Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >

katielp's Profile

Title Last Reply

Favorite unusual toppings for vanilla ice cream?

Yes, I agree -- a loose rhubarb compote, like the Bonne Maman one. It's also very nice with waffles and cream.

May 02, 2012
katielp in General Topics

Great food, drinks and atmosphere in SF

Strongly second Aziza. Terrific drinks--the gin and celery juice cocktail gives the Alembic a run for its money. Surprisingly refined, delicate food--I particularly enjoyed the simply cooked cod with mustard seed and peas; the sardines; the meatballs with roasted grapes; the ridiculous chocolate ganache dessert on a recent visit. Atmospheric lounge-y Moroccan decor.

It is, however, a bit inconvenient unless you're driving. In the Mission, I would recommend Range or Foreign Cinema, which both score highly on the fun/atmosphere factor, and have terrific food too. Commonwealth also good, though in my mind more seriously foody, with no liquor license, and a bit of molecular gastronomy stuff going on (not always a hit, though it can be)--and threatening to get pricey.

Canteen I think is less good, though haven't tried the other places you suggest. You might also think about Zuni for some old-school SF style--and a pretty great gin gimlet.

Zuni Cafe
1658 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

Foreign Cinema
2534 Mission St., San Francisco, CA 94110

Gay Chocolatier visiting Fancy Food Show Weekend (01.16.10) searching for wedding proposal restaurant

I don't want to be a downer--but I worry that L'Ardoise wouldn't be everything you're looking for and would mildly steer you away from it. I've been three times, and enjoy it as a fairly crowded, certainly compact, classic French bistro. The food is good in a traditional sense: steak, goat's cheese salad, chocolate mousse, that kind of thing, but it's a rushy, slightly hectic experience, especially if they seat you near the door or bathroom, and although I could imagine having a fun wine-fuelled Valentine's day there, it wouldn't be a place I could imagine proposing (or being proposed to) in. I'd heartily second the Chez Spencer recommendation. Or what about Bar Tartine, which is in a livelier/more central area of the Mission?

Great breads you've had in restaurants

Garcon has a great, endlessly refilled bread basket of classic French bread with excellent unsalted butter.
The cornbread fingers at Front Porch served with warm spicy butter (butter theme here!) have a lovely texture, but you sometimes have to beg.
I haven't been for about a year, but remember Absinthe having a distinctly superior bread basket with many different types including a raisin bread that was yummy with cheese.

The Front Porch
65 29th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

1101 Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

Absinthe Brasserie & Bar
398 Hayes Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

After school snack memories

As a hungry teenager in the UK, I have happy memories of a rather eclectic range of 4pm snacks, many made by me in my earliest attempts at cooking, few tried since:
Waffles with Bon Maman rhubarb compote, poached pears in blackcurrant juice with cinnamon; bacon sandwiches with HP sauce on plastic white bread; whole tubs of Onken peach yogurt with wholegrains (hmm, should try that again, an interesting texture); dark chocolate Bahlsen Leibniz biscuits, eaten chocolate topping first; garibaldi biscuits. Sometimes plum-jam filled donuts from a Polish bakery and Lebkuchen in December.

Jul 13, 2009
katielp in General Topics

Montreal chowhounders in Bloomsbury for a month-a few recs? [London]

On B, you might try Kennards on Lamb's Conduit Street--a lovely delicatessen. I'm guessing that you don't happen to have a child with you (?!), but if you do you should also try the Austrian Kipferl cafe in Coram Fields.
V. good tarts, small open sandwiches, etc. Good but very mliky coffee--I usually ask for an extra shot. I haven't tried the cafe in the Foundling Museum for food, but the cakes are homemade and look excellent.

If you like tapas/ Spanish, there are two good options in the area. The Norfolk Arms is a beautiful, gussied-up old pub on Leigh Street. The cooking can be a bit variable, but the quality of ingredients is high--keep it simple with big plates of cheese, ham etc. Opposite is the very popular North Sea fish restaurant, which would be a good choice for a traditional fish and chip supper in a sit-down restaurant.
Cigala, also on Lamb's Conduit St, is an old favorite. Have recently enjoyed sweet chicken livers with sherry and a lovely rich black pudding with a fried egg. They also have excellent hard-crusted slightly sour bread--very moreish dipped in good house olive oil. Portions are fairly small, so you might want to fill up on this, or make it a special occasion meal. Ciao Bella on the same street (worth a walk, anyway) is a very popular, traditional, Italian/pizzeria. Stick to the pizzas and Calzones, or the simpler pasta dishes, and you'll be happily fed for less than 10 pounds.

