Archive for the ‘wild game’ Category

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.

Prix Fixe Dinner – Michael Mina

MICHAEL MINA – RESTAURANT REVIEW – PRIX FIXE DINNER

With an atmosphere of contemporary elegance, plus excellent service and trays of succulent small bites coming in spectacularly focused trios, Michael Mina restaurant is certainly worth the special occasion splurge. Tables are distant enough for your group to feel safe and uncrowded. You enter the room–hidden within the Westin St. Francis Hotel on Union Square–by climbing a small flight of stairs, perhaps accurately representational of the culinary temple that Michael Mina has enjoyed since its inception.

Michael Mina has many offerings of multi-course (prix fixe) dinners. The standard three-course dinner sets you back $105. Expensive, to be sure, but it’s a wonderful experience. Six-course tasting menus are $135, and a great three-course pre-theatre meal is $55.

COURSE ONE – PASTA, BRAISE & CONFIT

Course 1 - Michael Mina SF  Prix Fixe Dinner - Pasta, Braise & Confit

Course 1 – Michael Mina SF Prix Fixe Dinner – Pasta, Braise & Confit

LEFT: Fettucine, Rabbit, English Peas

A beautifully rendered meaty pasta, rife and verdant with variegated greenliness. Few American chefs seem to really honor rabbits effectively; the chefs at Mina certainly do. Tastes like Spring and Summer in a dish; simply delicious.

TOP / CENTER: Orecchiette, Pork Short Rib, and Fava Beans

Perhaps the only faux pas moment of the meal. The potentially rich flavor of the pork short rib was nowhere here, and not supported by typically chewy orecchiette (ear-shaped, dense, and spongy pasta), and born-to-be-mild fava beans. Blah.

RIGHT: Ravioli, Duck Leg, Radicchio

Wow; utterly phenomenal. This is a little triumph: rich duck confit, sumptuous in its dark gravy, magical in its layered tones of smell and taste. If you go this season to Michael Mina, request your waiter if you can get a single large portion of this instead of the trio; I surmise they would oblige you. This is the best meaty ravioli I’ve eaten in 2009, and among the best meaty pastas of the year. I’d like to have a big bowl of it and a glass of Super Tuscan; that would be a perfect meal.

Duck Confit Ravioli, Radicchio - Michael Mina SF

Duck Confit Ravioli, Radicchio – Michael Mina SF

COURSE TWO – BRANDT FARM BEEF and SPRING VEGETABLES

At first, the tiny bites of steak on the tri-partite plate seem light. But the incredible flavors from each steak made every bite fulfilling, worth enjoying slowly. Each of the three steak dishes was excellent.

Course 2 - Steak & Spring Vegetables - Michael Mina restaurant

Course 2 – Steak & Spring Vegetables – Michael Mina restaurant

COURSE TWO, LEFT:  FILET MIGNON with Sauce Bernaise, Sacramento Delta green asparagus

Beautiful little stacked portion of filet mignon with a perfect bernaise sauce, paired with slivered green asparagus. Cleverly piled like a double-stack…not sure if this is a wink on a double burger but it was great, either way.

Filet Mignon with sauce bernaise - Michael Mina, SF

Filet Mignon with sauce bernaise – Michael Mina, SF

COURSE TWO, CENTER:  DRY AGED RIBEYE, wilted spinach, morel jus (plus potatoes)

If you’ve ever wondered why people pay so much money to get dry-aged beef, wonder no more. This is a tiny piece of steak that packs a wallop of flavor. Another perfect presentation, and a great piece of steak.

Dry aged ribeye steak, Michael Mina SF

Dry aged ribeye steak, Michael Mina SF

COURSE TWO, RIGHT:  BRAISED TRIO, young leeks, horseradish vinaigrette

Our waiter described this as “Tongue and Cheek,” so there’s beef tongue, beef cheek, and something else equally tender and delicious. A great balance of the beef parts with the earthiness of both the leeks and the brightness of the horseradish vinaigrette.

Braised Trio (beef and cheek), Michael Mina - SF

Braised Trio (beef and cheek), Michael Mina – SF

COURSE THREE: CHEESES – GOAT, SHEEP, COW

For my last course, I opted for the cheese plate and it was again a small triumph of three. Savory with sweet, earthy and salty; everything well paired.

