Tag Archives: favorite meat dishes 2008

MEATY PASTA: PAPPARDELLE WITH VENISON RAGU

Pappardelle with Venison Ragu

Awesome Venison Ragu Pappardelle, Big Sur Bakery
Awesome Venison Ragu Pappardelle, Big Sur Bakery

The Dish: Pappardelle with Venison Ragu

I certainly enjoy hearty meaty pastas. And I usually enjoy the requisite napping that follows. As meaty pastas go, the pappardelle with venison ragu at Big Sur Bakery is outstanding. Rich and flavorful, the sauce puts a tingling in the mouth straight away. The venison is slow-cooked, tender, and thrillingly tasty. The pappardelle, long and flat, spotted with olive and basil oil, make a great wrap for the delicate deer meat. This was one of the best meaty pastas of 2008. Congrats, Big Sur Bakery & Restaurant!

The Spot: Big Sur Bakery & Restaurant, Big Sur, CA

Big Sur Bakery & Restaurant is my favorite place to eat in Big Sur, hands down. It transforms from a funky little bakery in the morning that serves up incredible pastries to a lovely and heart-warming little spot for a romantic dinner in the evenings. Every pastry, every dinner I had there was excellent.  Two of the three folks behind this little gem are are an emigre couple from Los Angeles, pastry chef/co-owner Michelle Rizzolo and her husband, chef Philip Wojtowicz.

What’s great about Big Sur Bakery & Restaurant is its straightforward, unpretentious excellence and down-home, rustic simplicity: picnic tables on the patio and heavy little wooden tables and chairs inside.

The service is friendly and sweet and, if any place can demonstrate the inexpressibly tender magic of one of the most magical spots on Earth, Big Sur Bakery & Restaurant certainly does. It’s the gastronomic soul of Big Sur, and Rizzolo & Wojtowicz capture Big Sur’s zeitgeist in every bite.  It doesn’t just get to your stomach; it stays in your heart.

Big Sur Bakery & Restaurant, Big Sur CA
Big Sur Bakery & Restaurant, Big Sur CA

The Grade: Awesome (5 out of 5)
The Damage: $23
The Skinny: Big Sur Bakery & Restaurant
47540 Highway 1, Big Sur, CA
Phone: (831) 667-0520
Website: http://www.bigsurbakery.com


Big SUR Bakery on Urbanspoon

Beef Bavette (Baraka, San Francisco CA)

The Spot: Baraka, San Francisco CA (Potrero Hill)

The Dish: Creekstone Farms Natural Beef Bavette

Incredible. Decadent. Unbelievably good.

The beef bavette at Baraka is that rare meal that can revive the glory of food and life in any dispirited soul. Certainly one of the best meat dishes I’ve enjoyed in 2008, Baraka’s beef bavette (a tender steak cut from the flap of the beef loin) is the kind of meal you daydream about obsessively until you realize you have to eat it again or you will confound the daily rhythms of your life.

The parsley bone marrow butter alone—glazed across the beautiful, fairly large portion of beef bavette—should get your heart racing after the first bite. It’s a rich and sumptuous touch that deifies perfect, medium-rare beef. As with the other dishes I’ve tried at Baraka, Chef Chad Newton blends flavors that successfully juxtapose each other in the palate. There’s the earthy, slightly bitter baby Savoy spinach, mildly sweet, white cippolini onions cooked sous-vide, and decadent, tender braised beef cheeks stuffed into a beef bone. The sauce bordelaise—which combines bone marrow, dry red wine, shallots, and demi-glace—is a superb complement as a lush moat around the beef, which sits squarely atop the spinach between the beef bone tower and the smaller stack of cippolinis in a cool, very architectural presentation.

This is the best beef bavette I’ve had in the past 5 years; a simply phenomenal dish. The only slight critique I might suggest would be to relocate the baby Savoy spinach to the side instead of beneath the bavette, simply because the crispness of greens stand out more when shielded a bit from the beef juices and sauce.

