Category Archives: Chefs

Alfred’s Steakhouse — Where Old-World Meets New World

Flames tableside at the landmark Alfred's in San Francisco.

Flames tableside at the landmark Alfred’s in San Francisco.

 

Walking into Alfred’s Steakhouse in San Francisco is like stepping back into another era.

To a time when dining rooms weren’t cloaked in reclaimed wood and Edison lights, but in crimson walls, sparkling chandeliers and oxblood-hued, tufted leather booths; when cell phones didn’t exist (as there actually isn’t cell service available there now); and when people actually dressed for dinner (save for the table of tourists decked out in shorts that night, not realizing summer in isn’t all that in San Francisco).

The venerable restaurant, which opened in 1928, still exudes classic bygone mores, and that’s a testament to Chef Daniel Patterson, whose Alta Group took it over in 2015. He spiffed it up, but wisely kept the cherished old-school atmosphere.

It’s a place you walk into thinking: They don’t make ’em like this anymore. And thank goodness it’s still around.

Located on a side street in the Financial District on the edge of Chinatown and North Beach.

Located on a side street in the Financial District on the edge of Chinatown and North Beach.

The old-world dining room.

The old-world dining room.

At least that’s what I felt when I visited recently as a guest of the restaurant. Even though I’m a native San Franciscan, I’m embarrassed to admit this was my first time at the restaurant.

As we slid into the roomy booth in the old worldly elegant dining room, my husband, who normally orders a glass of wine or a beer at dinner, declared out of the blue, “I’m having a martini!”

Because these surroundings just inspire a thirst for that.

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How to Make Alexander’s Steakhouse’s Sensational Uni Fried Rice

An unforgettable fried rice that I can now make at home. Woot!

An unforgettable fried rice that I can now make at home. Woot!

 

Fried rice is typically a frugal dish, something you slap together at the last minute with meager ingredients on hand.

This is not that fried rice.

Not when it is enveloped in whipped uni butter, and crowned with fresh uni.

And certainly not when it is on the menu at Alexander’s Steakhouse in Cupertino for $25.

When Food Gal reader Kristy implored me recently to get the recipe for the uni fried rice after falling for it at Alexander’s, I could commiserate.

After all, I had enjoyed it at the restaurant only once — and I still dream about it. It’s that kind of dish — loaded with bold flavors that grabs you from the get-go with its uncanny mix of comfort and luxuriousness.

Fresh uni, plus a range of textures in every bite.

Fresh uni, plus a range of textures in every bite.

Executive Chef Jared Montarbo was kind enough to actually provide the recipe. As chefs are wont to do, there weren’t precise measurements for every single ingredient, so I tinkered a little. After making it at home recently, I can tell you confidently that his recipe does indeed make for a fried rice dish just about as delicious as the one he makes at the restaurant.

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Time for Fig Tart — Two Helpings At Least

Fresh figs -- in all their glory -- in a perfect tart.

Fresh figs — in all their glory — in a perfect tart.

 

Figs are a rather stealth fruit.

For those of us not lucky enough to have our own backyard fig trees, we forget the candy-sweet, sticky, plump fruit have two seasonal harvests a year here — in June-July, and September-October.

As such, they rather sneak up on us. There we are, ogling the strawberries, plums and nectarines at the market, when all of a sudden out of the corner of our eye, our attention gets hijacked. “Are those figs?,” we find ourselves asking silently, as we hurry over to investigate. Sure enough, they are baskets bulging with the gorgeous purple or green figs.

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Join the Food Gal and Manresa Bread’s Anna St. John For A Baking Demo

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Here’s your chance to learn how to make — and get a taste of — the best summer fruit tart. Ever.

That’s because none other than Pastry Chef Anna St. John of acclaimed Manresa Bread will join me for a baking demo, 2 p.m. July 22 at Macy’s Valley Fair in Santa Clara.

St. John is responsible for all those tantalizing croissants, kouign-amanns, fruit danishes, and other pastries that tempt at Manresa Bread’s Los Gatos and Los Altos shops, as well as its stands at the Campbell and Palo Alto California Avenue farmers markets.

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Indian Stir-Fried Corn with Basil, Leeks and Cumin

Corn with cumin -- as simple as it gets.

Corn with cumin — as simple as it gets.

 

Most times, I enjoy summer corn right off the cob that’s been charred on the grill or even nuked in the microwave for a few minutes.

But other times, I want something a little less basic.

That’s where “Stir-Fried Corn with Basil, Leeks and Cumin” comes in.

It’s from the new “Vibrant India: Fresh Vegetarian Recipes from Bangalore to Brooklyn” (Ten Speed Press) by Chitra Agrawal, chef-owner of the cleverly named Brooklyn Delhi line of condiments.

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