Monday, December 10, 2007
Dinner with Joyse
Bar Crudo is great little restaurant with extensive Belgian beer list and wine list. A lot of small plates of raw food, which is delicious but probably not filling (especially if you are drinking...)
603 Bush St. (Stockton St.), San Francisco, CA
Very nice French/New American restaurant in downtown Saratoga. Cool wine cellar that is two stories deep with a glass floor from the first level. Quite pricey.
14555 Big Basin Way, Saratoga, CA 95070
Thursday, December 6, 2007
Dinner with Japan
Super authentic and yummy Thai food. Alot of their dishes are super spicy. Fantastic soup (Tom Yum Gai I think), and their sweet sticky rice with mango dessert is amazing.
There is also an original Krung Thai down the street, but New one is better.
580 N. Winchester Blvd., near Forrest Avenue, San Jose, CA 95128
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Dinner with family
Great izakaya type place by Akabane station. We had a course package with different dishes and nabe. All you can drink for two hours for 1600 yen.
Hotpepper page for restaurant
Tokyo-to, Kita-ku, Akabane 1-11-4, Apo Akabane 3rd Floor
We went to Onohan for the kamo-nabe but they were out, so ended up with shabu-shabu. Very good, a little pricey. A bit hard to find.
106-0032 Tokyo-to, Minato-ku, Roppongi 7-17-2
Lunch with Tokyo colleagues
器ながや was a good traditional Japanese lunch place in Roppongi. About $10 for "teishoku" of the day, fish, rice with natto, miso soup, and pickles.
107-0052 東京都港区赤坂9-1-7 赤坂レジデンシャルホテル１F
107-0052 Tokyo-to, Minato-ku, Akasaka 9-1-7, Akasaka Residential Hotel 1st Floor
Friday, November 16, 2007
Fogo de Chao is an amazing churrascaria in downtown Chicago. Definitely not cheap (f-23, $55 on Zagat), but fantastic Brazilian food and great wine list. We had one of our Brazilian sales guys from Miami with us, so we got the best of the authentic dishes--fried polenta, picanha, fraldinha, the rice and beans. Fantastic salad bar too, I could have just filled up on just that too.
661 N. La Salle Street, Chicago, IL 60610
Dinner with Anthony
Avec is an amazing Mediterranean restaurant in Chicago. Avec is basically the wine bar/more casual version of Blackbird, which is next door (Anthony said Blackbird is great too).
So Avec is small place, great simple architecture. There is one row of tables, and we squeezed in between a group of four and two on the end.
The menu has small plates, large plates and cheese. YUM. We started with three cheeses and "cheese accompaniments" -- quince paste, date cake. One of their signature dishes is a chorizo stuffed medjool dates with bacon. I mean really. Amazing. Then we had a light prosciutto dish with watercress and pears, really great. Last dish was another small plate, veal breast with potatoes. Finished off with a crispy chocolate (like Crunch bars).
The wine was fabulous. Menu has selections from Spain, Portugal, Italy and France, and we got a great one from Duoro, Portugal.
Avec doesn't take reservations, but if you can go with a small group, I didn't see many waiting. Totally worth it!
615 W. Randolph, Chicago, IL 60606
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
Cisco MBA Lunch
YUM, super good and often spicy Malay and Thai cuisine. Had some Rothi bread to start, and they brought us all this spicy broth with celery. I had red curry with prawns with rice. All in $12 per person including tax & tip, good lunch specials. You can make a reservation online if you have more than six in the party, and they are pretty militant about it. Loong lines if you go for lunch otherwise.
182 Ranch Drive, Milpitas, CA 95035
Dinner with Mareza and Andrea
Nice chain with ridiculously huge portions and good cheesecake. Artichoke appetizer was remarkably healthy (or tasted light).
375 University Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94301
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Breakfast with Lowell
The Old Thyme Inn is a wonderful little bed & breakfast in Half Moon Bay. Right on Main Street in downtown Half Moon Bay, it is a 7-room B&B with a cute garden and yard and friendly innkeepers. For breakfast, we walked out of our room to the living room, where a little table was set up with homemade raspberry yogurt and lemon-rosemary bread made with ingredients from the garden. Fresh orange juice, coffee and tea were all great, than we had chile rellenos with Cuban black beans, which were just wonderful.
779 Main Street, Half Moon Bay, CA 94019
Birthday dinner with Lowell
Navio is the restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton at Half Moon Bay, super nice, wonderful views of the cliffs and ocean during the day, and I hear it's wonderful for drinks. But I was lucky enough to go for dinner.
We thought about the $105 tasting menu, which looked just fantastic. There were a few things on the tasting menu which weren't available on the regular menu, like the butter poached lobster. But there was enough to try on the regular. I started with a pumpkin soup over creme fraiche and chestnuts. Lowell had a prawn appetizer - some over a sauce and over fennel salad with the heads fried. I liked the fried shrimp heads, but Lowell said the prawns were just ok.
Lowell had beef short ribs, which looked quite holiday festive with dark green kale and pomagranate seeds. Really soft and good. I had a fantastic pork loin with globe artichokes and potato. The sides of brussel sprouts with bacon and exotic mushrooms were good.
We both thought that the food was good but we've had better, especially for the price. Then we got dessert, which made up for everything. First, the waiter brought us a plate with a small box of truffles with Happy Birthday written in chocolate and a candle because he had asked what the occasion was at the beginning of the meal. We split two desserts. The "biscuit au chocolat" was basically a souffle (had to order 25 m in advance) and just heavenly that you dip in this crystallized salt trail. The pumpkin-coconut mousse with candied fruit and salty sorbet was awesome. They did an amazing job of combining the sweet and salty.
One Miramontes Point Road, Half Moon Bay, CA 94019
Birthday dinner with Lowell, Nadim, Eric, Shan and Karen
Osha Thai was a nice accidental find in SoMa before the birthday party at Mr Smiths. We called an hour before for a reservation and showed up 15m late. Only with Nadim's magic did they let us sit down -- highly recommend reservations and showing up on time. Super trendy fusion Asian Thai place.
Great cocktails, I loved the lycheetini myself. Appetizers of spring rolls and seared wasabi ahi tuna were quite good. We went family style on the rest of the meal -- ginger chicken, pineapple fried rice which was one of my favorites, curry dish, spicy eggplant with beef, and a shrimp dish.
149 2nd Street, San Francisco, CA 94105
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Dinner with Carolyn and Karen
Bissap Baobab is a great Senegalese place down in the Mission. I still can't really tell you what Senegalese food is, but it was quite good. Best were the appetizer fried plantain and the shrimp coconut dish with an amazing sauce (good with rice). The lamb dish was ok. I thought the cocktails were interesting, but Carolyn had to send hers back for a beer, so try at your own risk.
