Tuesday, October 20, 2009

l'ardoise reminds one of an intimate dinner at a european bistro

A friend of mine, Joseph Leon, the owner and creative force behind JL Designs in San Francisco has a love of small, intimate restaurants with well executed classic food, simple ingredients and especially fantastic sauces. I never refuse when he calls and says of any new found eatery, “I have been here three nights in a row—I can't stop—you are going to love it!”

Friday night the latest destination was L'Ardoise at 151 Noe in San Francisco. My first thought when I came up the street was “I know this corner!” Once upon a time it was home to my favorite Thai restaurant, Thai House. After Thai House closed, I forgot about that little restaurant space until now. L'Ardoise, owned by chef Thierry Clement (Fringale) has actually been open over a year and a half, so I did an excellent job of blocking out that location.

This really is a delightful space with 30 or so seats, friendly French waiters, tiny bar, moody lighting and the dark wood and cozy seating of any European bistro. Our favorites are the escargot with parsley sauce, tiger prawn ravioli, coq au vin and duck leg confit with pommes landaises.

Have a glass of Champagne and enjoy tarte tatin to finish. Be sure you make a reservation—you're going to need it!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

bocanova one of the newest additions to the oakland food and dining scene

I go to Oakland fairly frequently for a couple of reasons: one of my best friends, Deidre Joyner, a Realtor with Red Oak Realty, lives there, and two, the town, which in addition to being simply beautiful with deco architecture downtown, mid-century modern in the hills, glittering lights along the lake and the addition of the Cathedral of Christ the Light church, is going through an amazing food and dining metamorphosis.

Deidre, also a CCA grad, is my guide to all things food in Oakland/Berkeley. She would know. She writes a terrific real estate and lifestyle blog called the Oakland Berkeley Journal. A recent drive around the lake revealed the sprawling new Lake Chalet restaurant and at Jack London Square waterfront dining soon to be joined by a giant market place to rival the the Ferry Building in San Francisco.

Our latest destination was Bocanova, 55 Webster at Jack London Square. This Pan-American/Peruvian influenced grill, a spacious, beamed and pillared beauty with communal tables and heated outdoor seating right on the water features organic and sustainable ingredients. We both fell in love with the little gem caesar salad; miniature leaves with perfect caesar dressing, shaved Parmesan and bits of anchovy. The grilled halibut with avocado and pickled vegetables on a torpedo roll was also a winner. Crispy yuca fries made a nice side.

The result? A need to visit Berkeley Bowl West (again) to buy all the ingredients to make our own little gem salad and other goodies. This MEGA food emporium is a foodies sensory overload but in a good way. For Deidre and myself an inspiration to cook more at home with the best possible ingredients.

Check out the food and dining scene in Oakland soon. You'll be glad you did.