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June 1-9, 2006
Pizzetta 211 is a teeny, casual, pizzeria uses top quality ingredients to produce crisp crusted, flavorful, discs. My breakfast influenced lunch ($13.75):
... was baked with a Rosie’s farm egg, mushrooms and a dice of pancetta. Some peashoots were strewn over the top for a light contrast to the bacon and egg. Maldon salt supplemented the sodium from the pancetta in this tasty pie.
The service is a hybrid of table/self serve. You can find yourself with a wait for one of the few tables or counter stools. There are also a few tables outside (which can get chilly even on a SF summer day.)
There are around a half dozen choices of pizza, artisanal cheeses , salad, and some simple desserts. Wine and beer are served in the house tumbler (which also doubles as a cappuccino cup.)
I wouldn’t recommend going with a crowd or a bunch of kids, but it’s a cozy stop for some ‘za if you’re in the ‘nabe.
Here’s the 411 on 211 from some other
local food bloggers:
Ever since they opened, the Zuni Café has been a reliable place to grab a bite. Whether it’s a platter of raw oysters, a margarita or a full dinner, there’s always good food to be had.
Raw purple asparagus ($9.50):
... was mandolined into 2 dimensional sheets and shared the stage with thin slices of Parmesan, pinenuts and lemon. The menu stated that arugula was involved, but it must have rocketed off cause there wasn’t any on the plate. It actually didn’t need it, it was fine with the pepperiness from the mill. This is Zuni at it’s best and purest. Good shopping and no mucking things up with trying to get all fancy.
I’m normally a huge fan of the Ceasar salad ($9.00):
... but tonight’s didn’t have the long, crisp hearts of Romaine. They were the inner leaves, which were fine, but they lacked that satisfying crisp push against the normally well balanced dressing. The egg yolk based, anchovy enhanced moistening agent was applied too sparingly so as not to fully meld the shower of grated Parmesan and crunchy croutons into their normal, messy and Empirical deliciousness.
I loved the Marin Sun Farm beef carpaccio ($22.00):
... this was phenomenally good. Paper thin, raw, tender, cow was bejewled with crunchy nuggets of purple cauliflower, thin coins of sliced radish, and chopped, hard boiled egg. The velvety meat was salted with capers and anchovy and lightened with tumbleweeds of frisee.
Gorgonzola Cheese lounged by a pool of honey:
Crème brulee was good, my taste runs towards the shallower dishes rather than the ramekins so that you get a burnt sugar bit with each taste.
Rhubarb tart had a higher crust to ‘barb ratio than I would prefer, but the ice cream helped to offset this dough domination.
Zuni is always a solid bet. Check out Chubby’s thoughts on the matter.
Is there a wrong way to eat? I don’t think so. If someone enjoys their chow, they should carry on right?
I went to a Vietnamese restaurant in a mall that was populated by those mostly of the Caucasian persuasion. The only SE Asians present were working in this Sesame Street one-of-these-things-is-not-like-the-others business bahn mi’ed between a California Pizza Kitchen and a McDonalds. So it comes as no surprise that many diners may not be familiar with the standard operating procedure when it comes to the chow.
A white guy orders some pho (noodle soup.) The waiter brings him his drink along with a small plate piled with herbs, sprouts, lime and topped with an upside down soup spoon.
The diner pulls it to his placemat, takes the spoon off and begins to eat his soup condiments like they're a salad. He winces at his first dry bite of basil, spies the lime and squeezes it over the lot and tucks in happily. I almost leap up to tell him what the deal is but he is savoring his “salad” so I figure that it’s none of my business to tell someone how to eat their lunch.
He pushes the empty plate away and waits for his pho.
A waiter replaces his empty plate with a fresh one in anticipation of the soup delivery. The diner sits up, pulls the bottomless salad plate towards him, gives a squeeze of lime and devours it with a smile. I have officially grown to admire his attitude.
I was not as adventurous or resourceful with my order of Bahn Xeo ($8.50):
They call it “Vietnamese Crepe” on the menu cause we ain't exactly in the ‘loin.
The eggy, rice flour crepe had a good texture with a crispy browned exterior and a tender flip side with a collage of tender white meat chicken strips, green mung bean and coconut bits alongside perfectly cooked shrimp. Basil, lettuce and a vinegar based pepper sauce completed the line up. Although fine, it didn’t have the depth of flavor of Bodega Bistro’s version. In Marin, the king of Bahn Xeo is Saigon Village’s version.
La Maison de la Reine
From awful to falafel:
Local news reports attribute low Bay Area voter
turn out to “voter
fatigue.” Fatigue? Like you’ve spent all day at work voting
in the fields and you’ve pulled your democratic tendon? Oh, that
couldn’t be, because eligible voters tend not to work in the
I voted to pass over the incumbent eateries and went to the spot that used to be a combined Dairy Queen and Orange Julius (which always made me think of OJ Simpson and the melty ice cream incident – yikes.)
Who couldn’t foresee that a monarchy and emperor based business plan wouldn’t end in tragedy? Does the Emperor outrank the Queen on the board of directors? Do their serf and slaves create an uprising based on inequities of taxation, terms of indenture and free soft serve?
The conversion of this royal structure into a hut is definitely step up. The Falafel Hut has only been open for a little over a week, but they have been catching on well enough that they ran out of lamb and beef so I ordered the Chicken Shawerma ($6.75):
... which was a lavash wrapped chicken burrito with onions in a garlic yogurt sauce. The meat was tender but the sauce needed some supplementary flavor which I stole from Chubby’s order of the Special Combo Plate ($6.95):
It was laden with a flavorful
baba ghannoush, an herbaceous tabouleh, a slice of feta, a refreshing
cucumber salad, a couple of tasty falafel, a heated dolma, tahini sauce
and an onion salad. This was presented with a halved pita. Everything
was very decent and well priced.