2323 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94110
Dinner with Nathalie and Tristen
Umami is an inconspicuous two-story restaurant and bar on Webster just down the hill from Union. Trendy and fusiony, has a great cocktail menu and small dishes to start. The Za Panchi was an awesome cocktail. We had edamame hummus with housemade pita. Fish tacos (there is a fancier name) were fantastic. We also had shrimp skewers which were quite good, and a curry dish.
2909 Webster Street, San Francisco, CA 94123
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Dinner with Reiko
Arriving at Gochi still stuffed from a ridiculous lunch at Darda Seafood did not stop me from completely gorging myself at dinner as well. Gochi is definitely on my top 3 Japanese-restaurant-not-in-Japan list.
The place is remarkably cute for an authentic Japanese place, with most of the dining area on a raised platform where you take off your shoes, in addition to tables and tatami rooms. It is always full and so you have to grab the wait staff to get orders, food, tea or the check, but well worth it.
Their menu is extensive with many dishes common to a traditional izakaya in Japan. We started with ankimo (monkfish liver), kabocha-mochi with cheese (kind of pumpkin-cheese-potato croquette), and seaweed salad which was impressive in being enormous and not neon green (really good). The buta kakuni (boiled pork dish) was amazing, it just fell apart with a touch of the chopsticks, super soft. We also had a great fish special (gindara nizuke).
Gochi has the traditional izakaya "finishing" dishes like grilled rice balls, soba and miso soup. Unfortunately they were out of asari (small clam) miso soup, but I had an amazing tororo oroshi soba (soba with grated yam and daikon) and Reiko had a rice ball with mentaiko (spicy cod roe) which was just fantastic.
*Highly recommend making a reservation in advance, they are always packed, even on weekdays
*If you like sake/shochu, they have a lot of good stuff, and they will let you keep a bottle there with your name on it (I have not done this, just heard)
19980 E Homestead Rd, Cupertino, CA 95014
Lunch with Gautam
Darda Seafood is in the amazing cheap Asian food mall in Milipitas on the west end of Cisco's campus. I think I was told it is Muslim Chinese food (correct me if I am wrong). Whatever it was, it was really good and pretty cheap for ALOT of food.
They start you off with a soup (think it was egg drop and corn) and tea. We ordered a lamb dish and moo shu shrimp and thin sesame bread. Whoa. Dishes are enormous, they had to clear off our condiments to make it fit on the table. Really good food though. The "thin" sesame bread was probably the size of a stuffed crust pizza and alone could have fed the two of us. Again really good though, and think the grand total was $30ish.
296 Barber Court, Milpitas, CA 95035
Dinner with Alka
Lavanda is a University Ave Italian place with a good bar for drinks and nice dining room. Alka and I had their pick-three-antipasti-for-$15 with grilled calamari (cold), grilled shrimp skewers (hot and yummy) and potatoes with brava sauce (I love it). Alka had her wine and salad, and I had some tea, so not a huge dinner -- about $40. Service was a little funky. I didn't think we were there that late (9pm) but they kind of rushed us at the end.
185 University Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94301
Brunch with Lowell, Robyn and Rob
Chez Maman is a super cute, super French, neighborhood bistro on Union Street (though looks like they have a Portrero Hill location as well). They don't really have a "brunch" menu -- a few ouefs dishes, which looked great, but that is it. No Bloody Mary's either, was told my options were "beer or wine" by the French guy, but they had good mimosas and Rob's hot chocolate looked amazing. I had the Savoyarde crepe -- proscuitto, brie, bechamel sauce (which I was told by Robyn was "cream and goodness") and tomato -- awesome.
2223 Union Street, San Francisco, CA 94123
Brunch with Lowell
Cute little diner-esque place on Chestnut near Scott. Had an amazing artery clogging Italian omelette, which was basically a lasagna with eggs instead of pasta. YUM. Fantastic breakfast potatoes too, I would go back just for that. Lowell had a much healthier avocado and cheese omelette that was pretty good too.
2346 Chestnut Street, San Francisco, CA 94123
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
Dinner with Okamoto's
McCormick & Kuleto's is in Fisherman's Wharf on Ghirardelli Square. The restaurant is a pretty big chain, but they have great seafood and with beautiful views overlooking the wharf and water.
We started with an 0yster sampler of West Coast varieties, which tend to be smaller but more rich and creamy. We also had cups of chowder, isn't New England but good. The crab cakes were also quite good.
My favorites were the three grilled sea scallops with a shrimp-stuffed potato croquette and sauteed spinach. Super juicy scallops and the croquettes were great with the sauce. We also shared a halibut, which was surprisingly light. The wild atlantic salmon was a little too complex with a tomato compote and marscapone polenta.
900 North Point Street, San Francisco, California 94109
Sunday, September 30, 2007
Dinner with Eijiro
I am so excited to have found Sushi Tomi, an authentic Japanese restaurant run by Japanese off of Castro in Mountain View. Their appetizers are like what we would get at izakaya in Japan -- hamachi kama (poached yellowtail head), grilled eggplant, ika natto (squid with fermented soybeans), ikura oroshi (salmon roe with grated daikon). Fantastic. Then we got the chef's choice sushi, which was very good. With a few beers, about $50 per person.
635 W. Dana Street, Mountain View, CA 94040
Dinner with Lowell
Barney's is a good burger joint on Steiner and Chestnut. I still like the Counter better, but there are dozens of options for different meats and toppings, and they have good appetizers as well. Beware, while the vegetable platter was very good, it consisted of fried batter and little vegetable, and I think I am now due for a heart attack. Yummy though. I had the Baja burger with avocado, bacon and cheese, which was very good.
3344 Steiner Street, San Francisco, CA 94123
Drinks with Christine
We were recommended Oliver Twist by one of our colleagues who was an expat in Zurich for two years. It is totally an expat bar with English bartenders and Guinness and other UK beers on tap. Fun place though not so Swiss. It is off of Niederdorfstrasse, which runs along the river and has many restaurants and bars.
Rindermarkt 6, 8001 Zurich, Switzerland
Dinner with Christine
Christine and I went to Zeughauskeller at the recommendation of one of our Zurich colleagues. She had said it was very traditional Swiss, easy to get to in center of town, a bit touristy, but good food and she eats there sometimes. Good enough. The restaurant is a quick walk from Paradeplatz, which is a big tram station on Bahnhofstrasse, the shopping street with Fifth Ave stores.
(Another Paradeplatz recommendation is Sprungli on the corner of Paradeplatz and Bahnhofstrasse across from Credit Suisse – phenomenal chocolate shop and it also has a café that looked great)
Zeughauskeller is on the Sprungli side of the plaza there across Bahnhofstrasse. At 8:30pm, the place was packed and we waited a little, but there seemed to be one rush of diners because we were the last ones to have to wait in line.
