Category Archives: Restaurants

A Visit to Acacia House — Where You Might Never Want to Leave

Chef Chris Cosentino in the kitchen of Acacia House.

Chef Chris Cosentino in the kitchen of Acacia House.

 

How do you jump-start a long-empty 1907 mansion in St. Helena and bring it into the 21st century?

You hire San Francisco Chef Chris Cosentino to showcase his patented blend of the bold and the finessed to a glorious new restaurant there, called Acacia House. That’s just what the developers behind the new Las Alcobas Hotel did when it opened earlier this summer on Main Street.

The property, the first by the Mexico City-based luxury hotel group, blends Old World with New World in a posh setting that still somehow manages to feel grounded and unpretentious. That’s what I found when I was invited as a guest of the resort one night last month.

The restaurant is housed in the original mansion, once a private residence, then a B&B. It still has a sense of grandness with its wrap-around porch, where diners can enjoy a drink or a meal.

A historic mansion houses the restaurant.

A historic mansion houses the restaurant.

The dining room.

The dining room.

The decor.

The decor.

The big white house is still what you see from the front of the road. But venture to the back of the property, and the look becomes strikingly more modern with the hotel part done up in sleek steel, stone and wood.

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Any Time is Right For Dumpling Time

The giant soup dumpling at Dumpling Time that's become a social media darling.

The giant soup dumpling at Dumpling Time that’s become a social media darling.

 

Since opening in May, Dumpling Time in San Francisco has been the dumpling destination.

Folks start lining up on weekends long before the restaurant opens for dinner at 5:30 p.m., jotting their name down on a clip board to snag one of the 70 seats inside or 20 on the front patio. That’s the scene I witnessed when I dined there as a guest of the restaurant a few weeks ago. Even after I demolished the contents of my last steamer basket and departed, there was still a throng of people queued up patiently at the entrance.

Who doesn’t love dumplings, right? Especially traditional ones given a contemporary flair with delicious fillings, colorful wrappers, and social media pizazz?

That’s what you’ll find at this casual, affordable South of Market Street establishment from the same restaurant group that owns the more rarefied Omakase nearby.

Dumplings made by hand, fresh, day and night.

Dumplings made by hand, fresh, day and night.

My husband and I were seated at the table on the patio directly beside a window that peeks into the restaurant’s dumpling-making room. That’s where the magic happens throughout the day and night, as a small crew meticulously stuffs and folds dumpling after dumpling at lightening speed. Chef Do Leung, who was born in Guandong, China and was most recently at Tai Wu restaurant in Millbrae, oversees the kitchen.

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A Taste of San Jose’s Michelin All-Star Experience

Portuguese olive oil showcased in four ways in this dazzling cake at Adega.

Portuguese olive oil showcased in four ways in this dazzling cake at Adega.

 

Carlos Carrerira beamed with pride last Wednesday evening as he started to introduce his daughter before the assembled throng of media and San Jose officials gathered at his family’s Adega restaurant for a celebratory dinner.

“This all started when my daughter decided to skip UCLA and go to cooking school instead,” he said with a smile.

This referred to the little restaurant that could, and how. Last year, before it even turned a year old, the Portuguese restaurant in the working-class neighborhood of Little Portugal garnered the first Michelin star ever in San Jose.

When Carreira’s daughter, Pastry Chef Jessica Carreira, who oversees the restaurant with her fiance, Chef David Costa, stepped into the dining room, she was greeted with a standing ovation.

Tears welled in her eyes, as the applause went on and on.

As her father explained, when his daughter got the idea to open a restaurant with his help along with his wife’s, Fernanda, he assumed she would do so in San Francisco or Palo Alto or Los Gatos. But she stuck to her guns. Jessica only wanted to open in the neighborhood she grew up in, and which she still calls home.

The all-star line-up of Portuguese chefs with a Michelin star: (L to R) Alexander Silva of Loco Lisbon, Jessica Carreira of Adega, David Costa of Adega, Pedro Lemos of Pedro Lemos, and George Mendes of Aldea.

The all-star line-up of Portuguese chefs with a Michelin star: (L to R) Alexandre Silva of Loco Lisbon, Jessica Carreira of Adega, David Costa of Adega, Pedro Lemos of Pedro Lemos, and George Mendes of Aldea.

Her instincts and loyalty paid off when Michelin put them on the global map. “It’s been so great,” she says. “We went from a secret foodie destination to a boom of people knowing about us, even in Portugal.”

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Join the Food Gal and Chef David Baron of Salt Wood Kitchen & Oysterette For a Demo

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If you love fresh oysters, you won’t want to miss the 1 p.m. Sept. 23 cooking demo at Macy’s Valley Fair in Santa Clara with yours truly and Chef David Baron of Salt Wood Kitchen & Oysterette.

Baron will demonstrate how to jazz up oysters with toppings of kimchi butter; “Bloody Mary” and green apple; and finger lime-tarragon.

Are you salivating yet? You’ll get the recipe to take home, too.

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Comfort Food Reimagined At Finn Town

Thanksgiving supper served up fancifully at Finn Town.

Thanksgiving supper served up fancifully at Finn Town.

 

At San Francisco’s Finn Town, every Thursday is Thanksgiving.

Well, Friendsgiving to be exact.

You can’t help but have a soft spot for a restaurant that serves a homey yet restaurant-worthy plate of turkey and all the fixings every Thursday night as a weekly special.

It’s one of the Castro District’s top-selling dishes, too, says Executive Chef Steve Dustin. who came on board in July, after having been culinary director of operations for the Big Night Restaurant Group, which includes The Cavalier, Marlow, and Leo’s Oyster Bar, among others. Celeb Chef Ryan Scott originally opened the restaurant in December 2016, but cut ties with the establishment six months later.

The name “Finn Town” apparently was what the Castro was once dubbed in the 1800s, owing to its then-large population of Finnish seamen.

The restaurant is an ode to San Francisco's irreverent history.

The restaurant is an ode to San Francisco’s irreverent history.

The bathroom walls are covered in old San Francisco newspapers.

The bathroom walls are covered in old San Francisco newspapers.

A recent Thursday night, when I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant, definitely proved how popular the New American tavern is. The bar was standing-room only, and the dining room full. It’s a bustling place with a fun, slightly baroque interior, owing to the gilded wall paper and tufted, studded leather chairs in a rainbow of colors.

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