Best Vegetables - 2005
Here are the sides that haunt our dreams, that would draw us back even if these eateries didn't also offer many delicious dishes of flesh, fish, and fowl. One caveat: You can always find our favorites at Grégoire and the Helmand, but seasonality rules at Home and Lime.
Brussels Sprouts, Lime
2247 Market (at Sanchez), 621-5256, www.lime-sf.com
We love these tiny aromatic cabbages, but we've never had better ones than those served in this Space Age cocktail lounge, adorned with chunks of bacon and lots of garlic and cooked in butter and olive oil until they're soft and caramelized.
Kaddo and Gulpea, The Helmand
430 Broadway (at Montgomery), 362-0641, www.helmandsf.com
Among the superb Afghan specialties at this North Beach spot are a couple of don't-miss vegetables: kaddo, a baby pumpkin pan-fried and baked with a touch of sugar until it's meltingly sweet, served on a bed of garlicky yogurt (with or without a topping of ground beef); and gulpea, cauliflower sautéed with tomatoes, serrano peppers, and onions until the florets are tender-crisp and stained yellow with turmeric.
Potato Puffs, Grégoire Restaurant
2109 Cedar (at Shattuck), Berkeley, (510) 883-1893, www.gregoirerestaurant.com
Virtually everybody standing in line for takeout at this tiny Berkeley spot (which has only a couple of tables) will include a request for Grégoire's famous potato puffs along with the rest of the order (the place offers everything from amazing sandwiches to several-course feasts). The puffs -- crispy outside, melting-soft within -- are the apotheosis of the tater tot, and somehow they always disappear on the drive home.
Broccoli in Cheese Sauce, Home
2100 Market (at Church), 503-0333, www.home-sf.com
Vegetables are treated with respect at this New American restaurant, where the menu changes daily. An especially delicate dish of tender sprigs of broccoli napped in a slightly sticky cheddar cheese sauce is emblematic of the care the kitchen takes with its fresh fare.