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First Dinner at Mateo's Cocina Latina

Word spread through the office on Thursday that Mateo was opening that night. We went for dinner. It was phenomenal. I've been in Sonoma County for 20 years and don't remember a more highly anticipated restaurant opening. Mateo's came through in every way. We got there around 9 pm. All but one table was full, as was the bar. We ruefully recognized that this was the first and last time we'd ever be able to walk in and get a table without a wait.

The room is lovely. Melanie posted pictures previously, so I won't recap. I will add that something magical happens when the diners in a restaurant are so happy to be there and have so much affection for the chef. There was a feeling of community in the room. Over the years that Mateo has been in our farmer's markets, and with his pop-up, Tendejon de la Calle, he's created a genuine bond with so many people.

Service was excellent. The various staffs (kitchen, bar, front room, bus, etc) were completely in sync and created a smooth flow. An amazing feat for opening night. The staff seemed as happy and enthusiastic to be there as we were, perhaps also because of Mateo's warm personality. Our server, Luis, was attentive, friendly, and knowledgeable. He made us feel comfortable and at home.

We started with cocktails. Scott Beattie was behind the bar. Both he and Luis recommended we try
his take on "La Ultima Palabra" ("The Last Word") (about $9). If I remember correctly, it was mescal, lime juice, green chartreuse, maraschino liquor, and St. Germaine elderflower liquor. I don't remember any one meal that turned me into a foodie. But I will remember the cocktail that started me thinking about drinks the way I think about food. This was serious. Mr. Beattie, thank you for introducing me to a new world.

My husband and I ordered identical appetizers and entrees. We've learned that an important marriage-extending strategy is to reduce the likelihood of one of us out-ordering the other. That's decreased the number of our arguments by at least 50%. Apologies for the small number of dishes we tried and therefore review.

We started with a salad of jicama, pear, and figs. This was beautiful on the plate. The purple of the figs and the dressing contrasted with the cream-colored jicama and the yellow-green of the pear. I don't remember what was in the dressing, other than tastes of citrus and a "complex" salt. Happy. Perfection. I think this was $10.

We had the "fried fish" at the recommendation of both Mateo and Luis. I think these were sand dabs. This plate was also beautifully presented. We each had two sand dabs, dusted in what tasted like blue corn ground to a slightly-finer-than panko texture. The sand dabs were moist and sweet. They come bone-in and were easy to filet with the skeleton completely in one piece. Each sand dab was paired with a delicious accompaniment. One was a salad of summer-perfect cherry tomatoes. Hard to imagine such a thing, but I liked the other even more; a mayonnaise-based salad of sweet white corn that exploded with flavor. The mayonnaise had a feta-like flavor that I can't further place. The sand dabs had a schmear of a smokey (likely chipotle) aioli on top. There may have been greens on the plate as well. This was $18 or so.

We shared a dessert Luis modestly described as a berry sorbet. Ha! It was a perfecta trifecta of an updated trifle. From bottom to top; a chilled strawberry compote, a delicious crumble, and the sorbet. I don't remember how much this was. Whatever it was, it was worth it and I advise ordering your own. I was a little sad to have to share it.

The entire dinner from drinks to dessert, before tip, was about $87. We thought this was an outstanding value.

What else can I say? I tried not to have super high expectations given that it was their opening night, but I needn't have worried. Have fun!

Emily

From the website: http://mateoscocinalatina.com/opening/

Open for Dinner starting September 16
Dinner hours on Fridays and Saturdays from 5:30-11pm and Sunday-Thursday from 5:30-10pm

Lunch service will begin Monday, September 19 with Brunch starting Friday September 23
Lunch is served from 11am Monday-Thursday and brunch is served from 10am Friday-Sunday

All seating is first come first serve, however on busy nights you may call ahead
to place your name on the waiting list. Please call 707-433-1520.

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Cocina Latina
214 Healdsburg Avenue, Healdsburg, CA 95448

Sep 17, 2011
snarkygirl in San Francisco Bay Area

New in Santa Rosa/Roseland area-"Michoacana Ice Cream and Coffee"

I've been doing recon on this business since the "opening soon" sign went up a few weeks ago. It's in the strip mall on the northwest corner of Dutton Ave. and Sebastopol Rd.

