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7 nights in London beginning this Wednesday

That's a great idea! Any particular suggestions in Soho/Fitzrovia? 10 Greek Street?

Aug 04, 2015
lexdevil in U.K./Ireland

7 nights in London beginning this Wednesday

Thanks for the heads up on Xi'an Impression. We have friends in Holloway, so this should work well. Here is an item about the restaurant:

Aug 04, 2015
lexdevil in U.K./Ireland

7 nights in London beginning this Wednesday

Update: Went ahead and canceled The Ledbury. There's always next year. Just didn't want to risk the aggravation ruining the evening. That said, if anyone would like it, there is now a table for three (or probably four) available on the 6th at 6:30pm.

Aug 04, 2015
lexdevil in U.K./Ireland

7 nights in London beginning this Wednesday

That's really my worry, ruining a lovely dinner with anxiety about traffic, possibly missing our reservation due to traffic (or buses that are too full, or a taxi that fails to arrive).

There are so many good places to eat within a short walk of our hotel that it seems prudent to plan to close on the 6th. It's just that I've wanted to go to The Ledbury for several years, and this is the first time that I've managed to book it.

Aug 04, 2015
lexdevil in U.K./Ireland

7 nights in London beginning this Wednesday

I get anxious about taking a taxi when traffic is terrible. Hate to just sit there watching the meter run. With no traffic this is a 15 minute trip, but with normal late afternoon traffic it's more like 30 minutes. If the tube strike adds 50% to that we're talking a 45 minute taxi ride. I expect the fare to be at least £30, possibly much higher if things go sideways with the commute.

I do expect that the bus will be fine for the return trip. Or a taxi, because I expect that traffic will have died down by then.

Of course I could walk there in an hour, but I'm recovering from a broken ankle and that might be pushing it.

Aug 03, 2015
lexdevil in U.K./Ireland

7 nights in London beginning this Wednesday

Annual trip to visit the in-laws in the Cotswolds, broken up by 7 nights in London, starting on Wednesday. Have booked quite a bit, but will make changes as needed/recommended. Currently planning to stay at the London Edition, due to proximity to good food and other stuff we like (record shops in Soho). Could possibly opt for the JW Grosvenor House due to the terrific executive lounge, but the family is making a strong push for Soho/Fitzrovia.

Weds 5 Aug: Duck & Rice - Short walk from hotel, and short walk to Regent St Cinema after.

Thurs 6 Aug: The Ledbury - A bit concerned about this due to the tube strike. Have wanted to go for a few years and would hate to cancel, but we'll have to take the bus (7 or 23 from Oxford Circus), and that may be unpleasant (long wait and crowded). Will this compromise the experience too much? Should I postpone by another year? If we head to Notting Hill early could we avoid some of the transit difficulty, or will it be miserable all day long?

Fri 7 Aug: Quality Chop House - Loved it last year and family wants to return. Could switch to a different day.

Sat 8 Aug: TBD

Sun 9 Aug: Medlar w/ a friend.

Mon 10 Aug: Need to come up with an early dinner before seeing Everyman at the National Theatre. Not a fan of most options in the area. There are decent options, but why not do something better? This is, after all, our vacation. Could possibly do a large late lunch elsewhere, followed by something late after, possibly close to our hotel.

Tues 11 Aug: The Marksman w/ friends.

Weds 12 Aug: Need an early dinner near our hotel before taking the bus back to Oxford. Could be a good night to do Berners Tavern, but we could do something else in the area as well.

Things we like a lot: Nopi, Pollen Street Social, Chez Bruce, Moti Mahal, St. John B & W, rustic Mediterranean food, Indian and other Asian cuisines. Also love kebabs from Bosphorus on Old Brompton Rd and will almost certainly drop by there.

Things we have liked but also found to be overrated: Dishoom (amazing for mass market food, clearly angling to become a chain) and Gymkhana (Theming was a bit annoying, sort of understated Disney. Food was very good, but not universally amazing.).

