Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Golden Gate Fields

We went up to Golden Gate Fields on a Sunday, specifically to catch Dollar Day. But, after walking around and seeing the food they had to offer, Jonathan went with the dollar hot dogs, but I just had to go with a turkey sandwich from The Carvery.

Jonathan enjoyed his hot dogs, and says that they were worth the dollar. I thought that my sandwich was great. The meat was carved right off the roast, and was incredibly moist. It tasted like Thanksgiving leftovers. The only problem was the plainness... it was just meat on bread. There weren't tons of condiments around (though there were little tubs of cranberry sauce, which I thought was funny), but I slapped some mustard on the sandwich. I couldn't finish it all and it worked as a nice leftover meal, too.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Sunnyvale Downtown Wine & Food Stroll

I saw a banner for the Sunnyvale Downtown Wine & Food Stroll, so we bought tickets and made plans to go to that. It was on a Saturday afternoon, and we arrived just a little bit before the event began.

Check-in was pretty straight-forward... you gave your ticket (after filling out the back for a raffle), they checked your ID, they banded your wrist, and gave you a totebag and souvenir wine glass. In your bag you had (among other things) a card that listed 20 downtown business, each giving one or more pours of wine from Californian wineries. Many places offered multiple pours, and one even had you taste five different sakes! 

We had a lot of interesting things, like almond champagne from JFJ. Honestly, it'd be difficult to talk about the wines we tried at each place, as we didn't take notes, and only took a few business cards. I do remember that we had some great wine from Kirigin Cellars, and my personal favorite was from Clos du Bois.

A half dozen or so of the restaurants downtown also had out free appetizers, which gave us a chance to try some bites from places we haven't been as well. Rubio's offered some wonderful Mexican food, so we're definitely planning to try them out soon!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Ariba is a company not far from Jonathan's work. However, they have a pretty nice cafeteria, so workers from several surrounding companies often go there for lunch. When Jonathan's parents were visiting, we all ate there, and I've also been one other time with Jonathan and Jim. Jonathan and Jim go there a few times a month, and generally have great experiences, though the Chicago-style pizza wasn't loved.

My own thoughts are sort of scattered. On one hand, I thought that the panini I had was delicious... the flavors of the Italian meats blended well. The accompanying salad on the side was fairly average, but nice to be included. That's what I had on my first visit. However, on my second, I just wasn't drawn to anything in particular. In fact, after walking around to all of the stations, I decided that I'd rather just wait an hour and eat at home. So that really doesn't bode well for the place, but at the same time I tend to be rather picky, so if I don't feel that anything offered is worth the price given, and I'm not super-hungry, I move on. Of course, that's not to say I won't go again... after all, that first panini was wonderful!

I did find a menu of sorts online, if you're interested.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Sushi Blvd.

We hadn't seen Cody in a while, and met up with him at Sushi Blvd., which is less than ten minutes from our house. It recently was renamed, and most people probably know it as TGI's Sushi.

There was free edamame (not sure if that's normal or if it was because Cody is a regular), though I don't like it. The miso was very salty, and neither Jonathan nor myself were big fans, though Cody likes it. I loved the salad dressing, but I was the only one whose meal included salad, so no comparison there. I had the sashimi dinner, and while the tuna was good, I found the salmon to be gummy. Jonathan had a salmon deluxe roll and a rainbow roll, enjoying both and even taking some home. We were stuffed when we left, and though Jonathan was immediately thinking about our next visit, I was a little less enthusiastic. 
my sashimi plate
Jonathan's rainbow roll
Jonathan's salmon

Monday, May 23, 2011

Sunny Buffet

Jonathan and I had lunch one day at a Chinese buffet near his work, called Sunny Buffet.

I thought it was a little pricey for lunch, especially when they're slow at filling up your water. They were pretty prompt about clearing old dishes, though. My biggest gripe would be that their setup was very difficult to maneuver. I never did find the white rice, and I had to be told twice where the dumplings were before I found them. Most of the foods on the buffet tables were labeled, but they tended to only have the names on one side rather than both, which was a bit annoying.

There was a wide variety of foods, and we both especially enjoyed the pepper chicken. Jonathan liked the chicken-on-a-stick, but I preferred the pork dim sum. The soup was pretty average, and I didn't have any of the dessert, so I can't comment on that. There was a sushi area, but the rolls weren't labeled, so I didn't bother. There was also a Mongolian grill area, but the line drove me away (not that it was long, but it was moving quite slowly).

Overall, I probably wouldn't return, but see why Jonathan and his colleagues go there every now and then!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Dishes - Korean

Vivian and I were hungry for "real" food, and Vivian suggested a food court that has 5 Korean places in a row. We looked at all of the menus before settling on Dishes. We both ordered the dumpling soup, which came with kimchi, vegetables, and some other things with which I was not familiar. Vivian also ordered a side dish of something... it was like sushi but it was beef inside instead of fish. I didn't try it. While I thought the prices were a little high when we ordered, it turned out that they gave us TONS of food, so I guess it was probably worth it. That is, if you liked it. I found the broth to be REALLY starchy, and the dumplings kept falling apart. It was still okay, but I wouldn't get it again. However, I had never had this Korean dish before, so it's possible that it was just as good as any other dumpling soup.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Paris Baguette

Vivian and I were spending the afternoon together, and we decided to try out a food court near where I live to start. She had heard good things about a French bakery called Paris Baguette, so we went there.

You can walk around a large island that's full of clear bakery boxes. You pick out what you want and put it on your tray, then pay at the end. There's also loaves of bread and some more pastries along the wall, so there's really a lot to pick from! We each chose a variety of things and then ordered drinks at the counter when we paid. I chose an iced mocha, while Vivian picked a green tea. She thought that the tea was average, and I felt the same about my mocha. Unfortunately, I waited a LONG time for my mocha. After five minutes, I went up and asked about it, and it was clear that they had forgotten to make it - so they gave us two small pound cakes as an apology. The pastries were fairly priced and pretty good, though they were definitely better that day than the next few (I bought like $8 worth of goodies, so I took home 5 or 6 things after enjoying 3 there). The cheese puff and strawberry-and-cream croissant were the best.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Pizza: Escape from New York

Jim wanted pizza, and a new place had opened up just a few days earlier near his apartment. So, on our way out of SF, we stopped by Escape from New York and got a Big Meat Combo, which was pepperoni, sausage, onions, and green peppers. I wasn't hungry, so several hours later I reheated a slice, and it was delicious. Over the next week, I enjoyed every piece I microwaved. The guys also liked it. It was expensive for a pizza (like twenty bucks), so I wouldn't order from there often, but I did like that they had sliced sausage instead of crumbled!

Monday, April 25, 2011

The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen

We were up in San Francisco and had a little time before we needed to pick up Jim, so Jonathan took me to a grilled cheese place that he's tried before, The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen. The menu is pretty small, and we decided to share a soup and sandwich. My first choice sandwich (Mousetrap) was sold out for the day, so we went with the Piglet, which was cheddar with ham and apple mustard (and regular butter, since I asked for no rosemary butter). It was really good, though I wish we had been able to get the other sandwich. Jonathan enjoyed the Smoky Tomato soup (with creme fraiche and croutons), though I didn't really care for it. All in all, sharing made for a good afternoon snack.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

San Francisco Chocolate Salon

Our anniversary celebration continued as we spent a day in San Francisco. Back in January I bought tickets for the Chocolate Salon, which is like a giant room filled with booths that offer you free chocolates, wines, chocolate milks, and other delicacies. We had a bit of a problem parking, especially when you consider that Fort Mason was hosting multiple events that day. We eventually found a spot less than a mile away, though there were a couple of hills and lots of stairs. It was also windy, and my ears hurt on the way back to the car. Anyway, that's beside the point.

