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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.



April 1-8, 2006


go to next week's blogs



Saturday, April 8, 2006


I’ve always liked L’Osteria del forno’s non-touristy vibe.

This little, funky, North Beach restaurant has a micro-kitchen that opens out to the dinky dining area. If it’s busy, you wait for your table outside.

I got a slice of porcini pizza ($4.00):

... This thin crust mozzarella and ricotta topped pie puts the “oooo” in “umami.” Earthy and delish. I also love that you can order whole pies or just slices here.

Milk braised pork:

... is a homey, delicious signature dish here. Nothing fancy, just tender, flavorful, swine slow cooked with herbs and not served before it’s time.

You get a choice of potatoes or this fresh salad with a pleasantly tangy vinaigrette.

North Beach has gone through major changes since I started hanging out here and I enjoy those few old school places that seem to anchor the ‘nabe since Condors have flown away and the Mab has become less Fab.

Even though most of the local pastries aren’t my thing, walking past the storefronts filled with big trays brimming with baked goods and the smell from the coffee roasters on a cool San Francisco day puts me in the zone.

I really like the dudes who man the Italian deli. They flirt with every woman who walks in the door. It doesn’t matter if you are a hottie or stapped on to your oxygen tank with all secondary sexual characteristics up for speculation. They are equal opportunity lotarios.


There is the thinnest membrane that separates Chinatown from Northbeach. There are no Chinese/Italian fusion businesses - no Char shu pizza stand, no Alba truffle and tiger paw remedies, …these two separate like sesame oil and balsamic vinegar yet they have been side by side and checkerboarded on the same streets. This would be a great place to hang out if you had multiple personalities. There would be a way to express them all. Like to get pushed around in a crowded Chinese bakery? Like to sit and mope over an espresso? Like to do Tai Chi in the park or get a lap dance? Stay up all night dancing at the Get-laid-ium or quietly browse the shelves at City Lights. This is a Sybil Sanctuary.

L’Osteria del forno
519 Columbus
San Francisco, Ca





Friday, April 7, 2006


Bakesale Betty’s may not sound like the place for lunch, but they make a mean brisket sandwich ($6.50).

Their fried chicken sandwich has a lot of fans, but their soft torpedo roll filled with tender, juicy brisket, horseradish, and a crispy cabbage and red onion slaw is a ticket to beef satisfaction. The bites of rich, muscle giving way to the crunch of the slaw, I only wish that they didn’t take all the seeds from the jalapenos which would give this a nice hot kick, but these are not seeds of discontent, especially when dessert is on full view.

They have an array of cookies (90¢ each):

... which are all fine, but the standout is the ginger cookie. This dark, not too sweet, soft cookie is studded with crystallized ginger.

The chocolate chip cookie is a tad sweeter than I like, but still very good. She doesn’t use those mini chips either (which more places are switching to lately.)

Homey and raisin filled, the oatmeal cookie is enriched with chopped walnuts. These are fine but in general, I edge toward the thin, buttery than the thick cakey school of cookies.

Pecan shortbread is buttery with a good nutty distribution. This is my second favorite (after that ginger medallion.)

Also behind the sneeze guard today:

Rhubarb scone ($1.95) was surprisingly wet from barb-speration. When I pulled off a piece, I thought it was undercooked, but it was just from weepy stalks. It was still good though. I am a big fan of the red celery impersonator and it’s tang comes through in these flat dough lumps with crisp edges.


... are an Austrailian choco-dipped, coconut rolled vanilla cake with strawberry jam inside. Sort of a high falutin’, Aussie riff on a snowball. These aren’t my thing, not because they aren’t made with good ingredients, I’m more of a toasted coconut, chocolate cake fan.

Lunching here isn’t a tablecloth and chilled salad fork affair. This place isn’t designed for dining in. There are a small number of wooden stools, short ones for sitting and tall ones that act as a table. You order at the register, and they holler your name when your chow is ready. It comes out on a baking tray which you can balance on a tall stool.

There’s no wine or beer (hey, it’s a bakery) but they have soft drinks. I wish they would add iced tea to the roster, but they do serve it hot. Their coffee isn’t bad either.

And speaking of coffee, I picked up my afternoon cup and Peet’s kicked in a little bag of Garuda blend:

... as part of their 40th anniversary month - how cool is that?

They will be giving away 1⁄4 lb. bags with purchases every Friday (after 1:00 p.m.) this month. Next Friday, it’s Major Dickson (which is one of their best IMHO.)

Bakesale Betty
5098 Telegraph Ave.
Oakland, CA





Thursday, April 6, 2006

Slow Club

After the chef shuffle, I was wondering what today’s visit to the Slow Club would produce. The menu still has the famous burger and looks similar to what they had going before. I ordered the flatbread ($9.50):

... which was grilled with bacon tomatoes and mozzarella. A chiffonade of spinach was scattered over the top to create a craveworthy, pizza-esque, Pavlovian-drool-bucket experience. I liked it.

