It's all in the water – or so they say. Continuing on our quest to find real, authentic New York style bagels in San Francisco, we ventured with our ex-New Yorker friends to the Inner Richmond to give their recommended spot called House of Bagels a shot. Despite the place's personal recommendation, I still approached the trip cautiously due to BuzzFeed's SF bagel blog tongue lashing.
Like I've said before, one of the dishes I find myself missing the most living out in San Francisco is the simple New York staple of a bagel with lox. I haven't quite found myself a viable replacement yet, so when I find myself back in New York I know 100% of the time I'm going to venture out to get my fix. In the time since I've left the city, there seems to have been a resurgence and revitalization of Jewish comfort food in NYC with placed like Baz Bagels and Black Seed popping up and Russ & Daughters expanding into a full sit-down cafe. After reading much about the now famed Montreal-style bagels being baked at Nolita's Black Seed Bagels, I knew I had to give them a shot. The write-ups often fall at polarized ends of the spectrum with those in the negative camp often harping on the lines, cost, portion, and quality so I was excited to check them out for myself to make my own judgements. Instead of wandering down to Nolita where Black Seed's main shop lives, I decided to head to Chef Noah Bernamoff's closer-to-home Canadian sister restaurant Mile End in NoHo – where I had heard Black Seed bagels were also being served.
What a year!! I did something like this last year too, but oh boy was 2014 a doozy. I started off living in NYC, then a started a new job that whisked me off the San Francisco and Silicon Valley for a few months before ultimately relocating to San Francisco permanently. And along the way, I squeezed in a couple of vacations too. Sooooo, I did a LOT of epic eating this year. And truth be told, I found it particularly difficult to narrow down my list as concisely as last year's, but I somehow managed. So, without further ado, I present the winners (and runner-ups) broken down by category. I tried to cluster similar dish types together, but really they are in no particular order. Let's begin! And if you wanna hear about the 2014's Best Cocktails, read more here.
As an ex-New Yorker now living on the West Coast, I've been trained to go to Italian eateries with low expectations, particularly if they claim to specialize in pizza. I know I've been spoiled by the ease of access to the very best pizza slices in the country, but I've already learned that you can in fact find great pizza in the Bay Area in square slice and Brooklyn-style neapolitan form. Still, I didn't expect much from Palo Alto's Pizzeria Delfina despite its very positive reputation.
In the past, I've never really bothered much to concern myself with social consciousness with regards to food and waste. I don't think you could blame me too much though, because I had never before lived in a place where it was such a high concern or integrated part of the cultural fabric. As it turns out, just being in San Francisco pretty much forces you to become very aware of the impact your consumption has on the environment simply through the requisite use of separate trash, recycling, and compostable bins everywhere you go. Beyond waste management though, I've learned you can further be accountable for your actions by the types of meat, seafood, and produce you buy. By choosing responsibly sourced, environmentally friendly meat, seafood, and produce at your grocery store you can be sure the stuff you love so much stays around for a long, long time. And even beyond home shopping, there are ways to make good choices when you're dining out. For instance, when the desire for awesome sushi strikes, you can choose to go to a place like Tataki in Lower Pac Heights that refuses to serve any sushi made with anything but sustainably sourced fish. I know, I know. I can hear you groaning already. Sustainability? Social consciousness? What happened to Winston when he moved out to Cali?? Don't worry, it's the same old bacon-loving me, I'm just embracing living in San Francisco and trying to learn as much as I can. Trust me, this sushi tastes just as good as the unsustainable alternative and doesn't even cost more than the quality stuff you're used to.
I get strange cravings sometimes. Escargot and Beef Tartare probably are not the first things you'd think of having on a hungover Saturday solo lunch, but I guess I'm a little different than most people. I knew what I wanted and I knew where to go to get it, so I took a fifteen minute walk from my Union Square hotel on a very grey, rainy San Francisco day to quench my thirst for fine French cuisine. Café Claude, whisk me away to Paris!
*Editor's Note 11/13/14: This restaurant used to be called Aamanns-Copenhagen NYC but is now simply referred to as The Copenhagen. *Editor's Note 10/15/15: I'm sad to report that The Copenhagen has permanently closed. When you hear Danish food, what comes to mind? Maybe that eponymous jam filled pastry? Maybe you literally have absolutely no clue what Danish people eat. I know I sure didn't. That is before I checked out the New York outpost of the Scandinavian imported restaurant Aammanns-Copenhagen, known as The Copenhagen.
*Editor's Note: I'm sad to report that this restaurant is not longer open. Recently, I wrote about a particularly crazy meal I ate at Los Perros Locos. They delivered a kind of craziness through the sheer brashness of piling as many wacky pedestrian ingredients on top of one another as humanly possible. But, like I've said before, there are many kinds of crazy when it comes to food. To celebrate my 26th birthday, my girlfriend took me to a restaurant that's been high up on my worldwide to-do list for a long time, WD~50. The restaurant is the brain-child of Wylie Dufresne who established the molecular gastronomy dining scene in NYC. The kind of craziness that Wylie delivers is less like that of a psychopath, but more like that of a mad scientist through his use of complex, technical, processes and methodologies usually reserved for a chemistry lab. Every dish and drink at WD~50 has some sort of complicated twist whereby an ingredient is transformed or presented in a way you've probably never experienced before.