Michael Mina – San Francisco

Michael Mina is one of the truly special restauranteurs of our era. His Stonehill Tavern inside the St. Regis Hotel in Monarch Beach is one of the most underrated restaurants in Orange County. He has a handful of different brands in Las Vegas and San Francisco that have all been met with adoring praise. But his namesake restaurant in the financial district of San Francisco I dined at this evening is a special place, and has truly earned its reputation for high quality creative dishes.

I started off with the Squid Ink Conchiglie prepared with green garlic, radishes, and a littke espelette pepper (for heat). I could have eaten four orders of this squid and skipped everything else – it was just incredible. (Kudos to my waiter for recommending it when I was about to go a different direction).

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The middle course was a little shabu-shabu with three ounces of Japanese wagyu steak. The presentation was stellar and the food and ponzu broth positively mouth-watering.

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For my main entree I went with the Slow-Cooked Suckling Pig with black truffle. The portion was reasonable and the taste simply elegant.

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I would like to try the tasting menu next time I go. The creativity in this menu design is not “for the sake of itself”; there is a real thoughtfulness to the dishes that you have to try for yourself. The statement that there is a Japanese/French hybrid going on here is basically true, but the menu can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be. This is a fantastic restaurant – a rare blend of approachability and elegance. The service was surprisingly good, and the ambiance was wonderful for the occasion. I am a Michael Mina fan, and you will be too if you will visit this fine establishment.