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Ribollita ‘Da Delfina’ Recipe

Ribollita ‘Da Delfina’ Recipe


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Combine ½ cup of the olive oil with the onion, rutabaga, carrot, squash, and fennel in a large sauté pan over medium-low heat. Season with 2 teaspoons of the salt, and cook to sweat the vegetables for about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent them from browning, until they are tender. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let the vegetables sweat in their own juices another 8-10 minutes, until they’re very soft.

Add the cabbage and cavolo nero, season with the remaining the salt, and cook to wilt the cabbages slightly, about 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, add ½ cup of the remaining olive oil, and cook without stirring until the juices released from the vegetables have boiled down and the pan is almost dry, about 15 minutes.

Break the tomatoes up into the pan. Add the Parmigiano-Reggiano rind and the water, and cook the soup at a low simmer for 2 ½-3 hours, adding another cup of water from time to time so the vegetables are always barely covered with water, until the root vegetables are very tender but not disintegrated.

When the vegetables are done, continue to cook until there is no water left in the pan and the soup is stiff enough that you can stand a wooden spoon straight up in it.

Transfer the soup to a large mixing bowl and remove and discard the Parmigiano-Reggiano rind. Add the bread and beat it vigorously into the soup with a wooden spoon so it breaks up and is suspended in the soup. (If you have large chunks of bread in the soup, it will cause the patties to fall apart when you fry them.)

Set the soup aside to cool to room temperature, then cover the bowl tightly with plastic or transfer the soup to an airtight container and refrigerate it overnight or for at least 1 hour. The soup can be made to this point up to 5 days in advance.

Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Scoop out 1 cup of soup and mold the soup between your palms as you would a hamburger patty, forming a square patty about 1-inch-thick, and place it on a baking sheet. Repeat, forming the remaining soup patties in the same way. Cover the baking sheet tightly with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator to chill the patties for at least 30 minutes before frying them. The patties can be formed up to 1 day in advance.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until the oil is almost smoking and slides easily in the pan, 2-3 minutes. Add 2 or 3 of the soup patties, making sure to leave enough room so you can slide a spatula under and flip the patties.

Fry the patties on the first side until they’re crisp and almost black in places, 5-6 minutes. Carefully turn the patties and cook them on the second side for 2 minutes. Transfer the patties without turning them (the crisp side will be facing up) to a baking sheet and place them in the oven while you fry the remaining patties in the same way, adding more olive oil to the pan as needed, and adding the fried patties to the baking sheet in the oven as they’re done.

After the last patties have been fried, leave them all in the oven for 5 minutes to make sure the last batch is warmed through. Remove the patties from the oven and place each one on a plate with the crisp side facing up. Drizzle each serving with 1 tablespoon of the finishing-quality olive oil. Use a microplane or another fine grater to grate a generous layer of Parmigiano-Reggiano over each patty, and serve.


June 2016 Cookbook of the Month: THE MOZZA COOKBOOK by Nancy Silverton

Welcome to the June 2016 edition of the Cookbook of the Month, where we will be exploring the food from The Mozza Cookbook: Recipes from Los Angeles's Favorite Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria, by Nancy Silverton. This is sure to be another excellent month of kitchen activity, and a perfect selection to take advantage of the fresh local produce flooding the markets.
Please use this thread for discussion about the book or ingredients. For recipe reporting, please select from the appropriate thread below:

INTRODUCTION, APERITIVI & STUZZICHINI, MOZZARELLA, ANTIPASTI
http://www.chowhound.com/post/june-20.

introduction (prep) - p.23-29
aperitivi & stuzzichini - p.31-54
mozzarella - p.55-90
antipasti- p.91-120


Mussels al forno with salsa Calabrese

From The Mozza Cookbook: Recipes from Los Angeles's Favorite Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria The Mozza Cookbook by Nancy Silverton and Matt Molina and Carolynn Carreño

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  • Categories: Appetizers / starters Italian
  • Ingredients: egg yolks Champagne vinegar grapeseed oil red chile paste mussels dry white wine garlic dried red pepper flakes parsley rustic bread

Ribollita ‘Da Delfina’ Recipe - Recipes

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Delfina at 20: Feeding the people—and changing the game—for two delicious decades

A small crowd milled outside Delfina—the dining room was packed—but peering through the window, I spied a free seat at the bar, and with the host's approval, commandeered it.

Scanning the menu, I came across the words Bigoli in Salsa, an old-school Venetian recipe one encounters today only in Venice's few remaining non-touristic restaurants. A wave of nostalgia overtook me as I recalled a trip some years prior, when, suffering from a bad cold of Veronese origin, I'd found comfort in the dish—an extruded, whole-wheat pasta somewhat fatter than spaghetti, dressed in a robust sauce of onions and anchovies —at Osteria al Mascaron, near Campo Santa Maria Formosa.

In retrospect, there was a certain circularity at work, because the very curiosity about Italian food that had led me on so many adventures in the Veneto and elsewhere, and to delve into the origins of so many intriguing delicacies like bigoli, was very much an outgrowth of an awareness of regional Italian cuisine sparked by my first visits to Delfina in the early 2000s. When Delfina marked its 20th anniversary this past November, I found myself wanting to better understand the history of a restaurant that had played an influential role in shaping San Francisco's culinary landscape, and my own culinary consciousness as well. On a recent afternoon, I met with Delfina's founders, Annie and Craig Stoll, at their newest restaurant—an invitingly bright and spacious SoMa pizzeria—where, over an inimitably luscious Margherita, they told me the story of how it all began.

"Craig always jokes," said Annie, "What do you do on a second date?" A beat later, Craig jumped in with the retort. "You decide to open a restaurant." Which might sound impetuous, but by the time the two met, both were seasoned veterans of the food trade.

Craig and Annie Stoll.(Eric Wolfinger)

Craig cut his teeth in the kitchen of a Florida restaurant at the tender age of 16, and after attending culinary school and earning a degree in hospitality management, moved to SF in 1988, where he worked his way up the ranks at Campton Place, Postrio, and Splendido. In 1992, he went to Italy on a scholarship from the newly founded Italian Culinary Institute for Foreigners in Torino, where he spent six months in an immersive course on regional Italian cuisine.

"Every day," he said, "a chef from a different region would do a demo and a class. At night there were Italian lessons, and we'd go on field trips to Parma to learn about prosciutto, or go truffle-hunting, or wine tasting. It was a really intense education."

Afterward, with the help of Faith Willinger—a culinary scholar and writer who lives in Florence—Craig secured a job at the highly regarded Ristorante Da Delfina in Artimino, a hilltop village in Tuscany, and on returning to SF, put his overseas experience to work while running the kitchens at Tutto Bene, Timo's, and Palio d'Asti.

