Eat your way through this collection of seasonal dishes from the area’s most acclaimed restaurants. Imagine how epic it would be to have all these plates in one place!
Planning the ultimate holiday menu can be a thrill. I’m an avid home cook, so half the fun of hosting a dinner party — whether it’s Christmas Eve or a Sunday gift-wrapping get-together — includes dishes that balance deliciousness, comfort and surprise. When the Gazette asked me to create a smorgasbord composed of show-stoppers from my favorite restaurants and chefs, I jumped at the task.
The holidays require celebratory ingredients, multiple courses, conversation-starting entrees and decadent desserts. Some items — like Angler’s indulgent caviar service and Sorrel’s sensational sourdough focaccia — immediately came to mind. Then, there are the prominent chefs I wanted to include, specifically Dominique Crenn and Michael Mina, and the restaurants I love, Che Fico and Barcino. I can’t stop thinking about the ravioli I had a couple of weeks ago at the longtime San Francisco standby One Market, and the melt-in-your-mouth fish (skate wing!) I had at newcomer One65. Lazy Bear celebrates its 10th anniversary this year — an ideal reason to add the classic spot to the menu. Nowadays, a vegan main is necessary, so I turned to Wildseed for a wintery dish that’s both hearty and satisfying. And for dessert? Lori Baker and Emily Luchetti, two beloved top pastry chefs, will dazzle us with their confections. If reading this makes you hungry, you’re in luck, because all of these items are currently available at their respective restaurants. Happy eating!
Private Batch Caviar
Angler, Chef Joshua Skenes
Angler’s chef works with a small purveyor in Sacramento to harvest Kaluga caviar twice a year. The hybrid sturgeon roe is cured in smoked sea salt and aged for nine to 18 months. It’s served with grilled Parker House rolls that are brushed with boar fat and butter from Petaluma cows. Divine!
Brussels Sprout, Smoked Provolone, Caramelized Onion and Guanciale Pizza
Che Fico, Chef David Nayfeld
Nayfeld makes the guanciale (cured pork cheek with a flavor profile similar to bacon’s) in house and smokes the provolone himself. The Brussels sprouts are roasted to crisp perfection before being put on the pizza. The icing on the cake? A generous shaving of Parmesan cheese on the pillowy crust.
Oysters on the Half Shell
Bar Crenn, Chef Dominique Crenn
Crenn’s succulent oysters, from Morro Bay, come topped with a Muscadet gelée, smoked crème fraîche, and fresh chervil from Bleu Belle Farm.
Sorrel, Chef Alexander Hong
Sorrel’s focaccia is made daily with three types of flour — a blend of all-purpose, whole wheat and semolina — and a 2-year-old sourdough starter. The dough naturally ferments for 24 hours, and then it’s steamed and baked. Served with the homemade cultured butter, it’s heaven.
Fall Squash Bisque
Lazy Bear, Chef David Barzelay
This incredible soup is a complex combination of squash and seafood. Lobster and shrimp shells are turned into a luxurious shellfish stock that the squash is simmered in. A splash of sherry adds depth and richness.The bisque is served with a sidecar of Carolina gold puffed brown rice dressed with cultured butter, lobster coral gram, and prawn roe salt.
Barcino, Chef Ryan McIIwraith
McIIwraith mixes pretty pink chicories with fresh pear, poached quince and green olives. Pecans, which are candied with flax and chia seed, add a delightful crunch. Everything is tossed with a creamy and tangy vinaigrette made with cava vinegar, buttermilk, Greek yogurt and citrus.
Wildseed, Chef Blair Warsham
At the Marina’s newest plant-based restaurant, Warsham piles warm brown rice high with roasted yams, marinated mushrooms and sautéed chard. Avocados add a creamy texture, kimchi provides heat, and pickled cucumbers give a welcoming crunch to this nutritious bowl.
One65, Chef Claude Le Tohic
Le Tohic serves the East Coast fish on a bed of baby kale and olive oil. It’s roasted until crispy and juicy and served with melted tomatoes and grenobloise sauce, a combination of brown butter, parsley, capers, lemon and croutons.
One Market, Chef Mark Dommen
Dommen roasts and pickles the sunchokes with garlic before putting them through a foodmill to make a puree suitable for filling ravioli.The egg pasta is made in house, and the vegetarian-friendly sauce consists of chives and butter. Parmesan cheese and hazelnuts complete the sublime creation.
Côte de Boeuf
Michael Mina, Chef Raj Dixit
The beef is aged for 28 days. It’s then roasted in alfalfa hay and smoked tableside. The scrumptious meat is served on skordalia, a potato and garlic puree, with black truffles and wild sumac harvested from the High Sierra.
Bluestem Brasserie, Lori Baker
Baker excels at celebration cakes, and her eggnog cheesecake is a seasonal favorite. Baker makes the eggnog from scratch before folding it into the creamy egg custard. The cake has a gingersnap crust, butterscotch cranberry sauce, and fresh cranberries.
Marlowe, Emily Luchetti
The Vacherin, a traditional French meringue, consists of whipped egg whites and sugar cooked in a low oven overnight, so it dries out but doesn’t brown. It’s topped with coffee ice cream, warm Guittard chocolate sauce and caramel nut.