The Salon was crowded, but there were over 70 booths, so we were able to work our way around without too much trouble. I wasn't expecting so many booths to offer local wines, but we certainly tried more than a handful. We were ultimately able to try every single booth's wares except one (hand-painted chocolates), which had a very long line for most of the show. I loved some of the truffles we tried, particularly a truffle log, which had multiple flavors in a single piece. Jonathan also enjoyed that one. Over the course of two-and-a-half hours, we savored tons of delicious chocolate samples. The event was much larger than the Bucks County Chocolate Show, and was certainly worth the $21 each we paid for tickets. If we're around next spring, I hope to go again!

Friday, April 22, 2011

McCormick & Schmick's

We were celebrating eleven years of being a couple last week, and this included going out for a nice dinner. We chose McCormick & Schmick's because we have wanted to go to one for a while, we were in the mood for seafood, and there's one not far away. So, we made a reservation and drove down to San Jose. We were able to find $4 parking (honestly, the main reason I can't stand San Jose is because they make you pay to park. It's easier to park for free in San Francisco than it is in San Jose!), and only had to wait a few minutes when we arrived at the restaurant.

We weren't really at an ideal table, as the sun was completely in my eyes. Jonathan partially closed the curtains, and then they were opened later when the sun was down. Neither of us were thrilled with the wine and cocktail selection, but eventually I chose a margarita and Jonathan picked a whiskey-cherry juice-something else drink. They were both pretty good, though I thought the margarita was heavy on the triple sec.

Now, McCormick & Schmick's is one of those restaurants that have a different menu each day, and that's both exciting and annoying... you'll be surprised by what's available, but you also can't plan ahead. We started with a smoked salmon quesadilla, though I was a little hesitant because Jonathan doesn't always like smoked salmon. When it came, I was a bit surprised... the description mentioned a drizzle of sour cream, but ours had more of a scoop of it in the middle. Not worth making a fuss over, and we dove right in. I found the blend of flavors to be delicious, and Jonathan also enjoyed the appetizer, though not to the extent that I did.

Our waters were refilled promptly for the most part, and very subtly, which I prefer. We waited quite a bit for our entrees, but the restaurant was pretty full. They were, however, well worth the wait. I chose mahi mahi with couscous, which was priced especially for Lent, which amused me... it's a seafood place, so most dishes are suitable for Lenten meals, but only a few were "specially priced for Lent." The couscous was fabulous, with onions cooked just right gracing the top. The fish was good, too, and even reheated well when I had my leftovers a few days later. Jonathan chose a wild seafood trio, which included shrimp, mahi mahi, and salmon. There were two large shrimp, and he gave me one. It was lovely, though perhaps a tad overcooked. He thought that the salmon was different (but good), and attributed that to the fact that it was labeled as "wild." He found the pico to be too spicy - I thought it was okay, but it had a strong kick at the end. Her greatly enjoyed the mushroom risotto as well, and was pleased with his selection in the end.

I look forward to dining at another McCormick & Schmick's again someday, but I'm not thinking I'd repeat that specific location again... parking irks me.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Boardwalk

Jonathan and I hadn't seen our friend, Kathy, in a while, so we made dinner plans. However, she needed to head to Los Altos later, so we agreed to meet her in that direction. We randomly looked up places until we found one that had good reviews, and that's how we ended up at The Boardwalk. It's pretty easy to find, and if there was a really big sporting event going on, I don't think there'd be enough parking. However, since it was just a regular basketball and hockey night, the place wasn't very crowded.

I honestly found a lot of faults with this place, and am not in a hurry to go there again. First, when you walk in, it's not really clear what the set-up is. Turns out, you walk all the way across the room to the counter where you pick up food. The menu is above that. You order at the register to the right of the counter. So, while you look at the menu, you're blocking the way of people coming up to get their food. And, if the restaurant had been crowded, this would have been a problem. Additionally, with the chairs and tables in the configuration we saw, I'm not sure where a line would even form if needed. I looked through the menu and was about ready to order when Kathy arrived, so we were able to place our orders at the same time.

Jonathan got 20 hot wings, I got the Boardwalk burger (but with regular bacon instead of Canadian and an upgrade of spicy curly fries instead of regular). Kathy ordered the chicken caesar wrap. When the cashier gave us our total, it sounded about a dollar high to me. I immediately mentioned it to Jonathan, who pointed out that I don't always remember that tax is so high out here (it is 9.5%). So, I waited to see the receipt. But, we didn't receive an itemized, only a credit card slip. So, I'm not positive that the prices on the menu were accurate. The cashier also wasn't the friendly type, so I moved on.

We chose a table and sat down with our waters, waiting for our buzzers to go off. It was at this point that I realized that they never asked me how I wanted my burger cooked, which concerned me (in the end, it was well, so that was fine with me). Kathy's buzzer went off first, and she went up to grab her food. She was surprised to find that it came with chips, as that was not noted on the menu. Our order did not come up for at least ten more minutes, which was disturbing. After the first five, Jonathan went up to check on it, but the woman was not able to articulate (at least in English) what the situation was, other than "a few more minutes." He was actually on his way up to ask again when it looked like our order was being placed on the counter for pick-up. Since it had been so long, we encouraged Kathy to begin eating, and she was almost halfway through when our food was finally ready. We also all needed water refills before the food was ready... which is a pain there since you would have to wait in the order line to ask for a refill had there been anyone else in the restaurant (there were maybe ten people in the entire place).

My burger was good. In fact, there was nothing to complain about. There was, however, a sauce on it that the menu did not mention. But, it was yummy, so I didn't care. The "spicy" curly fries were no spicier than you'd find at Arby's or Checker's/Rally's, but that was fine; I was hungry. Jonathan didn't care too much for the wings, deeming them a little plain. Kathy tried a couple as well, and thought that they were overcooked - Jonathan agreed.

In the end, we did take the remainder of the wings to-go, and Kathy also brought home half of her wrap. I finished my burger and opted not to bring home the fries... which tells you how mediocre they were. So, I'm not impressed as a whole. If there was a good sporting event on, I'd give them another try. They did have a nice arrangement of large televisions, though I would fear that it would be difficult to get them to put on a "non-regional" game, since there weren't tons of televisions. If we decide to return next football season, I'll be sure to give you guys a second report.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Honeyberry: Gelato

When Jonathan's parents were here, they took me for ice cream one afternoon. We were coming out of Walgreens when they suggested it, so we popped right into Honeyberry, since it's in the same plaza. Now, this is a different Honeyberry than Jonathan and I went to a couple years ago, and I had completely forgotten that's where I recognized the name.

The place was pretty full, which was surprising because it was 2 or 3pm on a Thursday. After looking over the options for a minute or two, I went with a scoop of the tiramisu gelato, and his dad picked peach gelato. The pricing was pretty cheap for gelato, at around $2/scoop (you pay by weight, and I added some kiwi and an oreo to mine). However, we weren't extremely taken by it. At first bite, something tasted "off" about mine (I should also mention that I normally sample at a dessert place, but because of the crowd I didn't bother... mistake). I later determined that it tasted as if there was cardamom in the gelato... which is weird. Jonathan's mom tried the peach as well, and didn't care for it, agreeing that they must add some type of spice to it. We sat and took our time in the place, and it never really slowed down... it was almost full the entire time we were there! Many people seemed to be getting either the roti buns or the green tea ice. I wouldn't go back for gelato (and I didn't care for the four flavors of fro-yo they had), but maybe I'd give the roti bun a try. Of course, I'm not often in the mood for a random pastry, so maybe not.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Little Swiss Cafe

Jonathan and I spent a day with his parents while they were visiting, and went to Carmel-by-the-Sea for lunch. First, a note that they do not to number buildings. The streets have names, but everything within the 1-square-mile that is Carmel has no number. All addresses are given by the name of the place, or simply something like "on Sixth between Lincoln and Dolores."

