Tag Archives: Favorite Restaurants

Pork Chop (Fresca, SF)

Pork Chop – Chuleton de Chancho

Fantastic Pork Chop, Fresca (SF)
Fantastic Pork Chop, Fresca (SF)

Fresca, a Peruvian restaurant with two locations in San Francisco, is renowned for an amazing array of ceviche. So Fresca may not be top of mind when someone’s considering a great meat dish in the Bay Area. But make no mistake, Fresca makes one of the best pork dishes in San Francisco. 

The pork chop at Fresca is stellar. It’s a nominee for Meatmeister’s Top Pork Dishes of 2009.

The pork chop itself is a generous portion (sometimes called a double-cut for its thickness), and is perfectly pale pink and juicy inside. The grilling on the chop is superb. The pork chop vogues across a muddy-river toned flatbed of rice and beans (black bean “tacu-tacu”), and some wicked plantains that are slightly crisped, sweet, and tender. Atop the chop is a mango mustard salsa, with some aji honey mustard sauce. Whew; it is one great dish and highly recommended for pork chop fans.

The Grade: Awesome / Phenomenal (my highest grade)

The Damage: $19

The Skinny: Fresca

Website: http://www.frescasf.com 

Locations: Fillmore, Noe Valley, Sunset, and West Portal

Noe Valley location: 3945 – 24th Street, SF CA

Phone: (415) 695-0549

See Fresca’s dinner menu

Truffle Burger

Truffle Burger

Truffle Burger, Lark Creek Steak, SF
Truffle Burger, Lark Creek Steak, SF

Burgers are prime candidates for creative culinary additions: cheeses, pickles, tomatoes, relish, aioli, sauce, condiments, and bacon (of course). Truffles are inherently additives to dishes, due to their seasonal availability, a continual scarcity that makes them cost-prohibitive as anything but a topping. 

But if you love the taste of truffles, you’ll love this truffled steakburger from Lark Creek Steak. It’s got truffled brie cheese, frisee, truffle vinaigrette, and house-made onion marmalade atop the LCS standard steakburger, my favorite burger on the West Coast. It’s not a truffle flavor overkill like some truffle-inspired dishes, but a good balance of that earthy, sexy flavor that will satisfy your truffle urges without piercing your bank account. (Well, it’s a small piercing, like a nose ring.) Another excellent burger from Chef John Ledbetter and company at Lark Creek Steak. 

Described on the menu: Perigord black truffle steakburger – 8oz – truffled brie cheese, frisee, truffle vinaigrette, caramelized onion marmalade

The Grade: Excellent

The Damage: $24.95

The Skinny: Lark Creek Steak

Westfield® San Francisco Centre
845 Market Street, 4th Floor, Ste 402
San Francisco, CA 94103

Phone: (415) 593-4100

Reservations: http://www.larkcreek.com/larkcreek_steak/index.html

Lunch:
Mon.-Fri. 11:30 am – 2:00 pm
Sat. & Sun. 12:00 pm – 2:30 pm

Dinner:
Mon.-Thurs. 5:30 pm – 9 pm
Fri. 5:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Sat. 5:00 pm – 9:30 pm
Sun. 5:00 pm – 9 pm

Lark Creek Steak on Urbanspoon

Mushroom Burger (Lark Creek Steak)

Best Mushroom Burger – Lark Creek Steak

Awesome Mushroom Burger, Lark Creek Steak
Awesome Mushroom Burger, Lark Creek Steak

My favorite mushroom burger of 2009 (to date) is Lark Creek Steak’s mushroom steakburger. Their beef preparation should be copied by others: they use an open, wood-fire grill to cook their burgers. Their top-quality ingredients are evident by taste, and they precisely cut the portions of lettuce, pickle, and onion so that they actually fit within the burger’s radius. Hearty, healthy, high-minded ingredients all make this steakburger a great one. The fat-cut fries are really good, too.

