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Fancy Cocktails at Down-to-Earth Sidebar

I love SideBar -- a great crew and a great place to hang out. And I like that they'll make the cocktail *I* want, exactly how I like it, and served in a perfect Riedel Extreme martini glass, the way gawd intended. Love the food too: clams & chorizo, killer chicken stew, and a great burger, among other delights!

Mar 02, 2011
RodW in Features

Good eats at Pappo in Alameda

We were headed out to see a movie at the beautiful Alameda Theater, and wondered where we might find a nice dinner afterwards. Chowhound didn't have much to say about the neighborhood, except for a single mention of Angela's Bistro (thanks, Ruth L), where we did have some excellent cocktails at the bar. We then strolled across the street to Pappo, where we had a really delightful meal in a congenial space, with welcoming and attentive servers.

We had some delicious crispy fried olives with our glasses of rose while we perused the menu. The steamed clams, corn and avocado chowder, and Caesar salad couldn't have been better. Lots of attention to detail and making every ingredient shine.

My braised duck had a great crispy skin and came with a tart black cherry sauce, parmesan-flavored polenta, and frisee with chunks of grilled white peach. J's pork chop was hot off the grill, tender and juicy with a wonderful smoky flavor, and a colorful tasty succotash on the side. T's sauteed chicken breast was perfect, with a pile of vibrant green pasta (conchigliette) in arugula pesto alongside. Again, every ingredient was well-matched, and prepared to perfection.

We shared a couple of yummy desserts -- a butterscotch pudding and an orange-almond cake.

It's so nice to find a new (to us) place where every dish surpassed our expectations, and the staff were so amiable. We'll definitely be back.

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Pappo
2320 Central Avenue, Alameda, CA 94501

Angela's Bistro
2301 Central Ave, Alameda, CA

May 23, 2010
RodW in San Francisco Bay Area

Lunch at Somerset

Another brunch place that does wonderful lemon-ricotta pancakes is Cock-A-Doodle, on Washington between 7th & 8th Streets, in Old Oakland.

Oct 22, 2006
RodW in San Francisco Bay Area

Polenta Dinner at Oliveto?

Oliveto also has Spaten lager on tap, which is probably more food-friendly than Sierra Nevada.

Oct 22, 2006
RodW in San Francisco Bay Area

after-work eats in downtown SF

Go to one of the places on Belden Alley (between Kearny & Montgomery, Bush & Pine). You'll be able to find something delicious and reasonable at B44, Plouf, Tiramisu or Cafe Bastille -- my favorite is B44, for wonderful tapas and paellas, but I'd be happy at any of them. Sit inside, or outside under the heat-lamps -- it's great for people-watching.

Oct 19, 2006
RodW in San Francisco Bay Area

Dim Sum- Oakland?

Chef Wok is OK, but East Ocean is much better, and amazingly good value.

Oct 18, 2006
RodW in San Francisco Bay Area

La Farine fig & berry tart

I picked up two fruit tarts at La Farine on Saturday, to bring to a party in the Gold Country that night. They were terrific -- light, crispy crusts, light creamy creme patissiere, and wonderfully fresh, ripe, juicy, tasty fruit, beautifully arranged on top. One was peach slices with a mound of blueberries in the middle; the other was strawberry slices with a ring of blackberries around the outside. The partygoers were all, "I don't have a sweet tooth, but this is delicious!" and "I don't usually like fruit tarts, but this is amazing!" Score moi.

Oct 18, 2006
RodW in San Francisco Bay Area

Tin's Tea House Lounge for Dim Sum, Walnut Creek.

It's pretty good for dim sum -- not a very large selection, but the steamed dumplings are generally fresh and tasty. I like the scallop dumpling best. They have some carts, and also carry around trays. I used to go there regularly, but I'm taking a break because I grew tired of tasting the same few selections every visit.

Oct 15, 2006
RodW in San Francisco Bay Area

Parfait Amour and Creme de Yvette - what do they taste like and where can I find them (in SF)?

When I first tasted the Violet Hour at Nizza La Bella, I asked the bartender where I could find Parfait d'Amour - answer: Beverages & More. I now have a bottle at home, plus candied violets for garnish. Still need to stop swilling regular Hendrick's martinis long enough to concentrate on getting the right mix of gin, white vermouth & P d'A to make a Violet Hour. On its own, P d'A is tooth-achingly sweet...

Oct 08, 2006
RodW in San Francisco Bay Area

Sonoma or Napa?

I like many of the Sonoma places mentioned -- also want to recommend El Dorado Kitchen, right on the plaza. Great space and atmosphere, and excellent food. I enjoyed it just as much as The Girl & The Fig and The General's Daughter (though all are very different, I hasten to add).

http://www.eldoradosonoma.com/kitchen...

Oct 05, 2006
RodW in San Francisco Bay Area

Townhouse Bar & Grill, Emeryville

Looking at both of their websites, the most expensive dishes on Bucci's daily menus are less than the top prices on Townhouse's. And Bucci's pastas and pizzas are pretty reasonable.

http://www.buccis.com/
http://www.townhousebarandgrill.com/

Oct 01, 2006
RodW in San Francisco Bay Area

Townhouse Bar & Grill, Emeryville

I've been to the Townhouse a few times over the past several years. I do like the space and the buzz and the friendly staff, but I think the food is underwhelming, and doesn't measure up to Bucci's, a few blocks away. We usually go there instead when we're in the neighborhood.

Sep 30, 2006
RodW in San Francisco Bay Area

Alameda Redux- Any food experiences worth having?

