The Dining Cryptographer: XYZ and Kokkari Estiatorio (San Francisco, CA)
XYZ is the restaurant in the W Hotel. I've been avoiding mentioning it these two years, but it's across the street from Moscone, and I end up eating there more than any other restaurant in the area. Generally I'm there for lunch, and I usually order a sandwich: either the burger if I'm feeling like a big meal, or the tuna steak sandwich if I'm not. Their pizzas and salads are also good, and their eggs "chilaquiles" is what I generally get for breakfast. I've only had dinner there once, and it was quail. Nothing here is fantastic, but it's all competent and you can't beat the convenience -- it's either that or Chevy's across the street. (181 3rd St, 415-817-7836, www.xyz-sf.com)
Kokkari Estiatorio serves elegant Greek cuisine in a pretty environment. Really, the restaurant is a joy to walk into. The food is good, too. I like the Greek traditional items, like moussaka, a casserole of eggplant, lamb ragout, and béchamel sauce. And the very traditional whole roasted fish. The stuffed grape leaves appetizer is also delicious, as is the horiatiki salad. And the octopus salad: amazing mesquite-grilled octopus, served with roasted red bell peppers, frisée, and a red wine vinegar dressing. Chef Erik Cosselmon also serves more modern recipes with Greek and Mediterranean influences, like the goat stew in a rich tomato broth served with feta cheese and orzo. Kokkari is a nice restaurant to take a date, as well as a great place to go with a tableful of friends or colleagues. There's even a large communal table, which is fun to eat at if you're alone. (200 Jackson St, 415-981-0983, www.kokkari.com)
This marks the end of the second year of the Dining Cryptographer. I hope you've enjoyed reading these as much as I've enjoyed writing them, and that at least some of you have tried my recommendations. I'll be back again next year with ten new ones.
Last year's Friday reviews: