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OliverB's Profile

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Polk St. [San Francisco]

I take out from Spinnerie quite often so I can offer a fairly balanced review. Their chickens are in fact, perfectly cooked, moist, juicy, meaty... and completely bland. Perhaps I've been spoiled by better rotisserie having grown up in Montreal, a city known for its regional QC style "bar-b-q chicken" with distinct charbroiled smoky flavors and crispy blackened skin (the best part!) glazed with sweet hints of molasses, along with the many Portugese style rotisseries, but Spinnerie's birds are entirely flavorless. I've tried all styles offered; none impressed me. It's unfortunate because they are perfectly prepared, as mentioned, and what you get is rather unfulfilling - a plump and juicy chicken that ends up tasting dull and boring. It doesn't help that they offer at least a half dozen different types of sauces without any one of them being properly suited yo or accompanying the flavor profiles of the chicken. It's as if they couldn't nail one thing really well so they just decided to offer a bunch of different sauces that are technically supposed to pair with rotisserie chicken. None of them are good. I've tried every sauce and they range from cloyingly sweet to entirely inept (what passes as bbq sauce- both mustard based and red). I've stopped ordering chicken from Spinnerie after the second or third takeout. Now I go girl their sides, which are pretty decent for the price. Everything is exceptionally fresh and well made. Their roasted veggies are quite good, but again this is in the context of a convenient neighborhood option for a cheap takeout meal; nothing on their menu is destination worthy. I've tried just about every side from their Mac and cheese (recently redone in different style) to their couscous, calabrese cauliflower, soba noodles, etc. Most are decent to good; none will make you hunger for them the next day or week or month... Or ever. They're a safe neighborhood option for a quick and healthy take home dinner or snack (I load up on 5-6 sides when I'm not terribly hungry or in the mood for an organized dinner) at a good value. I'd say it's the slightly better equivalent to the hot counter/prepared foods at Whole Foods. Cheaper too. Not of interest unless you live within a roughly 10 block radius.

Restaurant or Bar with a TV in Oakland/East Bay.

Unfortunately, it's not difficult to find these days.

Polk St. [San Francisco]

The new rotisserie spot is kind of a bust. It's serviceable and inexpensive for those of us who live in the hood but it's otherwise not worth noting. I sometimes pickup from them as a last ditch option when coming home late and there's nothing else quick and easy nearby but I wouldn't otherwise recommend. Certainly not an eat-in type of place. I'm looking forward to the new Burmese spot that's opening, I so hope it's good!

Shorty Goldstein's FiDi Jewish Deli,SF opened 3/5/13 - any reports?

I should've tried the Rachel today but I opted for the basic pastrami as a field test. I'd go to The Sentinel any day of the week over Shorty's; they're not even in the same league of sandwiches as far as I'm concerned.

Shorty Goldstein's FiDi Jewish Deli,SF opened 3/5/13 - any reports?

Finally tried their pastrami today on Sutter before my haircut appointment... Big meh! The sandwich was extremely dry. I had to ditch the rye (which was no loss) and eat the meat on its own. It was fairly crumbly and inconsistent from slice to slice; some pieces being overly dry and tasteless while others faring slightly better. Overall I found it tasted rather bland and lacked any real depth. The mustard they use adds a strong spice kick which I assume is intended or at least works to mask this to a degree. The serving itself was pretty paltry for a deli sandwich. It's been mentioned before but I received approx. 4-5 slices of meat (medium thickness) per half. I've never ordered a pastrami sandwich anywhere else before and not felt satiated at the end of the meal but after ditching the rye and eating the meat on its own, it felt like half a meal. The pickles that accompanied the sandwich were awful. Sweet pickles from a Jewish deli?? I felt it was overpriced too. A sandwich and black cherry rang up $16 and change which proved to be a poor value both in terms of quality and quantity. I won't be back.

Donato Enoteca, Redwood City

Thanks! I've been meaning to check out some of Melanie's ramen destinations in San Mateo, perhaps we'll do that!

We're having brunch at Creekside Smokehouse in HMB as soon as we roll in from Pacifica. I'll look into San Benito House as well.

Donato Enoteca, Redwood City

Thanks! I'll look into Pasta a Moon. We're actually just going to grab a couple of crab sandwiches at Nick's in Pacifica. We're there got a concert at Winter's Tavern on Friday night and decided to make a coastal weekend out of it. I was only considering Woodside/Redwood City as a destination because it's not often we have a car and I had a couple of places noted on my "to try" list. We don't mind the drive but I'll explore HMB options further. I think we'll avoid Peruvian since we'll be in Miami next week and their South American fare is unbeatable so I'd rather keep it fresh and exciting.

