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November 1-8 , 2006
I always feel like I am tempting earthquake fate when I eat at an architecturally risky venue. Thankfully, the service at On the Bridge:
... is quick enough that I can be off to duck and cover in no time.
My locomoco ($9.95):
... was constructed to withstand some Richter activity. The runny yolk of the fried egg sauced a ground beef patty that made me think of fido food, but the grated daikon set me back on track with the green onion and tomato that polka-dotted the rice. I don’t know that I would order this again, but that’s not to say that I wouldn’t return.
I like the manga:
... to peruse during lunch, but the rabbit figurines:
... freak me out.
I’m on the fence.
On the Bridge
My fajita meater registers these skirt steak fajitas ($9.95):
... as a point higher than Chevy’s, which is to say, serviceable, but not muy bien. Dos Pinas is a fueling station when the Mission is impossible (or at least an inconvenient drive.)
and rice came alongside the onions, peppers
and sliced, slightly tooth resistant, skirt steak.
Today’s bunrab email had yet another Vin Antico report, Michael C. writes:
Guess I'm not the lone stranger...had an experience at Vin Antico strikingly similar to Susan's & GraceAnn's: In a nearly empty dining room during a weekday lunch hour, I requested a seemingly simple addition to a familiar dish, prefaced with an offer to pay extra. The reticent but otherwise congenial server sheepishly replied, "Don't think so, but I'll try."
In clear sight & ear shot the chef responded with a punitive hard glance and bilious "No way" (heard only because the deafening music was reluctantly lowered at the request of another diner). Had an explanation or even simple civility been offered, it would have been easy to accept the rejection & move on to another entree consideration. In the absence of both, I tipped & politely thanked the server for her effort, and then promptly left.
Whether it was a cosmic turbulence caused by Jupiter's moons in retrograde up in Mars' house, or an inferred affront to imagined artistic integrity (perhaps the billowy effect of the chef's Rasta hat is not from his locks but an over inflated ego), it doesn't matter; lunch without attitude please.
Given all of these Vin Antico reports maybe
they should consider changing into a West Coast branch of the soup
Nazi kitchen. Then we could get delicious, hearty and warming lunches
with all the anticipated rigidity. They could call it the “No Way Café.”
Evergreen Garden serves Vietnamese, Thai and Chinese chow.
I always worry when multiple cuisines are under one roof (that roof being of my mouth) but I put my prejudices aside and got a Com Tay Cam ($7.25):
This clay pot resonated so much heat that Kane (from Kung Fu) wouldn’t be able to pick it up with his wrists without crying like a colicky baby. After it cooled down, I ate my chicken, shrimp and sausage rice bowl. It was belly ballast, but nothing to write the monastery about. It could have used a spicing up, but it fueled me up so that I had energy to continue to walk the earth.
Speaking of cultural confusion, Noah’s Bagels put this up in their window:
The hostess told us that there would be a 20 minute wait for brunch, but it turned out to be about 10. We sat down to a couple cups of Freed Teller and Freed coffee and tucked into chicken hash ($11.50):
... which was a pan fried, crispy skinned football of potato suspended white meat clucker with herbs and mustard seeds. Although it wasn’t a touchdown, it wasn’t a fowl ball either - just warm belly ballast for a chilly Sunday. The poached eggs looked like one of them had a cataract:
... but I performed a radial keratotomy to find a runny yolk within (although I am always suspicious of the egg’s maturity if the white doesn’t adhere more firmly.) The house made wheat bread toast was thick sliced and homey.
Chubby got the fried cornmeal ($11.50):
... which was a Cheddar and green onion slab that was good alongside the scrambled eggs which were cooked to the standard firmness (which verged on too firm for Chubby’s personal preference, but he forgot to specify when ordering.) The house made biscuit may have been in the warming oven a little longer then it’s breaderen because the outside was tough. This dura-biscuit was okay otherwise.
Chubby’s not a big
fan of whipped butter. He feels that
the ease of spreading sacrifices textural control. If he spreads it
thick, there isn’t that slight, buttery barrier, (instead, it’s
a buttery airier.) He was pleased that there weren’t yesterday’s
individ-jam packs. Even though the pots of jam with spoons can get
kind of gross in some places, this one didn’t have that communal-trough/vector-for-disease
look to it. I guess they keep them pretty tidy.
From today’s bunrab email, Anthony
Read your thoughts on Paradise Restaurant; I've been there twice and it's an average place... especially since Saigon Village (2nd and B Street) is scarcely a hop, skip, and jump from Paradise and has oodles of pho choices to satisfy anyone with knowledge of Vietnamese dining. You probably know about Saigon Village but just in case you didn't. Also, ever since Tomoe is gone and replaced by Sushi Lin, I was hoping if you know of another Japanese Ramen place? I work in San Rafael and miss Tomoe quite dearly (though I don't miss the sometimes wickedly mean hostess).
To good eats!
I agree with you about Saigon Village. It is my default Vietnamese
destination in San Rafael, especially when I have a cold.
We were in the mood for some eggs and went to check out Finnegan’s morning offerings. A nice barman greeted us from an otherwise empty dining room. I guess that most people don’t go to bars at 10 a.m. on Saturday in non-urban settings.
