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California Cuisine

California Cusine

Vesta, Redwood City

Vesta, Redwood City

Why did we dine here? – Top Italian on the Peninsula! Vesta is a California Italian restaurant in downtown Redwood City. They tried to support local and organic suppliers. It has an extremely high 4.5 stars on Yelp and was mentioned in San Francisco magazine as having great pizza. These two facts were enough to pique our interest. We finally got a chance to try them at the end of 2013, been back several times with latest visit in summer 2023.

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Otium, Los Angeles

Otium Los Angeles Exterior Decor

Why did we dine here? – Otium is a modern American restaurant in downtown LA, right next to The Broad museum (Free admission! reserve online) We finish up at the museum and came to Otium for weekend brunch.

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Sorrel, San Francisco

Sorrel San Francisco outside exterior decor

Why did we dine here? – Sorrel occupies the space that once housed Nico. Alexader Hong (Quince, Jean Georges) started doing popups in 2015 and moved to this spot in 2018. James Beard Rising Star Finalist. They received One Michelin Star in 2019.

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Bird Dog, Palo Alto

Why did we dine here? – Bird Dog is a popular new restaurant in downtown Palo Alto. This brings some sophisticated SF style innovative dining to the Peninsula. The interior is impressive, especially for a restaurant down here. Robbie Wilson was the chef of Matsuhisa in Aspen, Colo., and most recently headed up the kitchen at Mattei’s Tavern in Los Olivos (Santa Barbara County)

Insider Tip – On the fence? Especially about the prices. Eat at the bar.

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Animal Restaurant Review, Los Angeles

Animal Los Angeles exterior decor

Why did we dine here? – Animal Restaurant is a popular place in trendy Los Angeles. The award winning chef owns several restaurants. This particular one focuses on meaty dishes, at extremely reasonable prices. We had to give it a try and were not disappointed.

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Chez Panisse Cafe Review, Berkeley

Chez Panisse Cafe Berkeley Exterior Decor

Chez Panisse Cafe is the lower cost, more casual, a la carte menu restaurant upstairs from famous Chez Panisse. We dined at the main restaurant Chez Panisse previously. Alice Waters started a food revolution here, way back in 1971. She strives to serve only the highest quality products, and only when they are in season. All produce, meat, poultry, and fish come from farms, ranches, and fisheries guided by principles of sustainability. This restaurant has produced many famous chefs that have gone on to start their own restaurants. Our last visit was in February 2014.

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Birch Street Restaurant Review, Palo Alto

Birch Street Palo Alto exterior decor

Birch Street is a French-Californian bistro in the California Avenue shopping district of Palo Alto. The focus on local, organic, and sustainable ingredients from the local farmers market. They use to be known as Bistro Elan and were located around the corner. The new restaurant is fairly small and much more casual. We liked the old restaurant, so it was a no brainer to give this one a try.

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Rich Table Restaurant Review, San Francisco

Rich Table San Francisco Exterior Decor

Why did we dine here? – Rich Table is the work of Husband and wife Chefs Evan and Sarah Rich. (Bouley, Coi, Michael Mina) This restaurant got a 3.5 star (Beyond excellent) Bauer review, making it one of the hottest reservations in town. Pretty casual but full of middle aged well dressed foodies, this loud restaurant has a rustic, barn like setting. It was a hot day and without air conditioning, it was not comfortable inside.

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Farmhouse Restaurant Review, Forestville

Farmhouse Forestville exterior decor

Farmhouse is a One Michelin Star restaurant and Inn located in the heart of the Russian River Valley, Forestville. We have never ventured into this region and came here for dinner after a long day of playing in the River at Guerneville. This restaurant and inn are located on beautiful grounds full of plants and other vegetation.

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Madera Restaurant Review, Menlo Park

Madera Restaurant Menlo Park exterior decor

Madera Restaurant is located in the Rosewood Sand Hill Hotel, just across the way from venture capital central. This is a high-end hotel that opened up just a couple years ago. Chef Peter Rudolph used to work at Campton place in San Francisco. He uses a wood-burning grill and explores artfully-crafted, market-driven cuisine of bold flavors. Sustainably harvested and produced seafood and meats. Madera means wood in Spanish.

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Piacere Restaurant Review, San Carlos

Piacere San Carlos exterior decor

Piacere means Pleasure, to please, a source delight or joy in Italian. This restaurant is located in San Carlos in the Laurel Street shopping area right across the street from restaurant Town and near Spasso. Piacere focuses on modern California-Italian cuisine using local and organic ingredients. One last visit was in May of 2011, where we sensed food quality slipping.

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Frances Restaurant Review, San Francisco

Frances San Francisco exterior decor

Frances is run by Melissa Perello, formerly of Charles Nob Hill and Fifth Floor, was winner of several accolades including San Francisco Chronicle’s rising star chef in 2002. Her California Cuisine Castro district restaurant, named after her grandmother, is one presently of the hardest reservations in town. We didn’t have a reservation and went early for bar counter seating before the restaurant opened. (some seats here are pretty tiny) Frances never answered the phone when we called, but they did return our message. They use local, sustainable and organic products when possible.

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Ame Restaurant Restaurant Review, San Francisco

Ame San Francisco exterior decor

Ame Restaurant in San Francisco’s St. Regis Hotel serves up seasonal New American cuisine, blending of flavors from southern France, northern Italy and especially Japan. No sushi here though. Hiro Sone and Lissa Doumani are also chefs and co-owners of Terra Restaurant in St. Helena. They received One Michelin Star in 2010 and have been open since 2006.

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Commis Restaurant Review, Oakland

Commis Oakland Exterior Decor

Commis is a hot restaurant in Oakland run by James Syhabout. He has cooked at several superstar restaurant; Manresa, The Fat Duck, el Bulli, Mugaritz, and Alkimia. Commis focuses on Contemporary California cuisine with a focus on local, sustainable, and eco friendly practices. The restaurant is located in the Piedmont Avenue area of Oakland, home to hot spots like Bay Wolf, Dopo, and Fentons. Commis received one Michelin star in 2010.

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Passionfish Restaurant Review, Pacific Grove

Passionfish Pacific Grove 17

Passionfish offers a “unique California dining experience with serious food and wine in a fun and casual atmosphere. The ever-changing menu features the freshest, sustainable seafood, slow-cooked meats, organic greens and delectable desserts, all complemented by an award winning wine list priced well below what you’ve come to expect.” They have been around for over ten years.
With the world class Monterey Bay Aquarium nearby and all its educational campaigns, this restaurant adheres to the sustainable seafood movement to serve ‘correct’ food. Passionfish is owned and operated by Chef Ted Walter and his wife Cindy Walter, who are vocal advocates for sustainabilty.

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