Favorite dishes of 2017...cause it's good to remember
Happy New Year all! What a year 2017 was, and I don't necessarily mean that in a good way. From the personal to the political it was definitely a rollercoaster as we hold our breaths to see what 2018 has to offer. Eating out was also a bit of an up and down affair as it seemed a number of places I tried had some good and not so good dishes. I guess you could say consistency was the biggest issue. It could explain why so many places bit the dust last year. And while a handful of them can probably blame rent increase and the cost of doing business in SF as a reason, I'd say it was more complicated than that. I mean, in the end, if the food is really good, people will come and spend money regardless of what part of town you are located.
Ultimately, as I look back on the food that made it into my mouth, there were some dishes I remember fondly and so I thought I would use this first week of the new year to reminisce about ten dishes, food things, appetizers, etc. that stood out. From the high end to the low end, much like the past year itself, the options were all over the place with their one commonality being, I really, really liked them and would most definitely eat them again and again.
We did kick the year off in high end dining style at Atelier Crenn with multiple courses spanning the sea to the forest. But it was the mid meal serving of house baked brioche loaf with a side of steak fat butter that sent my taste buds into overdrive. The bread was soft and buttery with just the right amount of salt and the steak fat butter was the perfect compliment. It truly tasted like meat spread right on the bread. It was a real elevation of the basics of bread and butter to a heavenly, rich bite in eight pieces.
From updated everyday staples to peasant food, it was these stuffed cabbages (along with a few other treats) from Cinderella Bakery out in the Richmond District that gave me some great comfort food feels. Chock full of meat and rice and covered in a slightly sweet tomato sauce, it's grandma's recipe on a plate. Sure the side of broccoli is more of a healthy California add on but the star is the stuffed roll with a little slather of sour cream to kick up the richness. Definitely worth the ride on the 38 Geary out there to try them. As a side note, you can actually sub the broccoli for potatoes and go all in on the Russian-ness if you want.
Could something be more aptly named than the Pie From Heaven at Cafe Zitouna in the Tenderloin? Probably not. With its mix of shredded chicken, eggs, herbs, roasted almonds, saffron, ginger and honey all nestled inside flaky layers and layers of phyllo dough then dusted with cinnamon and powdered sugar, it is a treat both savory and sweet to just bite into and enjoy. The serving is more than enough for two to share, though you may find yourself not wanting to part with even one small tasty bite.
Simple ingredients done simply, I think that in general is the motto of Little Gem. So it was when we visited them by chance one evening and started things off with these roasted baby beets. Colorful little balls of summer sweetness roasted perfectly and covered with grated pecans on a bed of avocado crema. A small little sprinkle of salt helped them burst with flavor even more. I think in general I'm just a sucker for beets and these did nothing to quell my fervor for them. Not sure I could eat an entree version of them but this appetizer was just right.
I know, finally a dessert! As someone who clamors for cake and sweets galore you would think there were be more included, but like most food, it was more miss than hit this year. Though here is one from not only out of left field, but from far out in Bayview. I initially went to Let's Eat BBQ as part of my quest to find some good barbecue in this town, but instead found some pretty good sides and this large hunk of 7Up bundt cake deliciousness. Moist, sweet and yummy, it was the perfect slice of heft I look for in my desserts. Throw in the homemade-ness and the only $4 a slice price and my trip down 3rd Street way was well worth it. Just thinking about it now makes me want to jaunt back over there and grab another slice or three.
That is it this time around. I've got five more dishes to cover in the next post but this really isn't a ranking from one ten thus they are in no particular order overall. But when I think about them, there probably is one that stands out more than the others and I will let you know what it is next time. See, that is the hook I'm using to get you to check out the next post. Like the foods above, I want to leave you wanting more.