10 Bay Area Restaurants You Should Check Out

LB Steak Menlo Park

LB Steak Menlo Park

Highlights of the new lunch menu include such appetizers as Heirloom Beet Salad with Humboldt Fog cheese and pear vinaigrette ($9.00); Maple-Glazed Pork Belly with leek and brioche pudding, fried egg, and wild arugula ($12.00); and Seared Day Boat Scallops with cauliflower purée and curried roasted pears ($16.00). Among the entrées are Boston Lobster Roll with pickle, scallion, dill, and mayonnaise ($12.75); glazed BBQ Baby Back Pork Ribs with cabbage and apple slaw, and fingerling potatoes ($23.00); and a 12 oz. Rib Eye with a sauce choice of Bordelaise, Cognac three peppercorn, Béarnaise, horseradish cream, LB Steak sauce, or Point Reyes blue cheese with walnuts ($35.00).

For brunch, diners can enjoy Maple Glazed Pork Belly with leek and brioche pudding, fried egg, and wild arugula ($12.00); Crab Cake Benedict served with country potatoes and toast ($18.95); Warm Beignets and Fresh Fruit with Kendall Farms crème fraiche ($7.50); Goat Cheese Frittata with smoked salmon, spinach, sundried tomatoes, served with country potatoes and toast ($11.95); and Popcorn Shrimp Salad (warm baby Savoy spinach, piquillo peppers, and herbs, with a honey champagne dressing) ($12.75)

Visit LB Steak on the Web at www.lbsteak.com. The telephone number is (650) 321-8980.

Photo by Reddy Gallows

Terrapin Crossroads

Terrapin Crossroads in San Rafael, California is the latest example of why the San Francisco Bay Area is a premier destination when it comes to affording visitors a memorable experience on a myriad of levels. This all-American restaurant serves a seasonal, local menu and merges live music performed by world-class musicians with critically acclaimed food.

Legendary Grateful Dead founding member Phil Lesh and his wife Jill opened Terrapin Crossroads in March of 2012. After a comprehensive search for the right chef, they hired chef Chris Fernandez so that the dining experience would live up to the musical experience.

The Terrapin Crossroads menu is prepared with ingredients sourced from local organic farmers and purveyors of premium meats and fish. Notable small plates ($5.00 to $15.00) include Crispy Pork Belly, Hangtown Fry and Oven-Roasted Shrimp. Among the main dishes ($12.50 to $28.00) are Balsamic Glazed Pork Ribs, Chicken Paillard and Local King Salmon. For dessert, diners can enjoy a Terrapin Sundae or Orange Sugar Dusted Donuts. Not to be missed are the restaurant’s wood-fired pizzas and weekend brunch offerings.

Intriguing libations are also a Terrapin Crossroads hallmark. The restaurant’s choice of craft beers, draught and bottled, is extensive, the select wine list focuses on regional California vintages and includes wines on tap, and the full bar prepares premier classic and specialty seasonal cocktails. The large bar and lounge area have room for up to 85 guests, and includes counter seating fronting the pizza oven and is often the setting for all kinds of complimentary live music performances including many performances by the popular House Band. The beautiful adjoining lounge area has a stylish intimacy and is the perfect place to relax with friends.

Terrapin Crossroads is located at 100 Yacht Club Drive in San Rafael, California. The dining room is open Tuesday through Sunday from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., with bar service from 4:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. Brunch is served on Saturday and Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Visit Terrapin Crossroads on the web at www.terrapincrossroads.net.

Photo by Den Quinsay

Le Soleil Restaurant

Long a San Francisco Inner Richmond neighborhood’s favorite, the restaurant continues to offer Vietnamese food reflecting Chinese and French influence and techniques which Chef Dennis Wong calls “new Vietnamese cuisine.” Comments Wong, “I’ve transformed a venue that has been a part of the community for nearly 20 years and revived its status as a destination dining spot with a menu defined by balanced and diverse flavors, authentic but unusual ingredients, and quality, innovative dishes.”