The service religiously adhered to the restaurant’s moniker, but that flatbread had flooded my satiation receptors so complaint paralysis had set in and I was ready for conversion to whatever cult was on offer. Unfortunately, that happened to be the cult of slow. But if given the choice of bad fast food and good slow food I know what club I would pick today.

Chubby isn’t as patient as me and has to extinguish his anxiousness with liquids of a flammable nature. Check out his latest review of Coco500.

Slow Club
2501 Maraposa St.
San Francisco, CA





Wednesday, April 5, 2006

T time:

Tub Tim Thai transports traditional travails to the table.

Even though tea would have been appropriate, I terminated the thought (I am lunching at T3 after all.)
I started my lunch with a small crab and asparagus soup ($4.95):

... which contained sweet crabmeat, egg and slightly overcooked asparagus. I slurped this down and I listened to two corporate guys whinge about their boss. Office politics creep me out.

The Spicy Eggplant lunch plate ($6.95):

... turned out not to be the right thing to order. There was just too much oil in this otherwise flavorful dish livened up with Thai basil, onions and firm tofu slices. If it weren’t for the Valdez factor, this dish would have been sound.

Friends say that the Pad Thai is worth a try before I put an Exxon this little Corte Madera hole in the wall (located behind a gas station.)

If you are a multi-tasker, you can groom your dog, do your nails, tank up and get your dry cleaning all in one stop during lunch (as long as you don’t mind your neighbors loudly discussing “PTO” and “exit interviews”.) I gave myself some personal time off from these clowns without the exit interview and headed to Peet’s which was jammed probably because they are not giving you the standard house cup of coffee with your bean purchase, but you can choose from some of their other drinks this month too. You know, there’s nothing quite as appealing as free stuff is there?

Tub-Tim Thai Restaurant
510 Tamalpias Drive
Corte Madera, CA




Tuesday, April 4, 2006


Ward Street Café in downtown Larkspur:

...was out of their home made lamb pastrami so I took the server’s suggestion and went with the chicken sandwich ($8.95):

The ratio of foccacia to poultry was not paltry and made for a bread intensive combo alongside the house made potato chips and mesclun salad. The grilled onions, mayo and greens could have used the addition of some roasted peppers or tomato to amp up what was an acceptable, but not remarkable lunch. To be fair, a chicken sandwich probably isn’t the most exciting thing that I could have ordered, I noticed that most of the other customers were more focused on lattes and sweets on this grey afternoon.

Ward Street Café
25 Ward St.
Larkspur, Ca


Dr. B chimes in about yesterday’s burrito:

Eeek, Picante. Ya know, there was a day, maybe 10 years ago when that place was edible. I go maybe once a year just to check up on things and since then it's been a tasteless pile of crap each time. Damn hippies have taken all the flavor out of what used to be great Mexican food. I'll usually get a chile verde dinner plate and Big D enjoys the chile colorado. Even with the sauces we couldn't get a decent taste of anything. Not even good with chips, that's pretty sad. I believe what sent me over the edge was when I noticed the pickled jalapenos /carrots /onions had no jalapenos. They'd replaced the chile peppers with fricken zucchini. After trying salt, pepper and all their sauce choices, we left our food pronto like. We should have left before we placed our order. What self-respecting human being would put themselves on a tortilla making stage in front of everyone? The poor girl had to subject herself to being stared at like a pole dancer for making tortillas. It made my stomach turn. Picante's needs to go away, it gives Mexican food a bad name.



Gutenberg replies:

Dear Dr. B.,

I agree on the bland thing. They start out with good quality ingredients (granted, they could do a lot more in the flavor department) but as cheap and cheerful food goes it’s still on my list (with lots of hot sauce.) I wouldn’t travel for it, but if I’m in the ‘nabe with a few bucks and an empty belly it’s a quick fuel rod.

I think that it’s a combo of the hippies and the yuppies influencing the chow there (why give all the credit to the hippies?)

As far as the tortilla dancing goes, it is a little peculiar, but do you feel the same way about the guy in the window tossing a pizza or the taffy pullers, donut makers, or Benihana grillers? I can’t put my finger on what makes this different, but I agree that it feels odd. Maybe it’s because some food preparation is meant to be a show and this is half way between. Anyhow, I can see how the tortilla making leaves you feeling flat.

Stay authentico,






Monday, April 3, 2006

It takes a few days for my stomach’s clock to sync up with daylight savings time. I don’t “spring” into the new schedule as easily as I “fall” into my internal rhythms. One great thing about Picante is their hours. I have difficulty eating at socially prescribed times and I like it when places don’t close down between lunch and dinner. Chubby’s up for food anytime so it’s not difficult to talk-queria him into a trip to Jim Maser’s casual Mexican restaurant.

