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Name: Gutenberg

Location: Somewhere near the Golden Gate Bridge.

Occupation: BRPR (Bunrab public relations.)

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May 17-22, 2008


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  Thursday, May 22, 2008

As is the case with all big remodeling projects, Magnolia hit a few snags that postponed their reopening. They reinitiated dinner service this evening even though the room is still a work in progress.

They hope to finish the renovations in a couple of months with plans to add a bigger door and large windows that open to the street for weekend brunchers.

The large communal table:

... is a nice addition and we also liked the oversized sink outside the bathrooms:

I started off with my favorite beer – the house brewed Prescription Ale. Chubby couldn't resist ordering their brew called Wit Rabbit, which is a lemonade colored, floral, nicely hopped beer.

It was a refreshing summery beverage, but didn't sway either of us from our love of the Rx.

The duck hot wings ($6.00):

... sounded like a fun starter but they were coated in a sticky, cloyingly sweet syrup that soured us to these Liberty flappers that nested over a blue cheese fondue and celery sticks. When the server asked what we thought, I let him know that they were way too sweet and that he should alert the kitchen.

I thought that my criticism of the appetizer was coming home to roost when we found ourselves waiting for our mains as neighboring tables that arrived after us were moving on to their desserts. The server came by and apologized for a mix up in the kitchen and said we were the next order up, but we kept watching other plates continue to gastro-pub-bypass our table.

When I ordered, I asked what fish was the "local catch" that came with the chips ($15.00) I was told it was a mixture of prawns, sand dabs and squid, but what arrived included none of the above. My three fish filets:

... were battered and deep-fried, yet had no crispy bits, they were sort of like corn dogs with fish centers. They came with a nice sea bean tartar sauce and some fries that I neglected to request extra crispy.

Chubby got the pork ribs ($18.00):

... which were brined in beer. Although good, they did not worship at the altar of tenderness, but they did have some nice charred bits. Perfectly cooked Rancho Gordo beans were blanketed with filmstrips of squash in this spotlight stealing side dish.

We were running late so we declined the offer of a dessert to make up for our mid-meal debacle. The last meal that we had here before the closing was very good so we chalk this evening up to first-pancake-syndrome.

Magnolia Gastropub
1398 Haight St.
San Francisco, CA



  Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Mission Pie sounds more like a military operation than a café. We infiltrated this fortress of fruit to obtain our designated dough delicacies. Our intelligence revealed that weapons grade pluot-onium had been stored in this baking bunker, but our reconnaissance efforts yielded only evidence of pear ginger and strawberry rhubarb ($3.50 per sector.)

The partridge tree version was good:

... but suffered from a very thick, unpleasantly hard, fluted crust perimeter. The pie fruit and strawberry model:

... was more in line with this facility's standard operating procedure of producing tender and flakey pastry. The 'barb tripped the wire of tartness with a minefield of sweet berries completing this convoy of caloric collateral combat.

Mission High School student recruits are given basic training by this non-profit squad who grow pie-friendly produce at Pie Ranch.

This was not our first tour of this mess hall and it won't be our last since these desserts take us by storm.

Mission Pie
2901 Mission St.
San Francisco, CA



  Tuesday, May 20, 2008

We tranquilized our taco attack at the window of El Cachanilla:

They charge $1.50 for each of their tacos:

... without the gouge that some other places have on offal tacos. Sadly, they didn't have the eyeball taco that I ordered, but they did have brains:

... which took my mind out of its previous orbit. This sesos taco was mindfully prepared. You don't have to be a zombie to appreciate this tender, delicate, flavorful, synapsey snack. I also got a meaty cabeza and a spicy and tender pork stomach taco:

All of these were reorderable. Chubby went with the nicely spiced al pastor, a bland and dry pollo (that he souped up with some salsa to revive the small chunks of chicken) and some good carnitas:

We sat at one of the two small tables and enjoyed our quick, satisfying and inexpensive lunch. This would be a good place to go if you are unacquainted with offal since you can try some interesting and delicious items without having to commit to a big entrée or lots of cash. The only problem is that they do such a good job here that you may be disappointed by what you get in an upscale restaurant.

El Cachanilla
2848 21st.
San Francisco, CA



  Monday, May 19, 2008

900 Grayson's "TV dinner" lunch special consists of a starch, veg and protein. We hoped that it would arrive in a sectioned, rectangular, metal tray, but it was broadcast on a less institutional platform. The duck breast ($15.00):

... was cooked to a pleasant pink before being NBC-peacocked out over mashed potatoes with peppers, peas and caramelized cauliflower. It was good daytime munching, but not something I set my Tivo to replay.

