Anwyays, I got into San Francisco on friday. And sadly just missed going to the old lobster shack in redwood city, maybe next time. If it's still around that is. But was dragged to going to Max's Opera Cafe in Burlingame, it's not that bad for a coffe shop of course, a little dreary and a little annyoying with all the max's rules all over the menu, but the brisket was not bad, pastarmi wasn't so great, and some of the raisin rolls were decent.
I have missed a bunch of good eats places on this trip, but I did try to hit up a bunch of joints while I had the time. Some places I just missed due to limited stomach space, it's a difficult job but someone out there has got to do it.
On Saturday, I made a beeline to the aforementioned Farmer's Market at the Ferry Building/Plaza at One Market and Embarcadero. This structure is truly amazing, and packed to the gills with food wares of all sorts, this is sort of like an upscale shopping mall geared specifically for chowhounds and food crazies.
So walked a little around the farmer's market, it was nice though not as many kiosks that I had expected from what I heard. But still loads better than any of the markets in LA. Sorry LA. So went inside the actual ferry building. And there where crowds everywhere at only 10am or so in the morning.
First off went to Acme Bread, for some breakfast treats. There was a long, though quick to move line over there. So I decided on a chocalte croissant (or rather pain au chocolat) and one of those sourdough cheese wheels. The cheese wheel was a little too punget and chewy for my taste while the croisant was good but not the greatest I have ever had. I could only manage a few bites of the cheese wheel. And yet I devoured the croissant. I took a little stroll and ended up at Recchiuti for some of their chocolates, I got a few to eat there right on the spot. One was a Kona coffee, another was the infamous or famous burnt caramel, and the last one was the Ecuadorian chocolate. They were good to all right though nothing amazing. I had envisioned more assertive flavorings especially with the burnt caramel, and nuances working between salty and sweet but alas there was not much to speak of. The Kona Coffee one was good though, not great.
After that I had to hit up Mijita for some tacos, I was already there so I said what the heck. Although it was a bad idea. Overpriced garbage. The fish tacos were extremely poor and the carne asada were dried out and flavorless. Did I saw overpriced? I guess I'm being redundant, most likely this is tourist trap mexian food but served in a supposedly aunthentic way with organic ingrendients and all that jazz. Who knows it may have been good when it first opened? The only saving grace was eating the tacos outside, even though it was cold (i had a jacket) and taking in the view and fresh air and the boats and the sight of the Bay Bridge. It was actually a relatively clear day.
Then I started to take in some of the farmer's market, nice selection of stands. Stopped at the all salmon stand, and they did have some nice wares. I tried a sample of the salmon mousse (little too much cream cheese but ok), a taste of the salmon pepporoni stick (pretty darn good), and some of the salmon candy. I think the stand was called Captain something or another.
Then walked around and saw stand called Rolli Roti or Roti Roti, or rather did not see first, but smelled. And oh what a smell. It was more like a mini-truck than a stand, with rotisserie chickens on the spit and the dripping from the chicken dripping onto what looked like glorious potatoes below. Too bad I was pretty full, but if I were a betting man, I'd believe that joint has some good chicken and potatoes. Please tell me the chicken there is bad so that may make me rest easier at night. For my own selfish reasons of course.
Right next door was The famous Fatted Calf stand. Though weirdly they had no signage, it was one of the more simple and small stands off to the more downtrodden side of the farmer's market. Anyways, when up to the stand, and I saw the mini-sign that lists their pates, terrines, and mousses and saw a few already crossed off. I asked them if they served any samples and they said no, only pre-packaged in the butcher paper to sell. They did not seem as friendly and selling of the merits of their foodstuffs that I had expected. I asked if they had portions like a quarter or 1/8 of a pound but they said most everything was around a good half pound or more. And I asked if the liver mousse was ready to eat, but again realized it needed some thawing out. So alas I had to pass on the wares of the Fatted Calf, I wish I could have had a few mini-portions and grabbed some bread from acme (if necessary) and a bottle of some jam from the June or Julie farms and I'd be set. But it was not meant to be. I'll have to figure out a game plan in the future (i had been on their email lists, but someone also had mentioned that you could get small portions that are ready to eat righ there on the spot, I guess I was wrong).
