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It was in Fort Bragg that I first heard about Scoma’s. A couple from even farther north was raving about this San Francisco seafood house.

A year passed before I tried it; I went there for lunch.

I was underwhelmed. The food was San Francisco-okay but nothing more. Since Scoma’s is in the middle of Fisherman’s Wharf, a.k.a. the Tourist Rez, despite those raves from the Mendocino County couple, it was pretty much what I expected.

That was probably 2015. Then, in mid-2019, I had my second Scoma’s lunch. This one blew me away. The homemade clam chowder ($9/12)  was filled with fresh clams, rich in milk, heavy with potatoes. The Louis Salad ($28) mixed Dungeness crab and tiny bay shrimp with crunchy-fresh lettuce, ripe tomatoes, a perfectly boiled egg, two colors of beets and more. As for the Torta Setteveli cake ($9), the combination of chocolate cake, hazelnut cream, chocolate mousse and praline crunch tasted as sublime as it sounds. Not a crumb was left on the plate.

Did I remember my 2015 lunch wrong? Had my taste buds morphed? I asked a staffer. “No,” she said, “you got it right. About three-and-a-half years ago, we made major upgrades in our menu, our produce, pretty much our everything.”

“Our everything? Examples, please.”

“Sure. Scoma’s seafood is so fresh because we have our own fishing boat — look out the window, she’s coming in now. The rest of the seafood’s so good because we pay other fishermen top dollar, and they give us first choice. When you first ate here, we got our lettuce from Sysco; today it’s raised by organic farmers. And, we’re now fully compliant with Seafood Watch. And, we keep winning Wine Spectator awards.”

“Okay, I get it. I can taste the difference. And my taste buds thank you.”

Scoma’s Restaurant. 1965 Al Scoma Way, Pier 47, San Francisco; 415 771-4383

Monday-Thursday: 12-9; Friday-Saturday: 11:30-9:30; Sunday: 11:30-9; https://scomas.com





From now through January 20, 2020, the California Academy of Sciences is presenting Skin: Living Armor, Evolving Identity.

Skin protects the porcupine fish from the teeth of the deadly piranha, the Kenyan farmer from the Equatorial sun, the black rhino from just about everything.

Skin also creates identities, ideals of beauty, excuses for hate and exclusion.

All this is covered in the exhibit. What is not — to my surprise — is skin’s key role in attraction, sensuality, sex, and, QED, reproduction of our species.

The Academy sits just across from the de Young art museum in San Francisco’s beautiful Golden Gate Park.



This week only! Bouquets to Art (June 4-9, 2019)

It’s the de Young Museum’s most popular exhibit, and it’s now in its 35th year. Flower artists pair up with art from the museum’s collection and create an original homage — out of stems and leaves and blooms. The event is jam-packed with women wearing flowers in their hair. Bouquets to Art closes June 9.

Photos by Effin Older



ONE of the great pleasures of reviewing restaurants is finding largely undiscovered gems. We hit wonderful Capannina on opening night. Found Brenda’s on a stroll through the Tenderloin. Lime Tree is where I take my Writing For Real students after a class at the Richmond Library. We came across Persian Alborz on a rainy movie night. And discovered Progress when the line for State Bird was too long to wait.

Last night, we added Boho to the gem list. It’s a newish, smallish and easy-to-overlook restaurant in one of San Francisco’s Food Zones—Steiner Street between Chestnut and Lombard.

While Executive Chef Andrei Bushuev describes the menu as “creative New American cuisine with contemporary European influences served at friendly prices,” I’d say, “Perfectly cooked, carefully chosen menu items, regardless of origin.” And add, “Great variety of varietals at unusually reasonable prices.” And toss in, “Among the few San Francisco restaurants quiet enough for romance.”

By whatever descriptives, Boho is a gem. The scallops (MP) — plump, moist and cooked to perfection. Beet salad ($14) — enhanced with citrus and pistachio to brighten the beets’ essential bland. Roasted whole branzino (MP) — classic Mediterranean fish, served tip to tail, and again, cooked to perfection. Braised short ribs ($36) — served with lightly cooked baby carrots, lightly charred Brussel sprouts and polenta. Desserts ($12-14) — delightful mixes of tastes and textures; the Chocolate Yuzu Mousse gives your tongue its favorite flavors — orange, almond, hazelnut and, of course, chocolate.

Boho’s wines, by the glass and bottle, come from France and Italy and, also, Suisun Valley, Santa Rita Hills and El Dorado, California. And Mexico.

But here’s a warning about the weekend brunch. Unless you’re Mr. Creosote, order the Breakfast Board for two. Or three. The serving platter groans under two eggs, two patties of Boho’s homemade sausage, a lotta crisp bacon, a pile of prosciutto, mixed greens, roast spuds, and a generous helping of freshest fruit ($27). And if that doesn’t leave you feeling full, end the meal with either the brioche-based French Quarter bread pudding ($13) or one of the three sweet crepes ($10). You’ll leave with a smile.

Boho: 3321 Steiner Street. Dinner served Tuesday through Thursday and Sunday from 5:30 to 10; Friday and Saturday from 5:30 to 11. Brunch is offered on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (415) 374-7518 and www.bohosf.com.