On the way back, we decided that we were hungry so we stopped in Carmel to try the Little Swiss Cafe, which was recommended in Frommer's. It was a quaint little place, with cute paintings on the walls. I ordered the cheese blintzes, which was good. They were quite sweet, but I imagine that's how they should be (I'd only had them one time before, and I don't remember them all that well). Hot chocolate, coffee, and corned beef has all had good reviews from everyone, and neither Jonathan nor his mom finished their sandwiches, so we took half of a corned beef sandwich home, and half of a french dip. They didn't last long though, so they must've been delicious!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Marie Callender's

When I was in graduate school, I discovered Marie Callender's pot pies. Specifically, the Parmesan Chicken variety. That one has broccoli instead of peas, and that makes all the difference to me. I love that pot pie, and whenever I'm home alone for a week or so, I pick one up and have it for dinner one night. Jonathan doesn't really like them, and they're pretty bad for you, so I only eat about three or four a year. Anyway, more to the point... when we moved to California in 2009, we drove by a Marie Callender's Restaurant & Bakery from time to time, but we never stopped in. Because of where we're living now, we pass it about once a week, and it really looks enticing. So, with Jonathan's parents visiting, and a decent coupon in the mail, we decided to give it a try.

We went on a Saturday night, and the place was pretty crowded. We only needed to wait about two minutes for a booth, but every table that we passed was full. Coat hooks were at every booth, so that was nice. Service wasn't ideal, but it wasn't bad, either. Our coupon was 1/2 price entrees with the purchase of another entree and two beverages. And, it allowed you to use it twice at the table, so that worked out for all of us. I had the strawberry lemonade, which was pretty good. At first it tasted pretty fake, but once I got past the sweetness, it was good. And there were real bits of strawberries in it, which is always nice in my opinion. Everyone else got hot tea, and they enjoyed it.

Jonathan added the salad bar to his meal, and I think that he's glad that he did. There were some nice choices on the bar, like ham and turkey, pasta salad, and multiple soups. He ordered the meatloaf meal, which came with a small portion of mashed potatoes, plus steamed carrots and broccoli. He said that the broccoli was good. The meatloaf was different, as it had bits of grated carrot in it, giving it a strange texture. The potatoes were real and good, but not plentiful. I went with the "souper sandwich," which was a bowl of soup and a half sandwich. I chose the potato cheese soup, which was very good, though a bit too hot at the beginning. I picked the tuna sandwich, which was plain tuna with lettuce on grilled parmesan sourdough. It was a pretty good combination. I understand how they priced my meal at $10 (bowls of soup are like $7 there!), but I wasn't too satisfied in the end with the portion for the price.

Jonathan's mom went with the Trio, which I was hoping would work for me, but ultimately did not. You get a caesar salad, a choice of pot pie, and a choice of pie for dessert. The only pot pie options they have are the regular chicken (with peas) and Shepherd's (also with peas). I'm surprised that they don't have more options, since there are so many varieties in the frozen section at the grocery store, LoL. Anyway, she chose the Shepherd's pie and the cherry pie. We all had bites of the cherry pie, and it seemed that everyone else liked it. I thought it was a bit tart, as cherry pies tend to be (except when made with rainier cherries, LoL). The caesar salad was pretty light on the dressing, but the server brought out more pretty quickly. I can't remember what his dad had, despite the fact that we talked about it a couple of days later, too, LoL. I want to say that he liked it, but it has completely slipped my memory. I guess that's what happens when I don't get a chance to post more often!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Tallahassee: Brooklyn Pizza

Brooklyn Pizza is where Heather and I got dinner the first night that I was in town. It's down on Pensacola Street, and I can't speak much to the ambiance, as we got carry-out.We got calzones, which were pretty good. Maybe they were slightly pricey, but we each got two meals out of one, so maybe not. The flavor was good, and I'd get them again.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

RedEye Coffee

While I was in Tallahassee, I checked out a few places that were new to me. The first was RedEye Coffee, which I stopped at on both Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons. It's on Thomasville, but I really suggest coming from Monroe, cutting over on Fifth, then turning right. The parking lot is a bit of a ways down, and it's pretty crowded. Just a head's up. The hot chocolate was pretty good, and so was the mocha frappe. The prices were pretty reasonable, and I tried both the indoor and outdoor tables.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Crazy Buffet

We've passed Crazy Buffet many times, as it's on a major road that we take often. We've also talked about going multiple times, but it just hadn't happened. So, I was really in the mood for Chinese, and Jonathan was just hungry, so we set out to eat there on a Saturday night.

It's pretty poorly organized when you walk in... we thought we were in a line to put out name on the list. Five minutes later, we realized that wasn't the case. We probably only waited about 20 minutes total, but that's a long time for a buffet, LoL! The entire experience was mediocre, really.

The water was good, but refills consisted of a server taking away our cups and we didn't see them again for five minutes... with the salty nature of many Chinese dishes, this was a problem. There was fresh sushi and sashimi at one of the buffet lines, which looked great. The tuna and salmon were pretty good. The problem was that the plates were very hot, so by the time you were back to your seat, your raw fish was starting to get warm...not nearly as appetizing. Still, we each had a few pieces (plus whitefish, a spicy roll, and a few other non-descript items).

There was a heavy seafood emphasis, with crab legs, oysters, and clams all being out, plus salt-and-pepper shrimp, crawdads, and other crab items. The crawdads were okay, but I passed on the crab, clams, and oysters. There were frog legs, which I found to be decent (my first time having them, so I don't have any other background on them). The roasted duck was hit-or-miss: I had it on my first plate, and it was extraordinarily greasy; Jonathan tried it later and found it to be dry. The pork shu mai was pretty good, though the potstickers were kinda mushy. The spring rolls were average, the sweet-and-sour chicken was dry, and the vegetable-fried noodles were bland. Jonathan tried the prime rib, which he found to be okay. We both tried the pepper steak, which I found to be pretty good, but Jonathan found it to be mushy and fatty. The vegetables I had (celery, onion, peppers) were pretty good. As always, you can't completely remember each item you tried at a buffet, but I think that this is probably enough to note that it was an overall average place.

The Chinese donut was excellent (if I still had room, I would've had another), the soft-serve was fine (though they were often out of dishes), and the cantaloupe was fairly fresh. The jello, however, was very tough. Overall, the place was a little overpriced for us (though if you like all-you-can-eat crab legs, salt-and-pepper shrimp, and oysters, you probably would have found $14.99/person to be a steal). We probably made up for the cost by having the sushi, though. We also had a 10% off coupon that we found in a paper - I'd recommend doing that. Oh, and as a final note, you might want to avoid Saturdays simply because of the number of birthdays being celebrated - we heard the birthday song over the loudspeaker 4-5 times while we were there... and it's a very long version. Of course, maybe it was just a fluke on the night we went..

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Gobi Mongolian BBQ

Gobi is pretty close to Jonathan's work, so he's been there multiple times. For the first time, I went with him and our friend, Andy, on a Friday for lunch. The line was out the door when we arrived, and I was pretty concerned. The guys acted like it was no big deal, and I realized pretty quickly that they were right.

From the entrance, you go straight into the line, and after you've received your food, you are given a table - and that part goes pretty smoothly. For $8, you can go through the line multiple times, and you pick exactly what you want. Chicken, pork, or beef is chosen first (or a combination if you prefer). Then veggies - tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, water chestnuts, pineapple, celery (which I thought was green pepper at first because of the way that it was sliced), etc. Then, you can add noodles if you want. Last, sauces... there were quite a few to pick from, and they're much more potent that the Mongolian place in downtown Mountain View. After your plate has been cooked, there are a lot of options as far as what you can top it off with - garlic powder, lemon pepper, cayenne seasoning, sesame seeds, etc. There are also spring rolls to munch on if you like.