Zeughauskeller is one cavernous dining room with long wooden tables and random military décor on the walls. I mean a Gattling gun over the door and armor and rifles on the wall. Kind of bizarre. No small table so we shared one with a couple from France.
Started the drinks with Natertrub, an unfiltered grainy draught beer. Next was Schneider Aventinus, which was on the menu as "Bavaria’s best dark wheat beer." I didn't read the fine print on the 8.0 Vol. % and 5.0 dl (half a liter...) but it was definitely my favorite beer of the night. (Check out their website for the beer list, good stuff).
On the food end, I started with a tomato and onion salad with French dressing, really firm fresh tomatoes. Christine had one of their seasonal specials, a butternut squash soup, which was phenomenal and rich. For dinner, I had the Kalbsgeschnetzeltes nach Zürcher Art (yes, I copied and pasted). It is "panfried sliced veal and mushrooms in a delicious creamy white-wine sauce" and came with the Swiss-style hash browns, Rosti. Fantastic cream sauce, and the hash browns were perfect.
I think it ended up being about 45-50 CHF (Swiss francs) per person.
Bahnhofstrasse 28a (near Paradeplatz), 8001 Zürich, Switzerland
0041 044 211 26 90
Drinks with VT
We came across Antica Birreria di Porta Nuova on our walk back to the hotel from a mediocre dinner and unsatisfying bar. Looked so cute and quaint on the corner, we had to go in. We sat in wooden benches on the wall and poured through their beer list. Not so Italian but good stuff. The beers came in little boot shaped glasses or huge cylindrical beer dispensers. Good beer, good atmosphere.
Via Solferino, 56 - Milano, Italy (Ang. Bastioni di Porta Nuova)
Dinner with Europe team
Christine and I were invited to a dinner that Renato was organizing in Bergamo on our first night in Milan. Bergamo is about 45 minutes outside of Milan towards the Alps. We avoided the €90 cab and took the commuter train out from Milan (about 50 min for €6) and then cabbed about 10 minutes up to Da Mimmo. The Italian rail system is not the most reliable in terms of time, so might want to schedule some buffer. We also ended up waiting for a cab at the Bergamo station, but I still think driving in the city would be a nightmare.
We drove up winding hillside streets along these city walls and through stone gates. I imagine the view on this drive would have been magnificent if it wasn’t nighttime. Within the walls, the cab wound up and down narrow one-lane, two-way streets. The restaurant was surprisingly large with several spacious dining rooms, including an outdoor covered patio that probably seated over a hundred. We sat at a long table with a dozen or so of our colleagues.
I have no idea what the wine was, but it was red and wonderful. We left most of our menu selection to the Italians, and started with a fresh pizza and some other shared dishes. Renato suggested that pasta with lobster, which was spaghetti with the entire half of a lobster with the tail and one claw. A wonderfully handy seafood scissor, which I would like to find for myself. Super yummy with a light red sauce.
Then, Renato asks us what we want for secondi… what? Apparently that was just the first course. I was recommended the osso buco polenta and it was amazing. The osso buco braised veal shanks. The northern Italians use a lot of polenta, and it was thicker and richer than what I typically think of polenta. So good. I did have to pass on dessert though.
Fantastic food and I have Bergamo on my list of places to go back to.
via B. Colleoni, 17, 24129 Bergamo – BG, Italy
Dinner with Lowell
Andale is a chain of reasonably priced Mexican restaurants in the Bay Area. Order at the counter and they bring it to you, so not full service. They have a salsa bar and good menu. I had a yummy shrimp quesadilla and Lowell had a ginormous burrito.
2150 Chestnut St, San Francisco CA 94123
Saturday, September 22, 2007
Dinner with Lowell, Kermit and Libby
Ristorante Milano is a wonderful, authentic Italian place in Pac Heights. The waitstaff is totally Italian and the food was really excellent. We started with roasted Peppers and fresh mozzarella with grilled polenta. My dinner was a special of the day, a pork on polenta. It was very good, but I actually had a lot of food envy over Lowell's pasta with scallops and seafood and Libby/Kermit's gnocchi.
1448 Pacific Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94109
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Lunch with Tayo
Yummy and super efficient Malaysian and Singaporean place in the crazy Asian Milpitas Mall (where Ranch 99 is). We had a fried bean curd (tofu) with peanut sauce for appetizer, which I loved. Main dishes we had a spicy beef saute and a mango and sweet sauce salmon, both were great.
278 Barber Lane, Milpitas, CA 95035
Monday, September 17, 2007
Dinner with Katy and Jason
Yummy traditional Italian place in downtown Palo Alto. We had a block of polenta with mushroom and red sauce for appetizer. Jason's tortellini with a cream sauce and ham looked great, as did Katy's pasta (the really wide flat one). I had a filling fetticine with mushrooms and truffle oil. All together, with two glasses of wine, was about $25 per person. The server was great tonight, but rumor that they will push to turn tables on a busier night.
247 Hamilton Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94301
Saturday, September 15, 2007
Birthday dinner with Lowell
I had a lovely birthday dinner for Lowell at Isa, on Steiner and Chestnut in the Marina. I found it on Zagat's (25 for food) and had a 8:15 reservation. We had a funny seat -- it was cute in the end because we were on a date, but we had a little corner table where we sat next to each other facing a window.
I ordered the Frogs Leap Zin 2005 ($49) which was really good. They serve everything family style at Isa. We started with tuna tartare with avocado, edamame and radish and crostini- amazing, we loved it. Flavorful, with lots of depth, and a decent size dish too. We also loved the scallop on bed of mashed potato with corn and beans - also amazing with great juicy scallops. Wonderful, seasonal side of summer corn.We chose the seafood paella over the mushroom risotto because it looked amazing at the table next to us. Unfortunately it was kind of like risotto -- a little soupy, bland, not great. The duck breast was ok. The duck itself wasn't great, though with combination with the beet juice and greens was good.
Dessert brought us back. Grapefruit granite, which turned out to be a sherbet, was just fantastic. Super fresh and not too sweet.
Total cost was $130 (plus tip). I want to go back and try some of their more simple dishes, but overall really liked Isa.
3324 Steiner Street, San Francisco, CA 94123
Brunch with Lowell
One of my favorite brunch places near Lowell in the Marina, Squat & Gobble Cafe & Crepery has awesome crepes, breakfast foods and salads. You order and they bring you your food, but pretty casual place, with tons of people during brunch and lunch times.
