Last week, I left a comment for Adam on his super-popular New York City-based food blog the Amateur Gourmet. I told him I was sorry I missed his San Francisco get-together at Place Pigalle and wished we could meet.
2 minutes later I got an email: "Hey Brett! Just saw your comment — I would really love to meet you too. Are you free at all for lunch on Thursday?"
"Sure!" I replied.
I thought I'd have a little fun with him. I asked him to send me the list of the places where he'd eaten and where he was planning to go to, then I would come up with a restaurant for our lunch. How hard could that be? He agreed, adding one criteria: lunch should be relatively light. He was going to the best-restaurant-in-the-Bay-Area (aka Manresa) for dinner.
In case you missed his posts, this is the list Adam sent me:
Saturday lunch at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market with Elise, Sam, and Catherine
Saturday dinner at Ad Hoc
Sunday lunch at Taqueria Pancho Villa
Sunday dinner at Zuni with Sam and Fred
Monday lunch at Tartine
Monday dinner at A16 with Fatemeh
Tuesday lunch at The Slanted Door with Kristen
Tuesday dinner at Chez Panisse with Kristin again
Wednesday lunch at Delfina Pizzeria with Heidi and Bruce
Wednesday dinner at César and JoJo with Derrick and Melissa
Thursday dinner at Manresa with Pim
Oy! Adam had already planned to visit virtually all of my favorites. What had I gotten myself into?
Actually, I love challenges. (Why else would I be crazy enough to want to open a restaurant?) I got down to business. I searched for gaps in his list. Seemed a bit heavy on the California cuisine. The Bay Area dining scene is more diverse than that.
I asked myself questions. What kind of cooking do we do in the Bay Area better than what he can get in NYC? What are some places that are unique to San Francisco? What are some of my favorite places for lunch? What's on my Shortlist (see righthand column, half way down this page)? What would make for a light lunch?
This is the list I initially came up with:
Canteen because I love it so
Bar Crudo because I'm always looking for an excuse to support those guys
Bocadillos for Spanish tapas
Swan Oyster Depot for chowder and Dungeness crab
Yank Sing for dim sum
La Taqueria for tacos
O Chame for California-Japanese, plus gelato at Sketch
Vik's for Indian chaat, plus gelato at Sketch
The first three were quickly eliminated. Canteen was closed that week for vacation (oh the injustice!). Bar Crudo stopped serving lunch (they did used to serve lunch, didn't they?). Bocadillos was out, because Adam would be going to César the night before.
O Chame seemed the lightest of the remaining five, but it was all the way in Berkeley and he'd already crossed the Bay Bridge twice (Isn't there a limit on how many times you're allowed to do that in a week?). That also eliminated Vik's, which isn't exactly light food. Back in the city, Swan Oyster Depot is a classic, but I wasn't in the mood for chowder. While I love, love, love me some tacos at La Taqueria and don't think a visit to our fair city is complete without a trip there, tacos didn't exactly fit the bill. The words "light" and "taco" don't belong in the same sentence.
That left me with Yank Sing. I really and truly believe that the dim sum we get in SF is better than anything you can get in NYC. But, still, Adam can get respectable dim sum in his home town. There must be some other more unique place that I was forgetting.
Then I had my "aha" moment. "Aha!" I said. I thought of a place that served relatively light cuisine. It is fairly unique to San Francisco. And it is beloved by nearly everyone I know. I called to see if they served lunch, and the do (so go there for lunch to avoid the interminably long lines at dinner).
Before you find out where Adam and I had lunch, I want to first ask you.
Where would you have met the Amateur Gourmet for (a light) lunch in San Francisco?
To find out the answer I came up with, check out Adam's sweet and all too kind post about our lunch. Sounds like he liked it. Thank you, Adam, for putting up with my shenanigans!