Jul 11, 2009
katielp in U.K./Ireland

front porch meal, new chef

It was something like a warm bean salad. Was actually thinking of trying to reproduce it at home, in which case I'd go for something like this

front porch meal, new chef

Good news! Believe I can report a serious uphill alert since the change of chef. (I admit, I wasn't a huge fan of the Front Porch in its previous incarnation--everything was too fried for me, not fresh enough for the price.)

The new menu is much more interesting with some good use of seasonal and local produce. Two amuse-bouches sent out: lightly pickled beet on soft goat cheese toasts; these came at the same time as two spicy lady finger shaped cornbreads (you'd want to ask for more if you were really hungry). Grilled oysters were outstanding: juicy, sweet, fresh, simple with a little lemon over them. We also tried an asparagus appetizer with a perfectly poached egg, crispy bits of bacon and terrific thick, not curdling, hollandaise. The best thing of all was my entree, which had very interesting contrasts of texture and flavour. A lightly spiced and salted piece of catfish, on top of warm succotash salad, with two spicy sauces (one more like a pesto, one a red pepper sauce on the side), and, best of all, a very fluffy, creamy crab beignet, like a little sweet fishy doughnut. Excellent! My DC ordered the rabbit with a piquant sauce on dirty rice (was pleased to see this after inquiring about rabbit last week). I didn't get to try very much, but he liked it. The meat was tender. The burgers being ordered by many surrounding tables also looked good, but I didn't try.

Where to eat rabbit?

Hadn't eaten rabbit for a year, and then I had an outstanding dish at Incanto last week that has left me craving more rabbity goodness (and different kinds of preparation). The Incanto dish is lightly roasted rather than stewed--the meat is incredibly succulent and fine-grained, served with a light wine sauce, little carrots, and spring flowers: a delightfully delicate dish. Where else could I eat roasted rabbit, rabbit sauce, pie etc in SF?

Best SF Value Restaurants

I agree! Wasn't very excited about trying it after reading lackluster yelp reviews, but I was impressed. Fried calamari and a gorgeous grilled vegetable platter with aioli were the highlights for me, along with some beautiful crisp garlicky green beans. Simple--also, I kept wanting to say, somehow very Spanish. Very different in kind from the more gussied up tapas at Lolo down the street (which I think is also good). Was amazed by the bill: $25 each, including tip, for a group of four--and we had a decent amount of sangria to wash our meal down.

What are you a stubborn purist about?

My purist tendencies wane as the day goes on (will do blue cheese in my mac and cheese, cream cheese in my sushi rolls), but they are strict at breakfast.

Oatmeal: just oats, milk (not nonfat, though I can't really taste much difference between 4% and 2%), maybe a little brown sugar. No raisins, cinnamon, or especially cold fresh fruit or (ugh) peanut butter or pumpkin, as a friend does it.

Eggs: scrambled, must be moist, must be in butter. No egg whites, though I might countenance them later in the day.

Irish bangers, but no fancy spicy sausages.
Plain back bacon, no maple-syrup nonsense.

Cereal I also like kept plain: cornflakes, cheerios, weetabix, etc. Milk and maybe sugar.
Prefer a nice grapefruit in the morning to blueberries or pears, although I enjoy a much wider range of fruits later in the day.

Oh, and tea! Black tea with milk; green tea or herbal teas perhaps after lunch. Coffee, but no mochas, iced coffees, etc.

Apr 15, 2009
katielp in General Topics

Best BYOB Restaurants in SF

Blue Plate is currently waiving the corkage fee on Tues. nights. Not sure how long it will last; we tried it a couple of weeks ago.

Blue Plate--a few times

Have had some fantastic meals at Blue Plate in the past, and a few more mixed ones recently. Basically, I wish they would calm down with the salt cellar!

A beet and arugula salad, with delicate slivers of citrus, salty cubes of char-grilled ricotta (actually it tasted like halloumi to me) and crunchy marcona almonds was a perfect start. The parsnip soup sounded a bit strange--topped with smoked arctic char--but it was actually a very good blend of flavours, thick but not spoon-standing, with the buttery sweetness of the root vegetable cut by tangy crumbles of fish. The chicken livers were also excellent, served with a great spicy, heady sauce of plump sultanas. They were a little bit too heavily breaded for my taste, but that's a small quibble. I tried someone else's beef carpaccio with a fried egg and crispy potato strips, which was also pretty good, but very rich and a slightly weird mixture of temperatures. The squid appetizer has grown on me. It's a little bit chewy, but the lemon and herb flavors are great--and it's refreshingly light.

