I slid into Molina on Saturday night, not knowing that Michael Bauer would come out with a rave review of it on Sunday. Bauer is not wrong: the little Mill Valley restaurant is a gem. (And good luck getting a table now.) The pretty space is done by Doug Washington and flavored with a lot of nowness: hexagon white tiles in the kitchen wrapping around a wood fired oven (the only method of heat other than a fryer), LPs on display and on the turntable, chefs in t-shirts with requisite tattoos. The food is the kind that makes a Californian proud—fresh, beautiful, restrained. I loved the peas and clams (especially with a side of chunky french fries). I loved the cioppino. I'll also admit I loved parking right out front and drinking a rose a warm Marin night. As a San Franciscan not used to such luxuries, I was definitely transported. —S.D.
I moved to San Francisco after Ravi Kapur left the kitchen at Prospect and haven't experienced Liholiho Yacht Club, so was very fortunate to have the opportunity to attend his Outstanding in the Field dinner at Everett Family Farm last Sunday. Between the food and the context—a long table parked in the middle of bucolic farmland, beneath the setting sun—it was one of the best meals I’ve had in a very long while. I pretty much loved everything that was put on my plate, but it was actually one of Kapur’s hors d’oeuvres that really gets my memory drooling: a soft expanse of naan adorned with thin slices of summer squash and slicked with a primer coat of green garlic mascarpone. Under normal circumstances, I can eat disturbing amounts of naan; under these circumstances, I could have made an entire meal of it, as well as breakfast the next day. —R.F.M.
Every time I dine at a restaurant that I've been to before, I feel compelled to order a dish I've never tried before. So, a bit burdened with some food-writer's sense of guilt, I defiantly ordered the braised cabbage with walnuts, topped with a shower of eerily waving bonito flakes, at Namu Gaji on Tuesday night. At this Mission District Korean-ish restaurant, I've had this dish at least four times and I always pair it with a side of brown rice and a glass of their funky orange wine. And that's dinner. Professional issues aside, it was a reminder that returning to the foods that you know and love can be such a comfort. I even ordered more rice to go and had the leftovers for lunch the next day. —S.D.
It’s been about a month since Charlie Parker took over the kitchen at Haven. Judging by what I ate there on Tuesday night, he’s staged a benevolent coup. His style is fresh, vibrant, and relaxed; it’s California cuisine, but not slavishly so. It’s just very happy food. One highlight of my dinner was a plate of seared Monterey squid served with smoked fingerling potatoes, artichokes, and chopped-up Castelvetrano olives. The sweet, tender squid made an ideal partner for the savory crunch of the fingerlings, and the olives tied up the whole thing with a bright, salty bow. It was a dish made for tickling the dopamine receptors. Like I said, happy food. —R.F.M.
Beer nuts are a criminally underrated food. Or at least that’s what I thought as I dug through a bowl of them at Bartlett Hall last night. The new Union Square bar—excuse me, gastropub—serves an “Angostura-spiced” version with pistachios, peanuts, cashews, and marcona almonds. Though I didn’t detect any Angostura, I did enjoy my ride on the sweet-salty seesaw, happily going up and down between the two as I ate handful after handful, trying to steal as many marcona almonds as I could from my friend, who was also eating as many as he could get his hands on. —R.F.M.
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