This favorite on the top floor of the Hotel Palomar has reopened after a much-needed overhaul. Laurent Manrique of Aqua consulted on the cuisine and the former sous chef at Ame, Jennie Lorenzo, has been installed as the chef. Of course, French food will still be on the menu but the promise is that dishes will be lighter than before so you can expect a Gascon gourmet has been put on a California diet. A new addition will be a cafe in the front.
Opened in October 2006, Perbacco has quickly become one of the hottest destinations in town. Chef Staffan Terje hails from Sweden and was formerly executive chef at Scala’s Bistro; owner Umberto Gibin is from Italy and worked at Masa’s and Fifth Floor. Their combined talents result in Piedmontese and Ligurian cuisine with a hint of Provence. At this trendy eatery, which features two dining rooms and ample seating in the bar area, the menu changes daily. It may include pappardelle with a braised-short-rib ragù and roasted wild mushrooms; braised sea bass with tomatoes, leeks, garlic and white wine; Ligurian salt cod with potato gratin; or warm pig’s-head terrine. The brick walls and Carrara marble floor tiles make for slightly rackety acoustics, so don’t expect an intimate experience, but the food is so good and prices so moderate that many locals come here at least once a week. Closed for lunch Saturday and all day Sunday.
San Francisco foodies tend to get stars in their eyes when you mention the names of Quince’s chef, Michael Tusk, and his wife, Lindsay. Michael was formerly at Chez Panisse and Lindsay at Boulevard, so together at Quince, they bring all of that scrupulous attention to fresh and local ingredients to their French-Italian palette. Overall, Tusk’s sensibilities are very San Francisco chic: romantic, rustic and refined. As an added bonus, the restaurant is hidden away on a charming residential street in lower Pacific Heights, where an old apothecary used to be. Everyone loves the Venetian glass chandeliers and flowers throughout from the moment that they walk in. Indagare Tip: If you have friends in San Francisco, book the private table in the kitchen for a group of around ten people. There, you sit at a chunky wooden table and the chef brings you food straight from his imagination.
Seasons at Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco
While you can’t call the dining room in this luxury hotel new, chef Jeremy Emmerson is mixing things up by ditching the white tablecloths for a more casual ambience and focusing the evening tasting menu on local produce, Hawaiian seafood and Wagyu beef. A three-course tasting menu is only $59.
Charles Phan’s elegant Vietnamese eatery, with huge windows facing the water. Whether you have Malpeque oysters from the raw bar or crispy softshell crab with pineapple anchovy sauce or chicken claypot with caramel sauce, you will not soon forget a meal here.
Launched by Nate Applebaum, the ex-chef of A16, SPQR reopened in the fall of 2009 under a new chef and with a new look and menu. Matthew Accarino left behind the sunny hills of Los Angeles, where he cooked at Craft (he was also the opening sous chef at Per Se in New York), to take the helm of the downtown restaurant. The menu is contemporary Italian, which translates into such dishes as linguini with wild boar ragout and fava beans; petrale sole with cauliflowers and capers; and faro-stuffed quail with Umbrian lentils. The wine list is all-Italian as well. The dining space is beautifully lit , has banquette seating along the walls and features an open kitchen, which always adds to a congenial vibe. Dinner daily; brunch Saturday and Sunday.
This restaurant, which opened on the third floor of Neiman Marcus after the store’s remodeling was completed, is my new place for lunch. It features everything from light salads to hearty pulled-pork sandwiches.
UPDATE: This restaurant is now closed.
Tip from chefs Hiro Sone and Lissa Doumani, the husband-and-wife team behind Ame in the St. Regis Hotel.
“We love coming here for a light bite and a great drink in the completely remodeled dining room. The energy is young and hip and you just feel like you can relax and hang out with friends. No pressure to do anything, just enjoy yourself and the food is great easy to share.”