James Beard award winner Hiro Sone and Lissa Doumani, the husband-and-wife team behind Terra, the celebrated restaurant in the Napa Valley, recently opened Ame in San Francisco’s St. Regis Hotel. The dining room’s decor is modern Asian, featuring a red-walled kitchen, delicate drapes with gray and black stripes and a sashimi bar by the entrance. The cuisine is a mixture of French and Italian, exquisitely filtered through a Japanese sensibility. My favorites are the tuna tartare with avocado and shaved, sake-cured foie gras, the octopus carpaccio with artichokes and olives in a mint-caper vinaigrette, the wine-braised beef cheeks and the linguine with Dungeness crab. Service is quite leisurely, so expect this to be a full night out. Open daily for dinner.
As one of Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs 2012, Corey Lee can be relied upon to push the boundaries of cuisine in a city teeming with innovative restaurants. Lee’s creativity can be sampled in the 18-course tasting menu (a favorite is monkfish liver, sour cherries, pistachios and cauliflower on a cherry blossom brioche). The restaurant space, designed by award-winner Richard Bloch is inspiring, as is the customized Korean porcelain by artist KwangJuYo.
Tip from chefs Hiro Sone and Lissa Doumani, the husband-and-wife team behind Ame in the St. Regis Hotel.
“This is not a secret, but always a favorite of ours when we want food that makes us happy. Really creative but based on tradition using the best products. Excellent wine list that you can always find something you haven’t had before. Very hard to get into but you can walk in sometimes and sit at the counter at the kitchen, a great place to watch the action and enjoy some of the best food in the city.”
Rated by many the number one dining room in San Francisco since it opened in 1999, the six-time Mobil Five-Star recipient is one of the only reasons to set foot in Fisherman’s Wharf. The casually elegant restaurant boasts an extensive wine list and offers menus of three to six courses that change seasonally, with seven or so tantalizing options per course. Anything with lobster or game is particularly recommended. Signature dishes, including roasted Maine lobster served with morels, asparagus and potato puree; seared foie gras atop caramelized red onions; and braised rhubarb and risotto with rock shrimp, lobster and Meyer lemon, are dazzling—and the service is even better. For the cheese course, you can choose blissfully from among twenty-five artisanal and farmyard varieties. Or try the flambéed pineapple and blueberries with oatmeal ice cream and brown-sugar cake (the chocolate soufflé and the trio of crème brûlée are also divine). Tip: If you haven’t called ahead for a reservation, try to snag one of the eleven seats at the bar, where you can dine à la carte. Open daily for dinner. Reserve two months in advance.
The Dining Room
Chef Ron Siegel trained in the kitchens of Daniel Boulud and Thomas Keller and has the added distinction of being the first American to win on the Japanese TV show Iron Chef. Now, after years at Masa’s, he serves up his wonderful modern French cuisine, with Japanese influences, in the regal restaurant of the Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco, atop Nob Hill. Siegel displays his winning mettle with such dishes as white-corn soup with lobster tartare and Kobe beef with a sauce of abalone mushrooms and sancho peppercorns. I love the bluefin tuna sashimi with a terrine of crab, osetra caviar and lemon from the six-course tasting menu, as well as the baby-lamb ravioli and the grilled eel from the regular menu. Wear your best jewels to dine in this refined atmosphere of wood paneling, luxurious fabrics and warm sconce lighting. Open for dinner. Closed Sunday and Monday. Reserve two weeks in advance.