Mission Beach Cafe
198 Guerrero Street (at 14th)
San Francisco, CA 94103
I’ve long loved Mission Beach Cafe for Blue Bottle Coffee (perfect cappuccinos and espressos), some of SF’s best pastries and a rockin’ brunch. With Thomas Martinez back, now as Executive Chef (age 22 and already this good? Watch out!), the dinner menu is also a journey worth taking.
If Grilled Flabtreads of the day ($11) all pack the flavor-punch of this one, you’re in for a thrill: Mt. Tam Triple Cheese, arugula, Bahri dates, caramelized pepper bacon, drizzled in balsamic vinegar. They had me at “tripel”.
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Avocado Mango Salad ($9) kicks into gear with barrel-aged feta and mango vinaigrette. Another ideal mix? Arugula Strawberry Salad ($9) with shaved fennel and candied “quinoa balsamic cracker”. Order a glass or bottle of the 2007 Voss Sauvignon Blanc ($11/42) and your starters will be brightened by its crisp, grapefruit notes.
Entrees are generous, well-cooked and quite tasty from famed Pot Pies ($18 – come Tuesdays to try all varieties: I’ll take rabbit, thank you), to a beautiful Confit Duck Leg ($21) over fava beans and beets. A medium rare Prather Ranch Beach Burger ($13.50) is lightly blackened (outside), pink (inside), with aged gouda, caramelized onion and mushrooms gushing forth from under the bun. One of the better burgers I’ve had in awhile. Paired with Kennebec fries in truffle oil and shaved Parmesan, it shoots into the stratosphere. You could add bacon or avocado ($2) but that would just be gluttonous.
Desserts, from Pastry Chef par excellence, Alan Carter, are one great pie, cookie or cake after another. You can’t really go too wrong. I crave the tartness of Lemon Velvet Cream Pie or crazy-good Banana Butterscotch Cream Pie (both $6.50).
From a choice of five or so dessert wines and ports, Arrested Zinfandel ’06 Port from Napa ($12), is robust with a hint of sweet (and a whiff of butterscotch!) Quady Essentia’s ’06 Orange Muscat ($8) from Madera is bright, apricot-orange, and a sexy finish to a meal. But my top choice is probably Truchard’s ’05 Late Harvest Botrytis (that’s “noble rot” to you). A viscous acidity reveals hints of pear, peach, honey. Gorgeous.