The grilled beef bavette steak at Spruce is thick-sliced and flayed out like meaty arrows. dipped in Bordelaise and ready to pierce your taste buds. What an amazing steak; this is one of the best of 2009. The richness of Bordelaise (sauce made from bone marrow, red wine, and broth) soaking the beef bavette can make your eyes roll back when you chew. Spruce’s bavette is paired with duck fat potatoes, which are terrific, and a seasonal vegetable. A simple and fantastic dish, and a perfectly grilled steak.
Grilled Beef Bavette - Spruce, SF
The Spot: Spruce
Spruce itself is one of the smartest designed restaurants in San Francisco. Opulent but coolly so, every table comfortable and distant enough from neighbors to make you feel your party is the only one there. And faux-ostrich dining chairs…they should sell them. Comfortable, plush, dark, romantic, Spruce is a great place for dinner. And there are great small tables in the bar area if you don’t have a reservation.
The Grade: Awesome/Phenomenal
The Damage: $30
The Skinny: Spruce
3640 Sacramento Street, San Francisco CA
Phone: (415) 931-5100
Hours: Lunch M – F 11:30am – 2:30pm; Dinner nightly 5 – 10pm
Chef: Mark Sullivan
Make a reservation at Spruce via Open Table
If you want to try a Bordelaise yourself, here’s a decent recipe (not from Spruce): Steak with Sauce Bordelaise
American Kobe Beef Bavette (Coco 500)
You’ll have to excavate the American Kobe Beef Bavette from under the little forest-trap of greens and chopped radish, but it’s a nice discovery. Cooked rare, this beef is terrifically tender and rich. The mizuna (a Japanese salad green) and organic radishes provide a good bright balance with slight bitterness and crunch, and some salsa verde gives a slight, spicy warmth. It’s juicy, tasty, and a bit sloppy. No matter. The beef is wonderful, and the plate well-balanced with flavors. So much so that you may even think you’re having a salad.
The Grade: Excellent
The Damage: $25
The Skinny: Coco500
500 Brannan Street (at 4th Street), SF CA 941107
Phone: (415) 543-2222
Hours: Mon – Thurs: 11:30 am to 10 pm
Friday: 11:30 am to 11 pm
Saturday: 5:30 pm to 11 pm
High on the Hog, EPIC Roasthouse
When: Saturday, June 27, 1 to 4 pm
What: “High on the Hog” – an afternoon of “swing, swirl, swine”
A festival of pork dishes from EPIC Roasthouse Co-owner/Chef Jan Birnbaum, plus pinot noir pairings from 9 regional wine producers, including Iron Horse Vineyards & Hirsch Vineyards. Good stuff.
Extras: “Passion for Pinot” author Jordan McKay in the house for a book signing, and some stompin’ bluegrass from Nell Robinson & Red Level Band.
369 The Embarcadero (S. of the Ferry Building)
How: Call 415.369.9995 for reservations.
How Much: $50 for a great party and Slow Food event.
Cochon 555 Comes to SF This Sunday June 14
Pig lovers rejoice, and go to The Fairmont this Sunday June 14 (5 to 8 pm) for a whole pig breakdown demo and snout-to-tail pig chef competition to promote awareness and raise support for local and national farms who breed heritage pigs. With over 350 pounds of pig tasties to dole out to you and your friends, lucky reader, be ready to enjoy yourself at this glorious pig-out. (See www.amusecochon.com for tickets; type “baconbits” into the promo code field for $30 off tickets.)
5 San Francisco chefs will go at it, each wrangling his own great dishes from 5 heritage pigs, while 5 family-owned wineries will pour freely. One meat expert will break down an entire heritage pig for your shock, awe, and amazement. A small cadre of celebrity food judges will evaluate the porcine output and crown San Francisco’s “Prince of Porc,” which has a very different ring than “Top Chef.”
Officially, this is a benefit for our heritage pig farms, but with your wine & swine in hand, you’ll benefit just as much.
Cochon 555 Details:
- Chef competitors: Staffan Terje of Perbacco; Ravi Kapur of Boulevard; Nate Appleman of A16/ SPQR; Peter McNee of Poggio Trattoria; and Ryan Farr of 4505 Meats. (Check out Ryan’s chicharrones!)
- Wines from Krupp Brothers, Hirsch Vineyards, Elk Cove Winery, Arcadian Winery, and K Vintners/ Charles Smith’s Wines.
- Whole pig breakdown demonstration by Taylor Boetticher of Fatted Calf Charcuterie. (They produce outrageously good meaty goods, including one of America’s best bacons. Check site for retail outlets or order online for delivery at Berkeley and SF Farmer’s Markets.)
- Event produced by Taste Network; check out their other events across the US and sign up for their newsletter.
Cochon 555 Official Overview:
A group of top San Francisco chefs will each prepare a heritage breed hog from head to toe for this competition. Cochon 555 is the only national chef competition promoting heritage pigs and breed diversity. Guests and professional judges will determine a winner based on utilization, presentation and overall best flavor. The winner will be crowned the “Prince of Porc”. In addition, five family-owned wineries will showcase their wines.
