Once again, big thanks to all the Hounds who provided feedback on my pretrip post here http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/775679 All suggestions logged and ready for use on upcoming trips if we didn’t make it this time . I’m going to break up my report posts by theme this time and try to keep them fully focused on food as they are already too long. A leisurely start at the Blue Bottle coffee shop at Mint Plaza on Thursday morning. We tucked into one of their Bennie-esque brekkies (Acme toast, Prather Ranch ham and a fontina fonduta). Sharing one of these is the way to go if you are meeting for Sichuan at 12:15 and it is already 10:30! A fine cappuccino and my heretofore fave iced drink, the New Orleans style, rounded out our snack.
We stopped at Stella’s for a cappuccino and sweet after Z&Y and Danilo’s on Thursday. The barista was a bit amateurish (inadequate tamping of the coffee was observed) and the end result showed it. Biscotto and ovale were both top notch, however.
The SO tried a French press and a pourover from Bicycle at the Grand Lake Farmers Market on Saturday and enjoyed them both, though he didn’t taste much difference between them.
On Sunday morning we targeted a newish coffee shop. Jane is a hip but inviting café serving excellent Four Barrel coffee. As I mentioned elsewhere, the barista sniffed the SO’s cappuccino before serving it as quality control. We both got a kick out of that, and her obvious passion for the product, which was the SO’s top coffee beverage of the trip. I had a savoury scone which was flavourful but rather dry.
On Monday morning, we trotted down the hill to the Grand Prix Café in search of their specialty Macau iced coffee which was excellent and has replaced the New Orleans one in my Blue Bottle book. The cappuccino was not particularly noteworthy and the indoor area is obviously a lounge at night (the two baristas cranking the tunes didn’t help), so we just hung around long enough to polish off a very creditable havarti and prosciutto croissant. The outdoor seating would be nice on a warmer day as it is off Grant
We next wended our way toward North Beach with Delise in our sights. My bad for not checking that they were closed Monday, but we noticed a Trader Joe’s nearby and picked up a stash of their excellent chocolate covered pomegranate seeds so all was not lost
Also had a cappuccino and a Gibraltar at the Blue Bottle Coffee Linden kiosk on Monday afternoon since there was no line, but found it disappointing this time, a little grainy with a stony taste.
On Tuesday morning, we stopped off at another newish café Ma*velous and the SO sampled their cappuccino, made with Portland’s Stumptown, along with a very creditable scone. You could while away many minutes undisturbed as it is not very busy on a weekday. They also have a very cool looking Espresso Parts machine with foot pedals and a see-through carapace that the barista waxed rhapsodic about. Maybe not the most salutary stretch of Market but this place provides a bit of an oasis, and you can get a stronger beverage after the sun hits the yardarm.
The objective for our final afternoon was to acquire a few samples of locally roasted coffee beans to take home, as the SO is learning about his new Bario Varatzo grinder and Rancilio espresso machine and wanted to test drive some other coffees. We stopped at the Creamery as they were advertising Ritual. They sold him a pound of a seasonal espresso called Spring Break and offered a free espresso to go with it. Sipping it on a sunny patio and watching the world go by was the SO’s idea of a perfect Monday afternoon. Well, that and the fact that the barista, a recent transplant from Portland, gave us all kinds of Pdx coffee intel and pointed us to a Whole Foods not far away to fulfill his coffee bean jones. The fellow at WF seemed quite knowledgeable and pointed us to a Four Barrel blend (Brass Tacks) and relative newcomer De La Paz (another seasonal espresso, Perfume V). He also reminded us that we weren’t that far from Sightglass, so off we trekked in search of a final coffee for the collection. Those blocks are pretty long so we felt we’d earned another cappuccino and a mocha made with Hooker’s chocolate. The SO found his capp quite intense, and I thoroughly enjoyed my mocha, which reminded me how good they can be when made with quality ingredients. The roastery/café hadn’t come as far as I would have thought since our last visit in November – contractor and permit issues, we gathered, but it is finally starting to come together.
Links to other reports for this trip: Double shot of pie: Pizzeria Delfina (Filmore) and Bao Necci/Danilo’s http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/784423
Leary love: Canteen and House of Shields http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/784428
Oakland adventure: Grand Lake FM, BC Deli, St. George’s/Hangar One http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/784432
Burger (and beer) bonanza: Bix, Marlowe, Rosamunde/Toronado; random final day bites (post 5 of 6) http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/784437
Things Asian, a cocktail, and OTG: Z&Y, Shanghai House, Shanghai Dumpling King, BC Deli, Olive, Lers Ros, Sankaku http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/784434