Everything was really good, though the celery kinda dampened my first bowl a bit, since I was expecting peppers. Jonathan liked both of his bowls, too, but of course he was an expert at the combinations at this place. Andy liked his first bowl better than his second, but on his second he was going for a sweet sauce instead of spicy, and that's hard to do since they don't clean the hot stone between cooking meals and sometimes the liquids from another person's spill into yours (we actually think some of Jonathan's spiciness got into Andy's in this case, LoL). I'm not sure that I like it more than the one in Mountain View, but it was a nice change. It was also nice for me because I love stir-fry and don't get it all that often.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Red's Java House

We were helping a friend move up to San Francisco. After we got everything upstairs, he took us to eat at a burger place close to his new apartment.

Red's Java House isn't a coffeehouse, as one might guess. Instead, it's off Pier 30 and is kind of a hole-in-the-wall place, even though it is stand-alone. They were pretty quick, but I imagine that's because the menu is pretty simple. Jim, both of his new roommates, and I all had cheeseburgers. The patty was nothing special (similar to Burger King, really), but it was on a slab of sourdough bread, which was incredibly fresh and delicious. There was plenty of mustard, some onions and pickles, and nothing else. They actually pride themselves on the fact that they don't carry lettuce or tomatoes, which I thought was interesting. Jonathan went with the fish & chips. The battered outside was good, but left the inside a bit mushy. The portion was also HUGE, and Jonathan finished just half of the fish. The fries were thin, oily, and squishy... which is a no-go for me. Jim got the onion rings, which were heavy on the breading, but still pretty decent. It's a place that is frequented by his roommates, but I wasn't really taken with it. They have a daily special that varies from corned beef hash to tuna fish, but none of them really sounded fantastic to me. The sodas were also a bit overpriced, but I needed the sugar after moving so much stuff, LoL.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Even More Pho...

We wanted pho again, so we went to Pho Quyen, which Jonathan had been to before, but I never had. He said that the place was hit-or-miss, and that's kinda how I felt about it. As I've mentioned before, I get very upset when I ask for lime and I receive lemon. I understand that the translation on the other end is the same, but if I specify "green lime" (as I often do), I'd like to know up-front if that's not what you have... because I will order differently if I can't get lime with my pho. Well, it's kinda tacky to admit, but I've taken to bringing my own lime when we go for pho, in case they don't have it. And, that was the case this time. Lemon was served on the side, and I had pre-cut limes in a tupperware under the table, LoL. There were too many noodles in the bowl for my liking, which made the broth pretty starchy. Also, the chicken was less than ideal... many dark spots in the meat. They did, however, have some very good pork summer rolls. Jonathan also thought that there were too many noodles in the bowl this time, but he also said that he liked it, so it wasn't a total loss.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

More Pho...

We tried a place close to our house - the California Noodle House, which also seems to go by (or used to go by) Pho Xe Lua. The summer rolls were average, and the pho was served with lemon. Jonathan and I agreed that there was not nearly enough noodle in the bowl to balance out the broth and meat. I had a difficult time seasoning the broth, and gave lemon a try in my pho for the first time. It was pretty bad. But, at least now I know that it's not worth it, LoL. Jim got a different dish and thought it was okay, but when we go for Vietnamese, we generally want pho, so that won't really work for us.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


We went out with some people from Jonathan's work to a Mexican place nearby.

Cabritos was pretty empty, even for a Monday. We were the only people in there when we arrived (around 7:30), and only two or three other tables ever arrived. Toward the end of the night, there was a sound-check of sorts, and the schedule showed that they have music there multiple times a week, so I guess it just must hvae been a particularly slow evening.

Half of the table got chimichangas, the other half got burritos, and I think there were 1 or 2 people who chose something different. The complimentary chips and salsa were decent - the chips were good, but the salsa was spicy and watery. We also all had a little of the restaurant's version of queso fundido, which is a melted cheese with sausage. It was good, and I think everyone would agree. The chimichanga was pretty good, and the guacamole was excellent. The issue I had was the price of the chimichanga for the portion... I was one of the first people finished with their meal, and I've met many a chimichanga that I couldn't dream of finishing. We would consider going back for the queso and for the guac, but I think we'd both try other items (we both went with the chimichangas).

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Counter

I've probably said it before, but I'll say it again... I don't know if a burger and fries have ever failed to put me in a good mood. I love stuffed shells and pizza and chimichangas... dim sum and smoked duck and frozen custard make my day... but a cheeseburger and french fries just plain make me happy.

We were heading to Santana Row, which is an area of San Jose where we've been a couple of times before. With Borders closing all over the place, we wanted to go take advantage of some discounted items, and Jim suggested we all eat at The Counter. He had been there a few times before, but not recently. It's a smaller chain of burger places, where the big concept is "build your own burger."

You check boxes on a sheet filled with options, specifying the size of your burger, how you want it cooked, the type of bun, the cheese, the sauce, the toppings, etc. They also have this for drinks - pick your juice, liquor, spritzer, garnish, etc. I thought that was funny. We ordered a fifty-fifty to share - french fries and sweet potato fries in combination. There were tons... 5 people could have shared them. They weren't the best ever, and the flavor was nothing unique, but they worked. We also got fried pickles, since I love them and we haven't had them in a long time. They were thick and the sauce with which they were served wasn't tangy, which we generally expect. I wouldn't get them again, but it was nice to at least see them available out here!

I chose a ciabatta bun and a 1/3 lb burger, well-done. Cheddar cheese, garlic aioli, tomato, grilled onion, pickle, and banana peppers rounded it out. It was pretty good, though not exquisite. I'd get another burger there. Jonathan and Jim both felt theirs were under-cooked (they asked for medium-rare and got more of a rare), which is a common complaint when you read other reviews of this place. We all loved the grilled onions, but after that we had very different options. Jim ate his pretty quickly, and Jonathan was pretty happy with his selections. If there's one near you, I'd suggest you consider giving it a try - you might like it.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Daphne's Greek Cafe

We were over near GameStop, so we grabbed some dinner at Daphne's Greek Cafe. I had never been there before, but Jonathan had. The menu was about average-sized but it didn't offer a ton of variety. I was also surprised with the wait we had after we ordered, but it seemed that everyone else waited just as long.

I had the grilled chicken pesto pita melt, which was pretty good. It was large, so that was a definite plus. It had mozzarella and feta on it, plus some tomatoes. It wasn't fantastic, but it was good. I'm torn over whether I'd get it again, honestly. They also gave us a free pesto hummus with pita triangles, so I got to try that out as well. It was pretty good, but not my favorite flavor of hummus.

Jonathan tried the $7 dinner special, with roasted red pepper hummus & pita, grilled chicken kabob and gyros street pita, and baklava. Except, we got the order to-go, and they left out the baklava, which we didn't realize until after we were home and started eating. He enjoyed his hummus (which we used to have frequently in Florida and Pennsylvania, but it's expensive out here! we've tried making our own before, too... but that's a lot of work), and liked most of the entree as well. However, the vegetables on the kabob weren't that great.

The owner/manager was the one who took our order, and he was fantastically friendly. I just don't know that we'd go back to this place over the other Greek places in the area. Another negative to this one is the parking... the situation isn't good at all during rush hour.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Erik's DeliCafe

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you our new favorite place to get a sandwich in California! ...and, really, it's about time! This was one of our biggest complaints the first time that we lived in California, and we never even really came close to solving the problem.

It was a Sunday afternoon and I was really feeling like a sandwich. We have been driving by a deli somewhat regularly for a while now, so it only made sense that we pop in and try it. It's called Erik's Delicafe, and it's not all that big, though it has a nice, prominent place in a strip mall. The menu stretches the entire length of the counter (above it, of course), but it's not terribly complicated. There were about four things that absolutely sounded delicious to me, but I settled on the Rio Grande Club Sandwich, which was turkey, pepperjack, and bacon on toasted ciabatta, with tomato, lettuce, guacamole, and "secret goo," which was a lot like mayonnaise. Jonathan went with the thai chicken wrap, which is a seasonal item. It was wrapped in a lemon grass tortilla, and also had mango, cilantro, mint, red peppers, green onion, peanuts, and spicy peanut sauce (with more in a little container on the side as well).

