USA Day 11: San Francisco


941 Cole Street,
Cole Valley, San Francisco
(415) 564 5332
Open:   Breakfast & Lunch: Mon – Fri 8:00am – 2:30pm
Dinner: Sun -Thu 5:30pm – 9:30pm,  Fri – Sat 5:30pm – 10:00pm
Brunch: Sat-Sun  9:00am – 3:00pm

This morning we took a taxi to Cole Valley so I could try the pancakes at the legendary Zazie – we got there just in time, snagging the last table out the front.  The sun was shining, so it was a beautiful place to start the day.

This is me, enjoying a lovely coffee – you can see the sun shining on my back
and some jealous people who have to wait in line!! Hee hee…!

Andrew is determined in his quest to find the best poached eggs and bacon –
and he’s loving the American custom of serving home fried potatoes with everything!

But I had a dilemma – I had come to try the ginger pancakes with lemon curd and poached pear (I know – how good does that sound?!).  But they had a seasonal special: Pumpkin pancakes with pumpkin puree.  What to do???

I know, I’ll order one of each!

Pumpkin pancake with pumpkin puree, whipped cream and maple syrup.

Ginger pancake with lemon curd and poached pear.

The pumpkin pancake wins out of the two…. So moist and delicious!  I’m glad the waitress talked me into it.  But I know you’re wondering… does it replace the pancake front runner.  Alas, Bubby’s in New York is still winning!

Zazie on Urbanspoon

Golden Gate Park

After breakfast, we decided we needed to walk a bit to work it all off…  famous last words.  We decided to walk through the Golden Gate Park, since we were so close to it.  It was a bit bizarre, because there were quite a few homeless people at the entrance to the park, and then at a couple of places throughout – a little bit off-putting.

As we walked along, we were distracted by this amazing looking sound shell – and so took a walk through the Exposition Gardens between the De Young Museum and the California Academy of Sciences.

Here I am standing in this enormous sound shell – apparently they moved it around the park
3 times before they settled on the current location – How?  I do not know.

Poéme de la Vigne, 1877-78, Gustave Doré

I also loved this sculpture of a vase – it has tiny little angels all around it.  That’s the De Young Museum behind it. It would have been great to visit if we’d had time.

There is a Bison Paddock in the park – apparently the Bison were a gift from some famous person… we tried to find the Bison….

Where are the bison?  There are no bison here!  Very disappointed!!

The park itself is quite long and skinny – 3 mile from one end to another (as the crow flies – and you can see from our path – we ain’t crows, more like meandering wildebeest).  I worked it out on Google maps – from breakfast to our bus stop was 4.4 miles (just over 7 km).

This is me – very tired. 7 km walk is too far!!!

Thank fully there was a beautiful vista at the end – that’s the Pacific Ocean folks!  Noice!

We caught the bus back – talk about a rough ride.  We miss the subway!!


#8 Fisherman’s Wharf (at Taylor Street)
San Francisco
(415) 673 0183
Open: Daily 11am – 11pm

So, after all that exercise – it must be time for lunch right??? We decided to try Alioto’s – apparently an institution at Fisherman’s Wharf – and our waiter certainly looked like an institution – talk about a glorious charicature of old fashioned Italian service.  Not to worry – we’ll have some fish & chips for Andrew, and some of the Alioto’s famous sautéed prawns (that’s what it said in the menu).

Fish and Chips for Andrew

  Alioto’s famous sautéed prawns (sic) for me

Me – enjoying the view at Alioto’s – it’s right on the wharf –
so you have a great view of the boats and the bay.

Alioto's on Urbanspoon

We decided to put off our ride on the Golden Gate Bridge til the next day – because it was already 3pm and probably not doable in the time we had left – especially since we had dinner booked for 6:30pm.  So, we just vegged out and relaxed.

Absinthe Brasserie and Bar

398 Hayes Street (at Gough)
Hayes Valley  SF  94102
(415) 551 1590
Open: Tue – Fri 11:30am – Midnight;  Sat 11am – Midnight;  Sun 11am – 10pm
Thu – Sat  Bar open to 2am
Brunch is served Sat & Sun 11am – 3pm

Tonight we went out to Absinthe – apparently a must do in San Francisco.  We caught the Muni bus there – and got talking to one of the locals who was going to see a foreign film (very cultural).  She was very impressed that we were going to Absinthe.  When she found out what other restaurants we had gone to / were planning to go to – she acknowledged me as a foodie who knew what she was doing!! High praise!! I’ve made it…. !!

Anyway – here’s the food:

Beef tartare – which was pretty yummy
(but still not as good as the Hotel Lincoln’s when they have it on the menu).

Andrew had spicy pork meatballs – which looked pretty yummy.

For my main, I had the local sole with citrus fennel brown butter,
caramelised fingerling potatoes, capers and Brussels sprouts.

This should have been a beautiful dish – but I found it was oversalted (and I really like salt).  A pity because all the textures were beautiful, the fish was crispy on the outside and the Brussels sprouts were bursting with flavour.

Andrew had the Absinthe burger….
Look at those pickles on top (at least he can pick them off easily).

And this was dessert – Beet cake with fromage blanc, and roasted walnut ice cream.

Absolutely the dish of the night for me!! So delicious, sort of like a multilayered carrot cake with cream cheese. Those brown splodges are candied walnuts – and they were drop dead fantastic!! Thank you to our server who suggested it with confidence when I asked what dessert was best.

Overall, a really lovely night out.  The restaurant is quite formal, and given its location next to the Civic Centre, there were a lot of patrons obviously dining before the opera or symphony.  This made the vibe a little bit more high-brow than other restaurants we’d been too, and I felt a bit obvious and tacky when I was taking photos of the food.  It also meant that around 7:15pm the place basically turned right over as one group replaced another.  At that point, it probably relaxed a little, so that might be a better time to dine.

Absinthe Brasserie and Bar on Urbanspoon