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Name: Gutenberg

Location: Somewhere near the Golden Gate Bridge.

Occupation: BRPR (Bunrab public relations.)

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September 24-30, 2009


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  Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Armadillo Willy’s is a chain of mammal monikered, Texas-style BBQ businesses that ‘que over wood and page you:

... when your protein is prepared.

Even though the place was packed:

... I was left to my own device for only about 10 minutes until I was summoned with this buzzing, vibrating, light show. I claimed my rib and chicken combo ($15.95):

... with porky portions that were tender but needed encouragement to disengage from their bones. A jalapeno sauce uncaged a helpful heat to these swine sticks.

The chicken was moist but could have sat in the smoking section a little longer to pick up a but more twang to converse with the Texas toast and peppery chili beans. Peanuts populated a slaw-abiding cole-ection of cabbage.

My meaty meal was perfectly fortifying, but my quest for an a to my q’sine craving continues.

Armadillo Willy’s

2260 Bridgeport Parkway
San Mateo, CA


Mark your Calendar

Scott Howard will fire up Mary’s air-chilled chickens as part of a bevy of brunchy bounty that he and his staff will prepare for a tasting at the Hotel Shattuck.

Eileen Crane of Domaine Carneros will be adding some sparkle to the morning with her Brut and Rosé while Allison Evanow will take you to Square One with cocktails made from Frog Hollow Farms produce and her fantastic organic vodkas.

Thentic Fall Brunch Social

tickets $45 each or two for $75
Use the discount code "HotelShattuck"

Saturday, October 3rd, 11 a.m.
Hotel Shattuck Plaza
2086 Allston Way
Berkeley, CA



  Tuesday, September 29, 2009

We popped over to a wine tasting at Pampas:

... where we sipped on NV Champagne Philipponnat, Royale Réserve Brut:

... along with the bubbly crowd swirling around the restaurant.

A buffet:

... including meats, cheeses and flaky empanadas anchored this sampling soiree where we were tickled by the 2005 Feather Cabernet Sauvignon produced in the Columbia Valley by vintner, Randy Dunn:

This beautiful blackberried beverage bloomed with plummy properties that made this bottle take flight.

All 3 floors of the restaurant:

.. were terraces of terroir where both old and new world wines dominated the discussions of the discerning drinkers.

Although we didn’t have a chance to seek out the 3 Master Sommeliers on hand this evening, we had a great time at this grapey gathering.

Pampas Restaurant

529 Alma St.
Palo Alto, CA



  Monday, September 28, 2009

The gondolier must have had a malfunctioning GPS:

... that led his Venetian craft to Oakland’s Lake Merritt. We watched him glide across the water from the dining room of the recently opened Lake Chalet.

This cousin of San Francisco’s Beach Chalet and Park Chalet underwent a complete renovation to transform this municipal boat house into a dining venue that seats over 300 with multiple full bars.

Large scale dining often means that food it targeted to the denominator that doles out the denominations (deterring demonstrations that deviate from dull) so we were pleasantly surprised by the presence of pristine heirloom tomatoes with buratta that we savored with pea soup with chunks of ham hock and crispy fried Brussels spout leaves:

The tuna tartare ($11.00):

... had a citrus scent from Meyer lemon oil and supremed oranges. Crispy fried dough ribbons tied together this circle of cilantro sprouts washed down with Mumm Brut Rosé.

Duck ravioli ($14.75):

... was gilded with a foie gras emulsion. These plump packets of Liberty Farm quacker were punctuated with wild mushrooms in this luxuriously meaty melange.

We loved the Alaskan Halibut ($24.00):

This dish is not for those who believe the purpose of cooking is to kill germs (and that one must be absolutely certain that no living cell survives by cooking any given protein until a cardboard-like texture is achieved.) This dish is for those who love a flavorful, moist piece of fish combined with complementary components. A generous portion of olive oil poached halibut rested on a bed of creamed spinach and still-beating artichoke hearts with a red wine butter making it for a nice match with a 2005 Murphy Goode Cabernet Sauvignon.

A New York steak ($24.95):

... surrounded by a circle of green peppercorn jus, root vegetables and spaetzle had a delectable, thin layer of fat which flexed some tasty muscle with an umami boost from wild mushrooms.

The raspberry sorbet ($4.00):

... was a refreshing fruity interlude before we hit the chocolate cake ($8.00):

... with peanut butter toffee and whipped cream. Bites of this dense flourless cacao creation were the perfect counterpoint for a 20 year old Dow Porto.

