On the indestructibility of san francisco’s french bistros – san francisco chronicle

In my neighborhood, there’s Le P’tit Laurent, owned and operated by Laurent Legendre, who also recently opened Chez Marius in Noe Valley. Free food coupons uk Before that, he started Clementine in the Inner Richmond. Fast food restaurants with soup Clementine is now Chapeau, but it still trades in home-style French cooking.


Fast food places that accept ebt Over in my editor’s neighborhood, the spot is Gamine. Healthy chinese food choices Near Forest Hill, there’s a narrow corridor of a restaurant called ChouChou. Chinese fast food restaurants near me Set back into the corner of two tree-lined streets in Duboce Triangle is L’Ardoise. Mexican fast food restaurants near me For 20 years, one of the owners of L’Ardoise ran Le Charm in SoMa, which lives on as Cafe Mathilde under the stewardship of a former employee, Mathilde Gravel.

Sheer prevalence aside, there are two reasons why I find these places remarkable. Healthy food in dubai First off, the menus are all incredibly similar — the hits are always there — and I don’t believe any of them really stands head and shoulders above the rest, execution-wise. What fast food restaurants are near me But what really boggles my mind is that these places are perpetually packed with happy diners, in spite of some jarring anachronisms.

Let’s start with the bread. Fast food restaurants that accept ebt We live in a great baking region, during an age of outstanding bread. Mexican food restaurants near me I mean, say whatever you want about the state of dining around the world, but the bread is getting better. Soul food restaurants near me And San Francisco is the epicenter of the movements driving modern bread: fresh flour milled from whole grains, high-hydration doughs, long fermentation. Chinese food restaurants near me Yet when the bread basket drops at a San Francisco bistro, you’re almost always going to find unremarkable wedges of sweet, store-bought baguette. Food delivery des moines I’ve got nothing against baguettes. What fast food restaurants are open near me I just find the practice a little lazy, and I can’t help but feel that these places are phoning it in.

Then there’s the truffle oil. Healthy food new york Weren’t we all supposed to have wised up to this stuff? It doesn’t taste or smell like truffles. Fast food places that accept ebt near me Sure, at first whiff it stinks in that acceptable way, like one’s own flatulence, but by the time it reaches your face, it reeks of someone else’s fart. Chinese food delivery near me open late Recently, while having an otherwise pleasant dinner at L’Ardoise, I was saddened to catch a deep hit of 2,4-dithiapentane — that’s the chemical compound employed in truffle oil to approximate the musk of real truffle — from a plate of mushrooms wrapped in puff pastry. Open chinese restaurants near me The truth is that relatively few things need truffle, and nothing needs truffle oil.

I know — First World problems, right? While I’m letting my inner food snob out, I might as well grumble for a moment about seasonality. How to get free food from fast food restaurants Like a gambler frittering away the hours in a Vegas casino, the diner at a San Francisco bistro may be forgiven for losing all track of time outside. Fast food places open on christmas eve The San Francisco bistro menu is largely impervious to season: braises, casseroles, steaks and fish, and all manner of potato preparations that can be replicated year-round. Fast food restaurants open near me Fresh vegetable service is spotty. Food places open late near me The other night at Cafe Mathilde, my butter lettuce salad came with exactly two halves of a cherry tomato. New orleans food and wine experience I pushed around the leaves of the salad with my fork to see if I could uncover more, but in the end there was just the lone pair, marooned since summer.

Of course, none of this really matters to anyone but over-informed diners like me. Fast food restaurants that accept ebt near me Let me reiterate that these bistros are generally pretty mobbed, and I doubt that any of my gripes about fart oil, sad tomatoes or boring bread will have any effect on that fact.

At L’Ardoise in the Duboce Triangle area of S.F., traditional coq…

So how are we supposed to think about these restaurants? One view is that these are simple neighborhood spots and that I should take my fussiness elsewhere. Mexican restaurants open 24 hours near me But that’s not entirely fair. New york food and wine festival These bistros aren’t terrifically expensive, but they’re not cheap either. Fast food restaurants by me I don’t think you’re spending significantly less on dinner than if you were eating at Liholiho Yacht Club, or Rich Table, or Kin Khao. Restaurants open late near me that deliver The snob wants to grab the diners by the shoulders and scream at them about all the more adventurous, au courant places they could be eating. Fast food restaurants in florida The cynics aim their vitriol at the restaurants themselves: These bistros are selling us a cosplay fantasy of Paris that they know exists only in our imaginations.

It’s perhaps instructive to note that these bistros are mostly run by French owners. Chinese restaurants open late near me And when one of them decides to retire or move on, they often pass them to another French owner. New york food blog They are, at their cores, immigrant restaurants. New orleans restaurants french quarter And like so many immigrant-run businesses, they aim to please. New york food and wine festival 2016 It shows in the service, which is almost always gracious, attentive, patient and accommodating. New york city vegan restaurants At the very worst, you could say it’s insincere because who really wants to be that nice to people?

Case in point: During that same dinner with the butter lettuce salad at Mathilde, one of the owners noticed that my wife and I had brought our baby with us, and scurried over to offer a high chair. Restaurants open late night near me At that time, our sad-sack 3-month-old didn’t yet have the muscular control to command a chair of her own, but she’d already accompanied us to her fair share of restaurants. New york vegan restaurants Nobody had ever offered her a place to sit. New orleans breakfast restaurants I instantly forgave the tomatoes.

