2 03 2014

I’ve done this before, and I’m sure I’ll do it again. A few weeks ago, I found myself wandering about the Embarcadero in search of food around 3pm. I wanted to see the newly remodeled Fog City Diner, so, starved, we walked down to their location across from Pier 23. For some unknown and seemingly unnecessary reason, they do not serve food between 2.30 and 4.30pm. I find that this happens to me on vacation a lot — arriving at a restaurant “between meals”. So irritating.

cheeseburger from hillstone ($19)

cheeseburger from hillstone ($19)

Now what? Well, a short stroll north down the Embarcadero is Hillstone. I’ve seen it many times before — it has a nice umbrella-covered outdoor patio and peaceful location on the west side of the street. And they’re open at 3pm for lunch or dinner or whatever you want to call it. They will give you food at 3pm if you give them money. Perfect.

The inside is large, open, and has built-in booths and dark wood accents. It has kind of an upscale lodge-y feel to it, which reminds me of a steakhouse. And while it’s not a steakhouse per se, it does have a similar menu that includes burgers, chicken, fish, ribs, and, indeed, steaks. While the atmosphere was nice, and the menu certainly looked good, my general feeling was that it seemed pretty ordinary-suburban. There is nothing wrong with this — it just didn’t particularly wow me with the special flair that is so common at SF restaurants.

house made veggie burger from hillstone ($19)

house made veggie burger from hillstone ($19)

We certainly did have an enjoyable meal, however. I had wanted to try a variety of the appetizers that looked delicious (house-smoked salmon, oak-grilled artichokes, spinach and artichoke dip, emerald kale salad…), but opted for the house-made veggie burger ($19) instead. My quest to try every veggie burger everywhere (and subsequently rank them, obviously) and my insatiable desire for french fries won out.

a closer look at that veggie burger

a closer look at that veggie burger

The veggie burger at Hillstone has beets in it, as evidenced by the red hue of the patty. Otherwise, I can’t tell you what else it’s made of, just that it’s good. My companion had a regular (meat) burger ($19), which he also thought was good. The fries were yummy, and the service was attentive. The whole experience was just fine, though I wouldn’t put either the restaurant or the veggie burger at the top of my list of favorites. So while I won’t be jumping to return, I will keep it in mind for the future — it’s always nice to know your options, especially for larger parties and outdoor seating.

Palm Springs

5 01 2014

Happy New Year!

You might think, oh, she hasn’t blogged in a few weeks, she is probably just being typically neglectful of her beloved blog. Wrong! I was on vacation, nerds.

good morning

good morning

Since I often speak in math: I wanted to go somewhere warm for the holiday break + I booked to late = Hawaii and Mexico were outrageously expensive + Florida is kinda far away + I’ve never been to Palm Springs. If you carry the one, it works out. Trust me, I’m an engineer.

So, Palm Springs it was! Four days at a resort outside of town and three days at an cutesy boutique in town just off the strip. Pools and hot tubs. Desert hikes. Food. And lots and lots of sleeping. It was awesome. I read a book. A whole one. And wore bathing suits — plural (not at the same time). I wore a dress on New Year’s Eve (covered entirely by a coat, of course). Vacation: achieved.

Summaries of food in both places: La Quinta Resort and Spa (outside Palm Springs) and Palm Springs:

La Quinta Resort and Spa (a Waldorf Astoria resort in the town of La Quinta)

One thing I was worried about going to a proper “resort” (this was my first time) was the food. The resort wasn’t all-inclusive, so we could have gone “off-campus” for food if necessary. But it would have put a damper on our sit-around-and-do-absolutely-nothing vacation, so we were hoping the seven on-site restaurants were suitable. When we arrived, we found that only three of the restaurants were open for dinner. We subsequently tried all three, returning to one of them twice.

The food was great. Like, unexpectedly above average. Like, “I’m a snooty foodie from San Francisco and I approve of this food” good. I was impressed and relieved. And I ate this food and was happy. Quick summary:

Twenty 6: Casual American food in an upscale pub-ish atmosphere. I enjoyed: house made veggie burger, flat breads, crab cake, and (my fav) the pickled purple cauliflower. I wanted to try more. It was all surprisingly good considering they have hundreds of people trapped on site who will eat this food no matter what.

