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Name: Gutenberg

Location: Somewhere near the Golden Gate Bridge.

Occupation: BRPR (Bunrab public relations.)

the BUNRAB blog spot

Do you need to answer back? You can send me comments if you want to.

If I want to, I'll post 'em in this very blog.



June 24-30, 2006


go to next week's blogs



Friday, June 30, 2006

Bakesale Betty’s had a small crowd at lunch, but I secured my beef short rib sandwich ($7.25):

... without too much of a wait. The soft torpedo roll launched the meltingly, succulent, bone free, coleslaw stuffed, meatwich  into my belly. I like the thin sliced jalapeños but wished there were more (maybe next time I’ll ask if that’s possible.)

The lemon bar ($2.50):

... has a thick, crisp, buttery cookie canvas with a zingy, bright, Mondrian-esque rectangle of tangy lemon. A delicious way to avoid scurvy.

I asked for a pear ginger scone, but when I opened the bag for my 4 o’clock treat, I discovered a raisin scone ($1.95):

... instead. Disappointment crumbled away as I set to work on this jumbo raisin studded, lemon scented, sugar topped, triangle. It turned out to be just fine.

The always friendly (and easy to pick out in a crowd) proprietress dons an inverted Marge Simpson ‘doo. I don’t know why all bakers don’t wear bright blue wigs. They act as a hair net for your non-blue hair, don’t have a growing cycle that causes shedding and if you do have a stray one fall out, they are pretty easy to spot.

Bakesale Betty’s
5098 Telegraph Ave.
Oakland, CA





Thursday, June 29, 2006

I found myself on College Avenue today in search of chow. I went to Holy Land well after their opening time to find it empty.

An employee eventually materialized and told me that there was nobody there to cook. I didn’t ask why and decided that it was time for dessert after my phantom lunch. I crossed the street and headed to Ici. But found that Ici n’exist pas. I saw a pictorial in a San Francisco magazine showing some enticing ice cream sandwiches and singing their praises. Why are people writing about an ice cream shop (that won’t open for months) like it’s in the process of scooping? It’s just cruel.

I decided to head to an old standby. La Farine.

Puff pastry is the dandruff of the food world and La Farine stands head and shoulders above the competition. Their plain croissants, chocolatines (aka pain au chocolat) the ham and cheese, morning buns (and whatever else they can alchemize by tucking it between buttery carbo sheets) are always worth the caloric investment.  

Swiss twinkie ($1.85):

... seems like a misnomer. I would call it a bearcroissant due to it’s ground almond, walnut and pecan filling in a flaky, puff pastry cloak. Caramelized sugar meets up at the base of this mini croissant to create a glassy, toffee scab of sweetness.

Apple croissant ($1.85):

... also fails in the naming department. It’s not so much a crescent as a yawning mouth of pastry filled with an apple walnut mixture. The pastry is perfect, but the apples today were not flavorful and had an unyielding texture that verged on raw for the larger chunks. The plain croissant is better than this adorned one.

They have various plain and savory foccacia ($3.25):

This big round of herb and olive oil enriched dough was topped with green onions, mild goat cheese and pinenuts. The goat cheese didn’t profit from it’s visit to the oven and took on a texture similar to halumi cheese (slightly Styrofoamy). The pignolas needed more of a toasting to boost their flavor and shake off their damp, softness.

La Farine
6323 College Ave.
Oakland, CA

From today’s bunrab email, Dr. B. writes:


Hay, Uh, has any of that Fra Mani stuff ever curled yer toes? Made you do the Tigger bounce on your hind quarters? Just wondering cause you mentioned the flavors, but not what it did to your psyche. I ain't been yit. And yes, some day soon I'll venture out.


Gutenberg replies:

Dear Dr. B,

Has Fra’Mani ever become Fra’Pedi? As far as my fuzzy toes go, they did have a nice curl to them. On the Tigger scale, I give it 3 out of 4 bounces. I think that it needs to be evaluated at Meathenge labs fer sure.






Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Scratchin the Tadich

Tadich Grill has been around since the dinosaurs. It’s old school San Francisco and the food takes a backseat to the vibe.  

They don’t take reservations so even if you get there early, plan on a wait for a table. There’s a long bar area where you can hover and vulture up a bar seat (past the brass rail, the seats in front are for drinkers.)

