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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 16-23, 2006


go to next week's blogs



Sunday, April 23, 2006

There’s nothing quite as soul stripping as a mall. Don’t get me wrong, I love malls, but to me, they encapsulate everything that’s wrong in the Universe. How can I have these two opposing feelings simultaneously? Because they adhere to one of my basic tenants – you are drawn to what you despise.

Malls are the engine propelling the same-ification of America. They speak to our primitive monkey brains, soothing us with clothing, food and shelter. Enclosed malls are like spacious whombs with warm fluid (lattes), caloric delivery systems (Panda Express, which I believe should either serve Panda, have Panda employees, or change the name…or all three if they really want to make things interesting) and a protected environment (uniformed guards who have not yet perfected their “cop walks.”)

Strip malls can barely call themselves “malls”, but they do. The upside to these architectural atrocities is that they are the overlooked stepchildren of retail, creating a less enticing location for a Pottery Barn, and allowing space for random restaurants. There are plenty of duds, but there are also a few decent and unusual possibilities behind the generic, look-alike facades.

Today I went to Bamyan Afghan Restaurant which is in a San Rafael strip mall anchored by Trader Joe’s, a big pet supply shop and a drug store.

I ordered the beef kabab lunch ($7.95):

It didn’t bother me that the meat wasn’t very tender (I know it’s a minimum buy in for some people) for me, if it’s flavorful, I’m willing to expend a few calories chewing it (but not if it’s like eating a Firestone tire.) I was served a little ramekin of house made hot sauce with peppers and vinegar which complemented the cow well. The Afghan bread was a leavened, sheet baked bread - think foccacia without herbs or adornment. It’s blistered top made for a nice contrast to the brown basmati rice. I wasn’t knocked out enough to order this entrée again, but I will come back to try out some of their other dishes which sound promising.

Bamyan Afghan Restaurant
227 3rd St.
San Rafael, CA

It doesn’t take a lot of time to figure out which Afghan restaurant to go to in Marin (as far as I know, this is the only one.)




Saturday, April 22, 2006


Lois the Pie Queen:

... is a homey, no frills, soul food place.

I couldn’t resist ordering the Reggie Jackson ($12.75):

... with two pork chops, grits, 2 biscuits and 2 fried eggs. This dish should come with a side of defribulator. If Richard Simmons was using deal a meal cards here, he would have to fold. This is comfort food (though this comfort does not extend to your arteries.)

The two panfried pork chops were good but nothing extraordinary. They were cooked a little further than my preference, but they were still moist. The eggs were fried perfectly to provide sauce for the tasty grits.

The biscuits:

...got their flavor from fat and plenty of it. I like biscuits that are lard or butter dependant, these tasted like they were from the shortening school.

Chubby got the Chicken and waffles ($11.75):

... which are my favorite celebrity food couple. Forget TomKat or Bradgelina, Whiffen and Chaffles are a hot hook-up. Sadly, the chicken was overcooked and the waffles didn’t stand out either. I’ll leave this combo to the Chicken and Waffles in Oakland (while in Northern California.)

The coffee is garden variety. The difficulty that I have with this is that with such rich and plentiful food, you have to have a kick of caffeine to insure that you don’t go into cardiac arrest during your meal.

I always direct a raised eyebrow to anyone who goes into a steakhouse and doesn’t order a steak. For this reason, I felt compelled to order a slice of pie. My lemon pie ($3.75):

... had a graham cracker crust and was crowned with a NO2 influenced cluster of cream spikes. The temperature of the pie verged on frozen which reinforced the Mrs. Smith’s vibe to this citrusy slice.

What I liked about this place was the funky décor:

... and the friendly service. The ingredients aren’t organic or top quality, they are just your ordinary chow made with pride.

There was a couple who came in after closing time. When the server explained that they were closed, they told her how hungry they were and how far they had driven to get there. She allowed them to stay. Now that’s an accommodation. There are a lot of restaurant people who want to go home after a long, hard day of work and to allow stragglers to have a meal after hours is very generous. I hope they left an enormous tip.

