Since 1969, restaurant, hotel, travel & other witty reviews by a handpicked, worldwide team of discerning professionals—and your views, too.




The Global Bistro

on December 09th, 2011
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  • pinitbutton The Global Bistro
pravda restaurant wellington new zealand 300x225 The Global Bistro

A bust of Lenin on the bar at Pravda in Wellington, New Zealand

by André Gayot

Installed in a former butcher shop, where not much has changed since the nineteenth century except for a few recently added scars on the wall to render it even more authentic, Bistrot Paul Bert in Paris must be one of the most bistro-ish bistros of the world and possibly one of the most emblematic. The bistrot — with a ’t’ or without — is now a part of our lifestyle and an indispensible component of a gastronomically civilized city. We are well used to its format: the zinc bar, banquettes, white marble top tables, chalkboard menu, waiters clad in black aprons, steak frites and blanquette de veau, and the house red wine.

A similar setting, and may we say philosophy of joie de vivre and conviviality, reigns in New York’s Millesime, Chicago’s Bistrot Zinc, San Francisco’s Chez Papa Bistrot and Los Angeles’ Bouchon. Traveling on the bistro trail around the world is one way to avoid feeling like a stranger far from home.

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Michael Hung at bushi-tei

on November 28th, 2011
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  • pinitbutton Michael Hung at bushi tei
tataki1 300x258 Michael Hung at bushi tei

Tataki of Hawaiian albacore

by Tiffany Maleshefski

Michael Hung’s transformation of Japantown’s venerable fusion restaurant bushi-tei is for the most part, complete. After about eight months in the kitchen, the 33-year old chef is clearly putting heavy emphasis on the restaurant’s Japanese notes. Not to say he’s abandoning the French and Californian influences that earned the restaurant and its opening chef, Seiji Wakabayashi, so many accolades. There’s still foie gras, brioche, bacon and serrano chiles on the menu. It’s just clear that Hung is doing what it takes to distinguish himself from his amazingly talented and esteemed predecessor.

It’s a smart move since he’s only the second chef to run the restaurant’s kitchen since it opened in 2005. Who wants to just live in Wakabayashi’s shadow, especially when this is your first-ever executive chef role? That leaves too much risk for side-by-side comparisons.

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  • pinitbutton Presidio Social Club: From Army Barrack to Fine Dining
meatloaf 300x225 Presidio Social Club: From Army Barrack to Fine Dining

Meatloaf at Presidio Social Club

by Tiffany Apczynski

Presidio Social Club is one of those out-of-the-way restaurants in San Francisco that nobody ever minds going the extra mile or bus route to get there. It’s located in a quaint clapboard building in the city’s Presidio national park that operated as an army barrack long before it was a fine dining establishment. The interior has this 1930s clubby feel to it and its atmosphere exudes post-colonial design.

When it opened four years ago, it did so with a bit of a bang. Folks not only liked the location and vibe, but Ray Tang’s menu of upscale comfort food won diners over immediately. But Tang, who is a co-owner of the restaurant, left the kitchen two years ago, and, well, the menu started to slide.

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  • pinitbutton Chotto: Traditional Japanese Izakaya in San Francisco
tuna1 300x265 Chotto: Traditional Japanese Izakaya in San Francisco

Bigeye tuna with avocado and spicy sweet sauce from Chotto restaurant

by Tiffany Apczynski

Born in Madrid, Spain, Armando Justo has a culinary background deeply entrenched in European cuisine. So, the fact that the young chef is helming a traditional Japanese izakaya is, well, unexpected. But Justo, who cut his teeth while serving as sous-chef at Ozumo and Yoshi’s in San Francisco, boldly struck out on his own recently with Chotto, a Japanese izakaya located in the city’s Marina neighborhood. The decision so far seems to be a very good one.

What’s most impressive about Justo’s menu is its accessibility. Whether you eat Japanese food three to four times a week or a year, Chotto’s menu will keep experienced palates excited and curious, and less experienced palates open to new dishes and flavor profiles. Meanwhile, its warm, welcoming atmosphere makes it a great neighborhood restaurant to drop in for a drink and simply a few nibbles.

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  • pinitbutton Seasons Does Steak in San Francisco
seasons filet 240x300 Seasons Does Steak in San Francisco

Hearst Ranch filet with green peppercorn and Bourbon sauce

by Tiffany Apczynski

In San Francisco, steakhouses are back! Once at risk of falling into obscurity, and with them, the surf and turf menu entry, modern steakhouses are now all the rage. 2011 Best Restaurateur in the U.S. Michael Mina is behind the successful Bourbon Steak. Alexander’s Steakhouse offers tasting menus that can go as high as $390. 5A5 offers prime meat with a side order of weekend dance parties. These meat palaces have all breathed new life into this tried-and-true restaurant genre.

