Tag Archives: BBQ ribs

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

Baby Back Ribs (Oola, SF)

Baby Back Ribs – Oola, SF

BBQ Baby Back Pork Ribs - OOLA, SF
BBQ Baby Back Pork Ribs - OOLA, SF

There’s a lot of hype around Oola restaurant’s BBQ baby back ribs, and they did not disappoint. Crisp and charred on the exterior, they do that fall-off-the-bone thing once you grab onto them. Call that the rib version of seduction. The barbecue sauce is sweet and tangy with a slow-rolling peppery smoke that catches up on the finish. Ginger, soy sauce, cilantro, pepper, brown sugar…they’re all in there.  The problem is, if you order 3 (appetizer portion), you’ll wish you ordered the full 6 plate. The side slaw of red cabbage and apple is tasty but somewhat mild and creamy for my taste. The dramatic punch of the ribs craves a stronger counterpart. 

Some baby back ribs and a cocktail or a glass of wine make a perfect little meal. But if you have the motivation to make Oola’s BBQ baby back ribs yourself, Food & Wine magazine published Oola’s crispy ribs recipe in 2006. It’s almost the Fourth of July…go for it.

The Grade: Excellent

The Damage: $14 half /$26 full

The Skinny: Oola Restaurant & Bar

860 Folsom Street (between 4th St & 5th St)
San Francisco, CA 94107
Phone: (415) 995-2061

Website: http://www.oola-sf.com/

BBQ (Iron Works Barbecue, Austin TX)

The Dish: Barbecue Sampler Platter

BBQ Platter, Iron Works Barbecue, Austin TX

BBQ Platter, Iron Works Barbecue, Austin TX

With industrial redneck pride, Iron Works BBQ doles out the best, most reasonably priced BBQ I found during a week visiting Austin. It’

s a good, cheap lunch plate if you find yourself in downtown Austin and want to avoid the weekend crowds of South Congress Boulevard for some homier, heartier chow. Rib, brisket, and sausage are all very good here and the sampler platter comes with a little scoop of very good potato salad, some crisp pickle slices, pinto beans and a slice of white bread to sop up the barbecue sauce.  You get in line, order a platter, pay and take your plate to your seat, with a stopover for condiments, napkins, and whatever hot sauces you need to dolly up your meat choices.

Iron Works "Official Texas B-B-Q" Austin TX
Iron Works "Official Texas B-B-Q" Austin TX

The Spot: Iron Works BBQ

Iron Works BBQ, in a converted iron works of course, is a big old red corrugated tin building decorated with the steely fruits of the former laborers of the wrought iron company. The converted space is authentically Austin, with a low-key and straightforward approach to food and décor that includes old wooden tables topped with blue (nylon) gingham tablecloths and food served on paper plates. (I wish plasticware would not be the option, as I really like silverware when I eat, but oh well…)

Old back patio, Iron Works BBQ, Austin TX
Old back patio, Iron Works BBQ, Austin TX

There’s a covered back room, like a porch, that overlooks the wild verdant growth of the river, including shady trees and vines. It will probably still be hot in Austin during most days you’ll find yourself there, but it’s shady and cool enough on the Iron Works back porch to feel like a little breather from the city bustle. Families come with kids after their sporting events, and hungry regulars like construction guys and local office workers and even some hippies and hipsters will make their way in for a plate. There’s a charm about this place that makes it an Austin icon. They have barbecue sauces for sale as well.

The Damage: $12.95
The Grade: Very Good (food); Great (vibe)
The Skinny: Iron Works BBQ
100 Red River Street, Austin TX 78701
Phone: (512) 478-4855
Website: www.ironworksbbq.com

Great Sign, Iron Works BBQ, Austin TX
Great Sign, Iron Works BBQ, Austin TX

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BBQ Baby Back Ribs (Roy’s, San Francisco, CA)

BABY BACK PORK RIBS

THE DISH: Fire-grilled, Szechuan-spiced BABY BACK PORK RIBS

The pork ribs at Roy’s are one of those appetizers you might order on a whim, then you’ll dream about it for the next week until you can get back and have more. They’re a perfect mix of spicy-hot and sweet, and finger lickin’, finger lickin’ good y’all. If in downtown SF and in need of a cocktail and appetizer, get right to Roy’s and get yourself right.

THE SPOT: ROY’S RESTAURANT, San Francisco CA

(Note: Roy’s has quite a few restaurants in different locations; this is a review of the baby back pork ribs at Roy’s in San Francisco, CA.)

A bastion of Asian fusion cuisine, with deep (taro) roots in the Hawaiian Islands, Roy Yamaguchi’s Roy’s Restaurant is truly a flurry of flavors. Although I don’t visit Roy’s often, when I recall certain dishes I’ve enjoyed there, I contemplate why I’ve not been there lately and consider how soon I can get back there. A great way to enjoy Roy’s, if you’re not up for a dinner in the formal dining room, is to go for some appetizers and a couple of their wicked cocktails (Original Hawaiian Martini, Mango Mojito, etc.) The bar at Roy’s is probably a great place to start a date, as the drinks are awesome, the servers are friendly, the atmosphere is rich but relaxed, and the app’s are worth the trip alone.

THE GRADE: EXCELLENT (4 out of 5)

THE DAMAGE: $15

A better way to go is Roy’s combo appetizer (pu pu) platter for $28. It includes a couple ribs and a handful of other great appetizers on one giant plate.

THE SKINNY: ROY’S RESTAURANT

575 Mission Street, San Francisco CA

Phone: (415) 777-0277

Website: http://www.roysrestaurant.com

Roy’s Classics http://www.roysrestaurant.com/roysclassics.asp

Roy's on Urbanspoon

BBQ Ribs (Crispy Wild Boar Ribs, Lambert’s, Austin TX)

CRISPY WILD BOAR RIBS

THE SPOT: LAMBERT’S DOWNTOWN BARBECUE, AUSTIN TX

It’s surprising, nay shocking, that Austin, Texas isn’t double-barrel loaded with heaps of great barbecue. And in a town full of cheap, great Tex-Mex joints and thousands of students on student budgets, the thought of a pricier barbecue restaurant in Austin seems a bit daring. The Lambert’s tagline “Fancy Barbecue?” summarizes both the dilemma and the solution. Because Austin, like every town in Texas (and Tennessee, Louisiana, the Carolinas, etc.) needs at least one reputable, if not great, BBQ place. Offering a solid selection of natural oak-smoked and oak-grilled meats in a stylishly converted historical building in downtown Austin, Lambert’s is a pretty neat joint that serves some very decent grub. And the couple dishes I had at Lambert’s set me right, so kudos to Executive Chef Larry McGuire and his compadres. 

Crispy Wild Boar BBQ Ribs, Lambert's Downtown Barbecue
Crispy Wild Boar BBQ Ribs, Lambert

THE DISH: BBQ RIBS / CRISPY WILD BOAR RIBS

Stacked like meaty Lincoln Logs, the crispy wild boar ribs is a wicked appetizer, great with a cold beer. The ribs are laden in a spicy sauce, and will vary somewhat by season. It’s a serious, hearty plate of little ribs that you should probably split with someone. Unless, like me, you’

re a fiend for sweet, gooey, spicy, delicious ribs; in which case, you should not.

THE DAMAGE: $10 (lunch)

THE GRADE: EXCELLENT (4 out of 5)

Interior, Lambert's Downtown Barbecue, Austin TX
Lambert's Downtown Barbecue, Austin TX

THE SKINNY: LAMBERT’s DOWNTOWN BARBECUE

401 W 2nd St, Austin, TX 78701

Phone: (512) 494-1500

Website: http://www.lambertsaustin.com/

Lunch Menu: http://www.lambertsaustin.com/menus/LAMBERTS_LUNCH.pdf

Dinner Menu: http://www.lambertsaustin.com/menus/LAMBERTS_DINNER.pdf

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