I had a shrimp omelet special, which I didn't love, though the marina crepe I had last time was awesome. Lowell's breakfast sandwich on a toasted croissant was pretty amazing. Dishes are about $9. Looks like they have a bunch of locations.
2263 Chestnut Street, San Francisco, CA 94123
Dinner with Karen
Oasis Beer Garden is an awesome Stanford burger dive, with cheap beers, burgers and pizza. Pretty awesome Philly cheese steak too.
241 El Camino Real, Menlo Park, CA 94025
Lunch with Tiger Team
Parcel 104 is the restaurant at the Marriott in Santa Clara down the street from Cisco's campus. Quite a good menu and good service. We started with great fried seafood/calamari, cheese plate (not super), and bruschetta type toasts. I really enjoyed the bleu cheese burger with carmelized onions. Also switched in a side of zucchini fries instead of normal fries, which was a great idea. Their Arnold Palmers (lemonade and ice tea) comes with frozen lemonade and mint, which made it my favorite non-alcoholic drink for the day.
2700 Mission College Boulevard, Santa Clara CA 95054
Saturday, September 8, 2007
Dinner with team
We had a team dinner at Tanglewood on my second day of work. We met at the bar for a few beers before heading to the table for grilled calamari and seared tuna appetizers while we waited for the rest of the group.
I had two fried soft shell crabs with a curry flavored crust. It was a little heavy but quite good. Two other co-workers also shared foods which were excellent. The duck breast was done well and came with a great homemade gnocchi. The ribs fell off the bone, which is always great.
334 Santana Row, Ste 1000, San Jose, CA 95128
Dinner with the Pipers
Great salads that they build in front of you. You have several choices of greens, meat (steak or chicken I think), 7 toppings (like corn, chickpeas, tomatoes, etc.) and dressing for $6.95. Pretty filling for a salad. Jeff had their hot sandwiches with a side, which I haven't gotten yet but looked pretty good.
482 University Ave, Palo Alto, CA, 94301
Brunch with Lowell's friends
Great brunch and super cheap. It is up metal stairs on the second floor off of the street (tough on crutches). Order at the counter and they bring the food, not super service but food is good and good value. I had a breakfast burrito that I finished about three-quarters before I had to sit back.
2517 Durant Avenue Suite C (between Bowditch St & Telegraph Ave) Berkeley, CA 94704
Take out dinner with Lowell
Great, if a bit expensive, Indian food. We had a curry dish and saag paneer (creamed spinach and cheese, my favorite) with saffron rice and butter naan. All were excellent, extremely filling, and quite satisfying for someone who was not going to get to eat for the next 18 hours pre-surgery :)
They will do take-out up to about 9:45pm.2290 El Camino Real, #9, Mountain View, CA 94040
Friday, August 17, 2007
Dinner with Soon
Soon, my buddy and carsitter for the summer, kindly took me out for a wonderful dinner in SoMa at Bacar. There are three floors of dining space, with a large bar area on the main floor. We tested a Riesling flight while we waited for our table upstairs. Bacar has an amazing wine list, and their staff was knowledgeable and helpful. Wine is also by the glass, 250ml and 500ml carafes, and bottle, which allows for many options.
For starters, we had a glass of champagne (can't remember what, but it was recommended and yummy, Delacote maybe?) and a tasty artichoke and green pepper salad with a great vinaigratte. Soon and I split out entrees -- steak and a Peking duck breast. Both were simply amazing, seasoning and meat were perfect. We enjoyed a carafe of Merlot and one of Sauvignon Blanc also. Think the final bill was around $170 for two of us -- totally worth every penny, phenomial meal.
448 Brannan St, San Francisco, CA 94107
Dinner with my family
We found the Restaurant on Zagat's (wanted seafood above 24-food) and got rave reviews about the food from my brother's co-workers. It is adjacent to a high-end seafood market on an inlet off the LI Sound in a cute little Darien neighborhood. The restaurant is in a house with seating at a bar area, along bay windows and on their patio.
My brother was told that the food was excellent and the crowd your 40-something southern Fairfield County type, and they were on point. The place is 'casual', but think more Greenwich 'cas' with sundresses and salmon khakis. It's cozy and loud, and I thought it was a great place for dinner with the 'rents.
We started with a dozen cherrystone clams and half dozen Blue Points, which were excellent and the waiter won points by bringing extra horse radish and Tabasco without asking. My brother and I split a wedge and a yummy rock lobster tail appetizer. For my main dish, I got sea scallops with a yuzu sauce, which was just excellent. My dad's sole was very light and moist, and my brother's swordfish was very good. My mother's salmon had a sweet BBQ sauce that was unfortunately too much for her though the rest of us liked it. We had a ridiculously rich chocolate cake with ice cream.
Their wine menu is ok, but we took advantage of the $25 cork fee to drink one of the Elyse Chardonneys from Napa (really rich heavy buttery Chardonney). They do have a full bar (the bar area is actually separate with a TV playing Yankees and everything), and we took advantage of that for some great apperitifs.
Total bill was around $360 with tax for the 4 of us.
89 Rowayton Ave, Rowayton, CT 06853
Monday, July 30, 2007
Dinner with Joyce and Eddie
Mercer Kitchen in SoHo is on the ground and basement floor of The Mercer Hotel and one of Jean-Georges Vongerichten's restaurants. I loved the space. There is a comfortable, bright bar area at the restaurant entrance and lounge area which is also the hotel lobby on the first floor. Stairs lead down to the dining room, which has an open kitchen, brick walls and cool stone floors. Part of the ceiling is frosted glass with metal designs which is actually the sidewalk, so you can see footsteps above you.
Food was amazing. We started with a black truffle oil and cantina cheese pizza, which was wonderful. We also got some oysters from a pretty robust raw bar. I had a pork loin with leeks and beans, which was juicy and tasty. Joyce's salmon just melted in your mouth, and Eddie's chicken was done well also. A little pricey, but totally great experience.
99 Prince Street, New York, NY 10012
Brunch with Scott
Public in SoHo (Elizabeth between Prince and Spring) has an awesome brunch, particularly nice in the summer when they open up the restaurant via their loading dock. The dining room is big and airy with red brick and plants.
Public has a great price fixe brunch -- a breakfast dish and drink for $22. We started with excellent peppery Bloody Mary's. I was impressed they also had Bloody Caesar and Bloody Maria options. We split a tea-smoked salmon and spinach benedict on sourdough with yuzu hollandaise sauce and a banana-stuffed French toast with bacon and maple syrup. The benedict was excellent, egg was perfect and the salmon and yuzu sauce were perfect. French toast, I mean how can you go wrong with stuffed French toast with bacon and syrup, so good.
