A Slice of San Francisco

Friday, June 8, 2012

I was in San Francisco all of last week for a trauma/critical care conference.  If you know me, it was definitely NOT all work and no play.  I played a lot, saw a lot, and of course ATE a lot. I have been avoiding the scale ever since I came home.

My first stop was Tartine Bakery, the infamous café in the heart of Mission District. 

 Lucky for me, I came there around 2 P.M. so all the people who needed their Tartine fix were either at work or somewhere else.   

I ordered the Jambon Royale & Gruyère.  It was HUGE.  Splitting it with a friend would be wise because I had mine for lunch and dinner. 

Being a passion fruit fanatic, I had eyed the Passion Fruit Lime Bavarian cake the minute I walked in the doorIt was not as good as I had imagined.  The cake was a bit dry but the passion fruit cream was spot on.   

I will have to come back and try a few more pastries and sandwiches before I can decide if Tartine is worth all the hype.

On the way back to the bart station, I happened to walk by Pot and Pantry and decided to take a peek.  And no it’s not an eaterie, but a cute kitchen shop.   

The shop owner, Donna, was very gracious and let me take a few pictures.  

I love the quote from Julia Child on her window and many antique items she carries.  I refrained from buying whatever my heart desired.  Vu would be proud knowing that I only walked away with one item! 

There was another home store that I visited in the Pacific Heights neighborhood called March Pantry that I fell in love with.  Unfortunately, I decided to leave my camera at the hotel so I have no pictures to show you how lovely it is.  I can’t really afford most of the things they carry but it was still fun to gawk at their items.  Ben was the only one in the store and we spent at least 30 minutes chatting about handcrafted, one of a kind ceramic, jewelry, and artwork.  I have never experience such wonderful customer service, not even at Nordstrom. 

My first dining experience was at Café Claude, a cute bistro in the back of alley.  It has an amazing ambiance and brought back fond memories of Paris, but the dining experience was not impressive.   

The steak was ok but a bit pricey.  My favorite part of the plate was the asparagus.  They were tender and seasoned perfectly.  Can't say the same about the steak though.  

Who doesn't love a drink with a name like that?!!!  I had eaten at another French restaurant nearby, Café de la Presse, and would definitely pick that over Café Claude.

Knowing how much I love food, a couple friends picked me up for a popular food truck event, Off the Grid, at Fort Mason Center.  

The best thing I had that night was the Chairman bao with pork belly.  Genius!  Forget Peking duck!  The Seoul fries and shrimp garlic noodle were pretty good too.  If you happen to be in the city on a Friday, give it a try!   

For another night I met up with a few friends and had dinner at Chapeau, a French bistro in the Richmond area.   

It was definitely one those dining experiences that I will never forget.  Chef Philippe came out and greeted everyone.  When I told him how sad I was that the foie gras was no longer on his menus, he said he would make an exception for our table.  Awesome!  

My favorite dishes of the night were the foie gras appetizer, porcini crusted veal sweetbreads, and rabbit leg.  Chef Philippe’s passion for his cuisine shined through and his infectious personality definitely made me want to visit the restaurant again.

Instead of ordering dessert, we headed to Bi-Rite Creamery for a frozen treat.  We ordered six different flavors but the salted caramel and balsamic strawberry were the clear winners for me.   

Bi-Rite definitely won me over.  I am impatiently waiting for their book, Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones, to come in the mail.  Amazon, please ship my book!  My ice cream machine is ready to go! 

Just when my taste buds thought they were done for the night, one of the girls had a craving for avocado ice cream so we drove to Mitchell’s ice cream immediately after we finished our Bi-Rite scoops.   

While my stomach was not too happy with another onslaught of dairy products, I was excited to discover an ice cream that tastes like sinh to bo (Vietnamese avocado smoothie).  I cannot wait to attempt such a wonderful flavor.   

On my last day in SF, my friend and I had lunch at Pompei’s Grotto.   

Their cioppino was pretty good.  It reminded me of my favorite dish at Jake’s Del Mar, the mixed seafood pot.   

We ended our wonderful afternoon at Ghirardelli Square.  Sometimes, you just need a good old fashion scoop of cookie and cream ice cream, nothing fancy, and it’s so satisfying. 

I had a lot of fun on this trip, exploring the different neighborhoods of San Francisco whether by foot, muni, bart, or cable car.  My muscles were sore in places I didn’t even know existed but it was worth it.   San Francisco, you got me good!  I will have to come back with Vu and revisit some of these places and discover new ones as well.

Unfortunately, my trip ended on a sour note.  I had a five hour flight delay courtesy of Virgin America.  I was at the airport since 7 P.M. and didn’t even make it home until 3:30 A.M. the next day.  Virgin America lied to us about why our flight was delayed.  Some lame excuses about runway construction and all the flights being pushed back.  But 5 hours?  Seriously?  One of their pilots accidentally let it slip that they had mechanical problems with their plane and were still trying to get parts to fix it.  Everyone was upset with the lack of communication from Virgin America.  Not one single passenger got a text regarding the delay.  Why do you need our phone number again?  Maybe Southwest can teach them a few lessons about communication.  When some passengers asked about changing flights since they had missed their connecting flights, Virgin America responded they would have to pay the extra fee for changing flights.  ABSURD, isn’t it!!!  When asked about compensation for our 5 hour delay, we were told that we would get a $25 voucher toward our next flight.  What a slap in the face!  Thank you Virgin America for the lack of communication, accountability, and respect for your customers!  This was my first and last time flying Virgin America.  Like many other passengers, I will be writing a letter to Virgin America expressing my distaste for the whole experience.  Sigh.  Sorry, I couldn't help myself.  I had to vent...  On a different note, I will share my happier experience with the Ferry Building for the next post!   


  1. Sorry for your troubles with the airlines which is pretty common nowadays, but it looks like you crammed a lot of really fun/good stuff.

    How did you pick out these places? Do you have friends there, or have you been there before? Many times we travel only to find out when I get back that I missed some quality places. That really frustrates me. I am always curious how others are making dining choices. BTW, I would have never made it out of the kitchen store.

    As always, great post, great photos.

    1. Hi Madonna! I have a few friends who lived in SF and gave me suggestions for places to grab lunch and dinner. I also relied on yelp. Since I didn't have a car, I used yelp to find restaurants near my hotel for quick bites. If you ever visit SF, Bi-Rite and Chapeau are my two favorites from the trip!