As described on the menu: Creekstone Farms Natural Beef Bavette – Braised Beef Cheeks, Baby Savoy Spinach, Parsley Bone Marrow Butter, Sous Vide Cippolinis, Bordelaise

The Grade: Sterling Awesome/Phenomenal (5 out of 5)

The Damage: $27 (quite a bargain, relative to other SF restaurant prices)

The Skinny: Baraka
288 Connecticut Street (at 18TH Street)
San Francisco, CA 94107
Phone:
(415) 255-0370
Dinner only, Sunday – Thursday 5:30pm to 10:00pm; Fridays/Saturdays 5:30pm to 11:00pm

Chef: Chad Newton (former Sous Chef at Postrio)

Sous Chef: Ashton Mullikin (worked with New Orleans greats Susan Spicer, Andrew Jaeger)

Baraka website: http://www.sfbaraka.com/

Open Table: Baraka online reservations

Baraka on Urbanspoon

Bone Marrow (Baraka, San Francisco CA)

Bone Marrow

The Dish: Roasted Beef Bone Marrow

If you indeed enjoy the marrow, prepare to swoon. Baraka (in San Francisco’s Potrero Hill) makes the best beef bone marrow dish I’ve had yet; it’s utterly fantastic. Generous portions of bone marrow are served inside three large bones; the tiny spoon and plate of warm toast points arrive simultaneously. The wonderful marrow plate here at Baraka is due to a combination of compelling contrasts: pickled mushrooms and crisp watercress. The mushrooms vary by season—sometimes chanterelles, sometimes decadent morels—but the pickling is a clever approach that counter-balances the entire palate.

Roasted Beef Bone Marrow, Baraka restaurant, SF
Roasted Beef Bone Marrow, Baraka restaurant, SF

Slathering a rich meaty glob in the lush cabernet wine reduction, then rummaging up a bit of pickled mushroom and crisp, refreshing watercress on the toast yields a true mouthful of ecstasy. If  you like meaty things, it’s almost embarrassing how dog-like you may become in your avid scooping (or sucking) of the last marrow bits from the bone.

Described on the menu: Roasted Beef Bone Marrow – Pickled Yellowfoot Chanterelles, Sausalito Springs Watercress, Cabernet Reduction.

The Grade: Sterling (5 out of 5)

There will be few bone marrow dishes as delicious as at Baraka.

The Damage: $9

This is a glorious (albeit slightly gluttonous) appetizer for just $9. Think of how expensive so many ‘small plates’ restaurants are and consider the bone marrow at Baraka. Every meat lover in San Francisco should go to Baraka and order this thing.

The Skinny: Baraka
288 Connecticut Street (at 18th Street)
San Francisco, CA 94107
Phone: (415) 255-0370
Dinner only, Sunday – Thursday 5:30pm to 10:00pm; Fridays/Saturdays 5:30pm to 11:00

Chef:  Chad Newton (former Sous Chef at Postrio)

Sous Chef: Ashton Mullikin (worked with New Orleans greats Susan Spicer, Andrew Jaeger)

Baraka website: http://www.sfbaraka.com/

Open Table: Baraka online reservations


Baraka on Urbanspoon

Australian, Grass-Fed Kangaroo Loin (Johannes, Palm Springs CA)

It’s not every day that someone this side of Sydney gets to dine upon kangaroo loin, so that’s what I ordered at Johannes in Palm Springs, CA. And it was excellent.

The Vibe: Understated décor, with comfy, white, high-back chairs, and a few cool paintings on the cool cantaloupe walls that reminded us of a couple of European cities.

The Dish: Australian, Grass-fed Kangaroo Loin. Wow; what a phenomenal dish from Johannes’ April menu. This goes on my list of favorite meaty dishes for 2008. It’s a clear indication of their commitment to excellent food.

The perfect loin was drizzled with an “organic wild blueberry port essence” that was rich but not heavy. For those who have not enjoyed kangaroo meat, it’s wonderfully lean, with a mild flavor and a texture between steak and (closer to) lamb. The kangaroo loin at Johannes was thick and lean, perfectly medium-rare, and tastier than any steak I’ve had in the past few years.

Australian Kangaroo Loin

The Damage: The kangaroo loin is $28.

Accompanied by large, tenderly grilled summer asparagus and a glazed Granny Smith apple, it’s a hearty, fantastic plate and a good value for the price. Being one of the best meat dishes I’ve enjoyed in the past couple of years, the only real damage is the inability to eat this more often.

The Grade: Sterling (5 out of 5)
The Skinny: Johannes
196 South Indian Canyon Drive (at Arenas)
Palm Springs, CA 92262
Phone: (760) 778-0017
Dinner only, Monday – Sunday 6:00pm to 10:00pm
Owner / Chef: Johannes Becher
Johannes website: http://www.johannesrestaurants.com/
Johannes on Urbanspoon