I'm not sure that the entrees are so successful. The steak comes dripping with butter--unnecessarily rich for my taste, although I loved the potato and celery root gratin. The chicken thigh dish that was on the menu was solid comfort food (with brussel sprouts and wet polenta), but pretty expensive (think it was about $22) for a cheap cut of meat. I used to like the fish entrees, but have recently found them far too salty. A side of brussel sprouts was great for the first couple of mouthfuls, but also extremely salty!

The chocolate baby cake, though, is a brilliant end. This might be my favorite all-time molten chocolate cake, served with gorgeous sweet, light, white foam.

Average Grocery Bill-for 2

It has gone up as we've been eating out less. Last year, was probably about $300 a month, but that was mostly for breakfast, lunch, household staples, and wine. We were eating out about five times a week, and probably spending $250 a week in restaurants. Now the grocery bill has gone up--I'm aiming for <$600 a month, but also to cook at home most days. I think we're eating better, too. But there are a few strange inconsistencies in my buying. I find it hard to spend a lot of money on meat or fish (even though we're avidly carnivorous/pescatarian), and also balk illogically at spending a lot on single items--like really good olive oil, parmesan cheese, vinegar, etc. And yet these make all the difference! On the other hand, I spend a small fortune on produce (including expensive things that we tend to waste, like pre-cut pineapple). When I was a student I used to do lots of comparison shopping, but now my schedule is busier, it's pretty much Whole Foods and then the farmer's market, with occasional last minute Safeway supplementation (and once a month Trader Joe's trips: wish we had one closer).

Jan 19, 2009
katielp in Not About Food

Opentable Irritating Telephone Confirmations

i agree. annoying. the reason why i use opentable is to avoid making phone calls in the first place, so i'd also prefer an email only setup. i used to believe that they deducted points for no-shows, which might be an incentive not to make reservations wildly! in the current climate, though, i can see why restaurants are keen to confirm with us.

Dec 25, 2008
katielp in Not About Food

How best to enjoy fruitcake?

Yes, I agree. I like to eat a slice of rich fruitcake with quite a lot of thinly sliced sharp cheddar and a tangy perfumed sliced apple (Cox's, ideally).

Dec 16, 2008
katielp in General Topics

Best bar food, Mission/Noe/Bernal

Is that so? Oh no! Thank you to everyone above for their suggestions: I've tried all except for Velvet Cantina, and have really enjoyed Liberties (an excellent crispily fried plate of calamari, and a Guinness on my last visit).
Adding to my own list, I've also enjoyed wine and a cheese plate at Hotel Biron, solid if not great tapas at Ramblas (but loved the blue cheese stuffed dates with walnuts), and two excellent meals at Lolo (though maybe this is pushing the bar food idea a bit).

Best bar food, Mission/Noe/Bernal

I'm looking for a place to go after work--between, say, 8 and 9, without a reservation, to have a couple of glasses of wine or cocktails, and a few appetizers or a burger. The sort of place where a group of four could meet, with two people eating and two just imbibing...

I've recently moved from Cambridge, MA, which was quite rich in this sort of place: to give you an idea, I had Central Kitchen, West Side lounge, Casablanca, and Chez Henri on a fairly constant rotation... I've been to some great restaurants since I arrived here, but they have definitely all been *restauranty*--ie not places for informal or impromptu gatherings of friends. Recently, in no particular order, I've enjoyed the peach and heirloom tomato salad at Emmy's spaghetti shack, the sweetbreads and grilled walnut bread followed by roast chicken at Blue Plate, the smoked fish and watercress salad at Incanto, and ceviche at Mi Lindo Peru. Have also had some great, but foodless, times at the Latin American club and El Rio! Is there somewhere where I could combine the two? I've been thinking of trying Luna Park, The Liberties, and Beretta.

Thanks in advance for recommendations and local wisdom...

Any good bars near Delfina in San Francisco to stop at while we wait for a table?

I just moved into the area--and there are lots and lots of good bars a few blocks south. The Latin American club and Revolution cafe on 22nd street are lively and fun (perhaps a bit too lively on a Fri night) and both serve excellent strong mixed drinks. Parea--the Greek wine bar on Valencia and 19th might be a nice place for a quieter drink; couches, never too busy, and an interesting wine list.

Cheap eats near Goodge Street

As a change from the more expensive eateries on Charlotte Street, here are two very good, very traditional English options near Goodge Street station.

I went into Gig's (12 Tottenham Street) after noticing the long queue outside at 11 on a Friday night, after a couple of pints in the Hope. A large, lightly fried, blisteringly hot piece of cod, in a nice crispy batter, with excellent, quite thickly cut chips. After adding salt, good mayonnaise and vinegar, I felt as if I was by the sea. Kebabs also looked good, and are cooked on charcoal.