(terrible picture of) adorable pickled purple cauliflower!

(terrible picture of) adorable pickled purple cauliflower!

(terrible picture of) crab cake with huge chunks of crab

(terrible picture of) crab cake with huge chunks of crab

Adobe Grill: Mexican food, just upstairs from Twenty 6. We had some tamales one night that were pretty good, but the appetizer patio dining is what got me hooked. We had the best nachos ever. Fine, maybe not the absolute best, but they were really, really good. And nachos are so easy to mess up that I was immensely impressed. Also, the grande margarita was GRANDE indeed.

(mediocre picture of) really really good nachos

(mediocre picture of) really really good nachos

margaritas may be larger than they appear

margaritas may be larger than they appear

Morgan’s in the Desert: Fancy American food with a James Beard Award-winning chef. Lots of seafood, salads, and great appetizers. I didn’t take any photos because I was feeling classy*, but the lightly fried artichoke hearts and accompanying dip were amazing. The Caesar salad was perfect, and both the salmon and black cod were tender and delicious. I wanted to try every single one of the sides (but restrained). Their take on a s’mores dessert was fab.

*Actually, I was more feeling self-conscious since I was in a dress. Same thing, right?

Palm Springs

We stayed at Korakia Pensione, an adorable Mediterranean/Moroccan boutique hotel in the heart of Palm Springs. The rooms are luxurious, the atmosphere is mellow and relaxing, the two pools are literally over 90 degrees in temperature (AMAZING), and the breakfast is included. And whole dang place is so picturesque it kinda hurts. So. Relaxing.

panoramic view of pool and surrounds from outside our room

panoramic view of pool and surrounds from outside our room

panoramic view of our room

panoramic view of our room

breakfast the second day (french toast the first day featured above)

breakfast the second day (french toast the first day featured above)

For NYE, we booked late but snagged a spot at Zin American Bistro. It was a fixed menu, three courses, and I would say the food was mediocre. My leek soup was yummy, but my friend’s trio of tartars was not good. The mains (fish and steaks) were good, but nothing super special. Dessert was meh. I’m not sure if it was just the pressure of putting on a holiday dinner, or if it’s always like that, and I’m sure I’ll never know. Either way the company was good.

(terrible picture of) the company

(poorly lit picture of) the company

Our last night in town we went to Copley’s. This place was good. And we finally found a place where the size of the dishes was inversely proportional to the cost. We had ordered too much time and again in La Quinta because we thought the dishes would be smaller for the price. Fortunately, we weren’t starving, the bites of food were delicious, and we were happy. I would definitely recommend this place for a nice dinner (or lunch) in PS.

Oh yeah… I will mention our first lunch in Palm Springs. We arrived at about 1pm starving. We tried to go to one place we found on Yelp, but it was a 30 minute wait. We went across the street to a seemingly popular place called Trio. After being seated (or, rather, before), we realized we were one of the only straight couples in the entire restaurant. We were woefully out of place, but with nothing else to do but order from our flamboyant waiter (who was very sweet), we ate. I didn’t love my grilled fish sandwich, but my companion’s sandwich was yummy and the rest of the food at other tables looked quite good. And, if you’re going to Palm Springs, there’s no escaping the prominent gay culture. So, why not get immersed for one lunch?

Gott’s Roadside

2 11 2013

My only and recurring experience of Gott’s is as a lunch treat with one of my favorite co-workers. A mid-day haven from the monotony of office life, we occasionally escape to the Ferry Building to share an overly-filling, calorie-laden, sun-bathed lunch together. We talk about work, friends, his upcoming wedding, river rafting, and more. We sit outside, in their designated area of picnic tables, and enjoy our “slow” food in the sun. It’s excellent.

Heirloom Tomato and Mozz Sando

Heirloom Tomato and Mozz Sando

So, obviously part of my affection for Gott’s comes from my particular way of experiencing it. But, the other part comes from the food. Which is good. Think 50′s hamburger joint, but classed up with local, quality ingredients, a contemporary Bay Area palette, and prices to match. In addition to burgers, hot dogs, and fries, they also serve salads, chicken, and fish dishes. My go-to is the Ahi Burger ($15), which is a slab of seared ahi with ginger wasabi mayo and Asian slaw on a toasted egg bun. It’s heavenly.

