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What to order @ la folie?

If we want to go out for a nice meal, it's generally a cut below La Folie in terms of "fine-dining."

Eg. on a Saturday night, we're more likely to think of Chez Panisse Cafe (have had some "off" meals of late--hoping it's a momentary blip)--Frances--the Zuni (for the caesar salad & roast chicken)--Camino (we'd go more often, but for the decibel level), Perbacco.

When we do ramp it up to a restaurant that's a bigger-deal experience, we're looking for something that's pretty transcendent--a "this is the best thing I've ever put in my mouth" exclamation--which we have hit before (Arpege in Paris, Alkimia in Barcelona). But probably unfair expectations.

And as I said at the outset, La Folie may just be more upscale than is our general restaurant-going modus operandi (in the early days of Chowhound, my moniker: "milltown girl").

What to order @ la folie?

Thanks so much all for tips. I feel bad, reporting back that we didn't have a wonderful meal.

It may simply be that this style of fine-dining isn't our cup of foie gras.

Maybe an off night.

And a pall was cast by uncomfortable seats (my husband's back was not happy--he eventually thought to ask if they had a pillow--and to our surprise [perhaps other diners have complained as well?], they produced one of those specially tailored lumbar pillows, which helped).

The service was seamless, professional, if a bit unctuous. But the timing was off--too-long pauses, such that we were tired and ready to go before the last course appeared (other tables around us seemed to have better pacing--not sure what made for the difference--in part, all our courses didn't line up, so for a couple courses, only one or two of our foursome were served--but the problem seemed to go beyond that).

It's fun to get to make choices from such an array of categories (we did a three-course and were stuffed by the middle of the second!).

Bottom line, the food, fancy and fussy, was good but not great.

The amuse were all...amusing, but kind of forgettable (fois gras soup? tastes like...mushroom).

Corn soup--my husband enjoyed, I thought too sweet (my husband reminded me I think all super-sweet corn is too sweet).

Tempura duck egg--I'm a sucker for a good egg of any provenance; and this was nicely cooked, but the overall dish was fine, but not terrific.

Pigs feet-sweetbread-et. al.-over-lentils starter--my husband found it too rich, w/ too much going on.

Rack of lamb--one piece of lamb perfectly cooked, one taken off the flame a minute too soon for rare (the server said they cook it medium rare; and I said that was fine--though I actually love rare--this was just pre-rare). Yes, I could have sent it back. And I would have, were it just my husband and me. But we were with friends; and it was their idea to go here; and I just didn't want to introduce the awkwardness that underlies even the most gracious request to send something back to a kitchen that takes itself this seriously. The accompaniments (chickpea fritter and little daps of this's and that's) didn't do much.

Rotini--my husband again liked, didn't love.

Edam cheese souffle--Interesting, but didn't hit its marks re the savory-sweet balance; and one bite was enough.

So, "de gustibus...."!

What to order @ la folie?

We're going to La Folie w/ friends this weekend.

Tips of what to order that's especially delicious?

The Advocate - Berkeley (Elmwood)

We live in the 'hood and were really wanting to love this place.

We've been twice, once after an early movie @ the Elmwood and once after a Giants game on TV. One of the things we had looked forward to was a place for a late night meal--but they're only open til 10:30 (assume a compromise w/ the neighbors? in any case, very too bad they're not open til at least 11, ideally even later).

The service was good--friendly, knew their stuff, even though they've been open a minute.

The room was lovely.

The food was good, but (did I say we headed over after baseball?) nothing was hit out of the park. Reading the menu somehow didn't excite me.

My husband liked his tomato salad fine.

While the pork tenderloin my husband ordered was beautifully cooked, the paprika-y/salt-y seasoning didn't do it any favors. The half chicken was also very nicely roasted, if over-salted.

And on these hot summer nights, both the main dishes we chose--& this wasn't true of all the mains--were accompanied by ingredients that were winter-y: the pork, a quince thing (to be fair, there was also a roasted plum thing)--the chicken, a celery root puree w/ mushrooms. Maybe we're too rigid re seasonality. Both were good and good complements, taste-wise. But why, esp. in California, wouldn't you use the best of what's at the produce market, even if your concept is something other than farm to table?

We tried one dessert--and again nothing really called to me. Ordered the panna cotta with strawberries (seasonal!) and macarons. The cookies weren't memorable, the panna cotta nicely done.

If this weren't around the corner, we'd probably not rush back anytime soon. As it is, it doesn't feel like someplace that calls out--food-wise and time-wise--to become our hoped-for "local."

Wonderful home-made Yunnan meals [Berkeley/Oakland]

I agree w/ Felice. I don't think that's the right analogy (I'm all for regulation of the financial industry).

I found Sike13's a pretty thoughtful response.

Be interested in other reactions.

Eat Up, new reviews for the Chronicle, not authored by Michael Bauer

Good news/bad news:

Good news, a different voice.

Bad, not a particularly better writer.

Dunkin Donuts coming to the Bay Area

i have such mixed feelings.

DD doughnuts are bad. That's easy.

But a DD multigrain bagel toasted w/ cream cheese isn't the worst breakfast, esp. when you're on the road.

