Monday, 20 December 2010

Two Nights in San Francisco

What was supposed to be an 8-day trip to Northern California has turned into a two week trip due to the snow which is paralysing Heathrow Airport.  I am with Mr. Sprinkle visiting his family. We spent some days in wonderful San Francisco last week, walking up and down the steep streets and, of course, enjoying some of the many culinary treats Fog City has to offer.

Like last year we decided to stay at Hotel Tomo in Japantown, a great little hotel in the midst of excellent Japanese restaurants and a stone's throw away from the lovely Filmore Street with its' great boutiques, bars and restaurants. This Japanese-inspired hotel is also in walking distance to Union Square and the Marina where you get a great view of the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz. 


Anyways, lets get to the food!

Right next to Hotel Tomo you will find the small Japanese supermarket Super Mira (
1790 Sutter Street).  It is a gem.  You can buy freshly made sushi for very cheap and you fill find an impressive selection of sakes and Japanese snacks.  We picked up a delicious selection of sushi - california rolls, bbq eel rolls and spicy tuna rolls - and some dumplings.

We had dinner at Beretta (1199 Valencia St) with two friends. This Italian bar and restaurant is located in the Mission District where you will also find several bike shops and a lot of people in flanel.  Yup, this district is favoured by San Fran hipsters. 

This trendy restaurant has a no-reservation policy, but staff will kindly point you in the direction of the bar where you can sip cocktails or wine while you wait for a table.

Normally this would annoy me, but the bar is long and the cocktails are divine.  You will encounter many interesting cocktails on the menu - ever heard of an Airmail or a Mumbai Mule?  I hadn't but I am sure glad to have been acquainted! All are made with fresh citrus fruits and herbs such as basil and rosemary.  There are big bowls brimming with lemons, limes, oranges and grapefruits on the bar.  The bartenders use these in your drinks meaning that you won't find a dry slice of lime that has spent two nights in a fridge in your drink.  It may sound strange, but the cocktails feel healthy because the ingredients are so fresh. 

I tried the Lonsdale (gin, apple, lemon, basil, honey) and the Mumbai Mule (saffron vodka, lime, ginger and fresh mint). The latter was my favourite, but both rank among some of the tastiest cocktails I've had in a long time. 

As for the food, we shared a couple of starters: 
roasted beets with ricotta salata, arugula & fennel salad with shaved parmesan and some herb onion bread with extra virgin olive oil.  I especially enjoyed the beets.  We shared two pizzas for the main course.   It was pretty good pizza though I would have liked to try their risottos or meat dishes.  Their butternut squash with rosemary and crescenza risotto certainly sounds very good.  For dessert we went for a scoop of vanilla gelato and panna gelato with extra virgin olive oil and sea salt. What? Gelato with olive oil and sea salt, you may rightfully ask (I did), but it is surprisingly good. 

Moving on to breakfast.  A favourite of ours is The Grove (2060 Filmore Street) which is 5 minutes from Hotel Tomo by foot.  Like so many other good breakfast places it is full of Macbooks, but the food and service is good.  I opted for Huevos Rancheros (when in California....) while Mr. Sprinkle went for the poached eggs with hashbrowns and bacon.

A final restaurant tip - if you find yourself shopping in Macy's on Union Square (you most probably will) then treat yourself to a burger in Hubert Keller's Burger Bar on the 6th floor. Overlooking Union Square, this is paradise for burger lovers.  

The menu has everything from your standard beef burger to the $60 Rossini burger containing Kobe beef, foie gras and truffles to the Surf & Turf Burger which consists of black angus and half a grilled lobster.  Not to be missed, but be sure to bring an appetite!  I devoured my American Classic Burger before I could take a photo. I guess sometimes no photo says more than a thousand words. Yes, it was that inviting. 

Do you have any tips on where to eat and drink in San Francisco? 

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