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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.



October 8-16 , 2006


go to next week's blogs



Monday, October 16, 2006

We got a late start and decided to grab a quick bite before hitting the road.

All hotel breakfasts:

... are a little more fussy than I prefer, even if they are only some carbo snacks and coffee. Does anyone really butter and jam their chocolate croissant? Seems like it’s gilding the lily to me.

After hitting the midpoint of our journey, we pulled off the highway at the Harris Ranch Restaurant:

We went in with low expectations and they were fulfilled.

We were told there would be a 10-15 minute wait (like they do at House of Prime Rib when there are tons of tables, but they want you to buy cocktails first.) We were then assigned one of those gigantic, flashing and talking pagers that naggingly summon you to the dining room after your gift shopping time has elapsed. A female voice emanates from the pager repeating “..your table is ready, please return to the dining room..”  over and over. Not a pleasant welcome.

My beef cobb salad ($11.95):

... was a soulless combo of chopped hard boiled egg, bacon bits, tomato, lettuce, big cubes of deflavorized jack cheese, chunks of cow and avocado.

Chubby got a Ranch Burger ($9.95):

... which had a 1/3 pound Angus patty. The soft bun was quickly juice-logged by this average burger. The wedge-cut fries, cooked extra crispy, provided a solitary high note to lunch. They were crunchy on the outside, creamy on the inside and well-seasoned.

Judging by a quick scan of the clientele, it appears that this place is big with the seniors and prison guards. I guess we don’t fall into their target audience. Next time we’re going to stick to In N Out burgers…

Harris Ranch
24505 West Dorris Ave.
Coalinga, CA


From today’s bunrab email, Sam writes:


I got accosted and told to stop by Fred 62 management when I tried to take pictures in there. Glad you got away with it.


Gutenberg replies:

Dear Sam,

Maybe they were offended that you supplied your own Fred and they wanted to charge Fred-age? Bummer that you got your photos 86’ed at 62!







Sunday, October 15, 2006

Fred 62 used to be a regular weekend stop for us when we lived in Los Angeles.

A few things have changed since our last visit, gone are the pop-up toasters that adorned each table (hmmm did the firemarshall or their insurance agent make them toast?)

Their casual, fun vibe has remained in tact.

The people who work here are friendly and efficient.

I got a dime bag ($10.00):

I chose chicken sausage which didn't err on the side of appley sweet. My overeasy eggs were just as advertized, and the two little flapjacks and hashbrowns delivered the soft and crunch of their respective starch responsibilites. A solid breakfast.

Chubby got the Thai Cobb salad ($9.52):

... he liked the shredded spinach, green papaya, sieved egg, bacon bits, tomato and crunchy wonton stack, but he thought it was slightly overdressed with a creamy pool that was reminiscent of the mayonaise and ketchup dressing he used to make for his wedges of iceberg lettuce as a kid. The chicken breast was a bit dry, but this was pepped up after a stir in the pink moat surrounding this, for the most part, tasty salad.

Fred 62
1850 N. Vermont Ave.
Los Angeles, CA


There wasn't a dry eye in the house for C&W's wedding. Champagne, music and a feast followed a beautiful ceremony.

The cake was a flowergarden with berries hidden between the light layers of delicious white chocolate encased tiers.

A wonderful time was had by all as an accordian led the newlyweds singing into the night.






Saturday, October 14, 2006

We hit the road today and found ourselves at a converted bank in Holister called the Vault.

Chicken wings ($7.50):

... were what you would expect at a bar anchored eatery. These alcohol offseting protein and fat sticks had a crunchy exterior and slight pepper kick. Nothing that set off any alarms, but I AT-'M.

My turket melt ($7.50):

... had that same non-compounding quality. This turkey and avocado sandwich did not deliver the melt in it's name with the stiff slices of Jack cheese over slices of sourdough bread.

Chubby went with the prime rib sandwich ($11.95):

... which was on the specials board. This could be FDIC insured with its tasty slice of beef, melted Swiss cheese, sauteed mushrooms and soft torpedo roll au jus. It isn't worth an investment of travel, but if you were checking out the town, you might bounce over for this protein portfolio.

This sparsely decorated conversion:

...feels incomplete and the headsets worn by the wait staff make them look like loopy bouncers and they are summoned back to the kitchen as they stride towards a faked out table.

I don't think we'll be coming back again due to the interest rate.

The Vault Restaurant
452 San Benito St.
Holister, CA





Friday, October 13, 2006

How could anyone visit a place called Schnitzelhaus:

... mit out ordering the Wiener Schnitzel? ($12.75):

The thinly pounded pork cutlet was breaded and fried to a greaseless, golden, crispness that concealed the moist sheet o’ meat within. The red pickled cabbage had a strong vinegar punch that was the perfect contrast to this Frisbee sized carnivore crisp. The roasted potatoes were well seasoned but relinquished their crispy bit duties to the schnitzel. Boiled carrots were dull but boring, even for a bunrab.