The restaurant has been acclaimed by customers and critics alike, having received many culinary awards and been described by various travel magazines, local and foreign newspapers, as one of the “must-try” restaurants in San Francisco.  Wong, a veteran restaurateur with three decades of experience, was one of 30 distinguished chefs to participate in the Asian-American Health Forum in 2007.  He previously owned and operated Thai Café in San Francisco.  He worked closely with his partner, Annie Wong, whose flair for design contributes substantially to this day to their restaurant’s success.  He also recently helped establish the Michelin-rated Le Soleil International restaurant, located in the five-star Royal Garden Hotel in Hong Kong.  In addition, Wong is the author of an award-winning cookbook.

Notable offerings on the new Le Soleil dinner menu include such appetizers and salads ($6.00 – $9.50) as Lotus Root Salad, Imperial Rolls, BBQ Pork Fresh Spring Rolls, Papaya Shrimp Salad, wine-flamed Quail, and Chicken Wings.  Among the entrées ($12.00 – $32.00) are Cha Ca (turmeric powdered Koi with vermicelli, dill and mint), Caramelized Sea Bass, Luc Lac “Shaken Beef”, and Garlic Noodles with Tiger Prawns or Crab.  For dessert, diners can enjoy Mango Sticky Rice, a Triple Layer Sundae, and Fried Banana with Coconut Ice Cream.

Le Soleil Restaurant is located at 133 Clement between 2nd and 3rd Avenues in San Francisco, California, and is open Wednesday through Monday for dinner (5:00 to 10:00 p.m.) and lunch (11:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.).  Neighborhood street parking both metered and free, is often an option.  For more information or for reservations call (415) 668-4848 or visit www.lesoleilsf.com.

Shanghai Restaurant SF

Shanghai Restaurant

Francis Tsai, a native of Shanghai, China, began working in the hospitality industry at age 18 and his eclectic career has included stints as a ballroom dance instructor, running the food division of Pan American Airlines, creating the first discotheque in Hong Kong, and operating Wu Kong Restaurant in San Francisco’s Rincon Center.

The debut dinner menu at Shanghai includes starters such as Blasting Prawns (prawns grilled in a mild honey nectar); Smoked Fish (Mandarin carp smoked in oolong tea); and Drunken Chicken (boneless chicken simmered in Shaoxing wine). Among the main course choices are Fish on the Vine (a deep fried fish fillet with a red wine reduction); Chicken Flambé (pieces of chicken breast and fresh fruit braised in a sweet vinegar sauce); and Bridge Over The Bund (pork ribs wok-fried in a mild pepper sauce). For dessert diners can enjoy Sizzling Cracker (rice cracker and fresh fruit with orange juice and a touch of Grand Marnier) and Yellow Skin (battered banana with lotus seed paste and ice cream). In addition to their a la carte menu, Shanghai offers a $70.00 four-course prix fixe menu for two during dinner service.

Highlights of the comfortable, engaging dining room include booth, banquette and table seating for 60, a stone-topped central island bar, ceiling-to-floor accent curtains, a burgundy and beige based earth tone color scheme, carpeting throughout, and a living room style lounge area. The full bar at Shanghai, with seats for 14 guests, offers classic, contemporary and original cocktails, the wine list is international in scope (including Chinese wines), and there is a late night Happy Hour service and a bar bites menu, both available Tuesday through Sunday from 9:30 p.m. to midnight.

Shanghai is located at 2029 Market Street, between Dolores and 14th Streets, in San Francisco, California. The restaurant serves dinner Tuesday through Sunday from 5:00 to 10:00 p.m., a dim sum brunch on Saturday and Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. (service to begin a month after the restaurant opens), and a late night small plate menu. A specialty of the house is private dining and special function capabilities which showcase authentic traditional Shanghai dishes. Neighborhood street parking is sometimes an option, plus there is a private lot ($10.00 flat fee) located at 334 14th Street (near Valencia Street and Julian Avenue) with free Shanghai shuttle service which takes guests to the restaurant and back in four minutes. Dining reservations can be made by calling (415) 701-8866 or via www.shanghai-rest.com.