Annie got her first taste of the business, likewise at 16, as a waiter and host at a pub in her hometown of Philadelphia. After graduating from Pennsylvania State's School of Hospitality Management, she managed Jack McDavid's Down Home Diner and Jack's Firehouse in Philadelphia, and in 1990, moved to San Francisco where she worked as a floor manager first at Joyce Goldstein's Mediterranean restaurant Square One, and then at Harry Denton's, before taking over as maître d' at Moose's in North Beach, where she stayed until 1996. In 1997, after moving to Marin to re-launch the Depot Cafe in Mill Valley, Annie met Craig, who was working nearby as chef at The Frog and the Peach.

When it came to the restaurant of their dreams, their vision was as clear as the their skills were complimentary. "At the time," said Craig, "the only fine dining, really, was downtown. There were these multi-million-dollar restaurants that were really expensive. We wanted to strip it of the formality and give people great food and great wine and great hospitality. The restaurants we were influenced by were places like Da Delfina, which was about the community, and about feeding people. To say these things today," he reflected, "it sounds redundant because it's what everyone does. But it was pretty novel back then."

"We both had the same vision," added Annie, "We wanted to open a neighborhood restaurant that our friends could afford to eat at."

The neighborhood they chose took some of their friends by surprise. Although it might be hard to fathom today, in 1998, the Mission was to all extents and purposes a fine-dining-free zone. But it was their neighborhood—Annie was living with three roommates at 22nd and Valencia Craig at 28th and San Jose—and for a pair of restaurateurs financed by the Small Business Administration rather than deep-pocketed investors, the price of the small storefront on 18th Street, formerly a Brazilian restaurant, was right.

Within a month or two of opening, Delfina was turning a profit. Local and national critics were swiftly and uniformly impressed. The Guardian's Paul Reidinger praised the Italian-influenced food, anointing Delfina "the mouse that roared." The New York Times' Mark Bittman wrote that the "crowded box of a place, just five months old, serves simple but sensational food." And the San Francisco Chronicle's Michael Bauer tagged it "a little restaurant with a big reputation," praising the ribollita da Delfina, the salt cod brandade, and the "roast chicken ($10)," which he predicted "will also be around for a while, no doubt." In 2000, Delfina expanded into the space next door, which put an end to the cliches about the restaurant's dimensions, but not to the accolades.

On a mid-December evening, as a friend and I got comfortable at a corner table, the couple adjacent were divvying up a roast chicken ($27) with hen of the woods mushrooms and olive oil mashed potatoes. Tempting as it was in its deeply bronzed glory, a whole chicken is a commitment, and while nibbling one of the pulpy, sweet-tart seeds from my pomegranate Bellini, I concluded that lots of littler things might be more fun.

We began with a plate of arancini, the stuffed, fried rice balls thought to have originated in Sicily during the period of Arab occupation. In Sicily, arancini tend to be rather big—just one or two make a satisfying lunch. At the Delfina group's pizzerias, they come quite small, and in observance of Sicilian tradition, seasoned with saffron. On this particular evening, though, the arancini were a revelation, seasoned not with saffron but with the profound aroma of Piedmontese tartufi bianchi, made as they were from the rice on which the pungent fungi were presented at Delfina's annual white truffle dinner back in November. Crisp, golden brown, with a gooey core of molten mozzarella, each was a world of deliciousness unto itself.

There followed a salad of warm chicories, lightly sauteed in an anchovy-garlic-red wine vinaigrette, and garnished with a custardy sous vide poached egg and some handsome croutons whose crisp succulence, probably not coincidentally, called to mind the pane distrutto at Anthony Strong's Prairie.

As with the roast chicken, Delfina has served calamari since day one. These days, the squid, pristinely fresh from Monterey, is grilled over a wood fire to a smoky tenderness and served on a bed of small white beans cooked with garlic and sage, with a scattering of frisée and arugula and Taggiasca olives, a small and delicately flavored variety from Liguria. Cast away on an island in Monterey Bay, I could subsist on this dish for an eternity, no rescue necessary.

After a tasty zuppa di ceci—a spicy-savory chickpea soup studded with a few plump Manila clams—we moved on to pasta: delicately resilient house-made squid ink tagliatelle with Dungeness crab vivid green francobolli ("postage stamps" that took their color from nettles) stuffed with a mild, creamy goat cheese and dressed in a light sauce and garnished with delicately cured steelhead roe and finely diced cucumber and a simple, beautifully executed spaghetti with plum tomatoes, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, and pepperoncini. For the secondo, a challenging decision, we shared the swordfish, seared and presented on a skewer, crosswise a second of watermelon radish and fennel, atop a mound of tangy Umbrian lentils seasoned with sherry vinegar and red onion, and a luscious dollop of anchovy aioli.

That Craig Stoll was working the pass that evening—scrutineering every dish, and calling his cooks' attention to details that would have escaped all but the most raptor-like eye—was no anomaly. On any given night, you'll find him doing exactly the same at one or more of their seven restaurants. When I met with the Stolls at the new pizzeria, and asked how Delfina had managed to maintain its perfectionist standards for two decades, Craig simply handed me a slip of paper with a series of notations in a very small but legible hand. They were his observations from Delfina the previous night—regarding a roast chicken somewhat shy on mushrooms some slightly under-caramelized Brussels sprouts etc.—that he had no doubt impressed upon the crew. "Craig's extremely detail-oriented," said Annie, in case it weren't evident. "And he's good at getting people to do things his way."

Of course, while Delfina's success, and its endurance, have much to do with the food, they derive equally from a philosophy that embodies the true essence of hospitality. "It's a refuge," said Annie, "a place to find love, and joy. We wouldn't be here if we didn't like to take care of people, and give of ourselves. And after 20 years. waiting for the doors to open. it still feels like I'm throwing a party."


Wait, you fried WHAT. (featuring Fried Soup, AKA Ribollita “da delfina”)

My family is pretty loosy goosy about the holidays. We’ve reduced the mania to a few key factors- a great night together with some Christmas carols, a $50 Secret Santa gift, and a fantastic meal. It’s simple and perfect. My dad is normally responsible for cooking the dinner –which is never a disappointment because he is a fantastic cook. This year, however, my folks had overbooked themselves on Secret Santa day and asked me to take care of the meal. I was thrilled because I had found a few recipes I was dying to take for a test drive and I knew my family would be eager guinea pigs.

I have not yet had the pleasure of eating in Nancy Silverton’s restaurant, Mozza, but that didn’t stop me from buying the cookbook as soon as it was published. Nancy Silverton has the same passion and dedication to the joy of cooking and eating without being a foodie douchebag that I hope to achieve some day.

Her recipes are always inspiring to read. When I say this, I mean that as a chef I read her recipes and am automatically designing menus that will blend with and promote the flavors of the food she is describing. She makes it easy because she understands how simple flavors can be intertwined to create something delicious.

