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Posts Tagged ‘Restaurants’

Small is beautiful

With the popularity of supper clubs on the rise, it would seem that the restaurant scene in California has adapted to suit the demand for smaller, more intimate places, without compromising on the quality and food innovation.

Self-financed and self- built, these restaurants have less than forty seats, are designed by friends or family, and the owners’ hands touch every ingredient and every part of the restaurant.

Examples include the hand-poured concrete tables and steaming homemade potato rolls along side Caesar Salad Soup at eVe in Berkeley , and the gothic style Sons and Daughters, which I visited last night.

The open kitchen has a team of three turning out a four course tasting menu for $48.  For an additional $36 you can have a sommelier selected flight of wines to accompany each course. Dishes are also available to order a la carte.

I had:

An amuse bouche of Cauliflower puree with pickled cauliflower and caviar

Beets, bergamot ice cream, Meyer lemon, Goats Cheese and broccoli flower

Cream of parsley root soup with black trumpets, maitake and enoki

Abalone, burdock root, celery, salsify, castelvellano olives

Pork loin, jowel, chestnuts, mustard greens, sweet onion puree

Pre dessert of pear soup with candied walnut

Blood orange tapioca, candied kumquat, vanilla and chamomile.

I didn’t enjoy every dish: the pork loin, while delicious was extremely rich and cloying, while the blood orange tapioca looked like salmon roe and had the consistency to match.  However what was interesting was watching the interaction between front of house staff and the kitchen.

As in conventional kitchens, there was somebody at the pass (in this case a dresser unit that acted as a barrier between the open kitchen and the rest of the space) reading orders and checking all the food, but the rest of the staff had no defined role: everyone served all the tables, bringing cutlery (presented in vintage cigar cases which I rather liked) when needed, and clearing away as and when required.

Despite being a lone diner, I loved it, as I never felt on my own, and the combination of excellent food and intimate but buzzy atmosphere means that I’ve certainly adopted them as part of my family of must visit restaurants in San Francisco.

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San Francisco, like London is cosmopolitan: you can get a wide variety of foods, and there is a melting pot of cultures, cuisines and flavours.

On our first foray into the city we found E&O Trading Company, which describes itself as somewhere that ‘transports you to Southeast Asia for an exotic “cook’s tour” of the ancient spice routes. Weaving the flavors and textures of Asia into our lively and spirited dining rooms, both of our award winning E&O Trading Company restaurants retains the culture of the East while celebrating the individuality of their locations through distinctive menus and ambiance.’

E&O Trading Company, San Francisco

This isn’t meant to be a restaurant review post – it’s merely meant to highlight a few interesting things that we found:

Asian grilling – not content with a simple barbecue, there seems to be a desire to add zing and exotic  flavours, borrowing from the East, and using five flavour notes — sweet, sour, salty, bitter, spicy.  E&O offer a wood roasted char siu black cod with sauteed pea tendrils, while Saison offer Bonito poached Tokyo Turnips roasted in embers.

East meets West – mixing Western flavours with oriental influence.  E&O offered beef short rib sliders braised in Shaoshing wine, Miso Caesar salad and Foie gras miso sauce to name but a few.

Salty Sweet – becoming increasingly popular (such as salt caramel), the Asian method not just contrasts the flavour, but also the texture. E.g. Coconut panna cotta with Black sesame creme and black sesame crunch, from the E&O menu.

Tea as an ingredient – already mentioned as a trend for 2011, at E&O Oolong tea is not only infused into soy sauce for dipping, but is also used to glaze duck.

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