Table-side service at Le P’tit Laurent in Glen Park is just one…

The food at these bistros, which I chided earlier for being repetitive, is only so because that’s what we ask for. Restaurants near me new orleans French onion soup is pad Thai. Mexican restaurants open late near me Does the French staff eat it every day? No. Soul food restaurants in new orleans Do they want to serve it every day? Hell no. Fast food restaurants with play areas But it’s where the money is. Organic food restaurants near me If these bistros are selling an unrealistic fantasy, so is the sushi chef, the wok cook and the taquero. Best seafood restaurants in atlanta Not to mention the Michelin-starred chef.

For me, these bistros are a guilty pleasure — one I indulge with some frequency.

I stick to Le P’tit Laurent because I find that a neighborhood restaurant loses some of its romance if it’s not in your neighborhood. Good food in san diego We go once every couple months. Best seafood restaurants in chicago I always begin with a Ricard, because it makes me feel sophisticated to pour a little water into my glass and watch the pastis turn cloudy, just like its more fiery and alcoholic forebear, absinthe. Best food places in chicago As for my dinner order, I pretend like I’m not going to get a bowl of onion soup, but who am I kidding? And then it’s nearly always the cassoulet for me. Best seafood restaurants in miami beach What’s wrong with cheesy onion soup or duck confit that peels off the bone? And who can argue with crisp-fried potatoes?

These places are comfortable. Best seafood restaurants in miami I don’t necessarily mean comfortable in the comfort-food sense (although that applies, too). Best seafood restaurants in wildwood nj What I mean is that you’re in little danger of feeling silly or outclassed. Good food places around me Back at Mathilde, I overheard a woman at a nearby table say excitedly to her companion, “I’ve never ordered bone marrow before!” — and it made me so happy. Best soul food restaurants in nyc An unfortunate combination of arrogance and self-consciousness usually squelches my own excitement about trying something for the first time. Best seafood restaurants in nyc I liked being in the presence of enthusiastic diners.

The dining room at Monsieur Benjamin, a more modern bistro in Hayes…

I thought about other people in my own life who might still get a thrill from trying dishes they’ve heard of, but never seen. Fast food restaurants in canada My mom came to the U.S. Best seafood restaurants in houston from Taiwan in her 20s. Best soul food restaurants in atlanta She and my dad have done well in the States, made a nice life for their family, and watched with active interest as I’ve burrowed deeper and deeper into the world of restaurants and food writing. Best seafood restaurants in dallas She’s in her 70s now and she’s never been to France — or Europe, for that matter — but she wants to go. Largest fast food chain in the world I think she’d like it.

Anyway, Mom and I don’t often get a chance to dine together, just the two of us, but she was coming to town for a visit and I thought she’d get a kick out of tasting some classic French bistro cooking. Soul food restaurants in los angeles Having already visited a few too many of the aforementioned restaurants in recent weeks, I booked us a table at Monsieur Benjamin.

Monsieur Benjamin is a bistro. Best lunch places in san diego You’ll find a lot of the same dishes on the menu for about the same price as the other bistros in San Francisco. Best food places in san diego The difference, of course, is that Monsieur Benjamin is a Corey Lee restaurant. Famous food in los angeles Lee is Korean, perhaps the most respected chef in America, and the holder of three Michelin stars for his elegant and innovative restaurant Benu.

To be honest, I’d long ago made my verdict about Monsieur Benjamin. Good restaurants in san diego Bistro cuisine is too messy for Corey Lee. Best restaurants in san diego ca He’s too exacting for his own good, too intellectual, not willing to let “good enough” be. Best mexican food in san diego I hadn’t visited his bistro in a long time.

What I found was that the restaurant had settled into itself. Best food places in los angeles There had been time to get a little scuff on the floors, and for a specific energy to develop. Best lunch places in los angeles It was bustling on a Thursday night — buzzy but not hectic. Best indian food in chicago The menu was largely as I remembered it from the early days. Best lunch places in new orleans We ordered sweetbreads, which Mom said she’d maybe had before in a Chinese soup, but never like this: breaded and fried crisp on the outside, tender and meaty within. Best food places near me We shared a thick puck of foie gras terrine, a bright but unflashy butter lettuce salad, oeufs mayonnaise and crab remoulade. Good fast food places near me I was really pleased to find my darling cassoulet on the menu, and even more pleased when it arrived in its earthenware dish, rustic as ever, a light topsoil of crunchy breadcrumbs hiding all manner of riches below.

As Mom and I ate, I considered how to talk about this place, with its classical French cuisine and Korean owner, its familiar menu and modern sensibility. Soul food restaurants in miami It is distinct from its ilk yet cut from the same cloth.

Chris Ying is a writer, editor and co-founder of Lucky Peach. Soul food restaurants in atlanta ga Email: food@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @chrisyingz

Cafe Mathilde: 315 Fifth St., San Francisco. Soul food restaurants in atlanta georgia (415) 546-6128 or www.mathildesf.com. Good chinese food that delivers near me Dinner Tuesday-Saturday.

L’Ardoise: 151 Noe St., San Francisco. Soul food restaurants in nj (415) 437-2600 or www.ardoisesf.com. Best lobster in atlanta Dinner Tuesday-Saturday.

Le P’tit Laurent: 699 Chenery St., San Francisco. Best lunch restaurants in los angeles (415) 334-3235 or www.leptitlaurent.net. Best lunch spots in los angeles Dinner nightly.

Monsieur Benjamin: 451 Gough St., San Francisco. Famous restaurants in los angeles for celebrities (415) 403-2233 or www.monsieurbenjamin.com. Famous restaurants in los angeles Dinner nightly; lunch on weekends.

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