I have to say we were a bit underwhelmed by the dim sum at Chef's Wok last Sunday -- liked East Ocean better a few weeks ago. There was nothing out of the ordinary being offered, and the old familiar items were nothing special. But the space is nice, and the wait-staff very smiling and helpful (one waitress who spoke barely any English picked up a menu and pointed out the item we were asking about -- nice). We'll give it another chance.

Sep 17, 2006
RodW in San Francisco Bay Area

Zuni Cafe -- still worth going to?

It's worth going to still.

Sep 14, 2006
RodW in San Francisco Bay Area

Wanted: Romantic Dining in the East Bay

It's not particularly noisy. More of a happy murmur than the roar you get in many places. There's a porch that is open to the street (South Main). That's probably the noisiest space, so you might ask for one of the interior rooms. On the weekend they'll probably have a piano playing soft jazzy stuff in the area around the bar, so keep that in mind too...

Sep 10, 2006
RodW in San Francisco Bay Area

Best choices for single diner near Hotel Monaco/Union Square?

If you don't mind walking a bit, head over to Belden Alley, between Bush & Pine, Kearny & Montgomery. It's a one-block-long alley all given over to restaurants. You can sit outside (under the heat lamps) or inside, and there's a friendly, festive vibe all night long. You won't need your book -- it's simply fun to people-watch all night long. Good, reliable places are B44 (a Catalan bistro, specializing in tapas and paellas), Plouf (Belgian mussels and fries), Tiramisu (pretty decent Cal-Med fare) and Cafe Bastille (pretty decent French bistro fare -- I love the boudin noir with sauteed onions and apples and some of the best pommes frites in town).

A more upscale place that's great for single diners is a stool at the kitchen counter at Boulevard (take a cab). Or take a cab over to the Civic Center and sit at the fabulous bar in Jardiniere for dinner. In both of those places, that's more fun than sitting at a table, and you won't need a book to be entertained. You can also sit at the bar at the venerable Tadich Grill -- the oldest restaurant in town, serving fine fresh seafood.

Sep 09, 2006
RodW in San Francisco Bay Area

Wanted: Romantic Dining in the East Bay

I'm very fond of Prima in Walnut Creek. It's a lovely space, with fine food and great staff. For a special occasion, you might want to try the Chef's Tasting Menu ($60) with optional 2-oz. wine pairings with each course ($22). They own the wine shop next-door, and have a very extensive wine list.

http://www.primaristorante.com/

Sep 08, 2006
RodW in San Francisco Bay Area

Moscone Center - good restaurants

I like Azie (as well as LuLu next-door). Here's a link to a report I posted about Azie last year...

http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

Sep 07, 2006
RodW in San Francisco Bay Area

Best Burger in Bay Area?

I second the Luka's recommendation. But, as Hercule Poirot would insist, "They're delicious Belgian fries! Not French -- Belgian!" I probably like Zuni's burger better, but Luka's Belgian fries blow away Zuni's shoestrings.

Sep 07, 2006
RodW in San Francisco Bay Area

2nd Best Restuarant in Berkeley?

Garibaldi's usually has a grilled lamb tenderloin on the menu, often with Moroccan seasoning and couscous. I've always enjoyed it a lot. They also do yummy antipasti that tempt me to overindulge...

Sep 05, 2006
RodW in San Francisco Bay Area

Turkish restaurant(s) in Berkeley/East Bay?

I've found the buffet dishes at Bosphorus to be a bit lackluster, but some of the menu items are terrific -- I'm remembering a wonderful smoky pureed eggplant with chunks of grilled lamb.

Sep 04, 2006
RodW in San Francisco Bay Area

Fig Cafe (Glen Ellen)

I had the very best grilled cheese sandwich of my life at The Fig Cafe last year, made with brioche and served with a yummy tomato confit, terrific fries and a tarragon aioli. I still dream of it.

Sep 04, 2006
RodW in San Francisco Bay Area

DiBartolo Restaurant - anyone been for food or drinks?

We were strolling on Grand Avenue this evening, after a movie at the Grand Lake, and happened upon Di Bartolo. It looked promising, but we were in the mood for a cocktail and didn't see any sign of a bar. I'm glad we poked our noses in to ask -- we were directed to the swanky little bar at the back, and enjoyed a couple of Hendricks martinis and some terrific marinated olives before moving to a table for dinner. I'm pretty much a martini traditionalist, but I noticed a concoction on the cocktail menu -- Hangar One Buddha's Hand vodka with a house-made ginger syrup and black pepper -- that may prompt a return visit.

For dinner we had a couple of salads -- a good Caesar with tasty marinated boquerones filling in for the usual salt-cured anchovies, and a lovely heirloom tomato and arugula salad with crumbled blue cheese (it was listed with shredded manchego, but changed without explanation). Then we had an excellent New York strip steak served over creamed corn and green beans, with a dish of fries on the side, tossed in minced garlic and herbs, and a seared sea-bass with white beans, fennel and a simple tomato sauce. We finished up by sharing a nectarine and berry crisp with vanilla ice-cream. I liked the wine-list, offering a range of unusual treats from all over. We had a delicious Justin tempranillo from Paso Robles.

We'll definitely go back -- it's a surprising, sophisticated, urban space in this laidback Oakland neighborhhod, and the staff are well-trained and eager to please. The food is well-executed neighborhood fare, nothing out of the ordinary, but very satisfying. Next time, we'll stay at the bar and try the pizza...

I

Sep 04, 2006
RodW in San Francisco Bay Area