Berkeley is a punitive city in which to do business. I must have heard a million stories about the hoop-jumping involved in (what starts off as) a standard event.
Their Maharajah Mac ($11.00):
... was 900’s lamby take on a burger. It’s weird that hamburgers don’t contain ham, yet we say “lamb burger” like it’s a sheepy sub for pig leg. Anyway, this pork and beef free, Acme roll encased sandwich, which was topped with a tagle of seasoned onion rings, got a flavorful punch from a chopped combo of gherkins and peppers. A chili enhanced, garlic mayo and minted yogurt lent moisture to the patty which was cooked medium. I normally prefer medium rare, but that wasn’t part of their ordering process. It was a little densely compressed, but still good.
The herbed and salted fries were fine, but next time I’ll ask for them extra crispy. All things considered, it was one tasty burger that required no assembly on the part of the recipient, which allows you to bask in the regal treatment alluded to in it’s title.
The bunrab email bag has a note from a reader who was touched by a Fat Angel:
Thanks for reporting on Fat Angel. I stopped in there Saturday and today and the two things I've had are right up there at the top of my favorite pastry list. One was their Chocolate Voodoo (you sampled it), the brownie with cherries. What a great concoction, great flavor with a just-right-for-me soft, moist center and the cherries really work (I usually prefer my chocolate unadulterated). Today I had their Chocolate Pillow, a multi-layer flaky pastry with an intense chocolate layer (soft, not sure how to describe it) in an air space at the bottom. Really good. That location has held terminally mediocre bakeries for quite some time, so this is a welcome change.
Thanks for the tip! I will have to case out the pillow.
I couldn’t agree with you more about the welcome change.
We showed up a half hour before closing to find slimmer pickings than those who enjoy their Sunday breakfast before 2:30 p.m. The whole point of weekends is to sleep in. What is up with all these early risers in a hippie town?
At least all these eager beaver Fairfaxians didn’t buy up all the pastries. I got a coffee cake muffin ($2.00):
... which had a crisp topping and cinnamon laced, walnut studded stump. It was okay, but verged on a little dry. To be fair, this wouldn’t have been my first choice of muffin, it was just the only variety that wasn’t locussed up by the crack of noon crowd.
Chubby got a pesto, sundried tomato and cheese, sourdough scone ($2.00):
... which was too doughy for my taste. It was like a pizza trapped in a scone’s body (which Blue Cross had denied coverage for the cost of baking reassignment.)
We also tried the cookies ($1 each):
The chocolate chip, gingersnap and oatmeal, cranberry, coconut were all nicely priced and made with good ingredients, but they are a softer bake than my personal preference.
There were some cut up samples of other interesting items. I liked the taste of chocolate brownie with cherry in it (which is usually not the sort of thing I enjoy, but it was good.)
They are producing baguettes, artisanal loaves, cupcakes, vegan dough gobs and wedding cakes.
Croissants will be an item that they plan to carry in the near future.
Just like that cow bakery, they make Thanksgiving coffee (but no espresso drinks.) I think I’ll return for another earlier visit to get a clearer idea of the offerings in this sunny, friendly, new carbo-station.
I got the smoked brisket sandwich ($9.95):
... served on ciabatta with tomatoes, onion, lettuce and bbq sauce. Even though it had a moisture boost from the tomato, the overall effect was slightly dry and low on the flavometer. The crisp fries and efficient service helped to renew my expectations for my next visit when I’ll come back to taste more of their smoky offerings (and to see if my lunch today was a fluke.) The chicken, pulled pork sandwiches and ribs all sound like good candidates for my next fly by.
Brick is a new small plates restaurant and bar:
the corner of Larkin and Sutter.
The asparagus veloute ($9.00):
... was a bright and flavorful soup poured over sweet crab meat and hearts of palm. Even thought the warm weather didn’t cry out for hot soup, this was light and tasty enough to work.
Tuna Crudo ($12.00):
... was my fave. I thought that they got the fish wrong when I saw the salmon colored top of this seafood terrine, but I was faked out by the pickled papaya. This mosaiced brick of the sea was an aggregate of avocado, tuna, sea beans, a grating of horseradish and some puckery lime. There were also little wasabi speed bumps piped on the plate. I would order this one again.
The confit buffalo wings ($11.00):
... was a fun idea. The gorgonzola foam atop a root slaw had an interesting juxtaposition of flavors and textures but it wasn’t my thing. Chubby ended up eating most of them to “help me out.”
The Brick Burger ($13.00):
... was actually two burgers.
The meat was very good, it was nicely seasoned and perfectly cooked. The
Panorama bun was grilled which added a pleasant toasty smokiness but
it was too big for the patty and wound up creating a doughy imbalance.
I’ll be curious to see how they do when they have been open for a while. It’s still early days, and they have some interesting items on the menu including scallops with corn, leeks and espresso salt and short ribs with bone marrow.
Maverick’s sunny dining room is an orange oasis in the hectic hustle bustle of the Mission. I like the warm, simple design of this small, casual, restaurant.
Chubby and I split a Pulled Pork Sandwich ($8.50):
... which came on an
Acme bun. The sweet bbq sauce dominated and the meat was not a yielding
as I would have liked, perhaps it needed a few more hours of slow cooking
to make it acquiesce.
... which is the best
interpretation of this Southern sandwich that I’ve had outside
of Louisiana. Instead of a hollowed out soft roll, they use an Acme
bun which has enough give not to squish the oysters but enough integrity
to add textural dimension. The oysters were fat, juicy and sweet tasting.
They were given a cornmeal crust and fried until crunchy on the outside,
but moist on the inside. Shredded lettuce and tomato slices completed
this excellent sandwich.
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