So after that took another mini-stroll through the market, and then met up with my brother for lunch at Swan Oyster Depot on Polk st. We got there a little after 12pm so already there was a line, and I should have taken that as a valid sign to just leave, but stayed and soldiered on. It must be reitertared, this is a tourist trap of the worst kind. I would have no problem with the wait or the prices if the food was really fresh and good quality, but it really wasn't. Finally after a good hour's waiting on line, and going in and out of See's and whittling away the hour in the slow downpour of rain, we finally gained entrance to this supposed gastronomic temple, which was anything but. (I had bee here a few times in the past, but never in the rain, and usually in the summer months or very early fall.) So we ordered up some oysters, clam chowder, and a crab louisse to split, and of course a couple of Anchor Steams on tap to wash it all down. The louisse was good but nothing special, and chowder was ok, and oysters were just ok. I also tasted some of brother's mixed seafood cocktail which was just ok. Am I truly missed something here? My next door neighbor at the counter mentioned what luck that a guy from Australia just happened to be walking by on Polk and noticed the line, and the fact that it was a restaurant of sorts and decided to try it out. The lady mentioned what luck on the Aussies's part, but I just would consider it bad luck. I have a few theories on the allure. For one, that they been around for close to a hundred years, it's all in the family (our server was all or 14 or 15, is there some law against minors serving beer, who knows? or since it's family owned it doesn't matter, and another note is the waitstaff is not that comptetent but those are some considerable non-food issues). So finsihed up our meal, and picked up my jacket off the rack, and then my brother pointed to something, near where the lady in the back was cracking the crab and getting it all ready for the display case. What my brother was pointing to were the huge cans of canned shrimpmeat. Some much for extreme freshness, I mean what's that all about, I could imagine this at a restaurant, a tourist trap restaurant on the wharf but here on Polk St and Sacramento/California, and at these prices why??? I stared at the cans and the lady replied "Yes, Shrimpmeat." Oh, well so much for a house of great seafood, and the shtick between the brothers or unccles here on the waitstaff, is so lame, as if they were true real trencherman fisherman. Please, give me a break. Just telling it like it is.
So we paid our bill (the best part of the meal being the beers and some of that bread with horseradish) and started walking around towards Chinatown, walked through there, and I couldn't remember which place had some good dim sum, was in the mood for some of that, but didn't want to get stuck in another trap. We passed by Golden Gate Bakery where those famous egg custard tarts are proffered but again there was a line around the block. And I had enough of the lines for the day. Too bad, one of those custard tarts may have have hit the spot especially if they had just the right amount of greasiness, egginess, and fluffiness. Also, I saw some chickens haning in the windows, and then some chickens or pigens that looked black or purple uncooked, what are these? I had no clue.
From there it was off to check out the North Beach area. And I couldn't seem to find XOX truffles. Passed by Cafe Jacqueline, but if my memory is not faulty they are only open in the evenings, a tremendous chocoate souffle or even strawberry souffle would have hit the proverbial spot. So we tredged down a little more listened to some dixie-land jazz at the savoy bar or savoy???? on grant street about three storefronts down from jacqueline. Is this a decent bar? I have no clue, music was not bad though. We went a few blocks down and arrived at Cafe Trieste and so we ordered up some cappucinno and a tiramisu, it wasn't half bad could have been worse, that was what I was expecting. And had a nice bohemian feel to it.
Then that was about it for the day, oh, yeah we stopped at Molinari's for some pepporoni sticks, I'm presuming they make some sweet (or rather good) sammywiches.
So we went back down toward the Financial district area. and passed by Cafe Zoetrope, which used to be Cafe Nieubaum-Coppola, what's with the name change? still decent for Neapolitan-style pizzas? And is American Zoetrope offices in the upper floors of the building?
That was it as far as delicous eats for the day. I had a prior party to go to.
