A stunning octopus dish at the new All Spice San Francisco.
Having enjoyed quite a few wonderful meals at the Michelin-starred All Spice, tucked inside a charming Victorian house in San Mateo, I was intrigued to see what Chef-Owner Sachin Chopra and his wife, Shoshana Wolff, had in store when they took over the legendary Masa’s spot in San Francisco last year.
When I learned it would be called Game, and specialize in wild game, I admit I was surprised. Not because Chopra doesn’t have the talent to pull off such a radically different turn, but because I feared it would be a hard sell among Bay Area diners who worship at the altar of local and sustainable, rather than exotica flown in from all parts of the world.
Game was intended to be playful and energetic with its surreal paintings of animals in costumes. But having visited as a guest of the restaurant when it first opened, the vibe was actually quite formal feeling with a white-jacketed host and a hushed environment. When you have a menu featuring turtle, venison, boar and a load of other meat, the place almost cries out for a bodacious dose of bold and brash — kind of along the lines of what Chef Chris Cosentino created at Cockscomb in San Francisco.
Chopra and Wolff rolled the dice with Game, but didn’t end up with a winner. However, they were smart enough to re-evaluate after a few short months. The result is the transformation of Game into All Spice San Francisco.
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.