My carnitas burrito ($5.25):

... contained a generous portion of slow cooked pork. The integration of black beans, rice, and salsa made for some good burr’eatin. One essential step in the Picante experience is to grab salsas from the little self serve refrigerators. I find the food bland without the addition of one or more of these flavor accelerators. There are three to choose from, the hot, the smoky and the tangy. Don’t worry about using the one labeled “hot” it’s not omigod-hot, it just has a good nudge of the needle on the Scolville scale. Just enough to to put the “neat” in the car-neat-ahs.

Chubby got the super burrito ($7.90) with carne asada.

He gave this meaty cigar a good dose of hot sauce and happily dug into this Niman Ranch steak filled, guacamole and cheese supplemented, fuel rod.

You order at the counter, get a number flag and your food is brought to your table pretty quickly. They have student friendly pricing and portions. Always a good option when you want some quick, inexpensive and fortifying chow in Berkeley.

1328 Sixth St.
Berkeley, CA





Sunday, April 2, 2006

Blame Canada:

Breakfast at the Toronto Airport:

... was bacon and eggs ($7.99 Canadian):

...but the swine strips were American style– what is up with that? I was operating under the misconception that when ordering bacon in Canada you got the namesake. Maybe it was just an airport thing…

After arriving in Miramichi, (which is in that area of Canada over Maine) I took a look around town to check out the local color

Looks like you could go with theme dining or even fusion eats après tanning.

Saddlers Café:

... concocted a penne with haddock and shrimp.

It tasted as pink as it looks.

Tim Hortons:

... is the Dunkin’ Doughnuts 'round here (I think this town is the last holdout for a Starbucks…although they just built a Walmart here, so the buck can’t be far behind) I found the raised doughnuts to have a denser style than the typical stateside variety, but you gotta put on a little extra insulation in this cold weather. Tim Hortons is Canadian for coffee, mate.

Ethnic diversity isn’t so much on the agenda here, but the people of Miramichi are warm to offset the outside temperature.

Speaking of cold, I got a comment from the frozen dessert place that I visited last week:

Ciao Gutenberg,

Thank you for visiting Gelato Milano--we hope you enjoyed your gelato. With regards to your comment-- "I chose Asian pear and grapefruit. From the sound of it, you might think that these are light ices, but they are actually, cream enhanced, fruity concoctions. The Asian pear was good but I favored the grapefruit which had a nicely balanced tang and sweet level." We just wanted to correct it "for the record"--the flavors you ordered are NON-dairy fruit sorbetto and do NOT contain any dairy/cream...just fresh handcut Asian pear OR fresh hand squeezed grapefruit juice, sugar, and water--and the recipes of our Italian gelato artisan who lives in a small town just outside of Milan and has been making gelato for more than 30 years. YES--most customers are surprised at how "creamy" our gelato is...including all our non-dairy fruit sorbetto. Thanks again for visiting and the mention in your blog.

Grazie mille,

Gelato Milano


Gutenberg replies:

Dear GM,

Thanks for setting the record straight. They were indeed creamy (and delish) and I’m sure there are those who will enjoy the fact that these are utterly unenhanced. “Lactose intolerant” sounds so militant, like it’s a violent prejudice rather than a physical response, maybe it should be called something gentler like “milk disfavorer” or “non-calcium inclined”, in any case it’s good that there are creamy (sans cream) options at your scoopateria for the dairy dissenters.

Stay cool,






Saturday, April 1, 2006

Weekend brunch is always such a big decision. There are the expensive jazz buffets, the nearby default fueling stations and the places that are reliably good. Hidden City:

... is one of the latter. Shellie Bourgault does a great job of taking top quality ingredients that require no alchemy, just imaginative, simple preparation.

Ricotta pancakes with ham and two eggs any style ($8.95):

The menu read to me as though the pork and the flapjacks were two separate events. I didn’t imagine these cheese hotcakes studded with Hobbs applewood smoked ham and green onions. Hot, savory and moist, these were especially good with the yolk from my poached eggs providing the sauce. I didn’t want to sweeten up the experience with the accompanying maple syrup since these worked so well without.

The Cheeseburger ($9.95):

... is made with Niman beef and came cooked to the requested medium rare. Fresh, crunchy red onions, tomato and mesclun completed this cheddar enhanced sandwich. The sesame seed bun to meat ratio was slightly high, but other than that, it was a fine burger. You get your choice of homefries, salad or soup alongside. I thought I made the wrong selection when I saw the thin looking chili:

... but it’s appearance was deceiving. This chili broth was flavorfully enhanced with chunks of beef, carrots, onions and beans.

I love the vibe at Hidden City, the funky art, the fresh cut blooms on the tables and the casual atmosphere keep me coming back.

Hidden City Café
109 Park Place
Richmond, CA





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