Tag Archives: great steaks in SF

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


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)


Beef Bavette (Coco500, SF)

Beef Bavette

American Kobe Beef Bavette (Coco 500)
American Kobe Beef Bavette (Coco 500)

You’ll have to excavate the American Kobe Beef Bavette from under the little forest-trap of greens and chopped radish, but it’s a nice discovery. Cooked rare, this beef is terrifically tender and rich. The mizuna (a Japanese salad green) and organic radishes provide a good bright balance with slight bitterness and crunch, and some salsa verde gives a slight, spicy warmth. It’s juicy, tasty, and a bit sloppy. No matter. The beef is wonderful, and the plate well-balanced with flavors. So much so that you may even think you’re having a salad.

American Kobe Beef Bavette (detail)

The Grade: Excellent

The Damage: $25

The Skinny: Coco500

500 Brannan Street (at 4th Street), SF CA 941107
Phone: (415) 543-2222
Hours: Mon – Thurs: 11:30 am to 10 pm
Friday: 11:30 am to 11 pm
Saturday: 5:30 pm to 11 pm
Closed Sundays

Website: http://www.coco500.com

Steak Frites (Monk’s Kettle, SF)

Steak Frites

Steak Frites - Monk's Kettle, SF
Steak Frites - Monk's Kettle, SF

A good steak frites is the French man’s answer to hungry lunching. It’s a simple dish, the French bistro take on meat-and-potatoes, get-the-job-done. Monk’s Kettle serves up a very tempting steak frites, with a giant leafy forest of greens.

This skirt steak’s a juicy little Angus (Nature Well), cooked to order (medium-well or bust), and nicely portioned. But red wine shallot butter and demi-glace give the beef quite a pronounced pounce. This steak frites has a bit more attitude than most; it’s an excellent version. The fries are thin and crisp, nicely done, reminiscent of the addictive, McDonald’s variety.

Steak Frites (thick detail) - Monk's Kettle, SF
Steak Frites (thick detail) - Monk's Kettle, SF

The Spot: Monk’s Kettle

Aside from a lovely steak frites, Monk’s Kettle is one of the best places in San Francisco Bay Area to sample an astounding array of beers. Their 24 draught taps change 3 to 5 times weekly. The beer menu itself is 6 legal-sized pages listing (and explaining) a worldwide variety of familiars and odds, with prices that range from your low-budge suds (PBR and such) to party-like-a-rock-star froth (including champenoise-style beers that set you back between $45 and $60 for 12 oz.). The staff is authentically friendly, very knowledgeable about the beers they have, and enjoy helping folks match their flavor palette or dare into new territory. If you’re no pork chopper, just go by for a beer sometime.

Get your Belgian beer on: Monk's Kettle
Get your Belgian beer on: Monk's Kettle

The Grade: Excellent

The Damage: $21.50

The Skinny: Monk’s Kettle

3141 – 16th Street, San Francisco (between Valencia & Guerrero Streets)
Phone: (415) 865-9523
Website: http://www.monkskettle.com 

FILET MIGNON (Chez Spencer, SF)


Filet Mignon with morels, truffle butter, Chez Spencer, SF CA
Filet Mignon with morels, truffle butter, Chez Spencer, SF CA

THE DISH: FILET MIGNON (with morel mushrooms and truffle butter)

Chez Spencer serves up one of the best steaks in the San Francisco Bay Area, certainly among my favorite steaks for 2008. Just reading the ingredients on the menu is likely to make you drool: morel mushrooms and white truffle oil gravy….whew, why didn’t I know about this steak before last year? When people describe certain foods as ‘orgasmic’ or ‘like sex on a plate,’ include the morel-truffle drunk filet mignon at Chez Spencer among them. It is one awesome steak.

THE SPOT: Chez Spencer

Chez Spencer is a romantic little French restaurant hideaway in a funky, grungy stretch of city that conjoins South Van Ness and the Mission District. Chez Spencer has been around for some years, but still feels like a San Francisco secret. it really should be among everyone’s “best” lists — best steak, best romantic dinner, you name it.  

The indoor decor of Chez Spencer is light and spartan, with white walls and a bowed timber beam-crossed ceilings.  Go on a Thursday, Friday, or Saturday night to benefit from terrific atmosphere music from a blind fellow who plays the standup piano in the front corner of the bar. The acoustics in this converted space are sweet.

THE GRADE: Awesome, exceptional (5 out of 5)
THE SKINNY: Chez Spencer
82 – 14th St (near South Van Ness) San Francisco, CA 94103
Phone: (415) 864-219
Website: http://www.chezspencer.net
Chez Spencer on Urbanspoon

Filet Mignon (RNM, San Francisco CA)

RNM Restaurant, San Francisco, CA

The Dish: Filet Mignon

It’s hard to pass up a good filet mignon and RNM serves up a great one. The size of the steak is quite hearty. It’s a very nice plating, with an architectural stacking of onions and toast, steak, and the Upland cress, which look ready to launch off the steak platform at any moment. The sweet gorgonzola and wine demi-glace are perfectly balanced. Softness, sweetness, chewiness, crunch…it’s really a superior steak. Described on the menu as: Sautéed filet mignon on toasted pain levain with dolce gorgonzola, cippolini onions, cabernet demi glace and upland cress.

The Damage: $26

The Grade: Sterling (5 out of 5)

B-Sides + Killer Apps:

Here’s what I recommend as a starter for your steak at RNM Restaurant, San Francisco. Described on the menu as Grilled hearts of romaine with Fuji apples; Saint Agur cheese; toasted hazelnuts and a champagne vinaigrette.

This is one of my favorite salads in San Francisco: a very simple and delicious first plate. Like the filet mignon, it has a salty, sweet, crunchy glide…a great combination of flavor in perfect harmony.

The Damage: $9

The Grade: Sterling (5 out of 5)

RNM on Urbanspoon