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My dinner at Middle'terranea

I had a very enjoyable and delicious dinner last Thursday at this Michael Mina pop-up in Cow Hollow, featuring the work of Adam Sobel of RN74.

The flavors were intense yet balanced with a generous amount of salt. Two specifics I will remember and attempt to replicate were the dried cherries in the hummus (tartness a perfect counterpoint to the richness of the other ingredients) and the “toasted farro” in one of the salads which turns out (I asked Adam about this) to be farro grains (but he says this will work for any grain) that are cooked in an seasoned broth with garlic and herbs, dehydrated then reconstituted in hot oil.

I ate all of what follows. Look at the number of dishes and the complexity and you would agree the price might have been $90 or $135, but in fact it was $45. I also had the wine pairings at $30 which was not as good a value with mostly readily available, middle of the road choices; a broader selection of beers might have been a better choice with this spicy food.

Frozen Limonata and Olive Oil-Drizzled Tenbrick White Peach; Sea Salt and Basil Buds

Warm Yogurt Flat Bread with Za’atar-Cured Salmon
Red Onion Labneh, Shave Ciogga Beet, Fried Zucchini Chips

Lovage, Watercress and Mint Salad, Toasted Pistachios, Persian Cucumbers, Heirloom Melons and Olive Oil-Soaked Haloumi

Brokaw Avocado with Pickled Hot Peppers and Summer Vegetables; Fried Walnuts, Katafi, Schug

Heirloom Tomatoes and Shaved Green Onions, Crunchy Farro, Toasted Sesame, Coriander Blossom, Tahina, Spicy Lime Dressing

Fried Cauliflower and Crispy Chicken Skin Hummus, Roasted Garlic, Dried Cherries and Fresh Marjoram

Harissa-Marinated Whole Roasted Chicken

Roasted Baby Eggplant and Sow-Cooked Cherry Tomatoes, Sumac, Sesame, Pine Nuts, Oregano

Moroccan Sweet Corn, Chermoula Yoghurt, Feta, Cayenne Pepper, Orange Zest, Mint, Green Onions

Smashed and Fried Fingerling Potatoes, Garlic Aioli, Smoked Paprika, Matbucha

Toasted Sesame Mango Tarta, Frozen Greek Yoghurt, Preserved Lime, Cardamom Honey

The restaurant occupies the former Chez Claude space at 2120 Greenwich, corner of Fillmore in the Cow Hollow District. Reservations (very scarce) can be made at where you purchase a ticket in advance; walk-ins are also accommodated at the bar. Middle’terranea is open Wednesday-Saturday from 5:30 to 10:00 pm.

P.S. Unfortunately I suffered a camera malfunction, so the only photo I have is of the palate tickler at the beginning.

Anova One sous vide cooker for $99 at Amazon

Thanks Melanie for sharing this! The offer has disappeared online, but I tried it with the link in my post and the code ANOVAONE worked when I entered it at checkout. My Anova One will be here tomorrow (Monday) for $99!

May 31, 2015
otis in Cookware

Banh Mi Cafes in the Tenderloin [San Francisco]

I went to Sing Sing this past summer on the advice of Andrea Nguyen, who's written a book on bahn mi, and fell in love. The atmosphere was charming and there was an endless side show outside the window and the sandwich was big, feral and cheap (I had the combination, dac biet). I was especially pleased with a healthy drizzle of Maggi sauce soaking into the bread.

Unfortunately, when I returned in October 2014 everything had changed. The bread was smaller, obviously from another supplier and the prices had gone up. I had the dac biet and also a grilled pork and they were light on filling.

Now I'm back to Saigon Sandwich, rueful and hoping they'll take me back after my infidelity.

Jan 16, 2015
otis in San Francisco Bay Area

Roti canai / roti prata SFBA Dish of the Month January 2015

Had roti for app and roti for dessert last night at Maneelap Srimongkoun in the Excelsior... both terrific.

Jan 15, 2015
otis in San Francisco Bay Area

Walk In At State Bird Provisions on a Friday? [San Francisco]

I found State Bird very frustrating as a solo diner. Yes you can order from the food carts but you will quickly get stuffed as the food keeps coming. I hoped to share with my seatmate, also a solo, but he was somebody who comes in once each week at the same time and was slowly eating his way through the menu, so he only wanted very specific things.

