San Francisco, San Francisco…home to Haight & Ashbury, the heart and soul of music. San Francisco, where all tourists love to become rhesus monkeys for a while and hang on to the sides of the cable cars decidedly making their way through the city, where the driver insanely pulls on a bunch of levers that seem to make no sense whatsoever! San Francisco, San Francisco….where Sean Connery and Nicolas Cage expertly diffuse a band of rogue army with nothing but their wit and deadly biological weapons, in ‘The Rock’! Of course, there is also San Francisco, where the restaurant Coi (pronounced ‘kwa’) serves up a refreshing, creative and inventive array of dishes – a lot of them sternly dividing opinions across neighbouring tables with their boldness.
“Momofuku ssäm bar is a casual, loud restaurant with an inventive menu that is constantly changing” Is how the restaurant describes themselves on their website. I wish it had been true! I do wish the food had been inventive. For the life of me I cannot fathom how a restaurant like this made it to the 50 best restaurants of the world – #37 this year. Was there dirty underhanded dealings? Is everyone on the committee best friends with David Chang that they felt they had to do him a favour and put the restaurant on the list? Whatever the case may be, the 2 week high of New York dining had to finally crash and burn and it did ever so miserably, at Momofuku Ssam. The 37th best restaurant in the world.
For all the many reputations and stories about San Francisco one has heard, there are none that quite do the city any justice – it truly is a magnificent place, whether wandering through the historical heart of music in Haight or along the bay, marvelling at the Golden Gate Bridge at sunset, delving into the literary intensity of the beatniks or just soaking in the vibrancy of it all. With its multi-faceted personality, comes too, a wide and glorious selection of food, but one place in particular that locals and visitors all are in unison about is The Slanted Door, Charles Phan’s temple of modern Vietnamese cooking that is perpetually full to the brim every single night and with good reason too!
On my recent travels across the Americas, I have twice encountered the combination of Phillipe Starck and an Adria protege. Not quite sure what that little statistic means, but when there’s good and funky food in equally funky surroundings, there’s never a lack of discussion topics that are centred around the space you’re in and the experience is breathes upon you! The SLS hotel in Los Angeles is hom e to Bazaar, where El Bulli graduate Jose Andres flaunts his wares in a Starck designed dining room that plays on the name Bazaar and its permutation of bizarre, a space where the dining room is split into the actual dining space and a bar, patisserie and walk through market space displaying luxuriously priced knick-knacks, a sort of uber souk. Given the nature of the menu and it’s design for sharing, I have to say that with the help of Mr. W and Ms. B, there was fair justice done!