You Only “Liver” Once – Saying Goodbye to Foie Gras

2367 Market St
(between 16th St & Noe St)
San Francisco, CA 94114
Neighborhood: Castro

Rated: ♣♣♣

As you may have heard, California is saying goodbye to foie gras on June 30, 2012. To celebrate our last experience with the beloved foie gras, we dined at Bisou in the Castro a day before the ban went into effect for an un-foie-gras-table meal. Haha, see what I did there?

We ordered the foie gras tasting menu complete with an appetizer, entree and dessert ($75/p). Five foie gras’ later, I’m happy to say my goodbyes to the little fatty goose livers.

Foie Gras Pavé – Cool, buttery pavé de foie gras on toast and drizzled with an orange syrup. This was amazingly delicious.

Bisou Foie Gras Pave

Beef Duo – Filet mignon topped with a piece of torched foie gras and shaved truffles and beef bourguignon with a piece of seared foie gras on top of a brioche bun. I almost quit halfway to save myself, but my greed got the best of me. I was a little relieved when I discovered the hidden pile of spinach hiding underneath the filet.

Bisou Beef Duo

Shortcake w/Ice Cream – Foie Gras ice cream and two pieces of dense shortcake. At this point, I could not take any more. To top it off, I have no clue why anyone would think foie gras ice cream would taste delicious. The ice cream tasted like iron and there was no amount of raspberry sauce to overpower the taste. I was almost offended by this dish, but then K and I concluded that this was the perfect way to say goodbye to foie gras.

Bisou Foie Gras Shortbread

Other than the dessert, I think Bisou did a great job of celebrating foie gras with their tasting menu. But after this meal, I’ve learned that foie gras is best eaten in small increments.

Let me take a second to comment on the vibe of this restaurant. Bisou is much louder and trendier than its older but cuter sister restaurant ChouChou in Forrest Hill (which was sold to a new owner a few years ago). Decked out in purple padded walls and black booths, all the single people in the Castro are standing at the bar talking and laughing over the blaring club music. Though every time I come to Bisou, I feel very out of place. It could be because the owner seems to know, kiss and hug everyone in the restaurant but “grandma”  me and “grandpa” K. But K and I keep coming back, leaving satisfied.

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The Liberty Café – San Francisco

Liberty Cafe Sign

Rated: ♣♣♣♣

If you were to ask K what his favorite pie was, what would you guess? Apple pie? Peach pie? Pecan pie? No, no, his favorite is chicken pot pie. And you’ll get a really good one here at The Liberty Café. This cute little bakery slash restaurant on Cortland St. serves up French cuisine using local Californian ingredients.

Ever since we got the house, K and I cut back on eating out. We’ve been trying to recoup our savings as well as acquire furniture! Well a few nights ago, we finally made a dinner date and tried The Liberty Café. We’ve been meaning to come here for years since everyone in my family has gone and raved about their famous chicken pot pie.

When walking through the door, we were first greeted with two very friendly waiters. I had a reservation, so we were quickly seated at what I think is the best seat in the house – a table nestled within the front bay window perfectly strung with white sparkle lights. We were about to order one pot pie each, but was quickly warned by the waitress that the portions were large. Wow, how nice of her to warn us! With one chicken pot pie though, we still managed to eat an obscene amount of food. But everything was so tasty, I did not regret one bite.

We started off with the night’s special, tuna tartare. Little pieces of fresh tuna were mixed with shallots, capers, micro greens and a little quail egg split in two. The dressing was very light and I think I tasted a hint of mustard. The tuna was also served with crusty crostinis. I was really impressed with this dish. I noticed that the chef put a lot of thought into the ingredients of the dish because the the shallots and capers were diced very small so that their pungent flavors wouldn’t over power the tuna.

Liberty Cafe Tuna Tartare

Next, was the star of the night… chicken pot pie! The pie was perfect. The gravy wasn’t too salty and it had a thick consistency. The carrots, potatoes and peas still had a slightly firm texture which meant that this pie was made to order. These babies were definitely not pre-made and frozen. Our side of kale was super tasty too. You can’t go wrong when it’s sauteed in garlic!

Liberty Cafe Pot Pie Inside

Liberty Cafe Kale

Alas, we come to dessert. Banana cream pie with 6 whole inches of homemade whipped cream. The bananas were thick cut and fresh. The crust was thin and flaky, and though the whipped cream looks heavy in the picture, it was light and airy.

Liberty Liberty Cafe Banana Cream Pie

Well, I think K and I found our new date spot at this well-established café in Bernal Heights. The place is quaint, romantic and yummy. Check out our cleaned plates!

Liberty Cafe Empty Plates

The Liberty Café
410 Cortland Ave
(between Bennington St & Wool St)
San Francisco, CA 94110
Neighborhood: Bernal Heights

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Zazie – San Francisco

Zazie Florentine BenedictZazie
941 Cole St
(between Carl St & Parnassus Ave)
San Francisco, CA 94117
Neighborhood: Cole Valley

Rated: ♣♣

I really want to give this place 4 clubs, I really do. The food was great, the ambiance of the outdoor seating is beautiful, but Zazie well deserves 2 clubs because of the lack of service and wait for it…. mice. Yes! Mice! I had my back turned against a fence covered in ivy and I heard rustling going on behind me. I dismissed it thinking it was a bird, but after we left the restaurant, K informed me that it was 2 little mice! Gross!

