Tag Archives: meatmeister

Chicken & Andouille Sausage Gumbo (Brenda’s French Soul Food)

BRENDA’S FRENCH SOUL FOOD, SAN FRANCISCO CA

Chicken, Sausage, Okra Gumbo (Brenda's French Soul Food - SF)

Chicken, Sausage, Okra Gumbo (Brenda’s French Soul Food – SF)

Like most sane people, I rarely eat Cajun food outside of Louisiana. I’ve had awful “Cajun” food in New York and Los Angeles, and even Cajun food in Texas and Mississippi can be suspect. I also think blackening fish is criminal, and chain restaurants with anything Cajun on their menu need some schooling. By schooling I mean an old nun with a cane cut from a pecan tree bent on a proper instruction, the kind one remembers for life.

But when somebody moves to a city from New Orleans or Lafayette or any little town in between, my interest is piqued. Brenda’s is just that: literally a hole in the wall run by a New Orleans transplant who puts out authentic Southern, Creole, and Cajun style cuisine.

Only open for breakfast and lunch, Brenda’s has a 45-minute wait at any given brunch time on weekends. Minimum. Definitely worth it, if you had some breakfast already. (Do the folks outside Brenda’s windows look like Tenderloin locals or very hungry hungry brunch-sters? Yep, you know it.)

So, with the caveat that I’m not on a gumbo run, I can authoritatively say this is the best, most authentic gumbo I’ve had east of Lake Charles in as long as I can remember. Seriously good chunks of smoky sausage, juicy chicken, and okra in a nice, moderately dark roux: that little bowlful is richer than it looks, y’all.

The Grade: Excellent / Awesome
The Damage: $7.25
The Tip: Brenda’s is CLOSED TUESDAYS  and only open until 3pm
The Skinny: Brenda’s French Soul Food
652 Polk St, San Francisco, CA 94102-3328
Phone: (415) 345-8100

Bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin (Fringale SF)

BACON-WRAPPED PORK TENDERLOIN

Bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin (Fringale SF)

Bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin (Fringale SF)

The pork loin at Fringale is about as good as any pork dish I’ve had at a restaurant all year.  Thick, hammerhead-sized slices of tender pork are choked by their semi-crisp bacon muffler and, with a swirl through the braised savoy cabbage and a semi-sweet caramelized onion jus, it’s simple and sumptuous. What a treat to get cabbage when it’s done so miraculously: tender, crunchy, and looks like little bits of braised apple in there to complement the pork. It’s a perfectly balanced dish.

Fringale’s been around for over a generation in restaurant years; doesn’t get the yelpies or real press it deserves; but retains a status as a SOMA neighborhood gem and still serves up awesome dishes like this one. The owner is often there and when he’s not, un autre bon ami amicably fills in, and they are great fun to hang out with at the bar. They’re good storytellers, manage a busy tiny space with calm and grace, and make you want to go back just for an appetizer and glass of wine.

Bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin (Fringale SF)

Bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin (Fringale SF)

And, not for overkill, but if the mood strikes…the potatoes gratin are wicked. See below for your personal ramekin of cheesy potato glory.

Fringale's got wicked au gratin

Fringale’s got wicked au gratin

The Grade: Awesome (highest grade)
The Damage: $19 (great deal for SF)
The Skinny: Fringale restaurant
570 4th St, San Francisco, CA 94107
Phone: (415) 543-0573

Pork Chop (Annabelle’s Bar & Bistro, SF)

GRILLED PORK CHOP – ANNABELLE’S BAR & BISTRO (SF)

When a pork chop (or a pork loin, for that matter) is properly cooked, there’s not too many more things more satisfying. I’ve been rolling around (figuratively) on a pork chop run, and I find the pork chop at Annabelle’s to be very tasty and very satisfying. It’s nicely grilled with the familiar char-diamond argyle pattern, and slices open to a perfectly pale rose pink interior with lots of natural juices inside from proper rest.

