Utrip Founder (and Avid Foodie) Frolics in San Francisco’s Tech World

By: Gilad Berenstein

 

Dear Utrippers,

Utrip Founder Gilad checking in from sunny San Francisco. Here at Utrip we are always working to add amazing new destinations so you can continue exploring the world in your own personal ways. This week I had the chance to check out San Francisco; the city on the bay which offers a wealth of attractions, sights, food, and technology.

My trip began, as all great trips do, with a cocktail at one of San Francisco’s many fine Gastropubs – 15 Romolo.

ASK PULDA FOR NAME - Utrip Founder in San Francisco

 We all know the modernist cuisine and cocktail movement which has taken over and its focus on equal parts high end ingredients and exquisite technique. 15 Romolo was no exception. Each drink was hand crafted slowly and with care. The shakes were long, the proportions were precisely measured, in a laboratory style flask, to get each cocktail just right. And the best part of all a group of friendly strangers were so excited by my order of a Sazarac (one of my go to drinks) that they picked up the tab.

After a couple drinks we headed to Cotogna – a new age Italian establishment specializing in fresh pasta’s and homemade sauce.

We began our meal with a burrata. A top notch room temperature Italian cheese mixed with herbs and spinach galore.

Cotogna: Bugada - Utrip Founder in San Francisco

From there we moved on to an exceptional yellowtail tartar. This outstanding dish delicouly combined yellowtail and avocado – two of my favorite things.

Cotogna: Yellowtail Tartar - Utrip Founder in San Francisco

 
A single giant ravioli was to follow. Stuffed with ricotta and artichoke hearts this massive ravioli was a favorite of several of our diners. This dish is a great representation of modernist cuisine, a classic reinvented in a unique and appealing manner.

Cotogna: Ravioli Stuffed with Ricotta and Artichoke Hearts - Utrip Founder in San Francisco

The grand finale came in the form of a giant pork rib. A perfectly cooked and beautify presented hunk of meat that left us licking the plate.

Cotogna: Pork Rib - Utrip Founder in San Francisco

Another great attribute and a feature I love are the open kitchens which are so prolific now days. And this kitchen was a true beauty. Equipped with a large and perfectly stocked bar, an open kitchen, and most impressive an open wood fire over on which much of the food is prepared.

Cotogna's Open Kitchen - Utrip Founder in San Francisco

After stuffing our faces with outstanding Italian it was time to hit the sack to prepare for tomorrow festivities and the opportunity to share Utrip with more people in the Bay. The first few stops were at bay area startups. I love the opportunity to trade stories and learnings with entrepreneurs from all around the world and take every trip as an opportunity to meet local entrepreneurs.

One thing startups in the bay are known for are their outstanding offices, great perks, and creative spaces. For one of my meetings I was asked to wait in the ski lodge. “The ski lodge?” I asked myself, is that a store around the corner, surely this office is not in a ski lodge. But of course it was not, it was the name of one of the conference room.

Startup Office

Decorated like a ski lodge this was one of the many spaces in which employees relax, think, collaborate, and actually work from time to time. This of course was nothing compared to what I saw later that day on my tour of Facebook’s new campus. One part work, two parts fun Facebook’s campus was filled with excitement. I participated in one of their famous walking meetings, an opportunity to get some work done while exercising and getting fresh air, and was amazing by the normality of the experience. As we walked up and down the boulevard I enjoyed taking in the sights. Roads named Hacker Way and Network Circle led into burger joint, pizza places, and my favorite an ice cream parlor mixed with bakery.

While walking through the main campus I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was in downtown Disney enjoying a day in the magical kingdom – this one known as Facebook HQ.

Facebook Fish Bowl

In the far left hand corner of the photo you can see a series of window. Behind them is a room called the fishbowl; Mark Zuckerberg’s private conference rooms. At Facebook no one has an office, not even Mark. Instead, he gets a fishbowl to hold meetings. I wish I had some better shots but the sign clearly stated “please do not photograph the animals” and I obliged.

The offices were all splendid. Filled with food and fridges, games and lounge chairs, and decorated with art, artifacts, and a bit of history. It reads: Speed Limit 256 KBPM.

Historic Computer

 

Gilad at Facebook

Forgive the horribly blurry sneaky picture but I had to show you Facebooks arcade. Yes, that was no joke they actually have an arcade within their campus where employees spend some much needed downtime killing zombies or enjoying old school pinball… oh yeah and DDR of course.

Facebook Arcade

Once your tire of the games it’s time for some music. Ever wanted to learn to play the guitar or electric drum set, where better to do it than at work?

One of my favorite stops on our tour was the screen printing poster shop where Facebook employees create 1930’s style posted promoting initiatives and drilling the company culture and values into the minds of everyone walking by.

Facebook Printing Press

After a long day of meetings and running around the greater Palo Alto area it was time for some dinner and drinks. This time we ventured to try some of San Francisco’s famous modern American cuisine – one of my favorite types of food, which saw its birth in the kitchens of San Francisco. Tonight we headed to Range.

As with most modern American restaurants the décor was on point, the kitchen was spectacular, the menu was small, and the waiters were knowledgeable.

Crab Spring Rolls

Our feast began with a new take on crab spring rolls. Crab salad in a rich citrus sauce wrapped in poached cabbage giving it a smooth and creamy inside and crunchy exterior which was delightful; a variety of textures is a must in my opinion.

Braised Beef Short Rib
The night continued with a perfectly braised beef short rib. Glazed and accompanied by horseradish crème fresh. This dish was my favorite of the night.

Roast Lamb 2
The meal concluded with a roast lamb dish that put most other dishes to shame. In a rich sauce with a healthy helping of garbanzo beans (beloved by all Israelis) this dish was the perfect end of a long meal.

Range had a great dessert menu but I was told no trip to San Francisco is complete without a stop at Bob’s Donuts. This local staple is open 24 hours a day and serves fresh donuts at all hours of the day and night.

Bob's Donut Pastries

As we arrived they were just pulling a fresh tray of chocolate old fashioned out of the fryer. Served alongside top notch 2% milk this is the dessert of the gods. Luckily I was so full at this point I only ordered one, or I would have spent the remainder of my trip eating one after the other.

Photo: chuck b. via flickr

This winter has seen crazy weather all around the globe. On my recent trip to NYC I stayed through two snow storms in a five day period. Luckily San Francisco offered the opposite experience – unseasonably warm weather and sun.

San Francisco View

San Francisco View 2

Instead of a cab I decided to walk to my meetings that morning, walking past cathedrals, amazing views, and far too many hills.

My final stop on this trip was a meeting and visit on Berkley’s beautiful campus.20140220_015106506_iOS

Overall, San Francisco did not disappoint; does it ever? Great food, nice people, art, history, culture, and tech- and this time, lots of sun. To me that spells one great trip.

Have you been to San Francisco? Share some of your favorite spots and memories with us and let us know if you want San Francisco to be one of Utrip’s first domestic destinations.

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