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Zagat 2013 Restaurants Top 10 Oahu and top 5 Maui

Just made a reservation for dinner tonight at i'o based on your recommendation Hunt.

Don't let me down on this one.

Dec 05, 2013
Truffle Dog in Hawaii

K2 Restaurant Group - ruined restaurants in Berkeley?

They were a minor partner in both Cesars for awhile.

http://insidescoopsf.sfgate.com/blog/...

Mar 06, 2013
Truffle Dog in San Francisco Bay Area

K2 Restaurant Group - ruined restaurants in Berkeley?

K2 actually did not purchase or takeover any of the restaurants in the original post. They created all of those restaurants, as well as Paisan, Jimmy Bean's, and TRex (I think some branches of Jimmy Beans and TRex have since been sold off).

As far as quality, I haven't really been enough recently to say. We had a really nice meal at Lalimes a few years ago, shortly after George Morrone left. This was summer 2010 and I thought that incarnation (post-Morrone) was the best it had been in several years, they seemed to have hit the right mix of the Steve Jaramillo favorites and more focused G. Morrone menu. But that was two years ago and I couldn't say if they've kept it up.

Mar 06, 2013
Truffle Dog in San Francisco Bay Area

Zagat 2013 Restaurants Top 10 Oahu and top 5 Maui

A single Michelin star denotes "a very good restaurant in its category, offering cuisine prepared to a consistently high standard." Mama's certainly fits that description.

Feb 19, 2013
Truffle Dog in Hawaii

Cowgirl Creamery Cheese

I generally agree that the retailer was likely at fault and with the commentary that it relates to how the cheese is stored and aged and the saran wrap was probably the issue. I personally will only buy Redhawk directly from Cowgirl as I've found that secondary retailers are very inconsistent in how they store/age the cheese and am often disappointed in rounds bought elsewhere.

With that said, it would have been a nice gesture on Cowgirl's part to offer some kind of restitution in this situation.

Feb 12, 2013
Truffle Dog in San Francisco Bay Area

Big informal brunch TOMORROW between San Rafael and Petaluma

Sorry, hounds, that I never returned to this thread to make a report! We ended up doing the brunch Hilltop 1892. This was a great choice - the food was very good and the staff were extremely accommodating of the somewhat difficult parameters we imposed. They were able to give us basically a private room with beautiful views and everyone enjoyed their brunch and had a great time.

Anyway, I would definitely recommend it for big group brunch - nice venue, helpful staff, and good food.

Thanks to everyone that replied and sorry I forgot to report back at the time - you guys definitely saved my bacon on this!

Jan 17, 2013
Truffle Dog in San Francisco Bay Area

Zagat 2013 Restaurants Top 10 Oahu and top 5 Maui

Good to see Gerard's getting some respect. I agree that it does seem to be overlooked by Chowhound. We just returned from a trip to Kaanapali, and we weren't able to find anything outstanding that we hadn't tried before, but did manage to have a dinner at Gerard's and a lunch at Mama's Fish House which were both excellent as usual.

One of these days I would really like to try HGS but we never seem to get over to that side of the island more than once during any trip, which forces a choices between HGS and Mama's.

Jan 17, 2013
Truffle Dog in Hawaii

Maui - walking from Four Seasons

It's been almost five years since we've been to Wailea, but we really liked the Tommy Bahama Restaurant and Bar at the Wailea shops. Good place for apps and drinks.

Jan 17, 2013
Truffle Dog in Hawaii

How's the pizza at Benchmark Pizzeria? (Kensington)

I've been getting take out here once every couple weeks since they opened. I think the pizzas are wonderful. I don't know a ton about pizza but the style seems to be pretty close to classic neopolitan - very thinly rolled crust puffed up in an extremely hot oven, and judicious use of toppings. I think there is a sourdough element to the crust - it has a wonderful complex bready flavor which tastes like a mild sourdough to me, and it has a nice char on it as well.

The toppings are excellent across the board.

I usually order the calzone because I like to do takeout and find that the calzone holds up better than the pizzas. I also think the calzones are a little bit bigger which makes them a better value for the money.

In general, the pizzas while very good are pretty expensive - 13 to 15 dollars for what is basically a personal pie. I think the value is absolutely fair given the quality of the pizzas but they are certainly at the more expensive end of the pizza spectrum.