210 Elizabeth Street, New York, NY 10012
Dinner with Joyce, Eddie and friends
Landmarc in the Time Warner building is the second of its kind, following the successful Tribeca location. It is NY trendy with a great view of Columbus Circle, curvy bar, and cool "pods" which are cozy and quiet booths that look like cocoons from the outside.
We had wine and small dinner. The rock shrimp risotto with lobster butter was very creamy, filling and yummy. Joyce's trio of sides were also good, she had sauteed mushrooms, leeks and ratatouille (vegetable stew basically). $15 to $30+ entrees.
Time Warner Center, 10 Columbus Circle, 3rd floor, New York, NY 10019
Drinks and show with Joyce, Eddie and friends
Dizzy's Club is one of the homes to Jazz at Lincoln Center. On the 3rd floor of the Time Warner building on 60th and Broadway, the swanky club has curvy wood paneling and a great window wall looking out on the city. The show is set up in front of the beautiful night view. The performance on Friday was Flora Purim & Airto, a bossa nova group from Brazil. The group was great, and better off before Flora started singing. The best though was when they pulled up two percussionists who were at Dizzy's as guests, one was Meia-noite and I can't remember the other. Amazing.
There is a $35 cover for the show on weekends and $30 during the week. We didn't eat, but they had a decent menu with a Southern twist. We had a bottle of wine and a crawfish-crab dip with corn chips. You can get reservations on OpenTable.
Time Warner Center, Frederick P. Rose Hall, 10 Columbus Circle, 5th floor, New York, NY 10019
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Breakfast with Shouma
Sushi-bun is my favorite sushi place in the world, in the row of restaurants outside of the Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo. There are only 10 seats so I have walked in and waited about 45 minutes, depending on the day. If the line is long, they will bring you tea while you wait.
I highly recommend the omakase C-set. It comes with 10 pieces, 3 roll pieces, soup (アサリ汁) and tea. The 10 pieces include o-toro and chu-toro (fatty and medium fatty tuna), akagai (赤貝 a clam), uni (sea urchin), and their amazing and fairly famous anago (sea eel). The anago is boiled and has a sweet sauce. It is so soft the sushi chef tells you to use your hands because the chopsticks with crush it. I can't describe how incredible this piece is, just completely melts in your mouth.
*Open from 6am-2:30pm, closed Sun/Holidays and market close days
*Check here for Tsukiji schedule, don't go on the red days
〒104-0045 Tokyo-to, Chuo-ku, Tsukiji 5-2-7
Breakfast with mom and Take
We went back again - again thwarted by Sushi-bun, but I was impressed with Ichiba-sushi. Included in the seasonal tokujo-omakase was shirako (which is basically cod gonads), which was just amazing, ordered a second one.
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Breakfast with mom
My mother and I trekked out to Tsukiji for the best sushi and were devastated when we discovered that we picked the one weekday of the month that the market was closed. Luckily a few sushi restaurants were open and we sat down at Ichiba-sushi, a place I had gone in the winter.
We spoke with the chef, this restaurant has only been open since August 2006, but it is quite good. We had the 3675 yen Tokusen Omakase set (特選おまかせにぎり) with 15 pieces of sushi. Always get the omakase at a sushi place, they know best (omakase means "chef's choice").
*Check here for Tsukiji schedule, don't go on the red days
Tokyo-to, Chuo-ku, Tsukiji 5-2-1, Tsukiji Building #8 Store #13
Dinner with Naoto, Elaine and Aya
Kuruma-ya is in the Ebisu Garden Place basement outside of Ebisu station (JR and Metro). Below Morgan Stanley Japan's offices, apparently it is popular with Naoto's former co-workers and there were a lot of suits.
We ordered the 2400 yen set menu which came with a few small starters like tofu and grated daikon (大根おろし) and drinks. Black vinegar (黒酢) is really popular in Japan now and they had a good black vinegar cassis drink. The set came with 5 yakitori -- I hate liver, so I substituted and got a wing (手羽先), scallion and chicken (ねぎま), small ground chicken ball (つくね), an asparagus wrapped in shiso leaf, and ground chicken with egg. So good :)
〒150-6090 東京都渋谷区恵比寿4-20-3, 恵比寿ガーデンプレースB2F
〒150-6090 Tokyo-to, Shibuya-ku, Ebisu 4-20-3, Ebisu Garden Place B2F
Lunch with Yell and Kathy
Yell and Kathy took me to lunch at King's in Newtown for their favorite grilled cheese on bocco bread. I ended up having a very yummy pastrami Reuben and onion rings instead. The restaurant is in a cozy log cabin and has an excellent diner menu with breakfast foods and sandwiches. Great fries and onion rings.
*Open 7 days, 8am-3pm
265 South Main Street, Route 25, Newtown, CT 06470
Dinner with dad
I made a Restaurant Week reservation for Sushi Samba for dinner on my way home from JFK after my Spain trip. We were super early at 5:30pm, especially by NY standards, but the place was half full by the end of dinner.
We started with drinks and edamame, their mojitos are very good and pricey, then went with the Restaurant Week $35 price fixe option. I had a great seared Kobe beef and mushroom appetizer with a ponzu sauce, and my dad's tuna tataki was good as well. His rockfish a la plancha was pretty good though miniscule, but I found the sushi disappointing. The mochi ice cream desserts were tasty.
We both thought the restaurant was trying a little too much... A Japanese/Brazilian/Peruvian fusion restaurant, they have an incredibly large number of staff dressed in black that come by the table to empty your bowl of edamade shells every few minutes. I had been there a few years ago for a going away party for drinks and snacks. Probably best bet to go for drinks and a few bites. Overall, great drinks and overpriced tiny dishes.
245 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10003
Pre-dinner with dad
The Oyster Bar in Grand Central is one of my all-time favorites. My dad and I often sit at the bar for a dozen oysters or cherrystone clams and wine before going out to dinner in Midtown. Which is exactly what we did on the way back from getting me at JFK from Spain.
The Oyster Bar sits on the ramp between the main hall and dining area downstairs. Inside there is a dining room on the left, a small bar straight ahead, a bar/quick eating area on the right, and a saloon in the back room.
They have an amazing selection of oysters, though unusually they were out of Belons (very good). We had one each of Blue Point and Fanny Bay, and then filled out the dozen with cherrystone clams. The Oyster Bay consistently has the biggest cherrystone clams I have ever seen, almost can't eat them in one slurp. They also give you vinegar-ginger dip and a cocktail sauce that you can add Tabasco and horse radish to taste.
In general, they have great seafood--simply grilled or cooked fish of every kind and also an amazing New England clam chowder. I used to go for a dinner of the chowder and dozen oysters/clams when I lived in NY :)
Grand Central Station, New York, NY 10017
Dinner with Lowell
I came across Nina in Lonely Planet Spain as a 'hot' restaurant in the Malasaña neighborhood in Madrid. The reviews were positive and pretty accurate in describing it as New York loft-like.