Donato Enoteca, Redwood City

I'd say aiming more for atmosphere and a solid meal than fancy-ish. I love The Mountain House in Woodside (especially since the closure of Bella Vista last year) and Donata has been on my radar as a place to try but not an absolute must; I was just throwing it out to weigh in the board's feedback. Sounds like it's just okay. The last time we were out in HMB we ate at Barbara's Fish Trap based on what I'd read on Choehound and found it terrible; everything was heavily fried and greasy and made us feel gross afterwards. I didn't think the fish and chips were anything to write home about. I figured we'd cut inland on the way back this time and either try some place new or just swing by The Mountain House for a solid meal amongst the redwoods. I'll look into Village Pub though, I'm not familiar with it.

Donato Enoteca, Redwood City

Thanks! Do you know if reservations are a must for Saturday evening?

Very specific restaurant criteria

Both are great. I prefer the food and ambiance at The Big 4 but don't think you could go wrong with either. Bix is livelier, different (younger) type of crowd. The Big 4 has a more genuine timewarp feel, menu is focused on game meats, jazz standards tapped out on piano by beautiful oak wood bar. It's quieter and the crowd is typically comprised of the silver haired set. Good selection of whiskies and classic mixed drinks. They're both completely different scenes.

I'd still recommend Harris' Restaurant off Van Ness over both, even if not ordering steak. I've never had less than a perfect meal and their old fashioned and Eagle Rare manhattans are exemplar. The ambiance is also unbeatable in my books. The restaurant was bought and rebranded in the 1980's but inside its 1940's dark wood and leather with waiters in dinner jackets. The food is outstanding. I sometimes drop into the bar for a salad or onion soup, oysters, manhattans, and desert. Grab a handful of chocolate caramel from the bar on your way out!

Very specific restaurant criteria

It's not new, it just reopened after a one-year closure while the hotel was undergoing renovations under its new ownership. Several friends have visited since and I've only heard great feedback. I've been many times prior to the reopening and it's always been a favorite.

Very specific restaurant criteria

Alfred's has taken a serious nose dive in the past year or two. I couldn't even get a proper martini on my last visit which was several weeks ago. They have the servers bring a shaker (martinis should be stirred for starters) to your table and perform this dumb novelty act where they mix your drink table side as if it were a big salad! I witnessed this at several other tables as well. Since when are servers trained as bartenders? I seriously had the worst martini I've ever been poured at Alfred's - ordered wet and it tasted like stale vermouth which is just completely unacceptable. It was so poorly balanced and came watered down with ice in the side carafe... Who dumps cubes of ice directly into a martini?!? It tasted like dishwater garnished with olives. After sending it back twice(!) I switched to a Manhattan which didn't fare much better. They don't even use real maraschinos. I got the cheap gross fake cherries that you'd expect to find floating atop a piƱa colada at a club med resort during spring break in Cancun; not a landmark 1928 San Francisco steakhouse! It's a shame because Alfred's used to be amongst my favorite old SF institutions but I wouldn't rush back anytime soon.

Very specific restaurant criteria

Harris right down the street from HoPR fits all the criteria and comes highly recommended!

Donato Enoteca, Redwood City

Any recent visits or experiences?

My wife and I will be out in the Peninsula next weekend (Friday in Pacifica and Saturday in Half Moon Bay) and I was considering either cutting over to Donata Enoteca in Redwood City or The Mountain House in Woodside for dinner Saturday night on the way back to San Francisco.

Shorty Goldstein's FiDi Jewish Deli,SF opened 3/5/13 - any reports?

Noticed that too... their pastrami looked very similar to what I know as Montreal style smoked meat. I didn't realize they were offering samples or I surely would've tried some but I'd already filled up on sockeye sandwiches from Cap'n Mike's.

Please tell me your favorite dim sum and favorite sushi in San Francisco?

What kind of prices for the standard omakase at Kukasabe and what would you compare it to in NYC or Tokyo, if anything?

Saturday night (price conscious) Mission suggestions [San Francisco]

Zarzuela worked out perfectly. We ordered at least 8-9 tapas plus wine, sangria, and desert and the bill was split at around $50 between two (party of four). Everything was excellent; wonderful atmosphere and friendly service. We showed up at around 5:15 and there was already a long lineup outside the door. We made it to the Mission and managed to find parking in about 15 mins. and were only slightly late for the flamenco performances but still got seats along the side of the stage. Perfect evening!

Please tell me your favorite dim sum and favorite sushi in San Francisco?

What about us locals?

I haven't eaten sushi since I was in Japan this past fall and I've been craving it badly recently. I used to go to Ino in Jtown but it's always the same fish when ordering omakase and I've grown pretty bored and indifferent to his style. I'd be willing to drive up to 1hr for great sushi.

Saturday night (price conscious) Mission suggestions [San Francisco]

Definitely in The Mission. It's called Mission Flamenco and I think it happens every other Saturday or at least once a month in a bar on Mission and 19th. It's not a professional performance or something that you need to buy tickets for. My wife's a dancer (she even lived/studied in Barcelona many years back) so she definitely knows about this.

Saturday night (price conscious) Mission suggestions [San Francisco]

Thanks for the details! Okay definitely not this for Saturday. We're going to Zarzuela. I might consider for Sunday lunch if anyone wants pupusas. Come to think of it, I may have ordered pupusas here from Caviar one night...

Thanks for all the help!

Saturday night (price conscious) Mission suggestions [San Francisco]

Thanks Robert,

I've never tired La Santaneca; we've always wandered into that other hole in the wall on 24th off Van Ness. I'll run it by everyone and let them chose, though that might be a good option for Sunday. I haven't planned any meals for Sunday yet so perhaps we'll do that for lunch if we end up at Zarzuela (which I'm kind of leaning towards). I think we're probably going to the Billy Wilder double feature at the Castro on Sunday evening at 7pm and I'd planned on possibly going for Asian beforehand over in the Richmond - either the clay pot place with the excellent black bean snails or maybe Shanghai Dumpling King, etc. I think we'll likely try Santaneca for lunch on Sunday since I need to find another cheap option anyway. What do you rate highly apart from their pupusas? Is it an order anything or selective type of menu?

Saturday night (price conscious) Mission suggestions [San Francisco]

I've had mixed experiences at Poc Chuc and can't say that I consider it a favorite. I like their tacos and a couple of other menu items but nothing else that I've ordered was really all that exciting. I've never been for dinner though.

I think we're almost certainly set on Zarzuela. My wife was into that idea and I think the family style dining, as ML8000 pointed out, is the way to go. I've made a few poor choices price-wise in the past when eating out with the in-laws and I could sense their angst over cost; even when offering to pay which added to their discomfort, so this is surely the way to go and the missus is excited about a themed night of tapas and flamenco.

Saturday night (price conscious) Mission suggestions [San Francisco]

Thanks for the heads up; sounds like the kind of place I should probably venture to on my own for a no-expectations lunch before dragging anyone else along.

Saturday night (price conscious) Mission suggestions [San Francisco]

Y'know, I think we might actually just go to Zarzuella before the flamenco show. That way we can order a bunch of tapas for the table and tell them not to worry about cost; I'll ask them to throw in a fixed amount and just order for the table without them having to worry about exceeding their budget. I feel more comfortable doing this then paying for a portion of their individual meals at any other restaurant as that would make them feel awkward. I just wonder if we can have an enjoyable meal at 5:30 and still make it to Mission and 19th for 7pm-ish? I personally don't care if we show up 15 minutes late to the show but the missus is worried it'll get too crowded. I think we can probably manage.

Saturday night (price conscious) Mission suggestions [San Francisco]

Don't recall the cross street but I seem to remember it being a few blocks north of Rosamunde; only because I made a mad dash over for take-out the last time I went with the missus when I hadn't eaten beforehand. I'd guess it's probably around 19th and Mission.

I'm sure we've been to both Gajalee and Udupi on more than one ocassion as we used to live in the Mission and both spring to mind, but we've barely been back for meals since we've moved to more central SF a couple of years ago so my memory's foggy. Which is the better choice and what do you recommend?

Saturday night (price conscious) Mission suggestions [San Francisco]

Thanks again for the excellent Oakland rec. the other night - we had a fantastic evening! I'd like to get another suggestion for this coming Saturday night.

My in-laws are visiting and they're always dining on a budget. I'm gonna say roughly $40/pp total is their cap - that may even be a slight stretch. I'd gladly compensate but that would make them feel uncomfortable so it's easier to just stick to mid-range options.

