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Comal

By   /  October 27, 2013  /  Restaurants  /  2 Comments

There is always room in a community for an ingredient-driven restaurant like Comal. But this Mexican cantina is particularly valuable in Berkeley because of its downtown location–a block from BART, less than a block from the Berkeley Repertory Theater, and a 15 minute walk to Zellerbach Hall. Eating pre-performance turns out to be your best [...]

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20th Century Cafe

By   /  August 9, 2013  /  Restaurants  /  1 Comment

After a lifetime mastering the art of Viennese and Eastern European pastry, Michelle Polzine, the talented, whimsical former pastry chef at Range and many other delectable places, has just opened her own charming little cafe in Hayes Valley, across the street from Rich Table. She raised the money to build it through a Kickstarter campaign, [...]

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Hopscotch

By   /  August 6, 2013  /  Restaurants  /  No Comments

Of the plethora of new places that have opened in Oakland, Hopscotch, a small personal restaurant in Uptown, is one of the best. In a former barbecue joint gently converted in a retro-stylish way to feel welcoming and homey, chef/owner Kyle Itani prepares a compact menu of dishes that conflate comfort and adventure. He worked [...]

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Duende

By   /  July 23, 2013  /  Restaurants  /  No Comments

If you’re not cooking a paella over an open fire in your backyard or you don’t happen to be in the vicinity of Valencia, Spain, your chances of eating a satisfying one are pretty slim. At least, that’s what I thought before Duende opened a couple of months ago. Located in Oakland’s Uptown district near [...]

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What I’m Eating Now

By   /  July 22, 2013  /  Restaurants  /  No Comments

At Foreign Cinema, a whole cold Maine lobster ($45). Buried in the oyster and shellfish list at the top of the menu, my Maine lobster, split in half, is sweet-fleshed and moist, just like the ones everyone is eating on the East coast this summer. Pulling out the tail meat is easy. Cracking the big pinchers with [...]

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b. Patisserie

By   /  March 23, 2013  /  Food, Restaurants  /  3 Comments

I am obsessed with b. Patisserie, a new bakery/cafe in my lower Pacific Heights neighborhood. I sit at the computer inventing excuses to walk over. When I’m out, and pass within two blocks of its pearly white facade and big front windows, I start talking to myself. If I dropped in every time I had [...]

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Ramen Shop

By   /  March 11, 2013  /  Restaurants  /  No Comments

Leave it to Chez Panisse alums to turn a ramen shop into a farm-to-table experience. The noodles, made on site daily, possess provocative chewiness. Ramen Shop broths, cooked entirely from scratch, conjoin clarity and depth. The pristine garnishes–pork, egg, greens–are radiant with color and flavor. This is ramen at its purest yet most expressive. You [...]

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Hakkasan

By   /  February 11, 2013  /  Restaurants  /  2 Comments

Cecilia Chiang,  who in 1968 mounted the first upscale, northern Chinese restaurant in America called The Mandarin, and ran it for 23 years, perpetually complains about the dearth of Chinese restaurants in San Francisco that have gracious service, appointments and decor. So when Hakkasan, the new, high-end Chinese restaurant from London opened, we went right [...]

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Chez Panisse Downstairs

By   /  February 1, 2013  /  Restaurants  /  No Comments

A revolution of sorts swept though the bastion of California cooking when long time chefs Jean-Pierre Moulle and David Tanis left their alternating bi-annual posts of downstairs dining room chef at Chez Panisse.  Many of the restaurant’s loyal patrons–the Chez Panisse family–were concerned. Jean-Pierre Moulle, a 37 year veteran, represented the institutional memory of the [...]

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The Corner Store

By   /  January 29, 2013  /  Restaurants  /  No Comments

The Corner Store, an ebullient new pub and restaurant located on the partially hidden southwest corner of Masonic and Geary, has deep local roots.  One of the two owners, the chef and a multitude of investors grew up in San Francisco and hung out together since they were in kindergarten. The eventual crew worked around [...]

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