Needless to say, when the Mozza cookbook arrived in my household I spent hours devouring it, bookmarking so many pages that the book is bloated with post-its. When the opportunity to cook for my family showed up, I knew my Mozza moment had come. Almost everything from this menu is from that cookbook.

The very first thing that I bookmarked in the Mozza Cookbook is called “Ribollita ‘Da Delfina’”, which is Mozza’s version of a dish they found at a restaurant called Da Delfina just outside of Florence. It was described to Nancy Silverton as “fried soup”. FRIED SOUP. How could I not be tantalized?

To be honest, I did have my doubts. My first thought was that the trend of frying things that should not be fried had maybe gone too far.

Deep fried butter on a stick

I understand the thrill of eating fried Oreos or Twinkies or sticks of butter, but that’s not a thing you should do more than once in your life (I’m looking at you Honey Boo Boo). I get that the world is going to end on Friday the 21 st and all, but don’t you think we’re getting a little out of control?

My next thought had to do with ingredients.

I had always thought of a Ribollita as a bean-heavy soup made with leftover Minestrone and chunks of bread. I couldn’t imagine how that would work as a fried patty. Well, Mozza’s executive chef Matt Molina and Nancy Silverton chose much more luscious ingredients. Butternut squash, rutabaga, fennel, cavolo nero, and savoy cabbage give this soup base a gorgeous depth of character without any overpowering notes. It’s very easy to ruin a consistent meld of subtle flavors with one intense one – eg. garlic or rosemary (as much as I love them, they can be taste cockblockers if you’re not careful.) This soup gets that perfectly.

My warning about this recipe is that it does take a long time, though that time is mostly non-active. The soup takes 3 hours to reduce to the perfect flavor and consistency and then has to chill for a few hours before it’s fried. I do think it’s worth it- but it’s important to note that it’s an all day project for someone who’s not in the kitchen all day anyway like I am. It is a vegetarian soup and would be a perfect lunch or light dinner with a small salad. I made my patties on the large side– which I would not do again because the result is very filling.


June 2016 Cookbook of the Month: THE MOZZA COOKBOOK by Nancy Silverton

Welcome to the June 2016 edition of the Cookbook of the Month, where we will be exploring the food from The Mozza Cookbook: Recipes from Los Angeles's Favorite Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria, by Nancy Silverton. This is sure to be another excellent month of kitchen activity, and a perfect selection to take advantage of the fresh local produce flooding the markets.
Please use this thread for discussion about the book or ingredients. For recipe reporting, please select from the appropriate thread below:

INTRODUCTION, APERITIVI & STUZZICHINI, MOZZARELLA, ANTIPASTI
http://www.chowhound.com/post/june-20.

introduction (prep) - p.23-29
aperitivi & stuzzichini - p.31-54
mozzarella - p.55-90
antipasti- p.91-120


Ribollita ‘Da Delfina’ Recipe - Recipes

For years I've been dreaming about Nancy Silverton's Ribollita"Da Delfina". The clipped out recipe has been haunting me for a long time. I make a killer soup version of Ribollita but I have never been willing to sacrifice it to try the reduction needed for this recipe. When trying to choose one higher end meal to have during a short trip this winter I finally realized that I should try the real deal.

We chose an option from the Mozzarella Bar, the Ribolita, a pasta and two entres with an extra contorni and it was all exceptional. The Ribilolita was everything I could have hoped for and with the savory root vegetables and rib sticking beans.

The service was very good but not quite on par with the food. I was impressed by the loaner reading glasses they provided me but they sat on the table until the end of the meal even though I twice asked staff including the waiter, to remove them.

The wine list. here is where the service fell apart a bit. The wine list is impressive and though I have been in the food and beverage industry for over 30 years I looked to the som to help me choose something new and interesting. I indicated that since my husband preferred whites and one would pair with my meal, that we would like something unusual with good acidity for no more than $180. "Oh, that will be no problem!" the som exclaimed. Then he proceeded to select 6 or 7 choices for me all over $200. I had already looked at the menu and since I understand how restaurant markups work, I selected $180 as a reasonable price to pay for a special wine for the dinner. There were pages of wines on the list that would have fallen under this price point. Why say "no problem" so enthusiastically and then not suggest one wine under the limit? If it weren't for the fact that I knew any attempt to chastise the condescending som would upset my husband and throw a wrench into our dinner I would have insisted. To keep things pleasant I accepted the suggestion of a funky natural wine $30 more than I had planned to spend.


The Top 100 Bay Area Restaurants / Restaurants D-I

THE DINING ROOM
Sylvain Portay came to the Ritz-Carlton to take over the dining room from Gary Danko several years ago. Although this lauded New York chef from Le Cirque has put his distinctive stamp on the food, he hasn't garnered the same publicity. Portay's style is vibrant and bold, and his presentations are pretty but somewhat relaxed. The room has a formal Ritz-style elegance and the service is about as smooth as can be. Only fixed-price menus are offered. Cuisine: French
Specialties: Menu changes seasonally, but look for lobster salad with haricots verts seared day boat scallops with salsify chocolate bombe creme brulee
Seats: 96
Prices: $61-$87 (fixed-price menus)
Noise: 1 bell
Parking: Valet $11
Vitals: 600 Stockton St. (at California), San Francisco (415) 296-7465. Dinner Monday-Saturday. Full bar. Reservations and credit cards accepted.

EBISU
These days it seems sushi houses are opening every week but, even after 18 years, Steve Fuju's Sunset District restaurant continues to garner a loyal following. The surroundings are bare-bones it's the pristine fish that encourages people to wait for one of the coveted 65 seats. The prime spot is at the bar, where diners can talk to sushi chef Norihiko Suzuki and find out what's best that night. Cuisine: Japanese
Specialties: Sushi and sashimi, including live scallops toro seafood salad with seaweed chicken teriyaki
Seats: 65
Prices: $8.95-$16.95
Noise: 4 bells
Parking: Street (difficult), nearby lot
Vitals: 1283 Ninth Ave. (between Lincoln and Irving), San Francisco (415) 566-1770. Beer and wine. No reservations. Credit cards accepted.

EOS
This Cole Valley restaurant started out as a neighborhood bistro when it opened in 1995, but it quickly gained a national audience thanks to chef and owner Arnold Wong's inventive cooking. The plates look like works of art, and the combinations deftly bridge cultures. The extensive wine list is creative and fairly priced. The modern decor features an upstairs mezzanine and a wine bar next door that serves the full Eos menu. Cuisine: East-West fusion
Specialties: Ginger-peach tea-smoked duck shiitake mushroom dumplings tuna tetaki tower grilled spicy green curry opah and "Bananamisu" (with caramelized bananas)
Seats: 102
Prices: $18-$28
Noise: 4 bells
Parking: Street (difficult) Kezar lot
Vitals: 901 Cole St. (at Carl), San Francisco (415) 566-3063. Dinner daily. Beer and wine. Reservations and credit cards accepted.