Lois the Pie Queen
851 60th St.
Emeryville, CA




Friday, April 21, 2006

Love ‘em Hatam:

Hatam in San Rafael is a store in front and a restaurant in the back. The shop area has shelves laden with many of the ingredients used in their cooking including spices, rice, olives and housewares; the back has 9 Plexiglas covered tables:

... three chandeliers:

... and a bird sitting in a cage guarding the kitchen area.

I opened the menu to find that the inside was wet (not damp) as if someone had poured some water inside and closed the laminated pages. I selected the lamb with pomegranate sauce but was informed that it wasn’t ready and that everything else was available. I took another look at the hydrated pages and chose the lamb tongues in wine sauce but was told that they were out of these too so I perused my options once again.

I was presented with a basket of lavosh alongside a plate of butter, feta cheese and what appeared to be radish greens:

I asked the (I’m guessing) owner and he told me that it was “Persian watercress.” They were peppery and made for a flavorful roll up with the lavosh and feta.

A small bowl of hot, yellow lentil soup had a wonderful balance of seasonings and legumes that were cooked to maintain just the right resistance to the tooth.

My Kabob Koobideh ($8.99):

... arrived with a charred tomato and seasoned basmati. You could actually remove your teeth to eat this tender meat. Yes, I know, I have mentioned that tenderness was not the determining factor on the meat-o-meter scale, but it was very delicate. As I was tucking in, a plate of some of my favorite stuff arrived. I love the crispy layer:

... at the bottom of the rice pot. Some of that lentil soup was poured over the crunchy rice brittle for added flavor. Yum.

One man was helping customers with groceries and also covering the restaurant. There was only one other table occupied at 1 o’clock this afternoon so it seemed like a manageable task, especially with a modern Persian CD playing in the background.

On my way out, I scanned the shelves of nicely priced rosewater, Afghan breads, pastries and hookahs. It’s nice to know about a San Rafael source for inexpensive Middle Eastern ingredients. I will definitely come back with Chubby to check out more of the menu (wet or dry.)

821 B Street
San Rafael, CA

Dr. B. emailed about yesterday’s Hawthrone Lane happy hour post (and his horrible mistreatment of bunrabs on Easter):



Oh, before I get in to it. Just let me say this, about our festivities the other week. Nobody here is looking for a repeat, not even considering it. Some times we ramble down a road that isn't quite right and it takes a good shaking to recover and get a clear idea as to what's going on. That being said, did you really pay 11 dollars for that little drink? 5 ounces? At 11 dollars for that 5 ounces of beverage it would cost me $6195.20 to fill my dodge truck (1999 Dakota v8). I wasn't expecting to do any math, it isn't my nature. But DAAAAAMN. Bars are more than evil.

xo xo Biggles

Gutenberg replies:

Dear Doc,

There is an important law of finances that applies to these situations. It’s called the law of compensatory cash flow. Allow me to demonstrate: If I pay half price for my SF Moma admission on Thursday nights (normally $12.50) I have made $6.25. If I also pay half of what my bar food would ordinarily would cost (due to happy hour) I have made an additional $14.50. The total savings of $20.75 means that I have ended up shelling out a mere .75¢ per fancy drink.

That doesn’t mean that bars aren’t more than evil, it just means that happy hour isn’t a misnomer in my book.

Stay off the lagamorfic meat,





Thursday, April 20, 2006

Hauter, Calder and Cheaper:


A while back, Fatemeh wrote about the happy hour at Hawthorne Lane but I didn’t manage a visit between 4-6 during the week until today. Chubby and I decided to see the Calder exhibit at Moma . Moma is open late on Thursday nights and as an added bonus, they charge half price after 6:00 p.m. Between happy hour and discount Moma, you can save a lot of dough on Thursdays.

To kick things off I got a Sake Mist ($11.00):

The cucumber infused vodka was pleasantly fragrant. Shaken with sake, this refreshing ginger laced cocktail is a great way to feel like your are eating your veggies when your are really just getting polluted.