Anyhow, we're spending the morning and early afternoon at the Ferry Market Bldg. and plan to walk along the Embarcadero and maybe cut up to North Beach for a drink in the late afternoon. We're going to a flamenco show in the Mission at 7pm, so we'll be aiming for an earlybird dinner around 5:15-ish. Anything goes otherwise.

I'd rather a proper sit-down since we're eating at the Farmer's Market in the AM and Fort Mason OTG on Friday (tomorrow) evening. I haven't explored anything new in the Mission in quite a while so I'm open to all suggestions. Also willing to venture deeper into the colourful 24th St artery for South of the border flavor and/or any old institutions if you have suggestions to offer. I've never been to Roosevelt Tamale Parlor which has been on my radar for a long time; not sure if it's anything special but I like to try and visit as many places of local historic/cultural interest as possible so that's an option, though not particularly inspired.

I should also point out that we'll have a car so we're not entirely bound to the Mission, though it'd certainly be the most convenient with our evening plans. I'll scratch a few things off the list based on my own personal exhaustions - Thai, Italian/pizza, taquerias - not interested in the least. Again, proper sit-down full service would be much preferred.

Thanks fellas!

West Oakland Suggestions

Thanks for all the recommendations! We just got back from Miss Ollie's and had an amazing dinner. The fried chicken is out of this world! We also ordered the jerk hen which was equally terrific; perfectly blackened, juicy and tender on the inside with a crisp skin rubbed and seasoned with spicy jerk - yum! We started with an order of their fantastic garlic plantains to share and the meal came family style with a large side of delicious collared greens and the best potato salad I've had in the Bay Area. I ordered a fine if not somewhat uninteresting rum cocktail to begin (it was refreshing but nothing special) and then moved on to some rum flights which complimented the meal very nicely; especially noteworthy was a rare Dominican import which I forget the name of but really enjoyed. The bartender was kind enough to swing by our table and offer several suggestions and tastings. Service was quick, friendly and attentive. Although our server explained that due to the size restrictions of their kitchen, plates would come out as they were ready, everything seemed to arrive as it should and very timely. It was an outstanding dinner that I must admit, far exceeded expectations, and I'm excited for lunch leftovers tomorrow! Thanks to everyone who helped steer us on the right course; we enjoyed everything about the place including the dining room itself. Next time I'll try the slow-cooked pork.

Ps - one and only mistake we made was popping into the bar across the street after dinner. I sent back two cocktails. Terrible bartenders, nothing was balanced. I skipped the "house specialties" after the first failure (which was seriously one of the worst mixed drinks I've ever tasted and has no budiness being on any menu) and ordered a sazerac which was another misfire. Service was just as bad as the drinks. Waitress disappeared after taking our order for over an hour. I had to walk up to the bar myself, twice, to exchange drinks and still no courtesy appearance from our server or bartender to ask whether the replacements were more satisfactory. Place was relatively empty too. We'd planned to walk up to Trappist but I didn't realize it was a Belgium pub and I wanted cocktails. We would've been better off though.

West Oakland Suggestions

Thanks! You've convinced me. :)

West Oakland Suggestions

Thank you both! I forgot to add that I'd really appreciate it if you could highlight a favorite dish or two when offering suggestions. Also worth noting that we'll be down in Miami in a couple of weeks and Carribean is definitely on the radar so it's got to be really worthwhile! Please let me know what you like at both places. Thanks again!

West Oakland Suggestions

While my wife works in Oakland, it's a rare ocasion that I ever cross the Bay unless visiting friends in Alameda. We'll both be near West Oakland BART station for a work meeting tomorrow however. I'd like to take advantage of the situation and explore some foods that are unique to the East Bay and either not done well or at all in San Francisco. Don't want to venture too far unless there's some absolutely recommended destination. Willing to travel within approx. 10-15 mins by Uber from West Oakland Station. Nothing fancy or high end; ideally ethnic eats - Asian from any country and region, Middle Eastern, Spanish, etc. If there's a great mid-range (ie. $40-50 pp max) dinner restaurant that comes highly recommended, I'd be willing to shift gears however and do creative Cal-cusine but I'm not looking for a substitute for the kind of restaurants that are popular in the city. That said, I'd be persuaded even more if craft cocktails are on the menu. I haven't eaten in a proper Oakland restaurant (not including food trucks) since Wood Tavern nearly 3 years ago! So to sum it up, anything goes really... I just want something really GREAT and different within roughly 15 mins. of West Oakland tomorrow night and it can be a really no-frills divey place or a really nice bistro type of place; just so long as the food is great and interesting! Thanks in advance for your suggestions.