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Name: Gutenberg

Location: Somewhere near the Golden Gate Bridge.

Occupation: BRPR (Bunrab public relations.)

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December 1-8, 2009


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  Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Mimi’s Cafe is a Denny’s-esque, shopping center-centric chain with outlets across America:

It’s the sort of spot that spawns expectations that are difficult to live down to, so imagine my surprise when the egg on my Cobb salad:

... wasn’t the green-ringed, sulfur bomb that I braced for - it was actually cooked right.

The staff was extremely friendly as they dispensed cougar chow to of their primarily older, female clientele.

I’m not saying that I will ever return to this generic-eteria, with over-salted onion soup:

... but at least my lunch stop wasn’t a full fledged flail.

Mimi’s Cafe
2208 Bridgepointe Parkway
Foster City, CA



  Monday, December 7, 2009

The first decision when ordering a hot pot at Shabuway:

... is which broth to get. I went with the seaweed (over the spicy miso) to go with my beef shabu shabu ($9.99).

I cooked the thin slices of cow, cabbage, carrots, enoki mushrooms, spinach and tofu:

... in the simmering liquid before dipping them in the sesame and ponzu sauces and chomping the mixture down with rice.

Someone came to skim the scum from my pot as I cooked, making me wonder if my skimming abilities were being scrutinized or if this was a service provided for all of the hot pot scum.

It’s great fun to get a bunch of prepped ingredients and cook them without worrying about the dirty dishes at this warming station in the South Bay.

145 E 3rd St.
San Mateo, CA


A new coat of red paint heralds the upcoming Sea Thai Bistro (at the former site of Simmer Restaurant):

We look forward to checking out this Thai pad at 60 Corte Madera Avenue in Corte Madera.




  Sunday, December 6, 2009

Chef Melissa Perello had hoped to open Frances (named for her Grandmother) in October, but one must take San Francisco restaurant opening information with a grain of fleur de sel.

After stints at Charles Nob Hill and the Fifth Floor, Chef Perello has created a pond of her own at 17th Street where her focussed menu and wine program reveal the purveyor preoccupied personality behind the cuisine creation.

A little Heath ramekin of hot, herbed almonds:

... greeted us as we sat down at one of the walnut tables in the diminutive dining room.

The wine program includes house blends made with David Corey of Core Wine Company. The white is a Grenache Blanc and Roussanne blend that we couldn’t leave a-rhone due to its tropical fruit, citrus appeal and good acidity. The red is a Syrah, Grenache and Cabernet combo with a jammy, black fruit, drinkability. Both are a mere buck an ounce. This cleverly carafe-ted concept delivers wines in decanters with demarkations denoting drinking degrees:

After you have dispensed the desired dosage, the tally is taken and you are charged for what was discharged. These beverages aren’t for wine snobs, they are for pleasurable drinking paired with the house chow.

The red kuri frites ($6.50):

... were sweet, orange smiles of squash that squished the image of the french fry-like version that we had imagined. We launched these tender, nutty vegetable canoes in an aioli with pimeton and espelette pepper.

Even if you don’t like beets, you should check out this pickled version ($6.50):

... served with radish slices. This cold salad had a nice acid angle as a counterpoint to its earthy roots.

Lamb and pork meatballs ($6.50):

... rolled out with a salsa verde to add a tangy touchdown to these kale-kicked orbs which will keep us cumin back.

We said yes to the Gnocchi ($12.00):

... with chunks of duck confit, beet greens and Grana Padano. These soft, semolina cylinders went down swimmingly with the rich broth.

It could be argued that anything wrapped in Boccalone lardo is given an anabolic advantage, but without the proper cooking, this cod ($23.00):

... could have trapped in a gilded pig cage. This perfectly cooked fish had us hooked. Cippolini onions, Brussels sprouts and a squash puree sent his off the scale.

A hunk of beef ($23.00):

... was slow cooked to remind us of a pot roast done right. Fried shallots haloed this perfectly seasoned tower of butter boosted mashed potatoes and creamed winter greens.

Nobody knew where the name for our dessert came from, but the “Lumberjack Cake” ($6.50):

... made us feel like putting on women’s clothing and hanging around in bars. We clear cut this plot of warm Warren pear, medjool date and brown sugar cake which was far from run of the mill. A scoop of Humphrey Slocombe walnut ice cream added the perfect timbre to this grovey sweet.

The service was friendly, efficient, knowledgeable and non-judgmental as we followed up dessert with an appetizer.

Bacon beignets ($6.50):

... had been parading past our table and we had to smoke some out for ourselves. These hot, fried, pork-studded puffs satisfied both our cure-iosity and our palates.

It was a cold night, so the lack of a curtain to contain the door drafts made us keep our jackets at hand, but we appreciated the streamlined design of this corner business.

Chef Perello and her crew:

... have put together a restaurant with a welcoming vibe and excellent chow. This is the sort of restaurant that we love and we’ll be coming back to have more appetizers after dessert soon.

