Archive for the Restaurant Review Category

Sub Sub Par Dining Experience

Posted in Product Review, Restaurant Review on July 18, 2009 by winechef

Okay, I started having a Carrie Bradshaw moment during dinner at a neighborhood “fine dining” establishment with my parents. I do everything I  can to keep my mouth shut about the food at restaurants like that but it seems every time that I go out to dinner with either my parents or the inlaws there is something HORRIBLY wrong with the food.

Last time the snapper special was SO awful I couldn’t have more than half a bite, over salted, Sysco prestuffed with god knows, and not the description on the menu. The sauce wasn’t the same, etc. It was obvious, and fortunately or not, that I couldn’t force myself through it, so it became obvious that there was something wrong. A few more things happened that night, but I digress.

Tonight, different restaurant, different set of parents, same situation. The wine was hot, not just alcohol hot but you could litterally feel heat eminating from the glass. The “charcuterie” platter was slabs of meat with dill pickle slices from a jar, and then my hangar steak, which was ordered Mid Rare, was done done done. Murdered. I told them I’d hang onto the plate so that I could snack on the asparagus and fries (I was offered ketsup) and had them take the meat back as proof. I did this sheepishly after our server asked for it. I’m also the type of person that understands that sometimes a hair will inevitably make it onto a plate. It could be the farmer’s in a bed of greens or it could be an Emo kid in the back with no self regard. Tonight it was the latter and it happened twice. The first time resulted in me smacking a fry out of my husbands mouth and then him smacking a slice of the newly cooked hangar out of mine. Really?!

When I asked for an ice bucket for the RED wine the lady asked the busser loudly to get me one, like I was the most eccentric person to ever walk through the door. It still took close to 15 minutes to get it just under room temperature.

Desserts were right on par withthe rest of the experience, except worse. The boxed Bisquik mix on top of “cherries” that was doctored with an explosive amount of cinnamon, had my husband asking what the chemical taste was.

So. Obviously I didn’t agree to the dinner out of excitement and anticipation for the food, although I had heard really good things. I am very honest about my expectations. I have the same level of standards for McDonalds as I do for the French Laundry. I don’t expect boxed couscous with flavor packets, I don’t expect the chef to improperly cook a piece of sub par meat, I don’t expect attitude form the server. I was so distracted by the blatant falsification of the food I couldn’t stay in any of the conversations. I was ashamed, I felt guilty, and then it made me angry. How can you charge for food like that? How can you take short cuts like that? How when you pick up a bottle of wine do you not notice it’s the same temperature as your morning latte? I’m upset with myself for writing this, I’m worried that my dinner company might read it. I don’t want to have to order things from the menu that I know will be “safe.” Why should I suffer because I can’t necessarily distinguish whether they are using marjoram or oregano, but I can sure as hell taste sodium dyglyceride?

What I really wanted to do was march in the kitchen, show the chef how to temper a steak, then how to mark and finish it, slice it AGAINST the grain, and then plate it with the components that are actually listed on the menu. I wanted to pull a Gordon Ramsey with the desserts, throwing them against the back wall and yelling that they’re F ing Rubbish! Then turn to the Emokid and shout and point “And you!” as I pull his hair to the cutting board. I wanted to leave my card and suggest wine training. But most of all I wanted to enjoy the company, sip a decent wine, and eat dinner. I didn’t want to be a pain in the ass because everything was sub subpar.

Tell me, what would you do?

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SF Chronicle: 2008 Bay Area’s Best New Restaurants

Posted in Inked Rogue Chefs: The Book, Restaurant Review on January 5, 2009 by winechef

sf-chronicle-logoOh how I love the controversy surrounding best of lists, especially when it comes to restaurants and critics.

Here is a link and here is the list 10 of Michael Bauer’s 13 three star reviews of 2008 (personal opinions when not N/A are in parenthesis).

Yoshi’s 1330 Fillmore St. (near Eddy), San Francisco; (415) 655-5600

Flora 1900 Telegraph Ave. (at 19th Street), Oakland; (510) 286-0100

Someone’s promised to take me here…

Bar Jules 609 Hayes St. (at Laguna), San Francisco; (415) 621-5482

Chez Papa Resto 4 Mint Plaza (off Fifth Street, between Market and Mission streets)

David Bazirgan has signed up to be one of the Inked Rogue Chefs.

