Tag Archives: New American cuisine

Lamb Shank (Zare at Fly Trap, SF)

Lamb Shank

Lamb Shank, Zare at Fly Trap, SF

Lamb Shank, Zare at Fly Trap, SF

The Dish: Lamb Shank

As big as your fist, Zare at Fly Trap serves a beautiful lamb shank. It’s the proverbial-cliche ‘fall off the bone’ lamb meat, propped up around its prominent bone like a rugged rock formation in a wild landscape of flageolet beans, white beans, and jus. The meat is wonderfully tender but subtle on the tongue. Green & yellow flageolets give the waxy snap-crisp against the soft meat, and you’ll need about 5 or 6 slices of sourdough to soak up the jus. A peeled, slightly stewed tomato, quartered fingerling potatoes, and white beans add nice textures, but hints of preserved lime in the jus inject a subtle brightness to the very light dish.

The Persian kicker that knocks this up a notch is called torshi, which is a picked vegetable tapenade you can either spoon into the jus or smear over the lamb. (I used my entire portion and requested another.) For a lamb shank, Zare at Fly Trap serves a pretty subtle one and the torshi, for me, made the difference. The pickling flavors brought the entire plate into a harmony that was at once natural and unfamiliar (because I’ve never had torshi before).. it’s an example of what makes Zare at Fly Trap unique: the subtle fusion of Persian flavors into familar food to generate surprise and delight.

Torshi (Persian pickled veggie tapenade)
Torshi (Persian pickled veggie tapenade)

Described on the menu: lamb shank abgusht (with flageolet beans, fingerling potatoes, preserved lime, torshi)

The Spot: Zare at Fly Trap, San Francisco

Neat spot in SOMA, on Folsom near 2nd Street, with a narrow urban garden hidden behind a steel gate as its entrance that makes it feel like a little secret. Orange-red walls, a very smart cocktail list and very cool bartenders, comfy seats to eat at the bar and two communal tables to cater to soloists and walk-ins.  Dozens of prints of old architectural and floral drawings cover the walls, imbuing a bit of quirky classicism to the place. The cuisine is a bit of classic and New American with strong Persian / Mediterranean influences, so familiar dishes (baked chicken, pork chop) come with Persian flavors that aren’t known to most palates. Zare is named for chef/owner Hoss Zare, a self-trained chef who began his cooking career at The Fly Trap in 1989 and, after numerous chef jobs over the years, returned to reinvigorate Fly Trap with a flavor of his own.

The Grade: Excellent

The Damage: $24

The Skinny: Zare at Fly Trap 606 Folsom St. (at Second Street), San Francisco, CA 94107
Phone: (415) 243-0580
Website: http://www.zareflytrap.com

Hours: Kitchen: Monday through Thursday 4 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Friday and Saturday 4 p.m. – 11 p.m.
Happy Hour: 4 p.m. – 6 p.m.
Closed on Sunday


Zare at Fly Trap: an urban dining oasis
Zare at Fly Trap: an urban dining oasis

Zare at Fly Trap on Urbanspoon

Rib Eye Steak (Town Hall, SF)

Niman Ranch Rib eye Steak 

Niman Ranch Rib Eye Steak, Town Hall, SF
Niman Ranch Rib Eye Steak, Town Hall, SF

Town Hall, San Francisco CA

As much as we might belabor the point, a truly superior steak is actually far harder to find than it should be. There are a slew of pretty decent steaks out there, but if you consider the steaks you’ve eaten in the past 5 years that sear your memory like grill marks, I’ll bet the farm you won’

t have many to report. I am happy to share, however, that the Niman Ranch rib eye at Town Hall is in that exceptional beast who deserves a place in the pantheon of the best steaks in the San Francisco Bay Area.

With great meat, as the Argentineans will show you, you don’t need to get too fancy. Just honor the beef. Salt, grill, a little gravy, voila.And that’s what Town Hall’s chefs do here, taking a fine (and generously sized) piece of meat from Niman Ranch and, without much gussying up, delivering a stellar dining experience. Perfectly seared hash marks on the outside, enough fat for flavor but not so much that you start getting self-conscious about how much you’re spitting out, and a mild but flavorful gravy/jus that honors the true flavor of the beef. Everyone making steaks in this town should come down and use this as their benchmark.

Seasonal pairings with the rib eye vary. My rib eye came with absolutely fabulous mac-n-cheese croquettes that had a crisp exterior crunch and a hot carbo-cheese interior that ignites the shivering soul.  Mac-n-cheese croquettes? Really, that’s warped enough to be considered visionary. (Maybe it came from somewhere else, but who cares…these are awesome little poppers. And if they don’t come with the rib eye, they’re usually available as a side for $6.)

The last item on the plate offered a shock of fallen green. The verdant broccolini bouquet sat diagonally across the steak like mislaid compass points, or like beautiful flowers resting on a grave after a very focused toss: with the sort of sacred decorum that’s understood in places like Paris, New Orleans, and Buenos Aires but not always everywhere else. But it seems certainly understood, and honored, at Town Hall.

The Damage: $31

The Grade: Exceptional / Awesome (5 out of 5)

The Skinny: Town Hall

342 Howard Street, San Francisco, CA

Phone: (415) 908-3900

Website: http://www.townhallsf.com/

Town Hall 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