Chubby got the Blood orange margarita ($11.00) with lime juice, tequila and a dash of Cointreau. Sweet and tangy this colorful, citrusy, scurvy inhibitor started the evening off right.

  A cone of fries ($2.00) was showered with delicious, crisp, deep fried herbs. I loved biting into the bits of sage that herbaceously shattered upon tooth contact. I wish the pommes were more frite-ed. Although good, they could have used a little crispening to qualify them as craveworthy.
  Mac and Cheese ($2.50) was seriously cheesy and rich. Capped off with herbed breadcrumbs, this was good, but you can't eat one of these uninterrupted or you will get béchamel-itus and your taste buds will be spackled over.

Lamb pastrami sandwich ($3.50) was the best of the group. This little sandwich with melted gruyere, sauerkraut (and a little too much 1000 island dressing) had more depth of flavor and textural interest than the other dishes.

Two little turnovers ($3.50) filled with beef short rib were okay. The dough was on the thick side and it's doughy status and soft filling did not allow for the recommended daily allowance of textural contrast. The escorting pot of avocado crème was good, but it was rich against the richness of the meat and the dough.

  Chicken wings ($3.00) were on the sweet side of the sweet and sour sauce. They were okay, but I would stick with the lamb pastrami next time.

But to be fair, the purpose of bar food is to: 1) make you thirsty and 2) delay alcohol absorption so that you don't get 86'ed before you tally up a reasonable bar tab. So when you think about this criteria, HL excels.


Hawthorne Lane
22 Hawthorne Street (hey, shouldn't it be “Lane”?)
San Francisco, CA

BTW, the Calder exhibit is seriously cool. If you don't want to fork over your hard earned bucks, Moma admission is free the first Tuesday of each month.






Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Most people pronounce
Albany “Al-ban-ee” but I prefer “All bunny” which is where 6 degrees restaurant is located.

There are 3 lunch specials each priced at 6 bucks. The choices are a pasta dish, a burger or the chicken. I chose dark meat for my quarter chicken.

The skin had a flabby quality from not being subjected to cooking methods that crispen the skin. It did get a criss cross over the grill before being served and it was moist but it did not rival George Hamilton in the bronzing department. The slaw of cabbage, crisp, think sliced asparagus and blanched carrots was good, better still were the crunchy shoestring potatoes which didn’t need any of the ketchup that accompanied them.

The off note was the water (never mind the flowers) in the bud vase.

I looked around and all the tables had em. Ew. There’s nothing quite as vile as this sort of vial. But to be fair, it was a bargain lunch, so it’s kind of out of place to be uber-picky. I did shoot them a comment about the slimy stem situation anyway, just so they know…

6 degrees

1403 Solano Ave.
Albany, CA




Tuesday, April 18, 2006


“It’s Happy Hour yo”:

... was the barman’s response to my quizzical look when I paid for the beer. This “hour” is from 11:30a.m. to 6:00p.m. daily. I love how time works here.


... was spinning with people awaiting their Rosamunde orders. These two establishments are the chocolate and peanut butter of businesses. Tasty meat treats on one side, cold, hoppy, beverages on the other.

Place your order, walk next door and wait for you name to yelled through the door at the Toronado Pub, walk back and claim your cow patty.

Even though Chubby and I arrived early, the line at Rosamundes went out to the sidewalk for their Tuesday-only burger. This artificial premium is just the thing to activate the “limited edition” vector of your brain. Rarity is the best flavor enhancer to this already tasty cheeseburger ($5.50):

...with a smoky, grilled patty piled with all the usual suspects and washed down with a giant mug of Radeberger Pilsner:

... or a pint of Blind Pig IPA yo.


Toronado Pub
547 Haight St.
San Francisco, CA

Rosamunde Sausage Grill
545 Haight St.
San Francisco, CA






Monday, April 17, 2006

I grabbed a quick lunch at Ebisu today. The deluxe sushi ($14.50):

... had the usual suspects of hamachi, maguro, salmon, mirugai, ikura, a decent tasting slice of scallop, some slightly overcooked eel, and some metallic tasting uni. I know that sushi sets like this are a lowest common denom type of order, more often than not, you get something phoned in rather than an example of the chef’s “A” game.