Glazed baby carrots add curious color and crunch, and a mound of organic mushroom rice provides the starch to sop up the fantastic bourbon jus. And Executive Chef Larry Piaskowy is not shy about jus. He can pour out some mean (I mean absolutely delicious) jus for his meat dishes, and works the natural flavors together wonderfully. His pork chop is another great dish to eat at Annabelle’s.

Grilled Pork Chop -  Annabelle's Bar & Bistro (SF)

Grilled Pork Chop – Annabelle’s Bar & Bistro (SF)

The Grade: Excellent (4 out of 5)

The Damage: $25

The Tip: Annabelle’s offers a three-course, prix fixe menu for $33.

The Skinny: Annabelle’s Bar & Bistro
68 – 4th Street, San Francisco CA
Phone: (415) 777-1200
Website: http://www.annabelles.net/ 

Chef Larry Piaskowy is not shy about jus.

Chef Larry Piaskowy is not shy about jus.

SF Chefs Food Wine – Wild Boar Hot Dogs

WILD BOAR CORN DOGS – CHEF RICHARD CORBO

PIZZERIA ZANNA BIANCA at SF CHEFS. FOOD. WINE. 2009

Wild Boar Corn Dogs - Richard Corbo at Zanna

Wild Boar Corn Dogs – Richard Corbo at Zanna

One of the best meat dishes at the opening night party for the inaugural SF Chefs. Food. Wine. 2009 was Richard Corbo’s wild boar corn dogs. Fried in small batches, Richard and his sous chef were putting down dogs and they were snatched up immediately by hungry hands.  The meat was delicately soft, quite surprising for wild boar, and the corn dog texture and flavor around the chewy, lush pork was just great. A small dollop of sauce sat on the dog, like a bellybutton bindi.

Formerly of Ducca, Richard will be opening up his own restaurant in 2010 in Oakland’s Jack London Square. It will be called Pizzeria Zanna Bianca, and we look forward to it. (Zanna Bianca is Italian for “White Fang,” a famous Jack London novel.)

The Grade: Excellent (4 out of 5)
The Spot: SF Chefs. Food. Wine. Opening Night Party, Union Square, SF

Chef Richard Corbo manning the fryer

Chef Richard Corbo manning the fryer

Wild boar corn dogs disappeared immediately

Wild boar corn dogs disappeared immediately

Schnitzel (Leipzig – Restaurant Centralapotheke)

Best Schnitzel in Leipzig

Perhaps the Best Schnitzel in Leipzig Germany
Perhaps the Best Schnitzel in Leipzig Germany

There are a few places to get excellent schnitzel in Leipzig, Germany. One is the classic Cafe Grundmann (previously reviewed on this site). The other is a sweet cafe that overlooks the lovely old stone square alongside St. Thomas Church, or Thomaskirche (www.thomaskirche.org). The Apothekenmuseum Cafe–I think the full name is “Restaurant im Apothekenmuseum”–sits on a great historical location. They have very good service and one of the best beers I had in Germany. Its name sadly eludes me, but as the distinctive glass (shown) pictures an evil villain along the likes of Sherlock Holmes’ mortal enemy Dr. Moriarty, you’ll find it.

The schnitzel at Restaurant im Apothekenmuseum is amazing. I think this schnitzel surpasses Cafe Grundmann (but Grundmann rules for atmosphere, as one of Europe’s truly great historical restaurants). It’s perfectly fried, crisp, and light. The potatoes are buttery, crisp, and tender, with nicely singed strips of onion between the slices. A good hearty salad and a giant pilsner for proper washing. The wide sprinkling of chopped parsley across the whole plate adds some energy and flair. 

The cafe affords good people watching and a good spot for events that happen on the square during summer. Great beer, great schnitzel, great little cafe. 

In German, the menu will say “BRAUMEISTERSCHNITZEL IM BIERSCHAUM mit Bratkartoffeln an knackigem Salat.”

The Grade: Awesome

The Damage: 9.9 Euros

The Skinny: Restaurant Centralapotheke

 

Thomaskirchhof 12 (see Google map)
04109 Leipzig, Germany
Phone: (From USA) +49 341 2118299
Phone: (in Germany) 0341/2118299

Website: http://www.restaurant-centralapotheke.de

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

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