Why Lark Creek Steak’s burgers are so good: 

MEAT

  • meat is not ground chuck (typical, low-cost burger meat)
  • meat is trimmed from regular Lark Creek Steak steaks (filet mignon, New York strips, sirloin, etc.)
  • meat is double-ground, making it extremely soft and tender
  • meat is ground fresh, sometimes 3 or 4 times daily (depending upon demand)

COOKING METHOD

  • burgers are grilled over open wood fire for slightly smoked, healthier grill flavors (not over flat surface that accumulates grease and fat)

OTHER INGREDIENTS

  • button mushrooms are roasted and semi-sweet, perfect in flavor
  • quality Swiss cheese, well-melted over the burger & mushrooms
  • terrific buns; toasted on the inside slightly (so condiments don’t make bun soft inside) and served warm
  • burger accoutrements are perfectly proportioned and flavorful (butter lettuce has more flavor than typical iceberg lettuce; pickles are crisp and long-sliced to fit flat across burger;  red onion is also well-sliced and grilled to mildly caramelize flavors)

The Grade: Awesome  (highest grade)

The Damage: $14.95

The Skinny: Lark Creek Steak

Westfield® San Francisco Centre
845 Market Street, 4th Floor, Ste 402
San Francisco, CA 94103

Phone: (415) 593-4100

Reservations: http://www.larkcreek.com/larkcreek_steak/index.html

Lunch:
Mon.-Fri. 11:30 am – 2:00 pm
Sat. & Sun. 12:00 pm – 2:30 pm

Dinner:
Mon.-Thurs. 5:30 pm – 9 pm
Fri. 5:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Sat. 5:00 pm – 9:30 pm
Sun. 5:00 pm – 9 pm

Best BBQ Burger (Lark Creek Steak’s “Cowboy Burger”)

Cowboy (bacon & cheese BBQ) Burger

Best Bacon Cheeseburger: Lark Creek Steak's Cowboy Burger
Best Bacon Cheeseburger: Lark Creek Steak's Cowboy Burger

I love bacon cheeseburgers with BBQ sauce. It’s a combination of hearty flavors that seems quite natural and, while each of the flavors of bacon, BBQ sauce, sharp cheddar, and onion are individually powerful and can overwhelm any dish, within a burger context they somehow seem to play well together. When the burger is done properly, that is. Everyone and their mother has a bacon cheeseburger, but very few places make one that stands out as strongly as the cowboy burger from Lark Creek Steak.

The Best BBQ Bacon-Cheeseburger on the West Coast

Of the 40+ burgers I’ve tried in the past 6 – 8 months, the “cowboy burger” at Lark Creek Steak is far and away the best BBQ burger or the best bacon-cheeseburger of them all. So (at least for now) I can confidently proclaim Lark Creek Steak’s cowboy burger as the best bacon-cheeseburger on the West Coast. Nothing else has come close over the past year. 

Described on menu: Cowboy Steakburger (8 0z.) – bacon, cheddar, barbecue sauce, crispy onions

Cowboy Burger, detail with crispy fried onions

Cowboy Burger, detail with crispy fried onions

Why Lark Creek Steak’s burgers are so good: 

MEAT

  • meat is not ground chuck (typical, low-cost burger meat)
  • meat is trimmed from regular Lark Creek Steak steaks (filet mignon, New York strips, sirloin, etc.)
  • meat is double-ground, making it extremely soft and tender
  • meat is ground fresh, sometimes 3 or 4 times daily (depending upon demand)
  • bacon is perfectly crisp, and sustainable ranch-grown 

COOKING METHOD

  • burgers are grilled over open wood fire for slightly smoked, healthier grill flavors (not over flat surface that accumulates grease and fat)

OTHER INGREDIENTS

  • fried  onions are thin, perfectly crisp, and perfect in flavor
  • terrific buns; toasted on the inside slightly (so condiments don’t make bun soft inside) and served warm
  • burger accoutrements are perfectly proportioned and flavorful (butter lettuce has more flavor than typical iceberg lettuce; pickles are crisp and long-sliced to fit flat across burger;  red onion is also well-sliced and grilled to mildly caramelize flavors)

