Tag Archives: San Francisco restaurant reviews

Filet Mignon Steak Tartare

Filet Mignon Steak Tartare - Lark Creek Steak

Filet Mignon Steak Tartare – Lark Creek Steak

Steak tartare has been such a rarity that its perennial status as a French delicacy seems even more elevated in recent years. Most places that serve steak tartare do it well, but you’d be hard pressed to find a better steak tartare than at Lark Creek Steak.

The steak tartare at LCS is made of filet mignon, so you’re in the Pantheon of tartare right away. It’s dolled up with capers, chopped onion, fleur de sel and the prerequisite raw egg yolks. It’s meat at its purest and finest, with just a bit of seasoning. It’s rich, meaty, salty, a bit fatty, and absolutely fantastic. This is a meat lover’s dream.

The crostini are likewise perfect, crispy, buttery little trowels to dig out fine chunks of filet mignon. The portion is generously sized to share between two, three, or four friends.  If you’ve never had steak tartare, treat yourself. You’ll love it.

THE GRADE: AWESOME (highest grade)
THE DAMAGE: $13.95 

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

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

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


Antelope Tartare – Maverick, SF

Antelope Tartare - Maverick SF

Antelope Tartare – Maverick SF

I’m a huge fan of beef tartare and this was my first experience having antelope tartare. While beef tartare is fabulous because it’s meaty, fatty and rich, antelope tartare rocks in a far leaner manner, still rich with taste but without the kind of knockout punch fattier beef can have on the body. The antelope meat is sourced from Broken Arrow Ranch, which has been selling wild game meats for over 25 years.

Antelope Tartare (detail) - Maverick, SF

Antelope Tartare (detail) – Maverick, SF

The leanness of the meat and its wonderful tones, imbued throughout via a mildly piquant ancho chile sauce, were a revelation. The ancho heat slow-rolled in the mouth and lingered long in the finish, making each bite slowed to enjoy the experience. Now I wish more restaurants would serve wild game tartare; it was not gamey at all. My friends and I loved this appetizer; it’s a little masterpiece from Chef Scott Youkilis of Maverick. The little greens (purslane) added a good dirty crunch to the savory smoothness of the antelope meat. The only minor wish was more toast points because they’re soaked with olive oil and quite delicious, but the bread at Maverick is quite good and sated our need to request the points.

THE GRADE: AWESOME (highest grade)
3316 17th Street San Francisco, CA 94110
Phone: (415) 863-3061

Make a free reservation for Maverick here on OpenTable.com.

Excellent Burgers – Taylor’s Automatic Refresher


Taylor’s Automatic refresher makes really terrific burgers. There’s probably no weekend time that they don’t have a line of 10 to 30 people waiting to get one. THey use hormone-free beef from Niman Ranch, and grill up a nicely sized portion on bakery-fresh, toasted egg buns that are soft outside and a bit crunchy inside. Their special sauce is like a healthy version of McDonald’s wickedly addictive Big Mac sauce, which works well with iceberg lettuce slivers. The good melt of cheddar cheese plus pickles and bacon, if you get it, that’s crisply cooked. I just wish they were a bit less expensive but they’re a great option when you’re walking to the Ferry Building, around the Embarcadero, or nearby.

Bacon Cheeseburger - Taylor's Automatic Refresher

Bacon Cheeseburger – Taylor’s Automatic Refresher

Taylor's Automatic Refresher SF - The Ferry Building

Taylor’s Automatic Refresher SF – The Ferry Building


Cool, open interior that has a 1950s Americana feeling without being dreadfully cheesy (like Mel’s Diner, ugh). Bit of a challenge at times because doors are open and flies like to buzz about the entrance. Wait staff is young, friendly, attentive.  The one downer of eating outside at Taylor’s Automatic Refresher is the uninvited, bothersome pigeon patrols. You can try to relax on the great picnic tables outside, but you might feel more like Tippi Hedren in a Hitchock film. More spikes on the ledges, Taylor’s, please.

Pigeons like Taylor's Refresher burgers just like you do

Pigeons like Taylor’s Refresher burgers just like you do




1 Ferry Building (go to the far left of the building)
San Francisco, CA 94111

Phone: (866) 328-3663

Kurobuta Pork Chop – The House, SF


Berkshire pigs, called Kurobuta in Japan, are  big black hogs that make phenomenal pork chops, bacon, and other meaty treats. They’re thought to be the oldest breed of pig from Britain. Kurobuta pigs have been finding their way through fine American restaurants, thankfully, to be served up by masterful chefs.

The House in SF’s North Beach District serves up one of the best pork chops I’ve had in 2009, and a likely meatmeister award-winning dish for this year.

Awesome Kurobuta Pork Chop - The House, SF

Awesome Kurobuta Pork Chop – The House, SF

First of all, the dish is beautiful and vibrant with a jet-black and orange swirl, plus bright green, purple, yellow and white on the plate. The purple and yellow potato crisps extend up from the back of the chop like a manic koi tail; this makes the thick body of the prok chop look like a prehistoric sea-beast plunging into the inky tar pits.  The pomegranate-current sauce really resembles tar pits, or a runaway oil slick, its purpleness darker than night. Slicing through the pork chop is like slicing through time. Each morsel is otherworldly.

Kurobuta pork chop (detail), The House - SF

Kurobuta pork chop (detail), The House – SF

The pork chop is perfectly grilled and thankfully, the pomegranate-curry sauce is not sweet.  The mashed-up potatoes propping up the chop are that right mix of slightly chunky but smooth. The potatoes and a couple asparagus spears cut the richness of the dish well, and the crispy purple potato sliver offers another textural contrast. A mix of New American and Asian flavors in perfect balance, the Kurobuta pork chop is terrific.

THE GRADE: Awesome (highest grade)



The House
1230 Grant Ave  (at Broadway St)
San Francisco, CA 94133

Phone: (415) 986-8612



The House, North Beach, SF

The House, North Beach, SF

Prix Fixe Dinner – Michael Mina


With an atmosphere of contemporary elegance, plus excellent service and trays of succulent small bites coming in spectacularly focused trios, Michael Mina restaurant is certainly worth the special occasion splurge. Tables are distant enough for your group to feel safe and uncrowded. You enter the room–hidden within the Westin St. Francis Hotel on Union Square–by climbing a small flight of stairs, perhaps accurately representational of the culinary temple that Michael Mina has enjoyed since its inception.

Michael Mina has many offerings of multi-course (prix fixe) dinners. The standard three-course dinner sets you back $105. Expensive, to be sure, but it’s a wonderful experience. Six-course tasting menus are $135, and a great three-course pre-theatre meal is $55.


Course 1 - Michael Mina SF  Prix Fixe Dinner - Pasta, Braise & Confit

Course 1 – Michael Mina SF Prix Fixe Dinner – Pasta, Braise & Confit

LEFT: Fettucine, Rabbit, English Peas

A beautifully rendered meaty pasta, rife and verdant with variegated greenliness. Few American chefs seem to really honor rabbits effectively; the chefs at Mina certainly do. Tastes like Spring and Summer in a dish; simply delicious.

TOP / CENTER: Orecchiette, Pork Short Rib, and Fava Beans

Perhaps the only faux pas moment of the meal. The potentially rich flavor of the pork short rib was nowhere here, and not supported by typically chewy orecchiette (ear-shaped, dense, and spongy pasta), and born-to-be-mild fava beans. Blah.

RIGHT: Ravioli, Duck Leg, Radicchio

Wow; utterly phenomenal. This is a little triumph: rich duck confit, sumptuous in its dark gravy, magical in its layered tones of smell and taste. If you go this season to Michael Mina, request your waiter if you can get a single large portion of this instead of the trio; I surmise they would oblige you. This is the best meaty ravioli I’ve eaten in 2009, and among the best meaty pastas of the year. I’d like to have a big bowl of it and a glass of Super Tuscan; that would be a perfect meal.

Duck Confit Ravioli, Radicchio - Michael Mina SF

Duck Confit Ravioli, Radicchio – Michael Mina SF


At first, the tiny bites of steak on the tri-partite plate seem light. But the incredible flavors from each steak made every bite fulfilling, worth enjoying slowly. Each of the three steak dishes was excellent.

Course 2 - Steak & Spring Vegetables - Michael Mina restaurant

Course 2 – Steak & Spring Vegetables – Michael Mina restaurant

COURSE TWO, LEFT:  FILET MIGNON with Sauce Bernaise, Sacramento Delta green asparagus

Beautiful little stacked portion of filet mignon with a perfect bernaise sauce, paired with slivered green asparagus. Cleverly piled like a double-stack…not sure if this is a wink on a double burger but it was great, either way.

Filet Mignon with sauce bernaise - Michael Mina, SF

Filet Mignon with sauce bernaise – Michael Mina, SF

COURSE TWO, CENTER:  DRY AGED RIBEYE, wilted spinach, morel jus (plus potatoes)

If you’ve ever wondered why people pay so much money to get dry-aged beef, wonder no more. This is a tiny piece of steak that packs a wallop of flavor. Another perfect presentation, and a great piece of steak.

Dry aged ribeye steak, Michael Mina SF

Dry aged ribeye steak, Michael Mina SF

COURSE TWO, RIGHT:  BRAISED TRIO, young leeks, horseradish vinaigrette

Our waiter described this as “Tongue and Cheek,” so there’s beef tongue, beef cheek, and something else equally tender and delicious. A great balance of the beef parts with the earthiness of both the leeks and the brightness of the horseradish vinaigrette.

Braised Trio (beef and cheek), Michael Mina - SF

Braised Trio (beef and cheek), Michael Mina – SF


For my last course, I opted for the cheese plate and it was again a small triumph of three. Savory with sweet, earthy and salty; everything well paired.

• Minuet, Pear Purée, Hazelnuts

• Pecorino Ginepro, Port Cherries, Juniper Balsamic Vinegar

• Pianoforte, Porcini Syrup, Puffed Wild Rice

There are some great options for sweeter things, but I like cheese to finish a languorous meal. Mina’s renowned for amazing desserts, and anything you order will be pretty great.

THE GRADE: AWESOME (highest grade)


THE INSIDE TIP: Get a very similar three-course meal at Michael Mina for $55. (Each course will be single, not trio, servings but most of the dishes for the regular prix fixe will be available at the beginning of dinner service for the lower price.) Make your reservation for between 5:30 and 6:00 p.m. for their special pre-theatre dinner price. Go-go, early birds.

Free reservations at Michael Mina via OpenTable.com


Inside the lobby of the Westin St. Francis Hotel

335 Powell Street, San Francisco CA 94102

Phone: (415) 397-9222

Website with menus: http://www.michaelmina.net

Hours: Dinner: Tuesday – Thursday 5:30pm – 9:00pm, Friday – Saturday: 5:30pm – 10:00pm