Feb 18, 2006

Month In Review

It actually started before Christmas. We tried to throw a surprise birthday dinner for Billy after a snowboarding trip to Tahoe. We had a reservation for a large reservation at Chapeau! that evening, but a combination of lifts closing early due to winds, and clean roads meant that we were back in San Francisco over an hour early for our reservation. Calling the restaurant to push our reservation earlier didn't work, so it seemed like we'd have to wait. However, things turned our rather miraculously when 1) they actually had our table ready, early 2) the guys driving up from the South Bay actually arrived early 3) Billy was in a good mood, as we were able to distract him for a while by hanging out in Japantown before dinner. Overally, it was a wonderful evening. The food was solid; flavours were rich, but perhaps a little over-salted. Service was excellent. There was no snobbishness from the waitstaff, and there was plenty of staff. The chef personally went through the tiny restaurant greeting guests (and again at the door when we left, also giving me the recipe to us banana butterscotch sauce). We also had enough people to order every dessert on the table, resulting in a veritable dessert buffet. I don't recall the exact price, but it was very reasonable for the food and service. (4.8/5)

Next was Christmas. If you missed that part of the story, scroll down and check the previous post. That was followed to my secret for a girlish figure. Yes, that's right, the flu. There went the first half of January, and all those Christmas pounds with it.

Not to fret. With San Francisco's Dine About Town (aka DAT) rolling into town (very similar to Toronto's Winterlicious), the usually economical Peachy transformed into a voracious restaurant prospector. I managed to recover in time to partake in three of these excursions.

Bacar restaurant and wine bar, situated in SOMA, with a large bar with live jazz, a rather spacious main dining room with a large ceiling, and a quieter mezzanine was a happening spot on a Saturday night. Busy enough that they actually weren't offering the DAT menu. We should have called ahead and asked first, but we weren't the only ones suckered in, as we heard the exact same inquiry from the table behind us. Since we were seated with water already, we decided to suck it in and enjoy dinner. The charcuterie plate was fairly simple, but house-made and delicious. The smokey pork chop also stood out as a winner. Of the desserts, the blood-orange panna cotta was quite memorable. The server was friendly, and the cheese bread both yummy and abundant, So overall, a DAT loser, but a good meal (although costing us quite a bit more than expected). (3.5/5)

We went up to SF on a weekday to pick up some cheap snowboarding tickets, and as an excuse to try Aziza, a nouveau Middle Eastern restaurant way out in the Richmond district. I had passed by this place before and wanted to try it; it's directly across from Ton Kiang, the dim-sum place. Alas, like Bacar, we were thwarted in our DAT attempt, since at this place the DAT menu was only available if everyone ordered it (and that would have been 5 of us). Although the drinks from the bar were quite interesting and packed plenty of punch, the above policy, plus the fact that the waiter wouldn't let us take photos, put a huge damper on things. The food overall was pretty good. Not bad, but not rave worthy. I had been looking forward to the basteeya, but it came out rather bland and disappointing. The better dishes were the couscous Aziza and wild mushrooms in phyllo. I'd come back if either the food or service shined, but the first was not outstanding, and the latter was sorely lacking (2.5/5)

Azie Bar

Azie Cocktail Menu

Azie Drinks

The best service of the three was at Azie, which didn't have our table available when we arrived, post-snowboarding. Instead we got a free calamari appetizer from the hostess while we waited at the bar, under the stairs to the mezzanine. Shortly after (basically before we got to dig into the deep fried calamari with shavings of green onions and chili), we were lead to our booth, complete with curtains for added privacy. Unfortunately, the asian-fusion cuisine met my asian-fusion cuisine expectations, which is to say, not very fantastic. Like most asian inspired western cuisine, the asian elements stood out, but never really fuses. For example, the green onions in the dish looked asian, but didn't add to the blandness much. The deep fried calamari with salt and black pepper you'd get at a chinese restaurant would easily put this one to shame. On the service alone, I'd recommend this spot, but alas the lackluster food doesn't warrant a return trip. (3/5)

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