Shabuway

Shabuway

Shabuway showcases the shabu-shabu Japanese style of dining based on the at-the-table dipping (using chopsticks or a handled strainer), by the customer, of thin slices of aged meat(s), and vegetables, into hot broth (seaweed or spicy miso or both) which cooks them in short order. Meat choices include Prime Angus beef, American Kobe beef, American Kobe Lean beef, Niman Ranch lamb and Kurobuta pork. Among the vegetable options are Napa cabbage, bok choy, asparagus, broccoli, kabocha squash, carrots, and enoki and shimeji mushrooms, plus udon noodles and cubes of tofu. Platters range in price from $12.99 to $20.99 and there is a kid’s menu. These are accompanied by chopped fresh green onion, garlic, a chili paste made with grated daikon, white rice and dipping bowls of ponzu sauce and house-made sesame sauce.

There are currently five other Bay Area Shabuway locations, one each in San Jose, San Mateo, Mountain View, Union City and Santa Clara. San Mateo was the first to open, in 2004.

The proprietor of Shabuway is Eiichi Mochizuki, now 40 years old. A native of Japan, he was a professional golf player before becoming a culinary entrepreneur and working, in Japan, with sushi, izakaya and barbecue restaurants. He came to the United States in 1996. Recent expansion includes the Philippines with the long-term goal being locations throughout the United States and elsewhere in the world.

Shabuway in San Francisco is located at 5120 Geary Boulevard between 15th and 16th Avenues. The telephone number is (415) 668-6080 and the restaurant is open Tuesday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and 5:30 to10:00 p.m., on Saturday from 12:00 noon to 10:00 p.m. and on Sunday from 12:00 noon to 9:00 p.m. Visit their website at www.shabuway.com.

Beef durum (wrap), tahini sauce, iceberg lettuce, grilled onions, bell peppers, cherry tomatoes | Photo by Joyce Oudkerk Pool

Machka

This restaurant with a new dining option showcases contemporary Turkish cuisine with Mediterranean influences prepared with seasonal, locally sourced, mostly organic ingredients. The kitchen is headed up by Chef de Cuisine Reynol Martinez who has previously worked at Globe, Papito, Aperto and Epic Roasthouse. The proprietor of Machka, Farshad Owji, traces his interest in cooking to ten formative years that he spent in Turkey where he developed a love for its cuisine and culture. Along with his wife Sibel, Owji has long aspired to share his appreciation of Turkish food with the general public. The Owjis, both attorneys by profession, have created a warm and welcoming space with good food and wine graciously served. Consulting services have been provided by Jocelyn Bulow known for his work with Chez Papa Bistrot, Chez Maman, Papito, Baraka and Plouf.

Signature dishes on the debut Machka menu include their goat cheese salad; blue cheese and chorizo stuffed dates with pastirma (Turkish pastrami) and a frisée salad; grilled octopus; meat and vegetable kebabs, and freshly made falafel wrapped in durum. For dessert, diners can enjoy künefe comprised of layer of soft white cheese inside shredded filo dough, fried and soaked in sugar and rosewater syrup and topped with roasted pistachio. The international wine list at Machka has been thoughtfully curated. The boutique selection features elegant Mediterranean classics (including Turkish vintages) along with innovative offerings from West Coast producers.

Highlights of the comfortable, engaging 32-seat dining room include a communal table lit by a chandelier, hard wood flooring, an exhibition kitchen fronted by counter seating and with suspended spot lighting, and a display of vintage photographs purchased on “Istiklal Caddesi,” the most famous street in Istanbul. There is also sidewalk seating, weather permitting.

Machka is located at 584 Washington Street, near Montgomery, in San Francisco, California. The restaurant serves lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Parking is available at the nearby Portsmouth Square Garage. Formore information visit their website at machkasf.com and the telephone number is (415) 391-8228.

Shrimp Ceviche at Chez Maman West

Chez Maman West

Chez Maman West, in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley neighborhood, serves authentic French bistrot cuisine in a casual setting. Chef Russell Cab heads up the kitchen. Comments proprietor Jocelyn Bulow (also known for Chez Papa Bistrot and Papito), “this new location joins the one on Potrero Hill and I’ve been delighted by the eager anticipation that has preceded our opening. I think the response is because we serve something that will please almost every palate.”

