Spring is my favorite season – days are longer, plants start flowering, birds chirp cheerfully – it’s as if everything is coming back to life.
In San Francisco, you start seeing new colors and ingredients on your plate. Spring peas, stone fruits, halibut, and asparagus fill menus and breathe new life into restaurants. Luckily I have really enjoyed a lot of great meals this season. That’s why I’d like to list out my top five standouts – restaurants that represented Spring in a way that stood out in my mind, and gave me an exceptionally delicious meal.
5. Sushi Hon
Sushi omakase leaves the meal up to the sushi chef – they are responsible for curating the entire meal. The idea is that the sushi chef will know what’s best to eat today, and factors in seasonality and freshness of the fish. It meal should represent the season and the highest quality seafood they have, which makes omakases a tasty journey to be on.
We went to Sushi Hon to celebrate my birthday (thank you Tomo). After two weeks of eating French food, it was a great return to what I knew. Clean flavors, no butter, just fish and rice.
It was delectable time – the fish was really fresh and we had a decadent ending – a nigiri of wagyu beef topped with truffle and caviar. Oh yes. Thanks for the welcome back, San Francisco.
4. Che Fico
Che Fico is cited as “still the hottest restaurant in 2018” and “a San Francisco restaurant as Cool as Its Name Promises” – clearly has a lot of hype. A restaurant with a lot of hype means that it’s hard to get a reservation. I had to stay up until midnight to snag a reservation for a table a month ahead of time. 😱
One of the things I really liked in particular was that they had a separate section of the menu named “Seasonal Notes”, where they had a poetic paragraph talking about Spring produce. Who allocates a special section to fawn over produce? A restaurant who cares a lot about it, and frankly, knows how to market to customers like me.
It did its trick. It filled me with joy and anticipation for what I ended up eating: grilled chopped duck liver with purple daikon, pickled pearl onions, roasted Monterey calamari with borlotti beans, pickled ramps, biogli nero with Dungeness crab, not to mention the pizzas and dessert we ate. We went to town on this meal.
My tl;dr – Definitely a restaurant worth stopping and eating at during any season.
3. Liho Liho Yacht Club
I love this restaurant, as per my post (see Liho Liho Yacht Club: One of My Favorites), and I am lucky to be able to dine with them as often as I do. I’m happy to report that they’ve put on a few new menu items, and they are just as good as I expected them to be.
One of the main highlights of the night was dessert, unsurprisingly. They’re known to have incredibly delicious dessert, like the Instagram-famous Baked Hawaii. However, that night I fell in love with their honey poundcake. It was perfectly flavored – sweet from the honey, a touch of citrus from the mango-lime curd – paired with a variety of textures from the crunchy candied corn nuts and soft white peaches. I cannot stop thinking about this dessert.
I need to go back, ASAP.
Birdsong is a beautifully decorated restaurant that makes exquisite food. My entire meal was like a hiking along the coast, eating my way through a living landscape of flavors. Not only was the meal filled with Spring produce, but on top of that, they used various techniques of cooking such as lighting some paper and cedar on fire to “smoke” my trout. Each dish used various shapes of plates and bowls that brings out a natural yet alluring look to the food. It’s impressive.
You’ll need to pay a pretty penny for the meal ($190/person). Is it worth it? It all depends. I enjoy meals like this where delicious food is thoughtfully prepared and artfully decorated. Their service was casual yet inviting. Your meal is in a beautiful space that has a lot of natural light and tall ceilings. My answer – it’s worth visiting at least once if you have the budget for it.
Birdsong is the epitome of Californian cuisine, and there’s a lot to love about it. I can see why they have earned a Michelin star, and will see if there’ll be another special occasion to go again.
1. Flour and Water
Flour + Water is a San Francisco institution that’s been making pastas and pizzas for the last 10 years in the Mission district. They produce fresh pastas daily that have a variety of shapes and colors that integrate local produce into their dishes.
That’s not to say it’s limited to their pastas. Their appetizers take on the season too. Certain dishes literally looked like it was a garden of flowers blooming on a plate, with bright green peas and pinkish red peaches and nectarines. You cannot deny that Spring had landed, and really bringing a lot of fresh flavors with it.
This meal was the meal I found myself really excited about Spring. It really ushered in the new season, and reminded me that there’s so many new flavors and textures that this wonderful season brings. Flour + Water made this season come to life.
Have you gone to any notable restaurants this past season? Did they bring the Spring season to life somehow? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below. 👇
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