The scene:

In addition to Jack and Gus Gus, service was just plain terrible. I saw every other customer in the restaurant receiving amazing service from the staff, but we were getting no love. First of all, the host completely skipped our name when he was seating guests. The host said it was probably because the parties after us had a different group size, but I pointed out 2 other names on his list with the same party size as me. And then his response was, “Oh, well I guess I did skip your name then.” No apology, no offer for a discount or free item, nothing.

After we were seated, we were in and out of the restaurant in 1/2 hour. No joke. They even gave our check when we were still eating our entrée. Did I mention, this was on my birthday?

The food:

As I mentioned earlier, I really hate that I loved the food at this place. What I liked about Zazie is that you have the option to order small, medium and large portions – each about $1 difference. Since it was my birthday, K and I were doing a food tour around SF and we had to save our appetite for our next venture.

Gingerbread Pancakes – This was probably one of the best pancake dishes I’ve ever had. The pancake was topped with a very ripe bosc pear and a dab of lemon curd. The spiciness of the chewy pancake was balanced by the tartness of the lemon curd and the sweetness of the pear – a great combination indeed.

Forentine Benedict – Atop of an English muffin lies a bed of spinach, sautéed portabello mushrooms and a poached egg. Although the egg was a little overcooked, the freshness of the ingredients is what celebrated the dish. No need for fancy seasonings and toppings on this one.

Lemonade – What goes great with brunch on a sunny day? Fresh squeezed lemonade. But, you’ll have to make your own lemonade here. Zazie hands you 2 cups with an ounce of fresh squeezed lemon juice, a container of simple syrup and a jug of water. It’s up to you to make the perfect combination. I would much rather prefer them to make the lemonade since I always overdo the sugar.

I will probably come back to Zazie to give them another shot, but it will take some time for my wounds to heal.

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Chez Papa – San Francisco

Chez Papa StorefrontChez Papa
Neighborhood: Potrero Hill
1401 18th St
(between Connecticut St & Missouri St)
San Francisco, CA 94107

Rated: ♣♣♣♣

I’ve been a little lazy with posts recently, and I’ve been meaning to write one on Valentines Day. K and I don’t really celebrate this holiday big anymore, but we decided to try the very popular Chez Papa Bistrot for dinner Friday night.

The owners must make a killing on the restaurant. Chez Papa Bistrot is the sister restaurant to the original Chez Papa Resto in the old mint by SF Shopping Center and to Chez Maman which is only a couple storefronts down from Chez Papa Bistrot.

The scene:

The atmosphere is lively and intimate and the wait staff is the friendliest I’ve ever encountered at a French restaurant. The restaurant got really packed around 8:30pm, and the waiter never rushed us to clear our table for the next guests.

The food:

For 2 people, the bill came out to $100, but it was worth every penny.

Bread – To me, one of the most important things to judge a French restaurant on is the bread. Although not as good as ChouChou’s in Forest Hill, the bread was still above average bread. It was airy, soft, and chewy, and the olive oil/tapenade they served with it was amazing! If the bread had been warm and crusty, that would have been the icing on the cake.

Grilled artichokes stuffed with gorgonzola, wrapped in prosciutto & arugula salad – The baby-sized artichoke hearts were wrapped in a light dough and baked in the oven, halved and dabbed with a gorgonzola sauce. The cheese was so potent, you can tell it was a high quality gorgonzola.

Foie gras “au torchon” with kumkuat marmalade, shaved pistachio, vanilla gastrique and brioche – They served the foie gras as a pate that night and it was almost like eating pure butter (which is a good thing). We spread the pate on the brioche and topped it with the kumkuat marmalade and devoured the livery goodness. My heart cried for the little ducks, but my tastebuds were craving for more.

Sautéed petrale sole with leek fondue, dungeness crab and fines herbs, winter citrus – This was so good! The fish was lightly floured and browned and it sat on a bed of tender leeks and dungeness crab. The fondue sauce wasn’t as rich or over-powering as I thought it would be. The thin slice of grapefruit was unexpected and very complementing to the dish. It cut right through the creaminess of the dish.

Roasted pork tenderloin with braised red cabbage, parsnip puree and apple cider sauce – The pork was so tender, you barely had to chew to get it to swallow. The red cabbage was sauteed with pancetta and was topped with apple cider sauce.

Apple Tart Tatin w/creme fraiche – Really, one of the best desserts I’ve ever had. The apples were so tender, they melted in my mouth. The caramel, cinnamon, and apples really hit the spot for comfort food.

I think Chez Papa is my favorite restaurant of the moment. I’d love to come back soon to try other items off the menu.

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