Addictive Short Order Spuds.
On vacation late last year in Los Angeles, my husband and I were all about spontaneity — meaning we dined without reservations or a specific game plan in mind. And yes, that made it feel like a real vacation, indeed.
Here are some of my favorite eats from that excursion:
Often referred to in shorthand as “Nancy Silverton’s burger place,” Short Order was created by Silverton, who started an artisan bread revolution in Los Angeles before opening her now famous Osteria Mozza and Pizzeria Mozza with celeb Chef Mario Batali and restaurateur Joe Bastianich.
Silverton planned to open Short Order in 2011 with Amy Pressman, once her former assistant pastry chef when the two worked together at Spago. But tragically, Pressman died of cancer shortly before the restaurant opened.
Today, Executive Chef Christian Page carries out Pressman’s vision of a gourmet diner serving food with top-notch organic ingredients.
Located in the popular Farmers Market on W. 3rd Street, Short Order is tucked in a quieter back corner of the complex. It’s two stories with seating both inside and out around glassed-in fire-pit tables.
Chef Bruce Hill cutting up a chicken cooked with his patented method at Fog City.
Fog City Diner has a most storied past in San Francisco.
Long ago, the establishment nourished sailors before they shipped out to do battle in World War II. Then in 1985, Chef Cindy Pawlycn opened the doors there to what was then called Fog City Diner, serving up burgeoning California cuisine in the shiny Airstream-like restaurant.
A month ago, after an extensive remodel by owners Bill Higgins and Bill Upson, it reopened with veteran Chef Bruce Hill at the helm. It jettisoned the “diner” to become just Fog City.
The whimsical artwork on one wall.
With Hill’s vast experience as co-owner also of Bix, Picco, Pizzeria Pico and Zero Zero, it’s no surprise that the restaurant charged out of the gate with an impressive showing, as evidenced by the media dinner I was invited to there the week it opened. All around me, booths were crowded and seats at the bar filled with patrons enjoying specialty cocktails such as the gingery “Inside Job” (James E. Pepper Rye, Nocino, Orgeat, ginger shrub and lemon; $11).
LOS ANGELES & VICINITY — During a quick weekend trip down to Southern California recently, my sweet tooth got a major workout at three stellar places.
First up, Fonuts, the donuts that are almost guilt-free. That’s because they’re not fried, but are baked or steamed. Moreover, many of them also are vegan or gluten-free.
Fonuts of Los Angeles is the creation of Waylynn Lucas, formerly pastry chef at The Bazaar and Patina, both in Los Angeles; and voice actor Nancy Truman.
The donuts, about $3 each, have a moist, tender crumb and a texture akin to a tea cake or muffin.
For anyone with a sweet tooth like mine, it’s a fantasy come true to eat to your stomach’s content in a bakery after it’s closed for the night.
I wasn’t exactly let loose to scour the pantry, though. Instead, I was invited recently to dine as a guest of the restaurant with a few other food writers in what is essentially the private dining room at Baker & Banker in San Francisco.
The acclaimed restaurant in Pacific Heights, owned by husband-and-wife Pastry Chef Lori Baker and Chef Jeff Banker, also has an adjacent bakery. After closing each night, the bakery is available for private parties. It has to be a small one, though, as there’s enough room for only eight at the one table set up right by the bakery counter. There’s also a minimum of five diners required.
To get to it, you walk into the restaurant, head to the back, go through the small kitchen, and walk down a few stairs right into the heart of the bakery.
The last time I dined at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in San Francisco a few years ago, I shimmied into a chic cocktail dress and fancy black heels.
On a visit there just a few weeks ago, though, I donned merely dark jeans and a simple cardie.
How times have changed.
Like so many hotels in these still precarious economic times, the Mandarin Oriental has shed its spendy, special-occasion restaurant in favor of a more casual one that’s friendlier on the pocketbook.
Out went its glamorous Silks restaurant. In came the new Brasserie S&P this summer, named for the fact that it’s at the intersection of Sansome and Pine. It’s headed by Executive Chef Adam Mali, formerly of Nick’s Cove in Tomales Bay.
While Silks was perched on the second floor of the hotel, Brasserie S&P is on the main floor, just past the check-in desk and right across from a bank of elevators. While the former was a secluded, hushed space, the latter is smack in the middle of all the action.
I had a chance to check it out, when I was invited to dine as a guest of the restaurant.
The sedate dining room is all cream and blonde, with dark chocolate leather placemats on the tables. The decor may be somewhat too hotel utilitarian, but the snazzy bar and satisfying food more than make up for that.
Mixologist Priscilla Young clearly is having a blast with the new cocktail menu, which spotlights gin, of all things. She even crafts her own tonics to go along with the extensive brands of gins available.