The special for Summer/Fall was an Heirloom Tomato and Mozzarella Sandwich (pictured above), which I had twice and was sooo happy about.

Onion Rings ($4), Fries ($2.89)

Onion Rings ($4), Fries ($2.89)

But my real favorites are the onion rings. I love them. More than just them, I love the sauce they have for you to dip them in. You ask for a side of ranch (it’s made in-house) when you pick up your order at the counter, but it’s got something else in it. Pesto? I don’t know. It’s delicious. I want to drink it out of the tiny plastic cup container. I’m content just generously dipping the massive, beer-battered onion rings. Mmmm.

Bacon Cheeseburger ($10)

Bacon Cheeseburger ($10)

I don’t know how good the burgers are, but my co-worker habitually orders the bacon cheese, and can rarely finish it. I’m always so full that I’m in pretty serious danger of being afflicted by a food coma when we return to work. But I can’t not order the rings. I must! And so, on our occasional jaunts to Gott’s, I have to prepare my stomach for a temporary overload. To which it submits, willingly, every time.

Bar Tartine

20 09 2013

I finally went to Bar Tartine last night. It was good, but honestly, not as good as I expected. I kinda hate it when that happens.

Bar Tartine is owned by the same chefs who own Tartine, the famous bakery. I actually still have never been to the bakery (pretend like the Mission district is a far-away foreign land to a North Beach resident), though I have enjoyed their chocolate croissants courtesy of my co-worker. The chocolate croissants are amazing, btw. Anyway, Bar Tartine is a dinner restaurant that also doubles as a sandwich shop in the afternoons. It’s modern and chic and widely hailed as awesome.

Tartine Bread $3

They describe their menu as “hard to classify”, though I will check the box for “American” food, since they offer a variety of different foods with no particular ethnic theme. The menu looked amazing. No, really, here it is:


We were starving and torn on what to order. We started with the bread because it’s sort of mandatory, but without being free. This bread has won awards; people praise this bread from lands far and near — it’s even listed on the menu  as an item you can just buy to take home because they know you’re going to ask. That said, I was underwhelmed.


Tartine bread — $3, Cultured kefir butter with dulse — $3

Not that it wasn’t good — it was. It was very tasty. I think it was (sadly) a case of my expectations just being too high. Like, my vision of this bread had it being delivered on the back of a unicorn and containing special healing powers. And, to be fair, it doesn’t help that I’m sort of like a child when it comes to bread. I love my wheat loaf at home, but if you asked me to describe the best bread ever, it would be full of butter and have pretty much no nutritional value at all. Actually, the best bread I’ve ever had was from a tiny Italian place in San Luis Obispo that used to be half price for students every Tuesday. I milked that deal long after graduating. Curse the day I lost my student ID. I digress.

So, bread good but not providing eternal life — check. The next appetizer we ordered was a sampling of their three pickled items. Pickles! I love pickles. I talk about pickles all the time. People are like, “Shut up about pickles, Angie.” And I’m like, “No! Pickles!” So, obv, I thought these would be the best pickles ever. They weren’t. They were this: garlic mushrooms, creamed beets with green horseradish, and brine dill pickles. The mushrooms were in a sauce that tasted like barbecue sauce. It was extremely strong (especially compared to the other two), and also, unfortunately, I don’t like barbecue sauce.

Pickles, Beets, Garlic Mushrooms

Pickles, beets, garlic mushrooms — $13

The beets were good — those were my favorite of the three. The dill pickles were, like, not super pickled? I don’t know how to pickle things, but these were very hard and not nearly salty enough. Have you had the pickles at Hog Island Oyster Company? That’s what I wanted. Those are so good. These were just ok. They did have pickled tomatoes in the mix though, which was interesting.

The chopped vegetable salad with pressed cheese was definitely my favorite dish of the night. The veggies were slightly cooked, the cherry tomatoes had no skin and were soft and delicious, and the cheese added just the right amount of salt and flavor. It was really good.