Joining its elite colleagues, Seasons, the swank restaurant situated on the fifth floor of the Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco, has gone and revamped its longtime conventional menu to that of the “modern steakhouse.” What this really means is a versatile menu from executive chef Mark Richardson that is fit for steak lovers and everyone else. But, boy, does Richardson do amazing things with steak.

Each cut can be ordered with an impressive selection of sauces. For our little slice of a heavenly Hearst Ranch filet, we chose the green peppercorn and Bourbon sauce — but soon abandoned it in order to savor every bit of our naked steak’s gorgeous crust and utter tenderness.

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  • pinitbutton A Perfect Brasserie Style Restaurant

by Sophie Gayot

In our latest Annual Restaurant Issue, we introduced a new award category: our Top 10 Insider Picks in the U.S. For ten different cities, we recommend one restaurant where readers should go if they only have one night to pick a place for dinner.

For San Francisco, Michael Mina’s RN74 was our choice. People may argue that there are some classic fine dining establishments in SF that should be the destination for that one special night, and some of them are on our Top 40 Restaurants in the U.S. list. But people already know about those places, while I think RN74 is somewhat of a hidden gem.

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  • pinitbutton 2011 Best Restaurateur in the U.S.

by Sophie Gayot

Every year we pick the best of the best when it comes to restaurants, and compile them in our Annual Restaurant Issue.

The categories include the Top 40 Restaurants in the U.S., Top 10 New Restaurants in the U.S., Top 10 Steakhouses in the U.S., and Top 40 Cheap Eats in the U.S. But there’s only one category where we pick a single winner, and that’s for the Best Restaurateur of the Year in the U.S.

For 2011, we have chosen chef Michael Mina. Read Mina’s profile to find out why we selected him, and watch my exclusive video interview with him shot during my recent visit to his new flagship restaurant Michael Mina in San Francisco.

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Brunch & Bubbly

on March 30th, 2011
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  • pinitbutton Brunch & Bubbly
silks1 300x225 Brunch & Bubbly

Israeli couscous at Silks restaurant in San Francisco

by Tiffany Maleshefski

What’s the best thing about brunch? Mimosas. And the best thing about mimosas? Champagne. So thanks be to the brilliant minds at Silks, the stunning dining room inside the Mandarin Oriental, San Francisco, which has given the world the build-your-own Champagne cocktail bar. For $20, guests can enjoy endless Champagne cocktails they’ve designed themselves at the restaurant’s Sunday brunch. Guests can create their cocktails from a rather lengthy list of recommended recipes or go rogue and put together their own bubbly concoctions with an impressive spread of accoutrements.

We took the bar for a spin and started out with the more traditional: a sugar cube, a few dashes of bitters, and a lemon twist.

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Epic Happy Hour Deals

on March 21st, 2011
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  • pinitbutton Epic Happy Hour Deals
epic roasthouse1 240x300 Epic Happy Hour Deals

The Incider is one of many great cocktails available for only $5 during happy hour at Epic Roasthouse

by Tiffany Maleshefski

Since it first opened its doors on the Embarcadero in San Francisco, Epic Roasthouse has hosted one of the city’s BEST happy hours. For three and a half generous hours, the restaurant’s upstairs lounge, Quiver Bar, slings $5 cocktails, $5 wines by the glass, and $3 beers. And did we mention the unobstructed views of the San Francisco Bay and the sweet selection of snacks for $3? It’s awesome and usually draws a wide range of people, many of whom consider the full-service restaurant below to be way out of their price range.

Well, that coveted happy hour just got even better.

For starters, there’s a revamped cocktail menu. All-star bartender Camber Lay, who was responsible for getting Epic’s popular happy hour off the ground, parted ways with Epic late last year. Now, the collective bar staff is pitching in to keep the cocktail menu lively and updated.

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Resolutions or Desserts?

on January 06th, 2011
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  • pinitbutton Resolutions or Desserts?
four seasons sf sorbet 300x225 Resolutions or Desserts?

Raspberry sorbet with house-made chocolate tiles

by Tiffany Maleshefski

We’ve already described the holiday offerings at the bar and lounge at the Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco. But the hotel’s new pastry chef Jeffrey Wurtz may have you postponing your resolutions to get healthy and eat right. The recent addition to the team, who has worked with Daniel Boulud, Alain Ducasse and Joël Robuchon, has brought with him an upscale, sophisticated dessert menu that is now in step with Seasons‘ highbrow dinner menu. Try a brioche crouton plated with caramelized apple and melon sorbet.

Wurtz also has a penchant for gold leaf, and the fancy accoutrement is seen in almost every dish he sends out. Here it is with a refreshing and light raspberry sorbet served with elegant house-made chocolate tiles (and more comforting chocolate crunchies underneath).

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