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mikeh's Profile

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Pacific Catch and Paul Martin- new in Mountain View- any feedback?

I tried Pacific Catch in San Mateo back in February (a week after a trip to Hawaii since I was craving more poke bowl-style food), and I nearly cried because of how poorly it compared. The fish was not fresh, the portions 1/2 the size and 2x the price of what you get in Hawaii. Won't be going back. Not worth it.

Jun 29, 2014
mikeh in San Francisco Bay Area

Eastern NC Barbecue - Blackbeards

This sounds like my Blackbeard's experience from 3-4 years ago on a Sunday. I expected a spread of wonderfully-prepared southern sides. They had only two or three available (limas, field peas, and green beans). I heard them reheating our food in a microwave.

Jun 28, 2014
mikeh in Southeast

Olallieberry Picking (and pie at Duarte's)

Doesn't Pie Ranch just serve up a few token pies because their name is Pie Ranch (which derives from the fact that their property is pie-shaped, not because they are devoted to the art of baking pies)? I've heard the pies are actually "imported" from Santa Cruz. It's mainly a place for produce, right?

Jun 19, 2014
mikeh in San Francisco Bay Area

Olallieberry Picking (and pie at Duarte's)

I thought Ground Up closed a while ago because of the owner's health issues.

Jun 19, 2014
mikeh in San Francisco Bay Area

Olallieberry Picking (and pie at Duarte's)

Duarte's needs a better crust recipe. That stuff is vile and ruins an exceptional filling.

Jun 19, 2014
mikeh in San Francisco Bay Area

Los Comales shut down- where to go for tacos in Durham now?

"Johnson said in an email that the business owed about $185,000 to the state."

They could probably raise a good chunk of that by selling 50% off coupons or something. Didn't "The Barbecue Joint" in Chapel Hill attempt (and briefly succeed) at something similar before being shut down for other reasons?

Jun 09, 2014
mikeh in Southeast

Smokestack BBQ [San Francisco]

"Chopped pork" is actually the dog whistle we North Carolinians use to recognize natives. Classic NC bbq is "chopped pork" as opposed to the pulled pork that you find in other parts of the South. We instantly recognize out-of-staters if they're at a BBQ joint in NC and ask for "pulled pork." So this menu item is named surprisingly well!

I'm still a bit weirded out by consuming beer (or any alcoholic drinks) with BBQ. At most honest-to-goodness southern bbq places (think many of the famous ones in NC or AR or TX), you get your choice of iced teas or various sodas. No booze w/ Q. We're talking about homey, family-gathering places after all.

Jun 04, 2014
mikeh in San Francisco Bay Area
1

Chronicle Top 100 2014

Is Bauer going to use a voicebox so that his voice doesn't become recognizable to everyone in the restaurant industry? You know, the same degree of diligent care he's used to protect his visual identity?

Re screened calls, I'm sure Chowhounders are savvy enough to play it straight to get past the screeners!

May 13, 2014
mikeh in San Francisco Bay Area

recommendation for a dinner in Charleston next week

I live in SF but FIG is the place we try going to every time we're in Charleston. No one in SF has access to the same local ingredients as FIG does. At FIG, you're getting softshell blue crabs from up in McClellanville, Carolina gold rice from Wadmalaw Island, ramps from the North Carolina mountains, triggerfish from local waters, or sorghum cake. We simply don't have the analogous ingredients to replicate those flavors here in SF.

But I agree that a cup of she-crab soup, and meat-and-three (pick from a number of southern-style entrees including a few hyperlocal seafood catches and selection of 15 or so veggies, and a slice of buttermilk pie for dessert) for lunch/dinner at Hominy Grill, or some other places that are unabashedly lowcountry in flavor and recipe, should be considered as well and aren't replicated anywhere in the Bay Area (not even close). Hominy will give you the best sense of casual Southern.

It's a tough choice if you're picking just one, but I'd probably make a reservation at Hominy (they take them for dinner) if you only have one meal. But if you have two, go to FIG.

May 07, 2014
mikeh in Southeast
1

Twisted Noodle open in Durham

Care to elaborate? Chef changes? Ownership changes? Different recipes or ingredients? At least as Thai in NC goes, it was pretty spot on 7-8 years ago

Apr 25, 2014
mikeh in Southeast

Sweatman's BBQ - Holly Hill, SC

There's a much newer thread discussing Sweatman's: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/920922

From my own very recent experience, I put it up there in the very top echelon of Carolina bbq. It deserves a seat alongside Lexington #1, Red Bridges, Allen&Son, Skylight Inn, and Scott's Variety Store.

Apr 18, 2014
mikeh in Southeast
1

Fearrington

How was the atmosphere? I know they did a makeover a couple of years back, before which it was pretty classically "upscale plantation-style opulent Southern" with Queen Ann-style furniture, plush carpeting, ornate window draperies and the like.

Apr 12, 2014
mikeh in Southeast

Fried Chicken: Pican or Miss Ollie's? [Oakland]

For lunch, yes. For dinner, I think you can get it any day.

