Having a beard is my latest obsession. I mean I’m gay so I’m no stranger to man-scaping, and being Jewish, well…that just means I’ve had hair on my schmekle since I was six! You can imagine how awesome middle school was, but I’ll save that for another day. Back to my beard.
Strangely enough, I’ve never sported a beard before living in San Francisco. Some stubble a la George Michael sure, but never a full-on beard long enough to comb for leftovers. But it just feels like the cool thing to do here in SF where as in Los Angeles, it was only appropriate to sport anything more than a 5 o’clock shadow if you were going for one of two looks: lumberjack hipster or Santa Claus. And when I was living it up in la la land I was going for West Hollywood preppy-chic and I owned no plaid whatsoever.
But now that I have a beard I’m obsessed. With it I feel like I’ve come out of my cocoon. Like I’ve metomorpohsized from a boy to a bear, which is a totally acceptable look in SF. And what was originally an effort to hide my fat cheeks behind a thick landscape of dark brown (and sometimes slightly red) facial astroturf in attempt to look slimmer, turned into my San Francisco unveiling. A follicular statement if you will, one that says, “My name is Little Bear and this is my den!”
Oh and I almost forgot, having the beard has the added benefit of being a natural exfoliator for Jonathan and his face has never felt smoother.
So in honor of my father, the man partially responsible for my beard, and who originally taught me how to shave, I’m sharing the dinner we had at Chez Maman — one of the best San Francisco restaurants — when my father was visiting a few months ago.
Chez Maman French Bistro in Hayes Valley
The restaurant may be small but it packs a big punch! We first ate at the location in Potrero Hill (even smaller) and the service was amazing. At one point, the waiter heard I was torn between two dessert crepes so he made me a mini version of the one we didn’t choose….awesome right?
The Hayes Valley location is newer and they don’t take reservations. You’ll want to go in a small group and try to get there early, or just plan on putting your name down on the clipboard hanging near the door and if you’ll live if you have to do a little window-shopping up and down Hayes Street while you wait.
Chez Maman serves authentic French cuisine full of flavor with butter in all the right places. The Hayes Valley location does have a random “Papito” section on the menu of Mexican dishes…..a friend once ordered the mushroom quesadilla because she thought it would be out-of-this-world if it was on a French restaurant menu….but it wasn’t. Stick to some of what we got:
The French Onion Soup was one of the best I’ve had. Really gooey gruyere covering beef broth infused onions.
Mussels (Les Moules) Provencale with tomato concassee, basil, garlic & bell peppers. We got French fries for dipping in the broth too.
Hachis Parmentier, which was a ground beef and puree de pommes de terre (mashed potatoes) covered in delicious salty cheese.
Lamb and Veggie Brochettes with couscous and pesto mint coulis.
Grilled Salmon with roasted potatoes and drizzle of fine herbs and crème fraiche.