Friday, January 18, 2008

Recent Restaurant Reviews for

Here are three places I recently reviewed for
Roy's (575 Mission Street, (415) 777-0277/ is a seafood legend, because they know how to do it right. Executive Chef Ty Mahler is a magician with fish and the place is an adventure in how to do seafood to perfection. The place is very service-oriented, and although Roy's is not inexpensive, they feature things like a Prix Fixe menu, seasonal menus, vegetarian meals and a children's menu. Dishes that stand out in my mind include the Hibachi Grilled Salmon ($25) with a sprout salad and Japanese citrus ponzu; the Nori Wrapped Halibut Banana Leaf en Paillote ($30) with shiitake mushrooms, mussels and roasted lobster rose water and the Mochi Crisped Whole Snapper & Sautéed Mussels for Two (market price) with soy braised shiitake, tofu and bok choy. Everything is fresh, flavorful and memorable. The service at Roy's is fun and efficient, and I would give this place five stars (out of five) overall.

Masa's (648 Bush Street, San Francisco (415) 989-7154/ (see photo) is a wonderful place with some really incredible food. They have a Prix Fixe menu that makes it really affordable to go there. Executive Chef Gregory Short cooks contemporary French/Japanese cuisine, and some of the dishes are really fascinating. Some of the more unusual items include a Celery Root Ravioli, containing braised celery branch, Himalayan truffles with a fontina cheese sauce; a Crispy Skin Wild Sea Bass, with organic German butterball potatoes, baby leeks and whole grain mustard; Crispy Medallion of Veal Sweetbreads, with russet potato gnocchi, cippollini onions, those same Himalayan truffles with a roasted chestnut puree; and a Lemon and Olive Oil Sorbet with candied cherry tomato and basil ice. I would recommend the Chef's Nine Course Tasting Menu at $120 per person -- featuring some of Chef Short's special dishes using seasonal ingredients. Masa's has a great atmosphere, with a lot of earth tones and a very calming environment. The restaurant's Sommelier Alan Murray is one of the most highly regarded in The City. This place is very popular, so I would suggest making reservations way in advance.

If you're ever traveling to the South Bay, I would strongly suggest that you try Le Papillon (410 Saratoga Avenue, San Jose (408) 296-3730/ Le Papillon features contemporary French food that is spectacular. Chef Scott Cooper has helped make this restaurant a top-rated Zagat Survey spot. The place has also won awards from Wine Spectator, and is a DiRoNA Award Winner. Some of the famous dishes at Le Papillon include a Pan Seared Foie Gras with Tomato Molasses and Caramelized Avocado ($24); Dungeness Crab Soufflé with Lemon, Saffron and Caviar ($21); Truffled Hamachi Tartar with Avocado, Lemon and Pea Shoot Emulsion ($23); Lobster Bisque with a Sweet Corn Timbale ($14); Spice Seared Duck Salad with Black Mission Figs, Belgian Endive, Tart Apple and Hazelnut Vinaigrette ($13); Noisettes of Red Deer with Cabernet-Truffle Reduction with a Parsnip Tart ($36); and a Grain Mustard Crusted Rabbit with Golden Chantrelles with Tarragon Jus ($31). You won't find a special tasting menu here -- everything is a la carte and very pricey, but worth it. Le Papillon has been serving amazing cuisine for nearly 30 years in an elegant, quiet setting. Food prepared and served with passion -- that capsulizes Le Papillon perfectly.