Tag Archives: San Francisco

Cockscomb

Cockscomb
564 Fourth Street • San Francisco, CA 94107

Truth be told, I shouldn’t be eating at Cockscomb. My doctor recently told me an angiogram is in order to see if I have any arterial blockages worth a stent or two. But any damage I may have done over several decades won’t be augmented by a few meals in a hastily planned vacation before I get back to New York for a procedure I’m not looking forward to.

Otherwise, I’ve been on somewhat good behavior. Taking my meds, my vitamins, eating better the week leading up to this vacation. If I live through the angiogram, I’ll modify my behavior appropriately – with decadent meals and cocktails the exception rather than a weekly rule. So this little trip to California may be my last hurrah. Or my last something, anyway.

Cut to Cockscomb, Chef Chris Cossentino’s ode to whole animal cookery, where the menu is replete with ginormous sharing plates that may include a hundred and twenty five buck Pin Bone Steak with a bone marrow dipping sauce. Depending on how adventurous you are, you can even order Wood Oven Roasted Pig’s Head. Both these options, tempting as they might be, are better suited to large groups – or smaller groups for whom such leftovers are sanctioned by a cardiologist. (Insert smiley face emoticon here, but only half mean it.)

Kim and I reeled it in a bit, but still felt like we had thankfully overdone it. A night of salt infused fitful sleep, while not on the bill, was a cost we gladly paid for a foray into debauched butchery. We started light, with the Tombo Crudo – citrus cured fish with Vietnamese herbs and chili beneath a wide-rimmed rice cracker. It had all the acid that was missing from the Beef Heart Tartare, so we dipped our bread in it before slathering on the aforementioned ticker.

Any attempt to keep it light was soon thwarted by the Hot Mess – an aptly named combination of seared foie gras and pork trotter on gravy soaked toast.  Some pickled pink rhubarb could only hope to cut the richness of this most devilish and delectable dish. If you’re out drinking with friends, this is a must.

Our waiter steered us in the right direction and we ordered the Bacon Chop after he suggested it was the most flavorful thing on the menu. I was skeptical. How could a pork chop live up to that? Well, for one, this piece includes the pork belly in the cut – and is served on a tasty bed of mint salsa, chicharron and citrus panzanella that adds some much needed acid. It’s one decadent chop – nothing like you’re imagining right now, so don’t even bother. If you can get over to Cockscomb, this porky delectation needs to be experienced to be believed. Wood fired and perfectly rendered – its pure bliss for carnivores of every ilk.  We got it with a side of beautifully garlicky Baby Bok Choy.

If I live to tell the tale, I’ll be back to Cockscomb one day – perhaps to feed my bionic body-parts with everything else on the menu.

Maybe I’ll even come back for the lunch-only Impossible Burger, the closest vegan replica of that American staple which got so much good press recently.

As for me, it’s time for my high blood pressure meds and a leisurely walk along Half Moon Bay where, perhaps, I’ll mull over my life choices and the future of writing about eating.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestmail

Pink Zebra SF

20150321_164548

We walked through the Mission District looking for Pink Zebra and couldn’t find it.

“It’s supposed to be right here,” I said to Kim, pointing to a Chinese restaurant.

We checked online to see if they closed. Nope. We called their phone number but got a message saying they’d get back to us within two days. What the what?!

“I guess I messed up. Let’s give up and go to that comic shop across the street.”
“Let’s just go inside the Chinese place and ask,” Kim said.

As soon as we walked in, the Greeter recognized confusion on our faces.

“Pink Zebra?” he asked.
“Yeah.”
“Right this way.”

Turns out Pink Zebra is a pop-up restaurant within this very take-out looking Chinese place (Tao Yin). Had I done even a smidgen of research, I would have known this. I should have my Foodie license revoked.

