Best of Northside Food & Wine 2008
The Kitchenless Cook’s most decadent dishes of 2008
By Bill Knutson
Cured pork belly on lentil and foie gras ragout: Jeanty at Jack’s
615 Sacramento Street (near Montgomery), 415-693-0941, www.jeantyatjacks.com
You had me at pork belly. But when you add a perfectly seared medallion of foie gras and serve it over a bowl of lentils cooked in the richest, most savory broth I have had in years, I was pushed over the edge. This is the ultimate comfort food.
Boudin blanc: Spruce
3640 Sacramento Street (at Spruce, 415-931-5100, www.sprucesf.com
With the waiting list for a table at Spruce about six weeks long, I find the best way to eat there is going early and eating at the bar. The other advantage to this is that you get to order off the bar menu, which includes the boudin blanc. This rich, creamy sausage is traditionally prepared for the holidays, but at Spruce you can celebrate yearlong.
517 Hayes Street (at Octavia), 415-864-2181
When eating sushi, I like to spend time getting to know the chef and sharing my tastes before I ask for recommendations. But when I was invited to try the omakase on my first visit, I had a little trepidation. Omakase literally means “entrust,” but is commonly referred to as “chef’s choice.” As I watched our chef deftly prepare our meal and took the first few bites, I realized I was in for one of those special meals that I will talk about for many years to come.
Focaccia bread: Da Flora
701 Columbus Street (at Filbert), 415-981-4664, www.daflorasf.com
If I had a dollar for every time I heard “don’t fill up on bread, save room for your dinner,” I would be able to save a few small banks right now. At Da Flora, the bread is so good, that the opposite is true. I always make sure I leave plenty of sauce on my plate, just to see how good it will taste with the bread. I even ask the server to bring me some to have with my dessert. The bread has a light, airy texture and is slightly sweet, which is balanced out by the wonderful saltiness of the crust.
– B. Knutson