I first visited Campton Place not long after Bradley Ogden was named the Chef at the restaurant. I don't remember the exact year, though 1984 or 1985 is a good guess. Campton Place was an important restaurant opening for its time. Historically, hotel restaurants served food that could be easily called stodgy and traditonal. Places like the Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton in Boston or the Palm Court at The Plaza Hotel in New York served a classic cuisine that was heavy on both frills and starchy sauces. But when Campton Place decided to hire Ogden as its chef, it was a much bigger step than simply getting a new face in the kitchen. Ogden was part of a new wave of American chefs that included the likes of Larry Forgione of An American Place and Barry Wine of The Quilted Giraffe. That generation of chefs would redefine American cuisine to such an extent that their imprint can still be felt to this day. Now sixteen years after Ogden's rein at the restaurant came to an end, a tall skinny Swiss chef by the name of Daniel Humm has been appointed to head the kitchen and he has been getting reviews that Campton Place hasn't seen since Ogden left the restaurant.
Tartare, Michael Mina, Yank Sing, Hog Island Oyster Company, Golden Gate Bakery and Gary Danko
I recently had a few business meetings scheduled in San Francisco. Never one to lose an opportunity for a meal in an exotic location, I quickly checked the American Airlines flight schedule to see how I could maximize the number of meals I could have during a short visit. It became obvious immediately—I could take a 9:15 a.m. flight, have lunch, make an afternoon business appointment, have dinner, have lunch during the break the next day, and an early dinner at the bar of some restaurant before taking the redeye back to New York at 10:00 p.m. Fortunately, good weather and tailwinds going in the right direction helped my cause, and I found myself sitting down for lunch at Tartare at 1:00 p.m. sharp. Dinner, too, went as planned, and then I caught a break the next morning when my meeting ended early and I was free by 11:00 a.m. Big fresser that I am, I took advantage of the situation by going directly to dim sum without passing Go, and then having a second lunch of 18 oysters and a glass of wine at a different restaurant. Otherwise, all I can say is that San Francisco is a beautiful city, and the only city I know where in order to walk up a hill, you walk down first and then catch the cable car back up. A truly American concept....continue
Tagine of Kobe Beef at Michael Mina; Tuna Tartare at Tartare and Lobster and Pattypan Squash Risotto at Gary Danko
Coming soon: Spain including El Bulli, El Cellar can Roca, Raco de Con Fabes, Hispania and Garbet, France including Michel Bras, La Chamarre, Table de Lancaster and Chez Michel, London including Rasoi Vineet Bhatia, River Cafe. Clarkes, The Wolesley, La Famiglia, J. Sheekey, Mohsen, Patog and a guide to New York Small Plates dining.
Manresa- Chef David Kinch is an ambitious man. A veteran of NYC’s Quilted Giraffe, as well as a number of Europe’s finest kitchens, he has joined Thomas Keller and Grant Achatz in the club of American chefs who serve large, multicourse tasting menus. When I visited his Los Gatos restaurant in September, he plied us with 18 courses, and I've heard that they have gone as high as 25. The eclectic cuisine ranges from a perfect mackerel flown in from Japan served sushi style to a twice-cooked foie gras in a quince consommé, watercress “soup” with Iranian caviar, and various meats slowly braised or prepared sous vide. Manresa reminds of New York's Blue Hill at Stone Barns. Worth the 55-mile trip down from San Francisco and a much easier reservation to get than The French Laundry. This is a restaurant worth watching. The volume of courses pushes this score up a notch.A-
David Kinch's Watercress Vichyssoise with Iranian Osetra Caviar