Wednesday, April 20, 2011

San Francisco, CA - Contigo; Out of all the restaurants I tried either by walking, trolleys, and/or buses, this is the one place I would happily sit on a train and bus, then have to walk a bit. This was as good as it gets. It was recommended by a friend and I'm so glad we went. It has a wonderful atmosphere, but it comes down to the food, right?

Well, it receives five stars, so you can guess I enjoyed the food. Dish after dish was spectacular. Unfortunately I don't remember the actual names of each dish, sorry, but I'll do my best to describe them. After all, we had nine dishes while we were there. Maybe someone who works there will stumble upon this and tell me the actual names.

Our first tapas was mangos with cheese. It truly was a great way to start. It was fresh, ripe, wonderful combination of the fruit and cheese. (4.5 Stars)

We moved onto toast with tomato bruschetta. The toast was wonderfully crunchy despite the tomato spread on it. This was probably the least favorite of all the dishes, not a home run, but a double or triple. (3 Stars)

I was the only one who wanted to try the monidito (sardines), which worked out well, all three for me. I was expecting a very salty piece of fish, but it was prepared in a way where it wasn't and the toast underneath helped to make the whole bite very mild. (4 Stars)

Next on our palette was the albondigas (meatballs). It is pork meat balls in a tomato sherry sauce. OUT OF THE PARK HOMERUN! Wow, was this one out of two favorite dishes that night. After the meatballs were done, I was still scrapping the tomato sauce. It was slightly spicy, just enough heat, making you want more. (6 out of 5 Stars)

The second favorite dish was the brussels sprouts. Up until this evening, I never ate brussels sprouts. This dish made me do an about-face for brussels sprouts. I now say I eat them. I feel like they blanched them before cooking them because they were cooked, yet still deliciously crunchy. It also had a lemon dressing that made you lick your lips and hoping there were some sauce on them. As a surprise, there was a layer of thinly sliced almonds underneath giving it just an additional flavor, but the right amount of texture. (5 Stars)

I didn't see this one on the menu today, but if it's not, what a loss. The next one was Pimientos de Padron (small peppers sauteed and sprinkled with sea salt). These were yummy and zero were left. I was expecting them to be spicy, but were not. They had just enough charred flavor that was complimented with the salt. (4 Stars)

The crispy potatoes arrived with a tomato dressing. I think I would have enjoyed these more if it wasn't next to my favorite ones. Since it was competing side-by-side, it fell to waste side. We finished them, don't get me wrong, they were tasty, but couldn't compete with the brussels sprouts and meat balls. (3 Stars)

Moving onto dessert, we tried two. The first one was an ice cream dish, but I don't remember what type, once again competing side-by-side with a better dish. (3 Stars)

The dessert that left us wanting more was the chocolate caliente con churros. These were delicious Mexican cinnamon sticks that we could dip into hot molten chocolate. Once the sticks were gone, we were using our spoons to dig out the chocolate. Yummy! (4.5 Stars)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Royal Oak, MI - Falaffel King; I'm going for a stretch, trying beef schwarma at Falaffel King. Verdict...maybe stick with falafel. When I think of schwarma, I always think of the rotating rotisserie. One of the reasons why it's so effective is that it keeps all the flavor and moisture in the meat. When it's thinly sliced and put onto a grill, say goodbye to all the juices.

This is the case for their beef schwarma. The flavor with the spices were fine, but because it's thin and on the grill, it turned out pretty dry and chewy. The rice underneath wasn't bad, spiced well, but also a little dry.

The salad that came with it had a typical "fattoush" dressing and it probably was the best part of the lunch. It also came with hummus which was creamy and pretty good flavor.

Another disappointment, the garlic dressing. Another yelper pointed it out and they were absolutely right. It tastes like ranch dressing mixed with garlic. I usually wipe the garlic sauce clean, in this case, it's going in the trash. Don't worry, I'll recycle the container!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

San Antonio, TX - Little Rhein Steakhouse; This definitely wouldn't have been my first choice to try with a vegetarian, and as a omnivore, it isn't mine either. Inside is nice and cozy, while the outside is very nice on the river, it's the food and prices that lose me.

If I'm only going there to have a steak, then maybe I would generous with my stars, but I tend not to only order a steak for dinner. I mean only a steak.

Lets start with the Texas Stew that accompanied our meal. Not bad, similar to an appetizer chili. Okay Little Rhein, you're off to a good start.

Now for the Iceberg Wedge Salad. Okay, you lost me. Doesn't your executive chef know how to prepare a salad? For $9, I get a half of a head of lettuce. Literally! It was a head of lettuce, stem chopped off, then one chop in half, then onto my plate. For $9, I have to do all the work in cutting this piece of lettuce too? There better be someone at my table cutting it up and feeding it to me also, but no. This alone I would have given this place one star.

Time for a little redemption, the Ribeye On the Bone. This is a no joke steak. It's seasoned well, basically salt and pepper, and was prepared the way I requested. I also had the sauteed mushrooms on the side complimenting the steak very well when eating together. My other observation about this steak, observation because you can't miss the thing, it's huge, HUGE! It could really feed two.

Moving onto dessert, Sticky Toffee Pudding. During their "presentation" of dessert, they said it was "one of a kind". Not so one of a kind when we saw it also on the menu at another restaurant and I have had better at home at another restaurant. It wasn't bad, it just wasn't as original as they said it was.

I forgot to mention what's available for the vegetarian. Don't worry, you don't have to read much longer because it was a baby greens salad. That's it. It was the size of a side salad. Vegetarians stay away!

Saturday, April 09, 2011

San Francisco, CA; Boccalone - Plain and simple, the pork shop. AKA, awesome meat shop. The cooler that has hanging pork should be enough to make you walk in. If that isn't enough, how about the hand slicer on the counter and watching the thinnest slices come out. The only next best thing is digging in and eating.

You can purchases sandwiches, but I wish I could buy bread directly there and put together my own. Luckily, there's Acme Bread just down a few shops and you can buy the supplies to put it together.

I asked which ones should I definitely try without leaving, maybe ones that I can't find everywhere, and the gentleman suggested coppa di testa, lonza, and soppressata.

The coppa di testa, I thought was okay, but not my favorite. It was peppery, and most remembering gelatinous. That certainly made it the most interesting. Next was lonza, very delicate and flavorful. I would characterize it as my favorite of the three. It is cut so thin, it is almost transparent. You can hold it up and almost look through it. It means you can taste its distinct flavor with each bite. Lastly, was the soppressata, which he said is spicy, but I didn't think so. When I think spicy, I want it to have some heat, a kick, but I could taste that they were trying to give it something, but it was heat. It was a nice cut of meat, similar to a salami, but not spicy. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

San Francisco, CA; Tartine Bakery - Why take the bus on a beautify day from downtown when I can walk there. It's only a few blocks right? My mistake, city blocks, yeah, after walking, what felt like 4.5 miles, I took the bus the remaining way. Well, now I worked up an appetite. Just as many yelpers described, there was a line to the door, but it moves quickly. I had enough time to drool all over their showcase.

I decided on two croissants, the almond (it's a must) and the chocolate (also a must). The almond one was huge, flaky, covered in powdered sugar, and sliced toasted almonds on top with almost paste in the middle. I will admit that it looked better than tasted. It taste was good, just not great. The component that was disappointing was that there was too much powdered sugar. It masks the flavor the beautiful almond paste in side, the main attraction.

The chocolate croissant was also a base-hit, but not a home-run. It also had the same characteristics, large, golden brown, flaky, but when it came to the chocolate, there just wasn't enough.

All in all, the inside is very neat and I could see myself eating, reading a paper or book, eating again, sipping some coffee, etc... I would certainly be willing to try it again, but this time I would take the bus the whole way, it wasn't worth walking. Enjoy!