Malcolm Ruthven's Profile

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Critique my Sonoma wine itinerary please

I afgee about the tour, but I've actively disliked their wines for a long time.

Zuni Cafe, 2014 [San Francisco]

Zuni has been my choice of what a San Francisco restaurant should be since I started going there some time in the early 1980s, maybe even late 70s. I still have an impression of my first visit there so long ago, and it's of that great narrow bar surrounded by windows with a very eclectic mix of people of all ages and all walks of life and dressed from jeans to suits. Then we went upstairs overlooking the bar and ate the great food. It's still a place I make sure I take visitors to. I haven't been there in about a year and it's great to know it's still at the top of its game.

All-Star Donuts [San Francisco, Marina DIstrict location]

I've been stopping in there infrequently for a very long time. They were one of the few doughnut places that knew how to make a good French cruller.

Taste Kitchen & Table open in Fairfax

I went back today for lunch about 1pm and found a quite busy place less than a week after opening, and the service was just fine. They were out of many of the bakery goods; Fairfax seems to have embraced this place quickly. I had the Smoked Salmon Toastie ($8.99) - smoked salmon, soft goat cheese, green tomato, pickled red onion on a seasoned bruchetta. It was as good as it looks in the photo. I'm no connoisseur of green tomatoes, but they're very different from regular tomatoes, quite a bit less soft and with a different flavor which I won't even try to describe. The balsamic dressing drizzled over the tomatoes and lettuce worked well. All in all, a worthy addition to the area along with H.M. Bread & Butter in San Anselmo.

A few photos: http://ruthvenphotos2.com/taste-fairfax

Anyone been to The BBQ Spot in Santa Rosa?

I'd call it tender, and juicy enough for me.

Anyone been to The BBQ Spot in Santa Rosa?

Hard to tell all chopped up like that.

Anyone been to The BBQ Spot in Santa Rosa?

I had their brisket sandwich with baked beans today. I asked for the sauce on the side and received no admonition; the friendly staff person took it in stride. The pretty-large sandwich arrived with chopped meat instead of slices, just as Melnanie found, a big negative to me. I didn't find it as tasteless as she did; there was some noticeable smoke flavor (but no seasoning) and some charred ends with more flavor. But the flavor wasn't at the Memphis Minnie's level at all. The beans were close to the type I like, a sweet-ish type (probably from molasses) but there was all this thick "sauce", seemingly more of that than beans; good tasting, but the ratio was off to me. I wouldn't go back for the brisket, but maybe to try the pulled pork. They'll be moving closer to downtown in October.

Apple Crumb Pie @ Criminal Baking Co.[now Undercover Baking Agency] in Santa Rosa

This morning I had their Chile Relleno, one of the best I've had anywhere. It was large, tender, and filled with white cheddar from Petaluma Creamery. It came with good-tasting slices of tomatoes and a green salad, all drizzled with a balsamic dressing. A very good value at $6.50. This place continues to impress me.

Photo: http://ruthvenphotos2.com/undercover-...

Taste Kitchen & Table open in Fairfax

Taste Kitchen & Table opened today in Fairfax in the prior location of Fat Angel bakery. Shannon, owner of Fat Angel, will be baking many of the items offered. Rochelle, co-owner of Taste, will also be baking her own items. I stopped in today and had a Kouign amann, one of Rochelle's creations, and it was excellent. They also have a breakfast and lunch menu and just received their beer and wine license. Check out this new high-quality place.

Taste Kitchen & Table
71 Broadway
Fairfax, CA 94930

San Jose, Half Moon Bay and Sausalito

Le Garage is a quite good casual French bistro on the water in Sausalito. Lots of favorable mentions here.


Eating out in Healdsburg

When were you there? Three of us had a decidedly lesser experience about a year ago.

anyone been to baan thai cuisine in downtown san anselmo

Don't know.

anyone been to baan thai cuisine in downtown san anselmo

Another very good lunch there today with a business friend. Pumpkin Curry and Eggplant Curry lunch plates ($9), both with brown rice at no extra charge.

Photos: http://ruthvenphotos2.com/baanthai

New French Cafe in Sausalito

Today I have my first real meal here instead of just a pastry or (one time) a sandwich. I had the Duck Confit Galette ($14). It was on the Breakfast & Brunch menu but I'll bet you could order it any time. The lunch menu was also available as were all the things in the front cases. I'm no expert on French food, but I'll proclaim this to be wonderful. The duck confit was in a pile of many thin slices, just fatty enough to be interesting. Counterclockwise from the duck was the sweet potato whatever (scalloped sweet potatoes?), also wonderful; kale salad which I loved in spite of generally not liking kale; and ratatouille which was fine but a bit bland to my taste. With that one small picky negative, the whole plate was a winner in flavor and generous quantity. There were two servers working today with the owner in the kitchen cooking. There were several tables filled and everyone seemed to be quite happy. They are getting their act together. Note, though, that there is a sign at the front desk that says something like "Come into the kitchen to find me" so it's still that sort of place, which is fine with me.

Larger photo: http://ruthvenphotos2.com/bio-sausali...

