San Francisco – EverydayInsider! (TM) Trip 12C

EverydayInsider’s! tour of San Francisco continues with the Russian Hill – Union Street neighborhoods. These are on San Francisco’s famed 49 Mile Drive circuit. From Van Ness Avenue to Steiner, Union Street’s Victorian buildings now house art galleries, antique shops, specialty stores, restaurants, coffee houses and pubs.

And, today I am suggesting some upscale restaurants in the Russian or Nob Hill area which are well regarded. In fact, many people think the first one is the best in the City!

___ La Folie

Over the past 22 years, La Folie has evolved from a modest brasserie. Chef-owner Roland Passot slowly upgraded the food and decor to at least four-star status. Chef Passot was trained by the best. His menu is true, pure French, but with a California lightness and truck-driver portions!

He only offers a “set menu” that is a one fixed-price menu which is from three to five courses. However, there are often a few other treats. Passot took out seats, increased the size of tables and covered the walls in rich wood and soft fabrics – now dining is able to be pleasant in this room.

His European specialties include: warm pig’s feet; sweetbread and lobster terrine; roti of quail and squab stuffed with mushrooms and wrapped in potato strings; warm Edam cheese souffle with fromage blanc sorbet and chocolate fondant. You will need reservations and before making them, find out that night’s menu is to your liking.

La Folie is a playful Gallic restaurant and one of the most romantic French restaurants in town. You will find La Folie is a comfortable, elegant destination where New French cuisine is a work of art. Its generous portions are a far cry from hoity-toity French restaurants.

Expect the prices to match the ingenuity and a dinner for two will be at least: $95 per person for 5 courses, $85 pp for 4 course dinner, or $65 per person for the 3 course dinner. This experience can easily be a 3 hour dinner.

La Folie
2316 Polk St. (near Green), San Francisco
Tel. (415) 776-5577
Attire: Dressy
Wheelchair Accessible: Yes
Price Range: $75-$95 (fixed price)
Hours: Open for dinner 5:30-10:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday.

___ Acquerello

For a long time, much of Russian Hill was a vibrant Italian neighborhood, so it is not surprising to find Acquerello which is known for its extensive collection of Italian wines and fine dishes to match.

This Italian spot takes its name from the tasteful watercolors that decorate the dining room. The food is authentic Italian. Chef-owner Suzette Gresham-Tognetti’s menu changes often.

Some specialties are: sea bass carpaccio with Sicilian olive oil, lemon zest and green onion or ridged pasta with foie gras and black truffles. Tender pillows of Swiss chard and ricotta malfatti served with brown butter, sage and shaved Parmigiano are also not to be missed.

You might begin with a delicate Parmesan budino, which is a custard-like dish studded with spinach and zucchini. Then consider a warm salad of frisée and pancetta is topped with a seared squab breast. Of the entrées, the filet of branzino fish atop a warm artichoke and potato salad is delicious. For dessert, gold-dusted chocolate cake with toasted almond praline cream is there to consider.

More than one restaurant critic has named Acquerello as one of the best Italian restaurants in the country.

1722 Sacramento St., San Francisco CA 94109
Tel. (415) 567-5432

___ Hyde Street Bistro

On the helpful Hyde Street cable car line, this farm to table neighborhood French-style bistro is well regarded. The young owner-chef graduated from Sancerre, and he offers an a la carte as well as $30 prix-fixe menu. His partner, who graduated from the Sorbonne with a degree in Nutrition, is another important asset.

Most times, you set the pace of the meal and don’t feel rushed. But, as a reminder, with salads, entrees, dessert and a bottle of wine, you can still pay a little less than $200, tax and tip included, for 2 people. In an expensive city like SF this is a tremendous value for the caliber of the food and service, but you also have the 3 courses for $30 each set-menu available.

Hyde Street Bistro
1521 Hyde St. (at Jackson), San Francisco
Tel. (415) 292-4415
Hours: Dinner 5:30-10:30 p.m. Wed.-Mon.

___ 1550 Hyde Cafe & Wine Bar
1550 Hyde St., San Francisco CA 94109;
Tel. (415) 775-1550
casual dress
Accepts walk-ins although reservations are highly suggested!

For the past 7 years, this is a modern, organic, neighborhood restaurant, has become a casually elegant Russian Hill dining spot suitable for everything from dates to dinner with friends, but be aware, they pack people in so the place can be noisy.

Their menu favors simple, seasonal organic cuisine crafted from locally and sustainably sourced ingredients and their award-winning wine list boasts over 150 selections. But, it has been inconsistent in the past. That said, mediocre cuisine does not last in San Francisco; it really IS a foodie town! And especially in a down economy, I think every restauranteur knows they have to put their best forward now.

___ Pesce Seafood Bar

With a name like Pesce, know this Polk Street restaurant specializes in seafood! It also features the small plate cuisine of Venice known as cicchetti.

For larger appetites, Pesce features a few plates as daily specials. The elegant, wood-paneled and cream interior has a richly classic appeal, yet the atmosphere is casual enough to have become a welcoming neighborhood favorite.

2227 Polk St., San Francisco CA 94109
Tel. (415) 928-8025
Not suggested for kids.
Dinner only.
Casual attire
Wheelchair accessible

___ Yabbie’s Coastal Kitchen

Seafood, seafood and more seafood favorites flood the menu at this off-the-restaurant-radar Russian Hill place known for excellent fish The food is simple so it has to be done well. You can even get the Australian fresh-water prawns the restaurant is named for!

Yabbie’s Coastal Kitchen also features a raw bar with eight kinds of oysters available by the dozen, and a wine list meant to bring out the subtle flavors of Yabbie’s pescatarian favorites like tuna poke.

Yabbie’s Coastal Kitchen
2237 Polk St., San Francisco CA 94115
Tel. (415) 474-4088
Tue-Thu 6 pm – 10 pm
Fri-Sat 6 pm – 11 pm
Sun Brunch – 10:30 am – 2:30 pm
Sun 5:30 pm – 10 pm
expensive, casual attire, wheelchair, not kids, outdoor

Two other neighborhood stores to check out in the Russian Hill neighborhood are:

Cris – which is an elegant resale shop specializing in glamorous clothes in impeccable condition from designers like Yves Saint Laurent, Chanel, Tocca and Prada. 2056 Polk St., (415) 474-1191.

One Half – With everything typically 50% off the original price, this home accessories and gift shop rescues those whose apartments have become overwhelmed with Ikea and gives them a golden opportunity to diversify their décor.

Enjoy perusing rugs, artwork, throw pillows and baskets, as well as candles, body products, journals and frames. The store closes each July, prior to which the owners clear out the inventory by cutting prices in half yet again, bringing the discount up to 75%. 1837 Polk St., (415) 775-1416.

More of the 49 Mile Drive, tomorrow.

Part 1: San Francisco Everyday Insider

San Francisco Archive

©2010 mystic at Travel Vacation Review

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