The menu at Chez Maman West showcases appetizers, salads, paninis, entrées, and cheese. Signature items include mussels, steak frites, crêpes and mahi-mahi. To add further variety, a section of the menu offers tacos, burritos and quesadillas from Papito, a noted Mexican restaurant. Not to be missed are the award winning Chez Maman burgers and the diverse weekend brunch offerings.

Among the beverage options are specialty coffees and teas, plus 20 red wines, 20 white wines, margaritas, Bloody Marys and housemade sangria. The majority of the wines offered are French and 18 are available by the glass. Friendly, knowledgeable service is a Chez Maman West hallmark thanks to industry veteran Bulow and his partner Marc-Henri Sempere, working with General Manager and partner David Alexander who previously has spent time at Chez Papa Resto.

Decor highlights of the 25 seat dining room at Chez Maman West include a light peach color scheme with sienna accents, lots of natural light, wood floor panels, a copper topped and polished granite fronted counter with seating for eight, and an oversized framed mirror. Weather permitting, there are sidewalk tables than can accommodate up to four guests.

Chez Maman West is located at 401 Gough Street, at Hayes Street, in San Francisco, California. The restaurant is open daily, Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. and on Saturday and Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. with weekend brunch served until 4:00 p.m. Street parking is sometimes an option. Visit their website at www.chezmamansf.com or call (415) 355-9067.

31st union

31st Union

31st Union in San Mateo, California, provides the Peninsula with an intriguing new dining option. Executive Chef Paul Burzlaff, hired by owner and Director of Operations David Hunsaker, presents a small plate format menu showcasing American comfort food prepared with seasonal ingredients, primarily obtained from California sources. The venue was previously home to Bollywood Indian Cuisine.

The name of the restaurant is derived from California being the 31st state to enter the Union, combined with the commitment to sourcing ingredients and libations almost exclusively from within state lines. Among the notable offerings on the 31st Union opening menu are such small bites ($4.00 to $8.00) as Grilled Baby Artichokes and Trio of Deviled Eggs. Among the larger bites ($8.00 to $15.00) are Lamb Meatballs, Smoked Duck Tacos and Fish & Chips. For dessert, diners can enjoy a house made Ice Cream Sandwich or a Beer Float.

Chef Burzlaff, a California native who grew up in Colorado and later the California Central Valley, is a 2002 graduate of the California School of Culinary Arts in Pasadena, California, and did his externship at the prestigious Brown Palace Hotel in Denver. In 2005, he relocated to the Bay Area where he worked at The Restaurant at Wente Vineyards in Livermore and developed a passion for “farm to table” cuisine. A subsequent move to the Bodega Bay Lodge, Duck Club restaurant furthered his commitment to working with local, sustainable, seasonal ingredients.

The 31st Union bar offers a section of contemporary, classic and original cocktails, plus local artisanal craft beers and a California wine list that include a dozen keg wines on tap, six white and six red. A Happy Hour menu, available Tuesday through Friday from 4:00 to 5:30 p.m. and Thursday through Saturday from 10:00 p.m. to close, features a select wine and beer of the week for $5.00 and four to six food items, each priced at $5.00.

31st Union is located at 5 South Ellsworth Avenue, at the corner of Baldwin, in San Mateo, California. The restaurant is open initially for dinner only, on Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday from 4:00 to 11:00 p.m., and Thursday through Saturday from 4:00 p.m. to midnight. There are plans to add lunch service sometime later. Neighborhood street parking is often an option. Contact them at (650) 458-0049 and visit their website at www.31stunion.com.

Mini petits fours at DeLise Dessert Cafe

DeLise Dessert Cafe

DeLise, the acclaimed San Francisco dessert cafe, had us hooked on their rotating selection of macarons, plus their seasonal flavors of frozen desserts. The macaron varieties, all made in-house, are Pistachio with saffron filling; Sesame with red bean filling; Coconut with passion fruit ganache and dried mango; Mon Cheri with lavender and kirsch/brandied cherry ganache; Dragon’s Passion with Szechuan peppercorn and milk chocolate passion fruit ganache; Hazelnut with maple orange filling; and Chocolate with salted caramel dark chocolate ganache. Two to three of these flavors are typically offered on a given day.

