JD’s

28 11 2010
Atmosphere: 2/5   ♦   Service: 3/5   ♦   Food Quality: 3/5   ♦   Value: 3/5
Times Visited:  A Few   ♦   Will I Return?:  Likely
___________

JD'sJD’s can be found at 2837 Castro Valley Boulevard in (yep) Castro Valley, just next to the Chabot Theater. It’s true that we don’t have a large variety of good breakfast places around the mid-east Bay, but JD’s is as close as I’ve come to filling this niche.

Historically, I’ve always liked breakfast. In recent years, however, I find that a full egg, hash brown and toast meal makes me feel a bit queasy. Hence, I don’t patronize the breakfast foods, especially at restaurants, nearly as often as I used to. Regardless, if you’re looking for breakfast out on a lazy Sunday, JD’s isn’t a bad place to go.

There’s also Doug’s, Emil Villa’s and a variety of chain restaurants ranging in quality (Denny’s, Carrows, Mimi’s, Marie Callender’s) in the area, but out of what I’ve had before, I’d probably pick JD’s. They (oddly, but not entirely surprisingly) don’t appear to have a website and hence don’t have a menu online. So we’ll have to go from my memory.

They serve breakfast and lunch every day and are only open from 7am-2pm (I cheated on that one — it’s on Yelp). They have all the standard breakfasts with eggs, a large variety of omelettes, waffles, pancakes, french toast and then dabble in the lunch category with cold and hot sandwiches, soups and salads. If this website is correct, their lunch menu actually extends quite a bit further and includes fancy sandwiches (Reuben, Linguica, Cheese Steak), fresh roast beef and turkey along with burgers (and the breakfast menu showcases the pies), but I’m not sure where this site gets their intel*.

I’ve been to JD’s a handful of times over the years and they seem to be perpetually remodeling, which is odd. The place never really looks finished and they have a weird partially outdoors area that seems like an enclosed patio that I’ve never really liked very much. The inside is small and diner-esque. The waitresses are typically older and the one we had last time wasn’t particularly nice or attentive, though that may have been an isolated incident. I suppose I’m not really talking up the place, am I? Let’s talk food then:

They do a standard egg breakfast well. Granted, it’s not terribly difficult, but they’re on top of their game there. Omelettes are good as well and the selection on the menu is quite large. Feeling non-breakfasty, I ordered a lighter lunch dish of a half tuna sandwich and salad. This was exactly as expected and was neither extremely delicious nor extremely bad for me, so I called it a win. Here, feast on pictures:

breakfast

2 eggs scrambled, bacon well done, potatoes.

english muffin

Dad asked that I make specific mention of the English muffin he received which was appropriately crispy. This is rare at restaurants. I'm sure he will append this with a comment to this post.

omelette

Avocado, tomato and jack cheese omelette, potatoes, pancakes behind. This was all one meal for $8.50; God Bless America.

sandwich and salad

Half tuna sandwich on wheat, green salad with blue cheese, obligatory pickle coins.

My sister had the eggs Benedict which I have no experience with and hence cannot comment further than what she told me. She thought JD’s EB were…odd. Not horrible, just not great. She mentioned that she’s generally not terribly fond of the round Canadian bacon-type ham that comes on EB and that the hollandaise was off. Plus, the portions were huge and it’s not a great taker-homer, so that’s not real fun even if it is a better value. The picture turned out well though, see?

eggs Benedict

JD's eggs Benedict with potatoes.

*Yeah, I totally used the word “intel” instead of information or info. And I’m typing with my sunglasses on. So. Cool.

J D's Restaurant & Pies on Urbanspoon





Cafe Biere

21 11 2010
Atmosphere: 3/5   ♦   Service: 4/5   ♦   Food Quality: 4/5   ♦   Value: 3/5
Times Visited:  One   ♦   Will I Return?:  Sure, if I’m in the neighborhood
___________

cafe biereCafe Biere is a great little place on Adeline Street in Emeryville. While a little out of the way for us Hayward-ites, it’s a fun little dinner and drinks place if you happen to be enjoying a night out at Ikea or…whatever else is in Emeryville.

Mostly a beer pub (that is pretty serious about their beer selection, mind you), this place also classes it up with home made sangria and a pretty substantial menu of fun foods. And by “fun”, I don’t mean typical “bar” foods. While they do offer a tantalizing variety of fried foods (beer battered mushrooms, fried calamari, sweet potato fries, regular fries, chicken fingers and fish ‘n chips), they also serve starters like mussels, spiced nuts, a cheese plate, roasted beet salad and potato cheese balls.