Alternatively,  you can put your name on the list and wait along the wall or on the sidewalk. No seat saving at the bar and no incomplete parties. Rules are rules.

If you like waitresses who call you “honey,” you’ve come to the wrong place. White jacketed dudes man the floor. This is Hooters through the looking glass, and there are many of them (looking glasses that is) in the booths. They are flanked by doorbell style buzzers:

... that you can use to attract the attention of a man in white.

Tadich Platter for two ($19.95):

... is a Noah’s ark of oysters, crab legs, smoked salmon and trout, marinated herring, prawns, calamari salad, tomato, anchovies and capers. The description is more exciting than the flavors.

Boston chowder ($5.25 cup):

... is stand-a-fork-up-in-it thick. This steamy bowl of white liquid verges on solid. Chunks of potatoes, clams and celery are suspended in this New England style starter. Serviceable, but not stellar.

I channeled Homer Simpson and got the deep fried sea food plate ($20.25):

... because everything tastes good deep fried right? Well, maybe I took that mindset a step too far. Mr. Scallop, Oyster, Squid and Prawn bid farewell to any subtlety that they might have possessed. They put the “later” in “Friolator.”

What these battered creatures needed was further accessorizing (go big, or go home style) with lots of lemon, tartar and cocktail sauce. Thick cut “long branch” fries were brown, greasy and limp. Next time I’ll try to channel Lisa Simpson instead.

Chubby got the sand dabs ($17.75):

... which were boned, pan-fried surfboard shaped fish fillets. After a shower of lemon juice, these were pretty good. The overcooked beans and tired carrots were supplemented by some more of those limp potatoes. Chubby said he doesn’t come here for the vegetables and happily downed his dabs.

The reason to go to the Tadich Grill is to feel like you have entered a time warp and part of that warp is going back to when we didn’t have small plates, crudo or adjectives on the menu. The food is cooked with a heavy hand, and that’s what is appropriate in this setting. The only “sel gris” here is the “selling of grease” in the form of deep fried foods.

Tadich Grill
240 California St.
San Francisco, CA

From today’s bunrab email bag:


Your talk of salumi and Fourth street got me thinking...Have you tried Eccolo on Fourth street? The chef there, (a thirteen year Chez Panisse veteran) Christopher Lee, makes his own salumi that are quite excellent. They're open for lunch, but really it only seems to serve the fourth street shopping bustle. It's a destination at night for sure.


Gutenberg replies:


Dear Aaron,

I agree, Christopher is a talented chef. I have enjoyed his chow at CP as well as Eccolo. Thanks for the reminder, I’ll have to stop by for another meal there soon.





Tuesday, June 27, 2006

I skipped the 4th Street branch and I went to the Pasta Shop in Rockridge for some Fra’Mani dry salame (4th St. has the FM sausage only.)

If you buy it sliced, you are charged $21.95 per pound, so buying this whole one for $11.38 is a good deal (at $16.99 per pound.)

Paul Bertolli has made a silk purse of meat out of a sow’s rear. This rich and balanced, garlic and pepper seasoned, meat tube:

... is tempered with white wine and makes for some good eating without adornment.

Paul isn’t hogging all of these drug free pigs. There is talk of an arrangement between Fra’Mani and a certain restaurant near his factory. The big meaty bits would go for salumi and the ribs would go into the smokers that Mr. B helped to set up at a certain dinosaur BBQ restaurant just up the way (where I’m glad the smoke has cleared from the top floor since they rectified the upside down fan installation.)

Fra’Mani Factory (they don’t sell it here)
1311 8th St.
Berkeley, CA

Pasta Shop
Market Hall
5655 College Ave.
Oakland, CA


From today’s bunrab email Steve writes:


I went to Pizza Antica and had the Spicy Calabrese which is good and spicy but I don't know if I would call this pizza. It made Small Shed Flat Breads (which I like) seem thick. Your pic of the Margherita showed a nice crust which you called "ultra thin" yet it was thicker than mine. Mine was a cracker. I'm confused because I love thin crust but it should HAVE a crust. Also I had the pulled pork sando at The Flying Pig and it was dry and unimpressive. After your second report I don't think I will make another visit. It's sad when we have about ten good Thai places we can't have one good bbq joint.

