La Bohème handcrafts each meal using only seasonal, local ingredients from organic farms to perfect each Francified bite. This upscale, Paris-inspired café and full patisserie serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner to discerning taste buds, adding new pirouettes to classic dishes. Try beginning an evening with the Assiette de la Marée, a grouping of six local oysters with a tangy mignonette sauce ($12), or lunch elegantly on the popular Salade de Crabe, a fresh herb and organic lettuce salad with dungeness crab and an herby-citrus vinaigrette drizzled atop ($11). Crustacean lovers can order La Bohème's beloved lobster bisque ($8) and delve deeply into a glass of Tangent sauvignon blanc ($9), whereas terrestrial tasters can sink teeth into the Jarret de Veau et Son Gratin—veal osso bucco nestled up to delicate au gratin potatoes and ratatouille ($27).
Francophiles will appreciate Bistro Maxine's casual approach to dining, with pretention-free lunches and carefree dinners in the flavorful form of authentic crepes, soups, salads, sandwiches, espresso drinks, cocktails, and ice cream. Those hampered by hunger will find the pièce de résistance of soft, warm crepes freshly scooped from imported griddles. Whether savory or sweet, each crepe is stuffed with a winning combination, such as goat cheese, mushrooms, and spinach ($9); banana and Nutella ($5); or the devilish blend of sautéed apples, Calvados, and rich crème fraiche known as the Normande ($7). A number of Continental potables are on hand to escort eats down dappled gullets—sip a kir royal (blackcurrant liqueur and champagne, $8) or a glass of house wine ($7), or drown sober worries with a bottle of chardonnay or Cote du Ventoux ($19).
European, Southeast Asian, and American culinary traditions all influence the unique fusion recipes at Vo's Restaurant. Vegetables and rice get simmered in traditional clay pots and prawns and lemongrass are seared in woks; there's even a deep-fried catfish filet with ginger-infused nouc mam, a dip made from fish sauce. The dining room is as colorful as the dishes, featuring warm red walls, bamboo sprouting from tall vases, romantic lighting overhead.
A native of Paris, Executive Chef Christian Nam-Hee sharpened his knife skills and his palate at l'Ecole de Paris des Métiers de la Table. Today he lets his know-how blossom and wander in the kitchen of Bijou Restaurant & Bar, blending the culinary traditions of his homeland with the flavors found in northern California's seasonal organic ingredients. From his pans and cutting boards spring forth sweet-potato frites, quail stuffed with napa cabbage, and other dishes that embody the menu's inventive fusion spirit. To complement such an aesthetically poignant dining experience, the space itself—designed by DesignPlus's Pia Thomas—remains sleek and focused. The centerpiece is the bar, which glows a dreamy, iridescent amber that's complemented by ring chandeliers and absorbed by Italian leather chairs, a lounge area's plush velvet cushions, and tabletop black holes.
The anticipation of finding out what executive chef Eric Lanvert chose to include on today's menu is part of the charm of dining at Rue Saint Jacques, where dishes are crafted from organic and sustainably farmed ingredients whenever possible. Lanvert draws inspiration from his childhood in southern France's Roussillon region and relies on ingredients from local producers, area farmers' markets, and gourmet food fights. The San Francisco Bay Guardian remarked in 2009 that despite their Californian origins, "the dishes rely on a timeless appeal and are very much the ones you'd find in countless neighborhood bistros in Paris."
The intimately sized dining room strikes a balance between refinement and rustic allure, featuring plaster-textured walls and exposed ceiling beams that tower over crisp white tablecloths.
Softly flickering candles light the red booths and white-cloth tables at Bistro Unique SF, while the attentive wait staff rolls out traditional French appetizers of butter-and-garlic-bathed escargot or flavorful French cheeses. For entrees, rich bouillabaisse soups reel fresh catches of monkfish, calamari, and scallops into a saffron broth, and the cassoulet's white-bean stew fills palates with flavors of duck confit and garlic toulouse sausage. For brunch, diners can opt for eggs benedict with rich hollandaise sauce or the savory crepe paysanne with chicken, mushrooms, and gravy to pair with bottomless mimosa flutes or clarinets filled with coffee.