We had a drink around the corner at La Comercial on the corner of the plaza by the Bilbao metro station first. Malasaña is a really nice neighborhood and the most liveable place that we saw in Madrid. A lot of cute restaurants, bars and shops with tree-lined, cobblestone streets off the main roads.
Nina was empty around 9pm, but quickly filled up with a young-ish crowd. We had a bottle of Rioja, and started with an avocado and palm hearts puff pastry and a grilled foie gras. For dinner, I had a very good duck with an orange, sea urchin sauce. Lowell had a very small lamb, and we shared a coconut milk dessert.
While I liked Nina for its atmosphere and interesting dishes, as Lowell put it, they "are trying too hard to be too fusion... one too many flavors in every dish." While the dishes are good, there is a little too much going on some times. Worth it though, €70 total for the both of us with a bottle of wine, starters and entres.
Calle de Manuela Malasaña, 10, 28004 Madrid, Spain
Late lunch with Lowell
Lowell and I got to Madrid late in the afternoon and being absolutely famished (ok I was) stopped at the first place we saw by our hotel. Pasiones Argentinas was amazing.
We ordered the €30 set menu which included bread, salad, empanada, and fried cheese for starters. Then came the amazing platter of MEAT. I mean just enormous with juicy filets, ribs, sirloin pieces and other pieces, plus great chimichurri sauce. The set also included a bottle of wine for the two of us and a dessert (I had tea instead).
It was a lot of food, we ended up skipping dinner that night. Pasiones Argentinas was a great meal and great deal (even though it really isn't Spanish).
Closest metro is Plaza de España
Calle Leganitos, 28, 28013 Madrid, Spain
Monday, July 23, 2007
Biblioteca was a great find in Barcelona--upscale yet cozy with amazing food. A short walk off of La Rambla, the restaurant is very simply decorated with all sorts of culinary literature on white walls and low light. It is a bit cavernous and loud, especially for larger tables, but still comfortable.
They brought us a small watermelon gazpacho to start, really interesting and refreshing. I had a grilled vegetable appetizer and an excellent classic steak tartare. Lowell's tomato soup with fried olives and venison pastry with potato puree were both good, though I think Charles' slow-cooked lamb shank was my favorite. Meat just fell off the bone and melted in your mouth. Good buffalo mozzarella salad too.
*Biblioteca is open Tuesday-Saturday
C/Junta de Comerç 28, Barcelona, Spain
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Dinner with Lowell, Christine and Rai
The GSB crew enjoyed a fancy French dinner in Paris the night before Naoto's wedding. According to the reviews Christine sent us, Chez Savy is an old Paris bistro founded in 1923 with Auvergne cuisine. The group was seated at a cozy booth in the back where Rai ordered us a great bottle of wine.
I had an aubergine appetizer, an amazing confit du canard (duck cooked in its own fat basically, yum!) with scalloped potatoes, and a rich mousse. Rai and Lowell's lamb is also in the picture. It was a great meal, all for about €60 per person.
Closest metro stop is Franklin-D-Roosevelt.
23, rue Bayard, 8e, Paris, France
Dinner with Lowell
I came across Soleil in a Food & Wine review on Parisian restaurants. Lowell and I went for dinner on our third night in Paris. It is a bit hard to find, partly because the street numbers in Paris don't necessarily match on the left and right side of the street, but it has a dark facade with a picture of the sun. Closest metro stop is La Tour-Maubourg.
We were a bit nervous because there was only one other table and they were in suits browsing a Sotheby's catalog. But the hostess was very sweet with impeccable English (and had also talked me through directions to the place when we called that we were running late), and we got a cute table in the window alcove.
The waitress brought us great zucchini fries while we purused the menu (though we have decided anything fried is really good...) We had a beet au gratin starter (also anything with cheese is good) and then lamb chops for two with globe artichokes, olives and lots of garlic (another easy win). The lamb was as good as the description in the F&W blurb, including amazing tender artichokes. We had a cheese platter for dinner, yum.
The total was €105, including one bottle of wine, for a pretty good meal in a romantic Parisian restaurant.
153 rue de Grenelle, 7th Arr., Paris, France
Dinner with Lowell
Wonderful steak with Argentine chimichurri and Malbec. Funny, we spoke no French and they spoke little English, so we ended up communicating in Spanish at this Parisian restaurant...
54, rue du Monparnasse, 75014 Paris, France
Dinner with Lowell
El Giraldillo has the prime real estate on Plaza del Triunfo facing Sevilla's beautiful Catedral. It seems totally touristy (and is) but it was worth splurging one night for a romantic last dinner in Andalucia.
The menu is traditional Andalucian, and they have English also. We had a huge selection of Iberian ham for starters and vino de la casa. My sole was ok, but Lowell didn't stop talking about his shoulder of lamb for the rest of the trip--I think it was his favorite dish of the trip.
El Giraldillo is pricey, was about €100 and we discovered on the bill that they up the prices when you sit outside. But it was a beautiful night and we dallied at our table as long as we could.
Plaza Virgen de los Reyes, 2, Barrio de Santa Cruz, Sevilla, Spain 41004
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Pre-dinner with Lowell
Bodega Santa Cruz is a minute walk from Plaza del Truinfo where the Sevilla Catedral and Alcazar are located. There are a handful of small bar tables on their porch and an old wooden bar the length of the inside where several bartenders/waiters serve drinks and run tapas from the kitchen window behind them. I also love that they keep your tab with a list in chalk on the bar in front of you.
We started with little sandwiches, a chorizo and an anchovy y queso. When we went to the bar, we met a friendly couple from Valencia who recommended a tortilla de camaron and a flamenquito (sp?) which were both excellent. We also ordered drinks per their recs and loved the tinto del verano, which was something like cold red wine with lemon squirt. Good summer drink (and later discovered unique to southern Spain).
Fun for a few tapas and drinks (we had a light dinner after this), and pretty cheap with the tapas roughly €2 and beers a little less.
Calle Mateos Gago, Sevilla, Spain
Saturday, June 23, 2007
Napa with my family
Angele is a great Napa restaurant in downtown by the water. They have an amazing French menu (see site) and a nice outdoor patio to enjoy a sumptuous dinner after a long day of winetasting.
The French onion soup was good as was the gazpacho. I had a housemade fettucine with spring vegetables, which was pleasantly light. Aggressively had the macaroni gratin also that put me over normal eating volumes I think. Very good though. The lamb in my dad's stew was incredibly soft, just melted.
Angele has a corkage fee of $20, which they will waive with each bottle of theirs that you buy. Totally worth opening one of your own from the day I think.
