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March 9-15, 2007
March 15, 2007
Mezzo Mezzo has moved into the space that has housed a series of Indian restaurants:
Perhaps it was the lack on Indian reservations that caused this land to be taken over, but we are happy to see this Sicilian spot bring some new chow to the San Rafael area.
We decided to split a few items and started with a Mezzo Mezzo carpaccio ($11.00):
...with paper thin slices of salmon, octopus and shrimp sprinkled with chopped pistachios. This delicate, greens-capped starter was a light and promising beginning to our lunch.
The “three hearts salad” ($10.00):
...had hearts of palm and artichoke hearts but I’m not sure that I would include the mushrooms in this trio of pulmonary classification. Even with the heart bypass, this was a good, olive dotted veggie starter, but not one I would necessarily reorder.
The panini ($8.00):
... was encased in crusty house made bread. This flavorful speck, mozzarella, eggplant and sun dried tomato combo hit the spot with its rich and tangy filling.
We came late in the day after lunch wound down so the owner and chef
were free to chat with us about their menu plans. We will return for
their wild boar sandwiches which they plan on adding to their menu
Ristorante Mezzo Mezzo
From today’s bunrab email, Tim writes about yesterday’s Bouchon dinner:
What was the sauce/condiment on and around the yellowfin tuna from Bouchon?
That was a gribiche sauce made with hard boiled eggs, gherkins and capers. It was a pleasantly piquant and salty compliment to the Charlie chop.
March 14, 2007
Incorrectly assuming that all restaurants are open on Wednesdays, we hopped over to Ad Hoc to find it closed for dinner (on both Tuesdays and Wednesdays you will find their doors locked.)
The solution to our dinner dilemma was just down the street at another Thomas Keller eatery (no, not the French Laundry.)
We slipped into Bouchon:
...without rezzies and nibbled on croutons with a thyme and white bean spread as well as warm, buttered epi:
as we decided on our order.
The beef tongue special ($15.00):
... made my tongue feel special. This tender, flavorful, raspberry maker served over pain perdu stuck out as a winner. Greens and radish lent some veggie lightness to this well balanced, twister of deliciousness.
Chubby got the yellowfin tuna ($29.00):
...which was perfectly cooked with a brilliant red center. This generous steak sat upon a spinach pedestal with some baby turnips dotting the perimeter.
My Arctic char ($29.00):
...had a seared, crispy skin
that yielded to a rare, pink, silky textured flesh. This succulent
square of seafood was supported by braised cavalo
nero and a pool of
tangerine beurre blanc. Simple glazed turnips kept this dish from being
an mis-matched, over-ornamented Christmas tree of tastes.
We split an order of profiteroles ($8.00):
... filled with vanilla ice cream and topped with chocolate sauce. The crisp shells, rich chocolate sauce and ice cream were just the thing to finish our meal.
But the mignardises:
...did not go to waste. These little bites of pate des fruits, cookies and a mini financier magically disappeared along with our Equator espresso.
Whether it’s for a light lunch, oysters and champagne or a full
dinner, Bouchon never fails to please. This bustling bistro style restaurant
has a casual feel and the people who work here are friendly and efficient.
Chef Jeffrey Cerciello keeps the menu favorites while throwing in a
few tongues to put in your cheeks. If it’s a little pricier than
you prefer, you can always grab an excellent sandwich or pastry next
door at Bouchon Bakery.
March 13, 2007
It seems kind of weird that there are two Taqueria
Bahias so close
to each other with wildly different vibes.
...in a sunny dining room, go to the one by the Canal District marina:
Chubby got a pollo asado super burrito ($6.50):
... which had good, balanced ingredient distribution in this food missle. The grilled chicken was flavorful and it made for a solid lunch.
My tacos ($2.45 each):
... were seriously delish. I got
a cabeza and a tripa which, coincidentally are the organs that were
most involved in my selection of these foodstuffs.
If you had to choose between the two Bahia branches, you might want to consider the Francisco location as the more family friendly of the two (as long as you’re okay with your kids looking at a mural of peppers that have secondary sexual characteristics.)