My girl and I are always down for a culinary adventure (she more than me, let’s be honest) and this place was off to a good start. We chose the regular menu, but you can also sit at the sushi bar and order the Omakase – which I hear is several hours of special sushi off the dome of Chef Jesse Koide (previously of Mission Chinese).

We started with the Hurricane Popcorn & Pig Ears because how could you not? Buttered popcorn, crispy pig ears, a little lime and a sprinkle of powdered furikake. They should replace all the popcorn in every movie theater with this stuff. Fuck you, vegans.*

PZ5

Next up, the less adventurous, but no less delicious, Menchi Katsu. Nicely fried sliced pork with gruyere, thin and crispy Brussels sprouts, some pickled ginger, a citrus braised endive, and smoked tonkatsu sauce. These are expertly conceived and executed flavors – a far cry from your typical Katsu. The pickled ginger really gave that dish a bright and sweet counterpoint.

PZ3

If tongue is on the menu, my girl is gonna order it – and here it comes; the most tonguey looking tongue I ever put in my mouth. Well, kinda. A decidedly anatomical yet Tender Beef Tongue served with pear and fennel mostarda, pickled chili with capers, herb salsa, and the most adorable little carrot slivers you ever did see. Probably the ballsiest thing on the menu, next to the spice-rubbed chicken hearts with pickled pineapple. My mom would never eat at this place.

PZ2

The Crostone may look like a train wreck in a snowstorm but it’s packed with surprises and special guests. Underneath some cheesy goodness lies bitter greens, a happily poached jidori egg, Benton’s bacon, sage brown butter, 20 year balsamico, and some outrageous grilled Tartine bread. It was like working your way through a complex novel where bacon saves the day (again).

PZ1

This menu is full of the kind of playful yet masterful plates foodies dream about. We don’t just want to eat, we want to have fun, we want to make discoveries, maybe even learn a thing or two. And, of course, take a picture of our meal we can share with friends back home who ultimately hate us for it.

 

 

* The writer has the utmost respect for vegans but just likes easy punchlines.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestmail

Home Plate

home plate biscuitKim and I borrow a car and head to San Francisco. We find a spot around Home Plate, add our name to the list, and wait outside in the early California sun. I close my eyes to face the sun in a way you only do on vacation. Just last week I was shoveling snow at Mom’s. I should call.

lombard1“Hey, Ma. What’s going on in New York?”
“It’s cold and it snowed again,” she says. “Where are you now?”
“I’m in San Fran, waiting to get into this breakfast place we like.”
“Ooh, have something good for me.”
“I will.”
“Did you see the cat on the computer?”
“Which cat?”
“The one on YouTube.”
“Oh, they’re seating us, Ma. I’ll call you later.”

Inside, it’s a modest space – more cafe than diner – and I get to face the kitchen – which is always my favorite view.

How often do you get to watch a kitchen full of Asians make breakfast?” I ask Kim. “Is that racist?
Probably,” she says.

It’s a flurry of activity back there, with folks poaching eggs, frying up sausages, baking scones, making omelettes, coffees, juices, mimosas. The servers dashing about, topping off coffees, cleaning-up plates. Everything about this place is friendly and attentive and apparently it’s paying off.

I know I’m in San Francisco when I’m finally dragging one of Home Plates perfect little scones through their homemade jams. Sweet and delicious. Drinking some ice-coffee, waiting on Eggs Benedict and hash-browns. Life is good.

home plate hash bennyThey got soy milk, so Kim is happy and chomping away at a plate of over-easy eggs, homemade sausages and fried polenta. On a good day, that polenta will blow your socks off.

There’s plenty to choose from. Don’t ask me because once I find something I like I usually stick to it. One of these days I’ll branch out and try their potato carrot pancakes with sour cream.

Home Plate is definitely an institution at this point, and the perfect way to start a day of hilly San Francisco walking. If my pedometer is right, we walked ten miles all over San Francisco ending with dinner at secret restaurant Pink Zebra. But that’s another post.

home plate polenta

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestmail