Thursday, November 25, 2010

San Francisco, CA - When you're looking for beef jerky, the only kind I try to stick with is fresh meat that's dehydrated and prepared by the butcher on site. I don't waste my time or money on packaged kinds. Now I do make exceptions and as I was walking through the Ferry Building in SF, I passed this meat company and based on the varieties and freshness of the meats in the window, I thought I could try this place.

They gave me the bad news that the only jerky they had was in the package, I almost said, thanks, but not interested, but even the pieces in the prepackage looked decent, similar to the standard packaging, but it's a local butcher and they use sustainable meats. Why not try it?

I tried their original flavor. At first I thought it was very basic flavor, nothing really special. However, it grew on my quickly. The flavor was delicate, but peppery. Surprisingly, it was not dried out as much as it looked. It turned out to be a delicious snack and the package only lasted about two days. I found myself grabbing a little piece here and there. I wish the pieces were larger chunks and wasn't so dried out, but even with those criticisms, I still give it three stars. Enjoy!

Berkley, MI - Never judge a book by its cover right? Ellies Grill is no exception. A little mom and pops place disguised as a coney island, but secretly is a Hungarian/Macedonian restaurant.

Its a standard looking place both on the outside and inside. Server were very nice and helpful for questions on the menu. With several reviews about the mix grill, its a must and contains all the Macedonian specialty meats.

Is was a chilly day out so why not start with their cabbage soup. The soup was the perfect temperature for a nice cold day and deliciously hardy with small chunks of cabbage, veggies, small pieces of slow cooked meat that really disintegrated when you ate it. They mentioned that they prepare the soup from scratch onsite.

Now for the real deal, the mix grill. Boy, can I get it again? It was that good. I didn't know which meat to end with, but finally decided on the pork skewer. All of them are absolutely delicious, medium to medium-rare cooked, and fresh with a balanced layer of spices and saltiness. The rice below it was cooked nicely and had a nice tomato base without looking like it has it. It also soaks up some of the juices from the meat giving it some extra flavor. At first I didn't think the fries needed to be there and added an American element that was unnecessary, but decided the it gave some a textural component and acted as a palette cleanser between the meats. The only thing that was unnecessary was the diced onions with paprika. Tried it, but didn't care for that.

Lastly, I enjoyed Ellie's food and if you do to, ask her to come out and take a break from cooking to let her know you enjoyed it. That's right, the owner is right back there cooking for you. It's like she invited you over for dinner. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

San Francisco, CA - The name and location wouldn't be the first thing that screams Vietnamese, but it has several Bahn Mi options that surprised me. Cafe Dolci is so small, you can only fit two employees and maybe two customers. Did I mention that the only way for the employees/owners to get into their "kitchen", behind the counter, is to duck under the counter? Yes, it's very small, but you get to talk directly to the owners.

FYI...vegetarians, they have vegetarian bahn mi sandwiches too. As for you carnivores, they have several options for the sandwich. Advice to adventure eaters and those unfamiliar with bahn mi sandwiches, you have to ask for pate to be on your sandwich. The pate was average, but I was happy to have it on there. The pork isn't grilled onsite, definitely no room, but the lady told me that she grills them at the restaurant and then brings it here. It wasn't bad, but you can tell it wasn't grilled a minute or an hour ago. It did have fresh veggies, cilantro, cucumber, etc... The only other disappointing piece is they asked if I wanted it hot, of course! So they included the jalapeno peppers on it, but they were extremely mild and not spicy at all. I could taste them, but no kick. However, one aspect I was impressed with was that they did toast the bread right there. I wasn't expecting that, so they did pass those expectations.

Other yelpers mentioned that the line gets pretty long for lunch, so you can call ahead and put in an order for a sandwich before you show up so you don't wait so long.

If I had time to go up to China Town to get another bahn mi sandwich, I would take the time, but if I didn't have the time, it's better than a pbj from home!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

San Francisco, CA - Tucked away in an alley along with five or six other restaurants in the financial district, you'll find Taverna. I had to go during the world series, so the places was pretty deserted, but they did have the game on, therefore, our server was a little distracted. I completely understood, so no stars deducted for that.

Taverna does have some really nice outdoor seating sitting adjacent to all the other restaurant's outdoor seating, creating an alley reminiscent of a small street in Italy. The decor is decent and updated, but not spectacular. Our server did tell us they have a full bakery in the back where they make their biscuits on-site each morning.

I tried the Bouillabaisse; Shellfish Stew in a Tomato Saffron Broth. The shellfish were scallops and mussels. I thought the scallops were cooked very nicely, but I think the mussels had a very strong mussel flavor, too much for my palate. It's the sauce that I'll write home about. The saffron broth, I wanted to drink it. I did finish it all and used the toast with garlic butter that accompanied it, to soak it up. Once the toast was gone, I used my spoon to scoop it up. It had a very nice balanced flavor, complimenting the seafood very well.

We finished with the Warm Chocolate Cake Caramel Sauce & Vanilla Ice Cream. This is certainly a must to try. The chocolate cake was very nice, but not spectacular. It did have a nice gooey center, but not as much as a lava cake. If it were a lava cake, I think it would have gone up a notch. However, the component on this dish you want to save for last is the ice cream in the crispy delicious bowl. It was crunchy, salty, sweet, and perfect with the ice cream. I would be tempted to get this dessert each time there.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

San Francisco, CA - I never expected the variety and choices of food here at the Moss Room at the Academy of Sciences' cafe. I expected the typical fare, pizza, burgers, etc..., but Dim Sum, Bahn Mi, Pho, Italian, etc...? Wow, I was really shocked! I guess if I were to merely rate the Moss Room on variety, it would be three stars. However, you do have to consider flavor a part of the experience, right? It always comes down to flavor.

Therefore, I tried the Bahn Mi, expecting it to be very terrible. I know that you can't expect something so Vietnamese to be excellent at a cafe in a museum. Well, it wasn't terrible, not bad, but ok. So, it's certainly not a Bahn Mi sandwich you would get walking through China town, but I still would rather have a ok Bahn Mi sandwich than a bland piece of pizza, wouldn't you? Mainly, it was very greasy, veggies were ok, but the most important piece of Bahn Mi was missing, the pate. I know many people don't like it, but it is what makes the sandwich. I also shared a vegetarian spring roll which also was ok. It did have fresh veggies, but certainly not the veggies that are traditional in the roll. It did have mushrooms that gave it an unusual texture.

I do like all the outdoor seating it has. When you go to California, who wants to sit inside!

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

San Francisco, CA - I was looking for a nice little breakfast place to check out and I came across Honey Honey Cafe. When you walk in, you notice that it's a really cute little place inside, seats probably 40-50 or so. One of the walls has the complete menu, in very large print.

I wanted to order so many crepes, but I wanted some protein and substance, so I went with the Huevos Rancheros. I would give it 3.5 stars. The tortillas were nice and crispy and eggs and cheese were pretty good. The black beans were good, but it did lack a bit of flavor. Some may appreciate it, but I like when black beans have a little meaty, porky flavor, but it did not.

The extra .5 star goes for the cute atmosphere, but also something that you rarely see in a restaurant, but was fantastic, the bathroom door has a vacancy/occupied sign. It's a single bathroom and you usually have to knock and wait, but they have a convenient vacancy/occupied sign attached to the lock, similar to porta-johns. It makes perfect sense and I wish more places had it.

Honey Honey also has a very nice little outdoor seating place where you can enjoy the outside, people watch, and eat on the streets of SF.