So far, my favorites are the lengua and cabeza tacos
also interested in trying out some of their breakfast
items next visit.
In today’s bunrab email we got some notes on yesterday’s Café Gratitude visit:
Loved your review of Cafe Gratitude. I've read about it before, and it just sounds annoying. Your final comment about white people with dreadlocks (which I find especially annoying) confirmed my decision never to go there!
There is something about white people with dreadlocks that runs contrary to nature, and speaking of runs and nature, we got a note about that very thing.
Liked Cafe Gratitude? I had a ball poring over their menu and selecting my order. I even had a ball ordering it, "I am Sensational" (Yes, yes I am). The sweetly buzzed staff was fun to interact with too.
It was a good time- until the next day. You should add a section to your review titled, "The Day After," to diplomatically discuss the ramifications of eating raw food. I'm not entirely convinced we were made (lacking the bovine quartet of stomachs) to digest the stuff. It all might have been tasty (in an interesting, scientific way) going in, but my gastrointestinal tract was enraged by my indiscretions.
I'll keep that in mind the next time I'm feeling seduced by the Gratitude Experience. : ) Take care, z.
I’m sorry to hear about your “I am uncomfortable” experience. Luckily, we did not have that issue with our visit (but will keep your cautionary tale in mind if we return.)
On the Thai food front, Jim writes:
First up, thanks for the site, the thoughts, the pics, the inspiration. I am in the process of moving to Mill Valley (Selling current house. Renting in Mill Valley. Coming up on weekends. Official move after my daughter's school is out in June) so I really appreciate the local restaurant insight.
My question is on Thep Lela. I love Thai food and I note you have repeatedly reviewed it, but I have the sense from your posts that it's just not very good. It's convenient. It's cheap. It takes care of your Thai fix. It just seems to consistently disappoint you. So why do you keep going there? And taking pictures? And posting it? Is it worth my effort or should I save my Thai fix for something better?
The thing about Thep is that I have had decent food there in the past so I’m not sure whether to chalk my trend (of less than stellar chow) up to poor ordering or not.
I have had better luck with R’noh in Larkspur and Royal Thai in San Rafael.
Welcome to the ‘nabe.
March 12, 2007
Café Gratitude moved into the restaurant space left empty when the Flying Pig flew away.
The smoky meats are gone and has been replaced with vegetarian food served up with new age ‘tude.
All the menu items are affirmations (which have the effect of bringing out my cynical, mocking inner monologue). They are called things like “I am joyful” or “I am bountiful”. When I go to a Starbucks I do not order their “tall” “grande” and “venti” I ask for a small, medium or large and am met with a quizzical stare accompanied by, “uh, so that’s a grande coffee?”
The idea that I have to order my coffee size in another language bugs me, but it bugs me even more that I have to say that “I am joyful”, “bountiful” or whatever the hell quality that I am certainly not when I am encouraged to act like a trained monkey that has to do a backflip to get my damned food.
I wouldn’t be so annoyed by this if there were menu items called “I am a loser” or “I am a mindless joiner” too, but I knew we were walking into a belief system restaurant so I decided to try to get with the program, not drink the kool aid and see what this cultatarian eatery had to offer.
The people who work here are very friendly which helped me to shed my lack of grati’tude. A bottle of water came alongside glasses with cloth napkins maltoved inside:
I like the use of fabric over paper even though these shed on your clothes worse than a Pomeranian in chemo.
I ordered an “I am giving” ($10.00):
... which was listed on the menu as an “Asian bowl” even though there was only a plate involved. This seaweed and carrot salad was pleasingly light but needed more depth from a citrus element or just a shot of salt (they don’t have salt and pepper on the tables… I am under-seasoned.)
I started to think about the movie Fight Club “I am Jack’s colon” “I am Jack’s inflamed sense of rejection” “I am Jack’s complete lack of surprise”…
Chubby got the “I am elated”:
... or as they say en Espanol, an “enchilada”($15.00 with additional guac that was part of the upselling during his order.)
