Category Archives: Great Finds

For A “Bargain” Tasting Menu, Head to Commonwealth

Spring asparagus with an unusual potato salad at Commonwealth.

Spring asparagus with an unusual potato salad at Commonwealth.

 

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard a chef mention this restaurant as the place they most like to eat on their day off or as the establishment they’d most like theirs to emulate, I’d be doing very well indeed.

Such is the respect that Commonwealth has garnered.

The Michelin-starred restaurant opened in 2010 in an old donut shop in San Francisco. In fact, the Mission District restaurant not only sports the old donut mural on the side of the building, but possesses something truly rare in San Francisco — its own parking lot. It is a fairly small lot, though, so you still have to be lucky to snag a space.

Chef-Owner Jason Fox oversees the open kitchen in the compact dining room, which means it is worthwhile to make a reservation. My husband and I, who were invited to dine as guests of the restaurant on a recent Saturday night, saw a few walk-ins turned away because the restaurant just gets that booked.

Located in a former donut shop.

Located in a former donut shop.

Some bubbly to accompany the first couple of courses.

Some bubbly to accompany the first couple of courses.

While there is an a la carte menu, what really makes Commonwealth stand out is its tasting menu. In the Bay Area, where many tasting menus have prompted ire for their stratospheric prices that now reach well beyond $300 per person, Commonwealth’s is all of $85 per person ($140 total per person with wine pairings) for about seven courses. Even the “chef’s extended menu” is a relatively moderate $125 per person ($195 total per person with wine pairings) for about 14 courses, which is the option we went for.

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Lamb-Ricotta Meatballs You Won’t Be Able To Get Enough Of

Meatball heaven.

Meatball heaven.

 

There are people who stalk actors or politicians.

Me? I stalk chefs.

Not in the scary, restraining-order way.

But I admit to keeping my eyes peeled for them whenever I’m out and about.

So, it was with great pleasure that a few years ago while in New York, my husband and I spotted chefs Lee Hanson and Riad Nasr waiting for a table at the same restaurant we were dining in. Hey, it’s a sure sign that a place must be good if other chefs are dining there on their nights off, right?

And Hanson and Nasr do have exquisite taste. After all, the co-chefs earned untold respect at Balthazar and Minetta Tavern. This month, they opened their new Frenchette in Tribeca.

Given their pedigree, when I spotted their recipe a months ago for “Lamb-Ricotta Meatballs Braised in Tomato Sauce” in the Wall Street Journal, I knew it had to be a sure-fire winner.

It hit it out of the park in every which way.

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Finally Making Time for Sammies at B. On The Go

A chicken salad sandwich on house-made bread at B. On The Go.

A chicken salad sandwich on house-made bread at B. On The Go.

 

I confess that my sweet tooth often rules my life.

Which is why it’s only now that I’ve finally made it to B. On The Go in San Francisco.

Typically, I’ll be so laser-focused on getting to its sister site, B. Patisserie to snag my favorite kouign-amanns that I forget everything else.

Not this time, though.

I finally made it into B. On The Go a couple weeks ago to buy two delicious sandwiches.

Just steps away from B. Patisserie.

Just steps away from B. Patisserie.

Just order at the counter.

Just order at the counter.

The sandwich shop is kitty-corner to the pastry shop. The light-filled corner spot offers soups, salads, and a few baked treats in addition to sandwiches, which are served on house-made bread, of course.

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Saffron Bistro’s Unique Brunch

Owner Ajay Walia debuts an inventive new brunch pop-up at his Saffron Bistro.

Owner Ajay Walia debuts an inventive new brunch pop-up at his Saffron Bistro.

 

If you’re tired of the same ol’ waffles, scrambled eggs and corned beef hash for brunch, then you’re in for a treat at Jugaad Cafe.

That’s the name of the pop-up brunch offered on Saturdays and Sundays, 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., at Saffron Bistro in San Carlos.

Owner Ajay Walia, who also has Michelin-starred Rasa in Burlingame, started this hybrid brunch in March. It features a few classic Americana dishes, but also a bevy of Indian-influenced ones so potently flavorful that they’re sure to jolt anyone to rise and shine.

The name “Jugaad’’ is a colloquial term in Hindi and Punjabi that roughly means “hack.” It’s what Walia did to traditional brunch, turning it on its head.

Who wants hashed browns when you can have masala tater tots instead?

Who wants hashed browns when you can have masala tater tots instead?

He was prompted to create the menu from his own experience of craving a more adventurous brunch on weekends, even if his kids only wanted pancakes with maple syrup. As such, this menu has something for everyone — expected fare like a strawberry-topped Belgian waffles for the kids, plus more unusual items such as savory South Indian lentil beignets with coconut chutney for folks desiring something different. Walia invited me in as his guest a few weeks ago to try some of the dishes.

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Siggi’s Introduces No Sugar-Added Yogurt

All the flavor and body, but less sugar.

All the flavor and body, but less sugar.

 

Siggi’s has been my go-to yogurt for awhile. I love its creamy, velvety texture that’s as thick as all get out. It’s slightly tangy, but not as tart as traditional Greek yogurt. There’s something almost luxurious tasting about it, too.

So when I had a chance to try samples of its new no-added sugar variety, I jumped at the chance.

Right now, there are only two flavors offered in this line: Peach & Mango, and Banana & Cinnamon.

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