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Naha v. Sepia v. Sable (or something else??)

Thanks everyone! Ended up booking the lounge at Sepia, and we'll move on to some place else after appetizers & drinks if we're not feeling it =). Will hopefully report back after the trip!

Aug 27, 2015
goldangl95 in Chicago Area

Another Ho hum food experience in Palo Alto

Well I must say they may be fighting words - but they also happen to be true =)

I get up to that area fairly regularly (at least once a month) and I live on the penninsula/south bay area side- and I say it's pretty much the same (san mateo is an aberration - and I have hope for redwood city - but two to three restaurants does not a food center make). Loads and loads of mediocre american/italian/french restaurants prepared like it's 1993. A bunch of salad/skewer/grilled meat places - faux cute coffee shops and breakfast places etc.

Another Ho hum food experience in Palo Alto

Sure the super/mega wealthy (or more accurately the people who live like they are super/mega wealthy) tend to pride convenience above all else (we're talking about people who have personal chefs or actually would be recognized at a restaurant). But that population isn't the one who drives most of these restaurants in the first place.

For the people who do not have personal chefs, why is the penninsula such a drag food wise (Burlingame/San Carlos/Belmont/Menlo Park/Palo Alto/Los Altos). and I'd agree with FattyDumplin. As i've said in other posts an equally awful food area is LaMorinda and Danville/San Ramon/Walnut Creek. They all tend to be non-diverse places that pride themselves on their lack of diversity and are concerned more about appearances/look of the place than the food.

Again they'd rather have 20 bistros serving grilled proteins and salads, than an afro-cuban restaurant that will change 'the feel' of the downtown.

Naha v. Sepia v. Sable (or something else??)

Thank you for that input! It's hard to tell just from photos/menus what the actual experience at the restaurant is like - and it sounds like Sepia may work well.

Aug 26, 2015
goldangl95 in Chicago Area

Another Ho hum food experience in Palo Alto

By health I mean, they like places that will cater to any and every dietary restriction and have grilled meats/seafoods and salads.

Add some warm woods, some cozy and a bit trendy lighting with plenty of light from the outdoors (or even a patio)! and you are pretty much set.

Another Ho hum food experience in Palo Alto

Amber India is the mothership. A bit more formal and I think they pay more attention to their entrees (their lamb dishes and seafood dishes seem a bit better). Not necessarily worth the extra distance unless you want something different or really like Indian food.

Naha v. Sepia v. Sable (or something else??)

Coming in from SF! We're doing El Ideas one night but want a bit more of a relaxed option for the other. It's a bit last minute, so reservations are getting harder to come by. We want something easily accessible from the Loop and not overly formal, staid, or hushed.

Between naha v. sepia v. sable, what's the most unique? (esp. coming from SF with plentiful cal/new - american). Are any of them a more hushed atmosphere than the others?

Any help appreciated!

Aug 26, 2015
goldangl95 in Chicago Area

Another Ho hum food experience in Palo Alto

I like Reposado - so take from this what you will.

Try Da Sichuan for Chinese, Amber India for Indian, or Palo Alto Sol for Mexican. Mediterranen wraps does good cheap Mediterranean. None of them are on University Ave.

Oren's Hummus Shop is decent.

Palo Alto residents are more about atmosphere and health than they are about taste. It is what it is.

2 SF dinners

Therese are all sit-down but not necessarily multiple courses, and I take cheap-ish at this point to be under $100 pp all in.

1) Zero Zero, Waterbar, Mourad is a bit out of the way but what you want. Second Marlowe and Anchor & Hope.

2) Piccino (not so familiar with this area)

Narrowing down Yountville/Healdsburg

Policy on sharing tastings - it depends. It used to be that as long as it was clear you were not wasting their time, wineries very freely waived tasting fees.

For some on this board, that's still the case. But I've found it's a lot stricter (in Napa especially).

1) You can always share the wine glass. If you're just walking up to a tasting bar, you can usually split the tasting fee no problem.

2) If you are getting a dedicated host or a tour, etc. by appointment, I've never felt comfortable asking to split the fee (again no one cares if you want to split the glass).

Napa Valley Lunch - Saturday, Late September

At this point, the saturation of good quality new American/cal French restaurants is so high across the country and the SF Bay Area in particular, that the food doesn't feel particularly memorable or special to me. The setting is gorgeous.

Napa Valley Lunch - Saturday, Late September

good call. Nice low key outside setting. Local not foreign cheeses on their cheese plate.