I did a drive-by during lunch on Wednesday. They are open and serving bakery items (homemade cakes and pies) and drinks (coffee and traditional cold Mexican beverages) now and will start serving Michoacan ice creams and paletas in two weeks. I don't know if they are connected to the Michoacan ice cream place in Sonoma. No menus yet.

Stay tuned.

Michoacana Ice Cream and Coffee

1546 Sebastopol Rd
Santa Rosa, CA 95407

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Michoacana Ice Cream
18495 Hwy 12, Sonoma, CA 95476

Sep 02, 2011
snarkygirl in San Francisco Bay Area

Is it Time to Plan a Chowdown at Mateo's?

Hi all,

Emily here, an attendee at our Tendejon de la Calle chowdown last summer in Sebastopol. I called Mateo's as-yet unopened restaurant in Healdsburg tonight. The phone message says they're taking large party and private party reservations for 9/12 and beyond. Would anyone like to have a chowdown there? Are there plans already in the works for one? I have been looking forward to this for so long!

Emily

Sep 02, 2011
snarkygirl in San Francisco Bay Area

Yucatán Chowdown Report: 12-Course Tendejon de la Calle Dinner by Mateo Granados

We haven't stopped talking about the duck enchilada. Heaven.

Jun 19, 2010
snarkygirl in San Francisco Bay Area

El Rinconcito Yucateco - Santa Rosa

I've been to ERY many many times and have loved everything I've ordered. I've especially enjoyed the relleno negro, a delicious thin broth flavored with a yucateca mole sent to the restaurant by the chef's mother-in-law. It's very unusual and delicious. The broth has chunks of chicken in it, as well as a sort of beef and hard boiled egg meatball. The poc chuc is another favorite. Do not miss the panuchos.

The chef is a serious lover of food. Make sure to try the habanero salsa he makes fresh every day. He'll bring a bottle to your table in one of those refillable ketchup/mustard bottles. It's fabulous.

I wish we could join you for your chowdown tomorrow, but we're going out of town. Have a great time!

Jun 12, 2010
snarkygirl in San Francisco Bay Area

Russ & Daughters - Disappointment

MVNYC,

Amen.

When my father-in-law, may his memory be as a blessing, would stay with us while my mother-in-law went out of town to visit the mishpocha, we would have R&D Fed Ex us matjes herring, nova, sable, and pickles to Northern California, to go with the Fed Ex'd bagels from H&H and you never saw such a happy alter kocker in all your life.

Chicken liver you get that day from your Aunt Ruth. Accept no substitutes.

I have never in all my days had a bagel that was close-faced. Sounds like the goyische kop version of a bagel to me.

But what do I know?

Sep 15, 2009
snarkygirl in Manhattan

Casa Mono-Feh

You know, I just don't buy the "you're from out of town and don't understand bumping."

I'm FROM NYC. I grew up here. I lived here most of my life. I'm almost 50. All of my family is still here. I'm here fairly frequently. I GET NYC dining out in all of it's forms. I cut my teeth on NUC dining out in all of its forms. It's not like I've only eaten in places that give you your own zip code. Jeez. Puh-leese. I was NOT born yesterday people. I was born in 1960.

I have NEVER noticed being bumped before. Never. Anywhere. No matter how small the tiny dining room, including the tiniest Chinese restaurants in San Francisco (House of Nanking comes to mind) where you sit on the lap of the person who is siitting on the lap of the person who is sitting on the chair.

And that's not to say I haven't BEEN bumped before. It was just reasonable bumping. Not noticeable bumping. Not in NYC (including Baboo). Not in San Francisco. Not in Europe. Not in Asia. Look forward to being bumped in Africa and South America and will report back when I go.

This was specific intent bumping. Not your average "crowded-bump." This was malice-aforethought bumping. Passive-aggression cum bumping. Head-butt bumping. Bad dog bumping. "YOU are the problem" alpha-dog bumping.

I've been on WeightWatchers faithfully since December 2001. I am not bump-worthy.

As far as the "this is a version of Spain, not Spain" argument goes, I'm sorry, but again, I'm just not buying it. We've had the "version of Spain in Boston. In San Francisco. In friggin' Japan for chrissakes. Casa Mono was BAD FOOD, not a version of Spanish food.

Sep 15, 2009
snarkygirl in Manhattan

Casa Mono-Feh

Transplanted New Yorker here, visiting home from San Francisco. My husband, two friends, and I just had what has to be one of the worst meals we've ever had in NYC.

Not just bad. So bad we giggled as it just got worse and worse and did a slow dissolve into Theater of the Absurd bad, and then we had to stifle howls of laughter when the waiter asked if we would like to see the dessert menu.

So bad it provoked a lengthy discussion of most astounding ratio of culinary anticipation:disappointment experiences and where did this rank? We all agreed, that from a wide variety of zip codes and time zones that this was pretty hard to beat.

So bad that one of my dining companions, once we were safely away, relaxed into the cab seat, heaved a sigh of relief, and said thoughtfully, "That was an assault on all of the senses."

I'm not sure I've ever even made a meal this bad.

One final comment before I get to the food. There were just so many things that were wrong about Casa Mono. So many things to make you uncomfortable. The dark, tiny, crowded room. The constant bumping of the staff against our table and chairs as they walked by. The sound system playing what sounded like a slightly-music infused evening at runway 33R at La Guardia. The fact that six of the ten dishes we ordered came all at once, causing us to feel rushed, as they were served warm. Then the next four arrived altogether as well.

Here is the food in chronological order:

1. Pan con tomate ($5) Unlike some culinary misadventures, I know exactly where this went south. It was prepped well before it was served, so that by the time it got to the table it was basically a soggy, vaguely tomato flavored slice of what may have once been decent bread.. There was no wonderfully fresh tomato taste, even though this is still tomato season. This was a bad sign. If care would not be taken to avoid screwing up something so easy to make so delicious, what next?

2. Pulpo with Fennel and Grapefruit ($13) Far and away one of the most unoffensive things we ordered. The octopus was uninspired but inoffensive. They can mail me the fennel and grapefruit. Apparently, it wasn't available tonight. (I just read this to my husband. He informs me that the fennel was the tasteless jumble of vegetable shavings on the plate. Who knew? I thought it was boiled slighly greenish jicama.)

4. Pimientos de Padron ($9) What does it say about the effort a restaurant is putting out when the only thing that is properly cooked and flavored are a handful of salted pan seared peppers? To me it says, "They are relying on their sprinkling of Battali dust to create a regular clientele of [mostly young] people with far more money than discernment."

2. Razor Clams a la Plancha ($15) "The Augery of the Pan con Tomate" is never wrong. I'm just going to say it. First thing that came to mind. "Wow. I just ate grilled silly putty." Perhaps I was wrong to break my rule of not ordering seafood on Sunday and Monday?

5. Heirloom Tomatoes with Boquerones ($16) Sixteen bucks. Two tiny fillets of bland pseudo-boquerones. You do the math. I'll spend the rest of the night figuring out how much chutzpah you have to have to pass off this totally tasteless fish throttled by far-too-strong olive oil for the impossible marriage of sweet flesh and fish-oil that defines boquerones. Unripe, flavorless green tomatoes made one of their many many appearences in this dish. I'm bitter. I know boquerones. i love boquerones. These were no boquerones.

6. Hudson Valley Pork Croquetas with Green Tomatoes ($15) I'm not a croquette fan. Too reminiscent of all those Mrs. Paul's fishsticks my mom would foist on the babysitter to make when we were kids, but my compadres like them. I tried them. Meh. I will vent my wrath though, on the fact that they were served with a MUSTARDY/MAYO sauce. You cannot do that in a tapas/raciones place. You must think, "diverse, but cohesive."

7. Lamb Ribs with Squash and Harissa ($19) This was truly awful. Awe-full. I was full of awe. How can you screw this up so badly? You screw up the harissa. If you like harissa, do not order this. If you like an incoherent mix of spices that will creepily remind you of the smell of WD 40, go right ahead.

8. Patatas Bravas ($9) Take it from me, if you've had patatas bravas in any one of a thousand unpretentious and stunning tapas bars or restaurants from Barcelona to Sevilla and are jonesing for more, go to priceline.com, bid low, and save yourself from this nightmare. These were, again, truly awful and unartfully presented to boot. Again wtih the WD 40. And to serve Casa Mono's overcooked and chewy potato in San Francisco would get you arrested, no-bond.