And I like the coffee (caf or decaf, cream, no sugar--for sure not that new DD dark roast or any coffee drinks).

My spouse finds this baffling, as when I'm in CA, I like the darkest, deepest roasts on offer at Cole Coffee or Blue Bottle.

It's all about memory and place. DD's draw for me is home--the East Coast. To have DD come to the Bay Area makes it...less special.

CT Arethusa and Community Table report

Finally made it to Arethusa's restaurant. Mixed reviews.

My husband quite liked his shrimp and crab on rosti appetizer and his roasted cod w/ corn and sausage main. And of course he loved his scoop of coffee ice cream.

We both enjoyed the Stella cidre on tap.

Neither of us much liked the amuse--watermelon broth--way too sweet for a starter.

And I was disappointed in the mixed greens w/ figs--at once too bitter and too sweet--nothing to connect the flavors; and the bitterness dominated. The mushroom ravioli was good, but too much going on. I hated the plating--weird, small, deep circle in the center, w/ big rim. And I found it hard to order--so many of the dishes seemed overwrought and overpriced--"gourmet" in an unhappy sense of the word. I kept thinking, as I scrolled down the options, oh pork might be nice--but in a far less fussy preparation that didn't look like it might overwhelm the meat. I actually asked the server if it might be possible to get some of the quieter dishes I'd seen on the lunch menu (eg. lobster roll or hamburger)--answer, no.

Bay Wolf to close after 40 years in Oakland on Piedmont Ave.

Sad to hear. Good food, good setting, good people.

Agree w/ Mission--let the new restaurant that will occupy Bay Wolf's space draw inspiration from the warm, non-trendy vibe that came before.

Oliveto's Oceanic Dinner, June 23-26 2015 [Oakland]

Well, salt wasn't a problem.

My perennial complaints about this place--small portions and high prices--were.

And unusual for Oliveto, in my experience, mixed-bag service (eg. when the cold app. plate of seven fishes arrived, the runner was guessing what was what, when we asked, and didn't think to find someone who knew).

I didn't love my appetizer of live grilled scallop (you read that right--singular) and the earthy sauce which didn't do what it was meant to as a supporting player to the star. My husband quite liked his app. of pan fried san dab.

We had pasta for our mains--Oliveto knows its pasta; and both were very good (mine, fusilli w/ razer clams, my husband's a long noodle w/ crab)--but did I say: small and pricey.

The new noise-baffling system was great--calm, just right for conversation.

The people around us seemed less irritable than me, vocal in their delight.

Oliveto's Oceanic Dinner, June 23-26 2015 [Oakland]

Uh oh.

Definitely promise a report.

Oliveto's Oceanic Dinner, June 23-26 2015 [Oakland]

Has anyone gone this year? What was wonderful? Less great?

We're going tomorrow (Friday)--eager for recommendations!

Farmers market Sunday

Where are you?

My "locals": Temescal or (if I feel like driving a bit farther/crossing a bridge for a bigger deal) San Raphael.

closest thing to fresh Langer's rye around here

Just read something, which jogged my memory of this post.

The answer is no and yes.

No, Saul's doesn't bake bread.

But yes, in the sense that they have Acme bake a special rye to their specifications (different from Acme's usual).

Books for Cooks

We travel to London from the US around once a year. A highlight of every trip: a pilgrimage to Books for Cooks on Blenheim Crescent.

Last year, something seemed off. Fewer books. Fewer customers. A sense of what--anxiety?--in the air.

Even though I felt like I should buy something, I didn't get that old excitement (Back when Mike's was a trad working-class "caf," I'd haul my purchases there, order a mug of their strong, tannic tea and a jam roll with custard sauce, and page through the latest Sophie Grigson--and life didn't get much better).

I returned to Books for Cools this week. Felt the same as last year. Made me sad.

Another case of a great bookstore being "Amazon-ized"? Something else going on? Tell me I'm imagining problems that aren't there? What's up?

May 12, 2015
sundeck sue in U.K./Ireland

Tea strainers used at St John Smithfield (LDN)?

Good news: I may have (quite serendipitously) found the place St. John's gets your strainer from, Rare Tea Company, based in London. Bad news: if it's the right one, it looks to be discontinued (while there is mention of one they used to carry that may be yours, the only one they carry now has an unattached drip tray).

MY good news: they carry the little gizmo St. John's pops in the spouts of its teapots to strain the tea, called (who knew) an "umbrella strainer." And for 3 pounds, a bargain at twice the price.

p.s. they also carry wonderful-sounding, reasonably priced teas that St. John's, Hix's, et. al. use. It wasn't at all hard for me to rack up the 30 pounds required for free shipping within the UK. And they were super-nice/fast when I emailed an inquiry.

May 06, 2015
sundeck sue in U.K./Ireland

Tea strainers used at St John Smithfield (LDN)?

Oh when you skype or tweet, ask about the little silver thing-y they put in the spout of their teapots! and post the responses (for tea strainer and spout-plug)!