Chopped Vegetable Salad -- Winner

Chopped vegetable salad — $14

Next came the smoked potatoes with ramp mayonnaise. This sauce also tasted like barbecue sauce. I’m not sure what their deal is with this flavor, but it’s just not my favorite. And it’s extremely strong and a bit overwhelming. This sauce was saltier than sweet, however, and the dish was good despite being really intense.

Smoked potatoes with ramp mayonnaise - $9

Smoked potatoes with ramp mayonnaise — $9

Lastly, we shared a main: cheese dumpling with quinoa greens and chanterelle mushrooms. I did not know what to expect, but it was not this. The dumpling was the consistency of a souffle. It’s hard to describe. It was light and fluffy, but completely uniform in soft, smooth texture. I have no idea how they made it. Or what was in it. But it was extremely rich and flavorful. The accompanying sauce and mushrooms paled in comparison.

Cheese dumpling -- $24

Cheese dumpling — $24

And, as some restaurants choose to do nowadays, the dessert menu was completely devoid of anything remotely traditional and was not appealing to my East Bay sensibilities — I think dessert is certainly my last vestige of culinary primitiveness. I just want some damn chocolate cake, people. Anyway, no need for dessert; we were stuffed. And satisfied, despite my apparent issues with salt distribution over the course of the meal.

I liked BT, but was a bit disappointed. However, there were many other interesting things on the menu that I would not be opposed to trying another time. Also… they offer brunch, and we all know how I feel about brunch. (Hint, I like it almost as much as pickles.)

Bar Tartine on Urbanspoon


25 08 2013

This year, Maverick was my choice for my 31st birthday dinner with my man-friend. Actually, Outerlands was going to be my birthday dinner choice, but we found out last minute that they were closed for the 4th of July (man-friend was going out of town on my actual b-day; this was my pre-bday dinner) and that our OpenTable reservation was a sham. A sham!

Anger from that incident aside, Maverick was a suitable replacement. It’s a teeny little contemporary American restaurant in the Mission District. And though it doesn’t fit in with the roving crack-heads, plentiful hipster bars, and relentless dollar taquerias that plague the Mission, it is still totally worth making the trek for. It’s even worth ending a sentence in a preposition for.

Gruyere Gougeres with French Onion Dip - $5

Gruyere Gougeres with French Onion Dip – $5

We started our evening with the gruyere gougeres with french onion dip and the mushroom “cigars” with (what I recall to be) plum sauce (or something like it).

The word “gougeres” appears to be a fancy way to say “biscuit”. Essentially, it’s a fancy, French, cheesy, airy biscuit. You can’t really go wrong. However, it wasn’t said biscuits that were extraordinary; it was the homemade french onion dip that accompanied them. OH MAN that stuff was good. I dipped everything in it from then on, guarded it fiercely when servers tried to take it away, and debated smuggling it and its tear-shaped bowl into my purse for future enjoyment. But then I remembered that I don’t carry a purse. And it’s always so awkward when I leave a restaurant carrying their dishware in my bare hands. So, I just made sure to lick the bowl clean before I left.

Mushroom Cigars

Mushroom Cigars

The mushroom cigars were a minced mushroom mix wrapped in a flaky dough and deep fried — kind of like a slender egg roll or lumpia. They were good, but honestly not quite as good as I expected, being an immense mushroom lover. Though we did get the last order of them that day, which made me feel triumphant.

We also enjoyed the seasonal heirloom tomato salad which was absolutely delicious. Though the assembly of this dish is beautiful, it still amazed me how flavorful it was even though it appeared to be relatively simple. They seemed to toss it in some oil and seasonings that made each bite significantly more delicious than the tomato salads I routinely produce in my kitchen. I guess that’s why the person who works there is called a “chef” and I am not. #revelation

Heirloom Tomato Salad - $13

Heirloom Tomato Salad – $13

Then came the scallop, blue prawn, and calamari, which comes with squid ink crostini, sea beans, abalone mushrooms, tomato water, and liquid olive. This dish was pretty good, despite “tomato water” and “liquid olive” being rather odd ingredients, imho. My only complaint about this dish was the blue prawn. It was fried whole, and I wasn’t sure how to eat it. My companion assured me you can eat the whole thing — the shell, head, and legs and everything. Yeah, I don’t want to do that. It was gross. The legs were, well, legs; the shell was tough, as you might expect a shell to be; and the head was filled with disgusting goo, again, as you might expect. Sadly, it’s what I remember most about the dish, though the rest was tasty.

