Our Visas have arrived!


What else is there to say except “Open the Champagne”!

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Perbacco, San Francisco California, USA

There is a genre of restaurant that offers a sort of communion with city life composed of the roar of a room full of happy guests, a menu of comforting dishes consistently well prepared and service that is at once breezy, unfussy, efficient and professional.  Balthazar in NYC comes to mind. Or Prunier in Paris.  These restaurants thrive on comfort, and dining with them can seem almost like going to a spa:  you settle into the white noise bubble around your table,  let out a long, long sigh and leave yourself in the hands of a well tuned team.

Perbacco, located in San Francisco’s financial district, seems to me to fall into this category.  The menu of classic Italian dishes doesnt re-invent the wheel but it is always seasonal, always fresh and always good. The hand made pastas deserve special attention. The service, starting with the host when you walk in, is friendly without being familiar, professional without being stuffy, always aware without being intrusive. Even post-COVID, Perbacco doesn’t skimp on service points, from white tablecloths to knowing which plate goes to which diner, to replacing used silverware to sending over the sommelier for a wine recommendation (who, incidentally, recommended a wine that was very modestly priced).

Address: 230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111 415 955-0663
Tel:  415 955-0663
Reservations: recommended, Perbacco is perennially bustling and a line out front is not unusual

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Getting the Visa

My student visa from 1990 when I attended culinary school in Paris.

Of the long list of things to accomplish before we can move to France, getting approved for  a Long-Stay Visa is one of the most important.  We took the first step in that process earlier this month when we made an appointment with the French Visa office in San Francisco. We had already filled out the preliminary forms on-line but the next step is an in-person meeting at the nearest office.  Here we go!

The process of getting my Student Visa in 1990 taught me a couple things about dealing with French bureaucracy.  First, be patient, don’t get upset and keep an upbeat attitude. Second, remember 1) when your application goes way off track and you feel like going over the counter at some annoying clerk. Continue reading

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Buttermilk biscuits à la Café Septième

Heading for a new adventure!

It has now been over 3 months since I stopped being the owner of Le Pichet, more that 8 months since we sold Café Presse.  I have to admit, as much as I loved opening and operating these two restaurants, as much as I enjoyed collaborating with the the great teams we had in the kitchen and dining room, as much as I loved greeting and serving our friends everyday, I am as thrilled to be starting a new adventure.  While I still have energy in my legs and arms and my back still functions.

My job now is getting everything ready for our departure for France. That’s right, if you havent heard me say it before – which I find hard to believe;  I have basically told everyone who would listen in the last 10 years that my wife and I are planning to live in France “someday” – we are pulling up stakes and moving to our house in France, more specifically in Orthez, in the deep southwest of France.  We have picked a departure date in mid February 2022, and are working through the immense pile of stuff that you can imagine accompanies an international move.  Next week, for example, we fly to San Francisco for an interview that is required to obtain a long-stay visa in France, a Visa Longue Durée. Continue reading

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So Long, Le Pichet! Its been a great ride!

On August 31, 2022, I spent time at Le Pichet as an employee for the very last time. It was a sad moment, as I said goodbye to colleagues, with whom I have worked side by side for many years, and also to friends we have welcomed as guests since 2000. But it was also a happy moment, when Joanne and Sheila and I could reflect with satisfaction on the good years we shared there. To everyone, both staff and guests, job well done! Together, we created something special! We have loved being a part of Le Pichet for all these years!

If you have not yet met new owners Michael Chick and Marcel Boulanger, I hope you will stop by to offer your support as they set out to chart their own history at Le Pichet. They both know the restaurant inside and out and they have the tools, the team and the desire to carry on its legacy. Best of luck to you, boys, I know you will be great!

As I look forward to a new life in France, I can only say THANKS to everyone for your support, your encouragement and your love of good cooking, good wine and the joy of the table.

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Sorry for the interruption!

If you have tried to access this blog in the last week or so, you probably got an error message instead. We are in the middle of making technical changes to the way this blog is hosted, which may result in it going off-line in the coming days as we complete this process. But never fear, we are not going anywhere and will be back soon!

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Accras de morue are back!

Accras de morue are back on the menu at Le Pichet! For spring, we are serving these crispy curried salt cod beignets on a salad of escarole, zucchini, parsley, spring onions and capers with a charred onion vinaigrette. Miam Miam

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Axoa d’Espelette

Special this weekend at Café Presse: Axoa d’Espelette!
Basque-style stew of ground beef and veal simmered with onions, sweet peppers, garlic, tomato and piment d’Espelette, served with pommes frites. Mmmmm!

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Steak Tartare at Café Presse today only!

Special today only at Cafe Presse (Sunday 9/26):

Raw, hand-chopped and seasoned grass fed sirloin and hanger steak, with pommes frites and a salad of escarole, watercress, fines herbes and sherry-grain mustard vinaigrette.

Tartare lovers, hurry on over!

We use grass fed beef for its lower fat content, and use both sirloin and hanger steak, the first for its unbeaten texture and the second for its rich, beefy flavor. We hand season each order with traditional garnishes: shallot, garlic, Dijon mustard, Tabasco sauce, Worcestershire sauce, capers, lemon juice, thyme leaves, olive oil, salt and black pepper.

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