Friday, December 30, 2011

Review of The Hidden Vine Wine Bar in San Francisco



The Hidden Vine in San Francisco, California

The Hidden Vine's Fireplace
The Hidden Vine is just like it sounds, a wine bar tucked away on a barely traveled side street in the Financial District of San Francisco. The atmosphere is dark with barely enough candlelight to read the menu, but the fireplace, warm wood and brick interior and comfy furnishings make customers feel relaxed once they've finally found the place. It is a perfect spot for an after work Happy Hour, and most of the patrons appear to be locals.


The Hidden Vine in San Francisco, California

The Hidden Vine Wine Bar



My friend has brought me because she's printed out a voucher from the online discounter, Living Social, and we simply had to come before the coupon expires. I have learned to appreciate Kate's bargain hunting forays as I get to share the spoils, and tonight is no different.


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Wines From Portugal
We select the wine flight of the month, two whites and a red from Portugal. The first is a sparkling wine called Luis Pato Bruto, which tastes like pears and sets us up for the full-bodied and buttery Quinta de Amead Louerio. The lone red is called Singularis Trindadiro Aragonez Alcante Bousehet, which goes down smoothly despite its tough name. We also try a 2008 red from the Central Valley of California called Turley Cinsault, which tastes distinctly like cherries with a black pepper finish.


Crab Sliders
The food offered is a list of appetizers and after much discussion, we choose a Charcuterie Plate with three meats for $21, Crab Sliders for $13 and the Honey Crisp Apple and Asian Pear Salad for $11. The dishes pack a variety of ingredients and we relish each one. The crab is accompanied with a tiny container of house pickled veggies and the salad is small but presented like a work of art. The Charcuterie contains a smear of Dijon mustard, duck prosciutto, wild boar and sopressata, a glorified version of salami. The boar is rich and gamey, and the duck is fabulous.

Charcuterie Plate

We move on to dessert but discover the menu has only two choices. Unfortunately, tonight only one is available, a four-ounce glass jar of chocolate truffles for $9. The candy comes in four varieties, raspberry, red wine, French bread and Kahlua, so we go ahead and order. The truffles are a delight, made of high quality cocoa that is smooth and rich.
Private Room for Small Parties

The service at The Hidden Vine is friendly, the decor appealing and the cuisine small-portioned but excellent in flavor. The menu is good for light eaters or those who plan to head elsewhere for dinner. It is limited and pricey, so arriving with a coupon voucher from Living Social has made it more palatable. The wine bar is located at 408 Merchant Street, between Battery and Sansome Streets, and definitely worth a visit.


The Hidden Vine Wine Bar


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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Review of Tadich Grill in San Francisco, California


Tadich Grill in San Francisco, California

The Tadich Grill is a tasty San Francisco landmark which opened in 1849 as a tent-covered coffee stand serving the massive rush of gold miners. Owned by three Croatian men, it flourished along with the city, changing locations and its name a couple of times as it developed into the stellar dining emporium it is today.

Tadich Grill in San Francisco, California

Fine Dining in San Francisco at Tadich Grill
The first thing one notices is that the white-uniformed servers are all men old enough to be grandfathers. Most of the customers are male, too, dressed in business suits. Waiters hustle up and down the long bar extending the length of the narrow building while patrons watch the chefs working in the open kitchen at the back of the restaurant. For more intimate dining, tables on the left side are sectioned off by mahogany walls to provide more privacy.


The decor is masculine, warm and inviting, with a rustic plank floor, high ceilings and dark wood walls topped with stained glass. Fancy mirrors seem strategically placed to give the long rectangular room the illusion of more width.

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The dinner menu is pricey with entrees starting at $20, appetizers $12 to $25 and desserts $7 to $8. Fresh baked sourdough bread and butter appear on the table while one peruses the menu. Everything looks good and it is hard to pick, but we finally select dishes from the roster of "Today's Specials." I have Jumbo Seafood Ravioli with Rock Shrimp and Light Creme Pesto. When the plate arrives, the fish is drenched in a parmesan flavored sauce alongside tender-crisp broccoli and carrots. The shrimp is cooked to perfection, not chewy, and the color is great. It is a fabulous dish.


Private Alcoves at Tadich Grill
My friend orders Pan Grilled Cod, Curry Crab Aioli, Rice and Vegetables. The cod tastes very fresh, and is nice and hot. The aioli is a welcome change from tartar sauce and is not too spicy, even though it's laden with curry. The entree portions are so ample, we pass on dessert.

After all these years, 162 to be exact, Tadich Grill is still operating under Croatian hands. One senses the tenured management has inspired loyalty among its employees and customers who regularly fill the place. San Francisco is known as a Mecca for foodies, and Tadich Grill must be one of the reasons for this deserved reputation. Located at 240 California Street, it's easy to find and within walking distance of the Embarcadero Bart Station. Anyone who ventures in to try their fare certainly won't be disappointed.

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