The back issues of the weekly e-newsletter San Francisco Bay Area ChowNews have been a great source for finding less-obvious chow when we need a break from Chinese fare. Through searching for Alamo Square and Panhandle neighborhoods in my ChowNews folder, weve tried three recently that deserve to be recommended again. IIRC, Cynthia cynsa, the chowhound on this beat, reported on each of these spots originally. Many thanks!
Kathmandu Café (1279 Fulton)
#22 Machha (fish curry), $9.95 Big cubes of moist, white-fleshed fish were cooked just right. I would have liked more intensity in the mild Nepali-style yellow curry sauce, but this was still satisfactory and very fresh tasting.
#49 Dal bhaat (vegetable combo dinner), $10 The two selections of vegetables changes daily and comes with green salad, rice, black lentils, and kheer. We had eggplant (a sweet Asian type) stewed with ginger, garlic, tomatoes, and medium spice and cauliflower and potatoes (alu kauli). Both were very good. The waxy potatoes were browned and the cauliflower was especially pleasing retaining some firmness yet cooked enough to develop its sweet flavors completely. The premium-grade basmati was quite fragrant with separate individual grains. I though the rice was near perfect, but my mother didnt like the firmness. The dal was a little too hard for me and kheer was nothing special.
#38 Paratha (butter bread), $2 Roti probably would have been a better choice to go with our dishes, but I couldnt resist ordering a paratha. Made of whole wheat with many layers and plenty of butter, it was a good version, especially considering that it had been steaming in the aluminum foil wrapper. Ill be sure to try one freshly made dining in.
#11 Aap ko lassi (mango shake), $3 Thick and rich with mango, no rosewater, but too much ice.
1751 Social Club (http://www.1751socialclub.com/) -
Fish and chips, $8.95 Orangey-colored light and airy beer batter on thick filets of orange roughy with spicy curly fries. My mother and I both thought the fish was expertly cooked retaining all its juicy sweet flavor. The online menu says shoestring fries, so it was disappointing to find something else. These were decent though, if a bit soggy from being wrapped and transported. Crisp cole slaw with a non-mayo, vinegary dressing; good tartar sauce too.
Half-pound Kobe burger with Jack cheese, $8.95 Cooked nearly well-done instead of the medium Id ordered, but the high quality of the meat still showed itself. Balloon bread bun, at least it was toasted. Freshly cut garnishes, very good snappy dill pickle spear. Points off for not providing/offering any condiments.
These two items were plenty of food for the three of us to share, and we had an abundance of fries left over. Calling in my order at 6pm on a rainy weeknight, it was ready in 10 minutes as promised. Lots of parking across the street at Fulton Market.
Little Star Pizza (http://littlestarpizza.com/)
Classic deep dish pizza, $19/large Deep dish style rather than stuffed under a top crust like Zacharys and Patxis, the chunky tomato sauce is reminiscent of Zacharys though my brother said its not as tart. The crust with a dusting of cornmeal looks bread-like and sturdy yet has an airy texture with a nice crispness on the outer edge and bottom. I liked the crust better than Patxis. Sausage was tasty, green peppers and onions still had some resilience, and cheese was good quality, yet there was a certain richness and harmony absent. Still, I might try a deep dish from here again, but probably not before sampling a thin crust.
Mixed salad, $7/large Beautifuly organic baby greens with halves of tiny sweet cherry tomatoes, bits of gorgonzola, and toasted walnuts. Nice vinaigrette.