I was lucky enough to dine at a preview dinner for Monsieur Benjamin, chef Corey Lee's brand spanking new bistro. Mr. B is situated in Hayes Valley, which—considering Cafe Rouge and Absinthe are located within one-block—can now claim to be ground zero for Francophiles. Despite its modern design—a classic black tile floor accented with a shiny, new kitchen and white marble bar extending through the middle of the dining room—executive chef Jason Berthold is cooking up some pretty darn classic stuff. Think oeufs mayonnaise, duck terrine with cherries and pistachios, oysters granitées, and steak frites. The seafood sausage, which comes atop a zesty and rich beurre rosé, is a must, as is the arctic char amandine with a beurre noisette. As you can see, just in the nick of Time magazine's recent cover story, beurre is back. And Mr. B is here to help. —S.D.
The Thursday Ferry Building farmers market is to me currently synonymous with the abundant fruit samples that Tory Farms sets out at their booth. They know what they're doing: it's all but impossible to taste their nectarines, pluots, and peaches without buying at least one. Today I bought a single, just-ripe white nectarine, and proceeded to devour it in about 15 seconds. Sweet, bright, and juicy, it was a taste of what makes life in Northern California so alluring, and of summer's bittersweet impermanence.—R.F.M.
Last night, I took my new favorite dance class at Dance Mission (reggaetron with Tika Morgan—such bootie-shaking fun) and afterwards, stopped into Taqueria San Jose for a late-night snack of a couple of tacos. I'm not saying they're the best tacos I've ever had, but I will say this: They griddled the tortillas properly (steamed tortillas should be a crime) and the carne asada had a nice little salsa on it. Eating under the florescent lights, had a little flashback to the days when I used to eat tacos at San Jose all the way back in the mid-90's when Dance Mission was called Third Wave—though it was a dance studio way back then too. Fancy coffee hadn't been invented yet. —S.D.
While I certainly have my moments of pizza snobbery, there's something about a middling slice joint—particularly one with outdoor seating—that hobbles my defenses just enough for me not to care if a crust isn't painstakingly blistered or the mozzarella not stretched, slung, or otherwise coddled on the premises. What matters is that the slice is hot, the toppings judicious, and the crust pliant and flavorful enough to avoid confusion with a fiber cement siding. And that's why I'm a fan of Serrano's, the Mission pizzeria that will sell you a $5.75 slice (technically it's two slices) big enough to repurpose as a hammock. On my last visit I got their pesto slice, which came top-loaded with broccoli, spinach, olives, feta, and an errant sun dried tomato or two. Could the pesto itself have been more, well, present? Yes. Could the slice have otherwise been more satisfying? No. —R.F.M.
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