Beretta 1199 Valencia St. (at 23rd Street), San Francisco

Murray Circle 601 Murray Circle (at East Road), Sausalito

Camino 3917 Grand Ave. (near Sunnyslope), Oakland

Somehow I only ordered 4 items off of the bar menu and my husband and I walked out of there for $180…most of the food we had was great but the thimble size drinks that made up for the other $150 were NOT worth it and less than memorable, although the opposite goes for the splendid medieval decor.

Corso 3917 Grand Ave. (near Sunnyslope), Oakland

Moss Room 55 Music Concourse Drive (in the California Academy of Sciences), San Francisco

I can’t wait to go here and Chef Alicia Jenish is signed on to be an Inked Rogue Chef.

Nettie’s Crab Shack 2032 Union St. (near Buchanan), San Francisco

Sketch

Posted in Bay Area Festivities, Product Review, Restaurant Review on August 22, 2008 by winechef

 

Chocolate with Salted Caramel Sauce and Cocoa Nibs

Chocolate with Salted Caramel Sauce and Cocoa Nibs

I have no idea why I’ve been craving soft serve this summer, but it has become my mission to seek it out. having just heard that Sketch turned to all soft serve recently I decided to spend an extra 20 minutes that I found myself with in front of the shop with 2 servings of their most amazing offerings. Hey, how was I supposed to know if I would have this opportunity again anytime soon?

Remember to bring CASH, and indulge. 

Vanilla Bean with Olive Oil and Sea Salt

Vanilla Bean with Olive Oil and Sea Salt

Best Sandwiches in America by Esquire Magazine

Posted in Food News, Restaurant Review on February 18, 2008 by winechef
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I know I’ve had a few of these, any that you’ve tried? Some of these are purported to to be “come to Jesus” sandwiches, “transcendent,” with buns like “lingerie”and “the best morning after sandwich ever.”
Of the 39, “Unranked, unimpeachable, and incomplete, …coast-to-coast list of the finest meals on sliced bread,”these were the most noteworthy of the bunch: 
 
McRib
McDonald’s Multiple Locations
 
The pickles slay me. The other components of the McRib — sauce, meat, onions, bun — are straight outta barbecue antiquity. But the pickles are an unexpected wacko touch. Is that how they do it in . . . what, Kansas City? Because I grew up an active citizen of fast-food nation, this is what my palate has been calibrated to want: the overdetermined tang of the sauce, meat that tastes slightly of the mixing vat, the grace note of those pickles. I look forward to its occasional rerelease, because however artificial, it tastes like the real thing to me. –Scott Dickensheets
 (Are you serious?! Maybe I should try one…)
 
Grilled Cheese
Café Muse, Royal Oak, Michigan
Grilled cheese: Wonder bread, Velveeta, and a clothes iron. Or: Havarti, for creaminess. Mozzarella for gooeyness. Fontina for bite. Honey to linger on the tongue, paired with the sharp anise nip of fresh basil and the sweet tang of grilled tomato. (317 South Washington Avenue; 248-544-4749)
 
“…and add a clothes iron.”
 
Polish Boy
Freddie’s Rib House, Cleveland
Soul on white. A pipe’s length of kielbasa is wrapped in a bun and mounded with french fries, then dressed with coleslaw and barbecue sauce. Ignore any toxic runoff: Locals consider cuff stains a red badge of courage. The genteel can request a fork, because, yo, every circus needs a clown. (1431 St. Clair Avenue; 216-575-1750)
 
Oh hell yeah.
 
Ham and Cheese
Primanti Bros., Pittsburgh
A relic of Pittsburgh’s steel days, this sandwich was made for steelworkers who had to eat fast. Everything that typically comes with a sandwich comes on it: meat cooked hot, bacon, tomato, provolone, pickles, slaw, an egg for fifty cents extra, even fries. Shove it in your lunch box. (46 Eighteenth Street; 412-263-2142)
 
I 100% agree. After having “The Colossus” last June, a sandwich of fried fish, simple coleslaw, tarter sauce, and french fries…I knew I was ruined.  
 