I was there during the Fancy Food Show last year which is coming up again next week. At least the conversation in line will be interesting since there will be a lot of chefs and food focused people.

Jan 10, 2015
otis in San Francisco Bay Area

Good for a group in the Gaslamp?

Ha, oops. You made me google. I assumed it was "American Association of Fork Eaters" but of course it's "Asian Americans for Equality".

Sure, "downtown" is fine. Is this the thread you were referring to below? doesn't have many restaurants, actually.

So far in my own perusal I've been drawn to Chloe but concerned it might be too small for a group of 10. Thoughts?

Sep 18, 2014
otis in San Diego

Good for a group in the Gaslamp?

I've been given the assignment of finding a restaurant for a group of 10 or so business friends during a convention next month. I get the feeling from the other Gaslamp topics that the restaurant scene is changeable there.

What are current recommendations for a really good meal that's not super expensive ($50 pp would be great) and would allow us an atmosphere where we could talk while we eat? Unfortunately these are not adventurous eaters. (One has already warned, "I'm not going anyplace where I can't eat a fork.")

Sep 17, 2014
otis in San Diego

Paid Food Testing Event - Downtown Oakland

This is permitted under CH's new policy to let "professional voices" post on the boards:

Apparently we'll see a lot more of it.

Aug 09, 2014
otis in San Francisco Bay Area

Return To Wah's Golden Hen For Old Time Cantonese

Does Wah's Golden Hen have almond duck, i.e. cubes of pressed duck in a sweet/sour sauce with some lettuce shreds? That was my favorite dish when I lived in Silverlake 25 years ago. Back in town in a few days and I'll stop by if the have the almond duck.

P.S. There are some onliine menus that mention "Almond Chicken" at Wah's. Is that what they have now? Is it the same preparation?

Jun 24, 2014
otis in Los Angeles Area

Bar seating LES with a view of the kitchen?

So, in the end I ate at Il Pesce in Eataly... sat at the bar next to the waiters station which served my purposes. It was a great night with raw uni in the shell (too much lemon unfortunately) and grilled Montauk squid.

Thanks for the suggestions... for next time.

May 20, 2014
otis in Manhattan

Bar seating LES with a view of the kitchen?

Thanks for these great suggestions and thanks also for the link to the earlier thread. At this point my first choice is Ko if something opens up that day, but the other ideas are tempting. I'll report back.

May 13, 2014
otis in Manhattan

Bar seating LES with a view of the kitchen?

When I travel I am alone and like to sit at a bar or counter where I can watch the kitchen at work--Bar Tartine in San Francisco being my favorite experience. I'm going to be in Greenwich Village/LES this coming Monday night May 19. What do you recommend?

Blue Hill, Momofuku Ko and a couple of Batali restaurants are within walking distance of my hotel (near Union Square). Does any of these have a kitchen counter? Also, what are my chances as a walk-in single or trying to get a reservation on short notice? Thanks!

May 13, 2014
otis in Manhattan

Three Dishes for $15.99 at Yee’s Restaurant (SF Chinatown)

I have been wanting to get to Yee's Resturant ever since Melanie's post six years ago and yesterday finally was the day. The three-item special is now $16.99 and I ordered two of them and slurped a bowl of goose lai fun (excellent, lots of meat and better meat/bone ratio than duck) while I waited.

Unfortunately the salt & pepper flounder is no longer on the specials menu, nor are some of the more exotic dishes involving pigeon and goose. But there's still plenty to choose from. Here's what I ordered:

#13 salt and pepper shrimp. Only dish I didn't like. The shrimp had that sitting-around taste and there weren't very many of them.
#30 sauteed tripe. Cooked more like a stew with green peppers and onions, this would be a good gateway prep for those who are squeamish about offal.
#32 Peking spareribs. This was a surprise: the ribs were battered and fried and served with a sweet and sour sauce, so were s&s spareribs without the vegetables.
#37 boiled chicken special, salt. This was my favorite dish, lots of meaty tender chicken with subtle anise flavor.
#47 green bean with minced pork. Made with green beans not long beans, and brown sauce. OK.
#48 garlic bok choy. Good rendition of this classic.

