JulesOlder.com » Blog

When a restaurateur opens a second restaurant, I get worried. Although San Francisco is awash in folks who own two or more eateries and run them all with success, I always think, Who’s watching the store? Then, It’s hard enough to run one good shop; why spread yourself thin?

So, when Laurent Legendre, owner of the beloved Le P’tit Laurent in Glen Park, opened Chez Marius in the space that had housed Le Zinc bistro in Noe Valley, I had my usual concerns.

I needn’t have worried. Legendre has worked at leading Parisian restaurants including La Tour d’Argent, Elysée Lenôtre and L’Arpège, and he sent Chris Camp, a seasoned Le P’tit Laurent staffer to manage Chez Marius. LikecLe P’tit Laurent, it’s a delight.

The restaurant has two smallish dining rooms and an even smaller, sunny, dog-friendly dining garden. French posters line the interior walls; potted plants, the walls of the garden. On the single screen above the bar, the namesake French film, Marius, is likely to be silently running. It’s about life in a Marseilles bar, c. 1931. Unlike that bar, service at Chez Marius is prompt, informed, pleasant and mostly female.

The food is distinctly French without feeling too rich and heavy. A tasty good starter is Tarte à la fourne d’ambert et poire fraiche, warm blue cheese tart with fresh pears and balsamic reduction ($11). Another, Escargots de Bourgogne, six escargots from Burgundy with garlic parsley butter ($9). Two delicious mains are Osso-Bucco de Veau et puree de pommes de terree, sauce aux champignons, braised veal Osso-Bucco served with mashed potatoes and oyster mushroom sauce ($28), and Bouillabaisse de poissons, croutons et rouille, fish bouillabaisse served with rouille sauce and croutons ($31). For a light and satisfying dessert, order Pan Perdu, caramelized French toast with caramel ice cream ($8).

Chez Marius: 4063 24th Street, between Castro and Noe. Dinner served Tuesday through Saturday; lunch, Wednesday through Friday. And brunch on Saturday and Sunday. www.chezmarius.com. (415) 757 0947.

Le P’tit Laurent: 699 Chenery Street. http://www.leptitlaurent.net. 415-334-3235.

share to:facebook

Rodin is famous for The Thinker, but also for The Kiss and a number of other sculptures.

Warhol is known for his soup cans, but also for Marilyn and a number of other prints.

Van Gogh, Renoir, Matisse — they may have a best-known piece, but they all have deep benches.

Who’s the exception? Edvard Munch. You know The Scream, but I bet that’s it. Right? Of course, right.

No mo. For the first time since 1951, a Munch exhibition has come to San Francisco. Edvard Munch: Between the Clock and the Bed will feature at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) through October 9.

How to describe Munch’s work? Choose one (or more) attributes: skilled, depressed, intriguing, grim, powerful, sad. Two of his paintings strongly reminded me of contemporary popular icons — one living (though now much older than the image), one dead (but well remembered). See if you can spot them in Effin Older’s photos.

share to:facebook

Tamarind Hall is just the kind of restaurant that sets San Francisco apart and above.

Here, in no particular order, are the key ingredients:

  • Simply delicious food
  • A welcoming atmosphere
  • A neighborhood favorite
  • Reasonable prices
  • Asian ethnic.

Tamarind Hall is the loving obsession of Bangkok-born Salisa Skinner who studied law on the Peninsula, practiced IT law in Silicon Valley and gave all that up to become the untrained chef and no-experience owner of a northern Thai restaurant in San Francisco’s North Beach.

And, through a work ethic bordering on all-consuming, led it into instant success.

Tamarind Hall is a loudish, family-friendly, date-impressing room with a sports bar catering to cheering fans at one end and romantic tables for two (and four, and six) at the other. Patrons tend toward young, good-looking and multi-ethnic.

Presentation tends toward beautiful, and service — by adorable Thai waitresses and handsome waiters — is swift and cheerful. Oh, and drinks are among the best I’ve had in San Francisco; the fresh and refreshing Thai Collins ($11) is the best I’ve had in San Francisco.

Some outstanding dishes: Curry + Roti Dip ($9), a four-dip sampler of Tamarind Hall curries. Sai Ua + Namprik Noom ($15), spicy chicken sausage, sticky rice and pepper relish. Yam Makua Yao ($12), grilled eggplant, duck eggs and house-cured bacon. Pumpkin Curry ($13.50), with coconut milk and Thai spices. The ice cream desserts make a cool close to a hot — but not burning hot — meal.

The restaurant is across the street from Caffe Trieste, half a block from the Shrine of St. Francis Assisi, and down the hill from Coit Tower.

Tamarind Hall is an instant Older Fave; try it — we think you’ll love it.

Tamarind Hall Thai Street Food & Bar: 1268 Grant Street, corner of Vallejo. Parking’s a challenge. Open daily for lunch and dinner: Monday through Wednesday from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 to 10 p.m.; Thursday and Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.; Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., and on Sunday from noon to 10:30 p.m. www.tamarindhall.com. For more information or reservations, also available through OpenTable.com and YelpReservations.com, call (628) 444-3158 or (415) 866-6337

share to:facebook

We consider Alborz the best Persian restaurant and one of the best bargains in San Francisco. That’s hard to beat.  Add quietude (see below), and it’s almost impossible to beat.

Alborz serves succulent beef, lamb, chicken and vegetarian dishes and the most delicious rice in town. It’s called Shirin Polo—Basmati rice with almonds, pistachio, raisin, orange peel and saffron. Even if it doesn’t come with your order, ask for it as a special order. Trust us, you shouldn’t leave town without tasting it.

Alborz has white tablecloths, friendly servers, and astonishingly low prices. Examples: Combo Plate, an appetizer big enough to whet the tastebuds of a table of six, costs $15.95. A generous Mediterranean Salad? $8.95. Lamb shank in delicious broth with basmati rice, $18.95.  That’s also the price of Fesenjoon, roasted walnuts in pomegranate sauce served with chicken.

And oh, yes, Alborz is blessedly quiet, a rarity in San Francisco. You can actually have a conversation without yelling. That’s a treat in itself. It never ceases to amaze us how a restaurant reviewer can give a restaurant three stars and give it a bomb for noise level. That’s like dining in the middle of a Taylor Swift concert. What happened to romantic dining by candlelight?

We like to go to a movie at 1000 Van Ness and then to Alborz just up the street. It’s a winning combo.

Sutter and Van Ness. 415 440-4321


share to:facebook

Among the smaller museums in San Francisco is the GLBT History Museum in the heart of the Castro, our internationally famous gay district. The museum is basically two rooms, with static and kinetic exhibits lining almost every inch of every wall. There’s also a by-appointment-only archive of gay/lesbian/queer artefacts — though micro in size, this is a serious institution of art, history and conservation.

The museum’s most timely exhibition, in this 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love, is “Lavender-Tinted Glasses.” It highlights the impact of two icons of the San Francisco 60s, Janis Joplin and Allen Ginsberg, as well as two others, Kenneth Anger and Gavin Arthur. The exhibition runs through September 17. http://www.glbthistory.org/museum/


share to:facebook