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Name: Gutenberg

Location: Somewhere near the Golden Gate Bridge.

Occupation: BRPR (Bunrab public relations.)

the BUNRAB blog spot

Do you need to answer back? You can send me comments if you want to.

If I want to, I'll post 'em in this very blog.



November 23-30, 2006


go to next week's blogs



Thursday, November 30, 2006


The word “chain” is best when applied to daisies. Letters, gangs and restaurants tend to wilt in this category.

Houston’s can be found in major metropolitan areas. It’s one of a series of meat and cocktail driven eateries that target the downtown quittin’ time crowd.

My cheeseburger ($13.00):

...had a smoky meat patty with a nice grind. It had a good bread to cow ratio and the sesame seed bun stood up to the job. I didn’t care for the chopped lettuce (I like mine leafy, not weed whacked) the chopped onions were minced too fine (I prefer slices.) 

I had to request ketchup and mustard (I would think that those would come standard.) Other oddities included the application of mayo that was lavished thicker than Phylis Diller’s night cream and the Cheddar was too thick to melt during it’s brief tenure on the grill. It just got a coat of cheesy perspiration instead of the melty goodness that it deserved (cheese sweat is a culinary fauxmage pas.)

Okay, maybe I’m being too critical, it’s not Apollo 13  “Houston’s we have a problem”, just a couple wacky details to an otherwise launchable burger.

On the other hand, J got a French dip sandwich:

... and he sung it’s praises so maybe it’s best to resist the gravitational pull of the burger at this Embarcadero outpost.

The service was friendly and organized. I don’t know that I’ll rush back, but it’s fine for a quick bite near a fireplace on a cold afternoon.

1800 Montgomery St.
San Francisco, CA






Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Om South Indian Cuisine opened up shop where Tavan used to be. The only change that I noticed from the Thai restaurant is the newly hung Indian artwork.

I got the fish curry ($12.49):

... which was made with chunks of tilapia in a mild curry sauce with a side carrot and cucumber yogurt. It was fine over the basmati rice, but it could have used more of a spice kick for my taste.

Even though I didn’t hit the tastebud jackpot today, I’m happy that this place has set up shop. The menu seems promising with a selection of dosa, uthappam and biriyani. Vegetarians don’t have to wait for Café Gratitude’s San Rafael outpost to open for some food without a face on fourth street.

Om South Indian Cuisine
1518 4th St.
San Rafael, CA


Bunrab reader and rice oil Queen, Elle writes regarding yesterday’s Pixar post:


Didja know that they use California Rice Oil out there at Pixar?


Gutenberg replies:

Dear Elle,

Pixar does inspire “bran” loyalty. I wonder if they used their spent rice oil to fuel Lightning McQueen…







Tuesday, November 28, 2006

W and I were treated to lunch at Café Luxo today.

My piadine:

... was filled with tomato slices, bulldozed chicken and cheese melded together in this folded over bread circle next to a mound of mustard vinaigrette dressed, baby spinach leaves. W saw my hefty portion and said, “bulk up” (as he is prone to do.) He was much more moderate with his order of soup which was stand-your-fork-up-in-it thick. I wouldn’t call it soup since technically speaking, soup is soupy, but W didn’t seem to mind.

It’s a tricky task to cook for the 900 or so people who work at Pixar.

Not only are you dealing with a captive audience, but a group of picky artists to boot.






Monday, November 27, 2006

3 Thai’s a charm?

I decided to get the Pad Thai ($8.95):

... at Tub-Tim Thai after so many reccos. I’m sorry that I waited so long because it would have had to be stellar to live up to the hype. It was only okay. Crunchy bean sprouts contrasted nicely with the soft tofu strips, chicken shreds and soft, slightly oily, rice noodles. There were a few prawns and a scattering of chopped peanuts and green onion in this mildly hot noodle dish. It was standard issue, garden variety, P.T.

Chubby got the five spice roast chicken ($8.95):

... which came with a pink, chili infused rice to set off the orange hued clucker. This color combo seems more suited to dessert - perhaps this is what inspired the sweet pepper dipping sauce that accompanies this chrominance augmented meal. Chubby pronounced the white meat dry (but found that this wasn’t the case with it’s dark counterpart.)

Perhaps there was something else we should have tried, but we’ll take our Tub-Tim Time to return.