Entrées come with a choice of soup or salad. We got one of each. The salad is a standard issue iceberg with slice of tomato. The soup:

... is a potato which was fine, but nothing spud-tacular.

Chubby got the Knackwurste ($11.75):

... which had a good snap, but relied on the pot of mustard to fulfill its flavor delivery requirements. The lentils were slightly overcooked but he still liked them. The accompanying spatzle were on the bland side but still good in their noodley support of the other elements of this dish. BTW, who named this tube steak anyway? It is runner up for wurst food name ever (first prize still goes to fal-awful.)

I like the funky décor of antlers:

... petrified pretzels and steins augmented by crepe paper:

... that looks like the German equivalent of the year long Christmas lights in Chinese restaurants.

The atmosphere is welcoming and it is a good place to go if you sprechen zie Deutch.


294 9th St.
San Francisco, CA


From today’s bunrab email, Dr. B from Meathenge writes:


Hey, Gots 2 things for ya. Meathenge is broked and a post of mine will be arriving over at I'm Mad and I Eat. Second thing, if you're in the mood for hunting The Biggles, he'll be working the Fatted Calf Stall this coming Saturday in Berkeley. Oh man, I can hardly wait!


Gutenberg replies:

Dear Dr. B.,

Sorry to hear about your site being busted, that’s a bummer. We've been having issues lately too, and our site could be crashing down around our fuzzy little ears any minute now.

Now there is a bonus to picking up a pack of pork crepinettes with caramelized onions, duck liver and pistachios on Saturday – you can get cooking tips from the man who orders custom charcoal! I’ll bet you are the only person who actually yearns for coal in their Xmas stocking.







Thursday, October 12, 2006

Bobby’s Fo’c’s’le Café:

No, it’s not a text message
from a rodeo cowboy or one of those Shakespeare-typing monkeys, the name of this restaurant is actually Bobby’s Fo’c’s’le Café. The F-word refers to the forward deck of a ship (due to it’s waterside location.)

This funky eatery at the San Rafael marina has dog friendly, patio seating. There are families, locals and boaters who frequent this casual breakfast and lunch diner.

My fish and chips ($9.95):

... came with tartar sauce which I bypassed in favor of the malt vinegar. The chunks of fish had a crunchy, golden brown armor shielding moist and tasty cod blocks. The chips were thinner than my personal preference for this dish, but they were still fine.

Customers are treated with a hometown friendliness that is scarce these days.

They serve up burgers, sandwiches and breakfast efficiently and with a smile. It may not be destination dining, but it’s a good place to relax and have some simple, no frills chow.

Leave the American Express at home it’s cash only, but you won’t need that much of it with only one menu item that’s over a tenner (the NY strip steak and eggs $10.55.)

Bobby’s Fo’c’s’le Café
102 Loch Lomand Dr.
San Rafael, CA


My friend Sally:

... can’t be found at these off the beaten path burger shacks. She’s more the champers type (but stays off the Crissy in solidarity with Jay-Z .) Personally, I think that any boycott that involves protest through sipping Champagne is the kind of civil disobedience that I can get behind.







Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Dinner with H & E at Coco500 tonight started out with their signature cocktail ($10.00):

...with Hangar One Lime Vodka and Thai basil. We perused the menu as we munched on one of their flatbreads ($9.00):

...with parmesan and fragrant truffle oil.

We performed our own bone marrow transplants ($8.00):

... from our plates to our stomachs. These delivered a skele-ton of flavor with a simple roasting and shower of sea salt and parsley. Baguette croutons delivered a contrasting crunch to this rich bone butter.

Brussels sprout leaves ($13.00):

... were served in a warm salad of pine nuts, ham and goat cheese. This rich and fresh pile of greenery made for tasty and virtuous eating.

Duck pot pie ($18.00):

... was a generous serving of puff pastry crowned, kabocha squash, root veg and succulent quacker. We all liked this just fine.

We also devoured some savory, red batons of beets ($6.00) which were dotted with blue cheese and walnuts, some of the battered and fried green beans ($6.00) which were a little greasier than usual, but still good, some perfectly cooked and exceedingly tasty marinated flank steak ($19.00) with mizuna lettuce, a special of trout over “forbidden” rice. Side note: what is up with the hypocrisy in openly offering to sell something that is “forbidden”? I think that the target audience for this grain is those who go against it  (the grain that is.) This foodstuff is a personality test. Either you are tame enough that it entices you by a feeling that you are breaking the rules or living on the edge, or you feel entitled to this “forbidden” rice due to the wrongs that society has trust upon you. If we named all that ecoli tainted spinach “forbidden” would people want to eat it? My guess is that they would…with a side of rice.