We were impressed by Chef Jarad Gallagher’s:

... ability to balance high volume with high quality at this scenic seafood stop that floats our gondola.


Lake Chalet Seafood Bar & Grill
1520 Lakeside Dr.
Oakland, CA



  Sunday, September 27, 2009

Bacon wrapped dates ($9.50):

... had added crunch to their sweet/salty swineyness from toasted almonds over a grid of balsamic reduction on the tapas calientes menu at Sabor of Spain.

Padrone peppers ($6.00):

... were plucked from Cultivating Impact’s organic Sonoma garden before their blistering in olive oil. These delicious, sea salt showered bullets were a roulette of mild and Scoville registering bites, which we happily shot through along with a glass of Codorniu Cava.

Contrasting with the rustically prepared padrones were the Piquillo peppers ($12.00):

... loaded with a seafood mousse in a rich lobster sauce.

Crab cakes ($12.00):

... on an arugula arrangement with carrots, heirloom tomatoes, artichoke hearts and beets were a nice salad-ifying crustacean convergence.

We sipped on a still Cava with marinated calamari ($12.00):

... which had a tangle of seaweed salad and tomato to fin-esse these seafood skewers.

The ownership and chef have changed since our last visit and we were happy to see an emphasis on local, organic produce and a wine list that sparked interesting conversation with the friendly and efficient staff.

Sabor of Spain

1301 4th St,
San Rafael, CA




  Saturday, September 26, 2009

Russ rustled together a day trip to a couple St. Helena wineries this morning.

Our first stop was Smith-Madrone Vineyards where the Smith Brothers toured:

... and poured:

... us through their estate grown grapes.

This 1979 Cabernet Sauvignon was plucked from a peaceful cellar with a well aged bottle:

... as well as its plummy contents.

Lobster friendly 2007 and 2008 Chardonnays had crisp complexity while the 2008 Riesling’s pleasant acidity and lemony zest kept us cool and happy as the afternoon heat set in.

We rolled down the hill to Spottswoode where Beth Novak Milliken discussed the history of not only the winery, but their gorgeous estate as we refreshed ourselves with their fabulously floral 2008 Sauvignon Blanc.

Chef Misty Phelps prepared a lunch of pomegranate braised pork shoulder, heirloom tomatoes with mozzarella and a marble potato salad:

... complemented by a delicious 2006 Lyndenhurst Cabernet Sauvignon.

We were thankful that we didn’t dine at the shaker table but the theatrical effect of dry ice vapors flowing:

... over the Grenache added panache to our post lunch stroll followed by a tasting of Cabernets and an opportunity to talk with winemaker Jennifer Williams:

... and assistant winemaker Aron Weinkauf:

It was a treat to visit these small production wineries:

... but if you want to check out their grapey goods, appointments are required.


Smith-Madrone Vineyards & Winery

4022 Spring Mountain Road
St. Helena, CA

1902 Madrona Ave.
St. Helena, CA




  Friday, September 25, 2009

Nini’s Coffee Shop is a cozy corner canteen:

... where I grabbed lunch with W. My BLT with avocado ($7.45):

... was solid standard issue diner grub on wheat bread with iceberg lettuce and slices of beefsteak tomato.

This diner is a friendly break:

... from chain chow with a cool, cluttered climate to chew on with a side of lunch.

Nini’s Coffee Shop

1000 N. Idaho St.
San Mateo, CA



  Thursday, September 24, 2009

Altered Steaks

There are vestiges of Kuleto’s Restaurant where Medallion has laid down its Steakhouse:

We grazed at the bar on snacks including a Margherita pizza ($12.00):

... from the wood burning oven. Fior di latte, basil and tomato sauce topped a thin crust that needed more chew and thickness around the edges, but we appreciated the blistery bits.

The onions weren’t so much caramelized as sweated on the Mishima Ranch kobe sliders ($14.00 for two):

One of the patties was cooked to a delectable rare while the other was cooked through to a less enticing medium well on this plate lined with shredded lettuce, slices of tomato and a pile of fries.

We didn’t realize that fries came with the sliders so we got an auxiliary order of Kenebecs fried in duck fat ($4.00). They were okay, but if we were to order them again we would request them crispy.

To be fair, they are just getting started and tomorrow will mark two weeks of business for this green pasture. We’ll hoof over after they’ve had a chance to get their footing to see if they are steering towards the 101 or are outstanding in their field.

Medallion Steakhouse
1095 Rollins Road
Burlingame, CA









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