Recent Comments


    Anomaly SF, Where Culinary Innovation Reigns

    By David Landis–

    The dictionary definition of the word “anomaly” is “something different, abnormal, peculiar, or not easily classified.” That’s an apt description for the culinary inventiveness on display at Anomaly SF, a new must-visit destination restaurant from young Chef Mike Lanham (an alumnus of Spruce and Commis) and his youthful team in lower Presidio Heights.


    This innovation doesn’t come cheap. While the advertised fixed price is $132/person, by the time you add in a wine pairing, and, of course, a caviar tasting, the bill climbs to about $300/person including tax and tip. But it’s worth it. Anomaly SF may be one of the best new high-end restaurants not just in the Bay Area, but in the country—and is well on its way to earning a coveted Michelin star.

    Chef Mike Lanham

    Chef Mike perfected his execution at numerous pop-ups, the most recent of which was at The Mansion on Sutter. The experience starts when you walk in the door. You’re welcomed into the chic, intimate two-room space with a glass of bubbly rosé crémant before you even sit down (now, that’s my kind of restaurant!). The sophisticated surroundings feel more like New York than San Francisco, which is a good thing: modern, contemporary, and inviting. If you sit in the second room, it’s open directly to the kitchen where you can see the camaraderie of kitchen staff, working together like a well-oiled machine. It’s also fun that customers at Anomaly dress up for the special occasion that this kind of night on the town is.

    Dining at Anomaly is like participating in a quiet, well-choreographed dance set: everything has its place and time, and courses arrive with artistry and aplomb. Delightfully, the chef delivers and describes every morsel personally. Even though it’s an advertised eleven courses (with a few desserts and some supplements, if you choose), you don’t leave feeling overstuffed since portions are apportioned properly. Plus, unlike some top-notch restaurants in town, the inventive food actually tastes heavenly!

    Halibut Supplement

    As you sit, your server brings you a fresh hot towel, with the accompanying jazz playlist adding just the right touch. The first bites, served on blown-glass plates, are a French toast with crème fraiche and Kaluga caviar, which provides a contrasting salty offset to the sweetness of the confection. Following that, the chef serves a palate cleanser of compressed watermelon with curry avocado and sesame seeds. The next course, a signature, is “An egg … sort of,” which translates to a smoked, whipped potato with an egg yolk “jam” and puffed rice. It’s a tantalizing combination that awakens the tastebuds. How to top that? With a Dirty Girl carrot soup spiced by cumin and peanut, capped with lime snow! A smoky, spongy cheese bread is the intermezzo—subtly sparing with the smoke.

    Another plus? Unlike some other fancy schmancy restaurants, when you order the wine pairing, they keep the wine flowing—well worth the price. For the next course, the sommelier serves a Yamahai (a wilder, gamier version) sake from the south of Japan, which is both earthy and fermented. The sake accompanies Early Girl tomatoes, which unfortunately weren’t quite in season yet, with basil and tomato essence. A second tomato dish features ripe, fabulous small Sun Gold tomatoes, topped with cypress seed with seaweed, croutons, and sour cream aioli. The dish is a smart one; the surprising clash of tastes complement each other well.


    For the next course, the wine is a Savignin (not Sauvignon) from France—dry and clean, with a hint of butterscotch. This pairs with a delicious corn custard punctuated by tarragon, crème fraiche, buck tamarind, and caviar, and sports a surprising but tasty burnt sugar top! A brut style cider from Normandy adjoins a perfectly-cooked halibut in a champagne, cream, and scallion sauce with compressed celtuce (a kind of celery lettuce).

    For the next course, the chef was kind enough to accommodate my eggplant allergy with “not ratatouille,” a bit saltier than usual red pepper and zucchini mousse with morel mushrooms and crispy cabbage, paired with a Bandol Syrah from France. For the next main, the chef served juicy pork ribs with daikon, plum, and pork skin crisps; the accompanying Syrah from Pismo Beach brought out all the natural sweetness. 


    A parade of desserts followed: a mango coconut white chocolate and finger lime concoction that looks like an egg—and tastes divine; a tonga bean custard with black sesame cake topped with raspberry; an olive oil cake in a floating presentation; and finally, fruit gels and chocolates, to boot! A Commandaria sweet dessert wine from Cyprus brought the meal to a grand finale.

    One pet peeve: Anomaly SF does something that quite a few restaurants in San Francisco have started doing. I understand why, but I’m not a fan of it. You have to reserve through Tock, and you have to pre-pay the full amount (plus tax and a 20% tip) up front. On top of that, according to Tock, the reservation is “final and non-refundable. You can always transfer your reservation to another person.” Tock, unlike SevenRooms, doesn’t allow Anomaly’s customers to identify allergies on the reservation, and asks then that you also send a separate email to the restaurant—which, in my case, bounced back. I find this whole policy a bit annoying, especially at a high-priced restaurant like Anomaly. What if you wake up with COVID-19 in the morning and need to cancel or want to go another time? Also, does the restaurant really want to encourage people who are sick to attend? I humbly suggest that restaurants use judgment in accommodating those of us diners who don’t take advantage and may have real reasons for cancelling. (And please fix the email/allergy notice situation.)

    That aside, Anomaly proves that culinary innovation can still taste great, and that fancy can be glamorous, but doesn’t have to be fussy. Go now, before that Michelin star makes reservations impossible to snag!