But I digress…

We had to get the vacherin:

... (one of the best desserts in SF) with a side of CocoCups:

These are Coco500’s version of peanut butter cups, except crunchy. They are a fantastic chocolaty complement to the always incredible ice cream and meringue dessert enrobed in chocolate sauce and scattered with candied, slivered almonds.

Check out Chubby’s earlier review of Coco500 (which the people at the restaurant must not have read since they still offer no toilet seat covers and what is up with the cheapo single ply TP that is always to be found confettied on the bathroom floors?) They get a D in paper products, but an A in food. I guess if they ply us with food it makes up for the lack of plies in the paper…


From today’s bunrab email, Cindy writes:


Love the postings, you know I'm a fan. Gotta ask about your FL meals - do you ever do lunch there, given that it's the same menu and price? Also, how do you "prepare" for a FL meal? Do you 1) starve all morning, so that you have a big appetite, or 2) eat enough so that you're not starving, and can savor every morsel? I'm living vicariously through you (have to, with 2 kids) so I gotta know the details. :)

Cindy H.

Gutenberg replies:

Dear Cindy,

I’d have to answer #2, we have just enough chow to keep hunger at bay, but not enough so that valuable real estate is taken by low rent structures before our big meal.

We’ve never had lunch at the FL, only dinner. Because this meal can take many hours, we start our meal on the earlier side so it’s not a million o’clock when we waddle out.







Tuesday, October 10, 2006

After yesterday’s sandwich trauma, I felt compelled to shake it off with a meat and cheese sandwich hold the powdered sugar and raspberry jam.

I went to Mambo’s Café:

... and asked if they served Cuban sandwiches ($8.25):

They said they did, but they haven’t got around to listing them on the menu.

A big toasty roll held a combination of pork, turkey and ham with melty Swiss cheese tomato slices and iceberg lettuce. Yellow mustard and mayo lined the toasted bread of this generous, meaty lunch. It was good, but not trip-worthy. I will have to order off the menu next time to check out their Cuban and Puerto Rican chow.

There are faux palm trees with flashing lights and a giant rooster sculpture in the middle of the dining room. I even spotted a restaurant critic at a nearby table so I guess we’ll be hearing more about this place soon.

Mambo Café
903 Lincoln Ave.
San Rafael, CA






Monday, October 9, 2006

Pier 15 restaurant has a dive bar in front with a sunny dining room in the middle and a deck overlooking the marina in back. It’s a funky hangout with zero curb appeal, but after you pass through the bar and the sunny dining room there is an outdoor area to look out onto the marina. The recent change of ownership made me curious enough to come by for lunch on the patio.

I have never had a Monte Cristo sandwich ($8.95):

...before. The menu described it as an egg dipped and grilled, ham, smoked turkey, cheddar and havarti sandwich (but this description did not mention that it was dusted with powdered sugar and served with raspberry jam.)

I got the attention of the waitress and asked if this was a mistake (I assumed this was a byproduct of a cook on acid) but she assured me that these sucrose coated smoked meat and double cheese triangles were presented this way on purpose.

It’s really my fault for being ignorant about this particular dish. I wouldn’t know a good Monte Cristo from a bad one because to me they would all probably fall into the latter category (since I have difficulty reconciling this combination of flavors) it’s like a croque monsieur violated some French toast. Not my thing.

I saw neighboring tables with passable looking breakfasts and burgers, but I think that what attracts people to Pier 15 is the outdoor, uber-casual, waterside seating. I’ll check out something less freaky tasting next time.

Pier 15
15 Harbor St.
San Rafael, CA

We’ve fallen a little behind on our bunrab email this week...

Jim writes:


I just cant tell you how much I enjoy your blog. It is a veritable treasure to read. If you hadnt reviewed Ad Hoc the same week I was there I would have never found you... Geez the Oakland airport is the worst..the food was deplorable and will they ever get it finished . I fly in and out of it to phoenix because SFO used to get so many flights cancelled due to fog. My question is... what do you use to take the tremendous pictures of food that appear in your reviews. I had thought it would be fun to get a camera and take pictures like that for my personal travel log but don't want to lug around too much. The lighting and picture quality is awesome..

thanks again..

look forward to hearing from you


Gutenberg replies:

Dear Jim,

We use the Canon PowerShot SD550. It’s the size of a bar of soap so there’s no lugging involved and you don’t look like food-parazzi if you have a little, unassuming camera. The SD550 has a bigger sensor and therefore exhibits less noise than most sub-mini shooters. A little Photoshop and you're there.

Let us know when you get your travel log online.



Anne writes about yesterday’s French Laundry visit:


Just curious, since I've never eaten at the French Laundry: I'm assuming that the menu you posted is constructed so each person in a party gets something different for each course. But how, and I don't mean this the way it sounds, can anyone eat that many courses? I'm sure the portions are small, but still?



Gutenberg replies:

Dear Anne,

Keep in mind that this meal spans hours and you burn 15 calories for each hour of sitting and talking (only 10 if you are silent.) We tend to have animated dinner discussions so I’ll say it’s more like a 20 calorie per hour situation. Over five hours, that’s ONE HUNDRED calories. Let’s also factor in slicing, scooping, chewing, drinking and making enthusiastic “mmm” sounds which whittles down our total calorie intake by another 30. So it’s really getting worked off during the course of the evening.

It is true what you pointed out about the small portions, but also keep in mind that the only dishes that we both received were the olive oil poached sturgeon, the whole roast foie gras, the veal and sweetbreads and the coffee and doughnuts. All of the other dishes were shared.
We also do Kobayashi style hot dog eating training before a meal at the French Laundry.



We last saw Davia Nelson (aka one of the Kitchen Sisters) at the Telluride Film Festival. She has an event coming up:

Come Join NPR's The Kitchen Sisters for a night of reading, radio & some fine hidden kitchen cooking CITY LIGHTS BOOKSTORE 261 Columbus Ave,SF Wednesday, October 11, 7:00 pm Celebrate the Paperback Release of Hidden Kitchens With The Kitchen Sisters & Friends ~ "Lou the Glue", Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Armistead Maupin, Randy Thom, Janete and her Brazilian cabyard cooking and Robert King & his "Freelines"






Sunday, October 8, 2006


After-festival French Laundry List

The Vancouver Film Festival was lots of fun, but we didn’t manage to have a nice leisurely meal during our whirlwind visit. We decided to make up for this over a five hour dinner at the French Laundry this evening.

To kick things off we started with some Billecart-Salmon Rosé to wash down:


Salmon tartare cornets with crème fraiche

Roasted eggplant soup over maple glazed apple

Cepes soup with brioche croutons and cilantro chiffonade

American Sterling caviar over whipped pistachio butter and brioche

Sabayon of pearl tapioca with Beau Soleil oysters and American Sterling caviar

Santa Barbara uni over a green apple granita

monkfish liver encased in a red radish gelee

2005 Franz Hirtzberger, Gruner Veltliner “rotes tor”

Coddled hen’s egg with black truffle brunoise and brioche soldiers

White truffle custard with chive chip

Sweet 100 tomatoes with Swiss chard ribs and nicoise olive sauce

Hearts of palm three ways (batons, hearts and chopped) with avocado, beets and beet jus

2004 Domaine William Fevre Chablis “Fourchaume” 1er cru, Burgundy

Tagliatelle with Burgundy truffle

Chestnut and mascarpone agnolotti with celery branch and Burgundy truffle

Brined, olive oil poached, Columbia river sturgeon with cabbage and capers

Diver’s scallop with applewood smoked bacon, corn, beans and peppers

Butter poached lobster with cipollini onions, sunchoke puree and a port, coffee and chocolate sauce

2003 Skewis Floodgate vineyard Pinot Noir

Whole roasted foie gras (yow!) with Siverado strawberries and Belgian endive:

Veal and sweetbreads with roasted chanterelles, red curry squash and a veal reduction with brown butter and sage

Mrs. Quicke’s cheddar and broccoli gratin with additional Mrs. Q’s shaved over the top

Bleu d’Auvergne with pain perdu and spicy peanut sauce with shaved grapes

Plum sorbet over pistachio nougatine with meringue and a balsamic reduction

Passion fruit sorbet on top of a passion fruit granite with passion fruit seeds

Hot donuts rolled in cinnamon sugar with a cappuccino semi-freddo

Mint chocolate delices – white and dark chocolate layers with praline, mint and ganache with ice cream between chocolate tiles

Dark chocolate ganache over caramel with hazelnut praline with gold leaf

Tahitian vanilla crème brulee

Layered chocolate pots du crème and cake


chocolate coated macadamias

white fudge with dried cherries

pistachio chocolates

assorted truffles


packages of shortbread for the road (in case we got hungry)

There’s a good reason that the French Laundry got those three Michelin stars. They deliver the goods and never rest on their laurels. The menu continues to evolve as they push themselves (as well as their purveyors) to produce the best product they can. Their shift from Russian caviar to American Sterling is an example of how they seek untainted goods that are made to a high standard (hold the borax.)







back to last week - October 1-7, 2006



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