Nov 07, 2012
Truffle Dog in San Francisco Bay Area

Big informal brunch TOMORROW between San Rafael and Petaluma

I have been asked to arrange a brunch venue for tomorrow morning for a large party (20-40 people), potentially up to 40 people. Ideal would be a venue that was big enough to accommodate a party potentially that large without booking something in advance, because we have no idea how many people are actually going to show up. We are looking somewhere along the 101 corridor as far south as San Rafael or as far north as Petaluma. I realize this is sort of a tall order but if anyone has an idea for something that might work I'd really appreciate it. Basically we are looking for a gigantic restaurant that serves brunch. Alternatively, something super informal where we people can drop in. Thanks hounds!

Sep 01, 2012
Truffle Dog in San Francisco Bay Area

What Bay Area French restaurant is comparable to this D.C. restaurant, please?

Yeah, I am a pretty big francophile when it comes to food (love Chapeau, Cafe Claude, and Nizza la Bella) and I have never had a meal I liked at Liasion. The last two times I was there (admittedly, a few years ago) I had the Salade Niciose and the Steak Frites and both were disappointing, as was the tarte tatin.

Aug 21, 2012
Truffle Dog in San Francisco Bay Area

What do I do with the olive oil in canned tuna?

I don't eat a lot of canned Tuna, but when I do I prefer oil packed. I would use the oil to make a home-made mayo for use in tuna salad. You could also use this mayo to bind fish cakes made from canned tuna, or from some other fish for that matter. A few other ideas:
Use it as the base for the dressing in a niçoise salad.
Use it to prep Tuna steaks for searing so you get a sear on the outside faster without cooking the middle.
Use it to fry fish in for fried fish (I have no idea if this will work - the oil might have too low of a smoke point or might taste funny)
Use it as a base for pesto and use the pesto as a garnish for tuna steaks

Jun 22, 2012
Truffle Dog in Home Cooking

Inexpensive rehearsal dinner option--Oakland?

Not sure exactly what you mean by "inexpensive," but some good friends had a rehearsal dinner at Lake Chalet, which they reported was an excellent value (I personally have no idea what they paid). The food and setting are very nice.

Jun 14, 2012
Truffle Dog in San Francisco Bay Area

Chocolate Chip Pancakes?

Thank you! Great tip

Dec 13, 2010
Truffle Dog in San Francisco Bay Area

Chocolate Chip Pancakes?

ISO Chocolate Chip pancakes. I am particularly looking for a place in the east bay, particularly the Oakland-Berkeley-Emeryville-Albany-El Cerrito area, but it would be good to know about options in SF and further afield as well.

The closest thing I have been able to find by searching Chowhound is white chocolate chip pancakes at Cafe Durant but that doesn't really get it done. Looking for the Real McCoy.

Hounds, please tell me there is something better than IHOP or Denny's out there.

Thanks for your help

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IHOP
531 Foster City Blvd, Foster City, CA 94404

Cafe Durant
2517 Durant Ave Ste B, Berkeley, CA 94704

Dec 09, 2010
Truffle Dog in San Francisco Bay Area

Our Anniversary -- Union Square Area and Not the Cheesecake Factory :)

I don't think it's half a chicken. I believe you get a whole (small) chicken cut up into pieces for $48. It's definitely designed to be eaten by two people.

Also please note that while I think your choice of House of Prime Rib is a good one it would be a mistake to dismiss Zuni solely because you are put off by the price of the chicken dish. The rest of the Zuni menu is excellent and there are plenty of main course options that use premium ingredients like steak or squab.

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Zuni Cafe
1658 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

House of Prime Rib
1906 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco, CA 94109

Aug 02, 2010
Truffle Dog in San Francisco Bay Area

Our Anniversary -- Union Square Area and Not the Cheesecake Factory :)

For what it's worth, when I read the original post, House of Prime Rib was the first place I thought of. I think it would be a perfect choice for the big dinner. The prime rib is excellent, it's a fun destination-y place, and the portions are certainly large. The sides and salad and style of the restaurant are a little bit dated but overall it's a nice place and the prime rib is as I said outstanding. You can also take the California Street Cable Car line to get there which might be fun for you.

