From Our Editors
There must have been a collective stomach growl that reverberated through the sloped streets of San Francisco in 2011. That’s when Michael Mina, nationwide celebrity chef and hometown hero for his role in the beloved but now-defunct seafood restaurant Aqua, returned to that restaurant’s space to open his newest venture. This time, though, he didn’t need to rely on a creative name. With his newfound success and nationwide network of award-winning restaurants, his own name would suffice. He simply plastered Michael Mina on the marquee and waited for the hungry droves to come. And they came, eagerly. They came on the faith of The New York Times, which heralded the dining experience as a “swank affair.” They came on the advice of Esquire, which named it 2011's Restaurant of the Year and praised his Maine lobster pot pie as “the best New England dish on the West Coast.” They came, and they delighted, as evidenced by reviews from the local scribes at the San Francisco Chronicle and the San Francisco Bay Guardian. With the help of executive chef Ron Siegel, previously a sous chef at French Laundry, Michael Mina meets—and often exceeds—his fans’ expectations with dishes that borrow from Japanese and French influences. The roasted black cod comes paired with sweet and sour pork and Japanese rice, and the Liberty Farms duck breast pairs with flowering bok choy. The Esquire-recommended Maine lobster pot pie is a clinic in culinary invention—beets, Meyer lemon, winter root vegetables, and lobster cream create an aromatic and flavorful concoction. Echoing the food is a menu of exquisite cocktails—even the indecisive are in good hands if they order the On a Whim, a bartender-crafted custom cocktail—as well as a vast list of wines that regularly includes a ‘hometown hero,' a monthly selection that was made in California with a dash of innovation.