540 Main Street, Napa, CA 94559
Napa with my family
Napa with my family
Elyse is my favorite winery and I had the pleasure to take my family there after graduation. The tasting room is housed in a small cottage with one bar that can host maybe a dozen guests at a time. I think you need an appointment (see number below), but they were pretty flexible.
The tasting was 8 different wines this time. Their 2005 Chardonnay is amazing, super buttery but still a bit tart. Also a huge fan of their 2003 Cabernet Sauv from Morisoli Vineyard, a nice earthy cab though a bit pricey at $65. The 2005 Elyse Petite Sirah from Rutherford is also very nice, very dry and heavy and makes you crave steak. We also got to try some of their desserty wines, a great Petite Sirah Port which was an elegant chocalatey drink and also the 2006 La Peche which was a great white dessert wine (like ice wine).
Elyse is about 10 minutes from downtown Napa off of St Helena Hwy (Rt 29) on Hoffman Lane. The winery looks like just another residence, with a driveway where Otis, their dog, comes out to greet guests. Such a nice friendly place, with excellent wine!
2100 Hoffman Lane, Napa, CA 94558
Monday, May 28, 2007
Lunch with Lizzie
Peninsula is our go-to diner in Palo Alto. Great for brunch or lunch, they have awesome breakfast foods like omelets and potatoes, and they also have the best milk shakes. You might need to be rolled out of the place after one, but the milk shakes are amazing. There can be a wait at prime brunch hours, but never too long. There are cute booths and counter seats in addition to the tables. Totally family friendly, there are always a ton of babies and kids running around. With an aggressive meal of cajun scramble, hashed browns, wheat toast and a cup of Texas chili, it was $16 with tax and tip.
566 Emerson St, Palo Alto, CA 94301
Saturday, May 26, 2007
Dinner with Lowell
Shiva's is a great Indian place on the corner of Castro and California in Mountain View. We were happy to find that it was full, and with many Indians which is always a good sign. We had an OpenTable reservation which we needed. We sat at a bar for 5 minutes while they cleared a table and we got beer and Kir Royal ($8). At the seat, the waiter was super friendly and helpful.
We ordered a garlic naan (they will bring you more too), veggie platter with two each of Samosa, Aloo Tikki and Sami Dil Ruba (all fried potato type things, really good), Lamb Roganjosh (curry), and a Palak Paneer, which is one of my favorites. All of this with rice was pretty filling to say the least, though their dessert menu looked appetizing. It was also $40 per person including three drinks, tax and tip, which is great.
800 California #100, Mountain View, CA 94041
Drinks for Raf and Jenny
Lowell and I stopped by at Pier 23 for a beer with Raf and Jenny who get married tomorrow. I thought it was just a bar from my GSB pre-term scavenger hunt experience, but it turns out there is outdoor seating in the back and a pretty good bar menu. About $5 beers, and they have Blue Moon on tap, yum.
Pier 23 on the Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA 94111
Brunch with Lowell and Charles
The Grove Cafe has outposts around the city apparently, and there is another one on Fillmore. Charles took me and Lowell for brunch. I had Crab a la Dave, which was a wonderful crab cakes Benedict, with two poaches eggs and several slices of avocado. Had a yummy "small" hot chocolate about the size of my head.
I held back on the Bloody Mary this morning, but the other Grove has amazing ones, so I am labelling the Grove here as well.
2016 Fillmore St, San Francisco, CA 94115
Lunch with Masashi
The Counter is one of my favorite casual eats in Palo Alto, and my favorite burger place out here along with In-n-Out. They are a "custom burger" joint, where you get to build your own burger from a 5-step menu where you check the kind of meat, how much of it (1/3 lb is the smallest and still pretty hefty), up to four toppings, sauce, and bun. You can specify how your meat is cooked too.
I go for the "burger in a bowl," another option on the checklist. Shown in the picture, it is basically a open-faced burger on top of a salad. The one here is 1/3 lb beef, medium rare, on greens with black bean and corn salsa, grilled onions, jalapenos, guacamole, and southwest caesar dressing. The guac is a +$1 topping so this is $8.99.
Also a must-have is their fries (regular and sweet potato) and onion strings. I happen to not eat fries, but my friends rave about them. The onion strings are amazing, super light and yummy. If you can't decide between the great options, you can get a "fifty-fifty" (shown left) with two of them. Comes with BBQ sauce, ranch and southwest caesar sauce.
Per their site-- "Anti-Established in 2003, The Counter® is the 21st century’s bold answer to the classic burger joint. " Started in Santa Monica, the feel of the place is southern California diner-ish. They have another one open in San Jose, and it looks like there are plans for a ton more, which I am looking forward to!
369 California Avenue, Palo Alto, CA 94306
Take-out dinner for me
Wahoo's is a new tex-mex place on El Camino right by Stanford. It is surfer-themed, and there are flat panels that play footage around the location. There are all sorts of burritos, enchiladas and the usual Mexican, with a Hawaiian and seafood twist. I am a huge fan of their shrimp quesadilla which comes with a side of guacamole for $7.99. They have good combo platters also.
There is sit down booths and tables inside, and they bring you food on real plates, so it feels a little better than fast food (though it is fast). Take out takes less than 5 minutes.
2305 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA 94306
Thursday, May 24, 2007
Tea and paper writing by myself
Coupa Cafe is my favorite Palo Alto coffeeshop. Their speciality is "finest mountain grown single estate coffees from Venezuela," but being a non-coffee drinker, I go there for the tea, dessert, and full menu of wonderful crepes, paninis and salads. Their herbal teas are great, they give you a full teapot and one of those gourmet tea bags for a few bucks. Mexican hot chocolate is another favorite of mine, I am not sure what the real name is but it is a spicy hot cocoa. Sounds weird, but really good kick.
Definitely worth going for food as well. They have great crepes of all kinds. Pesto chicken and the grilled eggplant ones are my favorites. I haven't had the dessert ones yet but those look yummy too. Breakfast foods are also great, as are the salads, paninis and pasta. I got warm pita and hummus to snack on while I wrote my paper. Beer and wine for the late night folks too, they are open 7 days from 7am-11pm.
One of the best things about this place is the free wi-fi. There is covered outdoor seating, small tables and booths inside, and to-go options. Totally a GSB hangout with people jamming away on their laptops. I also have done most of my Dartmouth alumni interviews here. Nice non-Starbucks atmosphere.
538 Ramona Street, Palo Alto, CA 94301
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Dinner with Tayo
Three Seasons is a trendy Vietnamese place tucked in between Bryant and Ramona off of University Ave. There is outdoor seating and a nice bar, as well as tables upstairs that overlook the bar area.
