Virginia Miller

Acquerello

Nob Hill fine dining that might be worth the price tag -- cheese cart and all

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Who to drink

SUMMER DRINKS: Five bartenders look to the past to create some of the Bay's best cocktails -- and tell you what to sip for summer.

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Appetite: Whiskies of the World tastes and gin tales

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A better than ever year aboard the SF Belle at Whiskies of the World last month meant some fine, global pours of whisk(e)y from Scotland to Australia. Here were some highlights:

On the fun and interesting tip, Lark Distillery distills single malt whisky in Tasmania, an Australian island - and it's surprisingly solid. Distilled in copper pot stills, it's smooth with a modicum of peat, aged five years, yet with a bit of complexity. I appreciated returning to 10-year-old old Masterson's Straight Rye Whiskey. Aged in charred white oak barrels, this Canadian rye evokes whispers of pepper, vanilla, spice, and a soft sweetness.

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Namu Gaji

Their new space may be smaller -- yet the adventurous Asian spirit of Namu's Lee Brothers remains

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virginia@sfbg.com

APPETITE Although Asian outpost Namu Gaji is brand new, the presence of Namu restaurant itself and owners the Lee brothers — Dennis, David and Daniel — has been felt in San Francisco for years. Since 2006, the Lees have been weaving Korean, Japanese, and other Asian cuisines with California spirit in the original, now shuttered Richmond restaurant and eventually Namu's Ferry Building farmers market stand on Tuesdays and Saturdays. In early April, the brothers opened their Mission incarnation, Namu Gaji.Read more »

Seafaring

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APPETITE Fish makes me happy. Raw, grilled, seared, any which way. One new restaurant and one established favorite are glorifying the fish, and seafood in general, in many formats.

LOCAL'S CORNER

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New cocktails now

Flaming Spanish coffee, kumquat shrubs, 'infierno tincture' .... fresh delights at Comal, Copita, Grand Cafe, and Absinthe

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virginia@sfbg.com

APPETITE Wet your whistle: Here are a handful of spots in Berkeley, Sausalito, Union Square, and Hayes Valley with new drinks to put on your warm weather radar — and accompanying bites to go with.

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Comforts of the flesh

Meat's a treat at Presidio Social Club, American Eatery, and O3

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virginia@sfbg.com

APPETITE Oxtail three ways, a hammy biscuit, gourmet meatloaf... comfort comes in each of these forms at new spots (or in the case of Presidio Social Club, with a new chef) in meat dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

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Appetite: 2 new Bay cheap eats spots

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In the spirit of my recent "new SF cheap eats" article, here are two noteworthy new cheap eats joints East and South: Berkeley and Palo Alto.

ASIAN BOX

Asian Box is a newer take-out shop (with one narrow communal table inside and a couple tables outside) in a mobbed Palo Alto strip mall. What could be just another casual Asian food joint has two key things going for it. One is two former San Francisco chefs behind it: executive chef Grace Nguyen, of Out The Door’s Bush Street location, and Chad Newton, who many of us followed at Fish and Farm (where he created one incredible burger).

The other is that Asian Box’s affordable food ($6.95-$8.25) is ultra-fresh and satisfying.

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Sushi east and west

Revamped Joshu-Ya Brasserie and new Saru Sushi Bar increase our sushi diversity

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virginia@sfbg.com

APPETITE Despite the countless lauded sushi restaurants I've eaten at in NY and LA, I find San Francisco more than keeps up, whether due to the staggering range of fish (and lovably surly attitude) Roger delivers at Zushi Puzzle (www.zushipuzzle.com) (pencilfish or flying fish, anyone?), the sustainable efforts of Tataki (www.tatakisushibar.com) and Sebo (www.sebosf.com), or the pristine precision of Sausalito stalwart Sushi Ran (www.sushiran.com), which tops overrated Nobu (www.noburestaurants.com) restaurants, in my book.Read more »

Appetite: More Upper highs and Valley loves

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In this week's Appetite column in the paper, I ran down my picks for the best spots to eat a quality meal (without the expense of other areas) in the Upper Haight and Cole Valley region. Below are more of my favorites from my home 'hood, including picks for coffee, brunch, and cocktails -- including delicious sangria, a cheese gem, and a woeful tale of a hot dog scramble to avoid.

COFFEE: Coffee has long been rough in the Haight. Until Haight Street Market opened a Blue Bottle kiosk in their store, one couldn't get a proper cup. While appealing cafes like Reverie boast a welcome back patio, and the La Boulange chain on Cole serves substantial pastries, none offers a cappuccino or espresso to satisfy coffee snobs. But just in the last week or so, there's a quiet coffee revolution afoot with two new cafes. Flywheel Coffee Roasters looks like a hipster Mission coffee spot with a handful of laptops and industrial-stark interior. Though they aren't going the foam art/microfoam route at this point and they have not begun roasting their own beans in-house as they plan to, initial cups are promising. The other new spot is Stanza in the Coco Luxe space. They'll be doing coffee cuppings on the first Thursday of each month (7pm) and have their coffee roasted by Augies in Southern California. They DO have foam art and proper cappuccinos. A welcome neighborhood addition.

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