Apr 10, 2014
mikeh in San Francisco Bay Area

2014 NC Farm to Fork Picnic tickets on sale

I agree that the price tag continues to give me sticker shock. It would be on the high end of similar events out here in the high-income/high-cost-of-living parts of California (except for a few lavish locally-sourced events in Wine Country where the objective isn't to help develop and/or expose an audience to local/organic/artisan culture). The price disparity over similar events in the Carolinas (TerraVita - $60 for non-alcohol; Lowcountry Local First's Potluck in Charleston at $75) is equally jarring. But I believe this is the largest concentration of Triangle-area purveyors we see all year, so it would certainly be a good opportunity to become re-acquainted with the latest goings-on in the local growers/makers community in the Triangle, about which I care very much.

Just hitting up Carrboro Farmers Market, Weaver Street, and a handful of eateries wouldn't have the same effect, although that's still my strong inclination given we never got a lucid response from the organizers when we pressed this issue with them when they first raised prices.

Apr 09, 2014
mikeh in Southeast

2014 NC Farm to Fork Picnic tickets on sale

What are folks' impressions of this event? I know there had been some complaints about the quality of food (pre-made dishes, salads) due to the remote siting.

Was planning on hitting up the NC mountains a weekend in June for the peak of rhododendron season and this might be good to tack on. Of course, I was vehemently opposed to the price increase from $60 to $100 a couple of years ago...

Apr 09, 2014
mikeh in Southeast

Sweatman's Bar-B-Que, Holly Hill, SC

Only Friday and Saturdays now. Until 9 p.m. at night (I was there around 7:30 p.m. and they had plenty of skins).

Apr 01, 2014
mikeh in Southeast

Sweatman's Bar-B-Que, Holly Hill, SC

Okay, so I went and am kicking myself for not having tried it sooner when I actually lived down there. They're doing it right. The bbq was clearly smoked the old-fashioned way with a wonderfully complex flavor and variety of textures. The outside brown was exquisite. And those pork skins? Seriously, one of the best things I've ever tasted. Crunchy and brittle on the outside, airy on the inside. It was "what have I done right in my life to deserve this?" level of good.

So prices may have crept up, but the new owners clearly know what they're doing. Steady stream of business on a rainy Friday night. I think they kept most of the old pit staff.

Apr 01, 2014
mikeh in Southeast
1

Softshells in Charleston?

I was just in Charleston this weekend and no soft-shells are in yet. Given the cold winter (azaleas not yet in full bloom even as the calendar turns to April???), I expect it may take a few more weeks.

Mar 30, 2014
mikeh in Southeast

Sweatman's Bar-B-Que, Holly Hill, SC

Interested in any recent updates from Chowhounders on this place. I never made it when under original ownership, and reports had been that the new owners had some transitional growing pains when they first took over the place. Trying to decide whether it's worth spending a meal here on an upcoming trip from the West Coast to SC (when it would mean passing up on something tried and true like Dave's Carryout when I don't make it back to this area very often).

Is the food back to its old standard? Reviews are all over the map:

-Some people say it's still outstanding, but is that because they don't know BBQ or didn't try it before?
-Some people say they cook over gas or over roast the BBQ now, but the website says they still cook over wood and people have gotten a tour of the smokehouse
-Some people say the new owners are from NYC, but others say they are southerners. Can't tell if some of the poor reviews are because of irrational loyalty.

Mar 26, 2014
mikeh in Southeast

Charleston's best vs. we have it pretty good here in the Triangle

Charleston's more casual offerings are where it really excels compared to the Triangle. Where in the Triangle can you get the spread of farm-fresh southern-style veggies like at Tomato Shed Cafe, SeeWee, Martha Lou's, Dukes, Gullah Cafe or Hominy Grill? Other than Saltbox in Durham, where can you get exceedingly fresh casual seafood like at The Wreck, Bowen's Island, or Dave's Carryout? Where can you get charcuterie like at Craig Diehl's Cypress? Where can you get true "Tuscany or Umbria-wall-town" quality Italian like at Ken Vendriski's Trattoria Lucca?

Husk doesn't really compare well to Angus Barn - Husk's style is Tennessee/Kentucky/Appalachia more than anything else. I'd describe it more as a dressed-up version of Tupelo Honey Cafe.

Don't get me wrong, the Triangle is, aside from Charleston, my favorite foodie city in the Southeast. But I think if you go to Charleston for the food traditions specific to the Lowcountry (Gullah-influenced, hyperfresh seafood, hoppin' john, she-crab soup, farm-fresh veggies, etc.), that's where they shine. And as an aside, we owe it to Mike Lata at FIG in Charleston that any Triangle restaurant even serves triggerfish and other "by-catch" that he singlehandedly helped make popular again by developing relationships with purveyors and a lot of trial-and-error.

