Hitting the Road with Chef Michael Tuohy

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When I moved from Atlanta to California in 2009 to be the founding chef of Sacramento’s Grange Restaurant & Bar, I was actually coming home. (I grew up in the Bay Area.) In the years since, I’ve bounced around a little, living and working for a time in Napa Valley before returning to Sacramento to open Block Butcher Bar. A few months ago, I took on an exciting new challenge as executive chef for Sacramento’s downtown Entertainment and Sports Complex, future home to the Sacramento Kings. I’ve always been an enthusiastic food dude who loves to travel, seeking out food and drink at exceptional places wherever I go. Here’s a look at some of my favorite restaurants, bars and more based on recent day trips to San Francisco, West Marin and Napa.

SAN FRANCISCO RESTAURANTS

Cockscomb This is the latest spot from chef Chris Cosentino, known for his restaurants Incanto (RIP) and Boccalone and for his 2012 win of TV’s “Top Chef Masters.” Famous for his ode to whole-animal cooking, Cosentino does personal riffs on classic S.F. dishes such as beef tartare (made here with beef heart). Great cocktail program. Grab a seat at the counter and watch the cooks in action! 564 Fourth St., San Francisco; (415) 974-0700; cockscombsf.com

Bar Tartine Chefs Nick Balla and Cortney Burns respect time-honored processes such as fermentation, curing and pickling. Influences from Hungary, Japan and Scandinavia set the tone for the cooking. Co-owned by Chad Robertson and Elisabeth Prueitt of famed Tartine Bakery, this Mission hot spot is destined to be another San Francisco classic. 561 Valencia St., San Francisco; (415) 487-1600; bartartine.com

Bar Tartine

Fog City Newly renovated from top to bottom, this 30-year-old landmark is now repositioned for the next 30 years. It’s helmed by uberchef Bruce Hill, owner of Bix, Zero Zero and Picco, who revamped the restaurant by adding wood-fired cooking capabilities and an approachable yet classic American menu. Bruce has seamlessly evolved from chef to chef-restaurateur. 1300 Battery St., San Francisco; (415) 982-2000; fogcitysf.com

State Bird Provisions and The Progress Chef-owners Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski have created two of the most progressive spots in San Francisco and perhaps the country. By design, State Bird Provisions is “un-designed” or, better yet, unprogrammed. Ordered from dim sum-type carts, the food comes on small plates as it is ready rather than in the traditional app/salad/entree/dessert format. Newly redone, the rough, raw space is jammed every night. Next door, The Progress is a modern space with a unique family-style, prix-fixe format. Food is brought out on platters or large plates and is prepared for the number of people at the table. Seasonal menus are crafted from impeccable local ingredients. An inventive cocktail program and a solid wine list. State Bird Provisions: 1529 Fillmore St., San Francisco; (415) 795-1272; statebirdsf.com. The Progress: 1525 Fillmore St., San Francisco; (415) 673-1294; theprogress-sf.com

BAKERIES & PATISSERIES

Craftsman & Wolves This contemporary patisserie on trendy Valencia Street by pastry wizard William Werner turns out more than just phenomenal croissants. Order the chocolate croissant short stack or The Rebel Within, a soft-cooked egg encased in pastry with Asiago, sausage and green onion. Finish with a seasonal strawberry vanilla sable Breton tart. You can kick-start your day with coffee from Oakland roaster Highwire or cool off in the evening with a glass of French rose as you watch the passers-by while you snack on a banh mi made with pork belly and pork rillettes on a housemade roll. 746 Valencia St., San Francisco; (415) 913-7713; craftsman-wolves.com

Tartine Bakery The brainchild of James Beard Award-winning chefs Chad Robertson and Elisabeth Prueitt, this is the place for artisan bread in San Francisco. Open since 2002, Tartine Bakery is now a San Francisco institution. The rustic breads are unparalleled in the Bay Area and, arguably, the United States. Pastries made with solid French technique are totally dialed, as are clever sandwiches on housemade breads. 600 Guerrero St., San Francisco; (415) 487-2600; tartinebakery.com

Fog City

COCKTAILS

In this era of clever craft-cocktail programs, virtually every restaurant worth its weight has one. In San Francisco, there are a number of bars and drinking establishments dedicated to the craft of the cocktail, making this one of the best drinking cities in the country. However, sometimes history, unbeatable views and location still win. These three places fit the bill.