Things we will be craving: at home we eat Asian food more often than not. The Euro/fine dining/gastro pub stuff may grow tiresome. At the same time, coming from the SF Bay Area it's not clear that we should bother doing Thai, Japanese, or Korean in London. Not that they will not be good, but that they are unlikely to be substantially better than at home. Would, however, be interested in any and all regional Chinese cuisines, high end to cheap. At home we have a dearth of qualty Malaysian, Singaporean, Turkish, and Greek options. Would also like to add at least one excellent Indian meal. Have yet to dine at Quilon. A trusted friend (who had similar misgivings re: Gymkhana) swears by Rasoi.

Advice is sought re:

1. The Ledbury & the tube strike
2. Dinners on the 8th, 10th, and 12th
3. Any errors in judgment listed above

Aug 03, 2015
lexdevil in U.K./Ireland

KronnerBurger - Oakland

Wow. I've been there four times (plus one take away) since it opened and everyone was very friendly and enthusiastic. At 50+ I don't pass any cool tests these days, but I never sensed any condescension on the part of the staff.

While the burgers are great (even the "Earth Burger," which I call the abstinence burger because it is vegan and GF), the salads and other items are super too. The wedge is great if you're into that kind of thing (I am), and the the asparagus with boiled egg, fresh cheese, and herbs was outstanding. The asparagus also appeared at brunch over English muffins, and this was my husband's favorite dish so far. The sausage (made with pork cheek and sweetbreads) is super. I've had it at brunch with a fried egg over polenta, and at lunch over toast with a fried egg and lots of salad-y stuff.

And the fries. Wow. Yes, you can order the poutine, but honestly, it's a waste of fries that can stand on their own.

yuyu za zang [Oakland]

The new location has been open for about two weeks. It is the former location of New Ho Ho, between Bowl'd and the liquor store. It is much larger than the former spot (it could hardly have been smaller), clean, and bright. Menu is the same as the old location (K-Chinese on one side/Chinese on the other).

Advice appreciated re: Chinese Food 101 class for HS students

College Prep, in Oakland. We have a one week Intraterm each year during which faculty teach courses on pretty much whatever they feel like. Last year I took students from Little Rock to Selma. Over the years I've taught classes on meat, chocolate, ice cream, Hollywood history, Minor League Baseball, and lots of other stuff.

Advice appreciated re: Chinese Food 101 class for HS students

We're doing HKL2 in the morning, so focusing on Dim Sum. Will probably save Peking Duck for Great China, where we'll focus on the Northern, Shandong, and K-Chinese stuff (Double Skin, Crab w/ Steamed Buns, Tang Soo Yook...).

Our M.Y. China visit is entirely noodle focused. It's a great opportunity to see more than one variety of noodle made in a single place (saving us from making pit stops at Ark (Alameda), Shandong (Oakland), etc.). At the same time, I would like to add a couple of other dishes so we don't get too noodled out.

Advice appreciated re: Chinese Food 101 class for HS students

I taught this class several years back and I am reprising it next week. And getting hungry thinking about it.

I'd love advice re: things not to be missed at Yum's Bistro. They are faxing me the menu, but I'm also curious about specials that are not found on the menu.

Similar advice on Hong Kong Lounge 2 and M.Y. China would be great. I'm pretty well versed in the offerings at the other spots.

Our current plans include:
Hong Kong Lounge 2 (SF)
The Peruchi Truck (SF)
China Village (Albany)
Little Shanghai (San Mateo)
Yum's Bistro (Fremont)
Great China (Berkeley)
Little Sheep (Union City)
85°C (Newark)
M.Y. China (SF) -- for a noodle demo w/ the Chef
+ one more TBD

I'd also love advice on the last visit. I don't have an Islamic place on my list this year, or a Teochew place, or a Buddhist veg spot, or a Hakka place (I did all four last time). What do you think is the greatest hole to be filled?

Best current option for Shanghainese anywhere in the Bay Area?