Thanks for listening,



Gutenberg replies:

Dear Steve,

Maybe you got a hold of some low carb pizza by mistake or maybe it’s a plot to increase dessert sales by not filling you up with your entrée. I’m hoping that both of your wafer-za and pig jerkey can be chalked up to growing pains. I agree we need a good bbq and I hope the pig diner eventually takes flight.



Another new Marin eatery had a hiccup. 3 Degrees in Tiburon was supposed to begin dishing out the chow today. Due to staffing issues, they are delaying their opening until mid July. I’ll bet someone’s getting the third degree if things don’t heat up soon…

Three Degrees
The Lodge at Tiburon
1651 Tiburon Blvd.
Tiburon, CA





Monday, June 26, 2006

Hahn’s Hibachi is a Bay Area Korean barbeque chain. I know “chain” comports the thought of mass produced, deflavorized, chow, but my lunch was pretty tasty.

Beboppin’ Bibimbop ($8.95):

(as presented)

(after mixing)

This rice bowl included grilled pork, carrot, zukes, spinach, bean sprouts,  a fried egg sprinkled with black sesame seeds with some chili sauce racing stripes. There is a great affinity between egg and rice. I know that it grosses some people out, but a raw egg broken over steaming hot rice is pretty fab (unless you are pregnant or elderly or both – one way to insure that you will always get a seat on Muni) Even though this egg was sunnyside up, the yolk sauced this meaty dish which had a nice crunch from the sprouts.

This place is a nothing fancy, fetish food, eatery.  At the end of your meal you get a melon flavored piece of gum:

... to send you on your happy, chewing, way.

Menu items like “meat mountain” or “pile o’ pork”  sound like big hungry boy chow. Or maybe they are for sharing and they don’t expect people to come to Hahn’s solo.

Hahn’s on Castro
1305 Castro St.
San Francisco, CA




Sunday, June 25, 2006

Went back to check out more of what The Flying Pig Diner has to offer.

Chubby and I got there when there was only one harried server covering the whole place. There weren’t that many occupied tables, they were just scattered around two rooms (due to a sit anywhere you’d like policy.)

My half chicken ($9.95):

... was nicely bronzed, but verged on dry. I requested the hot sauce which was Marin hot (medium/mild.) The slaw had pineapple juice on it (which isn’t my thing) and the little ramekin of baked beans were sweet and tomatoey (also not my thing.)

I had their fries last time (which were good) so I decided to try the onion rings. They were limp and oily:

... but I noticed a neighboring table getting a plate that had intact, golden brown coating without a sign of droopiness. (the oil may not have been up to temperature when they cooked mine.)

Chubby got the half rack of ribs ($10.95):

... which were pretty good. These dry rubbed ribs were flavorful before the addition of “hot” sauce.

Instead of fries, he got the mac and cheese which was a little flat. It would have been elevated with a dose of dry mustard and a sharper cheesey factor.

It’s still too early to tell how this new BBQ place will settle into it’s new concept. The ribs are promising, but I thought it was strange that there was no bready item (biscuits, cornbread or plain ol’ white bread) that came with the meal. It seems to be a trend lately, but with BBQ, you really do need to sop.

Flying Pig Diner
2200 Fourth St.
San Rafael, CA




Saturday, June 24, 2006

I decided to pop into this little Indian café for lunch:

I went to the counter with a question about one of the dishes and was bluntly instructed to look at the picture of it on the wall. Not exactly welcoming:

...but to be fair, he may have been in a hurry. It looked like he and one other woman were covering all the bases.

The chicken curry ($9.95):

... was not as spicy as I prefer and the meat was on the dry side. It came with basmati, chapatti, vegetable stew and yogurt. This preparation was not my thing, it wasn’t bad, I guess I was just yearning for some Tenderloin-esque Indian food (but I didn’t find myself in that ‘nabe today.) Then again, maybe the dishware was causing my reactive mind to dredge up old memories of life in the joint.

There were a few regulars in the place who had a good rapport with the owners so maybe it’s one of those places that is in tune with their base of support. With Sausalito’s touristy area being a ways down the road, perhaps they are weary of one-timers just passing through.

Sartaj India Café
43 Caledonia St.
Sausalito, CA

Chubby wasn’t up for Indian food today. He headed North of the Panhandle to NoPa. Check out his latest accounting of this former bank that is vaulting towards success.





back to last week - June 17-23, 2006



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