I got some bacon and eggs ($9.00):
... for which I specified crispy and soft (and hoped that they wouldn’t confuse these attributes between the two protein products.) I was pleased that they arrived as desired. The 4 slices of brittle pig and the well seasoned scram topped with scallions were just what I wanted. Those professional toasters take a while to get up to heat so I’m guessing that they threw my wheat bread:
... under the broiler which would account for the dual personality disorder of my carbo-angles. Very sad. I wish they flipped it over to make for a less half-assed attempt at bread cookery. I mean it’s usually the first thing we learn how to “cook” but this is just hyper-critical in the face of an otherwise tasty breakfast. Smucker blister packs may be cost effective, but their single serving sterility compounded by their flavor and texture impairment make me think that the name is the only “good” thing about them.
Chubby got the Eggs O’Finnegans ($7.00):
the runner described as “sort of a sausage
egg McMuffin.” It
seemed funny to draw a likeness between your chef’s cooking and
a fast food item, but when it arrived, we understood that she meant
it in a good way.
We hopped next door to check out one of the
latest additions to Grant Avenue, Powell’s.
... (or “shoppe” to make it even more olde school) with all your childhood fetishes. Whether it’s candy cigarettes, Scharffen Berger or you’re into M&M’s, there is an impulse buy for anyone with a sweet tooth.
They cleverly place bushels of candy within the reach of children to promote desperate pledges of eternal obedience in exchange for some sucrose.
There is a large screen TV on the
back wall that plays Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory over
and over to the point where the employees must find themselves at home
spurting out, “but I want it now” and
ridding themselves of any friends by continuously humming the Oompa
Loompa song. At least they can comfort themselves with their only “real” friend
that will never leave them…candy.
Powell’s Sweet Shoppe
I had a very similar experience to Susan's at Vin Antico. I was there at lunch and there were a couple of other parties. The front and back doors were open, so the place was chilly. The music was ear-splitting. A gentleman at a nearby table asked the no-clue waitress if the music could be turned down. She replied that that was the way the chef liked it. The fellow said, "Well, maybe he won't like having any customers." I piped in and the music was turned down. At the end of lunch the owner, a young woman, arrived. Clearly, this place suffers from absentee and inexperienced ownership.
Disclosure: I did write about this place before it opened. Even good food cannot triumph over discomfort and rudeness.
Yikes. I guess this is far from an isolated experience. Maybe the chef needs an iPod.
The White Stuff
Monochromatic menus are something that most restaurants try to avoid, but at Mabel’s Just For You Cafe:
... you get carte blanche to make your a la carte blanche breakfast with catfish and eggs ($8.95):
This moist kitty filet was accentuated by purrfectly eggsecuted overeasies, and a bowl of grits:
... served with a pat of butter.
Pigment impaired? No doubt, but San Francisco is a colorblind city.
Just For You Café
We always enjoy reading your blog. I have a couple of comments about Vin Antico. We've been there several times for lunch and once with a small group for dinner. Each time there have been problems that reflected a bad attitude from the chef and/or owner of the restaurant. We will not be going back after our last experience.
A friend and I stopped in for lunch on a Tuesday afternoon. The restaurant was empty and the music was so loud that we could barely hear each other speak. The server said that she couldn't have the music turned down because the chef liked the "vibe from the music". We ordered some appetizers and wanted to try several of the pastas and the chicken special.
When we asked the server if they could add the roasted chicken to our pasta, she said that the chef probably wouldn't like the idea. We said we'd gladly pay for the extra dish. The chef gave us a dirty look, said "no way" and turned away from us. We paid for our drinks and left. With a totally empty restaurant, it wouldn't have killed them to be a little more accommodating. I really don't need attitude from a restaurant. I can take my business elsewhere.
There is a reason they call it the “hospitality industry” and
it’s a bummer when that name is not kept in mind by those in
I got my Hot Pastrami ($9.95):
... on rye bread which was a little softer than my personal preference, but it was still good. This grainy mitt held a baseball sized wad of sliced meat which was perfectly good, but not that “I’ll have what she’s having” deli meal.
I was warned that my Matzo ball soup ($3.99):
... would take a little while since they were preparing a batch as I ordered. It arrived as my dessert. The cue ball sized, dense cracker-ball flying-spaghetti-monstered itself against vermicelli in a sea of chicken broth. Not craveworthy, but perfectly warming on a cold day. I prefer this type of smaller, denser matzo ball over the gigantic fluffy ones that other nosh-aterias offer.
The service was their usual friendly and efficient in the face of chaos style. They get the crowd through quickly and everyone leaves with a full belly.
East Coast West
I got a Speck Pizzetine ($7.00):
... from the brick oven at Vin Antico for lunch. The pistachio pesto had a nice coarse texture against the crust which was fine, but contained more oil in the dough than my personal preference. This made the dough edge towards a light flakiness rather than a dry crispiness.
The mozzarella, thin ribbons of pickled red onions, dressed arugula and slices (much more than a speck) of pig were all very tasty. I was impressed that they were able to produce this filling and toothsome lunch for such an antico price. All of the lunch items were $7.50 or less in this chic little addition to San Rafael’s 4th street.
I had a difficult time choosing my chow with other menu items like the fresh pappardelle with beef ragu ($7.50), Muffuletta ($6.25), and roasted eggs in tomato sauce with parmesan ($5.50) all sounding pretty appealing.
The San Rafael restaurant situation is looking up.
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