Tosca Cafe When this legendary North Beach hangout was sold in 2012, observers wondered: Was it to die after only a 93-year run? Enter the talented team behind New York’s The Spotted Pig, The John Dory Oyster Bar and The Breslin: chef April Bloomfield and Ken Friedman. Voila! Tosca was reborn as a vibrant legit restaurant, complete with the original amazing bar. 242 Columbus Ave., San Francisco; (415) 986-9651; toscacafesf.com

Epic Roasthouse Created by legendary designer and restaurateur Pat Kuleto, this Embarcadero restaurant just south of Ferry Plaza has an unobstructed view of the bay and the Bay Bridge. In the upstairs bar, above the wood-fired kitchen, overstuffed leather chairs allow you to sink in and enjoy the view with a classic cocktail. A perfect place to cap off a busy day and celebrate a successful deal. 369 The Embarcadero, San Francisco; (415) 369-9955; epicroasthouse.com

Cliff House Situated at the north end of Ocean Beach, next to the famed Sutro Baths, this iconic landmark is the perfect place to catch a sunset with a cocktail in hand. Perched above Kelly’s Cove and Seal Rock, you can watch as the sun disappears over the horizon or the mystical, famed fog of the Golden Gate rolls in. You may even catch sight of some daring characters climbing out to the rocks to play chicken with the tide! 1090 Point Lobos Ave., San Francisco; (415) 386-3330; cliffhouse.com

POINT REYES STATION, WEST MARIN

Cafe Reyes Located on Highway 1 just before you turn onto Main Street in Point Reyes Station, this unassuming spot is worth a drop-in. Cafe Reyes keeps quirky hours. (Read: It operates on its own time schedule.) I have shown up during the day to find the door open and not a soul inside. In any event, catch it at the right time and you can enjoy impeccably cooked Neapolitan-style pizza from the wood-burning oven along with pristine, just-caught local oysters. It’s the perfect spot to relax after a long drive before you cruise into town. 11101 Highway 1, Point Reyes Station; (415) 663-9493

Station House Cafe Located on Main Street in the heart of Point Reyes Station, this mainstay serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. A spacious interior and a very inviting patio provide the perfect backdrop for live local music and the steady parade of cyclists and motorcyclists making a pit stop for some nourishment before heading on down or up the coast. Breakfasts are the hallmark here, with prompt, courteous service and well-executed dishes. Local sourcing and seasonal treats all play a role: Expect the freshest eggs, berries and preserves. Good coffee and local organic apple juice are nice extra touches. 11180 Highway 1, Point Reyes Station; (415) 663-1515; stationhousecafe.com

Marin Sun Farms Butcher Shop Local responsible meat producer Marin Sun Farms decided to add a butcher shop that also doubles as an amazing little cafe. On the menu: lamb burgers, beef burgers, grilled sausages, tasty fries, salads made with local lettuces, craft beers and esoteric wines from local wine genius/renegade Sean Thackrey. A full butcher counter offers a variety of fresh and frozen meats and poultry. Bring an ice chest to stock up on goodies. You might even run into charcutier François Vecchio, known as “the pope of salumi,” or Mat Valley Meats owner Nate Burris. (I did.) 10905 Shoreline Highway, Point Reyes Station; (415) 663-1800; marinsunfarms.com

Osteria Stellina Hyper-local sourcing is the watchword at this West Marin-meets-coastal-Italian restaurant and bar. Star Route Farms, BN Ranch, Bellwether Farms and a host of other nearby farms supply the bounty, and oysters from Tomales Bay feature prominently on the menu. Drop in for lunch, dinner or dessert before tucking yourself into a toasty down-comforted bed. 11285 Highway 1, Point Reyes Station; (415) 663-9988; osteriastellina.com