Main dishes are casual but not drab: fried chicken sandwich, cheese panini, steak sandwich, po’ boy sandwich (fried oysters) and three different kinds of burgers (grilled portabello, regular and lamb) grace the menu as well. While I can’t attest to most of the menu’s supposed deliciousness, these are the things ordered at our table:

Fried mushrooms

Fried mushrooms in house made beer batter.

onion rings

Onion rings (beer battered)

Mashed potatoes

Mashed potatoes

macaroni and cheese

Macaroni and cheese in the foreground with a side of grilled veggies behind

Three of us ordered these four sides (the onion rings were someone else’s at the table) and shared. It was awesome. Granted, it was a carb-loading madness type of situation, but sometimes you need that, you know? The beer batter on the mushrooms and especially the onion rings (yeah, I totally stole some from my friend) was fabulous. Some of the best I’ve ever had. Everything was pretty dang good; the mac and cheese was creamy and yum, the veggies were tasty, the fried mushrooms were, well, fried, and the mashed potatoes were heavenly, undoubtedly due to the greater proportions of cream and butter than potato.

Our other friends all ordered the mussels which they seemed to love. This appears to be a sort of “featured” specialty item that they have which people come specially to eat. I did not try them; I think mussels are yucky. But, the menu offers a few different styles of “toppings” (or sauces, really?) to go with them, which is pretty fun if you like the little guys.

mussels

Mussel plate

My only complaints about this place are that the inside space is very small, very loud and very crowded. We ate out on the patio which was a bit cold and was only mildly aided by the heat lamp next to our table (better than nothing though, for sure). Maybe on a quiet night (if they have them) it would be more mellow, but it was a bit too hectic for my taste. Though they do have board games that you can play, which probably cancels out at least one of those complaints. And the owners are super nice. And the beer batter was to die for. So yeah, I’d definitely go back.

Clearly a win, all in all. For beer and beer batter, head to Cafe Biere!

Cafe Biere on Urbanspoon





Foodbuzz Food Blogger’s Festival 2010

14 11 2010

foodbuzzThe second annual Foodbuzz Blogger Festival took place last weekend in San Francisco, where foodies from around the nation gathered to celebrate and eat together. There were three days of events including a Friday night reception and street food fair (or “fare” as they like to say); all-day events on Saturday including morning breakout sessions, afternoon tasting pavilion, and evening gala sit down dinner; and a farewell brunch Sunday morning.

First of all, the zillions of local Bay Area bloggers and I were super lucky that this fiesta was taking place right in our backyards. I literally went to the Friday event after work that day like it was no big deal. Second, for anyone who is a “featured publisher” on the Foodbuzz website (note badge and ad at the top right of my blog), the $350 admission fee is waived. Needless to say, I was pretty enthused about a weekend of free food and drink.

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend all the events, but I did go to the welcome reception street fair and the gala dinner which were pretty awesome.

Friday night’s street “fare” was a bit chaotic, but basically included meeting some new friends, eating from ridiculously plentiful appetizer trays, meandering around to different food booths (most of which served meat items but some of which didn’t) and (as a result) consuming a variety of different foods and beverages. I met three friends that night, too, which was super exciting.

foodbuzz festival welcome reception

The welcome reception in the Herbst Pavilion of Fort Mason Center

festival collage

Some views of the welcome reception, including cupcake display that spelled the word "Foodbuzz"!

cheese plate

Serious cheese plates were at every table. Yum!

Saturday was the big day where there were breakout session in the morning (cooking workshops, demos, writing workshops), a tasting pavilion in the afternoon and a gala dinner in the Ferry Building at night. I only was able to attend the dinner, but it was really fun!

I met up with my foodie friend from the night before, Darcy, and we enjoyed some wine outside the Ferry Building. This was “mingling” time, but Darcy and I are both a bit antisocial and pretty much kept to ourselves. After a while we found two other friends, Quinn and Kathy, from the night before and chatted it up with them until it was time to go upstairs for dinner.

Dinner was beautifully set up with dozens of round tables in the main balcony of the Ferry Building. We had a couple announcements/speakers and then dug into a full dinner and wine pairing. They were even sensitive to dietary schtuff and let me do the pescetarian thing (no meat except for seafood) and gave Darcy the vegan treatment (no animal products at all).