The Grade: Awesome / Phenomenal (highest grade)

The Damage: $15.95

The Skinny: Lark Creek Steak

Westfield® San Francisco Centre
845 Market Street, 4th Floor, Ste 402
San Francisco, CA 94103

Phone: (415) 593-4100

Reservations: http://www.larkcreek.com/larkcreek_steak/index.html

Lunch:
Mon.-Fri. 11:30 am – 2:00 pm
Sat. & Sun. 12:00 pm – 2:30 pm

Dinner:
Mon.-Thurs. 5:30 pm – 9 pm
Fri. 5:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Sat. 5:00 pm – 9:30 pm
Sun. 5:00 pm – 9 pm

Grilled Lamb Heart (Coco 500, SF)

Lamb Heart  – Grilled Lamb Heart Salad

Grilled Lamb Heart Salad, Coco 500 (SF)

Unless you grow up in a culture that appreciates the many wonderful parts of animals and how to prepare and cook them properly, you might cringe a bit when reading a menu that offers lamb heart. But in the hands of Coco 500 Chef Mike Morrison, this is one of the best lamb dishes you might ever eat.

The heart slices are layered across the long, narrow plate and delicately decorated with arugula, generous smatterings of super-soft cheese, and a sprinkling of fennel pollen.  The fennel pollen is wondrously subtle and plays out as one of those rare, unique ingredients that can integrate various tones and flavors into a harmonious dish.

But the heart is the, uh, heart of the dish.  It is awesome and should be on more menus., if only more people would put their adventure mouth on when dining out.

Grilling Lamb Heart – Flatiron

An entire lamb heart itself is brined, sliced into thirds, flatiron-grilled to a lovely warm rare, and has a fantastic flavor with simple sea salt, ground pepper, and extra virgin olive oil. Lamb heart tastes much like a steak-foie gras hybrid with an earthy hint of liver. The meat has wonderful tones, is absurdly tender, and would be a conversation starter for anyone who can get out of their own prejudices to try it. The foie gras taste is less rich and overwhelming, and the liver is there ever so slightly; heart’s just a great meat. 

Lamb Hearts - Seared by Flatiron - Coco 500 (SF)

The Grade: Awesome / Exceptional (my highest grade)

The Skinny: Coco 500  – 500 Brannan St, San Francisco CA

Phone: (415) 543-2222

Website: http://www.coco500.com

Chef: Michael Morrison

Coco500 on Urbanspoon

Veal Sweetbreads (Chez Spencer, SF)

Serious Sweetbreads in San Francisco

Veal Sweetbreads, Chez Spencer, SF

Veal Sweetbreads, Chez Spencer, SF
Veal Sweetbreads, Chez Spencer, SF

Like their signature filet mignon capped with creamy morels & truffle butter, the sautéed veal sweetbreads at Chez Spencer are simply over the top. This pheromone-jolting little plate is rich, rich, rich. Not bourgeois rich, not nouveau-riche, but dirty-old-money, we-don’t-look-at-prices rich.

Chez Spencer’s sweetbreads draw that perfect balance of slightly crisp outside and wonderfully chewy within, with sienna brown gravy (sherry wine vinegar and truffle vinaigrette) that’s waiting for a pirouette of torn bread to dance across its muddled floor. The little glands have a fallen ceiling of crisp baby spinach and a big, flat roof of a Parmesan crisp to add a tiny cheese-tang to the mild tang of the sherry wine vinegar. Some of the best sweetbreads in San Francisco, to be sure, and thankfully, they’re a staple on the menu of this little French hideaway where the Mission District meets the even more grungy South Van Ness and 14th Streets.

The Grade: Exceptional (5 out of 5). This is a large appetizer that should be shared, preferably by 3 people.
The Damage: $17
The Skinny: Chez Spencer 82 14th Street, San Francisco, CA 94103
Phone: (415) 864-2191
Website: www.chezspencer.net
Chez Spencer 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