Kitchener Collective, Corte Madera

Went there today and had the British Beef & Veg Pasty ($7.50). It was excellent, obviously made with high-quality ingredients, and the pastry part was outstanding. Also much larger than the empanadas (which cost less).

Photo of the pasty: http://ruthvenphotos2.com/kitchener_c...

Water Street Bistro. Downtown Petaluma

About a year later, back for another 1/2 sandwich & cup of soup, this time a muffaletta and crayfish chowder (and great bread). Both were excellent as usual and still $7.75.

New French Cafe in Sausalito

Met someone these this morning for a business meeting and had the Croque Monsieur. This interpretation was open faced on a brioche. Quite decadent and good.

Photo of Croque Monsieur: http://ruthvenphotos2.com/bio-sausali...

MY China in Graton Resort & Casino [Rohnert Park, Sonoma County]

I'm sorry, but I have no idea what you meant. Did you mean to recommend a Chinese restaurant in southern Sonoma county? If so, which one?

New French Cafe in Sausalito

Update on the Salmon Quiche. Had it mid-morning today and it's a bit smaller, $4 instead of $5, and self-contained instead of in a container. The owner made the change because she was wasting all of the containers the other way. Same delicious and unique quiche.

Photo of the quiche:

The best San Francisco sourdough?

Bordenave bakery is in San Rafael, close enough to me that I can stop in most any time. So I'll give it another try, this time with a sourdough roll. The loaf of sourdough I had a few years ago wasn't worth eating.

The best San Francisco sourdough?

With all the wonderful bakers in our area now, wouldn't you think at least one of them would want to and be able to make SF sourdough the way it used to be?

Shrimp Grits by Chef Skip Henderson at the Windsor Certified Farmers Market

Is this the Skip Henderson who had a restaurant in Corte Madera what seems like a lifetime ago?

anyone been to baan thai cuisine in downtown san anselmo

Had lunch there today, first time since the owner of its predecessor, Orchid Thai, died. I had Spicy Green Beans with Chicken, one of the many lunch plates ($9). It was excellent, both visually and flavor-wise. The side salad had not much to do with Thai cuisine, but was OK, The green beans and chicken and other vegis were very good, the brown rice (option) was fine. It was what I'd call medium hot. An excellent lunch. All the staff I encountered were friendly and helpful. I'll go back and try other things.

A few photos: http://ruthvenphotos2.com/baanthai


New French Cafe in Sausalito

I had lunch there today, choosing the Salmon Quiche ($5) and Chocolate Bread Pudding ($4). The quite large portion of Salmon Quiche is different that any quiche I've ever had. I liked it a lot, but it wasn't a rich creamy quiche, being more of a "soft loaf" thing. That's a poor description but the best I can do. I was forewarned, because it looked exactly like that in the front case, and I'm glad I tried it. The Chocolate Bread Pudding was also a quite large serving, dense and rich with lots of very good chocolate amid the croissant-type bread. In both cases, very good food, unique interpretations, and very good value.

Photos: http://ruthvenphotos2.com/bio-sausalito

Pig in a Pickle BBQ - Marin

It's open. I had lunch there today and reported on it here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/985348

Pig In a Pickle is open (Town Center, Corte Madera)

It's open. I had lunch there today and reported on it here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/985348

Pig In a Pickle is open (Town Center, Corte Madera)

They're finally open so I had lunch there today. Workers are very friendly and helpful, food was mostly very good. I had the beef brisket sandwich ($13) with a side of beans (one side included). The beans were not my type at all, but after adding their spicy barbecue sauce they were better. Your experience may differ. The brisket sandwich was quite large, with thick tender slices of brisket showing plenty of char. All sandwiches some with sauce on the side only, no request needed. The flavor of the charred ends was quite good, but I found the flavor of the rest of the slices to be strangely lacking. I don't know if that was real or if was just my taster today. I had brisket for lunch yesterday at Memphis Minnie's and (I think) it had more flavor. Please other barbecue lovers check out this place and report back. It's obvious they're trying to do things right.

A few photos: http://ruthvenphotos2.com/piginapickle


Sorry, another I-5 and Hwy 99 question!

Too late to edit. Obviously Tita's is just off I-5, not 101.

Aug 09, 2014
Malcolm Ruthven in California

Sorry, another I-5 and Hwy 99 question!

When I go down I-5 (about once a year) I always skip Harris Ranch and stop for pupusas at Tita's just off 101 at the Buttonwillow exit. I've also tried their food truck but prefer the restaurant (across the road from McDonalds).

Aug 09, 2014
Malcolm Ruthven in California

Donuts in Santa Barbara?

About a year and a half ago I was driving through Santa Barbara and had a (basic raised) Spudnut at the shops at 220 West Carrillo Street and 3629 State Street. One was definitely better than the other, but I can't remember which. Which one did you go to?

If you get closer to the LA area, the Spudnut I had (on the same trip) at 8225 Topanga Canyon Blvd, Canoga Park, was probably the best one I've had. Perfection!

More info about Spudnuts: http://spudnutinfo.com

Aug 09, 2014
Malcolm Ruthven in California