Restaurants that we have tried and highly recommend in the San Francisco Bay Area and Napa/Sonoma are:
SAN FRANCISCO RESTAURANTS
1. FLEUR DE LYS (had 1 Michelin Star in 2012)
777 Sutter Street
San Francisco, CA 94109
Celebrity Chef Hubert Keller has one of very favorite restaurants: excellent menu and service. We had the 4-course Vegetarian Feast (Dr. Dave also had wine pairing), and each course was a work of art and tasted fabulous. My favorite was the ragout, but all courses were outstanding and desserts wonderful. The menu has plenty of choices for those who prefer meat, poultry, and fish, too.
The wait staff were attentive, but not intrusive, and were exceptional. Fleur was perfect for dinner before our musical at the Curran Theater. We parked at the Mason O'Farrell Garage near the Curran, walked a few blocks to Fleur, so convenient. We had a terrific surprise - complimentary dessert for our 35th anniversary (see below).
We even met Chef Hubert Keller!
VEGETARIAN FEAST - Here's what we had
FIRST COURSE: Pineapple and vanilla bean agua fresca with spicy sesame kettle corn and beet tartare
SECOND COURSE: Avocado & Frisee salad: seared watermelon, quinoa, green goddess dressing served with golden panisse
THIRD COURSE: Roasted fennel barigoule: white wine and basil fumet, vegetable nage, saffron aioli
FOURTH COURSE: Colorful vegetable ragout with poached egg, truffles and truffle port wine sauce
DESSERT: Chocolate souffle served with cherry and Kirsch ice cream
Amaretto souffle served with creme anglaise perfumed with almond oil and thyme, apricot ice cream and spun sugar.
Complimentary dessert for our 35th anniversary: variety of small dessert samplings including macarons, cookies, tarts, beignets with chocolate sauce and confections.
NAPA/SONOMA AREA RESTAURANTS
1. BOTTEGA NAPA VALLEY (Had 1 Michelin Star in 2011)
6525 Washington St.
Yountville, CA 94599
Food Network's Chef Chiarello runs an excellent restaurant. Wonderful presentation and food from start to finish. Each table gets fresh bread and amazing marinated parmesan dip. The Polenta under glass with Caramelized mushrooms and balsamic sauce, very creamy and delicious. The calamari is the best we've ever had. Raviolo, one large raviolo filled with spinach, ricotta, an egg yolk, topped with black truffles - fabulous. Entrees - spectacular: Braised short ribs that melted in your mouth and Duck three ways (roasted breast, duck liver mousse, shredded duck over watercress with hazelnuts and apples). Tirimisu was excellent.
2. BOUCHON BISTRO - 1 Michelin Star
6534 Washington Street Yountville, CA 94599 707.944.8037 http://bouchonbistro.com/yountville
Food 9/10; Ambience 8/10
Thomas Keller runs several restaurants in Yountville all along the same street: The French Laundry; Ad Hoc, and Bouchon.
At Bouchon, we started off with a fantastic salad: Salade de Coeur de Palmier et Bette raves (hearts of palm & beet salad with poached persimmons, Marcona almonds, watercress & vanilla bean creme fraîche). Our flavorful entrees: Poulet Rôti (roasted chicken, butternut squash puree, celery root, poached currants & buckwheat crêpes with brown butter jus) and Gigot d'Agneau (roasted leg of lamb, crispy panisse, braised Swiss chard, roasted peppers with lamb jus).
We did not have dessert here, but went next door to Bouchon Bakery (see #3 below).
3. BOUCHON BAKERY 6534 Washington Street Yountville, CA 94599 707.944.8037 http://bouchonbistro.com/yountville
Food 9/10; Ambience 7/10
Always a long line, but it moves fairly quickly. Lots of delicious bakery items from which to choose. Our favorites were the fabulous twice baked almond croissants and hazelnut macarons.