The food is on the more expensive side, but very good. They have a huge selection of fresh spring rolls and satays to start. We had the Summer Rolls, with Dungeness crab, avocado, cucumber and a ginger soy dipping sauce, quite good. It was cut up into six pieces (probably two bites per piece, so decent size). Their menu also has small and large plates -- we had the Happy Buns, which were four small buns with Peking Duck, cucmber and hoisin sauce, really good.
We were probably aggressive with dinner and got the "Shaking Beef", catfish, and rice. The Shaking Beef is cubes of sauteed (I think) beef with green onions and pepper on a bed of watercress. Catfish comes in a clay pot and is deeply marinated. It's good but pretty strong tasting, I needed some rice with that. Loved the Shaking Beef. Didn't finish it all though. Two appetizers and two large plates with rice was too much.
Three Seasons has a pretty extensive drink and wine list also, glasses in $8-$12 range I think. Dessert menu too, didn't have any but they had Inniskillin ice wine on it which is one of my favorites.
Trendier than your average Palo Alto joint, I think this is a nice date or parent spot.
518 Bryant Street, Palo Alto, CA 93401
Wednesday, May 9, 2007
Dinner with Rosabel
I had dinner with Rosabel at one of my local favorites, the Tofu House on El Camino. Totally bare bones cafeteria with white walls and seemingly no decoration, but the Korean food is good and cheap.
The menu is really simple -- tofu bowls, cold noodle bowls, BBQ, or bibimbop (rice in stoneware with all sorts of stuff on it). There are several different kinds of each of them. From my few times there and what I've heard, the tofu bowls and bibimbop are the best, BBQ not that great. My current favorite is the dumpling tofu bowl, which has meat dumplings and mochi type rice cakes, along with the tofu soup. I go for the medium spice, and still end up pretty sweaty by the end of dinner. Rosabel had the mushroom tofu bowl which looked good as well, and she went for the spiciest.
No beer here btw, just soft drinks, tea and water.
The best thing about Tofu House (and maybe Korean restaurants in general) are the unending banchan, or side dishes of kimchee, cucumbers, bean sprouts, potatoes, spinach, etc etc. The service is not necessarily fast, but you can always ask for more refills of any or all of the side dishes (we went through three dishes of cucumbers tonight).
Final bill was $20 for the two of us, $24 with tip (they don't take Amex). Awesome, cheap Korean food.
4127 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA 94306
Late lunch after surfing
Lulu's on the Alameda is an awesome, fairly inexpensive Mexican eatery next to the Goose. I went with Tia, Alex and Tom to treat our surf instructors for a late lunch following an awesome morning of surfing in Pacifica. I think it came out to under $9 per person for a pretty filling lunch plus fried chips and great guacamole to munch on in the meantime.
There is a big counter to order to stay or for take out. There are cafeteria-like tables and chairs indoors and some patio furniture with umbrellas out front.
The menu is pretty big from appetizers to a la carte burritos and other goodies to platter meals. The platters can be up to $13 or so, but the burritos are generally around $8 or so. I had the low-carb burrito with the shredded chicken -- low carb means no beans or rice, but it was plenty filling. Chicken was a little bland but they have a salsa bar which you can go nuts with (beware the orange creamy one, really hot...)
Great place to grab am inexpensive and quick lunch or dinner with awesome choices :)
3539 Alameda de las Pulgas, Menlo Park, CA 94025
(650) 854-TACO (8226)
Wednesday, May 2, 2007
Dinner with LDP group
So before I start, I will preface my comments with Caffe Riace is a wonderful place to have a lazy lunch on a sunny day. By lazy, I mean service is not fast at all so expect to take your time, but also because Caffe Riace has all outdoor seating and it is wonderful to sit in the sun.
For dinner in Palo Alto though, it gets kind of cold. Especially when there is slow service with everything from ordering to the bill to re-lighting your heat lamp. The last one is important.
Caffe Riace is located right inside the corner of Oregon Expressway and El Camino in the business district. During lunch hour, the parking complex is completely full, as is their patio dining area. The decor is interesting--Romanesque fountains and statues of pontificating naked men all within the inner courtyard of an apartment complex.
The food is pretty good. They have traditional antipasti, I like the melenzane (eggplant) one. Caprese salad and bruschetta are other options. For dinner tonight, I tried to custom order gnocchi with bolognese sauce (gnocchi is on the menu with a different sauce, and the shells with bolognese was a special). It ended up working out, but the waiter tried to push back because they have a small kitchen? I had quite a bit of food envy when Jeff Y and Andrew's seafood linguine came out, it was quite spicy with lots of stuff on top. Sarah also had a great chicken dish.
The antipasti range from $7-$10 and main dishes $15-$25, so we ended up at $35 per person including tax and tip (and without wine).
Overall, Caffe Riace was not that impressive today, though I was happy to spend time with my LDP group again. I recommend going for lunch when you have a lot of time.
200 Sheridan Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94306
Breakfast with Lowell
Izzy's on California Ave has great bagels and other foods. My current favorite happens to be a toasted sun-dried tomato with lox cream cheese ($3.50). Btw, different than the bagel with lox, which is also a great option.
There are other food options at Izzy's, and it looks like all of them are Kosher. Their site says "under rabbinical supervision," and apparently they even have a Kosher pizza. Anyway, I liked the spinach boureka, the kniche-like little filo pie, that I had this morning.
477 California Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94306
Dinner with Julia
Julia and I had a cheap dinner date last night. She wanted a taco salad from Salsa on California Ave and I went to Mediterranean Wraps across the street. I've had the Baba Ghannoush platter before (yum), but I wanted a little more variety so I went for the combo vegetarian plate for $8.95 with hummus, baba ghannoush, tabouleh, 2 falafels, 2 dolmas, Greek salad and pitas. Good deal. One of the cooks gave me a falafel to munch on while I waited for my order, Julia said you always get a free one in line. They also have all sorts of meat dishes, and it was hard to pass on the lamb after watching the rotating tower of kebab meat.
So Julia snuck in her Salsa salad and we staked out a seat in the back corner. One of the owners came over with two hot teas for us. We sheepishly explained that we were split on dinner choices. He said it was ok because they actually owned Salsa as well! Nice!
The tea was great, really sweet and went really well with both of our meals. The food is awesome, the veggie combo platter is all cold except the falafels (perfect amount of seasoning) and the pita. Love the food, and love the super friendly staff.
425 S. California Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94306
PS: My favorite cheap eats places in Palo Alto -- Mediterranean Wraps (Greek food, California Ave), Salsa (Tex-Mex, California Ave), Pluto's (huge salads, University Ave), and Rojoz Gourmet Wraps (huge burritos and wraps, Town and Country)