Scallop, Blue Prawn, and Calamari - $17

Scallop, Blue Prawn, and Calamari – $17

For a main, we split the California Black Cod with crispy bacalao, green peppercorn crusted summer squash, red orach, squash “bisque”, and cilantro coulis which was very well made and delicious. I love black cod. The weird hot dog-looking thing is apparently the bacalao, which is dried, salted cod. Or so Wikipedia tells me. At the time I just poked at it, took a bite, and dutifully split it with my dinner-mate. Done and done.

California Black Cod - $26

California Black Cod – $26

I guess I had some odd complaints, but generally I really liked the place. I thought the ingredients were interesting and well thought out, and that the dishes were beautifully presented. Most everything was extremely tasty, and the ambiance was classy and casual at the same time. First birthday dinner of 2013: check.

Maverick on Urbanspoon

Wine Kitchen

9 06 2013

This is going to be a weird post.

Basically, these food photos turned out relatively amazing. So this place looks amazing. And the food was really good, but the decor and general ambiance of Wine Kitchen irked me in a weird way. And since I was with my architect friend, she easily told me Eight Things that Wine Kitchen Could Do to Improve Their Vibe. And, while I would not have noticed them myself, she was right.

But first, food:

Behold: Fried gnocchi

Behold: Fried gnocchi

We sat right next to the window; the light was great. These pictures are with my shitty Android phone. Yeah, everybody, Android. Decent pictures. It can happen.

Anyway, the menu was all nibbles, but was very creative. We ordered almost everything that didn’t include animals that have legs. All the dishes were about $12, except a few smaller nibbles (like the corn tempura) that were around $4. It was all really good.

Corn Tempura

Corn Tempura

Scallops a la Plancha

Scallops a la Plancha

Scallops a la Plancha

Scallops a la Plancha

Cheese Plate! Aged gouda in the middle was amazing.

Cheese Plate! Aged gouda in the middle was amazing.

Big Eye Tuna Crudo

Big Eye Tuna Crudo with quinoa

So back to the Big Eight… I’ll just do a list, like I like to do. Here are some unsolicited thoughts on how to make WK a bit more chic:


  1. The font. Not nearly chic enough. The bottle opener thing is superfluous. I hesitate to criticize this, since I know how hard it is to choose a logo. But still.
  2. The orange-ish paint on those first walls (pictured) is not ok.
  3. The wood wine holder wall displays are no good. Do something architectural with the wine display or get it out of there.
  4. The weird weed/plant decoration on the north wall (not pictured).
  5. The art on the south walls in the main space (also not pictured, and I didn’t even see it, but Architect said so).
  6. Table top color — dark red no good. Too dark. Lighter would be more inviting.
  7. Chairs — too traditional, go with something more modern. Though they were sturdy, which I appreciated.
  8. Get rid of the TV at the bar. I, personally, could take or leave this one. But, again, Architect has spoken.

So there you go, those are some thoughts on possible decor improvements.

Oh yeah, we drank this bubbly, and it was very nice. It is called wine kitchen, after all. End scene.




5 05 2013

Hello world! I am back. After a brief hiatus to take some dumb engineering test, and then some subsequent rest to do things like see the sunshine, remind friends that I exist, and generally sit doing nothing at all, I am ready to bloggulate again. Let’s kick this biatch off with Brenda’s.


Brenda’s Beignets

Brenda’s French Soul Food is in the TL. That’s SF-speak for the Tenderloin. Which is the filth-ridden, junkie-laden, pristinely located neighborhood right in the middle of the city between all the other neighborhoods you like (ex: downtown, Hayes Valley, Nob Hill, etc.). The Tenderloin is like San Francisco’s booby trap for visitors who stumble into the area accidentally, and just a puss-filled blemish on the landscape that natives avoid most of the time.

Sunlit Brenda's

Sunlit Brenda’s

Sometimes something good takes up residence in the TL. Brenda’s is one of these diamonds in the rough, if you will. Last time I took a cab here, my driver was very confused.

Driver: “You want to go where?”