Weren’t on the list but shoulda been:
Taylor’s Refresher’s Ahi Tuna Burger (St. Helena and San Francisco, CA) Pan seared Ahi tina over asian slaw with wasabi mayo on an egg roll. Oh shiz.
Sea Salt’s Lobster Torpedo Roll (Berkeley, CA) Butter poached lobster served on a soft baguette, period.
Anderson’sBeef on Weck (Clarence Center, NY) 
 
 
 

An evening in the life of a postal server

Posted in Personal, Restaurant Review, Uncategorized on December 2, 2007 by winechef

So, I’m working as a server in a casual fine dining restaurant in the Bay Area, let’s just call it “Ocean Seasoning”. I’ve been there for just over 2 months. I wouldn’t say it is a “terrific” experience, but whatever. It has given me my much appreciated time to bond with the customers, which I love…unless it is parents that bring in their horrifically behaved children and act just as badly as them. Case in point: we have this woman, who is a regular, and her infant son. He sits in his highchair and SHREAKS while his mom squeezes squeaky toys in his face in a failed attempt to stop and distract him, all while managing to piss off the rest of the paying customers and give me a migraine that starts in my clenched teeth. On top of that she allows the child to litter the area with god knows what combination of regurgitated baby food and the artesianal bread that we bring to every table. I had a table actually get up to leave because of this completely unacceptable situation and I was THIS CLOSE to telling the mother that.

People come the f@#k on!!! Get a baby sitter, tip large, and be F ING considerate!!! You are ruining the experience for everyone and causing me to want to overdose on birth control.

P.S. 20% is good. We make minimum wage and the IRS assumes that we are getting a minimum of 10% tips that we get so heavily taxed on that we seldom receive an actual paycheck because of the amount of tips taken out. Oh! And if you ever get something comped or discounted, tip on the original amount. And any and all beverages are included in that total. Hmmm…what else? Patience is a virtue, trust the chef and don’t have things removed or substituted unless of an allergy, put the toilet seat down and wash your hands after using the bathroom…

Lunch at Zuni Cafe

Posted in Restaurant Review on September 1, 2007 by winechef

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I showed up at Citizen Cake for a lunch I would have ultimately felt guilty not inviting my fiancé to, and discovered that not only was the restaurant closed for remodel until the end of the month, I had showed up on the wrong day. Hmm, where to go and what to do without getting lost on chowhound….Zuni!

I was directed to a seat in the rear of the restaurant next to an open door, and left to ponder, “Is this what they refer to as a bad table?” I just wanted a light lunch, a glass of wine, and to read my new book, so I just appreciated the breeze and the solitude that this location allowed me.

The server appeared and inquired, “Are you comfortable with tap water.” I’m sure she didn’t mean it that way, but it was funny, frightening, and condescending either way.

The menu is fully seasonal, and an obvious off shoot of Chez Panisse. The selections range from a cold bar menu to a roasted chicken for 2 served with a bread salad, a selection of incredible cheeses and desserts. I end up ordering the haricots verte and shallots with Prosciutto.
How is it that someone that wanted to start a mock religion based on the worship of pork is obsessing over the (perfect in every way) haricots verte?
A table near me orders the  haystack of crispy, golden shoestring potatoes, while the table next to me has ordered the squid ink spaghetti with beautiful accents of ripe red sweet 100 tomatoes.

My only complaint, and take into consideration the corner table next to me had screaming 3 year olds making bizarre noises and threatening to fly out of the window, were the wine glasses. I HATE thick wine glasses! This makes me want to carry an emergency case of Riedel in my car, alongside the emergency 3 bottles of wine and tequila. And I would do it if I wasn’t about to be judged by everyone in every restaurant I were to step into. When I took a chance and asked the server if these were the glasses that they used all of the time, he simply explained, “Yup, bistro style.”

Either way, it was a lovely lunch, and had I more time I would have loved to revisit the oyster menu.

Zuni Cafe

S 1658 Market St, San Francisco, CA

(415) 552-2522

Breakfast at the Ferry Building

Posted in Bay Area Festivities, Restaurant Review on August 22, 2007 by winechef

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Do I really want to sit and have a proper breakfast or just pick up a cup of coffee and a pastry that never seems to last quite long enough? I want to sit and continue reading about Marco Pierre White and take advantage of being at the ferry building hours earlier than I would have chosen to wake up today. An outdoor table at the curious Boutilles Larder pulled me in, and soon enough I am presented with a short menu of random selections, all basic but shining in their simplicity. As I decide on the canaroli rice pudding with cocoa syrup, a handsome server offers me an extra order of toast that was misordered from the kitchen. The soft butter melts to a sheen on the warm bread as the ruby fig jam seeps into the crevasses. I am served water from a specialty made french press with bamboo charcoal at the bottom for filtration. Sure, it tastes great, why not?
 I order coffee which arrives in a single cup french press with a bowl of organic sugar and a pitcher of cream. Just as the San Francisco fog is growing on me the sun appears as does my breakfast. Not sweet, but pairing nicely with the acidic cocoa syrup that tastes like a fine winey Hershey’s. On to the coffee and adrenaline filled book that is “The Devil in the Kitchen.”