9. Chopitos with White Beans and Salsa de Tinta ($15) I looked forward second most to this dish, after the boquerones. It was described as small pieces of cuttlefish over a mash of white beans. Today is a Monday. Perhaps that explains the unmistakeably un-fresh taste and smell of the cuttlefish? The white beans were totally without taste. No garlic. No olive oil. No salt. I never tasted nothing before. Very zen.

10. House-Made Chorizo with Manchego Crujiente ($15) I didn't try this dish. Too scared by this point. Husband's take, "It was a ground meat patty, not a sausage and it tasted burnt."

My husband and I did enjoy an overpriced quorto (1.3333333 glasses) of a lovely Forjas del Salnés Leirana 2008 Rias Baixas Albariño for a whopping $25.

Finally, it was over.

I have never been so relieved, with the exception of Passover Seders hosted by Orthodox relatives, to have been done with a meal.

We tumbled out into the street and caught the first cab for Rice to Riches for some comfort food dessert, and were washed clean of the remnants of WD 40.

Casa Mono is not for people who like to eat good food, in a comfortable setting, that was prepared by people who care about it and you. I'm not sure who it's for. Certainly not anyone who loves Spain.

Sep 14, 2009
snarkygirl in Manhattan

El Coqui-Santa Rosa Puerto Rican

Sixfingers,

El Coqui definitely seems to have an evil twin! Our best friends have now gone four or five times and love it. I've been twice, as noted above. And yet, judging from Bite Club, some people go to the evil twin of El Coqui. Very mysterious. Don't give up though. Maybe you should come with us???? We seem to have good mojo with it.

Jul 18, 2009
snarkygirl in San Francisco Bay Area

El Coqui-Santa Rosa Puerto Rican

Went back again tonight. Food was fabulous and the crew had definitely gotten over the opening glitches.

Husband and I had the special. A slow roasted pork shoulder served with a Puerto Rican style tamale called a pastel. The dough is not made from corn but plaintain flour if I remember correctly. As the Spanish chef (can never remember his name-NOT the dry ice one) says, "A-wow!" Also on the plate was a yellow rice/beans/olives serving and a few fried sweet plantains.

For dessert I had coconut pudding and husband had coconut ice cream over carmelized bananas. "Very nice!"

We got there at 7 pm and had no wait for a table. The wait staff is in the swing. No long waits or pauses. Everything smooth.

Go!

Jul 09, 2009
snarkygirl in San Francisco Bay Area

Chas. Schultz-Sonoma Airport, Windsor eats?

Willi's is not just across the freeway. From Airport Blvd take 101 South to the River Road exit, turn left (east) onto River Road, cross over 101 and turn right (south) onto Old Redwood Highway. It's about a half a mile on the left.

Willi's is just down the street from us. We hardly go there anymore, mostly because the menu doesn't change enough for us and it's way too noisy for me (I'm fussy that way.)

Mocha is just up the street from the airport. It's basically a local-type Starbucks.

Jul 09, 2009
snarkygirl in San Francisco Bay Area

El Coqui-Santa Rosa Puerto Rican

Hi Melanie,

I think part of the build up is because we've never had a Puerto Rican restaurant, at least not in the years I've been here. As you know, we're lucky to have so many good, and a few great, places up, but after you've lived here for a year or two, it gets repetitive and the number of types of cuisines is fairly limited.

I'm happy Abbysinia seems to be doing well. I hope El Coqui thrives here too. Have you been to the Turkish place in Petaluma? Real Donor is the name, if I recall correctly. THAT was HEAVEN.

Jun 24, 2009
snarkygirl in San Francisco Bay Area

El Coqui-Santa Rosa Puerto Rican

Sheesh.

Jun 24, 2009
snarkygirl in San Francisco Bay Area

El Coqui-Santa Rosa Puerto Rican

Sigh. I always forget this:

El Coqui
400 Mendocino Ave.
Santa Rosa, 707.542.8868

Lunch daily : 11 am-2 pm
Dinner daily: 5pm - 9 pm

The "link to a place" windows opened! Here you go!