Frances Restaurant

3870 17th St. (at Pond)
San Francisco, CA



  Saturday, December 5, 2009


Mimosas and passed hors d'oeuvres from the pages of Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc at Home cookbook greeted us this morning at the tour de force source.

Guests imbibed as Thomas inscribed during this celebration of his tome for the home which he created with Chef de Cuisine, Dave Cruz.

Chef Keller’s books can seem daunting to toque-free takers, but this volume weighs in with doability appeal to its family-style recipes including the chef’s famous KFC (Keller Fried Chicken).

Postulating from today’s palatable, procession of party provisions, I predict plenty of peachy Ad Hoc meals at home.


Ad Hoc at Home



  Friday, December 4, 2009

A Bunrab reader wrote to tell us about Himawari in San Mateo:

... which she described as “almost as good as Santa Ramen, but without the queues” so I went to check out her noodle theory.

My deluxe ramen with shiso broth ($11.00):

... came with a perfectly boiled egg which was still a little runny in the center:

Tender, salty, stewed pork was strung together with toothsome noodles in this satisfying soup was just the slurpy sustenance to get me though this chilly weather.

Thanks to Doris for helping to sleigh some time off my schedule by skipping the line for Santa.

202 2nd Ave.
San Mateo, CA



From our Bunrab email, Mike writes about our Hawaiian lunch:


What does eel taste like? Is it like fish or chicken or snake or what? That bowl of eel and rice at Mauna Loa Hawaiian BBQ sure looks tasty.


Gutenberg replies:

Dear Mike,

Eel tastes like a catfish that has been on a lifelong diet of greasy French fries before being run over by a moped - sort of a densely, oily, tender, fish.

Hope that helps,




  Thursday, December 3, 2009

The satisfaction of possessing large quantities of food stems from a primal fear of famine. Max’s capitalizes on this survival instinct by manufacturing massive meals - their version of an extended warranty to hunger.

Max’s is to Jewish delis is what Chevy’s is to taquerias. They punctuate the menu and the decor:

...with cute Jewish sayings and serve bacon (not that there’s anything wrong with bacon...)

A cup of matzoh ball soup ($6.99):

This chicken broth with noodles and a fluffy cracker ball was a good way to get rolling but the corned beef, pastrami, and liver sandwich ($11.99):

... suffered from poor ingredient distribution. I spread out the fillings to insure that each bite of rye bread met with all of the onion studded meats. I chose a Caesar salad as my side:

... which had a Caesary dressing, but found itself Roman away from authenticity.

On the rare occasion that I drop by a Max’s, I regret ordering entrees other than the liver loaded lunch meat laden ‘wich. As a filling station, Max’s excels while the majority of the menu isn’t my thing.

Max’s Restaurant
1250 Old Bayshore Hwy.
Burlingame, CA



  Wednesday, December 2, 2009

There are restaurants that are crowded because they serve excellent food and restaurants that are crowded because they are cheap. Sushi Sams is cheap. This is not to say that their food has no other merits, but their bento box ($7.50):

... was about dollar to calorie conversion rather than precision maki making.

Chicken teriyaki and tempura were all fine, tasty and more than fulfilled expectations given by the price tag in this Japanese populated, eat it and beat it business.

Sushi Sams
218 E. 3rd Ave.
San Mateo, CA




  Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Breakfast made by Michael Symon:

... may not have included the dramatic music stings and spotlights of Iron Chef, but bacon was the only special effect necessary as Michael made his father’s recipe for potato pancakes with eggs.

The chef discussed his preference for frying with animal fats and mixed oils (over extra virgin olive oil) as he grated onions and spuds before giving them a good wringing out. He spread these starchy shreds on a hot pan to generate a generous collection of crave-worthy, crispy bits.

Chef Symon is promoting his new book, Live to Cook:

... in the best possible way - cooking. His approachable style carries though in his pages, plates and personality (although he had me at bacon.

He said that if there was one dish that the book was all about, it was the dates with pancetta, chili, almonds and parsley (which was truly delicious.):

Working with Chef Symon to create the book; Michael Ruhlman pointed out that Symon “put 4 exclaimation points after everything he wrote”.

Ruhlman put the chef’s stories and excitement on the page in a readable, workable, form.

I can’t wait to further explore these stories and recipes to see what else Symon says.

Live to Cook
Michael Symon




Mark your Calendar

In other breakfasting news:

For all of you who have been meaning to check out the house made doughnuts at Pizzaiolo, there will be a benefit brunch which will include these fried rings, fritattas, fruit and house made jams on January 31st.

Jed Cote of Chez Panisse and Pizzaiolo will prepare this family style meal accompanied by live jazz and McGlaughin coffees and teas.

Proceeds will go to Sprouts Cooking Club to provide culinary scholarships to Easy Bay kids to cook with chefs in their restaurants. This will either completely freak these students out or create some excellent chefy talent that will benefit us all.

Sprouts Cooking Club Benefit Brunch

Sunday January 31st
10a.m. to 2 p.m.
UC Berkeley students $17
Adults $25
Children $15
5008 Telegraph Ave.
Oakland, CA










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