We got a quart container of soup with each order, so two quarts total. It was very much as Melanie described, a rich poultry broth with some mysterious bits floating in it.

On the way out the door I decided I needed some duck as well and got half cut up for $7. It was ok, pretty bony though.

The service was fast and friendly and I enjoyed sitting at the single men's table with my soup while the other items were being prepared. Very happy with Yee's Restaurant.

Apr 05, 2014
otis in San Francisco Bay Area

Best Authentic Cantonese Food? Needing home cooking!

Mchen, another long distance visitor/returner will be in SF from April 2-8 and very hungry. Any possibility of doing it then?

Mar 30, 2014
otis in San Francisco Bay Area

Is it just me or does this list sound very upmarket and possibly not really reflective of what's great to eat in SF ?

I like the list a lot. 2 of my favorite places (State Bird and Bar Tartine) and 1 I'm eager to try (Alta). Guess that makes me a gilpin.

Cheapo SF Rice Plates

How about the You's vs Mon Kiang comparison? MK still better? I like the big chicken buns at You's but they often run out...

Mar 09, 2014
otis in San Francisco Bay Area

The Kitchen Millbrae - any recent updates/comments?

I had dim sum at the Kitchen on 1/24/14 and was generally satisfied. Not the best ever but definitely well above average. I wouldn't hesitate to go again.

I chose it because I was meeting someone in the area and it was the first place we found that had nearby parking. My dining mate is not adventurous so in general we stuck to the standards: har gow, siu mai, chia siu bao etc. I did slip in some marinated duck tongues which were enjoyable, a smoked/star anise flavor profile, and we had fried shrimp dumplings, the little squares with the mayo in my picture, which were a nice change of pace. And, not a clinker in the bunch.

I will attach a couple of snaps of the menu (fuzzy, sorry).

The clientele was almost entirely Asian and the dining room was about 3/4 full at 1:30 on a Friday afternoon. Afterwards I read the reviews on Yelp and was somewhat mystified by undeserved harsh criticism of both the food and the service.

The Kitchen is a solid choice in my opinion.

Feb 20, 2014
otis in San Francisco Bay Area

Best restaurant bars with a view of the kitchen? [San Francisco]

Hah. I did request doggie bag service and loaded half my garlic bread with burrata and a pathetic squirt of the duck pate in there. The bread was fine (actually excellent) heated in the microwave and the pate covered a small slice of breakfast bread.

The layout now is that there are maybe 10 seats on the counter that faces the prep area, 4 on the counter at a right angle facing the street (those sad singles you refer to) and then 4 on a desert island that is beyond the servers station where they punch in the orders, before you enter the larger dining area. I really wouldn't like to be put there.

Jan 31, 2014
otis in San Francisco Bay Area

Best restaurant bars with a view of the kitchen? [San Francisco]

Thanks again for all the suggestions. On the single night when I was able to do this on my just concluded visit, I went for State Bird and got one of the seats right in front of the major prep area, perfect. The only problem was that there was just one of me!

My stomach was stuffed while my eyes were still lusting after the dishes sailing by. Need to find a dining companion next time. In fact I may post right here and see if anyone feels like standing in line for an hour in the Western Addition...

Jan 26, 2014
otis in San Francisco Bay Area

Best restaurant bars with a view of the kitchen? [San Francisco]

Thanks for these pix.. extremely helpful. Knowing a restaurant has bar seating does not tell you whether the bar is near/in the kitchen.

Dec 30, 2013
otis in San Francisco Bay Area

Best restaurant bars with a view of the kitchen? [San Francisco]

I usually have dinner alone on my return visits to SF, and my idea of a perfect experience is the Friends and Family Meal at Bar Tartine I enjoyed a couple of weeks back. I sat on the barstool right next to the service station and watched the dishes being plated and dispatched as well as a good amount of cold kitchen prep. The bartenders were knowledgeable about the food and several of the cooks discussed them with me as they went out. To me, all this is as good as it gets.

So, what other spots offer a similar experience? (And I'm aware there are several threads here on SF single dining.) I stay in the Fisherman's Wharf/North Beach area so have a bias toward that area because I can walk.

