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October 25-31 , 2006
I needed to shake the chill off at lunchtime today and decided to check out the pho at Paradise Restaurant. A regular cyberhutch visitor, Anne, asked if I had ever eaten at this Vietnamese restaurant and I thought that this was the perfect opportunity to check out their goods.
This big, no frills eatery was practically abandoned which put me at Vietnam-unease, but it was probably due to the late lunch time that the crowd was Saigon.
I had to consult the waiter to see if it was possible to get pho with tendon and tripe since I didn’t see it listed on the menu. The menu had it listed as “special beef soup” (or something like that) which camouflaged it’s true identity.
My bowl of beef and noodles in broth ($5.25):
... came with Southern style accompaniments.
The crispy sprouts, thinly sliced jalapeño, Thai basil, and lemon added the necessary complexity to this warming rice noodle soup. I loved the feathery tripe and thinly sliced beef and tendon but I have never been able to embrace those dense meatballs. They taste like an Oscar Meyer hot dog dressed up for Halloween as ground beef. Thankfully, this meaty travesty took up very little real estate in my otherwise tasty lunch.
Some of the other menu selections sounded a little off putting to me. It’s a prejudice that I admit. I balk at “mock” meats. There are a lot of them too, mock chicken, mock beef, mock seafood, mock pork…lots of mocking…it makes me worry (but it’s not fair to condemn something that I will probably never try…but I will mock.)
I’ll have to come back to try their rice plates and claypots, or maybe I will check out their buffet lunch if I get there before 2:00 next time.
Chubby and I hopped over to the Buckeye for a quick burger but were faced with over an hour’s wait (for a table AND at the bar!) There are things that we will wait an hour for, but this wouldn’t qualify. We hightailed it over to their sibling restaurant in Mill Valley.
Bungalow 44 had a full dining room but the counter in front of the kitchen was practically empty. Ironically, the Buckeye chef, Robert Price was manning the kitchen:
... calling the culinary shots.
We started with a Caesar salad ($7.50):
... which was good with it’s pristine Romaine leaves and thin slices of parmesan, but the Zuni version remains my preference due to their liberal hand with croutons, cheese, and anchovy.
I got my Kobe burger ($13.95):
... with Swiss and subbed out my fries for broccolini:
... which was on the soggy side, but had a good garlic flavor.
The soft Panorama bun offered too much bread for this sized patty. Grilled onions added a nice sweetness to this well seasoned burger.
Chubby got his burger with shoestring potatoes:
... perfumed with truffle oil. He also commented on the aBUNdance, but it still managed to satisfy his burger craving with his Roma tomato and Iceberg lettuce capped sandwich.
Though not brilliant, it hit our burger spot, which is what we were looking for. I'm heartened by the fact that this visit was better than our previous ones.
Now that the holiday season is upon us, we are faced this this year’s round of culinary innovations. This is the rudest so far.
Breakfast this morning was a quick stop at Hilary’s Kitchen which still has the House of Bagels signage in front while the new one is leaning against the counter inside.
Chubby got a brisket knish ($4.00):
This round, dough covered, spud-filled belly bomb was reheated and delivered to the canvas and plastic covered table. The dough was a little limp around the potato suspended carrots and beef bits. The pot of mustard rescued it from a bland fate. Chubby was k-not into this k-dish.
I got an onion bagel with lox and cream cheesse ($6.50):
They boil and bake these carbo-O’s in house
after receiving the prepared dough from a central kitchen.
The service is friendly and efficient. Order at the counter, pay and leave your name. Your food finds you pretty promptly.
Neighboring tables were eating latkes that
looked like they had potential. Their lunch menu includes matzo ball
soup and sandwiches. I’ll
have to check them out after they’ve had a chance to hang up
their shingle to get a better idea of what they can do, but for now,
I’m not in any hurry.
Hilary’s Kitchen and House
October 28, 2006
Despite the waterside location (there’s a parking lot between the café and the docks, but it’s pretty close) we were among a handful of customers on this sunny morning.
I got some bacon and eggs ($6.95):
I chose the grilled tomatoes (not the heirloom kind, this is a diner) and wheat toast to go with my scrambled eggs. I should have specified that I like them cooked soft, but they were still fine. I did remember to request my bacon crispy and I was rewarded by brittle meat strips just how I like them.
Chubby got a short stack with bacon ($5.95) and two eggs ($2.50):
... cooked to a perfect overeasy.
Even though it’s not destination chow, the food has a high
comfort food fulfillment factor. It’s the sort of place you go to if
you’re in the ‘nabe,
Bobby’s Fo’c’s’le Café
The New Spot is just what the name describes (but I wonder if they will change their name in a few years.) This Mexican and Salvadorian micro-eatery is located in Dogpatch:
the “Spot” is
a reference to the canine patch in which they have set
... was a Salvadorian preparation of cooked, cold, finely chopped, beef with onions and mint (which is a wonderful way to cancel out bad breath as you create it.) It’s a sloppy-Jose in a tortilla alongside Spanish rice and black beans. This added up to be a hearty, tasty, nap inducing meal.