FIFTH FLOOR
George Morrone is producing the most exciting food in the city at this newly opened restaurant on the fifth floor of the Palomar Hotel (above the Old Navy store). Dinner guests may think they're on the wrong floor, however, when they get off the elevator and see cleaning carts in the halls of the guest rooms. But once the restaurant is found, diners are in for visual and gastronomical treats. The interior looks like an elegant men's club with ebonized wood, zebra-striped carpet and beautiful table settings. The effect is relaxed rather than stuffy. Morrone is a master at taking one ingredient and using it in different ways, and his presentations are spectacular. Cuisine: California/French
Specialties: Trio of tuna tartare suckling pig five ways roasted poussin duet of beef and lamb Wellington made-to-order ice cream
Seats: 65
Prices: $24-$32
Noise: 3 bells
Parking: Valet $10
Vitals: 12 Fourth St. (at Market), San Francisco (415) 348-1555. Dinner Monday-Saturday. Full bar. Reservations and credit cards accepted.

FLEUR DE LYS
The most romantic restaurant in the city would have to be Fleur de Lys, with its opulent tented environment and the impeccable food of chef and owner Hubert Keller. He offers an a la carte menu and a fixed-price menu, the latter paired with wines. There's also an innovative and delicious fixed-price vegetarian menu. Cuisine: Contemporary French
Specialties: Crispy veal sweetbreads Maine lobster salad and foie gras fondant vegetarian tasting menu
Seats: 85
Prices: $31.50-$38.50
Parking: Valet $10
Noise: 1 bell
Vitals: 777 Sutter St. (near Taylor), San Francisco (415) 673-7779. Dinner Monday-Saturday. Full bar. Reservations and credit cards accepted.

FOOK YUEN
There's nothing distinctive about the decor of this Peninsula restaurant it's the food that sets it apart. During the day, people crowd in for the fresh dim sum. At night there's a full Cantonese menu. There are other branches of this restaurant in Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia. Cuisine: Chinese
Specialties: Dim sum fresh seafood (especially spot prawns) pork with pickled plums crispy chicken
Seats: 180
Prices: $7-$30
Noise: 3 bells
Parking: Free lot
Vitals: 195 El Camino Real (near Millbrae Ave.), Millbrae (650) 692-8600. Dim sum and dinner daily. Beer and wine. Reservations and credit cards accepted.

FOOTHILL CAFE
Before opening his own modest restaurant nine years ago, Jerry Shaffer cooked at Masa's. His training has served him well, and his storefront restaurant, in a bare-bones strip shopping center on the edge of Napa's Carneros district, has become a favorite of locals. His rustic American food can compete with any in the valley: Shaffer produces the best beef and vanilla creme brulee in the Bay Area. Cuisine: American
Specialties: Oak-roasted prime rib with potato-Stilton gratin baby-back ribs pan-roasted black pepper and ginger-crusted salmon smoked salmon creme brulee
Seats: 48
Prices: $15-$17
Noise: 3 bells
Parking: Free lot
Vitals: 2766 Old Sonoma Road, Napa (707) 252-6178. Dinner Wednesday-Sunday. Beer and wine. Reservations and credit cards accepted.

FOREIGN CINEMA
We all know that restaurants are entertainment, but few take the concept as far as this Mission Street brasserie. Not only does it have one of the city's largest open-air patios (it's located in an empty space between two buildings), but foreign movies flicker on the white wall in back. Some diners come to listen and watch, but for most it's a fun background to the French-inspired food and the impressive warehouse-style interior, complete with a slate-fronted fireplace and open kitchen. Cuisine: French
Specialties: Oysters asparagus salad with truffle vinaigrette nicoise salad with grilled tuna sauteed escargots with white beans lobster and monkfish bouillabaisse chocolate pot de creme
Seats: 120
Prices: $13-$19
Noise: 4 bells
Parking: Valet $6 after 6 p.m.
Vitals: 2534 Mission St. (at 21st St.), San Francisco (415) 648-7600. Dinner Tuesday-Sunday. Full bar. Reservations and credit cards accepted.

42 DEGREES
There's been a change in the kitchen, but chef Mark Denham has carried on the tradition of serving earthy Mediterranean-inspired food in cool, modern surroundings. A curved metal stairway leads up to the mezzanine, perched above the bar and open kitchen. Live jazz keeps the place hopping every night. There's also a bar menu for those who want to come in for a quick bite. Cuisine: Mediterranean
Specialties: Menu changes weekly, but look for the flatbreads, slow-braised beef short ribs, frisee salad, chestnut crepes, chocolate pot de creme
Seats: 84
Prices: $19-$25
Noise: bomb
Parking: Free lot
Vitals: 235 16th St. (off Third Street), San Francisco (415) 777-5558. Dinner Wednesday-Sunday. Full bar. Reservations and credit cards accepted.

FRENCH LAUNDRY
In many quarters, the French Laundry has been called the best restaurant in the United States. It's certainly one of the most distinctive, with a magical Wine Country setting, exquisite food and a fixed-price menu that keeps guests at the table for hours. Call two months ahead and you will be lucky to get a reservation it's that popular. Cuisine: French-California
Specialties: Five-course vegetable menu tongue and cheek salad (veal tongue and braised beef cheeks) oysters and pearls (oysters and tapioca) fresh cinnamon-sugar doughnuts and cappuccino semifreddo
Seats: 62
Prices: Fixed-price, $80-$105
Noise: 2 bells
Parking: Free lot and street
Vitals: 6640 Washington St., Yountville (707) 944-2380. Lunch Friday-Sunday, dinner daily. Beer and wine. Reservations and credit cards accepted.

FRINGALE
Gerald Hirigoyen was one of the first to create the new wave of French bistros when he opened Fringale in 1991. It's remained one of the best moderately priced restaurants in the city. The dining room is small and can barely fit its 50 seats, but the curved bar and long windows in front give it a modern feel. Hirigoyen also updates the food with a nod to his Basque roots blended with a California flair. Cuisine: French-California
Specialties: Rack of lamb, pork tenderloin confit, steamed mussels, frisee salad with warm bacon dressing, gateau Basque, creme brulee
Seats: 50
Prices: $13-$20
Noise: 3 bells
Parking: Street (difficult during day easy at night)
Vitals: 570 Fourth St. (at Bryant), San Francisco (415) 543-0573. Lunch weekdays, dinner Monday-Saturday. Full bar. Reservations and credit cards accepted.