Tub-Tim Thai Restaurant
510 Tamalpias Drive
Corte Madera, CA


From today’s bunrab email, Susan R. writes about The French Laundry:


As someone who visits your site regularly and tends to agree with you evaluation of Bay Area restaurants, I am perplexed at your glowing reports of The French Laundry. We found it to be more of a showcase for the chef than an enjoyable dining experience. The food was beautifully presented and sometimes cleverly conceived, but generally lacking in flavor. There was only one dish that had the "Wow" factor. In fact, the desserts were mediocre. It's the first time in ages that we left any sugar-containing morsel on our plates. We definitely left the restaurant feeling that we'd wasted time, money and calories. While I'm glad that you always have an extraordinary meal, I don't understand how we can have had such a different experience.


Gutenberg replies:

Dear Susan,

You raise an interesting point. One of the greatest challenges of a restaurant is consistency. How many times have any of us visited a place that got the highest of praises from a trusted friend yet their report didn’t match with our experience and we were left scratching our heads?

The easiest way to get a consistent product is to eliminate as many variables as possible (multiple chefs, seasonal menus, non-homogenous ingredients, climate changes, etc.) Yet this is a recipe for stagnation.

Us bunrabs have had our share of disappointing meals at top-rated restaurants (that were supposed to be at the top of their game) and we aren’t in any hurry to return (so we sympathize with your feeling about this) but as far as
The French Laundry is concerned, you may want to give it another try before they carry though on their plan to reduce their seating capacity. They continue to create the most innovative and delicious chow we have ever eaten.






Sunday, November 26, 2006

After the buttery fog cleared from my brain (and my liver), I decided that I may have spoken too hastily when I vowed never to eat again after last night’s flavor marathon. The rain was coming down in sheets so it was time to stay home and make a pizza:

Just a basic flour, salt, olive oil and yeast dough:


(and after rising)

... topped with mozzarella, Reggiano parmesan, pepperoni and anchovies,  washed down with some red wine by the fire - can’t beat that.






Saturday, November 25, 2006

French Laundry List

The French Laundry is always fantastic, but there were a few dishes that made our jaws drop this evening: the snow capped sunchoke panna cotta, the kahala sashimi that was trapped in a covered bowl with a puff of cherry wood smoke (generated from a high pressure pipe purchased at a head shop), the finest piece of meat that I shall ever eat and the best use of tarragon in a dessert.

Champagne started off our French Laundry list of:


Salmon tartare cornets filled with crème fraiche

Hot onion soup with bitter orange zest poured over a mizuna pudding and an onion and mandarin confit

Cardoon soup over a brunoise of cardoons cooked sous vide mixed with a small dice of Serrano ham

Sunchoke panna cotta under white sturgeon caviar with a cap of lemon verbena snow:

Sabayon of pearl tapioca with Beau Soleil oysters and white sturgeon caviar

Kahala sashimi over wilted cabbage and maple syrup with a puff of cherry wood smoke infusing the dish until it was uncovered at the table

Bluefin tuna tartare with hearts of palm, Haas avocado sorbet and cilantro sprouts

White truffle custard with black truffle veal stock and potato chive chip

Coddled hen’s egg with black truffle and brioche soldiers

Dr. Loosen Riesling “Kabinett” 2005

Hearts of palm with Granny smith apple, watercress, and watercress coulis

French Laundry garden beets with horseradish crème fraiche and hearts of romaine

Risotto with beurre noisette and shaved white truffles

Tagliatelle with beurre noisette and shaved white truffles

Striped bass with Marzano tomato confit, little neck clams, Yukon gold potatoes and a saffron emulsion

John Dory with chestnut puree, pomegranate seeds, melted savoy cabbage and pomegranate vinaigrette

Butter poached lobster tail with beet essence, melted leeks and pommes Maxine

Butter poached lobster tail “ceasar” with wilted romaine, parmesan tuille and grated botarga.