We took them home to eat, and as I was unwrapping mine, a little chunk of guacamole fell out of the sandwich. Of course, I tasted it... and I was a little unhappy. It was heavy on the avocado, and light on everything else. HOWEVER, once I took a bite of the sandwich, I was thrilled. The flavors just came together so well, it was truly a great blend. Similarly, Jonathan thought the world of his wrap. I didn't try it (peanuts and all), but he thoroughly enjoyed it.

Needless to say, we're in a hurry to go back, hehe!

Saturday, February 5, 2011


Sprinkles is a bakery in Palo Alto that is part of the famous Beverly Hills chain. I had not heard of them, but apparently they're a big deal, and the owner judges Cupcake Wars or something.

I'd only been to a cupcake-specific shoppe once before (in Washington, DC), so when we received my birthday card from Jonathan's parents sponsoring a trip, I was really excited. I immediately looked up their hours and carefully studied the chart of which days have which flavors (I was shocked that there were some flavors that were only available one day a week!). We ended up going on Monday, almost a week after my birthday. When we arrived, we realized that we had been very close once. The cupcakery was only a few doors down from Max's Opera Cafe, where we ate once with Andy in 2009.

We chose two flavors each to take home and enjoy over the next couple of days. My first selection was banana, with vanilla frosting. Jonathan (of course) went with red velvet with cream cheese frosting. I also chose cinnamon sugar, which is a spiced buttermilk cake with cinnamon sugar on top... no frosting. The last selection was the vanilla cupcake with chocolate cream cheese frosting. About an hour after we got home we decided to enjoy some cupcake action. My first bite into the banana bursted with flavor. The vanilla frosting complimented it very well, and it was very banana-y through to the end. Jonathan took a bite and also thought that it was the epitome of "banana," LoL. Jonathan really enjoyed the cream cheese frosting on his. We agreed that the red velvet flavoring was not typical... it certainly had a non-chocolate flavor, and without the accompanying cream cheese frosting, it would have been difficult to know for sure that the flavor of the cake was indeed red velvet.

We saved the other two until the following evening (and I forgot to take photos as we were eating those ones). We couldn't wait any longer than that, since they use no preservatives and they really recommend that people eat them the day of purchase. We kept them in individual ziplocs to keep them fresh. The top half of the cinnamon cupcake was delicious- the cinnamon did some sort of caramelizing or something to the cake, resulting in a wonderful taste. The bottom half was kinda plain... it did have a nice spice to it, but a little disappointing. The vanilla cupcake was pretty plain, but the chocolate cream cheese frosting was wonderful. I probably ate 1/3 of that one, since Jonathan wasn't a big fan.

Overall, it was a cool experience. I don't know that I'd pay $3.50 for a cupcake (they weren't over-sized or anything), or that I'd want to eat one on-the-go (they were matched really well with milk!), but it's worth a trip. Oh, and those cute decorations on top were crunchy and not good (well, I didn't even try one, but Jonathan tried those on both of his and wasn't pleased).

Thursday, February 3, 2011

There's a Zoo in my Mouth...

...yep, that's what I said about my birthday dinner.

I really wanted to do something different for my birthday dinner this year, so I sought out a fondue place. Jonathan and I tried out The Melting Pot one time in 2008 (or maybe even 2007) and weren't all that impressed, though we agreed that the novelty was good. We had a couple of non-chain fondue places out here, so after reading some online reviews, I chose La Fondue, which is in Saratoga, about twenty minutes away from our place.

Because fondue is generally a pricey meal, I wasn't counting on being able to get very many people to come on out with us, but to my surprise we ended up with five, which worked out pretty well. We had a reservation for 8 o'clock, and all carpooled from our place, so it made it easy. The waiting area was nice, but we didn't really focus on it since we were seated immediately. The lamps had a machine-gun look, which the boys thought was cool. We took a bit of time looking over the menus, since it was pretty intense. In the end, we ordered two different meals, both of which fell under "Fondue Feast."

Jim and Vivian chose the Blue Tomato cheese fondue, which was beer-based with cheddar, blue cheese, and sundried tomatoes. Kathy, JB, and I went with the 4 Cheese, which was champagne-based with Fontina, Gruyere, Ementhaler, and Surchoix. These were neat, since they made them at the table for us. We enjoyed it quite a bit, and our dippers included bread, potatoes, garlic, carrots, broccoli, tiny pickles, apples, and grapes. I think we all had our favorites - but of course mine was the bread! I had to really stop myself from filling up!
While we were eating the cheese course, the salads came. Jonathan and I both ordered the chef salad, but everyone else had the spinach salad. Everyone agreed that the salad was excellent and that the ingredients were incredibly fresh. Our chef salads had cheese on top as well as four small "chef rolls," which were pinwheels of salami and cheese. Again, I had to stop myself from gobbling down the salad, only eating 30-40% of it... it was HUGE! (and, in theory, for $10 a la carte it should have been, LoL).

The next round was the meats. We all chose the "euro-grill" method, which turned out to be pretty easy and pretty good. Kathy, Jonathan, and I chose the Swiss Chicken (swiss cheese and honey mustard-flavored, from what we could tell), Savage Wild Duck, Sea Scallops, Alligator Tail, Wild Kangaroo, and Antelope. Jim and Vivian also chose the Savage Wild Duck and Wild Kangaroo, but went with a Japonaise Chicken (teriyaki-style), Tuna Saku, Filet Mignon, and one more. There were also more vegetables, including carrots and peppers. There were also SIX dipping sauces! Teriyaki, wasabi teriyaki, mango chutney, sour cream and chives, garlic butter, and barbecue. I liked the teriyaki quite a bit, and Vivian adored the mango chutney. The garlic butter worked well to cook the vegetables and scallops, so it all came together really well. We all liked the antelope, we were half-and-half on the kangaroo (I think it tasted like meaty popcorn) and the duck, and loved pretty much everything else as well. They were out of ostrich and llama, so I think those are definitely on the list for the future, along with python and wild boar!
duck on top, kangaroo in the middle, scallops on the bottom

I was psyched about the dessert, and I had every reason to be! We got milk chocolate with amaretto, and Jim and Vivian got the Flaming Turtle, which really was set ablaze! That was cool, since we were able to roast marshmallows on the flame before it went out, hehe. Our dish of dessert dippers had a single candle, and since we were already buying dessert, as a birthday gift they gave the entire table champagne! It wasn't as delicious as the kind we brought (Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday it's BYOB with no corkage fees!), but still very thoughtful and yummy. The dippers included strawberries, bananas, oranges, cream puffs, marshmallows, piroulines, chunks of chocolate chip cookie dough, rice krispies treats, and little marscapone cheese balls. We asked for extra strawberries, bananas, cream puffs, and cookie dough. It was simply fabulous. I think we all ate as much as we could before calling it a night, LoL. Before wrapping up, I wanted to point out how eclectic and unique the decor of the restaurant is. Each room is decorated differently, and everything from the wallpaper to the mirrors is exquisite. Truly a sight to behold, and at least a few of us got up at various points of the meal to walk around the other areas of the restaurant, hehe. The prices were a little high, but in comparison to other meals we've had that cost about the same, this one was a winner in my book!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Fiesta del Mar

...the search for good Mexican food continues. Andy suggested that we try Fiesta del Mar, which is a place that we drove by very frequently when we lived in Mountain View, but never stopped in to try. Jonathan went there once for lunch with Jim, but it was quite a while ago. So, for a Friday lunch, Jonathan, Andy, and I met there to give them a go!