Gala Dinner

The Gala dinner in the Ferry Building.

table setting

Table settings at the gala dinner.

Gala dinner foods

Some food from the gala dinner included a feta tarte, mushroom patty, tofu "scallops", real scallops, rack of lamb, halibut steak and almond cake with fruit for dessert.

Overall it was a pretty fabulous event; I’m only sorry that I wasn’t able to attend more of the activities. Maybe next year!

Thanks Foodbuzz!





Broccoli and Chocolate Turns 1!

7 11 2010

Happy Birthday B&C! Yesterday marked the one year anniversary of the beginnings of broccoli and chocolate and I’m excited about it!!*

A Year in Food

Since my second love (next to food, of course) is analyzing data in exciting and pie-chartly ways, I will hereby take this opportunity to tally up some data from the past year. First of all, let’s talk raw numbers. Over the past 365 days, broccoli and chocolate has been home to:

  • 61 blog posts (not including this one, of course)
  • 55 restaurant reviews
  • 348 pictures
  • 1 recipe

For each of the 55 restaurant reviews, a rating system was applied including 5 possible points in each of four categories. Based on this system, each restaurant had the opportunity to achieve a maximum of 20 points and a minimum of 4 points. As a rating of 3 was to be called “average”, the rating for a theoretically “average” restaurant would be 12.

Let’s see how the year went:

chart

From this chart, you will notice that no restaurants were given a perfect 20, nor were any given below a 10. Also, the average rating of 14 (13.95, to be exact) is in fact higher than the theoretical average of 12 which basically means that I’m just too generous a food critic and I like every damn thing that I eat. There could be worse things to be though, right?

Over the past year I have instated a “category” system whereby each review is labeled as to the primary type or ethnicity of food reviewed. For the most part, each restaurant is filtered into a single category. Sometimes, however, the broad range of a restaurant’s menu requires it to be placed in more than one category. For 55 restaurant reviews and 61 posts, there have been 67 category labels applied over the past year. This means that 5 posts were put in 2 categories (or that fewer posts were put in more than 2 categories, but I think I only ever used 2 categories maximum for each post). Here’s the breakdown:

pie chart

Because this pie chart is a jumbled mess of colored slices, I’ll summarize: I reviewed mostly Japanese (10 posts) and Mexican food (10 posts) over the past year, followed next by American food (9 posts) and Pizza (7 posts). This is because Japanese is my total favorite ever and because I live in Hayward where Mexican food is ubiquitous. In total there are 19 categories currently in use.

Lastly, you’ll find that I also catalog the locations of each of the restaurants I review. Over the past year I’ve reviewed restaurants in 13 local cities and have logged locations on 59 of my posts (including “At Home” and “Greater Bay Area”). You can see in the chart below that I’m all about Hayward:

pie chart!

Almost half of my 59 post locations (28) were in Hayward, followed distantly by Castro Valley (7 posts) and Oakland (5 posts). I really had no idea I was so Hayward-centric. Interesting.

Favorites

Well, the rating system should discern my favorites, but it instead seems to group restaurants into large clumps of general preference. Data is no replacement for human tastes and articulation, unfortunately. If I had to choose, these would be some of my favorites of the past year:

Loard’s Ice Cream – dessert, Castro Valley, Rating of 19
Yanagi – Japanese, Dublin, Rating of 18
Chef’s Experience – Chinese, Hayward, Rating of 17
Genghix – Japanese, Castro Valley, Rating of 17
Astaria – American, San Mateo, Rating of 15

And that goes to show that ratings don’t mean everything. Nor are they necessarily consistent. I’m just a person here, ok, this isn’t an exact science. Anyway, those are some good places — go, eat and be merry!

Aspirations

What are my hopes and dreams for B&C over the next year? Here are a few:

  • Post more recipes and home cooking
  • Continue to post consistently (at least one per week!)
  • Network with other blogs more and exchange links
  • Utilize more interactive items such as polls, questions to readers or contests
  • Try to provide a few follow-up reviews on places already reviewed

Keeping this in mind, I hope you continue to enjoy B&C over the next year and I thank those who join me periodically to read about food and restaurant reviews in the Bay Area!

*Though, clearly not excited enough to post this on the actual anniversary date; please accept my apologies B&C**, I was away all day yesterday.

**Yes, I just apologized to my own blog.








Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 81 other followers