Newstarr - I think you may actually have seen the place on the Travel Channel, Anthony Bourdain's "No Reservations" San Francisco episode. It may have been featured on Food Network as well, but I have a specific recollection of that Bourdain show because I remember thinking "it's nice to see HOPR getting some recognition."

Be careful not to overeat at lunch. The portions at HOPR are in fact really big. I think this new plan (a snacky lunch in Hayes Valley) is better than doing Dim Sum and then HOPR. I don't know about you but I am never up for a big dinner after a Dim Sum brunch.

Lastly unless HOPR has raised its prices considerably since I was last there (which is about 2 years) the cost of a meal for one is not $48. More like $38 if I recall correctly, which includes salad and sides.

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House of Prime Rib
1906 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco, CA 94109

Aug 02, 2010
Truffle Dog in San Francisco Bay Area

What's good at Hangar One these days?

The Absinthe is pretty good but Absinthe is sort of esoteric and not everyone likes it so I would be sure it is something the would enjoy or I would hedge my bets by getting something else as well.

I think the Mandarin Blossom Vodka is probably the most universally liked of all the flavored vodkas. It's a little sweet but drier than typical orange flavored vodkas and it has a wonderfully complex, floral aroma. The Buddha's hand is also very nice but some people find it too tart.

The raspberry is interesting but it has a vegetal element to its flavor (like concentrated berry seeds or stems, almost seaweed-like) that some people find off-putting. If you want to get something super-fruity or sweet, the pear-flavored eau d vie and liqueur are really good.

Th St. George Single Malt Whiskey and the Straight Vodka are both superlative, although they are not as unique as some of the other things Hangar One offers.

The most unusual thing that they make are the Qi liqueurs, especially the Black Qi which is not remotely like anything else out there. The White Qi is a really nice orange flavored liqueur - it's lighter tasting than Gran Marnier and the subtle tea flavor cuts through the sweetness nicely. The Black Qi, on the other hand, is downright weird. It's has a strong black tea flavor, very sweet and spicy, but it is overwhelmingly smoky. Most people either love it or hate it.

Jun 17, 2010
Truffle Dog in San Francisco Bay Area

Bundnerfleisch

I know they have Bundnerfleisch at the Junket, a German deli in the El Cerrito Plaza. Somewhat easier to find is Bresaola, which is a similar product from the Alpine region of Italy. You can frequently find Bresaola at AG Ferrari and Andronico's.

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El Cerrito Plaza
San Pablo Ave and Fairmount Ave, El Cerrito, CA

May 04, 2010
Truffle Dog in San Francisco Bay Area

NICE Bar suggestions in SF?

I recommend Chaya Brasserie for happy hour and sit in the bar/lounge or the outdoor area. Good cocktails, sushi and other bar bites, nice neighborhood, beautiful views of the bay bridge.

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Chaya Brasserie
132 The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA 94105

May 03, 2010
Truffle Dog in San Francisco Bay Area

21st Birthday in Berkeley

I thought Cesar was a great idea. They have good food and GREAT cocktails. It is true that the vegetarian options are not super extensive, but they are adequate in my experience. It's good for a party because you just order a bunch of things family style.

Gather is also a nice place which is great for vegetarians. This would be a good call if the ladies prefer a more traditional app-entree-dessert approach to dinner rather than lots of shared small things.

Jupiter if and only if the birthday girl is a beer aficionado. It's a fun place but outside of a very good beer selection nothing special food-wise. The pizza is fine but ordinary, wine list pretty boring, no full bar, etc.

Apr 30, 2010
Truffle Dog in San Francisco Bay Area

Souce for Puff Pastry

La Farine makes beautiful puff pastry and sells the dough for $6/lb. They use butter, not shortening.

I assume they make gigantic sheets of it for use at the bakery and just cut it to size so if you called ahead and ask them nicely I bet you could get them to cut you a big sheet.

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La Farine
6323 College Ave, Oakland, CA 94618

Apr 14, 2010
Truffle Dog in San Francisco Bay Area

Moderately priced delivery or takeout for a large group in SF

Thanks everyone for the replies

Memphis Minnie's could be a good choice. We had an office party from there a few months ago and it was pretty popular. I'll give them a call and see about delivery options.

