Best Thing We Ate

8 Best Things We Ate At Eat Drink SF

By Virginia Miller
August 4, 2014
Photo by: Virginia Miller

This weekend, we hit all four grand tastings at Eat Drink SF (formerly SF Chefs), where over 160 restaurants showcased the range and scope of Bay Area chefs alongside wine, spirits and cocktails. Each grand tasting featured 40+ restaurants and chefs from Wine Country down to the Peninsula, switching out for an entirely different set each time. Piles of compostable spoons and plates later, we tried every single bite. So choosing the top eight is no easy task. But here they are, along with thoughts on the inaugural year for the event at Fort Mason Center and a little 2014 trend forecasting, for good measure. 

  • Photo by: Virginia Miller

    1. 1760

    Friday night belonged to 1760. The kitchen served decadent, expensive Hokkaido scallops from Japan as a raw and silky tartare. It came in spoons alongside equally bright uni with a dollop of caviar. Everyone talked about it all weekend long.

  • Photo by: Virginia Miller

    2. Precita Park Cafe

    Buratta, the creamiest of mozzarellas, has been ubiquitous for years around here. But this housemade version, which had a bit of a fluffy ricotta feel, stopped us in our tracks. Banyuls-marinated figs, herb mousse and walnut praline crumble sent it over the top.

  • Photo by: Virginia Miller

    3. Kin Khao

    This exceptional Union Square Thai restaurant served dollops of ground pork and shrimp in coconut milk curry on a rice cracker, providing texture, flavor and comfort in a bite. 

  • Photo by: Virginia Miller

    4. Bourbon Steak

    Made with lamb, fish, beef, you name it — tartare was everywhere this year. This was our favorite of the beef renditions, served on a crispy squid ink chicharon with pickled onion, horseradish yogurt, mustard seeds and an opaque egg yolk disc.

  • Photo by: Virginia Miller

    5. Aveline

    Chef Casey Thompson served our beloved plump, hot crab-and-shrimp macarons in a box on Saturday night, just like they do at the restaurant.

  • Photo by: Virginia Miller

    6 & 7. Tie: Ristobar and Dirty Habit

    A couple luxurious pasta bites caught our attention on Saturday during the day. The first was Ristobar's casoncelli, a stuffed pasta shell originating from Lombardy, Italy. Here, it's filled with polenta taragna (dark buckwheat-cornmeal polenta) and Parmesan cheese and lapped in a tender rabbit sugo. The second was Dirty Habit's fig-stuffed gnocchi, wondrous in foie gras Madeira sauce with almonds and bronzed fennel.

  • Photo by: Virginia Miller

    8. Emporio Rulli

    The dessert crown goes to Emporio Rulli's Sunday offering. While their nutty pistachio cookies were good, this rum and passion fruit-soaked baba (cake) in a cup of housemade marscapone with organic peaches and cinnamon streusel won us over. 

  • Photo by: Virginia Miller

    Always charming chef legend Martin Yan played host to all the live demos during Saturday's daytime grand tasting in massive Fort Mason Center. While we missed the magic and centrality of the tent in Union Square, where the event was hosted the prior five years, the new venue allows more room to roam and to space out the vendors. The space can be sterile, but softer lighting and picnic and VIP sitting areas warmed it up considerably. Another huge bonus: parking was available in Fort Mason lot, except for Friday night when Off the Grid was happening simultaneously.

  • Photo by: Virginia Miller

    A huge highlight was GLIDE Memorial Church's Ensemble choir who made a special appearance on Sunday at the end of the last grand tasting to close out the event. Chefs and attendees danced together in a touching finish.

  • Photo by: Virginia Miller

    2014 Trends: Like last year, there were a few too many sliders in the lineup. But the greater leanings were toward tartare and crudo, which we'll always welcome. There was also an abundance of lamb in everything from meatballs to tartare. Seasonal figs and melon popped up all over the place and, blessedly, there was a lot of caviar in the room. Pictured here is AQ chef Mark Liberman doling out scoops of it in the VIP area.

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Places Mentioned

1760

New American • Polk Gulch

Food23 Decor21 Service22 Cost$56
 
 
 
AQ Restaurant & Bar

American • SoMa

Food25 Decor25 Service24 Cost$85
 
 
 
Emporio Rulli

Dessert • Downtown

Food21 Decor17 Service16 Cost$18
 
 
 
Ristobar

Italian • Marina District

Food20 Decor20 Service21 Cost$44
 
 
 
Kin Khao

Thai • Tenderloin

Food23 Decor15 Service19 Cost$44
 
 
 
Food- Decor- Service- CostM
 
 
 
Bourbon Steak San Francisco

American • Nob Hill

Food25 Decor23 Service22 Cost$89
 
 
 
 
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