Me: “Polk between Turk and Eddy.”

Driver: “Are you sure?”

Me: “Yes, it’s ok, I’m meeting people there.”

Drivers are overly concerned when I request seemingly perilous destinations, for some reason.

Anyway, Brenda’s is awesome. It’s a decent-sized place and it will have a good SF wait for a table during weekend brunch. They do breakfast, lunch, dinner, and aforementioned weekend brunch. I’ve been for brunch and dinner, and both were very good.

Florentine $10

Florentine $10

Fried Catfish $11

Fried Catfish $11

For brunch, Alicia and I both ordered a Benedict of sorts. They have four choices of Benedicts, all $10 or $11. Comes with nice potatoes or grits.

The “dinner” I had there was just a mash of appetizers/sides shared between me and my two lady friends. The Brie en Croute salad was amazing. Fried shallots, sweet yummy dressing and a ridiculously good flaky bread-covered piece of warm brie. So good.

Brie en Croute Salad $8.50

Brie en Croute Salad $8.50

Other sides we shared were mac ‘n cheese, hush-puppies, and collard greens, and then a dessert of the (nearly mandatory)  Beignets and their special of peanut butter mud pie. The mac and puppies were really good, but the collard greens had an unidentified meat product in them which chased off the two veggies at the table. Plus, didn’t really love the taste, oddly. Usually I love any greens.

Mac & Cheese $5

Mac & Cheese $5

Hushpuppies $4.75

Hush-puppies $4.75

The Beignets are somewhat of a specialty; you get three per order and they’re massive! Choice of plain (no filling), chocolate, or apple. The sampler comes with one of each. Note also that the price of all these goods is relatively cheap, which makes any SF meal exciting. Aside from the location (which actually isn’t too far south of Nob Hill), it’s a great place.

Beignet Floght $6

Beignet Flight $6

Peanut Butter Mud Pie

Peanut Butter Mud Pie

Brenda's French Soul Food on Urbanspoon

The Corner Store

9 02 2013

This adorable little gem opened up not long ago at the corner (ah, hence The Corner Store) of Masonic and Geary in the Inner Richmond, SF. It’s classic San Francisco with a quirky little menu, fun cocktails, and a cute space. I’ve been twice. This time, I was really happy, see?

Yeay, food!

Yeay, food!

There aren’t actually a lot of veg options on the menu, unfortunately, but I found something out the second time I went: they’ll make non-veg things veg if you ask. Because they’re chefs and that shiz doesn’t phase them. I love this city.

This is the beet salad. I thought it would be mostly beets. But it wasn’t. It was better than that. Cuz the corner store doesn’t mess around. Not even with beets.

Roasted Beets (salad)

Roasted Beets (salad)

This is the smoked salmon with rye flatbread and dill creme fraiche (hold the pastrami gastrique, whatever that is). It was yummmm.

Smoked salmon

Smoked salmon

And this is the veg dish du jour (or du mois, as it were) which was some sort of grains with mushrooms and cheese. I don’t recall the exact description, but it sounded like it would be risotto-esque, and it was except that the grains were less tender and more distinct in form. It was really good.

Grains and mushrooms and sauce, oh my!

Grains and mushrooms and sauce, oh my!

My second trip was for a blogger event hosted by Urbanspoon. Which meant they paid for a variety of dishes to be brought out to about fifteen local bloggers hungry for photos as much as for food. It was awesome; I love free food. Highlights:

Starting with the best first: this is a new kale concoction that’s not currently on the menu. They asked for our recommendations regarding the dish’s introduction to the menu. My thoughts: YES PLEASE. The kale was deep fried, crispy and likely bereft of any nutritional value it once held. It was amazing. Those balls perched on top? Panko-crusted, deep-fried poached egg. Yes, the chef somehow managed to deep fry a poached egg and keep the inside runny. He described the process to us (yeah, we got an exclusive with the chef and owner, no big): amazing.

Kale 'n stuff

Kale ‘n stuff

This is the “Corner Store PB&J”, an odd dish that I normally would have nothing to do with as it’s covered in bourbon-glazed pork. But, being the kitchen-savvy folk they are, they brought out a veggie version with mushrooms instead of pork. Mushrooms over a grit cake with huckleberry as the “J”. Ridiculous. Incredible.

