Homeroom

23 04 2011
Atmosphere: 3/5   ♦   Service: 2/5   ♦   Food Quality: 4/5   ♦   Value:3/5
Times Visited: Once  ♦   Will I Return?:  Yes please
___________

Wow, sorry, I’ve been gone for a bit. Friends in town and madness at work makes Angie something something…*

So, what’s been happening? Have you found other better blogs to read? Undoubtedly. Anyway, I’m typing today about one my favorite foods: macaroni and cheese. There’s a new mac and cheese restaurant in Oakland called Homeroom and it’s all the rage lately.

I’ve heard people talking about this place nonstop since it opened a few months ago. It was time for a try.

Some friends and I met up at Homeroom after work a couple weeks ago when it was super duper hot outside. The day was beautiful, but Homeroom has no air con. Which would normally be fine, but that day meant that we were a sweating, hungry bunch. And then we ate some hot, dense mac and cheese. It was not the best plan (ex: milk was a bad choice), but we made the best of it and still enjoyed ourselves. And it would have been a great day to enjoy one of their few tables outside (but we didn’t want to wait).

menu

Menu

The space is smaller than I expected, for some reason, but is decorated with cute and artsy items all revolving around a school/learning theme (we were in Homeroom, after all). The menu is a single page of paper with instructions on how to fold it into a paper airplane on one side, in case you feel so inclined. The choices are basic: 8 types of mac and cheese, a few sides of veggies, a handful of desserts, beer (including on tap), wine, and other drinks. I really appreciated the simplicity and easily made my decision to reminisce about Rome with the “The Exchange Student: Cacio e Pepe” and a side of carrots.

mac and cheese

Cacio e Pepe mac and cheese wins!

carrots

Mmmm... carrots...

Both of which were the table winners. I love ordering the winner. Other dishes ordered at our table included: Classic, Mac the Goat, and Mexican Mac. I forgot to ask for mine to be covered in delicious bread crumbs, but it was still wonderful. The others that I tried were good, but not nearly as good as mine. I thought the Mexican Mac was the weak link, but I’m not really a fan of spicy or cilantro, so there.

mac and cheese

Mac and Cheese with bread crumbs

mac and cheese

Little Mac (classic mac but in a smaller bowl)

mac and cheese
Mexican Mac

My carrots were drizzled in some delicious lemony oil that was fab. The broccoli at the table came with ranch and hence was immediately awesome. The desserts are cute and quirky and my “homemade oreos” were 1000 times better than real oreos. But I don’t love real oreos, so that’s not a difficult statement for me to make. Boyfriend’s peanut butter pie was reportedly “interesting” and perhaps not as successful as he has hoped. But I appreciated their innovation with this item.

cookies

Homemade oreos with sea salt

pie

Peanut butter pie

That day, the place was packed to the brim with a waiting list. I’m not sure if they were shorthanded, but the service was not great. The server himself was very pleasant when he was there, but he rarely came by and we found ourselves wanting things with no one to ask more than once. Another friend of mine enjoyed a dinner there a couple weeks later and raved about the service, so maybe we were just there on a bad night.

I definitely love the idea of a restaurant based exclusively on macaroni and cheese. And I like what these ladies have done with the place. I didn’t think the food was as amazing as I’d hoped, but I think my expectations were higher than the moon, so I forgive. I’d definitely go back and I’d recommend to friends who love cheesy goodness.

*Reference this Simpson’s episode.





Dell Cafe

10 04 2011
Atmosphere: 2/5   ♦   Service: 2/5   ♦   Food Quality: 3/5   ♦   Value:5/5
Times Visited: Once  ♦   Will I Return?:  Why not
___________

Dell CafeIt’s Saturday. You want breakfast. Unfortunately, you’re in or around Hayward. Where to go? There are a few choices. I’m not a personal fan of the chain restaurants, so rule out your Denny’s and IHOPs right away. The next steps up are your Emil Villa’s, JD’s, Main Street Diners and Doug’s. Unbeknownst to me, Dell Cafe is also around for your breakfast eating pleasure.

Dell Cafe can be found at 2637 Castro Valley Boulevard, just after the mini golf place but before Redwood Road. I don’t actually think I’ve noticed it before. We passed it trying to find it. But, Yelpers like the place and I wanted a waffle. And hence we arrived at Dell.

This place is a diner. Actually, it’s more like a Diner. Old school style, capital “D” Diner. It’s small with a dozen or more patent leather booths, cheap varnished wood-veneered tables and two rows of counter seating that meet at a corner right as you walk in.

Dell Cafe

Inside Dell Cafe.

A man behind the counter announced a minimal greeting upon our arrival and we found a booth of our choosing. He presented menus and brought water. The menu is simple. Eggs. Pancakes. Burgers. Sandwiches. They’re only open for breakfast and lunch, 6am-3pm, 7 days a week.

Menu

Menu at Dell Cafe.

We ordered. An avocado and cheese omelette for the Boyfriend and a blueberry waffle for me. They arrived shortly thereafter. Everything was actually quite good; the food was certainly the highlight of the trip, which I suppose I can’t really complain about.

Omelette

Omelette view.

Hash Browns

Hash brown view.

The omelette had a generous amount of cheese and we suspected that an entire avocado went into its creation. This is a change from the standard few slices typically perched on top of an omelette ordered anywhere else. The hash browns were well done (my favorite) and the Boyfriend was pleasantly surprised.

