Return to Zuni

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When I was a nerd in high school (“What? YOU were a NERD in high school? That’s SHOCKING!”) my brother and I played many CD-ROMs. “Under A Killing Moon,” “The 7th Guest,” and, my personal favorite, “Return to Zork.”

This post has nothing to do with that except the title is an homage to that most peculiar video game, with creepy animations and a most memorable soundtrack. Instead, this post is about my return to one of San Francisco’s most beloved restaurants, a restaurant that I was dying to try my first time visiting here as an adult only to leave disappointed (see here). Was I disappointed this time around?

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My 10 Favorite Places to Eat in L.A. (So Far)

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Imagine a giant hour glass filled not with sand but with calories. That’s pretty much a perfect visual for this first year of living in and exploring L.A., eating my way from ocean to desert, hopping from cuisine to cuisine. As I said in my post yesterday, for my budget and interest-level, L.A. has more to offer than New York. You can eat extraordinarily well without breaking the bank. So here, then, are my 10 favorite places to eat here… the ones I’ll miss the most when I’m gone for 3 1/2 months. Are they objectively the best? Not by any means; they’re just the ones I’ll be running back to when the plane lands at LAX in January.

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The Marion Cunningham Tribute Dinner at Lucques

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“Who’s Marion Cunningham? Isn’t she the mom from ‘Happy Days’?”

That’s what the guy next to us asked the server upon seeing the menu at last night’s Sunday Supper at Lucques. As Cunningham (who passed away last week) said herself in this 2001 article by Kim Severson, “I’m not trying to be modest, but it doesn’t feel like I have any celebrity. Really, I’m not saying this just to say it, but it doesn’t.” So I suppose it was appropriate that those who were at Lucques last night to celebrate Marion Cunningham were really there to celebrate her and those who weren’t were simply happy beneficiaries of a meal cooked in her honor by one of the country’s best chefs, Suzanne Goin.

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When Is It OK To Write A Bad Yelp Review of a Restaurant?

[Image via DeliverBliss]

Today someone told me the story of a bad restaurant experience that involved a steakhouse with $30 steaks, a totally oblivious staff, dishes gone missing, and steak knives never proffered. Our storyteller, let’s call him Mr. X, grew so frustrated that he finally jumped out of his seat, stormed past the waiters who were watching a hockey game on the bar TV, into the kitchen where tired-looking line cooks were flipping steaks on a grill, and into the manager’s office “where I really let him have it.”

The manager was immediately apologetic–when he emerged from the kitchen, the staff scattered–and he ultimately comped Mr. X’s meal. “When I got home,” said Mr. X, “I really thought about writing a bad review on Yelp, but decided against it.”

This got me thinking: when is it OK to write a bad Yelp review of a restaurant?

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Starry Kitchen, Local & Trader Sam’s

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Last week, we went to see “Follies” at the Ahmanson Theater (my second time seeing this production) and, beforehand, we needed a place to eat. I Tweeted out to the world and received a response from @StarryKitchen: “Starry Kitchen’s not a bad place to start.. Oh wait a minute, that’s my restaurant. (Tee hee hee) we’re only a block away ;).” I already had Starry Kitchen on my mental radar so the fact that the restaurant itself (or its Twitter handle) was beckoning me in (and that it was super close to the theater) made this dinner decision easy.

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Michael Voltaggio’s ink.

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There was a moment at Michael Voltaggio’s ink.–where Craig and I went to celebrate our six year anniversary this weekend–when I washed down a bite of my egg yolk gnocchi (the first course on the tasting menu) with a cocktail made of mezcal and smoked salt and thought to myself: “I’ve never tasted anything like what I’m tasting right now. How is this happening?”

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