PB&J: The real thing with pork

PB&J: The real thing with pork

I single-handedly destroyed the veggie version. And I'd do it again.

I single-handedly destroyed the veggie version. And I’d do it again.

And I learned something that night: “sweetbreads” are not in fact bread. Indeed they’ve gone the opposite direction as “offal” and made a confusingly appetizing name. Regardless, everyone said they tasted like chicken wings.

Sweetbreads. Don't ask.

Sweetbreads. Don’t ask.

We were even presented the Idaho Red Trout dish, along with a handful of other salads and mains to feast on. It was a pretty amazing night.

Trout in the house

Trout in the house

Oh! And listen to this: their Pickled Paloma cocktail consists of tequila, lime, pickle brine, and house grapefruit soda. Yeah, it’s a cocktail that tastes like a pickle. It was amazing. Note: three is too many. Even if they’re free. Enjoy.

The Corner Store on Urbanspoon

Millennium for Thanksgiving

28 11 2012

What do you do if your family doesn’t do a big Thanksgiving anymore, and you don’t even eat turkey? Go to Millennium! Millennium is an upscale vegan restaurant near Union Square in SF, and mom was smart enough to make a reservation for Thanksgiving months ago when no one knew what their plans were going to be. I mean, you can always cancel the reservation, right? Good thinking, mom.

Schmancy salad!

They had a prix fixe menu for Thanksgiving evening, which included an appetizer plate for the table, soup, salad, choice of two mains, and choice of two desserts for $65 per person. An optional wine pairing was offered for an additional $28, in which our party did not partake due to being: a) cheap, and b) already sufficiently pre-partied. Sadly, since I didn’t snag one of their menus (or a picture of it — what was I thinking!), I don’t have the huge list of superfluous descriptions for each dish. In fact, I will probably barely be able to even describe what the damn things were since Millennium has a way of creating highly enigmatic menu summaries*.

Anyway. We started with a weird appetizer plate for the table to share. It included a couple different types of bread (corn bread, sourdough, and walnutty bread), some really really good cauliflower dip, truffle pop corn (I guess the truffle out-chics the low-rent-ness of the pop corn? we were puzzled by this), roasted chestnuts, and something lentil-y. It was kinda odd, but certainly entertained us. Especially since mom ate the chestnuts whole. Are you supposed to do that?

Appetizer plate for the table.

Next came the celery bisque, which we were all skeptical about, to be honest, but was really, really good. It was served hot (thankfully) and had excellent flavor. And it was salty enough, which is often a problem for me with a veggie-based soup.

Pretend like this photo doesn’t suck. It was dark in there and I hate flashes.

The salad was pretty standard, just some greens and a sweet-ish vinaigrette. We got a good shot of Danny showing his true feelings about this particular choice of restaurant that evening…

Danny isn’t super excited about vegan Thanksgiving. But he was a good sport anyway.

Next was one of two mains. A mushroom torte or pumpkin something. They each came with some brussel sprouts and potatoes (or maybe it was daikon? we weren’t sure at the time), something fluffy and starchy that emulated stuffing, home-made cranberry sauce stuff, and syrupy sweet potatoes. I got the mushroom (which, oddly, is a similar consistency to turkey); the other three got the squash. They were both very yummy.

Pumpkin main course.

Mushroom torte main course. The mushrooms are on the right under some kind of puree and gravy. Yum.

For dessert, the choices were pumpkin pie or chocolate pecan pie. I do not like either of these, even at non-vegan restaurants, though I don’t doubt that they were well made. I ordered the chocolate pecan hoping it was more chocolate than pecan, but, alas, it was not. I think mom finished her pumpkin, as she does, but dessert was definitely the weakest course for all of us.

Chocolate pecan pie and ginger ice cream (me no like-y). The pumpkin pie is not pictured; it looked like regular pumpkin pie. Use your imagination.

Overall we had a really good time and a great meal. I would highly recommend this place for Thanksgiving. It was easy, not ridiculously expensive, super filling (we all regretted the appetizers we consumed at my house beforehand), and generally very tasty. And I didn’t have to wash one single dish. Booya. Happy Thanksgiving, peeps.