Chateau d’Yquem, sauternes 1995

Terrine of Foie gras with celery branch coulis, Fuyu persimmon and truffle coulis with toasted brioche

Yves Cuilleron “Rousseliere” 2005

Seared Foie gras with poached Mejool date and salsify

Torre Nera, Nerello Mascalese 2004

Wagu beef with beech mushrooms, broccolini, Satsuma mandarins and chopped cashews:

Before cooking:

and after:

Bleu d’auvergne cheese pecan tart with cranberries and mache

Adante goat cheese with Belgian endive, poached apricot and wildflower honey

Huckleberry sorbet with nougatine and cornmeal panisses

Buttermilk sorbet with citron and tarragon soup

Truffle "float" with truffle ice cream, topped with a thin slice of white truffle:

Cappuccino semi-freddo with hot cinnamon-sugar coated donuts

Milk chocolate and hazelnut mousse in a chocolate chalice with a white chocolate brownie and white chocolate granite

Mint chocolate parfait with white and dark chocolate ganache and mint syrup

Meyer lemon posset

Tahitian vanilla crème brulee

Chocolate coated caramelized macadamia nuts coated in powdered sugar

Puff pastry papillons

Assorted Chocolates, caramels and truffles

Shortbreads packed up with ribbon to take home

Chubby and I cannot foresee a time that we will ever want to eat again - not only because we are so full, but because we both know that the food we savored over the last several hours was truly extraordinary (even by French Laundry standards.) They never fail come up with the most unexpected and dynamic combinations of flavors, textures, temperatures, and visuals which blow our minds even without the head shop pipe.







Friday, November 24, 2006

A.V.A. stands for American Viticultual Area (which is fancy talk for a growing location.) The name is not exactly catchy and I couldn’t find their address when I Googled AOC in error. I ended up calling their sister restaurant, Marche aux Fleurs, to get the correct name and address of this new San Anselmo establishment. 

We were able to waltz in without rezzies on a Friday night but I figured that was because most folks were still working off their T-day food hangovers. Fortunately, Chubby and I are doing Kobayashi-style training in anticipation of a big meal tomorrow so we needed to keep up the pace.

The menu is broken up into “nibbles”, “beginnings”, “flatbreads/pasta”, “sides” and “mains”.  When you order an entrée, one side of your choosing is included.

We split an order (from the “nibbles” menu) of peppers di padron ($6.00):

...from Happy Quail Farms. They were simply and deliciously prepared in a skillet with olive oil and sea salt.

I got the striped bass ($19.00):

...which was a tasty, thin, filet of crispy skinned vertebrate. It was a little more cooked than I prefer, but it was flavorfully accented with Meyer lemon confit. I chose the turnip, Brussels sprout and bacon side dish and was happy with the earthy and salty tastes with contrasting textures.

Chubby got the burger ($13.50):

... with a side of kale (instead of the potato and onion fries that he would normally get) in an effort to make up for his Thanksgiving fat intake. His first comment was how pleased he was that the bun and meat diameters matched (which is usually not the case.) The Marin Sun Farms meat was cooked to a rare, juicy goodness with Bravo Farms Cheddar melted on top. The light, brioche bun looked and felt as though it would get juice logged, but it held up to it’s task. Ketchup and mustard came in little ramekins, but there was only lettuce (no tomato or onions) to accent this otherwise tasty burger.

The portions are directed at multiple course eating (Buca di Beppo patrons should head to Max’s or Marin Joe’s.)

The service is friendly and efficient in this intimate dining room.

I like the reclaimed wood tables and super comfy chairs. I wish they didn’t use the stemless “o” glasses:

... with so many fingery foods on the menu. You have to exercise care to remove all traces of oil from your burgery hands before taking a glug of red wine or it could easily end in disaster with these non-oxo products.

The bathrooms were clean and well stocked with the exception of  toilet seat covers. What is up with restaurants not providing these butt-a-gami products? It seems to be the latest restaurant trend to skimp on the ass-gaskets.

All pickiness aside, we had a good dinner and will definitely return to try  the fried chicken or handrolled tagliatelle next time.

AVA Restaurant
636 San Anselmo Ave.
San Anselmo, CA






Thursday, November 23, 2006 - Thanksgiving Day

Us Bunrabs were lucky enough to be guests at S&V’s Thanksgiving table where the theme was local chow. The first thing that struck me was the art direction of the dinner table.

Our bellies are bulging from an amazing feast including Tsar Nicoulai caviars, spinach and sage soup, salad, white asparagus, stuffing, butternut squash flan, yams, cranberry sauce, buttery, sour cream enhanced potatoes, turkey, Cowgirl Creamery cheeses, pie, cake, and Fairfax Scoop ice cream.

This was all tamped down with champers, Northern California wines and an ambrosial Sauterne before we waddled out into the star-filled night thankful for an evening filled with laughter, tasty chow and great company.








back to last week - November 16-22, 2006



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