Check, Please! Bay Area reviews: Tú Lan Vietnamese Restaurant, Bistro SF Grill, Attraversiamo

28 min

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Check, Please! Bay Area Season 15 episode 8 airs Thursday, May 21 at 7:30pm on KQED 9. See other television airtimes. And never miss an episode by subscribing to the video podcast.

We begin at Tú Lan Vietnamese Restaurant, a hole-in-the wall in the Tenderloin that has cultivated a devoted following with comforting Vietnamese dishes for the past 43 years. Next, it’s off to Noe Valley for festive Balkan cuisine and wines at Bistro SF Grill. Finally, we cross over the Bay to Attraversiamo, to devour Cal-Ital plates in the dazzling ‘Streets of Brentwood.’

Host Leslie Sbrocco and guests on the set of season 15 episode 8. (Olivia Won/KQED)

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Host Leslie Sbrocco sipping wine
Host Leslie Sbrocco sipping wine (Courtesy of Leslie Sbrocco)

My name is Leslie Sbrocco, and I’m the host of Check, Please! Bay Area. Each week, I’ll share my tasting notes about the wine, beer and spirits the guests and I drank on set during the taping of the show.

2018 Anaba Rosé of Grenache
Sonoma County, California, $28
I live fairly close to the wind-swept Carneros region in Sonoma County, where Anaba is based. The area’s “anabatic winds” keep the vineyards cool, which allow the flavors of the grapes to gain complexity as they ripen slowly. The Sweazey family has created an oasis to take advantage of these climatic conditions that reminded founder, John Sweazey, of the Rhône Valley’s signature mistral winds. This dry-styled pink is a lovely expression of a Rhône variety, Grenache, with floral aromas and peachy juiciness. It’s complex and full of character. Note: the current vintage is 2019.

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2018 Terlato Vineyards Pinot Grigio
Fruili Colli Orientali, Italy, $25 
The Terlato family is famed in the wine world. They have spent more than 40 years seeking out and sharing discoveries with American drinkers. Though their portfolio includes lauded global names, I think of Terlato and Italy in the same breath. This regal Pinot Grigio focuses on the richness and depth the variety can achieve in northern Italy’s Friuli Colli Orientali region. With a streak of minerality and citrusy brightness, it showcases the sheer deliciousness of a serious Pinot Grigio.

2017 Zolo Reserve Cabernet Franc
Mendoza, Argentina, $21
A beautifully built wine that defies its price tag, I recommend buying as much as you can find. When most people think of reds from Argentina, Malbec is what comes to mind. This wine, however, is made with only Cabernet Franc grapes grown high in Mendoza’s Uco Valley. Argentinean Fabián Valenzuela, along with Jean Claude Berrouet, a noted winemaker in France’s Pomerol region, share a pedigree for making world class Bordeaux-styled wines. The Zolo Cabernet Franc is smooth with sultry spice. Sure, it’s ideal with beef, but it’s also elegant enough to partner with roast chicken and even grilled swordfish.

2017 Mettler Family Vineyards Old Vine 'Epicenter' Zinfandel
Lodi, California, $25
A true family operation, the Mettler’s are iconic in the Lodi area of California. I’m a longtime fan of the region. Located in the Sacramento River Delta, Lodi has a warm Mediterranean climate but enjoys cooling breezes, which is a winning combination. Along with many century old-vine vineyards, it’s a unique spot. The Mettler’s have been grape growers in Lodi since the 1800s and are now on the 6th generation continuing the family business. To say they know how to grow and make Zinfandel – one of Lodi’s stars – is an understatement. This stunning red is rich and full-bodied, spicy and saturated with dark fruit notes. It’s an affordable luxury.

Hotaling & Company Junípero Gin
San Francisco, California, $40 
Gin is my jam when it comes to spirits. Yes, tequila is a favorite and so is whiskey, but for clear spirits, I’m a gin lover. This locally crafted bottling is all about power…San Francisco style. Its boozy power (98.6 proof!) makes it ideal for cocktails like martinis and negronis, but a simple gin and tonic takes on new dimensions with this spirit. Comprised of 12 botanicals, Junípero is juniper-forward with focused intensity. A true San Francisco treat.

Wine and spirits guests drank on the set of season 15 episode 8. (Olivia Won/KQED)

Thirsty for more beverage advice? You can find more of my wine, beer and spirits tips for you here.