Be my burger

Pub date November 7, 2007

Last week’s rovings included a stop at Bistro Burger, in the basement of the Westfield San Francisco Centre — centre! Please. We’re not at Wimbledon. But the burger transcended its deracinated, strip-mall, airport-prison, why–am–I–in–Las Vegas setting. The meat (Niman Ranch, of course) was tender, juicy, intensely flavorful, and cooked medium rare, as agreed. A slice of pepper jack cheese was present but not overwhelming, and the bun was plump and soft, like a good pillow, but also not overwhelming.

You need not resign yourself to beef here. Any of the burgers are available with a turkey patty or some sort of vegetarian option, though since we showed up rather late in the evening (having completed our other urgent, mall-related business), they’d run out of turkey. Unburgers include a respectable sandwich of grilled mahimahi (a lovely fish but not too exciting: snag a mayo packet or two), while the seasoned curly fries are better than Jack in the Box’s, and that is saying something. Really. They are just decadent. You will have to block out the next day as a fat holiday.

Some days later: a late dinner at Masala (reviewed in these pages aeons ago), on Ninth near Lincoln, near the penny-factory de Young Museum and the recently unswaddled reincarnation of the Academy of Sciences — a splendor of glass. The two structures could hardly be more dissimilar: one incorporates the past and, in its lightness, seems to be at peace with its sylvan surroundings, while the other …

Masala is still pretty good. Less fiery than memory insists. Prices are moderate, and the setting is handsome and proper enough for parents. We found the service to be slightly sluggish, perhaps because it was a weekend night. The restaurant was busy though not full, but a fair number of the people who came to the door weren’t looking for tables but sackfuls of carryout.

D before H, except … It was with a certain tingle of what V.S. Naipaul calls "horror interest" that I recognized I’d misspelled "Stendhal" (10/24/07). It was also too late to fix it — "too late," as Othello says to Desdemona, then strangles her. May I be spared such a fate. As for the unexpected Stendahl: Could he or she be a Scandinavian playwright, of the obscure school?