Jun 24, 2009
snarkygirl in San Francisco Bay Area

El Coqui-Santa Rosa Puerto Rican

Hello Hounds!

Just a brief note, which I hope to add to later when I have more time.

Four of us had dinner at the newly opened El Coqui at 400 Mendocino (NE corner of 5th) last night. I had some concerns due to reviews on Bite Club complaining of long waits, poor service, cold and substandard food, etc, but decided to check it out. Glad I did!

This is the real deal. La deal real! Yay!

I'll skip the room and decor and just go for the food for now.

We had the Pollo al Horno, Palomilla Encebollado, Arroz con Huevos, and the Chuletas. We all opted for fried sweet plantains (you have your choice of that or fried green plantains) and black beans, instead of red. We had a split decision or yellow v. white rice.

The Pollo was tender and flavorful. I didn't taste the steak or pork, but they were big hits. I had the eggs, which were wonderful. Perfectly fried. I cut them up and mixed them into the garlic scented white rice and went to heaven. I have never had such fabulous black beans. There was a small portion of marinated tomatoes, avocados, and onions on the plate. Very fresh and clean tasting. I had cerveza (Corona) and one of us had the molasses soda, which I loved. Prices were very reasonable.

We had a perfect time, but if you need a guarantee of reasonable wait, good service, and hot food, you may want to wait a few weeks until things settle down to be on the safe side, as things seem a bit hit and miss this early in the game judging by BC comments.

But do go!

PS: I can't make the link thing work. I'm in spazz mode. Can someone else do it? Thanks.

Jun 24, 2009
snarkygirl in San Francisco Bay Area

GG's Earth and Surf-Santa Rosa

I'm new to this "Link to a place" feature. Here goes....

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GG's Earth & Surf
630 3rd Street, Santa Rosa, CA 95404

Mar 07, 2009
snarkygirl in San Francisco Bay Area

GG's Earth and Surf-Santa Rosa

Four of us had a first dinner at GG's tonight. It opened a few weeks ago at 630 Third Street, in the former home of Worth Our Weight.

The room has been nicely re-done with some type of faux wood floor, warm colored walls, two banquettes that seat four, and tables a comfortable distance apart from each other. There is a full bar with seating at the bar (no tables) tucked into the alcove that used to house the Sunday buffet and a room divider separating the dining area from the kitchen. The only downside to the room, as always, are the large windows looking out right onto Third Street which could make you feel like you're the goldfish if you were seated in front of one and people were walking by.

GG is committed to being gentle to the environment. The website details how this is implemented. The restaurant prides itself on local sourcing and an excellent representation of vegetarian (the Earth) selections on the menu. The Surf were several fish and shellfish starters and entrees. There are no meats or fowl on the menu as these are too resource intensive to be environmentally friendly.

We started with cocktails; tangerine mojito, traditional mojito, seasonal daiquiri (I think it was some type of citrus), and magarita. All were delicious and did their job. I am always irritated when a bar skimps on alcohol in a mixed drink. Certainly not the case here. I had the traditional mojito, which was perfect. The margarita was not rimmed with salt. Not sure if that was an oversight or just the way they do it there. I'm sorry, I don't remember the cost of the drinks.

While we were waiting for our drinks, we were given a pretty bowl filled with slices of good sour dough bread and butter. This became critical for when we got all the good sauces that came with the food.

Three of us had the special starter, slices of seared yellowtail with shaved fennel, pickled onion slices, and something else that the mojito has erased from my memory. It was lovely to look at and to eat. Three thin square slices of fish topped with the fennel, onions, and a sprigs of an herb, perhaps marjoram? thyme? Couldn't tell as it was hard to get the taste after some pickled onion. The fish was extremely fresh, firm, and tasty. I loved the fennel and pickled onions together. I think it was $7. The fourth diner had the Spinach and Warm Lentil Salad with Feta and Citrus Dressing ($6) from the menu, which was beautiful to look at and described as wonderful.