Thank you so much for all of the advice. Further input on any not to be missed dishes at Little Shanghai would be appreciated.

Best current option for Shanghainese anywhere in the Bay Area?

23 people, and I'm currently leaning toward Little Shanghai in San Mateo.

Best current option for Shanghainese anywhere in the Bay Area?

Reprising Chinese Food 101 for students at my school next week. Have covered most of what I hope to do (though I have to skip a lot), but I would love to do a Shanghainese meal and would appreciate knowing who is best/most reliable at the moment.

Best Fried Rice in SF

Come to Oakland and get the fried rice at Ramen Shop. Best ever. Changes a bit based on available ingredients, but here is tonight's:

monterey bay squid and pork fried rice with little sweetie peppers, cilantro, basil, squash blossoms, cherry tomatoes, and Siew’s spicy shrimp-chili paste

Oakland/Berkeley restaurant recommendations for my 28th birthday dinner with my mom?

Which is why I described it as casual. At the same time, it is calmer and more orderly looking (more "matchy matchy") than Pizzaiolo. I also don't think it loses on formality to the refectory style of Camino (not to mention Camino's excellent cocktails served in ultra informal juice glasses). Additionally, though it has diner style accents, it's not a diner. There's no chrome beyond that on the bar stools and chair frames. The walls are white with dark brown wainscoting. The tables are wood. They have cloth napkins and proper glassware. The bar stools and chairs (and perhaps the checkerboard floor tiles) are the sum total of Hopscotch's diner-ness.

I suggested Hopscotch because, though its Asian accent distinguishes it, its food seems to hit the same target as Rivoli -- comfort food prepared to a high standard at a reasonable price point. Nothing challenging, just very yummy. The excerpts from their current menus below illustrate the similarities.

Rivoli Menu:
bellwether farm ricotta and butternut squash ravioli, brown butter, fried sage, pecorino $18
grilled scallops, potato and artichoke gratin, broccoli di ciccio with pine nuts and currants, tarragon butter, aleppo chile $27

Hopscotch Menu:
Ricotta Gnocchi, peashoots, toasted almonds, lemon creme fraiche $18
Grilled Scallops, mountain yam brandade croquette, mizuna salad, yuzu gremolata $23

I suppose that Hopscotch's (delicious) fried chicken and burger may highlight its casualness, but no more so than does Pizzaiolo's pizza, Box & Bells' burger, Plum's congee, or the Chez Panisse Cafe's much loved fried chicken or rabbit.

I agree that Hopscotch is more casual than the upstairs at Chez Panisse or Rivoli, but I just don't find it substantially more casual than many of the suggested restaurants. Additionally, I think someone who enjoys the food at Rivoli would find much to like at Hopscotch.

Oakland/Berkeley restaurant recommendations for my 28th birthday dinner with my mom?

I'm a bit late to reply, so your date may have passed, but I think Hopscotch would be another good option. Possibly a bit on the casual side, but no more so than most of the other options you are considering.

East Bay source for dried mushrooms in quantity?

Preferably porcini.

Not wholesale quantity, but the 8oz. - 1lb. I need when cooking for 70 people. Trying to avoid purchasing dozens of overpriced half ounce bags.

Shrimp and Grits - SF Dish of the Month January 2014

It's been a while, but the Aunt Mary's version is among the richest I have had and has a lot of Tabasco in the sauce. Not a Worcestershire heavy version at all.

Oakland Restaurant Week January 17-26, 2014

Nido is, for me, the clear winner for Oakland Restaurant Week. The menu is $20 per person for a drink (beer, wine, or agua fresca), appetizer, and main course. At that price I assumed it was a lunch offer, but called to check and was told it is dinner.

Here is the menu:!rw2014/c736

Tonight when we went there was an additional main course chicken option. We had the pozole and al pastor. The food and service were both excellent.

Choice and real discount to encourage folks to try someplace new, just what I always thought Restaurant Week was supposed to be about.

