Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Trifecta of delicious restaurants

Over the past few weeks I have been to three absolutely delicious restaurants in the Bay Area with my "Core Team" of girlfriends. The restaurants have restored my faith that some chefs really care about what they send to the table every night and that the laid-back people of Northern California can, in fact, provide attentive service.

The first place that we went for dinner was Canteen. First, you must have a reservation. They do 3 seatings each night - 6pm, 7:30pm, and 9pm. When you walk into Canteen and it looks like a hip diner. There are booths that fit four people (or seven if you really squeeze) and a long diner counter top with seating. Your waitress is the nicest person ever and the hostess has been more than accommodating when your party number has changed several times throughout the day and you have called so often that you and "Stephanie" are on a first name basis. Then you get the menu and it is anything but diner like. The menu changes weekly and features the best of fresh, local produce. Unlike a diner, which tends to have a "we make everything" menu, Canteen has four options for starters, entrees, and desserts. My dinner group managed to order everything on the menu that week and it was all worthy of oohs and aahs. Every bite was a pleasure. And even though we had plans to eat the birthday cake that I had made for Melissa's birthday later in the evening, our waitress insisted we order a serving of the vanilla souffle. Thank god she did. It might be the best dessert I have ever had.

A week or so later, my friends and I got together for a late dinner at Bar Bambino, a recent addition in the Mission. We ate outside, a rarity in SF, on the back porch. The heat lamps kept going out, but otherwise it was quite pleasant. The food here is done very well and gives attention to many different styles of dining from light bites to full entrees. It has a variety of small Italian plates and a heck of a wine list that the staff is eager to help you navigate. The small plates ensure you get to try many things on the menu. We shared a variety of bruschettas and salamis and then each of us ordered a pasta dish. It was one of those meals that drew out for hours thanks to good friends, lots of laughs, and wonderful food. It was a very enjoyable experience and I can hardly wait to go back with my husband.

Last weekend, we headed to Sonoma for girl's weekend. For dinner we secured reservations at The Girl and The Fig, a place I have been wanting to go for a long time. The drink list is quite fun - lots of interesting cocktails. I had a basil martini that made my heart stop. I love the flavor of basil and when mixed with vodka, it tasted like summer - fresh and green. I had a bay scallop and crayfish tail dish with seasonal vegetables that was excellent. My only disappointment was that my dish was just slightly overdone. I would recommend The Girl and The Fig to anyone visiting Sonoma.

I hope my luck does not run out as I am really enjoying finding some more truly excellent places to go out to eat in San Francisco (at a variety of prices - none of these are over the top expensive).

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