When people use the expression, “the whole enchilada” they aren’t speaking of this diminutive, vegetarian number. This zuke-filled tube may not have been a lada chow, but it made up for it’s runtiness with an aggressively spiced, tangy flavor that contrasted with the bland, steamed quinoa served on the side. The guac was smoother than our preference and way too plentiful for the serving of ‘lada so we also ordered some flax crackers ($3.00):
... which were crisp and worked as the avocado vehicle needed to balance out our snack.
I may sound un-grateful for the food without
a face, but it actually was interesting. I will
probably come back to check out some of the other offerings. The
people are nice and they didn’t drug me
as part of an indoctrination ceremony into a cult. If you like to eat
meat free, affirmation-based food around white
people with dreadlocks,
this place is for you.
March 11, 2007
We decided to hop over to Picco Pizzeria for a late lunch al fresco but we found that they hadn’t set out the umbrellas:
... so we sat inside, out of the UV for our ‘zas. Their signage indicates that you can sit at the indoor tables all day Saturday and Sunday, but they told us that it wouldn’t be open until 5:30 so we sat in the hot, pizza oven heated, indoor counter and glugged down iced tea to cool ourselves while we waited for our pies.
My della Santa ($11.95):
...was topped with broccoli de ciccio, rings of crisp cipollini onion, garlic, mozzarella and roasted peppers that could have used a hit of vinegar to add an acidic contrast to this veggie wheel.
Chubby got the seven ($13.95):
... which had a generous field of mushrooms over the melted, house pulled mozzarella, garlic, pecorino. It could have used more oregano or some chopped parsley to give it an herby boost, but that’s just being picky.
Both of our discs were beautifully scorched and topped with fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Although these weren’t the best pizzas we’ve had here, they were very good.
March 10, 2007
Our late night dinner at Shalimar included paneer:
...chickpeas, spinach and rice. Six of us filled our bellies
with tasty chow and kicked in a mere tenner each including the tip.
From today’s bunrab email, Susan writes:
I don't eat beef but I love your blog nevertheless & check it almost daily! Thought of you immediately when I read the Wall Street Journal Pursuits section this morning on The Best Burger. Check it out.
Thanks for the tip. If the Wall Street Journal understands the quest for the best burger and is putting this before those in key positions in finance, perhaps this will lead to higher cow jones industrial averages.
March 9, 2007
Even though Tabla Café changed their name to “Table Café”:
... (due to the other Tabla which opened later, but had fancy lawyers) we found ourselves slipping into the amnesia of old habit when discussing the name of our lunch destination.
In open rebellion against this weekend’s upcoming daylight savings time, we had our mid-day meal at 4 o’clock.
Thin crisp papadum:
... were a tasty wafer thin snack to munch on while our lunch was being prepared.
We split two dosai ($10.00 each):
The lamb meatball dosa is our fallback when we want something burger-like. The lacy, crisp, pleasantly sour, Indian inspired crepe acted as a chamber for the lamb bullets that did not misfire in their high caliber flavor.
The roasted asparagus dosa special was lined with melty gruyere, shallots and lemon aioli. This was delish and I hope to see this on the list specials again sometime soon.
... were presented to compliment these food cigars. Chunky avocado, slightly sweet pear ginger and fresh apple and onion all offer different enhancement flavor options. Chubby likes the avocado best, but they are all tasty in my book.
Table is a bunrab fave not only because the chow is local, sustainable and fresh, but because it’s a welcoming neighborhood eatery that strives to make delicious and healthy chow. There was never any “blah” in “tabla”, and they didn’t need to change their name to prove it.
From the bunrab email bag, Barbara writes about Eyeball’s photo hutch:
I love this sleep series. There is, for me, a magic in sleep and in watching someone sleep. When my children were little, I used to creep into their rooms at night and take pictures of them sleeping.....the freneticness of the day, gone and the sweet, peaceful slumber bringing us to the nether world of dreams.
Thanks for your kind words and for visiting the gallery. We had a record day yesterday thanks to sleep enthusiasts such as yourself.
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