The other day I needed a chocolate fix, but a specific kind. While I’m a fan of eating inadvisable quantities of the stuff, this fix fell in the less-is-more vein: I wanted something small, potent, and of exceptional quality. Which is how I found myself at the Michael Recchiuti counter in the Ferry Building, staring down its pristine array of truffles. I settled on a single peanut butter puck, which set me back $3.47. No, Recchiuti doesn’t fuck around with his prices. Nor does he fuck around with his standards: Imagine a typical peanut butter cup, and then forget it, because this was nothing like one. It was like a peanut butter cup projected in Dolby Surround Sound, its flavors so true and amplified that it was less a puck than an extremely well-calibrated pleasure-delivery machine. In other words, I got my fix. —R.F.M.
I often find Michael Mina's concepts a little corporate for my taste, but The Ramen Bar—his new fast-casual collaboration with local chef Ken Tominaga—might just be my new happy place. Everything has been thought out. While you're waiting in line, snag one of the perfectly portioned grab-and-go desserts (the little container of soy-caramel pudding with jiggly squares of coffee jelly and a crumble of cookies reminded me of what you see in Japan). When you get to the register, order a bowl of ramen, such as the excellent—and non-traditional—shrimp-and-crab dumpling with corn and topped with fresh mizuna. But don't miss the salmon donburi, a rice bowl topped with salmon, spicy Kewpie mayo, and crunchy fried salmon skin. I hoovered it up with the efficiency of a Miele vacuum. —S.D.
Last week, after no small amount of anticipation, I went to the recently opened Marla Bakery for dinner. It’s a lovely, welcoming place that hews to certain rustic-refined NorCal tropes without being enslaved by them—there’s lots of wood, but not the self-consciousness that typically accompanies it. Everything I ate was beautifully prepared and presented, and while I enjoyed it all, what sticks out most in my memory is a bowl of corn soup with crayfish and Aleppo chili oil. All you really need to know is that it was delicious, particularly when sponged up with a piece of Amy Brown’s bread. I can’t wait to go back for seconds. —R.F.M.
Over the weekend, around 4 pm, my husband suggested we go grab something to eat—a late lunch. I threw out ideas like lentil soup from our local shawarma spot, maybe a taco from a taqueria? Somehow, this conversation ended up with us driving in circles until we decided to take our chances and walk into Zuni. (Late, late afternoon being the only time you can eat at Zuni impromptu.) I hadn't been there since Judy Rodgers passed away, so there was definitely a sadness about it. But my spirits were lifted with oysters, of course, and also rosé, and salad, and a rustic soup, and the famous burger and overall just a lovely time. Because it's not about the food at Zuni as much as it's just being there—at a restaurant which is so much a part of our city's fabric, with its white tablecloths, and pocket rooms, and view of the street cars, and servers wielding crumbers, and brick walls, and smell of wood fire, and shiny copper bar. They could serve me cardboard, and I'd still dreamily say, What a place. —S.D.
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