I arrived first and was greeted very nicely. I was seated immediately and waters were brought to the table within a minute. Chips with three different salsas were placed, and I admired the decor of the restaurant while I waited for the boys. The chairs appeared to be hand-carved and painted to resemble various animals, which was neat. There were also dozens of wooden fish lining the wall - each painted with a different design. The salsas were each quite different - a mild, a spicy, and a chunky. I preferred the chunky, though we ate a bit of all of them.

I chose the chicken chimichanga (this time remembering to ask for double-rice-no-beans), which came with sour cream, guacamole, and fresh cheese on top. I was delighted to find the guacamole very flavorful and the cheese quite good as well. The meat wasn't marinated in anything special, but the chimichanga had a good flavor overall. The rice was plentiful and delicious - and although I was surprised to find small pieces of potato in it, they added a nice touch. I'm not sure if I finished quite half, but came close.

Jonathan went with the chicken burrito. He found the chicken to be really good, and it was quite cheesy. It did come with a red sauce that was weird and that he would substitute out next time.

Andy chose the fish burrito, which came with a creamy sauce. It looked wonderful, and Andy agreed that it was pretty good. He was busy bragging about how much he liked the refried beans, so I guess that's a good sign to those who enjoy them.

I was the only one to take home leftovers, and they were just as scrumptious that evening. Ladies and gentlemen, we have certainly found the frontrunner for Mexican food in this area! Next time I look forward to getting a seafood dish... after all, it's in their name!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Mexicali Grill

I think I've mentioned before that we've had a difficult time finding great Mexican food out here. A lot of people from back in Florida don't believe us, since you always hear about Hispanics in California. Well, our area is mostly Asian, with few Hispanics or Latinos, so we're inundated with Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, and Thai places, but the Mexican joints are few and far between., the ones we've tried haven't been impressive.

So, we're trying to find someplace good. Kathy suggested we try Mexicali Grill, since she had been there before and considered it to be "okay." The three of us went for dinner on a weeknight, which meant prompt service as they were pretty empty.

Chips and salsa were brought out immediately, and we were asked if we'd like some guacamole as well. We said yes, figuring it would be a couple extra dollars, but a good Mexican place has to have guacamole so we needed to try it. It turned out to be pretty bland, and for a whopping $7.25, something none of us would ever order again.

I ordered the chicken chimichanga, which turned out to be about average. Nothing was strikingly memorable about it, and I forgot to ask for extra-rice-no-beans (see! told you it had been too long since we've had Mexican!), so we took the beans home and Jonathan ate them later that week. I should also point out that it was a tad pricey for the serving size... I almost never finish a chimichanga in one meal, and I finished this one without a problem.

Kathy went with a couple of vegetarian enchiladas and asked for a glass of hot water to drink (she was still a bit ill). The food was okay, but she didn't eat it quickly nor bring home the bit of leftover. The water was also extremely hot, so she wasn't able to drink it for quite some time after it arrived (which took considerably longer than necessary as well).

Jonathan went with the Chili Verde, which was sauteed pork in a special sauce. He asked for double-beans-no-rice, and enjoyed the meal, but wouldn't get it again. He had quite a bit leftover, so it served as a nice dinner a couple of nights later as well.

Overall, the place was pretty cool and we agreed that we'd have to try it for Happy Hour sometime, but I don't know that we'd be back for dinner.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Ristorante Specchio

It was Dine Out San Francisco week, which means that a lot of restaurants offer a prix-fixe menu for $34.95 for multiple courses. Our friend Andy had his girlfriend from the East coast visiting so the four of us went out for some Italian food during the beginning of the special event.

Ristorante Specchio was the selection, which is on Mission & 19th. We met there, as they wanted to spend the day in the city while we had our yard sale that morning. This part of San Francisco is about 40 minutes away from our house, but parking always adds some extra time. This area also isn't the safest in the world, so when we found a spot less than three blocks away and right in front of a church, I was relieved, LoL. Turns out that Andy & KJ ended up parking around 7 blocks away, but they did find it right away as opposed to our driving up and down the nearby streets for ten minutes, LoL.

The restaurant was very busy, and we were all looking forward to some tasty Italian cuisine. We probably stood around about fifteen minutes before we were seated. The ambiance is very trendy, and more like a cafe than a restaurant. It was also loud... we had to raise our voices with every conversation. And, strangely enough, there was also an Italian movie (possibly Bucheli?) playing (with Sophia Loren), projected onto the wall about the kitchen (which was out in the open). We were presented with our menus and given a few minutes to decide while our waters came out.

Small pieces of bread (think crostini without the toasting) were brought out as well, with a small plate of oil and balsalmic, but no herbs or pepper. There was also no salt or pepper on the table, which was somewhat amusing. We hardly had five minutes with the bread before the salads were brought, which was a bit rushed. Jonathan, KJ, and I all had the insalta di rucola, which was arugula with shaved parmesan cheese and pear. Allegedly, it was supposed to be served with a honey dijon dressing, but it was dry... as was the salads at the table next to ours. I'm not sure if this was a typo or what. Now, I don't really care for arugula (I find it extremely bitter), so I just ate the cheese and the pear, but KJ and Jonathan both has about a third of their salads. Andy had the insalata di barbabietole e arance, which was steamed beets with oranges, arugula, and walnuts. It was okay.

We were done and sat with our salad plates in front of us for at least ten minutes before the plates were cleared. Another five or ten minutes passed before the pasta course arrived. I selected the penne all arrabiata, which was penne with spicy tomatoes. And, that's exactly what it was. Everyone else chose the maltagliati al pesto di noci, which was a house pasta with pesto (made with walnuts instead of pine nuts) and sundried tomatoes. The shape of the pasta was very wide and thick, unlike anything with which I am familiar. Everyone liked it, but Jonathan didn't think it was too Italian. I tried a bite, not caring for the flavor of these particular sundried tomatoes. We again sat for a while before the third course.

Jonathan, Andy, and I chose the braciola di maiale al gorgonzola, which was a pork chop (bone-in) with gorgonzola, sauteed spinach, and potato slivers. It was wonderful. The sauce (unidentified) gave it all a delicious taste, and complimented the pork, the spinach, and the potatoes. I thought it was a tad mustardy, though Andy suggested it was more eggy. Either way, I wish I knew how to make it, LoL! The pork chop was juicy and delicious, though it was not as tender near the bone as one would expect. The potatoes were nothing special in preparation, but the flavor was amazing. KJ went with the fish of the day, which was cod. I tried a bite, but I don't really care for cod. She thought it was okay. The owner or manager came by to ask how we were enjoying our food, and we all have wonderful things to say. He also brought us a fresh plate of bread and another carafe of water.

Once again we sat while waiting for our desserts (plates cleared somewhat promptly this time), and again the manager came, this time to ask if we had selected our desserts yet (they are also serving the regular menu, so not everyone is there on the prix-fixe plan). We mentioned that we had, of course, and he talked up what we might expect. And, with dessert, there were five selections, of which we sampled four. I chose the tiramisu (one of my favorites... I don't get it often, but I love it when I do!), which was a little heavy on the alcohol, surprisingly. I'm not sure if the ladyfingers were soaked too long or if the cream had liquer in it or what. Jonathan chose the cannoli siciliani, which was your standard ricotta-and-chocolate-chip-filling in a cannoli shell. He found it rather rich and didn't finish it. I tasted it but I don't care for ricotta (lasagna is about the only time I eat it) or mini chocolate chips, so I don't really have a comment. Andy went with the sorbetto of the day, which turned out to be a mango flavor from a local ice cream place. He liked it but didn't finish it. Lastly, KJ had the torta al cioccolato, which was a flourless chocolate cake with hazelnuts. It looked like a cupcake (complete with the sides being ridged), and the nuts were only along the bottom, which was interesting. She only had a few bites, but said that she liked it. Jonathan and I both tried it... he thought it had a heavy coffee flavor while I thought it was more of a thick chocolate fudge. While we lingered a bit (but not really. they were once again too busy to get to us quickly), the owner/manager came by once more, asking how our desserts were and taking care of boxing up Jonathan and KJ's leftovers.

