Jack and I celebrated my 35th birthday at Petit Crenn last Saturday and we thoroughly enjoyed our meal. Petit Crenn (pronounced with a silent “T” at the end of “Petit”) is described as a “neighborhood restaurants inspired by Chef Dominique Crenn’s mother, grandmother, and her home in Brittany, France.” Brittany is surrounded by the sea, so Petit Crenn is a pescatarian’s dream – the menu is teaming with fresh fish, seafood, and local produce.
In 2012, Dominique became the first female chef in the United State to earn two Michelin stars. If you are interested in learning more about her life as a chef and artist, I highly recommend watching the Netflix miniseries Chef’s Table – she is featured in Season 2, Episode 3.
Petit Crenn is the less formal sister restaurant of Atelier Crenn, also located in San Francisco. Jack and I ate at Atelier Crenn a few years ago – I remember it being very good, but I can’t remember anything specific about the meal other than that is was tasty, very formal, and the menu was a poem written by Dominique. This likely says more about my memory than the meal, but I do think our dining experience at Petit Crenn was more memorable. The space is bright and inviting, located in the heart of Hayes Valley (in the old Bar Jules location). The set 5-course prix fixe menu is more affordable and approachable than Atelier Crenn. There is also the option of sitting at the counter and ordering menu items à la carte, if you prefer.
Zuni Café is a San Francisco institution. Established in 1987 and named after a Native American tribe, Zuni continues to impress with its top notch food and classy ambiance. With several James Beard awards under its belt, Zuni serves a strong, tight menu – I’ve never been disappointed by a dish I’ve had there. And its south Hayes Valley location on Market Street makes it a perfect spot for a special dinner before a night out on the town.
Edit 4/22/17: Unfortunately Scopa closed its doors on 4/8/17. You can read about the decision here. Fortunately its sister restaurant Campo Fina still serves many of Scopa’s beloved dishes, but we will miss this charming, intimate restaurant.
One of the great perks of being in a wine club is that it’s an excuse to visit wine country on a regular basis. Jack and I joined the Williams Selyem wine club several years ago, and since then we’ve made it up to Healdsburg for at least a day trip a couple of times a year. On one of these early visits, on a very hot fall day, a few of our friends introduced us to Scopa, an Italian restaurant right on the square. We had a group of six (the largest group they can accommodate) and I remember sitting at their only outdoor table, sweating profusely. We felt like we were in Italy! Our whole table shared a variety of appetizers, pastas, and pizzas. Everything was delicious, but what I remember most were the incredibly tender and flavorful meatballs and the perfectly cooked home-made pasta dishes.
Since that visit, Scopa has been our go-to restaurant when we visit Healdsburg. On this visit we started with the Sicilian Green Olives. These are the plump, meaty, bright green Castelvetrano olives from Siciliy (which always seem a little more delicious in a restaurant than when I buy them at the grocery store). These (along with oil-cured black olives) are my favorite olives. We enjoyed them with some house-made Ciabatta bread with Dry Creek extra virgin olive oil. We also each had a glass of sparkling wine, as we were celebrating Jack’s birthday.
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.
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 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.