me in NYC, where I was attending graduate school. On the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving, Mike and Kelly joined me at the Patagonia store on the Upper West Side, where I was working at the time. The store is located on Columbus Avenue, across from the American Museum of Natural History. We gathered upstairs in the store with several of my coworkers and watched as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade floats were being inflated and prepped outside for the next day. What a sight to see! The next day, we had a traditional Thanksgiving meal at one of the cozy restaurants on Cornelia Street in the West Village. It really was a wonderful and memorable Thanksgiving.
When we were wine tasting at A. Rafanelli this last Sunday, Dave Rafanelli recommended that Jack and I check out Valette for dinner. Valette is a new restaurant (opened in 2015) that moved into the spot once occupied by the restaurant Zin, right near the square in downtown Healdsburg.
The name “Zin” rang a bell, and we quickly recognized the name from our recent trip to Todos Santos, Mexico. We stayed at Rancho Pescadero and took a cooking class from the married executive chef duo Jeff and Susan Mall. During our cooking class (which was amazing – one word: mole), Jeff and Susan told us that they had once owned Zin in Healdsburg. They closed the restaurant last year and started a new, more relaxed life on the Baja Peninsula.
So, in the spot that once housed Zin, we found Valette. It is a beautiful space – very warm and inviting, with high end details, and rustic touches. House-cured meats can be seen through a window into the kitchen. I never ate at Zin, so I don’t know what it used to look like, but I was very impressed by the space and overall decor of Valette.
Last Sunday we headed to downtown Santa Rosa to spend a couple hours at Russian River Brewing Company’s (RRBC’s) brew pub. We were already in Healdsburg celebrating Jack’s birthday, so it was an easy 15-20 minute drive from the square.
We had tried several of the beers from RRBC over the years, but we had never visited their brew pub in Santa Rosa. We arrived at noon (it opens at 11am) and had to wait about 15 minutes in a line outside. Then we were allowed to enter the pub and start drinking at the bar while we waited an additional 30-45 minutes to be seated at a table. I was impressed by how organized the bouncers and hosts were in this process. Overall, I thought the wait wasn’t a big deal, but I hear it gets a lot more crowded as the day goes on (or when they release the coveted “Pliny the Younger” beer on the first Friday of February – it’s only available for two weeks).
One of the benefits to living in San Francisco is its proximity to so many great weekend destinations. Lake Tahoe, Yosemite, Big Sur, Carmel, Sonoma, Napa, and Mendocino are all within driving distance, and completely doable for a weekend escape from city life.
One of our favorite weekend spots is the town of Healdsburg, which is located in Sonoma County, along the Russian River. This town has definitely undergone a transformation over the last two decades, as the critically-acclaimed wine regions of Russian River, Dry Creek, and Alexander Valley made it a popular tourist destination; high end hotels, fancy restaurants, and a revitalization of the town square quickly followed.
I’m deeply saddened by the news coming out of Paris tonight. Anyone who has ever visited Paris knows that it is a special place. The history, architecture, FOOD, art, and culture in general are unlike anywhere else I’ve ever been, and the city has an almost magical quality to it. It is also the most romantic city I’ve ever been to, and I look forward to returning one day with my husband, Jack.
In 2009 Jack and I attended his sister’s wedding in Lyon, France, followed by a trip to the City of Light. Here are some of my favorite photos from that trip:
Last night I took my husband Jack to Rich Table for his birthday. We had both eaten there several times before, but he had yet to try the tasting menu. In general, we really enjoyed the food, ambiance, and service; there were a few misses on the menu, but overall it was a really good dinner. I will highlight my favorites here.
We opted for the Chef’s Picks tasting menu, which included seven courses. For most of the courses, they brought us each different items; if you don’t mind sharing with your dinner partner, this is a great way to try a lot of different items on the menu. We did not do the wine pairings, as we had brought a special bottle of wine with us. Rich Table has a full bar, so we each started with a cocktail. I had the Berber Coast (Old Tom gin, lemon, honey, and Ras el hangout, which is a spice mix from North Africa). It was very balanced: not too sweet, with a nice tang from the spices. Jack had a rye whiskey cocktail called the Dolomite, which we had fun pronouncing.
I recently had the opportunity to tour Safari West, a 400-acre private wildlife preserve right in my own backyard in Santa Rosa, CA. Having grown up in the area, I’d heard of Safari West for years; so I was thrilled when my mom organized a private guided tour of the preserve with my family.