Lers Ros would definitely have been pushing it for the picky eaters but the food is so good I'd be willing to overlook that. Not confident in the delivery or large or service though unfortunately.

Keep it coming!

Apr 12, 2010
Truffle Dog in San Francisco Bay Area

Moderately priced delivery or takeout for a large group in SF

I have a dinner event coming up for about 30 people for which I need to choose a restaurant in San Francisco. I would definitely prefer to find a place that will deliver but if need be I could do takeout if absolutely necessary. Aiming to spend about $20 per head (not including drinks) but am slightly flexible and could bump it up a tad for the right place. Priorities are

1. RELIABLE, timely delivery service.

2. Good food, preferably something that can be served somewhat family style.

3. If possible, I think I'd prefer a Japanese place for this group but I am definitely willing to go in a different direction if that would be better. Nothing super exotic as I need to keep 30 people with the whole spectrum of palates happy.

My first thought was to order from Lers Ros Thai but I've never ordered delivery from them and there are too many horror stories on yelp about their delivery service being unreliable (see priority number one).

I'm willing to do a delivery service like Waiters on Wheels or something like (suggestions for delivery service also appreciated) if necessary but I think it might be tough on my budget since their fees are so high.

Any ideas would be appreciated! Thanks in advance.

TD

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Lers Ros Thai
730 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA

Apr 11, 2010
Truffle Dog in San Francisco Bay Area

One night in San Francisco: Gary Danko or Chez Panisse?

I personally prefer Danko between those two but either would be a good choice. I think you have a good idea of the difference between the two. One factor that you didn't mention is which day of the week your dinner will be. The dinners at Chez are more refined on Fridays and Saturdays and more rustic early in the week.

Another option I suggest you consider is Coi which has a very local and seasonal approach to ingredients but also uses much more modern (and less "safe") techniques than either Danko or Chez.

You could theoretically have a lunch a Chez Panisse Cafe - which is wonderful and really captures that minimalist, ingredient-driven approach to food as well or better than Chez Panisse Restaurant - and then have dinner that same night at Danko. That would be a great food day!

If you like the idea of this approach, but don't want to spend time traveling to the east bay, you might try Zuni - which is a similar style of food as Chez Cafe, although IMO not quite as good - for lunch and Danko for dinner.

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Chez Panisse
1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94709

Mar 24, 2010
Truffle Dog in San Francisco Bay Area

Watch 49ers v. Bears - SOMA/Union Square

Gordon Biersch is probably best possible as far as food goes. A little bit of a trek from union square, but definitely doable.

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Gordon Biersch
2 Harrison Street, San Francisco, CA 94105

Nov 10, 2009
Truffle Dog in San Francisco Bay Area

Favorite vegan or near-vegan restaurants in Bay Area?

Millenium is really good

Aug 18, 2009
Truffle Dog in San Francisco Bay Area

What's the big deal about Bottega?

I visited Bottega right around the same time you did and had an excellent meal. The highlights were probably the grilled squid appetizer and the roasted pork special (slow roasted suckling pig with crispy skin, with a stuffing of chopped pork shoulder and herbs) which were both outstanding. We had a nice burrata app as well and two pastas.

The pastas (gnocchi and pappardelle) were pleasant but nothing super special. The pastas themselves were excellent (the gnocchi were particularly light and fluffy) but the sauces were fine but not memorable.

I guess that generally the food was a little over-salted. But the truth is it was a great meal all around.

We were actually really happy with our service there but I've read enough negative reports on here to think that maybe we just got lucky. I did get the impression that it might be the place where the "in" crowd of locals gets somewhat more/better attention and tourists get the leftovers (although I personally was totally happy with the service as I said).

Aug 13, 2009
Truffle Dog in San Francisco Bay Area

Anniversary Dinner near Guerneville

Both Applewood and Farmhouse would be good choices. Definitely Farmhouse if you like cheese.

Aug 13, 2009
Truffle Dog in San Francisco Bay Area

Best Poached Egg Dish in SF or Surrounding?

The cream-poached egg at Corso in Berkeley, served with pancetta, tomato and grilled bread, is heavenly.

Apr 27, 2009
Truffle Dog in San Francisco Bay Area