April 4, 2009

San Fran Favorites

So this blog will be divided into three main sections that cover: finding salt-less goodies, making salt-less goodies, and eating at restaurants that provide salt-less goodies.

Posts titled “Good Eats” will be reviews (raves mostly) of those dining establishments that have gone out of their way to produce safe and delicious, sodium-free meals for me. Much to my surprise, eating out has not been as much of a hassle/challenge as I had expected it to be. There are definitely some steps to take that make it much easier (see the next Tips & Tricks post) but I do want to give one big shout-out to all those chefs and waiters who have enabled me to enjoy the many delicious eats in this town – SAN FRANCISCO, I love you.

So here are some of my absolute favorite spots that have been consistent and generous with their cooking skills:

Maverick: Without a doubt, this is my number one – great ambiance, amazing wait staff, inventive dishes, well priced, and an extraordinary wine list. I have dined here about 7 or 8 times and every time, I am served something flavorful and satisfying. The first time I went, they made me seared duck and special, salt-free gnocchi. Hand rolled potato dumplings are definitely the way to my heart – and a sizzling piece of duck fat on the side doesn’t hurt either. The attention to detail and casual atmosphere make this an ideal spot for any occasion. Plus, their wait staff is small and friendly and you really feel like you are eating amongst friends.

Delfina: Not really breaking news here, but Delfina consistently serves up hot, steamy plates of pure deliciousness. And without fail, they have accommodated my dietary needs. I do have to admit, I always end up having the steak here (it is the only item on the menu that I can eat), but every time I have it, the chefs at Delfina have some new trick up their sleeves/aprons to make it special (red wine reduction, slivers of garlic, thickened pan juices, savory olive oil, or scoopings of BONE MARROW!) I have often thought about what my last meal on earth would be – and Delfina’s superb execution of a good steak definitely puts this fine piece of meat in my top five.

Spork: When I can just walk into a restaurant – no pre-planning, no day-before phone calls – and get served a sodium-free, flavor-full dinner, I am impressed and forever grateful. Spork is just that place. I have been there 4 times now – and three of these experiences were extraordinary. There was one miss (time number three) when the meal was most definitely drenched in salt – but I have to admit, I was with a big party, had not called ahead, and had a rather new server. So luckily, I decided to try out this spot one more time, and I was once again overwhelmed and delighted by the great service and great food. I generally order the fish, and like Delfina, the chefs at Spork have continuously shown their creativity with new sauces (like fennel sautéed in lemon and garlic) and sides (olive oil roasted cauliflower) that make a plain piece of fish pop.

Sauce: The name of this restaurant kept me from exploring its premises for at least a year. After glancing it its menu though, I realized that it was a dining possibility. When I called the afternoon before my reservation, I was immediately transferred to speak directly with the chef (who also came by the table as soon as I arrived). I had had my eye on the spectacular sounding mushroom fries but didn’t think it was a possibility. When I asked coyly if this fried delight could be re-imagined for me – the chef whispered those magic words (“of course”) and whipped up my very own basket of mushroom fries with a home-made, spicy mayo sauce on the side. It was a busy night, a big group of girls, and the staff at Sauce still went above and beyond the call of duty. Mushroom fries…I’ll be back.

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