Mar 22, 2014
mikeh in Southeast
3

TONALI in Durham, NC

It's funny how I always forget about this place even though it was one of my favorites while living in the Triangle. It's really hard to find locally-sourced, authentic Mexican cooking anywhere at the level that Tonali has been consistently doing for years.

Mar 19, 2014
mikeh in Southeast

Low Country Road Trip

You'd better check if Ernie's is even still in business. See this article from November 2013:

http://blog.postandcourier.com/raskin...

Mar 15, 2014
mikeh in Southeast

Best "Local" Seafood Restaurants in Bay Area? Coming from a distance and need FIX!

Thread was asking about local seafood, not just seafood generally. Farallon appears to source from all over (Maine, New Zealand, Hawaii, Alaska, the Mediterranean, etc.). Not the same as "catch of the day" stuff coming off local boats.

Truth is that you can't find many of those true "locally-sourced only" places in the Bay Area (except for some of those mentioned above). It's not like in some other parts of the country (Louisiana and the Carolinas come to mind) where you can go to seafood places where everything they serve is from local boats that are catching everything in a 100-mile radius.

Mar 14, 2014
mikeh in San Francisco Bay Area
1

Best "Local" Seafood Restaurants in Bay Area? Coming from a distance and need FIX!

Fish in Sausalito (recent thread here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/966670

)

They do it about as local as it gets around here, which means sourcing from individual fishing vessels along the West Coast and only serving sustainably-caught species. The quality is first-rate.

Mar 13, 2014
mikeh in San Francisco Bay Area
1

Brunswick, GA to Culloden, GA Road Trip

This links to a fantastic guide for rural meat-n-threes in the area of middle Georgia around Macon.

http://home.earthlink.net/~white_and_...

Mar 09, 2014
mikeh in Southeast
2

La Ciccia "call back tonight or else" voicemail - crossing the line or appropriate?

The ask about appropriateness was not that they asked for confirmation, but a) bringing up that they were asking because of a previous no-show; and b) they would automatically cancel the reservation if I didn't call back that evening because I had previously no-showed.

The argument is that the correct approach from a "customer service" point of view is to do the confirmatory call without bringing up the no-show or threatening to cancel a reservation on such short order (but maybe call a day or two earlier and give a longer period of time to respond). It could have, in theory, put one in a very difficult situation if one happened to be out of pocket for just a few hours and this were a dinner with an important client or something.

Mar 02, 2014
mikeh in San Francisco Bay Area

La Ciccia "call back tonight or else" voicemail - crossing the line or appropriate?

Thanks for all the replies. To tie this off, we had an absolutely exquisite meal at La Ciccia last night n a warm and inviting atmosphere. Its reputation is well-deserved. The owner and waitstaff were top notch as well. They run a classy operation.

I think the reality of dining out in the Bay Area puts pressure on everyone. For diners, the need to book good places (not just special occasion meals, but normal "end of week" meals as well) a month in advance when plans are apt to change. For restaurant owners, having to deal with the fallout of that. I think it's a unique difficulty that we face here. Even in NYC, aside from places like Per Se, there's such a volume of restaurants there that they don't have to deal with this problem as much as we do.

Mar 01, 2014
mikeh in San Francisco Bay Area
2

La Ciccia "call back tonight or else" voicemail - crossing the line or appropriate?

So now that I'm clearly behind the count with this place, should I expect a bad table/indifferent service or anything else out of the norm? Is it pretty much over between me and them (at least until I regain their good graces)?

Feb 27, 2014
mikeh in San Francisco Bay Area

La Ciccia "call back tonight or else" voicemail - crossing the line or appropriate?

Do restaurants normally do this or do they let it slide in the name of customer service? Again, I have absolutely no comparison data points, but it's setting a negative tone on the experience before it even begins.

They could've called yesterday or Tuesday like most places that have call back policies...

Feb 27, 2014
mikeh in San Francisco Bay Area

La Ciccia "call back tonight or else" voicemail - crossing the line or appropriate?

This afternoon around 5 p.m., I received a voicemail from La Ciccia asking me to call back to confirm my reservation for tomorrow since I had previously canceled and/or no-showed a reservation there. If I didn't call back to confirm this evening, they would automatically cancel my reservation for tomorrow.

It's true that I once didn't honor a reservation there months ago. I was urgently called out of town on a business emergency. They never called me to confirm (and they don't usually call people to confirm), so I completely lost track of it with everything else going on. It's the only "no show" I've done in the past 10 years of frequent dining.

I'm torn as to whether this call I got from them is inappropriate. I understand restaurants operate on thin margins, especially small places, but it's still a buyer's market with thousands of restaurants to choose from. To give me an ultimatum voicemail the evening before with only a few hours to respond to keep my reservation is a bad first impression on what was supposed to be a special occasion meal. Also, what if I happened to be out of pocket today. If I were flying back from the East Coast, I would've completely missed the voicemail until it was too late to preserve my reservation from getting canceled.

Feb 27, 2014
mikeh in San Francisco Bay Area