GARY DANKO
The most anticipated opening in 1999 had to be this fancy French restaurant that took over the space that housed one of last year's top 100 restaurants, Chez Michel. Danko and partner Nick Peyton were smart enough to leave intact much of the sleek, elegant interior. They enhanced what was there and opened the private party room next door for general seating. Service is just as sophisticated, and Danko's cooking is better than ever. A fixed-price menu is offered, but diners can mix and match at will. And the 900-item wine list, presided over by Renee-Nicole Kubin, is one of the most interesting in the city. Cuisine: French
Specialties: Roast lobster horseradish-crusted salmon glazed oysters with leeks and salsify port-glazed figs with licorice ice cream
Seats: 75
Prices: $48-$75 (depending on number of courses)
Noise: 3 bells
Parking: Valet $10
Vitals: 800 North Point St. (at Hyde), San Francisco (415) 749-2060. Dinner daily. Full bar. Reservations and credit cards accepted.

GLOBE
One of the few good places open until 1 a.m., Mary Klingbeil and Joseph Manzare's Globe continues to pack them in at all hours. In fact, the late-night crowd often includes some of the city's best chefs, winding down after a hard night on the line. The food is straightforward and delicious, appealing to a wide audience. The interior has an intimate speakeasy quality. The exposed brick walls of this former livery stable help give the space a warm, inviting feel. Cuisine: American
Specialties: Romaine salad oyster platter rotisserie chicken pork chops with sweet and spicy peppers mesquite-grilled steak for two house-made spaghetti with tomatoes, garlic and basil espresso pot de creme
Seats: 45
Prices: $15-$22
Noise: bomb
Parking: Street (difficult during day, easy at night)
Vitals: 290 Pacific Ave. (near Battery), San Francisco (415) 391-4132. Lunch weekdays, dinner daily. Full bar. Reservations and credit cards accepted.

GOLDEN TURTLE
Housed in a converted Victorian with a walkway over a koi pond, the Golden Turtle has a look that's a cut above the competition. The interior features fresh flowers on the tables and intricate wood murals on the walls, creating an upscale, exotic environment. The food and service are superior to that found at other Vietnamese restaurants. Cuisine: Vietnamese
Specialties: Tamarind, roast or pan-fried crab quail flamed with rum beef salad shrimp sticks beef fondue with vinegar
Seats: 100
Prices: $7.95-$19.95
Noise: 3 bells
Parking: Street (difficult)
Vitals: 2211 Van Ness Ave. (near Broadway), San Francisco (415) 441-4419. Dinner Tuesday-Sunday. Beer and wine. Reservations and credit cards accepted.

GORDON'S HOUSE OF FINE EATS
Gordon Drysdale has captured the spirit of the emerging Multimedia Gulch neighborhood at his new restaurant, located in a 1930s warehouse. The dramatically high ceilings, open kitchen and rotating artwork add excitement to the mix. And when the music is cranked up around 9 p.m., things really get hopping. Drysdale has a whimsical approach to food. His menu is divided by categories: Healthful, Comfort, Local Favorites, Luxury and International. Cuisine: American
Specialties: Warm Brussels sprouts salad artichoke fritters barbecued short ribs pan-fried sand dabs pork osso buco with brown-butter spaetzle doughnut plate
Seats: 120
Prices: $8.25-$28
Noise: 4 bells
Parking: Valet $8
Vitals: 500 Florida St. (at Mariposa), San Francisco (415) 861-8900. Lunch weekdays, dinner daily. Full bar. Reservations and credit cards accepted.

GRAND CAFE
Few restaurants can compete with the grand, celebratory look of this French brasserie that appears to have been airlifted from Paris. Housed in what used to be an ornate hotel ballroom, the dining room features massive, soaring columns that give it a dramatic architectural feel. Whimsical bronze rabbits scattered around the room, impressive murals, marble and mosaics add to the handsome look. Chef Denis Soriano has created food that is sophisticated but approachable. Cuisine: Contemporary French
Specialties: Polenta souffle with wild mushroom ragout veal sweetbread fricassee gratin of oysters with yellow corn and lobster hollandaise rack of lamb grilled escolar banana cream pie
Seats: 150
Prices: $13.95-$24.95
Noise: 4 bells
Parking: Valet $7 (free at lunch)
Vitals: 501 Geary St. (at Taylor), San Francisco (415) 292-0101. breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Full bar. Reservations and credit cards accepted.

GREAT EASTERN
The back wall lined with fish tanks gives an indication of what this Chinatown restaurant is all about. Abalone, frogs, freshwater fish, shrimp and all kinds of swimming creatures are captured fresh and cooked on the spot. A lighted board announces what's available on a particular day. A fish may be brought flopping to the table for the customer's approval. The food is always good, but a great meal is determined by what is ordered and by the waiter. There's actually a separate chef for the crowd ordering sweet and sour pork and other Americanized dishes. Great Eastern is open until 1 a.m. daily. Cuisine: Chinese
Specialties: Live seafood, including abalone, steamed fish, fresh crab in clay pot minced seafood with lettuce wrap sauteed conch with yellow chives spicy braised chicken
Seats: 260
Prices: $7-$30
Noise: 3 bells
Parking: Two-hour validation at Holiday Inn
Vitals: 649 Jackson St. (between Grant and Kearny), San Francisco (415) 986-2500. Open from lunch through dinner daily. Beer and wine. Reservations for large groups. Credit cards accepted.

GREENS
When it opened more than 20 years ago, Greens showed the country that vegetarian food could be opulent and delicious . especially when paired with one of the wines on its finely crafted list, compiled by Rick Jones. Chef Annie Somerville, who has been at the helm for many years, is continuously changing and lightening the dishes. The focal point of the interior . which features a sculptural redwood table . are the walls of windows overlooking the marina and the Golden Gate Bridge beyond. The views are grand, especially at sunset. The menu is a la carte for lunch and weekday dinners, with a three-course fixed-price menu on Saturdays. At $45, the fixed-priced menu is significantly more expensive and not that much different. Cuisine: Vegetarian
Specialties: Potato griddle cakes, crostini, tofu brochettes, pizza
Seats: 125
Prices: $8-$11.50 $45 fixed-price on Saturday nights
Noise: 3 bells
Parking: Free lot
Vitals: Building A, Fort Mason, San Francisco (415) 771-6222. Lunch Tuesday-Sunday, dinner Monday-Saturday. Beer and wine. Reservations and credit cards accepted.

HARRIS'
Harris' is the place to go for some of the best steaks in the Bay Area. Diners can see the cuts of meat aging in the windows as they enter the handsome men's-club environment. With smooth service, juicy cuts of meat and upscale decor, it's everything one would expect in a steak house. It's been at the top of its game since 1984. Cuisine: Steak house
Specialties: Mesquite-grilled, dry-aged beef steak Diane beef tartare Caesar salad martinis
Seats: 110
Prices: $17.50-$35
Noise: 2 bells
Parking: Valet $5
Vitals: 2100 Van Ness Ave. (at Pacific), San Francisco (415) 673-1888. Dinner daily. Full bar. Reservations and credit cards accepted.

HAWTHORNE LANE
Since it opened five years ago, this impressive restaurant has continued to excite Bay Area palates with an eclectic cuisine that draws from Asia and the Mediterranean. Chef-owners David and Anne Gingrass divide up the chores she's in the kitchen most nights. The impressive warehouse-size space features an opulent oval bar and beautiful art. A live fish tank built into the wall is usually filled with live spot prawns, a house specialty. For a quick bite, or for those who forgot to make reservations, find a spot in the impressive bar. There's a separate bar menu, with prices from $5 to $8, or order from the regular menu. Cuisine: California
Specialties: Fresh seafood platter miso-glazed black cod pan-roasted monkfish Chinese-style duck prawns from the tank chocolate coconut mousse
Seats: 230
Prices: $22-$27.50
Noise: 3 bells
Parking: Valet $7
Vitals: 22 Hawthorne St. (off Howard between Second and Third streets), San Francisco (415) 777-9779. Lunch Monday-Friday, dinner daily. Full bar. Reservations and credit cards accepted.

HELMAND
The food at Helmand makes one wonder why more restaurants don't specialize in Afghani cooking. While the flavors are a little different, they seem familiar. The understated decor is like an oasis in the bright and gaudy world right outside its door on the Broadway strip. Thanks to the candles and flowers on each table, the place engulfs diners in a romantic glow. Cuisine: Afghani
Specialties: Lamb dishes vegetarian offerings ravioli stuffed with leeks frozen ricotta with pistachio and cardamom
Seats: 70
Prices: $9.95-$15.95
Noise: 2 bells
Parking: Validated lot at Kearnyand Broadway $5
Vitals: 430 Broadway (near Montgomery), San Francisco (415) 362-0641. Dinner Tuesday-Sunday. Full bar. Reservations and credit cards accepted.

HOUSE OF PRIME RIB
Opened more than 50 years ago, this prime rib restaurant looks like it was remodeled yesterday. When it comes to details, owner Joe Betz is a taskmaster, and the interior is continually updated. Even though the restaurant seats 260, most people would never know it. A warren of nicely decorated dining rooms, each set off with a fireplace, feels intimate and romantic. The prime rib, which has been encrusted in rock salt during roasting, is carved at the table, and most times diners will be offered seconds. Prices start at about $22, and it all adds up to one of the best deals in town. The tab also includes a tossed salad with creamy dressing, Yorkshire pudding, creamed spinach and a choice of baked or mashed potatoes. Cuisine: Prime rib
Specialties: Prime rib and a daily fish special
Seats: 260
Prices: $21.45-$25.95 (including salad and side dishes)
Noise: 3 bells
Parking: Valet $4
Vitals: 1906 Van Ness Ave. (near Jackson), San Francisco (415) 885-4605. Dinner daily. Full bar. Reservations and credit cards accepted.

INSALATA'S
Heidi Krahling has brought city sophistication to San Anselmo with her 3-year-old brasserie. The wood accents in the airy interior set off colorful paintings of fruit. Cooks in the open kitchen turn out all kinds of lusty combinations that span the Mediterranean. There's also a takeout area so people can enjoy Krahling's rustic combinations at home. Cuisine: Mediterranean
Specialties: Platter of mezes and tapas horseradish-crusted salmon with a red wine vinaigrette roast chicken with honey-pomegranate glaze couscous and vegetable platters
Seats: 159
Prices: $10.95-$19.95
Noise: 3 bells
Parking: Free lot
Vitals: 120 Sir Francis Drake Blvd. (at Barber), San Anselmo (415) 457-7700. Lunch Monday-Saturday, dinner daily. Beer and wine. Reservations and credit cards accepted.


THE BAY AREA'S TOP 100 RESTAURANTS / C-F

The popularity of this West Portal restaurant keeps growing, thanks to the winning formula of owners Donna and Frank Katzl. Much of the staff has worked there for years and they know the regulars. Donna Katzl, the chef, serves up homey, American-inspired food -- the kind you could eat every day. The restaurant, which features light wood and an open kitchen, isn't fancy, but it's comfortable, the type of place many people call home.

Cuisine: American Specialties: Hamburger, lettuce salads, grilled rainbow trout, chicken scalloppine, fresh apple cake with caramel sauce Seats: 75 Prices: $9-$16 Noise: 3 bells Parking: Street (not too difficult) lot a few doors down Vitals: 150 West Portal Ave. (near Vicente), San Francisco (415) 665-0900. Lunch and dinner daily. Reservations and credit cards accepted.

CAFE LA HAYE

Located just off the Square in Sonoma, this tiny restaurant has a cozy feel and a lusty cuisine. Chef John McReynolds works out of a minuscule kitchen and consistently produces dishes that taste better than they read on the menu. The two-level restaurant is cramped but homey, and owner Saul Gropman makes customers feel at ease and knows every wine on the short but well-chosen list.

Cuisine: Rustic European Specialties: House-smoked salmon with crisp potato cakes grilled filet of beef with lavender and black pepper Meyer lemon cheesecake Seats: 32 Prices: $12-$17 Noise: 3 bells Parking: Street parking, generally easy Vitals: 140 E. Napa St., Sonoma (707) 935-5994. Dinner Tuesday-Sunday brunch Saturday and Sunday. Reservations and credit cards accepted.

CAFE ROUGE

This Berkeley restaurant, in the increasingly popular Fourth Street shopping area, could be called Zuni East. Chef-owner Marsha McBride and much of the kitchen and dining-room crew have roots at Zuni. You'll find a rotisserie chicken (which is also available at the take-out counter, along with steaks, pork and house- made sausages and pates) and other popular items. The service counter at the back, in front of the open kitchen, is connected to a specialty food shop. The design of the restaurant is festive and modern, with colorful chandeliers and large windows that open onto the sidewalk.

Cuisine: European (French/Italian) Specialties: Oysters, charcuterie plate, spit-roasted chicken Seats: 110 Prices: $8-$20 Noise: 3 bells Parking: Free lot Vitals: 1782 Fourth St. (at Delaware), Berkeley (510) 525-1440. Lunch daily, dinner Tuesday-Sunday. Reservations and credit cards accepted.

CAFE JACQUELINE

In a city filled with restaurants, Cafe Jacqueline is unique. What other place serves souffles-- both savory and sweet -- and practically nothing else? For more than two decades owner Jacqueline Margulis has been making the best souffles you'll probably ever eat. If you look in the back, behind the flowers on the counter, you can see Margulis whipping eggs in a copper bowl. The French-country decor is cozy and comfortable. And what can be more romantic than sharing a sensual, cloudlike souffle?

Cuisine: French Specialties: White corn, ginger and garlic souffle brie and broccoli souffle chocolate souffle Grand Marnier souffle Seats: 24 Prices: $25-$50 (serves two to four) Noise: 1 bell Parking: Street (often difficult) Vitals: 1454 Grant Ave. (between Union and Green streets), San Francisco (415) 981-5565. Dinner Wednesday-Sunday. Reservations and credit cards accepted.