When we finally left the restaurant it was around 9:30... and we had a 7:15 reservation (though, admittedly, Jonathan and I walked in at more of a 7:19), so that gives you an idea of just how the pacing worked. It wasn't absurdly long, but it was a bit longer than it should have been. Yes, the place was crowded, but it wasn't that big, so you'd think they'd be moving things along in order to seat more people. I don't think I'd go back... it just didn't scream "great Italian food" to us. Jonathan commented that the most "Italian" thing he ate was the cannoli, LoL!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Trying Salvadorian Food

So I learned that I don't like Salvadorian food. I add it to the list of cuisines I avoid... which now only includes Salvadorian and Indian, LoL. I didn't really know what to expect, but we have a Salvadorian place just around the corner, so Jim, JB, and I walked over one night to get some dinner to-go.

Sabor Salvadoreno features pupusas among other foods. A pupusa is a thick corn tortilla (thick like a pita) with cheese, pork ground into a paste, and refried beans. None of us ordered one, but all of our meals were served with two tortillas, which I found to be absolutely horrid. They were fresh, but I just didn't care for the flavor. Jim got carne asadas, which were okay. Jonathan went with a chile relleno, which didn't turn out too well. I went with "pan con pollo" which literally translated to "bread with chicken" but was actually a sub sandwich of sorts. It had tomatoes, cucumber, mayonnaise, and radishes. I know, it was weird. It was also served with juice to pour over it, which was very tasty, but thin, so I didn't want to actually pour it on. I dipped some of the chicken in it, since the chicken (which was pulled from the bone) was ridiculously dry. The bread was good... I eventually just ate the bread and the tomatoes and cucumbers, pulling off everything else that I could. The guys want to try the place again, specifically for the pupusas, but I'll personally pass.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Juan's Flying Burrito

We had dinner at Juan's Flying Burrito, which had a very interesting menu. The table started with chips and salsa, but I thought that the salsa was very bland so I only had a couple of chips. There were all sorts of items ordered around the table, and everyone seemed to truly enjoy their selections. I know that mine was fantastic: The Luau - a quesadilla made with grilled shrimp, smoked bacon, pineapple salsa, and cheese. I was a little nervous about choosing something so unique at a place named after its burrito... but it ended up being a superb selection. I really enjoyed every bite and would order it again. Jonathan got the Flying Enchiladas, which was shrimp, steak, and chicken grilled together and stuffed inside cheese enchiladas, topped with sour cream and guacamole. He thought they were good (especially the steak bites) and he'd get them again.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Brunch at Cafe Fleur de Lis

The morning of the 1st we met up with two of Keith's former colleagues for a late breakfast, since Keith and Kristina needed to be at a family event for a few hours. We wandered a little bit, trying to find a cool place. I had a vision of one place in my head, and Jonathan knew what I was talking about, but we couldn't remember what it was called or where it was. I also remembered a nice little breakfast place I had found when I went to New Orleans solo in 2009, and we went there (Cafe Fleur de Lis). It was very busy, but they had a very complex system to make sure nobody got their food before they had a table (you waited in line, ordered, then stood around waiting for a table to open, grabbed it, and your food showed up eventually). We did wait almost 45 minutes for our food after we ordered, but luckily Jonathan had his coffee and I had a delicious hot chocolate to tide us over. All four of us liked our meals, and next time we're in town Jonathan and I vowed to get the pancakes... every single stack just looked soooo good!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Oceana Grill

We had planned to go to Antoine's for dinner, but since the wait was pretty long, we went around the corner and ate upstairs at Oceana Grill. Jonathan and I weren't that hungry so we split a plate of jambalaya, which was absolutely fabulous. We were both bragging about it for days, so we would totally recommend it.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Creole Creamery

After lunch in Metairie, the majority of the group went to the Creole Creamery, which I'm convinced is one of Keith's very favorite places. The very first time Jonathan and I went to New Orleans, Keith brought us there and four of us shared the "Tchoupitoulas," which is 8 scoops and 8 toppings. This time around Jonathan went with a cone of Chocolate Cheesecake Amaretto, which he liked a lot at the beginning, but it was too sweet for him to finish. I went with the Sampler Special, which is 4 small scoops for $4. I chose I Scream Fudge, Gingerbread, Bananas Foster, and one more which I can't remember at this point. All were delicious, especially the fudge.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Acme Oyster House

We were in New Orleans for a couple days to celebrate New Year's with some friends. This was the third time that we spent New Year's Eve in New Orleans, previously ringing in 2007 and 2008 in the city. Right after we checked-in to our hotel, we drove out to Metairie to meet our friends and some of their friends at the Acme Oyster House for lunch. We weren't too hungry (we had sandwich stuff in the cooler in the room so we had plenty of snacks on the drive there and back), so we had a couple of oysters and we shared a shrimp & oyster po-boy. I love the oysters at this place (we had been there one or two times before), and the po-boy did not disappoint, either.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Cowboys: BBQ

Cowboys is a restaurant in Fort Pierce that opened just around a year ago. It took the place of RJ Gator's, which was quite well-liked for its "Floribbean" cuisine. Cowboys started out in Okeechobee (their website is rather outdated) and the Fort Pierce location is the second for the chain. Apparently they have also branched out to Sebring and are considering Stuart, but I'm not sure. The menu was much larger than the one online.

I had the "pig in a potato" which was pulled pork, sour cream, cheese, and chives in a baked potato. I was expecting the double-size potato like many other restaurants with a "potato section" feature. However, I was greeted with a single potato that was overpriced. I wasn't in love with the pork, but with the right sauce it was okay.

My friend, Tori, had the buffalo chicken sandwich, but she had it with garlic parmesan sauce instead of buffalo. She liked it, and I thought the sauce was tasty. Hers was served with a side of macaroni and cheese, which tasted like canned to me, though she liked it.

My friend, Heather, had the all-you-can-eat smoked half-chicken. It came with macaroni and cheese and collard greens. The chicken was okay. Heather is very critical of collards, and she wasn't a big fan of the ones she received, although she did eat them. Interestingly, the server did bring out a bottle of oil or something for her veggies, but we didn't even open it. She finished her first round of chicken, and when she asked for more, they brought out one piece, and didn't ask her what she'd like, so that was kinda weird.

Speaking of the service, it was pretty bad. Everything was very slow, even refills and getting the bill and such. And it was very clear that the waitresses were typecast. Yes, they were required to wear glittery belts and pants, but they were all attractive, well made-up, nice hair girls, and all but one were thin. I don't think I need to stress that I won't be returning.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

A Touch of Brooklyn

Whenever we're in Florida we spend a lot of time catching up with old friends. For lunch on Christmas Eve, we met up with Eric and Kara at A Touch of Brooklyn, which is a pizza place in Sabal Palm Plaza. It was actually like our third choice, but many of the things downtown were closed on Christmas Eve. We'd never been there, so it was as good a place as any.

It's the kind of place where you order at the counter and then they bring it to your table when it's ready. Jonathan and I ordered a dozen garlic knots for the table, but they came reallllly late and there was little to no garlic on them. We ate some, but wouldn't order them again. We didn't finish them.