• Minuet, Pear Purée, Hazelnuts

• Pecorino Ginepro, Port Cherries, Juniper Balsamic Vinegar

• Pianoforte, Porcini Syrup, Puffed Wild Rice

There are some great options for sweeter things, but I like cheese to finish a languorous meal. Mina’s renowned for amazing desserts, and anything you order will be pretty great.

THE GRADE: AWESOME (highest grade)

THE DAMAGE: $105

THE INSIDE TIP: Get a very similar three-course meal at Michael Mina for $55. (Each course will be single, not trio, servings but most of the dishes for the regular prix fixe will be available at the beginning of dinner service for the lower price.) Make your reservation for between 5:30 and 6:00 p.m. for their special pre-theatre dinner price. Go-go, early birds.

Free reservations at Michael Mina via OpenTable.com

THE SKINNY: MICHAEL MINA

Inside the lobby of the Westin St. Francis Hotel

335 Powell Street, San Francisco CA 94102

Phone: (415) 397-9222

Website with menus: http://www.michaelmina.net

Hours: Dinner: Tuesday – Thursday 5:30pm – 9:00pm, Friday – Saturday: 5:30pm – 10:00pm

Wild Game Week – Big 4 Restaurant

Wild Game Week @ Big 4 Restaurant

While Big 4 Restaurant has game a-plenty to cook and serve during the year, this is their special week to shine. Like the Mardi Gras of game meats ready to party with you. The dishes are dear (in price), but I had their saddle of black buck antelope and it was phenomenal. [See my previous dish review.] And there’s Rocky Mountain Wapiti (elk); Sika Deer (Broken Arrow Ranch); and even Llama Rib Eye (Robert’s Ranch, Nebraska). 

You can even start off with a little piranha…how often do you get to eat that? (Before it eats you, random Amazon-wanderer?)

Carnivores of all persuasions, get to Big 4 this week, amid your journeys into SF Cocktail Week bar events. 

Check out the Wild Game Week menu (PDF); then make your Open Table reservation.

Antelope (Black Buck Antelope Saddle)

SADDLE of BLACK BUCK ANTELOPE
BIG 4 RESTAURANT

Saddle of Black Buck Antelope, Big 4 Restaurant

Saddle of Black Buck Antelope, Big 4 Restaurant

The Dish: Antelope (Saddle of Black Buck Antelope)

One of the most incredible meals I’ve had in the past year, without question, and probably as good as any meat dishes I have eaten in the past five years. Both times I’ve eaten antelope previously were in Colorado restaurants, so antelope was my de facto choice from the menu of Big 4, which specializes in wild game. The antelope saddle was a perfect medium-rare, and sat upon a small mound of butternut squash puree. Two late fall fruits—a caramelized pear blintz and a generous portion of huckleberry gastrique—were perfect, semi-sweet complements to the meat, and a tossing of crispy plantain chips rode high atop the saddle. The variety of texture (crunchy, chewy, smooth, and juicy) made every bite a palate dazzler. The portion of antelope was appropriate: large enough to graciously satiate.

Caveat emptor: May be available only seasonally.

The Vibe: Big 4 restaurant

Old-school, formal, and opulent in a particularly American manner. Big 4 Restaurant is more of an expense account place, a place for special occasions, a place where you go when you don’t care how much it costs. The service is professional but amiable. All the old carved wood and antique socio-political ephemera along the rear dining room walls make one feel like Teddy Roosevelt could bustle in and drink whiskeys with you at any moment. You can’t create that type of atmosphere; certain places just carry their history in a way that permeates your experience there. And Big 4 is also likely to attract white-haired men with blonde-haired damsels/table candy for discreet meals, and groups of financiers/lawyers to imbibe whatever’s expensive (power lunch, power dinner). The good news is that Big 4 successfully shoulders its heavy hype. My dish was certainly stellar, and I do recommend it highly for the aforementioned occasion/s when money is not an object. Like, for the perfect instance, when someone else is nabbing the bill.

The Grade: Astounding (unforgettable, awesome) 5 out of 5
The Damage: $38
The Skinny: Big 4 Restaurant
in the Huntington Hotel
1075 California St (between Mason / Taylor), San Francisco CA
Executive Chef Gloria Ciccarone-Nehls
Phone: (415) 474-5400; (415) 771-1140

Website: http://www.big4restaurant.com/


Big 4 at the Huntington Hotel on Urbanspoon

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