CAFE KATI

Kirk Webber has a highly personal style that is reflected on every plate that comes out of his tiny kitchen. His fusion creations have turned a somewhat modest neighborhood restaurant into a celebrated destination. The plate arrangements are fanciful, and the combinations of ingredients are imaginative. At times the presentations are so whimsical and meticulous that they look like miniature Japanese gardens.

Cuisine: California Specialties: Monthly changing menu may include towering Caesar salad, crab potstickers, crisp- skinned salmon in a taro basket, walnut-crusted chicken breast with Gorgonzola Seats: 65 Prices: $15.95-$19.95 Noise: 3 bells Parking: Validated at Japantown Center garage Vitals: 1963 Sutter St. (near Fillmore), San Francisco (415) 775- 7313. Dinner Tuesday-Sunday. Reservations and credit cards accepted.

CAFE MARIMBA

Each night Cafe Marimba offers a selection of three salsas, picked from the dozens in the kitchen's repertoire. That alone may make this Marina restaurant worth a visit. Then there's the pristine seafood, mole and a host of other specialties. No restaurant in the Bay Area can compete with Marimba for upscale Mexican food. The largely young crowd is attracted to the noisy environs and bright interior, which highlights Mexican folk art.

Cuisine: Mexican Specialties: Moles from Oaxaca, guacamole made to order, fresh fish, enchiladas with unique fillings and salsas Seats: 85 Prices: $6-$14 Noise: 4 bells Parking: Street (often difficult) Vitals: 2317 Chestnut St. (near Scott), San Francisco (415) 776- 1506. Lunch Tuesday-Sunday, brunch weekends, dinner daily. Reservations and credit cards accepted.

CAMPTON PLACE

Todd Humphries has come into his own at this posh hotel, which opened in 1983. Campton Place has a distinguished culinary legacy, having launched the careers of Bradley Ogden and Jan Birnbaum. Now Humphries is following their lead by using wild and foraged ingredients to make stunningly fresh and original combinations. Although the room appears a little dated, the soft colors and elegant table settings still make it one of the most beautiful -- and quiet -- restaurants in San Francisco.

Cuisine: American Specialties: Pan-roasted sea bass with caramelized endive beef short ribs with truffle sauce combinations made with wild seasonal greens and herbs Seats: 68 Prices: $24-$34 tasting menus $42-$68 Noise: 1 bell Parking: Valet $6 Vitals: 340 Stockton St. (near Sutter), San Francisco (415) 955- 5555. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Reservations and credit cards accepted.

CESAR

The menu at this new Berkeley tapas bar, spearheaded by Maggie Pond, is short and well-priced -- you can try all 18 items for less than $80. You'll find lots of winners and no duds, if you exclude dessert. Even though the food is so good, it's secondary to the spirits.

Cuisine: Spanish/tapas Specialties: Small plates including French fries with rosemary, sage and aioli brandade extensive wine and liquor selection Seats: 49 Prices: $3.50-$6.75 Noise: 3 bells Parking: Street Vitals: 1515 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley (510) 883-0222. Dinner 3 p.m.-midnight daily. No reservations. Credit cards accepted.

CHEZ MICHEL

Daniel Schaffhauser has created an elegant, refined menu that focuses on French cuisine but makes a few detours to Asia with tamarind, chutney and the like. This cross blend makes for surprising-- and delicious -- combinations. Prices are reasonable considering the quality of food and the chic, intimate surroundings, which include upholstered banquettes and sleek plantation shutters. The feel is tailored, elegant and comfortable. A private room next door, decorated much like the main dining room, is excellent for private gatherings.

Cuisine: French Specialties: Rack of baby lamb with hazelnut crust roasted rabbit loin stuffed with dried fruit Seats: 49 Prices: $16-$25 Noise: 3 bells Parking: $7 in garage behind restaurant on Hyde Street Vitals: 804 North Point St. (at Hyde), San Francisco (415) 775- 7036. Dinner Tuesday-Sunday. Reservations and credit cards accepted.

CHEZ PANISSE

Even after more than 25 years Alice Waters continues to set trends. She's launched the careers of dozens of top chefs and almost single-handedly has encouraged the development of artisan organic produce. The main restaurant downstairs still features a single fixed-price menu, with the number of courses and prices changing depending on the day. The upstairs cafe offers a la carte pricing. Both rooms have warm, Craftsman-style interiors, a perfect fit with the food. Last year Waters redecorated the main restaurant with stunning mirrors and new light fixtures, giving it a fresh, regal look.

Cuisine: California French Specialties: The menu changes, but the restaurant has a full-time forager and is known for organic ingredients upstairs the pizza and desserts are stellar Seats: 50 downstairs, 90 upstairs Prices: Fixed-price menu, $38-$68, depending on night upstairs, $16-$20 Noise: 2 bells Parking: Street (moderately easy) Vitals: 1517 Shattuck Ave. (near Cedar), Berkeley (510) 548- 5525. Dinner Monday-Saturday.

DELFINA

The first thing you notice at this tiny Mission restaurant is owner Anne Spencer's welcoming smile. And if you dine at Delfina you will leave happy, too, thanks to partner Craig Stoll's cooking. The menu changes often, but there are items destined to become classics. It's probably the best neighborhood Italian restaurant to open in the past three years.

Cuisine: Italian Specialties: Ribollita da Delfina (fried soup), roast chicken, flatiron steak, spaghetti with tomatoes and chile flakes, profiteroles with coffee ice cream Seats: 35 Prices: $10-$15 Noise: 4 bells Parking: Street (difficult) Vitals: 3621 18th St. (between Dolores and Guerrero, San Francisco (415) 552-4055. Dinner daily. Reservations and credit cards accepted.

THE DINING ROOM

Since Gary Danko left the Ritz Carlton, the restaurant has never garnered the same publicity, even under current chef Sylvain Portay, who came from Le Cirque in New York. Portay's style is vibrant and bold, and his presentations are pretty but somewhat relaxed. The room has a formal Ritz-style elegance and the service, which has undergone several changes, still remains first rate. Only fixed-price menus are offered.

Cuisine: French Specialties: Menu changes seasonally, but look for beef daube ravioli with poached leeks, lamb chops with fried fennel and an exceptional creme brulee with blood oranges Seats: 96 Prices: $61-$87 Noise: 1 bell Parking: Valet $9 Vitals: 600 Stockton St. (at California), San Francisco (415) 296- 7465. Dinner Monday-Saturday. Reservations and credit cards accepted.

EBISU

When we left this Sunset-area restaurant out of our listings last year, we heard about it. And through the years fans have continued to sing its praises. We decided they were right. This simple Japanese sushi restaurant is rather bare-bones, but there are always lines out the door because of the outstanding sushi and sashimi. The prime seats are at the bar, so you can talk to the chefs and find out what's best.