*A dish description from their standard dinner menu is as follows: “brik pastry dough, Kuri squash, grilled seitan & dried apricot filling, beluga lentil & tomato tagine, sauteed fall greens, Fresno chile harissa, cucumber-mint raita, cinnamon-almond dust”. I could start a long list of questions, or just shrug and order something because pretty much everything is really good despite the ridiculous descriptions.

State Bird Provisions

27 10 2012

For real, this time.

Ok, so, I may have gotten a bit frustrated with the reservation process and popularity of State Bird Provisions recently. But, in response to my sad/ranting/obnoxious blog post, my good friend and personal savior, Ms. Mala B. won the refresh-the-reservations-webpage game. The day after my “I’m so grumpy that I can’t get a rezzo at SBP” post, I received a text:

“Holy crap”

Ms. Bingham had won the culinary lottery; the stars had aligned to reveal a reservation at SBP the following Friday at 5.30pm for two people. And she, being the most kindhearted, loving, awesome, beautiful (not relevant, but still true) person ever, bequeathed this reservation to me.

Obligatory above the fold photo. Carry on.

Remember that episode of My So-Called Life when Angela’s dad gives her Grateful Dead tickets? Subsequently she sells them in an effort to impress/have some excuse for contact with Jordan Catalano and to piss off her dad, but Rayanne’s words on the matter still ring true: “He’s still the type of dad that would lay two Dead tickets on you out of nowhere”. And in this case, Angela’s dad is Mala and my date was super excited and not all pissy about it like Rayanne. End scene on ridiculously drawn out analogy. The point is: Mala is amazing, I love her.


It was awesome. And, since my little camera (Canon S100, buy one!) is broken (uber sad face), I rented a lens just for this night. Canon 28mm fixed f1.8. It did the trick. The food was so good and the pictures are so beautiful, I am overwhelmed. Let the visuals begin!

First, half of the items on the menu are not actually on the menu. Look at their website menu. See all the things called “provisions”? Those aren’t on the menu at the restaurant. Instead, they’re served dim-sum style on carts and trays that servers circulate throughout the restaurant during the night. So you don’t even know what’s up that night until it’s at your table. And, you have a hard time pacing yourself because it all sounds/looks SO GOOD. We started the night off by saying yes to the first three items that came by on a cart:

Shrimp and avocado with crispy nori. Amazing. In the running for my favorite for the night.

Raw ahi tuna with quinoa and bonito flakes. Mild, cool, fresh — delicious.

Seafood ceviche over creamed avocado.

At this point we actually did order off the menu. There are three sections on the menu: pancakes, commandables, and dessert. We ordered the two vegetarian pancakes (sourdough, sauerkraut, pecorino & ricotta pancakes and sweet corn & garlic chive ‘shortstack’ with mt. tam). Each order came with four approximately two-inch diameter savory pancakes. They were delicious, needless to say.

The sourdough and ricotta pancakes tasted like sourdough grilled cheese sandwiches. Possibly in my top three favorites for the night. So good.

Sweet corn short stack.

For a “commandable”, we ordered the breaded cauliflower with beet jam, which was beautiful and yummy:

Breaded cauliflower

And then we snagged two more items off passing trays: tofu tagliatelle and garlic knot bread with buratta. I said “yes” to the latter before the waiter had even finished the description. I want it for every meal ever. Easily my favorite of the night. So ridiculously good.

Tofu tagliatelle

Garlic knot bread with buratta — WINNER

Lastly, we went out on a limb for dessert and got the chocolate gingersnap pudding with crispy coconut pecans. I do not like many of these ingredients, but I was urged “not to be so goddamn picky”. And the waiter recommended it. The pudding was too ginger-y for me, so I left that to my companion. But the crispy coconut pecans had chocolate involved and were amazing. Finale:

Chocolate gingersnap pudding with crispy coconut pecans

And this was just the beginning. There were so many dishes that passed us that we had to say no to because there was just no way to eat it all. Suggestion: bring four people so you can try more things. The lesson: DO NOT GIVE UP on refreshing their site to get a reservation. Totally worth it. Fun, delicious, amazing. Thank you for having us, SBP, we will be back.

State Bird Provisions on Urbanspoon


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