Napa Valley Lunch - Saturday, Late September

Ah. I saw charcuterie and cheese and got thrown off track. keep in mind stopping at a sit down full service lunch may take a long chunk out of the day,

I did this based on weekend lunch- hours may be more restricted weekday:

The French Laundry is open for lunch. Besides that none of these are the best restaurants of my life but should have a solid cheese plate at least (not sure for lunch!) call and check:

Auberge du Soleil, Bouchon, bistro jeanty, Angele

Napa Valley Lunch - Saturday, Late September

You can do a lunch at a vineyard! It's an option - it's just super pricey. Some options that at least used to offer food (call way ahead of time):

Round Pond
Ram's Gate (on the border between napa and the bay area)

Best Hippie-Yuppie Food In San Francisco? (Help a Tourist!) :-)

Whoops didn't see that - agreed.

Best Hippie-Yuppie Food In San Francisco? (Help a Tourist!) :-)

Not mentioned yet: Trouble Coffee in the Outer Sunset.

Also - pay $10 for a juice or an acai bowl at one of the local juice bars. The obnoxious 'clean eating' trend has co-opted most of the health food/hippie trends. Things are less crunchy and free spirited and more competitive/aggressive in clean, sleek environments.

Myriad Gastro Pub & The Progress (SF)

I really enjoyed two meals in SF over the last week, and I thought I'd share since coverage of these two has been spotty.

Myriad Gastro Pub - A New American restaurant in the Mission. Flavorful, satisfying food - nothing super innovative. Beer & wine only. I liked that it expanded beyond the typical flavor profiles for 'cal' cuisine (e.g. thyme, rosemary, lemon, pepper). We had ribs with Chinese spices, a fresh market salad, shrimp & grits, & chicken liver mousse. I wish more restaurants would use spices and flavors from the communities in the SF Bay Area instead of insisting that local just means the flavor profiles of Chez Panisse from 40 years ago. The 'pub' aspect is rather lacking, solid enough beer & wine list but not extensive or showing a particular point of view.

The Progress - This restaurant has now jumped way up on my list of restaurants. IMHO much better experience than State Bird Provisions. The dishes are more deliberate, and better thought out and executed than at SBP. They play not only with all the different tastes in one bite, but various textures as well. Particular standouts was a refreshing (without being too green!) dish of stone fruit, rosemary nuts, ricotta and assorted greens and the use of figs as both a texture and flavor component. The Progess, like Myriad, has not limited itself to the narrow flavors of typical Cal cuisine, and there was great use of black sesame, various chilis and chili peppers, and a mixture of sweet and savory (e.g. melons and proteins) that I more associate with Asian cuisines.

Cheeseboard's "Indian" pizza

In the junk food but delicious when you are in the mood category, there's Tasty Subs & Pizza in Sunnyvale. Their Spicy Butter Chicken pizza can really hit the spot (and is actually spicy!). They have quite the selection of Indian pizzas and subs.

Indian Cooking Tips and Recipes

Growing up we used thick bottomed, well made stainless steel vessels for most of our cooking,and it looks like on youtube most indian chefs seem to use them as well. This is mainly because for the early stages you are lowering and raising the heat as you add various elements and you want the pan/pot to be able to change temperature quickly. Certainly this is the case with more stir-fried/dry curry preps. (it also be that was just the type of pot/pan more readily available at the time).

For the more stew/wet preps where something is going to be on the stove for a long time, and it's a pain to transfer from the cooking vessel to a serving platter, I could see using le creuset. I sometimes use le creuset in this instance (but I also have burned my garlic doing it this way!). You just have to be more careful and better about knowing what heat you want at any particular stage.

We just use saute pans with lids for the dry preps, and stock pots or dutch ovens with lids for the wetter preps. We don't have enough storage space for specialized balti pots - but I can see how they would look great for presentation purposes.

Aug 16, 2015
goldangl95 in Home Cooking

First time visitor - where to get best regional treats?

I'd also add (though more northern cal generally) abalone, scallops and uni to that list. We have a lot of great shellfish - we're not so great on the fish fish.

SFBA vs. LA Chinese --- any advantages?


Does there need to be a longer answer? We do fine on sichuan food and dim sum but everything else is a very mixed bag, and I would never advise an LA chowhound to waste their time grabbing Chinese food here unless they had to.

LA is more dense than the SF Bay Area as a whole, with a larger population, and it's easier to set up there than it is in the SF Bay Area (rents are cheaper - food stuffs cheaper etc.). The only real ethnic food that we do better than LA is Indian, Burmese and nontraditional burritos. If you count the OC out for LA, but San Jose in for SFBAY AREA then perhaps Vietnamese.