Cuisine: Japanese Specialties: Sushi and sashimi, including live scallops toro seafood salad with seaweed deep-fried sand dabs chicken teriyaki Seats: 65 Prices: $8.95-$16.95 Noise: 4 bells Parking: Street (difficult), nearby lot Vitals: 1283 Ninth Ave. (between Lincoln and Irving), San Francisco (415) 566-1770. No reservations. Credit cards accepted.

With his inventive fusion combinations and whimsical presentations, Arnold Wong has turned the once-secluded Cole Valley into a thoroughfare on the culinary road map. The plates look like works of art, and the combinations deftly bridge cultures. In addition, the extensive wine list created by Debbie Zachareas is one of the most creative and fairly priced in the city. The modern restaurant features an upstairs mezzanine and a wine bar next door that serves the full Eos menu, perfect for those who aren't able to snag a dinner reservation.

Cuisine: East-West fusion Specialties: Lemongrass-seared ahi tower, blackened catfish with lemongrass risotto, shiitake mushroom dumplings, tea-smoked duck Seats: 102 Prices: $22-$28 Noise: 4 bells Parking: Street (difficult) Vitals: 901 Cole St. (at Carl), San Francisco (415) 566-3063. Dinner daily. Reservations and credit cards accepted.

FARALLON

Enter Farallon-- the collaborative effort of designer Pat Kuleto and chef Mark Franz -- and you'll be immersed in an underwater fantasy created by seductively glowing resin kelp columns. Thousands of blue-black beads, representing caviar, cover the staircase, winding up to the mezzanine. The light fixtures look like jellyfish and one room looks like the inside of a seashell. It sounds kitschy, but it's beautiful. The focal points are the open kitchen and the historic 1924 domed ceiling that once capped the Elks Club pool. Franz has crafted an enticing seafood menu that's refined and rich. No skimping on butter sauces and luxury ingredients here.

Cuisine: Seafood Specialties: Truffled mashed potatoes with crab and sea urchin sauce seafood pyramid in white truffle gelee ginger-steamed salmon and scallops wrapped in Napa cabbage Seats: 160 Prices: $21.50-$25.95 Noise: 4 bells Parking: Valet $9 (at dinner) Vitals: 450 Post St. (near Powell), San Francisco (415) 956-6969. Lunch Monday-Saturday, dinner daily. Reservations and credit cards accepted.

FLEUR DE LYS

The newly refurbished tented environment is more beautiful than ever. When you add top-of- the-line table settings and smooth service you've got the ingredients for perhaps the most romantic restaurant in the city. Hubert Keller's French food is equally impressive. He offers an a la carte menu and a fixed-price menu, the latter paired with wines. There's even an innovative and delicious fixed-price vegetarian menu.

Cuisine: Contemporary French Specialties: Lamb loin wrapped in zucchini, truffled vichyssoise, vegetarian tasting menu Seats: 85 Prices: $29-$35 Parking: Valet $8 Noise: 1 bell Vitals: 777 Sutter St. (near Taylor), San Francisco (415) 673-7779. Dinner Monday-Saturday. Reservations and credit cards accepted.

FOOK YUEN

The interior of this Peninsula spot may look like scores of other Chinese restaurants, but the food is delicious and distinctive. You'll discover excellent dim sum during the day and a full Cantonese menu at night. It's a branch of a restaurant chain also found in Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia.

Cuisine: Chinese Specialties: Seafood (spot prawns), pork with pickled plums, crispy chicken, dim sum Seats: 180 Prices: $8-$40 Noise: 3 bells Parking: Free lot Vitals: 195 El Camino Real (near Millbrae Avenue), Millbrae (650) 692-8600. Lunch and dinner daily. Reservations and credit cards accepted.

FOOTHILL CAFE

Jerry Shaffer left Masa's several years ago and opened this modest cafe in a strip shopping center on the edge of the Carneros district in Napa. Over the years the storefront interior has undergone several transformations, and it's now cozy and pleasant. But it doesn't hold a candle to the quality of his food: simple American fare, done better than anyone.

Cuisine: American Specialties: Smoked salmon, Peking duck, oak-roasted baby back ribs, prime rib, creme brulee Seats: 48 Prices: $12.50-$15 Noise: 3 bells Parking: Free lot Vitals: 2766 Old Sonoma Road, Napa (707) 252-6178. Dinner Wednesday-Sunday. Reservations and credit cards accepted.

Live jazz and great Mediterranean-inspired food are only part of the draw of this sleek, cool restaurant in the former digs of Cafe Esprit. The other part is the rustic food created by chef-owner Jim Moffat. His inspired combinations go a long way to warm up the warehouse-style room with 20-foot ceilings and a curving staircase leading up to the mezzanine.

Cuisine: Mediterranean Specialties: Menu changes weekly look for charcuterie plate, grilled artichokes with Meyer lemons, seared duck breast, chocolate pot de creme Seats: 84 Prices: $18-$25 Noise: Bomb Parking: Free lot Vitals: 235 16th St. (off Third Street), San Francisco (415) 777- 5558. Lunch weekdays, dinner Wednesday-Saturday. Reservations at dinner only. Credit cards accepted.

FRENCH LAUNDRY

It was little wonder that Thomas Keller was chosen James Beard Foundation's chef of the year two years ago. The French Laundry chef's food is fabulous, and it's served in a magical setting. The restaurant features a fixed-price menu, including a vegetarian tasting menu. The old stone laundry is not unlike what you'd find at a three-star restaurant in the French countryside. Little wonder that it's almost impossible to get a table.

Cuisine: French-California Specialties: Tongue and cheek salad (braised beef cheeks and veal tongue) oysters and pearls (oysters and tapioca) rabbit wrapped in bacon fresh cinnamon-sugar doughnuts and cappuccino semifreddo, vegetarian tasting menu. Seats: 62 Prices: Fixed-price, $80-$95 Noise: 2 bells Parking: Free lot and street. Vitals: 6640 Washington St., Yountville (707) 944-2380. Lunch Saturday and Sunday, dinner Wednesday-Sunday (open every night in summer and fall). Reservations and credit cards accepted.

FRINGALE

Gerald Hirigoyen, who has a Basque cookbook coming out this year, has created one of the city's most popular casual French restaurants. You'll find a mix of California influence and a nod to his Basque roots. The intimate dining room, with windows overlooking the street, is always lively and the modern decor gives it an up-to- date appeal.

Cuisine: French-California Specialties: Rack of lamb pork tenderloin confit steamed mussels with herb vinaigrette and garlic frisee salad with warm bacon dressing gateau Basque creme brulee Seats: 50 Prices: $12-$19 Noise: 2 bells Parking: Street (relatively easy), lot across street Vitals: 570 Fourth St. (at Bryant), San Francisco (415) 543-0573. Lunch weekdays, dinner Monday- Saturday. Reservations and credit cards accepted.


Watch the video: Ribollita. Fu0026W Cooks. Food u0026 Wine (July 2022).


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