Tartine Manufactory


Tartine Bakery is one of the best bakeries in San Francisco and for years has operated out of a small, crowded store in the Mission.  Now they have opened a much larger, beautiful new space called Tartine Manufactory about 12 blocks east from the original Tartine.  Manufactory combines a bakery, restaurant, coffee shop, and a soon-to-open ice cream counter.  Compared to the original Tartine, Manufactory has expanded breakfast and lunch options, as well as different pastries and breads.  Tartine bread really is special.  Bread at the old Tartine was available once a day after 430 PM, and now at Tartine Manufactory it is baked three times per day.  When I went on a Friday morning, they told me the first bread availability was 1030 AM, and chef-owner Chad Robertson himself was manning the enormous oven, a centerpiece of the new space.  Tartine Manufactory is in a building that also has a Blue Bottle Coffee and also houses the Heath Ceramics factory and store.  The Heath Ceramics store showcases some of beautiful (and expensive) dinnerware, tile and curated home goods.  This is a really amazing space and a definite new SF culinary landmark.

Link to Tartine Manufactory here.

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Restaurant Review: AL’s Place


Chef Aaron London’s AL’s Place is a vegetable-focused restaurant in San Francisco’s Mission District that was named Bon Appetit’s Best New Restaurant in 2015 and has also received one Michelin star.  The menu is divided into snacks (they call them “snackles” on the menu), cold and hot dishes, and meat add-ons, that are all meant to be shared.  One can order a la carte or choose the chef’s tasting menu for $60 (2016) that includes 4 snacks, 3 cold dishes, 2 hot dishes, and 1 dessert.  One can see that a lot of care was put into the conception and execution of each dish, even the “snacks” where I had some amazing figs.  There is a ton of layered flavor, and with the focus on vegetables, meat is really not missed or probably necessary if one orders the 10-course tasting menu.  I went in August, when a tomato and green bean salad showcased these vegetables at their peak flavor.  The style I might describe as new American but there are Southeast Asian (a delicious stone fruit and fish curry) and Latin American (salsa) influences.  Dessert was a very satisfying warm brownie with a gooey caramel-peanut filling, topped with ice cream.  Located in a quieter part of the Mission, the atmosphere is very casual and relaxed.  Highly recommended.

Link to AL’s Place here.

Restaurant Review: Bar Tartine (San Francisco, CA)


Bar Tartine is the sister restaurant of Tartine Bakery, located on Valencia in the Mission, San Francisco.  The restaurant features a modern American menu using locally sourced ingredients and the famous Tartine bread.

The fresh-baked bread from Tartine Bakery is really exceptional and a highlight.  The bread has a firm, crackling crust, and soft, slightly sour and complex interior.

The Smoked Potatoes, roasted and alderwood smoked small potatoes with black garlic vinaigrette and ramp aioli, is one of the best dishes I have had in the Bay Area.  The smokiness, crisp texture from roasting, cream from the aioli, and acidity from the vinaigrette are really a winning combination.  I used up the rest of the bread to sop up all of the sauce.

The rest of the menu is very adventurous and original, mostly focused on fresh, seasonal vegetables.  I liked the Farmer’s Cheese dumpling, served in a delicious mushroom broth.  The desserts are unique as well, on the border of sweet and savory.  Definitely recommended.

Link to my post on making Tartine Bread here.  Amazon link to Tartine Bread cookbook here.

Link to Bar Tartine website here.

Bakery Review: Craftsman and Wolves (San Francisco, CA)


There are so many great bakeries in the Bay Area like Tartine, Bouchon, and Sandbox, and Craftsman and Wolves is my new favorite.  C & W opened last year, and what I like about it is that almost everything has a modern twist.  They are famous for the “Rebel Within” a sausage and scallion muffin with a soft-boiled egg in the middle, the yolk oozing out as you cut into it.  How did they do that?  There are bold flavors, like a Thai scone with coconut, dried mango, ginger, and green curry, or a peppery smoked cheddar gougere.  There is a decadent “Devil” chocolate cake, with chocolate ganache and bitter chocolate toffee, and a refined and delicate chocolate caramel eclair. The brownie had a layer of delicious, gooey salted caramel.  The blueberry muffin was moist with a hint of lemon. The croissants are on point, filled with proscuitto, tomato jam, and other rotating flavors.  Oatmeal raisin and chocolate chip cookies are done well, especially the valrhona chocolate chip cookie, where it appeared like there was a sheet of chocolate that ran through the middle of the cookie.  They also have a great hot chocolate.  The Banana cube cake is maybe one of the best pastries I have ever eaten.  Basically everything has been truly well crafted and delicious, and I look forward to trying other items on the menu, such as their sandwiches, cakes, and breads.

C & W is located on a very trendy block of Valencia between 18th and 19th in the Mission, right next to the Dandelion Chocolate factory, a small batch artisan chocolate shop, and Mission Cheese, a cheese tasting bar.

Link to Craftsman and Wolves here.  There is a great video of Chef William Werner putting together one of his precise cube cakes here.

Craftsman & Wolves on Urbanspoon
 

Restaurant Review: Namu Gaji


Namu Gaji is a “New Korean” restaurant opened in 2012 by three brothers in a prime location in the Mission on the corner of 18th and Dolores in San Francisco. On the menu are Korean as well as Japanese-inspired dishes made from locally sourced ingredients, including from the owners’ local farm.  Small plates and larger plates are served family style.

Ramyun – homemade ramen noodles, 4505 Meats hot dog slices, kimchee, bean sprouts, and a panko-crusted soft egg in a delicious, hearty, spicy red broth.  My favorite dish on the menu.  There are 24 orders available per night.

Korean Fried Chicken (kfc on the menu)- super crunchy fried chicken coated in a sticky sweet, spicy red pepper sauce, served with a dashi gravy and tart pickled daikon and a cabbage slaw.  The flavor of the chicken coating was delicious, and the daikon was a great side to go with the chicken.  1/2 chicken for $35

Stone Pot – Namu Gaji’s take on bibimbap with rice crisped in the stone pot serving vessel, various vegetables, a fried egg, optional steak, and gochujang (a sweet, spicy red pepper sauce).  This was good, but not particularly special.  $16 (+ $5 for steak), so definitely pricy for bibimbap.

Two appetizers were excellent:

Dumpling – shiitake mushroom dumplings in a flavorful, earthy broth.

Octopus – tender chunks of octopus, pumpkin, in a spicy gochujang sauce.

One dish on the menu I wanted to try was the Bo Ssam – pork shoulder with oysters and other accompaniements.  It is $100 and serves 5 – 8 people, and there are two available per night.

Dessert – there were rotating flavors of shaved ice available.  I had the yuzu shaved ice, with candied kumquats and graham cracker crumble.  It was delicious and refreshing after a heavy meal, but one of my dinner companions said something to the effect of, only in San Francisco is a bowl of ice $8.

I can’t help but compare the menu to Momofuku in New York, which also sells Korean Fried Chicken, Bo Ssam, and, of course, ramen.  There is definitely a similar philosophy of using Korean and other Asian dishes as a starting point for more modern or innovative versions, but the owners of Namu Gaji have their own unique vision.

Service is very friendly.  They were very busy on both Sunday and Tuesday nights.  Reservations can be made online through UrbanSpoon.  The restaurant space is warm and inviting.  There is an open kitchen, a long communal table, and scattered small tables and seating along the window and kitchen.  The seats were backless stools, which were a little uncomfortable, but probably necessary given the small footprint of the restaurant.  Definitely recommended.

Link to Namu Gaji restaurant website here.

 

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