EAST BAY RESTAURANTS
1. COMMIS - 1 Michelin Star
3859 Piedmont Ave, Oakland, CA 94611-5378
FOOD 10/10; AMBIENCE 7/10
Dr. Dave and Dr. Dee have tried several Michelin star restaurants, and Commis ranks at the top. The 7 courses with wine pairings were excellent. Presentation was amazing and food incredibly delicious. Each dish and wine is explained in detail as they are presented. All the courses were wonderful, but one of my favorites was the egg with potato. The restaurant does not have their name on the outside of their establishment, so have the exact address handy. Inside is small and not fancy, but still a nice place. It was my birthday, and they had a nice little card that the staff had signed. One of our new favorite places, just loved it.
The price was very reasonable as well. Seven courses for $75, with wine pairing additional $45.
Here’s what we had:
1) Herbed toast with trout roe, puffed mackerel
2) Pacific coast oysters
3) Asparagus with sweet peas in buttermilk and ginger, licorice mint
4) Slow poached egg with sweet and savor/spices, warm potato
5) Steamed halibut
Tisane of button mushrooms
Shaved basil with apricot
7) Chamomile milk tea with strawberries, buckwheat and honey
2. ORIENTAL TEA HOUSE
604 MacArthur Boulevard
San Leandro, CA 94577
FOOD 10/10 Best Dim Sum;
Some of the best dim sum in the Bay Area (i.e. baked pork buns, steamed dumplings, rice noodle rolls, lotus leaf sticky rice, egg tarts, sesame balls).
Dinner was excellent as well. Favorites: beef soup, honey walnut shrimp, beef & tofu.
3. RESTAURANT PEONY
388 - 9th St # 288
Oakland, CA 94607
FOOD 10/10 Best Peking Duck;
Excellent Peking Duck and honey glazed walnut prawns.
4. FENTON'S CREAMERY
4226 Piedmont Avenue
Oakland, CA 94611-4749
Food 10/10 Best Ice Cream;
Ambience 8/10 retro decor
The best ice cream in the Bay Area. Ice cream made on the premises. Our favorite is the Black & Tan: Toasted Almond and creamy Vanilla ice cream layered with their handmade caramel and chocolate fudge, topped with toasted almonds,
whipped cream and cherry. Great crab salad sandwich and chocolate shakes, too.
5. GATHER RESTAURANT
2200 Oxford St.
Berkeley, CA 94704
Innovative, amazing, delicious menu consisting of 50% vegetarian and 50% meat and fish. Gather supports local food producers and selects foods that are cultivated safely, justly, and sustainable. Menu changes throughout the season to bring the sweet spot of each season using fruits and vegetables at their peak.
One must try is the Vegan "Charcuterie" and when we were there consisted of these 4 items:
1. Strawberries – coconut milk, braised dried fruit, rhubarb, basil
2. Trumpet mushroom – Cannellini bean, spring onion, horseradish, herb salad
3. Chickpeas – dried Habañero, English pea, cilantro
4. Mushroom tartare – spring vegetables, radish salsa, Nepitella
5. CHEESE BOARD PIZZA
1512 Shattuck Ave.
Berkeley, CA 94709
FOOD 10/10 Best Pizza in Berkeley
AMBIENCE 6/10 very small, nothing fancy, but laid back
Fun place to get a fantastic vegetarian pizza. Only one type of pizza is served daily. Long lines, but it moves fast, and there is a live band playing while you wait, so the atmosphere is laid back. Seating is limited, but folks often eat in the center divider grass strip in the middle of the street, which is prohibited by the city. Note: closed Sundays and Mondays
A different pizza each day, examples of pizza:
TUES: Asparagus, Red bell peppers, Cheddar cheese, Mozzarella, Gremolata, Garlic olive oil
WED: Roasted potatoes, Chile pasilla, Onions, Bulgarian feta cheese, Mozzarella, Mexican key limes, Cilantro, Garlic olive oil
THURS: Fresh corn, Onions, French Feta cheese, Mozzarella, Basil pesto (PINE NUTS)
FRI: Roma tomatoes, Red onions, Aged asiago cheese, Mozzarella, Fresh herbs, Garlic olive oil.
SAT: Crimini mushrooms, Roasted onions, Fresh asiago cheese, Mozzarella, Baby spinach, Italian parsley, Garlic olive oil.