On my second night in San Francisco, I met up with my Bay Area-dwelling cousins for a family dinner at Al’s Place, the newly anointed best new restaurant in America by Bon Appetit.
Here at the corner of Valencia and 26th Street on a quieter stretch of the Mission, Chef Aaron London cooks mostly vegetables and a little meat. This makes sense because prior to opening Al’s Place, he was the chef of the much-lauded vegetarian restaurant Ubuntu in Napa.
We began with a duo of “Snackles.” First up were the brine-pickled french fries ($7) served with smoked apple sauce. They were perfectly snackable and even palatable, but not quite the revelation that Bon Appetit’s Andrew Knowlton made them out to be. Can’t say this is the first time I’ve fallen victim to hyperbolic food writing. Continue reading ‘Al’s Place – San Francisco’
State Bird Provisions came across my radar back in 2012 when Bon Appetit named it the Best New Restaurant in America. Owned and operated by chefs Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski, the restaurant is most notable for serving inventive small plates on dim sum-style carts and trays.
While State Bird’s service model sounded a little gimmicky, I was intrigued enough by the menu to make reservations while in San Francisco for a digital conference last fall.
Even though it’s been a minute since the restaurant was lauded by Bon Appetit, reserving a table at a decent hour is still quite competitive. A little good press goes a long way.
The food started rolling by as soon as my dining companions and I settled in. In true dim sum fashion, hash marks were added to our “bill” as we selected various items from the carts and trays. Continue reading ‘State Bird Provisions – San Francisco’
If I had to pick a favorite meal from this trip to Chicago, top honors would go to Chef Jared Wentworth’s Longman & Eagle. It’s a whiskey bar that happens to have really good fucking food. What more could I ask for?
Recipient of a Michelin star for four straight years and counting (2011 to 2014), Longman & Eagle is my kind of place.
The food is creative and delightful, while the mood is perfectly chill. Best of all, the fare is more than fairly priced. It’s impossible not to fall hard for L&E’s charms, especially with a few $3 whiskies working their way through one’s system.
Behind the stoves are Executive Chef and Partner Jared Wentworth and Chef de Cuisine Matthew Kerney. The forward food is sometimes dreamed up while under the influence:
I think smoking a little weed makes the creative process better, especially for food. But it’s all based in classical French techniques, and then I start putting twists on things from there. – Jared Wentworth
Continue reading ‘Longman & Eagle – Chicago’
While it might seem silly to down four doughnuts just before dinner, it was necessary for survival in Chicago, where no reservation policies are the norm at the most popular spots in town.
Case in point: we arrived at Avec at half past seven on Saturday night and were finally seated near 10 PM at one of the cramped communal tables. Such is the life of a foodist in the Second City. #FirstWorldProblems.
Opened in 2003, Avec serves a Midwestern interpretation of Mediterranean classics in small plates fashion. “Taking its cue from the regions of Southern France, Italy, Portugal, and the coast of Spain, Avec’s cuisine reflects the aromas, flavors and colors of the Mediterranean,” according the the restaurant’s website.
Chef Koren Grieveson helped open the restaurant in 2003, earning the James Beard Award for Best Chef Great Lakes in 2010. In 2013, Perry Hendrix, took over the kitchen.
To start, an order of Avec’s famous chorizo-stuffed medjool dates with smoked bacon in a piquillo pepper-tomato sauce ($12). These meaty mouthfuls were sweet, spicy, and tangy all at once. Beautiful stuff, and maybe even worth a two hour wait. Maybe.
Continue reading ‘Avec – Chicago’