P.S. No bias as to price, high or low. Counters in the TL are just fine.

Dec 28, 2013
otis in San Francisco Bay Area

Eat Real Fest [2013, Oakland]

I'm back in town briefly looking for good food to eat and I know the Eat Real Fest is coming up this weekend. Surprised to see no discussion here. Can anyone advise on why I should or should not go? If you're familiar with the schedule, are there any not-to-be-missed highlights?

Sep 25, 2013
otis in San Francisco Bay Area

Dishes w/ tongue in the Bay Area

How about the marinated tongue which is served at Basque restaurants? Who does the best job on that? Good: marinade permeates the meat. Bad: it's just tossed in "Italian dressing".

Sep 20, 2013
otis in San Francisco Bay Area

Yank sing location? [San Francisco]

A second for Koi Palace! Yank Sing is nothing special and Koi is definitely better, not that far from the airport, and has parking.

Sep 01, 2013
otis in San Francisco Bay Area

Sweet and Sour Pressed Almond Duck

I have been craving Almond Pressed Duck for some time and yesterday I made the journey down Jade Dragon to get some. The gold standard for me (actually the only other place I've ever had it) is Wah's Golden Hen in LA and this wasn't as good, but it wasn't bad. I got it as part of a take-out order and was informed it would take extra time for the cook to make the duck, so I'm glad they took the trouble. Little shards of (probably leftover) duck are layered on the bottom and top of the crisp/mushy layer with some duck skin covering it for appearance, and it's pressed. The biggest negative to this rendition was that it used the standard sweet and sour sauce that was too sweet.

Also tried lion's head meatballs, Shanghai smoked fish (neither on the printed menu), westlake beef soup and sauteed spinach with garlic. None were excellent, but all were above average, and prices were reasonable. The place itself is like a trip back to San Francisco in the Joe Dimaggio area... worth going just for that. And as ChofFun_derek says you can shop at Kukje next door, which is unquestionably the BA's best Korean market.

Posting pictures of the duck in its takeout container and a closeup of the cross-section...

Jan 24, 2013
otis in San Francisco Bay Area

Bahn mi to go?

I regularly visit Saigon Sandwich on my way to SFO or OAK and buy Bahm Mi to eat on the plane. Makes the other passengers very jealous. I always get one roast pork and one "special combination", both extra spicy.

May 21, 2012
otis in San Francisco Bay Area

Midtown grocery stores?

RCC no ice machines, you have to call room service/butler. (This is the Plaza.)

But I've found Klein and it's great. Ice is $2.99 for 5 lbs. Also a great selection of IPAs and Belgian style ales. Also, WellGreen is on the west side of 6th between 57th and 58th so just a block from my hotel. They seem in general a wee bit cheaper than Klein's and their 5 lbs of ice is $2.50.

Apr 10, 2012
otis in Manhattan

Midtown grocery stores?

Kathryn, I'm working out of the hotel so no. But Jane and emsny's suggestions sound good. Will check them out... thanks!

Apr 08, 2012
otis in Manhattan

Midtown grocery stores?

Where do y'all buy your daily comestibles in Manhattan? I'm here for awhile at 5th and 59th and will go broke if I have to buy everything from room service. I want a source of cereals, fresh produce items, milk and also some CRUSHED ICE so I don't have to pay room service to bring it.

As I recall last time this happened, I was near Penn Station and bought some ice from a Korean market under the table because the cashier went back and filled a plastic grocery bag from their ice machine. But that can't be the norm.

New Yorkers look great but that can't be just because you never eat at home and never put ice in your drinks. Let me in on your secrets please.

P.S. Yes I know there's a Whole Foods in Columbus Circle but am looking for closer/alternate sources.

Apr 07, 2012
otis in Manhattan

Goldin's Kosher Dill Pickles

I grew up on Goldin's Kosher Dills and think they were as good as anything in NY or LA. I was excited to learn that an outfit called FirstPlaceFoods has bought the name and is producing the pickles again. However, they appear only to be available in wholesale lots of a pallet or more and my call to the sales department was not returned. Any tips on outlets that sell these pickles?

Mar 08, 2012
otis in Dallas - Fort Worth