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Eating and Drinking in San Francisco

Eating and Drinking in San Francisco

Mihir Shah | Chef's Blade

Since this is our first column in Chef’s Blade, I’d like to introduce myself.

At the tender age of 21, I was selected to fill the Executive General Manager role of one of the largest and most respected restaurants of its kind in the San Francisco Bay Area. It was quite an honor and I was excited about what lay ahead. It lasted exactly 24 months. I left (ran) to the relatively laid back world of high technology start-ups.

A decade and a half later, I started missing it. Really. I didn’t miss the fact that in the restaurant business, you’re working when everyone else is playing or spending time with family. But I did miss making people happy – couples on dates, anniversaries, celebrations, or just 4 friends connecting after a long time. I have never been as satisfied as those moments when we did our part to make their night special.

Recently, I’ve been lucky enough to combine my passion for technology with my love of connecting with people through food and wine. And I’ll be using this column to share my thoughts and experiences working with some of our leading chefs, mixologists and restaurateurs. An amateur among professionals, if you will.

So, in the interest of once again introducing myself, here are some random thoughts on food, wine, and chefs in the fantastic city of San Francisco. I hope we have a connection…

I don’t mind waiting for a table at SPQR. And when I say table, I mean a couple of spots at the chef’s bar.

I could do without white wine, unless it’s sunny outside. My first choice is always a glass of red wine; sometimes a humble vino da tavola but often a Dry Creek Zinfandel. Except when I’m the mood for a beer. And if you’ve ever been to Beretta or Elixir, you’ve got to order one of their cocktails. But just one or two.

Listen, you know as well as I do that your drink order reflects your mood and you can’t always be in that “I’m happy to be me and things are going smooth so pour me a glass of Unti Zin please” place. Not always.

If you haven’t had the burrata at A16, treat yourself. For that matter, follow that up with some house-cured Salumi, Salsiccia Pizza, and the Chard with Garlic. Nate Appleman is a magician and A16 has a great feel to it – especially when you eat at the bar.

The Castro may be one of the happiest places on earth for many, but I have nothing exciting to say about its restaurants. Except for one. Kasa Indian Eatery. Their roti is spectacular, you should try the Aloo Jeera, and it has the feel (and price) of a Taqueria. Kasa – get it? Expect to see these popping up all over.

I was starting to like Bacar until Robbie Lewis left. I never liked the layout there, but loved Lewis’ approach; especially to salads. I never liked Brick until Alex Marsh showed up. It’s in an awkward part of the city, but the food and music are worth it. Try the Szechwan Dusted Ahi Tuna for something really unique. And I never really knew that Circa (Erik Hopfinger) had good food until I drank too much and had to get something in me. Try the Angus Sliders or the Buttermilk Battered Fried Chicken; I think that’s what I got.

I like wine tasting and eating in Napa Valley, but never stopped in the actual city of Napa until introduced to Jeremy Fox’s Ubuntu. Vegetables never tasted so good and the space is beautiful.

Well, that’s it for now. Look forward to seeing you back here in a week as I dive deeper into the professional chef, food and wine scene. And as always, would love to hear your feedback and thoughts.