Swan Oyster Depot has been on my list of San Francisco must-eats for quite some time, but I always passed it over in favor of trendier spots. It’ll always be there, I rationalized—after all, it’s been around since 1912.
On my latest visit to the city, I craved fresh seafood and the kind of old fashion charm that can only be found at a century-old dining institution. So, off to the Depot The Astronomer and I finally went.
We were greeted with a line snaking out the door upon arriving at the restaurant on a Monday afternoon. After a 40-minute wait spent snacking on a few choice doughnuts from Bob’s down the street, we settled into two stools along the 18-seat counter.
Owned by the Sancimino Family, Swan Oyster Depot serves up wonderfully fresh, barely fussed seafood. The quality of the catch really shines when the preparations are this minimal.
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The Astronomer and I traveled to San Francisco back in October for the super-sweet nuptials of two friends (with a side of super-sweet treats).
We don’t always have time for serious gastronomic endeavors when we head north, especially with so many friends and family to see, but we somehow manage to fit in desserts. Lots of desserts. Priorities, priorities.
After years of pining for Tartine‘s famed morning bun, I finally got my paws on one. Dusted with cinnamon and sugar, imbued with candied orange, and most importantly, perfectly flaky and buttery, the bun was as lovely as hoped.
We also indulged in a slice of cake (before noon!) along with our morning bun because that’s what vacations are for. Our choice pick featured lime-moistened genoise cake with passion fruit Bavarian cream, topped with sweetened cream and coconut. Mmm…cake for breakfast—that’s how we do.
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Before bidding San Francisco farewell, I made one final stop at pastry palace b.Patisserie.
Opened in 2013, this adorable bakery specializing in “modern French style pastries along with American flavors and local influences” is a mecca for the sweets-obsessed. If you’ve got a penchant for perfectly crafted pastries, this spot is most definitely for you.
The brilliant baker behind b. is Belinda Leong. She began her career as a pastry chef at San Francisco’s Restaurant Gary Danko for eight years, followed by two years of staging in Europe. When she returned to the Bay Area, she served as the pastry chef at Los Gatos’ Manresa Restaurant, before striking out on her own with partner and fellow baker Michel Suas to open b.
From the eye-poppingly beautiful display, I managed to whittle my wants to three delights.
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On my second night in San Francisco, I tucked into Tosca Cafe for a solo dinner. Even though the bar area was packed with Thursday night revelers, I fortunately landed a table in the main dining room without a wait. The dining gods must’ve been looking after me after the insane wait at Flour + Water the night before. I was seriously grateful.
I wasn’t familiar with Tosca Cafe prior to Chef April Bloomfield (New York’s Spotted Pig, John Dory Oyster Bar, and Breslin) and her business partner Ken Friedman’s gastronomic takeover late last year. But from what I gather from scouring the ‘net, Tosca was a 95-year-old dive bar with killer cocktails and quite the following in its heyday.
Today, the kitchen is as essential as the bar. Chef Bloomfield’s modern Italian-American menu has re-energized the place, bringing in a whole new foodie set but still resonating with regulars.
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