Great China (Berkeley) still great

I don't know how I missed them, as many times as I ate there. Probably just too fixated on the Double Skin.

Great China (Berkeley) still great

The Peking Duck is good, but it's not my favorite thing at Great China. Other standouts include the Double Skin (amazing combination of hot and cold, crunchy, chewy, and slippery ingredients topped with a spicy mustard sauce), the Crab Buns, the Tan Soo Yook (Korean Chinese sweet & sour beef), the embarrassingly tasty Walnut Prawns, and the Shredded Pork w/ Dried Tofu. Of course I was limited to veg and seafood for this outing, but I plan to do a better job next time.

There are several new additions to the menu that I am excited to try as well. I don't remember seeing Cumin Lamb or Cumin Beef in the past. Same goes for Wok Braised Beef Shank, Five Spice Braised Lamb Shank, Shredded Pork & Lions Head, and one of my all time faves, Mei Cai Ko Ro (braised pork belly with fermented greens). There are also a few attractive new desserts, but they are a low priority for me.

Great China (Berkeley) still great

Late lunch today, just a couple of hours after its 11:55am opening. Could not order some favorites (like Double Skin) due to non meat eating dining companion, but everything we had was as good or better than the pre fire renditions. Walnut Prawns were great, as were the Oyster Mushrooms with Golden Chives and the Guo Ta Tofu. Best development was, however, the Fish and Vegetable Dumplings, which were much improved. Noodle wrappers were more tender, lacking the gumminess that could be an issue at times in the past. Welcome back to an old friend!

Saturday brunch near used record shop(s)?

Tasty N Alder looks...tasty. How bad are the waits for brunch on Saturday? Is there a time (early, say at 9:00 or late, say at 1:00) when wait times are better?

Aug 15, 2013
lexdevil in Metro Portland

Saturday brunch near used record shop(s)?

Taking our son to college next week. In order to distract my husband from his empty nest pangs, we'll be hitting up Portland's used record shops on the Saturday (retail therapy is not only for women!). Would love to have a good casual brunch or lunch without going too far out of our way. Any suggestions?

Aug 15, 2013
lexdevil in Metro Portland

great pad thai in Berkeley-Oakland area?

I just skip it in favor of the Chan Pad Poo at Chai Thai. Though it's really just a Pad Thai variant w/ crab, it is much better. I can't understand why their Chan Pad Poo is so much better than their Pad Thai, unless they have simply grown accustomed to dumbing down the Pad Thai because it is such a favorite of the flavor averse.

Comal - Berkeley

Agree about the great service. We did table 30 (set menu for parties of 8-10) for my father's 76th birthday. The food ranged from good to excellent, but it was the service that really stood out. The few special arrangements we had made (simplified dishes for the under 10s, an extra dish and a chair with a back for my father) were all handled flawlessly. Our server was outstanding. The meal was well paced, dishes were cleared (and packed to take home) as needed, drink orders/reorders were prompt...

Additionally, the sound system is all it is cracked up to be. My father has a hard time in loud venues. Comal manages to sound buzzy and alive, while allowing diners to converse without raising their voices. I hope that this tech spreads to other restauarants; it makes for a very pleasant experience.

Breakfast Sandwich - SF Dish of the Month June 2013

I guess I'm cheating, because it was last month, but my son really enjoyed the Bacon, Avocado, and poached egg sandwich at Hopscotch. It is served with lettuce, tomato, and pickled shallots on a soft hamburger roll. Worth a visit.

Eater SF lists OAK eating choices (Oakland Airport)

They fail to mention the most reliable item at OAK, which is the Pancetta, Brie, and Fig sandwich at Vino Volo. Better than not half bad.

Anywhere decent to eat in Brentwood (Contra Costa cty)?

It's been a couple of years, but the Nam Kao Tod at Lone Tree Thai was pretty good when I had it. The bulk of the menu looks pretty standard, but Nam Kao Tod is unusual enough that its presence may point to a better than the usual suburban Thai restaurant.