Eric and Kara split a salad (but they didn't finish it, so I'm not thinking it was excellent). Eric got the 2 slices of pizza deal, and he said it was "okay" pizza. Kara and Jonathan both had the pepperoni roll, and "okay" was the word of choice there, too. I chose the chicken parmagiana sub, which was about average, but it was nice to have as an option. I took part home (and in this case I mean Jonathan's parents' house) and had it a couple days later as a snack.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Barracuda Sushi

Jonathan, Andy, and I were getting together for a final meal before we left for Christmas. Andy likes this place called Barracuda Sushi in downtown Mountain View for their happy hours, and he said they did brunch, too, so we went there for Sunday brunch. They also have a few other locations in the Bay Area.

We started with ichiban roll, which is one of their specialties. It's white tuna, cucumber, and green onion, covered with unagi (eel) and avocado. I liked it okay, and Jonathan felt the same. It came just before the food, but we weren't feeling rushed either, which was okay. The prices seemed a little high at first, but after the food arrived and nobody could finish their order, it turned out to be appropriate. I had the two-item bento box, and went with chicken teriyaki and the pork gyoza. The chicken was delicious, the gyoza was average. The salad and sup that accompanied the meal were also average. The rice was good, the orange slices were tasty, and I didn't try the edamame so I can't comment on that. The boys both had donburi (rice bowls with egg), one with chicken and one with pork. The chicken was HUGE and both guys struggled to get even close to finishing. Jonathan said he'd get it again.

I also went with the $7 unlimited mimosas (available 11-3 or 4 on weekends), and I was apparently the only person in the restaurant doing so that morning, since they had to make a pitcher of it, and we noticed that it was only brought over to refill my glass, LoL. It was good, I'd recommend it. We're planning to go back there at some point, since they also had television on... although football season is over...

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Morton's: A Steakhouse

For Jonathan’s 27th birthday, his aunt and uncle sponsored a trip to Morton’s, which is a steakhouse chain (you may remember that he sent us to The Capital Grille for Jonathan's last birthday). We have one in San Jose, so it only took us fifteen minutes or so to get there. Because of the winter carnival going on, parking was problematic; luckily they have valet at a reasonable rate (especially compared to parking prices in San Jose).
We were seated almost immediately, and handed personalized “birthday menus,” since we had mentioned it was Jonathan’s birthday when we made the reservation. The menu covered a lot of different options, including six types of potatoes as side dishes! I was glad that we had the menu to peruse, as typically you order without a printed menu at all! 

Our server gave us a full presentation of the options, and we watched various other tables receive presentations of their own at various points throughout the evening. The server ("seasoned" would be a good word to describe her, as she clearly knew everything and seemed a little bored in her work) wheeled a cart over to our table, demonstrated the different cuts of meat, crab legs, vegetables, and appetizers. Jonathan chose the Porterhouse steak, after a tough decision between that and the Ribeye. I chose the broiled salmon fillet with beurre blanc sauce. For side dishes (served family-style), the potatoes lyonnaise and the grilled asparagus sounded great. 

While we decided on our orders, we munched on fresh onion bread. The large, round loaf that was brought out was very good. It was a little strange that there was no bread knife, but we had steak knives on the table when we sat down, so it was easy enough to slice ourselves.
We didn’t wait long before Jonathan’s baked five-onion soup arrived. It was crusted with Swiss cheese, and since it was heavy with garlic, we think that perhaps there is a type of onion that greatly resembles garlic. I had a small taste, and agreed with his assessment that it was delicious.
The table was re-set before the server brought the entrees, which was quite a nice surprise. The tablecloth was cleared of crumbs and new utensils were placed. We also received our drinks – Jonathan chose a “rare red" to go with his steak: a four-leaf cabernet sauvignon. I selected the holiday special, Sleigh Ride, which was a white wine (prosecco) with tuaca (a vanilla-citrus liquer), cranberry juice, and cherry liquer. Both were excellent choices. 

The Porterhouse was unique in that it was part New York Strip and part Filet. I thought it looked pretty neat, and Jonathan was very pleased with the aged flavor of both meats. I asked him to compare it to the steak that he had last year at The Capital Grille (where he first experienced aged steak), and he found it tender but not as flavored.
My salmon was very plentiful, and grilled just right. The sauce was a little thinner than I expected, but quite flavorful and an excellent accompaniment to the fish. I was not able to finish it all, and took a third or so home to enjoy for lunch the next day.
Since there were so many selections for side dishes, I was pretty excited when they arrived. The potatoes lyonnaise contained potatoes cut into pieces about the size of quartered lemons, fried with onions and bacon. It was absolutely exquisite, though the leftovers did not fare as well as the salmon. The grilled asparagus had a balsamic glaze that really brought out the flavor rather than mask it, as some sauces tend to do with that vegetable.
There were many birthdays in the restaurant that night – I think we heard the waiters sing their version of the “Happy Birthday” song five or six times, so we were totally expecting it, which was good… it’s always a bit awkward when you are caught completely by surprise! The restaurant also had a photographer who came around early in the evening to take a photo of us, and she delivered it later in a small Morton’s folder, signed by many of the employees. The complimentary birthday dessert was hot chocolate lava cake, with Godiva chocolate in the center. It was delicious with the ice cream on the side, but it would have been overly rich on its own. 

Overall, Morton’s was a great dining experience. From the cart and the spiel of options to the final presentation of food to the table, it was pretty unique and fun.

Monday, January 10, 2011

CB Hannegan's - An Irish Pub

We went to a birthday gathering at C.B. Hannegan's in San Jose on a Saturday night. We anticipated difficulties parking, but luckily found a spot about 100 yards down the road.

We were among the first few to arrive for the event, so five of us had a few appetizers before the rest of the group got there. First were the potato skins, which were large and delicious. They might've been a dollar or so overpriced, but no biggie. After that came the Irish Nachos, which were on steak fries, interestingly enough. I only had a tiny bit, but everyone else seemed to enjoy them, as they were pretty fast.

Jonathan and Jim split The Mondo Combo pizza, which included Italian sausage, ground beef, pepperoni, salami, onions, olives, bell peppers, mushrooms, and extra cheese. It wasn't amazing, but they seemed to enjoy it. It took the longest, which was weird when you consider how many people at the table had steaks and such. The had a leftover slice that sat in the fridge until I got sick of seeing the box, so it wasn't good enough to finish, LoL. I had the Classic CB Burger with fries. I added cheese for 75 cents (I thoroughly hate when you have to pay extra for a slic of cheese on a burger!). It was okay. I finished my leftovers, LoL.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Fish Market

Kathy couldn't make it to any of the scheduled events for Jonathan's birthday, so we celebrated with her separately. She suggested a place that's very close to us (just past our nearest grocery store), simply called The Fish Market. We arrived at 7pm or so on a Monday night, and it was pretty crowded (though a very large party was taking up the bulk of one of the rooms), though we were seated quickly. Service was a bit slow in the beginning, but it picked up by the time we ordered our first appetizer.

We started out with with a half-dozen raw oysters, two each of Island Creek oysters (from Massachusetts), Malaspina oysters (from British Columbia), and Kumamoto oysters (from Humboldt Bay, CA). I wasn't a big fan (I prefer my oysters done Rockefeller-style), but they both liked them, and they had different favorites so it worked out well. We also shared the Baked Clams Kilpatrick, which was excellent. Six clams baked with butter and bacon.

Jonathan and Kathy both ordered the same thing - the Fish & Chips combination, which included fried scallops, fried fish, fried shrimp, and french fries. Neither was truly taken by it, and they agreed that the scallops, though large, were the poorest in quality out of the three. The fish scored decent marks, and the shrimp was average. I ordered the pasta con nova, which was a fettuccine with cream sauce, smoked salmon, and tomatoes. The idea sounded great, but smoked fish in pasta is really different. My portion wasn't huge, but fitting for the lower price. I wouldn't get it again, but only because I didn't like the way the fish made the sauce taste smoky.

Kathy had let the server know ahead of time that it was Jonathan's birthday, so they sang and brought out a delicious chocolate mousse - very rich and decadent. I'd certainly order that again in a heartbeat.