We all ordered the exact same thing for our entree. I hate when this happens, but no one would cave since we all LOVE striped bass. It's on the dinner menu as Stripped (sp) Bass-Sauteed with Olive Ravioli, Citrus Butter, and Artichoke ($13). Again, the fish was fresh, firm, and tasted wonderful. It was perfectly cooked. Just a bit of crunch at the edges of the skin with buttery and moist flesh underneath. The olive ravioli were good, but not as generously stuffed as I would have liked, nor as delicate in the texture of the pasta, especially at the seams. The citrus butter was perfect. Not at all heavy, just a bit more weight than a broth. One word of warning here. Although delicious, this entree was on the small side, with perhaps three small ravioli, three small (thumb-sized) slices of artichoke, and two very small pieces of fish. I doubt there was more than 3-3.5 ounces of fish per plate, and I've been weighting fish for years as a seasoned member of Weight Watchers. At $13 it is NOT underpriced, but I would have preferred to pay more for a more traditionally sized entree. Could just be me. Next time I will approach my selections with more of a "small plates" thought in mind.

Husband and I had to leave for our movie before dessert so we'll have to catch up with our friends for the report on that.

The service was friendly and unobtrusive. Our server made one error, substituting a regular daiquiri for my regular mojito. The bar comped me for my drink, apologizing for my wait. Totally unexpected and totally appreciated.

GG's is a welcome addition to the downtown offerings. We'll definitely go back and explore more of the thoughtful, enticing menu, which is also available on the website.

GG's Earth and Surf
630 Third Street
Santa Rosa, CA
(707) 528-1445
ggsearthandsurf.com

"Winter Hours" as per the website with extended hours coming in "The Spring"
Sunday Brunch: 10 AM to 3 PM
Lunch: M, W-F 11:30 AM to 3 PM
Dinner: 5:30 to 10 PM nightly except Tuesday
Closed Tuesdays

Mar 07, 2009
snarkygirl in San Francisco Bay Area

Breakfast/Brunch Santa Rosa

Make sure you go to their new location on Hahman Drive.

http://www.chow.com/places/15767

Mar 07, 2009
snarkygirl in San Francisco Bay Area

Breakfast/Brunch Santa Rosa

Worth Our Weight, run by a chef whose entire staff are at risk kids she is teaching to cook and run a restaurant. Fabulous food.

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/461795

Mar 07, 2009
snarkygirl in San Francisco Bay Area

New Dim Sum in Santa Rosa

If you are at all sensitive to MSG this is NOT the place for you. I had a wicked migraine after eating here. They confirmed they use MSG. That was a few months ago, so the MSG-sensitive among us should ask if they are still doing so.

Nov 05, 2008
snarkygirl in San Francisco Bay Area

SF Staycation Day Two-A 16, Lark Creek Inn

Hello Hounds!

A much better food day yesterday. Husband and I had a lovely lunch at A 16. We shared one of the best salad appetizers I've ever had, the "Early girl tomato and cucumber salad with wild arugula, capers and bottarga." Heavenly. Everything was crisp-fresh, flavorful, and balanced. Bottarga is a beautiful saffron colored mullet roe. It gave the salad the most delicate ocean breeze undertone. $10. We also had the wonderful "Marinated san remo and castelvetrano olives," a generous mix of large green and smaller black olives. I've never met an olive I didn't like (that didn't come out of a can) and these were no exception. $4.

We ordered separate pizzas for our mains. I had the Romana - tomato, oregano, garlic, olive oil, anchovies, black olives, Calabrian chiles. It was quite good, but did not reach the level of my personal gold standard, a perfect crust and topping number I had in Milan. Sigh. At any rate, the crust was crisp and chewy around the edges, but the tomato sauce was perhaps a bit too generous, as it tended to soggy-ize the inner parts of the pizza. I had expected whole anchovies, but it looks like paste may have been used instead. This meant the anchovy flavor was more subtle, but still very present and good. $12.

Husband had the pizza Margherita ($14) and opted to have the San Daniele prosciutto added for $4. He ended up deciding that he should have just had the pizza alone, as the prosciutto's saltiness was too much for the Margherita's simplicity.

We very much enjoyed the meal, quiet, comfortable room and good service. We would definitely return.