The "demon lover" ($11.00):

... is Grayson's take on Roscoe's specialty. This dish was well prepared with good ingredients but the cumulative effect of the circle of wafflized starch with fried, battered chicken reinforced by a thick dose of lactose sauce had a tongue spackling effect that I needed a beer to reset.

Even though we may not revisit these particular dishes, we like this homey eatery and have enjoyed a nice lamb burger here a while back. Perhaps we should have followed the lead of most of the other diners and gone with what San Francisco Magazine has named the best burger in the Bay Area. We'll have to tune in next time for the answer to this question and more.

900 Grayson
900 Grayson
Berkeley, CA



  Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Star Chefs & Vintners Gala filled Fort Mason's Festival Hall with hundreds who came out to pump up the tires for Meals on Wheels, which supports San Francisco's homebound seniors. Each ticket for this benefit provides over 80 meals to seniors and, thought the generosity of the chefs and vintners, one meal for each ticket holder.

After 21 years of mobilizing an army of culinary talent, the operation is now a well olive oiled machine.

The far end of the Festival Hall is transformed into a kitchen:

... where Chef Roland Passot of La Folie used his namesake roe:

... produced by Tsar Nicoulai Caviar to egg-sentuate his sea urchin panna cotta, Kona kampachi parfait and lobster with fennel radish salad.

Chefs from Martini House stirred up:

... a cold asparagus soup with pickled Gulf shrimp:

But before anyone sat down in the beautifully transformed dining room:

... 'tites were whetted with 'tizers.

Chris Cosentino came close to pulling my head into his slicer:

... when I pestered him the question he gets asked every millisecond, "when is Ferry Building Boccalone going to open?" His business partner Mark, who is in charge of keeping Chris from killing people, was not there to defend me. Luckily, there was a delicious way to keep my big mouth shut with the selection of mortadella, capocollo, soppressata di Calabria salame and orange and wild fennel salame in what I now call "the cone of silence."

I couldn't help but notice that this treat was also being appreciated:

... by a major member of the meat cognoscenti.

We couldn't say Nopa to these flour and pimenton dredged, deep fried asparagus spears:

Bruce Hill gilded Yerena Farms' amazing Eclair strawberries with 25 year old Balsamic. As we plucked delicious treats from his garden display:

... he told us about his new Marin Mondays at Picco when they will feature ultra-locally sourced food and wine. So ditch the Hummer and make low carbon footprints to Larkspur.

Terzo chefs, Mark Gordon and Lori Podraza topped crisp flatbreads with a fava bean puree, marinated feta and mint:

... which were a fava-rite with the crowd.

St. George Spirits parted with several Red Seas. This cocktail of Hangar One raspberry vodka, lemon juice, and a cardamom, clove and cinnamon spiced syrup was topped off with some freshly ground pepper:

We didn't see H1's Lance mixing it up, but we he's always there, literally, in "spirit."

We did run into all the bit-erati:

... that you would expect at this hub of big wheels rolling out to show their support.

21st annual Star Chefs & Vintners Gala

Benefiting Meals on Wheels San Francisco
Festival Hall
Fort Mason
San Francisco, CA



  Saturday, May 17, 2008

Ghirardelli Square's wine festival, UnCorked!:

... spilled out onto Beach Street this afternoon.

Copia was a partner in putting on this event, which included wine seminars:

... and music:

We were happy to find Stags' Leap blackberry bombarded 2005 Petiie Syrah and their 2003 Cherry driven Cab as well as Etude's 2006 Pinot Noir:

It turns out that Clif Bar is making a wine now:

I'm not too sure which varietals they selected – perhaps their oatmeal raisin blended with some Lemon Luna bars to appeal to the ladies. Due to the lack of aggressive tannins, I suspect they didn't let the juice sit on the wrappers for any lengthy period of time. I don't understand how they expect these 750 ml containers to fit into my bicycle bottle holder, and you could chip a tooth downing these running tomorrow's Bay to Breakers.

The weather brought out the crowds who wanted an experience to transport them:

... whether or not they imbibed.

UnCorked! Ghirardelli Square Wine Festival in partnership with Copia
Ghirardelli Square
Beach at Larkin
San Francisco, CA




back to last week - May 8-16, 2008



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