Three of the restaurants I tried while in San Francisco left quite an impression on me. What I appreciated most was the excellent vegetarian fare they all offered.
In this post, I’ll be talking about Greens, an upscale vegetarian restaurant, Pauline’s Pizza and Dragon Well, a hip Chinese spot.
My new favorite restaurant (in the world, I think) is Greens at Fort Mason. It’s located in an old warehouse overlooking San Francisco Bay. According to their website, they were one of the pioneers in establishing vegetarian gastronomy in the United States. Today, this is a fine-dining restaurant that serves only the highest quality vegetarian cuisine.
On Saturday nights Greens proposes a four-course set menu ($49, not including drinks). It may be a splurge, but is well worth it. Vegetarian or not, I’m convinced the pickiest of diners will leave feeling quite satisfied. You may choose from a variety of appealing (and wholesome) appetizers, main courses and desserts. You may also opt for a selection of wines, most of which are organic and are paired with your meal choice ($28 for 2 glasses of wine, plus an aperitif).
I was at Greens celebrating a group birthday party (that’s how you do it when you, your family, and friends are scattered all over the world). Our toast to turning 30 (we were 3 college friends in the lot) started off with Alsatian crément rosé (Lucien Albrecht) – essentially rose-colored champagne. We enjoyed this with goat cheese, olives and a fennel-Satsuma salad.
Next on the list was the appetizer (and the beginning of my new-found love for Italian butter beans). I chose: grilled asparagus, artichokes and radicchio, over the aforementioned beans and topped with shavings of Andante Dairy’s Etude goat cheese. (Andante, by the way, is a California-based, single-woman-run dairy farm, that produces numerous specialty cheeses. You can find them, for example, at the Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market that I mentioned in my last post).
My main dish: wild mushroom ravioli- so decadent it made me wish I was actually one of the mushrooms I was eating. Really. The homemade ravioli and mushrooms melted in my mouth just as much as the herbed butter that accompanied them.
And for dessert: a cheerful almond, honey tart.
No matter how much I rave about the quality of Greens’ cuisine, it won’t do it justice.
What I remember most: every single bite, the wine pairings and the view overlooking the bay.
Pauline’s isn’t just any pizza restaurant: partly because they have their own organic vegetable gardens– which provide for many of the toppings on their pizzas. They also have their own vineyards. The house red, a 2006 Mourvedre, (an earthy, kind of leathery wine), accompanied the special house pizza (pesto) and the special house salad (a flirtatious combination of organic produce), quite well.
What I remember most: the noisy bustle, the crayon jar on the table, and the friendly wait staff.
You can never forget a restaurant that introduces you to something new. At Dragon Well, a rather refined Chinese restaurant on Chestnut Street, it was stir-fried peas shoots. I had eyed them earlier in the week at the farmer’s market, but had never actually eaten them. I let the fact that I’m actually writing about them speak for itself. In addition to the pea shoots (a side dish), I’d recommend the Steamed Black Bean Salmon (cooked in rice wine and garnished with spinach) and the Stir-fried Curry Mi Fun (with five-spiced tofu and vermicelli noodles). At the end of your meal, you get to choose from either a traditional, or chocolate, fortune cookie.
What I remember most: the inviting smell of spices coming from the kitchen.
Addresses (all in San Francisco):
Fort Mason, Building A / Tel: (415) 771-6222 (Accept online reservations.)
260 Valencia / Tel: (415) 552-2050
2142 Chestnut Street / Tel: (415) 474-6888