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Wednesday, August 3, 2016

DCWD Travels: The Slanted Door, San Francisco

Neighborhood: San Francisco

It's not every day that you get a Vietnamese restaurant with some national acclaim; or that it's right there next to you as you walk along the Bay toward the Ferry Building. So here are some thoughts on the experience:

  1. The internet tells me that this is the third iteration of the restaurant, and you can tell that this place is pretty successful; not only does it occupy a prime amount of real estate in the aforementioned Ferry Building, but it clearly turns a lot of tables pretty much all day. There's a lot of space in the dining room and it's a nice gussied up. That being said, it does feel a bit... corporate. It's sort of like DBGB at City Center. Pretty... just apersonal.
  2. That being said there are lots of good things here. I don't know that I had ever had banh bot loc - which is like a tapioca-based version of banh cuon - but these dumplings which came either with mung bean or shrimp and pork belly fillings, were freaking epic. Similarly, some mien - glass noodles - which came with dungeness crab, were a surprise in how light and lively each bite was.
  3. As for authenticity, I ordered my typical bo luc lac - shaky beef. This was incredibly on point: just the right splashes of salt and pepper, punchy watercress, and the ability to recall fond food memories.
  4. It's not all perfect though. Spring rolls are huge, but ultimately dry. For another, the price range is up there. And at times, it seems our server was really trying to upcharge us. See the brussels sprouts and mushrooms dish he pushed on us: limp and boring.




Food Rating: ***
(out of 5)
Date Rating: 2.5 Hearts (out of 5)
Dress Code:
Casual
Bar Rating:
 Classy Crowd
Vibe:
Energetic
Cost:
$$$$
(out of 5) ($75-$100 for two)

Monday, August 1, 2016

DCWD Travels: Farmhouse Inn, Northern California

Neighborhood: Sonoma, California

Official Co-Writer/Wife of DCWD Texas had never collected a Michelin star yet, so with the possibility of indulging while in Sonoma County and with a friend in Official Friend of DCWD CC there, we stopped by the Farmhouse Inn.

This is the kind of bed and breakfast that tops Travel and Leisure lists, and draws A-list actors for a getaway, so that gives you an idea of the sort of charm you'll get. Charming refurbished barns, picket fences, and a dining room reminiscent of a brighter Inn at Little Washington.

Time and time again, we're impressed by the fact that great kitchens are ones that take good ingredients, pair them dramatically, and get out of their way. Here, a crudo of red snapper with pickled beets, puffed rice, and a yuzu-ginger vinaigrette alternates between sharp and smooth; as do oysters dashed with a ponzu granite. If the Japanese bent isn't your style, then the swirl of savory of sweet in the duck breast salad - dashed with pistachio, chicory, candied kumquats, and cranberry ginger - is just as brilliant.

The coursing is also done with the keenest eye for nuance and transition; if the first courses are breezy and bright, then the second courses are mildly richer with the occasional refresher, while the entree round brings heavier winter fare. The appetizers bring familiar flavors in fun combinations: grilled octopus and a black bean and pear salsa; lobster and lentils, but in a sausage form; and fettucine with bolognese, but with duck and quail eggs.

On the other hands, classic combinations are covered in the entrees ably, sometimes in combination themselves: the rabbit rabbit rabbit takes a bacon-wrapped loin, a roasted rack, and a leg confit and punches it up with mustard cream; a duo of pork belly and tenderloin is given brussels sprouts and parsnips to bring it to earth; and a gamey elk tenderloin has spaghetti squash and a turnip-potato gratin to welcome you in.

The Verdict

Perfect.

Food Rating: *****
(out of 5)
Date Rating: 5 Hearts (out of 5)
Dress Code:
 Smart Casual
Bar Rating:
N/A
Vibe:
Calm
Cost:
$$$$$
(out of 5) ($75-$100 for two)

Thursday, July 28, 2016

DCWD Travels: The Bubble Room at J, Northern California

Neighborhood: Sonoma, Northern California

Sometimes the best tips we can give are where to find great view in unexpected places; sometimes the best tips we can give are what to pick in a sea of choices. This one's an intersection of the two: the Bubble Room at J Vineyards and Winery. A mix of champagnes, sparkling roses, and other fun bright wines paired with six courses of clear and bright food, and impeccable service.







Food Rating: 4 Forks 
(out of 5)