    Bits and Bites

    I hadn’t been to the Marin French Cheese Company in years, but recently tasted a sampling of their marvelous cheeses (including my favorite, the Golden Gate washed rind triple crème cheese). The company offers sandwiches, salads, wine, beer, cider, and all of the Marin French cheeses. As they say, “the historic creamery is more than just a place to pick up a wheel of cheese. Nestled in between Marin and Sonoma, Marin French Cheese is a destination for cheese lovers and foodies to relax, picnic, and feast on the way up the coast or towards wine country”—or you can just enjoy the grounds for the day and head back to the city easily. Earlier this month, the company joined Robert Ferry Gourmet for a sampling of Marin French Cheese Company’s cheeses, paired with popcorn, nuts, dried fruit, and more.

    Erika Hazel, The Bizerkeley Vegan, recently hosted the third annual Bizerkeley Food Festival at Sports Basement Berkeley. The largest vegan food festival in the Bay Area featured more than 75 new and returning vendors from all over the country, with free samples, $5 food offerings, live entertainment, games, prizes, and giveaways. Complimentary swag was available and proceeds from the festival benefited the Herd And Flock Animal Sanctuary

    Pastry chef Serena Chow Fisher, who along with her husband David Fisher, earned a Michelin star for their now-closed Bernal Heights restaurant, Marlena, has partnered with Hi Neighbor Hospitality Group to launch a new ice cream brand, Jack & Remi. Named after Serena and David’s beloved dogs, the line “will blend playfulness with sophisticated technique.” The imaginative flavors include: sourdough toast & jam, pistachio ice cream with rhubarb jam, shiso mint chip, strawberry szn (with white chocolate), FUVanilla, and 4XChocolate. The ice cream will be available at select Bay Area restaurants. Follow them on Instagram (@scoopjackandremi) and visit their website for where to find these delicious scoops.

    The team behind The Snug recently opened Little Shucker—a playful neighborhood spot for fresh oysters and low-ABV beverages. Located in the heart of the Fillmore Street corridor in the Pacific Heights neighborhood, Little Shucker’s all-day menu features “a selection of seafood classics and raw bar offerings with a modern California twist.”

    Kendall Jackson Wine Estate & Gardens welcomes back their limited garden dinner series with featured dinners September 9 (Asian fusion featuring Liberty Farms duck); and October 7 (with Chef Kim Alter, spotlighting Snake River Farms).

    The Culinary Institute of America at Copia is adding a new late-night destination to the Napa community: The Haven, the Culinary Institute of America’s first cocktail-focused bar across all of its campuses. Using The Grove’s kitchen elevator, guests will arrive at the second-floor entrance, greeted by a retro floor-to-ceiling cocktail-inspired mural to set the tone. The Haven’s balcony is the place to relax in open air and take in the views of the CIA at Copia’s beautiful gardens and Napa skyline. The Haven will be open Fridays and Saturdays from 8 pm until midnight.

    San Rafael is getting its first downtown hotel destination with the recently opened AC Hotel® San Rafael by Marriott. Located at 1201 Fifth Avenue on the corner of 5th Avenue and B Street, the hotel features 140 guest rooms, indoor and outdoor meeting space, and several food and beverage outlets, including the city’s first rooftop bar, Above Fifth.

    Seattle-based Piroshky Piroshky’s Eastern European bakery is coming to the Bay Area September 12–14. You can pre-order pies by visiting their website.

    Laura and Sayat Ozyilmaz, the duo behind beloved pop-up Istanbul Modern, have just opened their first restaurant as chef-owners, Dalida, in the Presidio. The full-service restaurant showcases the hospitality, fresh ingredients, memorable flavors, and rich culture of the Eastern Mediterranean. 

    Paseo in Mill Valley is celebrating its 75th anniversary and on Wine Wednesdays, customers can select from the restaurant’s wine cellar for half price specials. The restaurant serves New American cuisine from Chef Sylvain Montassier using seasonal, naturally harvested, and locally sourced ingredients from the area’s best artisans, growers, and producers. Montassier, a French native, has almost 30 years of professional experience that stretches from France and England to San Francisco and Chicago. He graduated from the Culinary School of Saumur and subsequently staged at two and three Michelin star restaurants in Europe.

    Local distillery Hotaling and Company (formerly Anchor Distilling), makers of Junipero Gin, is celebrating 30 years this year. Congratulations!

    And, Jonathan Vargas and Ramsey Garcia, who run the popular Fable restaurant in the Castro, applied for an on-site beer and wine license for the new Boa’s restaurant in the Outer Richmond at 3951 Balboa Street, which according to the SF Standard, aims to be a new brunch spot.

    Anomaly SF:
    Marin French Cheese Company:
    Bizerkeley Food Festival:
    Jack and Remi ice cream:
    Little Shucker:
    Kendall Jackson Wine Estate & Gardens:
    The Culinary Institute of America at Copia:
    The Haven:
    AC Hotel San Rafael by Marriott and Above Fifth:
    Hotaling and Company:

    David Landis, aka “The Gay Gourmet,” is a foodie, a freelance writer, and a retired PR maven. Follow him on Instagram @GayGourmetSF or email him at: Or visit him online at:

    The Gay Gourmet
    Published on September 7, 2023