Carnitas Michoacan, Sushi Masu, & Merkato (quick SF chowhound report)

Yes that is the one!

Aug 14, 2015
goldangl95 in Los Angeles Area

Spinster Sisters, El Coqui & winery notes (Santa Rosa/Sonoma County)

Good point. The website seems deliberately set up to make you think you need to make an appointment - but it appears there may be no actual requirement.

First time visitor - where to get best regional treats?

Big focuses for awhile now are coffee, baked goods, and cocktails. Ferry building is a must with the farmers market if possible, but even without it is also a good way to hit a lot of regional favorite producers and foods at once.

Eat as much Mexican as humanely possible. - especially burritos La Taqueria, Taqueria Cancun and El Farolito are considered the 3 kings.... I would also consider Dosa or Kin Khao which highlight lesser known aspects of indian or thai cuisine respectively.

Otherwise we just try to do food well using fresh ingredients. There's lots of places to pick from and you'll generally get a good meal. This Eater 38 list is a pretty good start:

Carnitas Michoacan, Sushi Masu, & Merkato (quick SF chowhound report)

Didn't have a lot of time this trip but was able to sneak in some food:

- Carnitas Michoacan. First time here - got tacos. The salsa is AWESOME. Fire-y hot and a complex mix of flavors. The meat quality is fine but doesn't match up to how really truly awesome and unique the salsa is. Carnitas a bit salty. Al Pastor had a distinct pineapple taste (which it doesn't always have).

- Sushi Masu. My old nostalgic neighborhood favorite. For mid range quality at a really good price, where you can often get in with little fuss, this is still my favorite.

- Merkato. I'm no expert in Ethiopian food, but this is great. Lots of different textures and flavors. Unafraid to really go there with the spiciness, funk and acidity. The honey wine is great with the food, but a bit sickly sweet on its own (buy the bottle much more economical than by the glass. Not for those who are squeamish about using their hands/sharing with others.

Aug 14, 2015
goldangl95 in Los Angeles Area

Spinster Sisters, El Coqui & winery notes (Santa Rosa/Sonoma County)

Spinster Sisters: Would recommend. Leisurely brunch away from the center of town. High quality ingredients and some interesting takes. My tostadas were a bit too minimalistic/healthy for me, so the very flavorful hot sauce was a needed addition to make the dish come alive (it was super fresh beans, super fresh avocado, super fresh green salad, and just a bit of crumbled cheese - it was a bit too green/clean tasting on its own). The french toast came with plums marinated a bit in a really beautifully balanced flavorful herb syrup.

El Coqui: Would recommend. I don't think I've had Puerto Rican food before, and I really enjoyed. I had a lightly breaded and fried fish with a bunch of sides (red beans, plantains etc.) and condiments (vinegar, fresh salsa, hot sauce) - all super flavorful. I really liked the house made vinegar sauce.


Benovia (appt only) - Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. You taste in a house like structure, with a patio, looking out on the vines. Very peaceful and at least that day, the tastings were limited to 2-3 small groups at a time. Mid-range flavor profile. There is a subtle oak influence, strong fruit notes, but also plenty of acidity and tannins. First of the day, so the wines were a bit closed down. Curious how that changes with time.

Gary Farrell (appt only - or maybe only highly encouraged) - Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. You taste out on a patio on a hill overlooking a small valley. Busier, so not quite as peaceful as Benovia, but still relaxing and the patio view is gorgeous. Tasting comes with cheese/fruit pairings. Cheese pairings are well thought out but warning! the fruit will blow out your palate. They do a mix of styles here - some are a bit overblown, but some are really beautiful with strong fruit notes, acidity, minerality etc.

Donovan (appt only) - Misc. white wines and syrahs mainly. Donovan mostly buys their grapes, so you taste at their warehouse facility. Aggressive tannic structure. The syrahs were quite expressive, some more sharp and peppery, other more feminine and fruit forward, still others bacon-y and a bit brooding. It was nice to see the various personalities of syrah. We'll see how they develop!

Best winery for food & wine paired tasting preferably in Sonoma - will consider Napa

Too broad a question, sorry =/ Sonoma county is something like 50 x 50 miles and different areas specialize in different wines. Do you have any sort of wine type preference? Area you want to stay close to?

Birthday Dinner before Shoreline Amphitheater

Second. Traffic in and out of Shoreline is insane.

Good o-toro Sushi in South Bay area?

you could try sushi tomi or sushi sam's

50th Birthday Dinner in SF for Less Than $300

? Cuisine types? Food preferences? Location preferences? (California is a big state)