We drove up to Marin to meet a friend for dinner and chose to eat at the reliably good to fabulous Lark Creek Inn. The night was one of the higher end of the scale experiences. Husband had an unbelievable vegetable soup that tasted like a warm garden. The "Farmers Market Vegetable Soup with Brentwood Cranberry Beans, Heirloom Squash, Early Girl Tomatoes, Basil & Oregano Puree. He's still talking about it. $9

Our friend and I both had a salad appetizer, the "Star Route Farms Green Salad with Organic Almonds, Shaved Cucumbers, Cherry Tomatoes, Breakfast Radishes, Champagne & Tarragon Vinaigrette, Radish Butter Toast. I asked for the walnut vinaigrette that came with a different salad as I'm not a tarragon fan. The Radish Butter Toast was outrageous! $9

For entrees Husband and I had the special, a lovely fresh tuna poached in olive oil (can you poach in olive oil?) on toasted farro, with fresh crispy sweet corn, leaves of tiny Brussels sprouts, and other delicacies. That was absolutely fabulous. I have never had anything less than impeccable fish at this restaurant. $28. A bargain.

Our friend had a salmon dish, with wild Steelhead salmon served over a jumbalaya type stew with chorizo made of shrimp instead of meat, peppers and other things I can't remember. She liked it quite a lot. I don't recall the price.

For dessert husband and I split a berry pastry dish that was low on the fruit. Friend had something with what looked like panna cotta topped with "gelee" that was very good.

Loved the mojito and the special peach and herb cocktail.

Dinner with drinks ran about $75 per person. Worth every bit.

Sep 18, 2008
snarkygirl in San Francisco Bay Area

Sunday brunch in Santa Rosa?

Worth Our Weight is our favorite for Sunday brunch in Santa Rosa.

http://www1.pressdemocrat.com/article...

Sep 16, 2008
snarkygirl in San Francisco Bay Area

SF Staycation Day One-Nikko, Colibri, Slanted Door

Thanks for all of your earlier suggestions for our bi-annual San Francisco Staycation. Today was Day One. We had breakfast at our hotel, The Nikko, which I always enjoy because I love Japanese breakfast. I had a light but filling buffet with miso soup, grilled salmon, rice, selection of pickles, grated radish and nori wraps. I skipped the natto. Some things you just cannot do at breakfast. Husband had the American buffet, lots of variety, but too heavy for my taste.

We had lunch nearby at Colibri. I see this restaurant had mixed reviews on this board, and am in the thumb's up category. While we waited for our starter we enjoyed the delicious corn tortillas (best we ever had, very corn-tasty) with the selection of three salsas, mango/pineapple, tomatillo, and spicy red. Husband had the watermelon agua fresca, which was delicious. I stuck with iced tea.

We split the chicken tamale appetizer. We both really liked it. The masa had a fresh corn taste, the chicken was good, and the sauce was fabulous, especially with a bit of the mango/pineapple salsa on it.

I had the chicken posole for my main dish. It was fabulous. The broth was smooth and flavorful, with a green chili kick to it. The posole and chicken pieces were both good. It was served with a plate of add-ins that included avocado slices, lettuce, radish, chopped onion, and what I think was some dried espozote. I added it all in. It was served with a handful of delicious corn tortilla chips. Definitely a meal if you aren't starving hungry. I'd definitely order that again.

Husband had the pan seared tilipia with a delicious and light tomato sauce, slices of green olives, and capers. I had a bite and thought it was great. Just enough garlic, but not overwhelming. The sauce was not biting, just tomato-tasting. It was served with rice and perhaps two slices of what may have been roasted potato. We both ended up in the clean plate club, too full for the desserts, which looked very good. There was a chocolate cake, a sponge cake, some ice creams, a panna cotta type of dish.

Then disaster struck at dinner. We truly had one of the worst meals we've had in San Francisco, at the Slanted Door. We'd been there before for lunch and thought it was good. Tonight's dinner was so awful, we are never going back.

We were hungry when we arrived so decided to share three dishes, the yellowtail sashimi, the jicama and grapefruit salad, and the corn, green, onion, and mushroom side dish. I ordered a roll for my main meal. Husband had the shaking (or some other action adjective) beef.