The Damage: $125 per person ($95 with promo code BACONBITS)
- Industry discount available.
- Advance tickets required.
- For tickets or more info visit www.amusecochon.com
- Save $30 per ticket with promo code: BACONBITS
The Event Skinny: Cochon 555 at The Fairmont
950 Mason Street, San Francisco, Ca 94108
5 pm to 8 pm, Sunday June 14, 2009
Best Schnitzel in Leipzig
Perhaps the Best Schnitzel in Leipzig Germany
There are a few places to get excellent schnitzel in Leipzig, Germany. One is the classic Cafe Grundmann (previously reviewed on this site). The other is a sweet cafe that overlooks the lovely old stone square alongside St. Thomas Church, or Thomaskirche (www.thomaskirche.org). The Apothekenmuseum Cafe–I think the full name is “Restaurant im Apothekenmuseum”–sits on a great historical location. They have very good service and one of the best beers I had in Germany. Its name sadly eludes me, but as the distinctive glass (shown) pictures an evil villain along the likes of Sherlock Holmes’ mortal enemy Dr. Moriarty, you’ll find it.
The schnitzel at Restaurant im Apothekenmuseum is amazing. I think this schnitzel surpasses Cafe Grundmann (but Grundmann rules for atmosphere, as one of Europe’s truly great historical restaurants). It’s perfectly fried, crisp, and light. The potatoes are buttery, crisp, and tender, with nicely singed strips of onion between the slices. A good hearty salad and a giant pilsner for proper washing. The wide sprinkling of chopped parsley across the whole plate adds some energy and flair.
The cafe affords good people watching and a good spot for events that happen on the square during summer. Great beer, great schnitzel, great little cafe.
In German, the menu will say “BRAUMEISTERSCHNITZEL IM BIERSCHAUM mit Bratkartoffeln an knackigem Salat.”
The Grade: Awesome
The Damage: 9.9 Euros
The Skinny: Restaurant Centralapotheke
04109 Leipzig, Germany
Phone: (From USA) +49 341 2118299
Phone: (in Germany) 0341/2118299
Best Jager Schnitzel in SF: Walzwerk
After a round-robin of German restaurants in San Francisco–heavy eating–Walzwerk laid down the best jager schnitzel I’ve had to date. The schnitzel is perfectly seasoned in great batter, and the portions are Teutonic, titanic, huge. The spaetzle, a critical element on a schnitzel plate, is simply great. And the creamy mushroom-onion gravy is fantastic. Amazingly, it’s just $15 at dinner, a terrific value.
Walzwerk German restaurant, San Francisco
The little German restaurant that could, Walzwerk, has a funky-cool interior that’s a paean to East Germany circa 1972. The bathroom has a tiny museum of Communist-era products in a see-through medicine cabinet; the main dining room has mod monochromatic portraits of the Communist Big Three: Marx, Engels, Lenin.Or is Engels Trotsky? Is it tongue-in-cheek or homage? A bit of both, I guess.
Because it’s fairly small, Walzwerk’s seating arrangements might require some wait time and beer so try for dinner on weeknights. But once your table opens up, you’ll probably have a great waitress who’ll get you what you need. Just make up your mind, pronto. Love this place and you should get your jager schnitzel on here.
The Great: Awesome
The Damage: $15
The Skinny: Walzwerk
381 S. Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94103
Phone: (415) 551-7181
Hours: Open Tue-Sat 5:30pm-10pm
Schnitzel – Canteen SF
Chef Dennis Leary of Canteen is remarkably versatile, able to put out amazing dishes from many cultural sources. He’s played well with other culinary traditions beyond the usual French & Italian suspects, including Indian, British, and here in a pork schnitzel, German. Leary is more of an explorer in the kitchen, pitting his particular exploratory curiosity against classics and, occasionally, reinventing them.
Leary’s take on pork schnitzel is simple and fairly classic. Two large portions of pork loin have been pounded out to a medium thickness, and the lightly breaded covering honors the pork without overwhelming it. The schnitzel was perfectly tender and understated in flavor; quite nicely done.
A creamy English mustard sauce is the moat to the little food castle of pork schnitzel, crowned with a poached egg, red cabbage, and a wild dollop of sour cream. The cabbage was a bit al dente, leaving some original purple crunch. Because I’ve had so much overboiled red cabbage from here to Leipzig to Krakow, I enjoyed the texture of it, which balanced all the other softness present on the plate. Schnitzel’s not exactly home cooking for most of us, but with a nice rendition like this, it’s too bad it’s not served (at least at Canteen) a bit more often.
Be sure to check the Canteen website for the daily menu, because Canteen’s food offerings (12 per day) are constantly in flux.
The Grade: Great
The Damage: $24.50
The Skinny: Canteen
817 Sutter St
San Francisco, CA 94109
Phone: (415) 928-8870