May 04, 2015
sundeck sue in U.K./Ireland

Jersey (SF)

re subs v. heroes v. grinders v. hoagies v.....

closest thing to fresh Langer's rye around here

Also have never had Langer's, alas. I assume, given your encyclopedic knowledge of the East Bay, that my two favorite East Bay light ryes--Saul's and Semifreddi's--are not what you're after or otherwise up to speed.

Best Sandwich in Berkeley?

I've had such a different experience! I find the Star Meat folks great (ditto their meat & sandwiches).

Best Sandwich in Berkeley?

Not sure if the bocadillos @ Cesar's fit the criteria--but if yes, they're good.

NYT Mark Bittman finds the Monterey Market. [Berkeley, Ca]

I'm being "obnoxious Berkeley-ite" here.

But I was @ Monterey Mkt earlier this week and--struck by the fact that they seemed too fat and too perfect, not to mention early --opened up a pod and tasted one of those peas in the cover photo of the Bittman spread.

He does say they're not peak. What he omits: starch-y and tasteless (but they do look good for a Food Section photo).

Best place to buy coffee beans on the Peninsula

What's the best place to buy coffee beans these days in the vicinity of San Mateo?

Zuni reviewed [San Francisco]

Concur w/ high marks for the Zuni

But I would have amended the review in two ways.

That over-dressed Caesar is not an aberration. This is an instance in which what Bauer got is what everyone gets, his wandering gaze to the other tables, where he imagines he sees salads that aren't swimming in dressing, notwithstanding.

Maybe the over-dressing's being called out in the Chron will cause the kitchen to re-jigger (given the late Judy Rogers' storied perfectionism, this one has always been a puzzle--my half-serious association is to those Amish quilts, where the quilters intentionally make a mistake on one square, because only God is perfect).

And I shake my head at the part about the Zuni's having always been ahead of the curve and so still modern/of the moment. Is Bauer so caught up in the restaurant race that he can't articulate more simply that what's special is that it's excellent and not trying to be trendy? The reason I love the Zuni (along with the chicken...) is that it feels un-self-conscious--which is surely the hardest thing: to be great in an un-show-y way.

Looking for Best Yogurt in the Bay Area

Safeway brand "O" plain lowfat is brilliant, creamy (a luxurious texture and lowfat), just the right tang--Straus-like, only better!

New Oakland Safeway complex in Rockridge. College @ Claremont... Critiques?

I've now gone a few times. As per my earlier post, railing against the scale vis a vis the neighborhood, I didn't embark on my shopping expedition in the friendliest state of mind.

That said, there are a handful of products I get @ Safeway; and I was determined to get over my animus and take advantage of its being closer for me than 51st St.

But on each of my visits, I've been disappointed.

How could a mega-store have less than it did in its previous, smaller footprint in store brands (specifically Safeway O brand)?

Once, it was out of O brand 1% milk in half-gallon cartons (I've found that while it's $1 more, it keeps and tastes better if you buy two 1/2 gallons vs. 1 gallon). But at least it stocked that; and to be fair, 51st street would also run out of the 1%.

What they don't stock is O brand 1% plain yogurt (not flavored, not Greek).

Twice I've spoken w/ a manager, who wrote it down and promised they'd get it w/ the next dairy order. Hasn't happened.

But beyond what's there and not there is the organization of the place. It makes no sense.

Dairy is here under the--oh--Dairy sign. That is, except for yogurt, which is yards away. And eggs elsewhere in a side case.

Each and every time I've gone, I've run into at least one other shopper, gnashing her teeth ("how could dairy be next to diapers be next to beer?"). It's unusual for supermarket shoppers to chat--the fact that they are, testament to the level of frustration.

Each time, I've said, I won't go back. That's likely not true, given the convenience factor.

But it is ironic that since Safeway re-opened, I've shopped more, not less at Yasai and VerBrugge and La Farine. And I know (from my chatty Safeway new BFFs) that I'm not alone.

Downtown Berkeley Food Ideas

De Gustibus....(or as my mother would say, what makes horse-racing)

Which is to say, I'd flip this post!

Disappointed by Gather, which I found self-conscious and not particularly delicious (should give it another try, post-chef change).

And enjoy Comal broadly, but esp. large plates of meat/fowl to share (as well as other dishes Robert Lauristan et. al. are recommending) + the revolutionary sound system, so you can actually have a conversation (or in the case of the OP, hear yourself think) + back patio ambience + great service + new no tip policy.

Snake River Farms American Kobe corned beef @ Costco

did you use their spice packet?

Snake River Farms American Kobe corned beef @ Costco

Richmond Costco had a ton today in one of the side cases--while some had earlier pull dates, I easily found a box marked 3/31--many sizes and shapes too.

And I have a question (it will be clear that I am not an experience corned beef cooker).

I bought 6 pounds to make Suzanne Goins' recipe from "Sunday Suppers @ Luque."

When making this, do I just discard the spice packet in the SRF American Kobe package or do I include it?

PLEEEEZ HELP ME!! Dining on VDay?? I know, I know... [San Francisco]


What about Vietnamese? Bodega Bistro (on Open Table--I checked; and they have space), Turtle Tower.....

I also have a dim recollection of eating at the bar at Hayes Street Grill w/out a res when they were booked up. You could call to double-check re that possibility.

Good luck!