Category Archives: New American Restaurants

Duck Prosciutto – Annabelle’s Bar & Bistro (SF)

HOUSE-MADE DUCK PROSCIUTTO – ANNABELLE’S BAR & BISTRO, SF

It takes a lot of effort to make prosciutto. Generally about 18 months or so, and some serious patience to watch it hang until it’s ready. But when it comes, it makes patience aphoristically virtuous. But thankfully, we can just order prosciutto without the watch and wait.

Duck prosciutto - Annabele's Bar & Bistro (SF)

Duck prosciutto – Annabele’s Bar & Bistro (SF)

Annabelle’s Bar & Bistro recently offered a small plate of their special house-made duck prosciutto, paired with sweet, thick cantaloupe slices. It was more colorful than a circus: bright green, orange, purple-black, various hues of brown and tan, and blush. The duck was lush and not exceedingly smoky, striped with translucent fat. A small hailstorm fall of smoked almonds were scattered across the plate, most within a dazzling verdant swathe of arugula puree. And fig vino cotto, like an indigo oil spill, haunted the plate as a fabulous substitute for aged balsamic. A panoply of great color, taste and texture; a memorable prosciutto platter from Annabelle’s Bar & Bistro. (The dinner menu has a more Mediterranean prosciutto platter appetizer with pecorino cheese, olives, roasted peppers, and crostini for $15.)

The Grade: Excellent

The Damage: $15

The Tip: Annabelle’s has a three-course prix fixe nightly ($33)

The Skinny: Annabelle’s Bar & Bistro
68 – 4th Street, San Francisco CA
Phone: (415) 777-1200
Website: http://www.annabelles.net/

Executive Chef Larry Piaskowy of Annabelle's Bar & Bistro

Executive Chef Larry Piaskowy of Annabelle’s Bar & Bistro

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Pork Chop (Annabelle’s Bar & Bistro, SF)

GRILLED PORK CHOP – ANNABELLE’S BAR & BISTRO (SF)

When a pork chop (or a pork loin, for that matter) is properly cooked, there’s not too many more things more satisfying. I’ve been rolling around (figuratively) on a pork chop run, and I find the pork chop at Annabelle’s to be very tasty and very satisfying. It’s nicely grilled with the familiar char-diamond argyle pattern, and slices open to a perfectly pale rose pink interior with lots of natural juices inside from proper rest.

Glazed baby carrots add curious color and crunch, and a mound of organic mushroom rice provides the starch to sop up the fantastic bourbon jus. And Executive Chef Larry Piaskowy is not shy about jus. He can pour out some mean (I mean absolutely delicious) jus for his meat dishes, and works the natural flavors together wonderfully. His pork chop is another great dish to eat at Annabelle’s.

Grilled Pork Chop -  Annabelle's Bar & Bistro (SF)

Grilled Pork Chop – Annabelle’s Bar & Bistro (SF)

The Grade: Excellent (4 out of 5)

The Damage: $25

The Tip: Annabelle’s offers a three-course, prix fixe menu for $33.

The Skinny: Annabelle’s Bar & Bistro
68 – 4th Street, San Francisco CA
Phone: (415) 777-1200
Website: http://www.annabelles.net/ 

Chef Larry Piaskowy is not shy about jus.

Chef Larry Piaskowy is not shy about jus.

New York Steak (Annabelle’s Bar & Bistro, SF)

BASEBALL CUT NEW YORK STEAK – ANNABELLE’S BAR & BISTRO

Executive Chef Larry Piaskowy came into Annabelle’s Bar & Bistro not long ago, and has been humbly building a menu of terrific, all-natural meat dishes (and other dishes, of course). It’s about time he got some kudos. From the handful of dishes I’ve eaten there, all were winners.

New York steak (baseball cut) - Annabelle's Bar & Bistro (SF)

New York steak (baseball cut) – Annabelle’s Bar & Bistro (SF)

Recently an evening special was a baseball cut New York steak. (This fist-sized steak comes from the top sirloin, one of the favored and thus more expensive cuts of meat.) Served justly medium-rare, bisected on a bias and leaning toward its other half, it looked like a meaty Richard Serra sculpture. Piaskowy serves all-natural beef sourced from a sustainable ranching co-op called Painted Hills. The tenderness of the baseball cut generated moments of closed-eye bliss as I swirled bites through caramelized onion jus and drippings. Paired with a low stack of spinach to ground the bliss in some earth and crunchy chew, and a gruyere potato cake that’s lighter and more well-balanced than its name implies. It’s a great little gratin that’s not too heavy. The steak was capped with some wispy, crispy onion strips.

