Best Smoked Sturgeon - 2003
East Coast West Delicatessen
Smoked salmon is as prevalent in San Francisco as dandelion greens and blood orange granita, but it's nearly impossible to track down smoked sturgeon, the uncrowned king of deli-case delectables. At Barney Greengrass and many another Manhattan delicatessen, its characteristic flavor and texture -- rich, meaty, and not as creamy as lox -- is a continuing source of gustatory pleasure. One of the few places you can find it out here (at least north of Beverly Hills) is at East Coast West, where the traditions of the seaboard and the mise en scène of the coast commingle to everyone's benefit. Its smoked sturgeon, served up in thick chunks, has a rosy-white complexion and a deep amber skin to go with the delicate, buttery flavor of its meat. Like the best lox, this sturgeon is only barely smoky, mildly briny, and not at all salty, and it's so rich that its oily essence soaks through its wrapping paper by the time you get it home. With a dollop of East Coast West's puckery cream cheese and a slab of dense, chewy pumpernickel, it's ambrosia.