I also got an order of guacamole (75¢):
... which wasn’t a brilliant rendition, but was perfect as a green butter for holding the ingredients steady inside the tortilla bits.
The tortillas were store-bought, but the chips:
... were-home made,
crispy, extra-salty (in a good way) and wonderfully
fresh. I piled the meat, beans and guac
on them for a quasi-nacho snack.
The New Spot
From today’s bunrab email, Anne writes:
Thanks for trying to have the pastrami ribs at The Salt House. Ever since I read about them, I've been trying to imagine what a pastrami rib might be. Nothing really comes to mind...Hope the restaurant will finally have them, and you can give them your excellent photo treatment!
Thanks for the photo compliment. I accidentally left my camera behind at one of my regular stops, Mabel’s Just For You Café. The honest folks who work there held it for me so I am back in action and ready to snap some ribs. Thanks to all the folks at this swell down-home eatery.
Although I had heard that house smoked pastrami ribs were on the menu of the recently opened Salt House:
... there was no evidence of this on the menu. The closest that I could get to cage food was the short rib gravy ladled over the poutine ($7.00):
... aka “disco fries.” These
weren’t so much fries as waffle chips fresh out of the deep fryer
with a dribble of blue cheese sauce under the savory, meaty, cow sauce.
Crispy shrimp ($11.00):
... came with slices of Serrano ham, slivered almonds, and cilantro on a bed of yellow and green beans. All the ingredients were cooked to their most flattering levels of doneness, but the ratios made this surf and turf preparation more like a bean salad with a shrimp garnish.
The tomato tart ($11.00):
... required a slight wait since it was just being baked. The puff pastry had a soggy, juice logged bottom. A chiffonade of basil crowed the top of the sweet, olive oil drizzled nightshades.
Chili roasted oysters ($12.00):
... had the chili kick promised by the name, but this garlic sauce drowned out the flavor of the diminutive bivalves. Even so, the little stomach walkers were nicely cooked (just until heated through, but still tender.)
Panko crusted mackerel ($9.00):
... confirmed the kitchen’s ability to have a gentle hand when cooking fish. This moist, oily (good fish oily, not fried oily) filet was coated in bread crumbs and crisped in a pan before being plated with a shaved fennel salad dressed with a ginger, pepper vinaigrette.
Our selection of dishes represented over half of the appetizers offered tonight. We were going to order apps and mains ($19-$27), but none of the entrees leapt off the menu to either of us. The three desserts on offer (all $7.00) were gingerbread, butter pecan ice cream and chocolate bundt cake, but we decided to take a cake walk instead.
This converted printing facility has been remodeled with a fun sensibility:
The use of postcard racks on the light fixtures, hardware store pipes and bespoke glassware make for a customed out, yet cozy venue.
The service is friendly and efficient. They even walk you back and show you where the temporary restrooms are located so you don’t get lost.
It’s too early to tell, some dishes were good, others missed the mark, but to be fair, they just opened. We’ll probably give them a while to settle in before we give them another try. Maybe they’ll have those pastrami ribs on the menu by then.
The Bag and Taco revolution will not be televised
One thing that has always bothered
me is the
idea of double bagging. Shouldn’t a single bag be developed
with the tensile strength required for normal use? When the java
jacket was invented, I was relieved that the wasteful practice of
doubling up cups was a thing of the past, but the bag dilemma has
never been fully remedied. I feel the same way about double tortillas.
It feels wrong to double up, but wimpy to go with only one. The ratio
of tortilla to filling sounds as though it would be consistent throughout
this handheld food because the two ply area is thickest in the middle,
but as you eat your taco the filling gets pushed during each bite
resulting in a higher meat to tortilla ratio at the far end than
in any other part of this foldover food. You could take this into
consideration and eat both ends off first, but this would only result
in tragedy (a messy tragedy.)
To facilitate my research into this matter, I visited a taco dining establishment today:
If their pollo asado, carnitas and lengua tacos ($1.50 each):
.... were more flavorful, I might have been too distracted to reflect on taco issues other than their taste. The chicken had a little too much cooking time and was a little dry, the bland pork was revived by the tasty salsa and cilantro but the tongue didn’t get mine flapping about it’s flavorful buds…but compared to yesterday’s lunch it was good enough that I really shouldn’t complain.
From today’s bunrab email, Mr. Meathenge wrote twice:
You ate in a fucking hospital and posted about it. Ghod yer killin' me! I haven't chuckled so hard in weeks. Thank you for that, it was very kind of you. I've eaten far more of my share of hospital food. And I have to say that it looks as though you bested any of my meals by a country mile. In fact, just to give you an idea how bad it was. I asked to be put on Ensure and Jello. Jello wiggles.
Dangit, I can't get away from your hospital post. That lone weeny is delightful. I'll be back again later!
Dear Dr. B.,
I think Ensure and Jello would have been a
step up from my order….and
it was a brave person who pulled that lone dog from it’s greasy
water bath for their lunch….like Russian Roulette, but with
a meat bullet.
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