I’m generally greeted (or interrogated) by the “So what’s the best steak?” question and I rattle off my short list, depending on what type of steak someone can qualify they like most. Now I get to add Annabelle’s Bar & Bistro to that short list, no matter what steak people like.

The Grade: Awesome (highest grade)

The Damage: $33

The Tip: Annabelle’s has a three-course prix fixe nightly ($33)

The Skinny: Annabelle’s Bar & Bistro
68 – 4th Street, San Francisco CA
Phone: (415) 777-1200
Website: http://www.annabelles.net/

New York steak (baseball cut) - Annabelle's Bar & Bistro (SF)

New York steak (baseball cut) – Annabelle’s Bar & Bistro (SF)

Braised Short Ribs, Annabelle’s Bar & Bistro (SF)

ANCHOR STEAM BRAISED SHORT RIBS

ANNABELLE’S BAR & BISTRO, SAN FRANCISCO

Anchor Steam Braised Short Ribs, Annabelle's Bar & Bistro (SF)

Anchor Steam Braised Short Ribs, Annabelle’s Bar & Bistro (SF)

Annabelle’s Bar & Bistro is a hidden gem in plain view, with a solid selection of all-natural meat dishes that are carefully crafted by Executive Chef Larry Piaskowy. The pork chop is great there, and the steaks are amazing. But I can understand whey the Anchor Steam-braised short ribs might be the dish diners would talk about.

The short ribs have about a 4-hour braising period in the Anchor Steam bath, as it were, and are crisscrossed with a benediction of horseradish creme fraiche. (I think the creme fraiche is probably the right amount from a chef’s perspective, but it’s so good I really wanted a few spoonfuls more.)  The ribs sit folded over a structure of green beans like thick, dark teepee flaps. Actually, it resembles a hiding place of the princess in Kurosawa’s “The Hidden Fortress,” but that’s what you were thinking when you saw this photo anyway, right?

Braised short ribs - Annabelle's Bar & Bistro

Braised short ribs – Annabelle’s Bar & Bistro

These are fuzzy-looking mud flaps, quite unlike any braised short ribs you’re ever likely to see. And the meat’s texture is remarkably like velvet, again unlike the chunky, canyon-like renderings typically seen of short ribs. It’s an extraordinary feeling to the palate and the combination of the ultra-soft ribs in jus, crisp green beans, and a little horseradish pep makes this a really outstanding dish.

The Grade: Awesome (highest grade)

The Damage: $25

The Skinny: Annabelle’s Bar & Bistro
68 – 4th Street, San Francisco CA
Phone: (415) 777-1200
Website: http://www.annabelles.net/

Antelope Tartare – Maverick, SF

Antelope Tartare - Maverick SF

Antelope Tartare – Maverick SF

I’m a huge fan of beef tartare and this was my first experience having antelope tartare. While beef tartare is fabulous because it’s meaty, fatty and rich, antelope tartare rocks in a far leaner manner, still rich with taste but without the kind of knockout punch fattier beef can have on the body. The antelope meat is sourced from Broken Arrow Ranch, which has been selling wild game meats for over 25 years.

Antelope Tartare (detail) - Maverick, SF

Antelope Tartare (detail) – Maverick, SF

The leanness of the meat and its wonderful tones, imbued throughout via a mildly piquant ancho chile sauce, were a revelation. The ancho heat slow-rolled in the mouth and lingered long in the finish, making each bite slowed to enjoy the experience. Now I wish more restaurants would serve wild game tartare; it was not gamey at all. My friends and I loved this appetizer; it’s a little masterpiece from Chef Scott Youkilis of Maverick. The little greens (purslane) added a good dirty crunch to the savory smoothness of the antelope meat. The only minor wish was more toast points because they’re soaked with olive oil and quite delicious, but the bread at Maverick is quite good and sated our need to request the points.

THE GRADE: AWESOME (highest grade)
THE DAMAGE: $13
THE SKINNY: MAVERICK
3316 17th Street San Francisco, CA 94110
Phone: (415) 863-3061

Make a free reservation for Maverick here on OpenTable.com.