Cowgirl Creamery Arguably the place that single-handedly started the American artisan cheese movement, Cowgirl Creamery makes delicious cheeses such as Mt. Tam and Red Hawk. While cheese is still made here, most of the production has moved to nearby Petaluma due to the immense demand. Located inside Tomales Bay Foods, Cowgirl Creamery sells salumi, olives and other accoutrements in addition to cheese. While you’re here, grab an espresso and perhaps a gelato made from nearby Straus Family Creamery milk. 80 Fourth St., Point Reyes Station; (415) 663-9335; cowgirlcreamery.com

NAPA

The city of Napa, situated at the southernmost portion of the great wine-growing valley with the same name, has become a major destination. Oxbow Public Market is the perfect place to stop for lunch or a late breakfast before a day of wine tasting. Check out the wine and cheese counter, the small but well-stocked produce market or, for a quick snack, Hog Island Oyster Co., which has an outpost here. 610 & 644 First St., Napa; (707) 226-6529; oxbowpublicmarket.com

Also at Oxbow Public Market: Fatted Calf Butcher and charcutier extraordinaire Taylor Boetticher is responsible for this operation, which helped relaunch America’s love affair with cured meats and inspired a new generation of fans of whole-animal butchery, charcuterie and salumi making. The shop sells local, responsibly raised, humanely pastured meats and foraged products. 644 First St., Napa; (707) 256-3684; fattedcalf.com

Kitchen Door A pedigreed culinary talent, chef-owner Todd Humphries can cook with the best, and he creates delicious, craveable flavors in a polished yet simple and comfortable place with a beautiful view of the Napa River. The wood-burning grill, rotisserie and oven set the stage for the delicious treats that are offered. The duck banh mi, spicy lamb flatbread and brunch huevos rancheros are remarkable. Good selection of local wines, craft beer and cocktails. 610 First St., Napa; (707) 226-1560; kitchendoornapa.com

After fueling the foodie fire, it’s time to venture “up valley” (as the locals like to say) toward Yountville, Rutherford and St. Helena. If you missed Oxbow Public Market, pull off on Trancas Road and cross over Highway 29 heading west to La Taquiza Fish Tacos. Chef owned and operated, it’s amazingly authentic.You’ll find grilled octopus tacos, carne asada and delicious just-made tortillas, plus aguas frescas and Corona beer. Life is good! 2007 Renwood Road, Napa; (707) 224-2320; lataquizanapa.com

Next, head to St. Helena. This quaint, low-key, turn-of-the-last-century town has more sophisticated dining and shopping spots than anywhere in the region. It is also home to The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone, which offers cooking and wine education classes. Just before you get into town, be on the lookout for Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch. Located on the east side of Highway 29, this restaurant, event space, tasting room and garden has it all. The food has improved markedly since its opening. Wood-burning-oven-roasted dishes, flatbreads and barbecue paired with seasonal local produce grown at the restaurant’s own farm round out the tasty lunch and dinner menus. The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone: 2555 Main St., St. Helena; (707) 967-1100; ciachef.edu. Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch: 738 Main St., St. Helena; (707) 963-4555; longmeadowranch.com

Model Bakery This bakery is the perfect place to begin your day. It serves spectacular baked goods, breads and pastry, but the English muffins are not to be missed. If you get there early, grab a six-pack to go. (They sell out fast!) Yogurt parfaits, housemade granola with fruit, breakfast burritos, eggs on English muffins and good coffee: What else do you need? 1357 Main St., St. Helena; (707) 963-8192; themodelbakery.com

Goose & Gander Located in the former Martini House, this restaurant was until recently in the capable hands of chef Kelly McCown, who left to help launch a new Sacramento restaurant for the Selland group. Gutsy gastropub meets wine country cuisine in a warm, clubby cottage. There is an amazing outdoor patio, and a speakeasy-style craft cocktail bar downstairs, created by legendary NorCal mixologist Scott Beattie. You can snack on roasted bone marrow and other tasty treats downstairs or go more elaborate upstairs. 1245 Spring St., St. Helena; (707) 967-8779; goosegander.com

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