I've been going to Fresco, right next to the station, on and off for ten years. The sandwiches are fairly standard, but the breakfasts are excellent and they're generous about giving you exactly what you ask for. Very good back bacon, cooked on a ridged grill, which gives the thin slices nice char marks. Tomatoes and mushrooms are also nicely charred. And the poached eggs are properly cooked, which makes a nice change. (Had very bad scrambled--microwaved and rigid--eggs at Marino's on Rathbone place a couple of days earlier.)

At the higher end, I'll happily add to the paeans of praise that Salt Yard has been receiving. We had snacks rather than a full meal, so I didn't get to try a very wide range of the menu. From a limited survey, it seemed as if some of the basic options were the best--particularly the juicy chorizo sausage in a sweet vinegary reduction, and the excellent charcuterie meats.

Aug 11, 2008
katielp in U.K./Ireland

The Garden at the Cellar

I got there last Wed about 8.30, and we waited 5 mins for a table for three. I don't think it will be too bad. Have only waited more than 15 mins at weekends.

Jun 11, 2008
katielp in Greater Boston Area

What are "short ribs" in the UK?

Good question! I've wondered that for a while. Short ribs certainly aren't as popular on restaurant menus in the UK (I really like them, but braised short rib sometimes seems ubiquitous on a certain kind of mid-range American menu). And you don't really see them in supermarkets or at the butcher's. I think the best way to explain to the butcher is to ask for "thin ribs" or maybe "beef barbeque ribs" or "the fatty ribs at the front above the rib eye"... I don't think you want spare ribs--they are the smaller, less fatty, meaty ribs behind the short ribs.

Apr 29, 2008
katielp in General Topics

Spring 2008 openings and closings

It's going to be a sit-down, more upscale pizza place (similar to Cambridge One). They've spent a lot of money on new ovens and generally improving the kitchen. Should be opening in a couple of weeks. Beer and wine in a month or so... I am looking forward to it!

Apr 28, 2008
katielp in Greater Boston Area

Cheap drinks outside

They started serving beer and wine about a year ago--but no hard stuff!

Apr 25, 2008
katielp in Greater Boston Area

Cheap drinks outside

You don't have to have food at Shay's. And if you go to Daedalus after 10 you can sit on the deck without ordering food. In Harvard sq there are actually a lot of options now (due to a change in licensing last year). You can also have drinks outside at Grendel's patio, Charlie's kitchen (not a lot of seating), OM and Upstairs on the Sq (not so cheap, mind), and (most delightfully, imo) upstairs on Algiers deck.

Apr 23, 2008
katielp in Greater Boston Area

S & P frozen desserts

The website has details about ordering them for home delivery. But I think you might have to buy a case of 12!

Out of curiosity, have you tried any of the other desserts?

Mar 26, 2008
katielp in Greater Boston Area

Harvard Square for dinner

Does she like Indian? If so, why not try Tamarind Bay (outstanding food) or Cafe of India (not quite so excellent, but still satisfying, and housed in a nice old-fashioned Cambridge building)? Then you could walk over to Burdick's for a chocolatey dessert. Z square might also work. Or Legal Seafood in the Charles Hotel for some clam chowder and fish and chips?

Mar 26, 2008
katielp in Greater Boston Area

cafe in central square?

Is it Cafe Andala? In the brick building with a blue sign outside? If so, go--it's very good. Middle Eastern food (salads platters, hummus), freshly squeezed juices, Arabic coffee (haven't tried it), and good regular coffee. Also a nice bright place to sit and work.

Mar 26, 2008
katielp in Greater Boston Area

What's your favorite water?

Yes--concur exactly with your water preferences. I love Evian--it tastes soft and almost buttery to me (not saline at all, as noted above). And for sparkling water, either Badoit (punchier), or San Pellegrino.
I think Aquafina is the worst. It's processed through every purification mechanism ever invented--and it just tastes stale to me.
It might be interesting to compare the mineral contents in different waters to see if there's a pattern among the ones you like and dislike.

Mar 25, 2008
katielp in General Topics

Best fish for Fish n'Chips??

Cod or haddock are traditional in England and definitely better than pollock, which can be mushy. But pollock is sustainable--so you might choose that if the environmental issues are of concern. Personally, I think you should go with whichever fish is fresher and better value where you are. You might also think about which oil to use--vegetable or lard? Lard is delicious!

Mar 25, 2008
katielp in General Topics