Next day, I got up early to hit up some taco joints and desserts in the Mission district. I remembered that Bombay Ice Creamery was on about 16th and Valenica so walked down there. But I didn't remember that they were closed. I so was hankering for some of their cardammon, fig, and masala chai ice creams, truly some of the best that I have ever had.
So kept on walking and ended up at about 18th and Guerrero for the Tartine Bakery. Once again I got into a long line, but anyways couldn't passed it up. And it wasn't as slow moing as the Oyster Depot line. Finally, I reached the front and ordered up a double Choolcate crossaint along with a Gougere. both were tremendous and sadly some of the best food I had eaten on the trip by far. The first bite of the chocolate in the croissant had a winey, delicious, dark, rich intensity to it and the chocolate was still warm, and the gougere was slightly cheesy but not overpoweringly so. Nice soft and delicious. I think they actually care about there pastry making here, even if the place is trendy as hell with the 16th/Valencia hipsters.
Then off to the taco shops, of which, I tried Pancho villa first, and ordered up a carne asada taco, and a mexian coke in the bottle, the taco was truly garbage, lukewarm with poor quality and not tasty meat. I had to chuck most of it in the trash. And then off to Taqueria 1,2,3 (is that the correct name?, it's at mission and 24th), and over here the carne asada tacos were just blah. lastly, i arrived at La Taqueria (mission and 25th) for my last carne asada taco (i have to keep to some semblance of a controlled experiment without too many variables to mess it all up). Oh, and an ague frescas strawberry flavor to wash it all down. The fresca may have been the best part. The taco was good, not great, and the best of the three. I was letdown in general by the mission district tacos.
Later that day, I visited the Cheesecake Factory for lunch near Macy's by Union Square. I was dragged here once again. I'll refrain from commenting too much, except to say the drinks are not bad, and the kobe beef burger with grilled onions are not too bad either. Actually that one is pretty good.
Also, later dragged to Houston's for some late afternoon lunch along the Embarcadera. And Houston's is always good, but I can get that stuff in LA, but anyways ordered up one of their grand hickory burgers, and it was good as always, and very dependable and consistent no matter what state or municipality you are in at that moment. It's a pretty darn good coffee shop.
Then it was off to Berkeley for a little stroll and possibly some eats. I ended up at Gregoire's and to make a long story short regarding the joint in the gourmet ghetto, it was ok, but not great by any means. But I do like what the place stands for, being some sort of gourmet take out foood, where stuff like foie gras and bronzed pigeons are packeaged in insane octagonal brown paper boxs along with whole main lobsters and drawn butter sauce. But I think I may have ordered incorrectly, and this may not have been the most exciting menu month for gregoire's. I ordered the potato puffs and the spicey buttermilk fried chicken wings. The wings were just that, wings, and not even the best wings by that token, and if you think about it pretty darn expenisve. With a swig off broccoliini as the only garnish. The potato puffs were only so-so, way too greasy, and they don't exactly melt in your mouth, I was expecting tremendous pommess souffles that are lighter than air, but these were just merely greasy balls of deep-fried coating encasing a mashed potato center. But I did the location of Gregoire's on Cedar, hedging into a residential neighborhood, and the fact that you can possibly get dishes here that you would enjoy eating at a swell sit-down restaurant.
On my trip, in the gourmet ghetto, I noticed a place called Poulet, which looks like it may be good. And also a deli called Saul's, Masse's Pastries (which sounds like it may be really good), and Victoria Bakery, along with Cesar and Chez Pannise, and the Cheeseboard and Cheeseboard pizza. All of these sound pretty good for future trips, but most where closed.
So on my way back to the BArt, I noticed a gelato joint called Gelataria Naia, went inside and said why not (Sketch Ice Cream was closed anyways for the month of Feb.), and had a date gelato and espresso scoop, and it was not half bad, pretty tasty, and it was not terribly sweet.
So that's mostly it for the trip, I missed a bunch of places that I would have loved to try, but couldn't due to time constraints and prior engagements.
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