DeLise specialize in gourmet bite-size pastries, cupcakes, plus frozen delights, all of which are handcrafted daily. The great taste and creativity of their menu items is complemented by small-batch production using all-natural, premium quality, often locally sourced, sustainable and organic ingredients, with dairy from Straus Organic Creamery and Clover Dairy.

The cafe’s offerings include mini-cupcakes, muffins, coffee cakes, scones, cookies, bars, the aforementioned macarons and frozen desserts, baguette sandwiches, bagels and specialty coffee and tea beverages. There are always vegan (sorbet), fat-free (organic frozen yogurt) and gluten-free items (macarons). Among the savory baked goods sometimes available is a signature Peking Duck Scone which has received praise from customers and critics alike.

Opened in 2009, DeLise is owned and operated by Dennis and Eloise Leung, two engineers-turned-pastry chefs (via the California Culinary Academy) whose passion for the culinary arts propelled them on a quest to create, among other things, the perfect scoop of artisan creamy goodness highlighting distinctive flavors. The path to DeLise, on Dennis’ part, included the St. Regis Hotel, Bong Su, Aqua and Roy’s, while Eloise has spent time at Citizen Cake, Bong Su, Jardinière, Campton Place Hotel and Gary Danko. Reflecting their cultural heritage, Dennis and Eloise have become known for incorporating Asian inspired flavors into their pastries and frozen desserts.

DeLise Dessert Cafe is located at 327 Bay Street, between Mason and Powell, in San Francisco, California. It is open Tuesday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and on Saturday and Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Neighborhood street parking is available and a private garage is located nearby. Visit them at www.delisesf.com or call (415) 399-9694.

Spicy tuna donburri at Joshu-ya Brasserie

Joshu-ya Brasserie

This charming dining spot in Berkeley has expanded their menu — stretching beyond Japanese cuisine into Korean, Italian and even French — and has already won over a new cross-section of Berkeley and greater East Bay foodies. Executive Chef Jason Kwon has also created a new weekend Chef’s Tasting Menu and now serves gourmet Sunday brunch at non-gourmet prices.

“We’ve reached a point where people expect the unexpected from us,” says Kwon. “This is the fun part for me–creating completely new dishes and twisting some old favorites to provide a special experience every time you walk through our door.”

Joshu-ya Brasserie accomplishes this across the board, from innovative food and drinks to a warm, engaging atmosphere. Kwon’s weekend Chef’s Tasting Menu, to date, has included seared Hokkaido Scallops with a shitake-pancetta salad; Wagyu Beef Medallions with French lentils cooked in rabbit stock; and Salmon Croquettes with lemon truffle crème. This menu also features unique fresh fish such as toro (fatty tuna from Spain), kampachi (yellowtail amberjack, Hawaii) and aji (horse mackerel, Japan).

Kobe-Kimchee Sliders (Kobe beef, caramelized kimchee, bacon, New York cheddar, homemade brioche buns, $10.00 for 3) are a part of a new tapas menu, available 11:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. daily. Other highlights include Pork Belly Tacos (six-hour roasted pork, shaved radish, jalapeno, cilantro pesto, $8.00 for 3) and Pommes Frites (French fries fried in duck fat, spicy aioli, $4.00).

Gourmet Sunday Brunch offerings include custard-coated Challah French Toast; Eggs Benedict and a Goat Cheese Omelet. A classic Bloody Mary is served with a twist: shochu (Japanese distilled liquor) instead of vodka.

An expansive beverage menu features craft beers from Rogue Brewery in Oregon, as well as Echigo and Coedo, two premium Japanese breweries. The wine list continues to be notable, with premier bottles from Napa Valley (V Madrone Chardonnay, $80.00) and Sonoma (Donelan Syrah, $160.00). Beverage offerings are rounded out with a full sake list and cocktails such as a Midori Sour and a Mango-Yuzu Saketini.

Joshu-ya Brasserie is located at 2441 Dwight Way, just west of Telegraph Avenue, in Berkeley, California, and is open nightly for dinner (4:00 to 10:00 p.m.), Monday through Saturday for lunch (11:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.) and on Sunday for brunch (9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.). There is some street parking available plus an off-street garage located just over two blocks north of the restaurant. For more information or for reservations, call (510) 848-5260 or visit their website www.joshu-ya.com