Blueberry Waffle

Blueberry waffle.

My blueberry waffle hit the spot like cold lemonade on a Summer day; it was really good. And cheap. It wasn’t one of those immense waffles that ruins your day to eat; it was instead reasonably proportioned and slathered in a ton of previously frozen blueberries in goopy, delicious sauce. I didn’t even need the additional maple syrup that I originally thought I might. It was wonderful.

Overall: if you’re ok with a run down type diner, don’t mind the bare minimum in service, and aren’t expecting to reunite with any friends from college during breakfast, head over for a good old fashioned omelette, pancake or sandwich. Cheap, simple, good food.

Dell Cafe on Urbanspoon





Celadon

5 04 2011
Atmosphere: 4/5   ♦   Service: 3/5   ♦   Food Quality: 4/5   ♦   Value:3/5
Times Visited: Once  ♦   Will I Return?:  If we’re in the area
___________

CeladonA few weeks ago when we were in Napa for a weekend, we had to make a choice: where to have dinner on our single night in the area. This was a daunting choice for a foodie such as myself — I really hate it when you are in a foreign land (of any degree) and you have one chance to choose an awesome place to eat. And you choose somewhere crappy and you’re sad about it. Granted, this can often not be avoided, but I like to hope for the best in my proverbial dice roll.

K and I wandered the Napa promenade on this brisk (read: freezing) February evening, peering in windows and reading displayed menus. We were evaluating a number of restaurants up and down the main drag for suitability (with the help of Yelp on my phone) when we stumbled upon Celadon. It looked promising. Modern decor in a converted warehouse-type setting, tucked away behind a hotel just off the riverbank. We decided.

Celadon Inside

"Industrial" interior area of Celadon

We underestimated how crowded it was. We had to sit at the bar lest we be subjected to a heinous wait. Which is better than a heinous weight, mind you. We took our opportunity and got cozy at the bar as all the pacing back and forth looking for the “perfect” restaurant had pushed our mealtime late into the evening.

While the room from which we entered was a converted warehouse-type area with concrete floors, exposed, wood-framed roof and a somewhat stark, open interior, the back area is warmly lit, filled with cozy booths, and trimmed in light wood fixtures and furniture. It was an unexpected contrast, but both areas were nice.

Celadon Bar

Celadon Bar

At the bar we ordered a couple fancy schmancy drinks that we ordinarily would have passed on to avoid the extra ding on our bill. But we were on vacation and my aunt had generously donated a few bucks to our culinary efforts, so we splurged.

Drinks

Fancy Schmancy Drinks

The menu was modern “American” fare with hints of Mediterranean and Asian flavors, and lots of things looked really good. The items we ordered were fabulous. See for yourself:

Calamari

Holy guacamole, this was the best calamari ever.

One of their specialties is “flash fried calamari with a spicy chipotle chili glaze and pickled ginger” which, whatever you may think of that description, was amazing. Tender calamari fried in a heavenly, flavorful batter and lightly covered in a shimmery coat of sauce that was a bit sweet and completely delicious, but didn’t take away from the crispiness of the dish. It was positively addicting.

Polenta Tower

Stacked tower of alternating polenta and veggies topped with cheese and drizzled with balsamic glaze. Mmmmm.

A vegetarian main that they offer is “grilled polenta napoleon with garden vegetables, fresh mozzarella and balsamic glaze”, which really did not indicate that the meal would look like the stacked tower of yummies pictured. The veggies were well grilled and soft while the polenta went with them perfectly. There was just enough drizzled balsamic sauce to make your mouth water but not overwhelm.

Everything was fabulous and I was so happy that we found a fab vacation restaurant!

Celadon on Urbanspoon





Recipe: Pesto Pita Pizzas

1 04 2011

Say that three times fast.

I sort of hate when people tell me to say something three times fast, so I apologize.

Ok, Pesto Pita Pizzas. Are surprisingly delicious. Hence, they make it to my blog. You may have noticed that I don’t love to cook very much, but Tami made these for a few friends and me the other night and I just had to bring them home. And by “bring them home” I mean drive to Trader Joe’s and buy the ingredients for myself.

Ingredients

Ingredients.

PPPs require four ingredients from Trader Joes:

  1. Whole Wheat Middle Eastern Flatbread
  2. Genova Pesto
  3. Pecorino Romano Cheese
  4. Cherry Tomatoes

I added that last one myself. See? I’m such a chef.

What I love about this is that it’s ridiculously simple yet disproportionately delicious as compared to the required effort.

Steps:

  1. Heat oven to Broil.
  2. Lay pitas out.
  3. Cover with a lot of pesto. A lot.

    Pesto Pita

    Pita with generous amounts of pesto.

  4. Put three or so thin slices of Romano on each pita.

    Romano

    Next add the Romano.

  5. Cut tomatoes as you see fit and place desired amount of on each slice.

    Tomatoes

    Then add the tomatoes...

  6. Put sheet in oven for, like, ten minutes or something. Until the breads bubble up.
  7. Take out before something catches fire.

    Pesto Pita Pizza

    Pesto Pita Pizza

I like this because it’s open to interpretation. And hence forgiving to errors. Anyway, when they’re done, they are delicious and warm. The cheese is super salty and a little bit goes a long way. The pesto is surprisingly delicious for pre-made food, and the tomato is there to pretend that this is healthy in some way.

Simple, fast, delicious. I <3 pesto pita pizzas.








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