I asked for a maki recco and the server brought this smoked salmon, salmon roe, green onion and bacon roll:

Is it breakfast? Is it sushi? Hard to say.

When they opened an outpost of Ebisu at SFO I was happy that there would be an non pre-packaged, pre-flight, sushi alternative, but I haven’t had luck with the terminal sushi and find the 9th Ave. mother ship the preferable of the two (but it’s hard to beat Kiss Sea Food if you’re in SF or Sushi Ran if you’re on the other side of the GGB.)




1283 Ninth Ave.
San Francisco, CA


Speaking of Sushi, Ellen wrote about my last Sushi Ran visit:

I agree with you on Sushi Ran in Sausalito-the best sushi-worst bathroom but have you tried Sushi to Dai For on 4th St. in San Rafael??? This is our sushi hangout-the dragon roll is something else.



Gutenberg replies:

Dear Ellen,

I’ve visited Sushi to Dai For but did my normal masochistic sushi ordering to figure out what they pump out for the mass produced product. I will have to go back and try your recco.

Stay rollin’




Happy Easter Sunday!

From me and my peeps!

...your pal, Chubby



Sunday, April 16, 2006

Easter Supper at Incanto:

Most restaurants fall short for “special occasion” meals. The food that restaurants serve on Valentine’s, New Years, or just about any theme day is a watered down and priced up version of their cuisine. Not so at Incanto. They put some serious effort into creating inspired and original menus and don’t rest on their bay leaf panna cotta laurels.

Today’s three course Easter menu ($40) was a choice among 3 salads, 3 entrees and 3 desserts.
Chubby got the asparagus, radish, pancetta and egg salad:

The perfectly cooked, thick spears of asparagus were adorned with paper-thin sheets of asparagus and coins of crunchy radish. Hard boiled egg quarters and crisp pancetta gave a rich savoriness to this fresh and delicious ode to Spring.

Baccala with shaved fennel and celery:

... had a nice balance among the dense salt cod, herbaceous fennel frawns, celery leaves and crisp fennel.

The goat:

... was my fave. This creature was not raised on old cans and bald tires, it was flavorful and perfectly cooked. I didn’t use the aioli on this succulent meat because it was so good on it’s own.

Thin sliced and invitingly pink house-cured country ham:

...came with a green pool of mint salsa. The meat was nicely textured and moist.

We washed it all down with a 2001 Marina Cvetic Montepulciano recco’d by the highly efficient and friendly server.

The platter of sides:

... that arrived with the entrees were crazy good. The perfectly browned, rosemary potatoes subscribed to the main objective of cooking – to create crispy bits. These were nicely salted with moist, starchy interiors and went well with the aioli (that was served with the goat.) Baby artichokes and cardoons filled out the green section of today’s food pyramid. The cardoons weren’t peeled but were blanched a few times to remove most of their bitterness. Chubby said that he could just eat a few platters of these and forget about dessert.

But then he saw what was for dessert:

Bolognese torta di riso with thyme poached rhubarb was afloat in fruity poaching liquid-streaked cream, and showered with shaved, blanched almonds. This rice enriched cake was a perfect counterpoint to the ‘barb of the fruit.

Limoncello sorbetto packed a kick. This citrus and vodka ice slapped you awake and lulled you into a tangy haze in one bite.

Hot cross buns is not a description of me and Chubby when we completed our meal, but rather, the last of our desserts. These rich, currant studded, pagan symbol sporting spheres of carbohydrates were delicious even without the addition of the tasty honey butter and house made jam (but we used them anyway just to gild the lily.)

Check out what Chubby has to say about another of Incanto’s annual events as well as our last head to tail experience.


1550 Church St.
San Francisco, CA





back to last week - April 9-15, 2006



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