The sashimi was NOT fresh. It looked off color and limp. It was losing it's shape. Yuck. The jicama and grapefruit salad would be more aptly termed red cabbage slaw with perhaps three matchstick pieces of jicama and a grapefruit segment cut into eighths. Just plain silly. The corn dish was horrible. We ordered it because the server recommended it as "corn is at the height of the season." It was heavy with oil, the corn was tough, the mushrooms invisible. Insulting.

My roll was a tasteless, bland collection of white rice, cooked flavorless pork, flaccid shrimp, and basil. The peanut sauce it was served with tasted like watered down Jiff. Revolting.

Husband described the beef dish as a few pieces of over-charred beef cubes with sauteed onions, served with a "lime dipping sauce" that was flavorless and oily.

Also, I'm hoping that by tomorrow I'll be able to hear again. LOUD. PS: The cocktails lacked alcohol, but cost $10 each.

Crossing SD off the list. It's dead to me. Buh-bye.

Sep 16, 2008
snarkygirl in San Francisco Bay Area

Healdsburg

3rd Santi's. Worth the extra drive, which is beautiful. Some of the best food in Sonoma County.

Go to Mirepoix if you are with someone whose conversation your don't enjoy. It's so noisy you won't be able to hear them, or your own thoughts for that matter. The food is good, but not outstanding, as it was when it was Mariposa, under different chef/owner.

Willi's is very good for their raw bar. If you are from back east, don't order the lobster roll. It's not what you're used to and won't live up to the memory.

Zin is very good.

Sep 14, 2008
snarkygirl in San Francisco Bay Area

What's New in SF and the East Bay?

Thanks for the suggestions!

Last staycation we hit the usual suspects for dinner, Michael Mina (a favorite of mine), Farallon (I love the decor, but have a 50-50 track record with the food), Bocadillos, Piperade, and Delfina. Went to a fabulous Mexican place in the Mission, promptly forgot the name. Sigh. My favorite sushi in SF is Ebisu.

Since I have a thing for Japanese breakfasts, we often stay at the Nikko and have breakfast there. Otherwise we head for Ti Couz.

I have yet to find my "must go to" noodle, Chinese, dim sum and Thai places in SF.

I'll post on where we end up.

Thanks again for the suggestions.

Emily

Sep 09, 2008
snarkygirl in San Francisco Bay Area

What's New in SF and the East Bay?

Hello all,

Husband and I are taking our bi-annual week long "staycation" to San Francisco next week (we live in Santa Rosa) and are wondering if there are any fabulous finds that have opened in the last year or two. We want to make some additions to our favorites, so we're not looking for oldies but goodies, as we have a good sense of those.

We're looking for all types of cuisine, all times of the day, all manner of cost.

Thanks for the help!

Emily

PS: When things slow down I WILL arrange an Abyssinia chowdown, I promise. In the meantime, if you haven't been (Fourth and Brookwood in Santa Rosa) get thee there!

Sep 08, 2008
snarkygirl in San Francisco Bay Area

Raves for Restaurant Eloise in Sebastapool

Melanie, run do not walk there. There is plenty of light fare. I ate "above the line" (appetizers only) the first time we went, and felt light as a feather when we left.

Sep 08, 2008
snarkygirl in San Francisco Bay Area

Raves for Restaurant Eloise in Sebastapool

We've been twice so far and extremely pleased both times. Favorites were the sand dabs and sardines described above, a supreme salad "Puntarelle, Chopped Egg Vinaigrette, Candied Bacon" (puntarelle, as I learned, is a very slightly spicy green that they grow on site), and a lovely white (white grape and almond) gazpacho (very refreshing), I also ordered the octopus salad one night, and although good, it's not the stand-out the other dishes are. Husband felt the same way about the brandade he had one night.

For dessert we've had a pear crepe drizzled with dark chocolate, which made me weep with joy, and a baba rum that made husband weep with joy (rum = not my thing, baba = my thing.)

I had the bone marrow the first time we went and loved it, but probably would not do it again...just way too many calories. Glad I ordered it once in my life though.

The wait staff, host, bartender, and manager are all warm and welcoming. We felt we were given very individual attention. The restaurant is also warm and charming.

The first time we went we were seated in the small room after the bar. It would be great for small private parties.

Happy to have Eloise in the county!

Sep 08, 2008
snarkygirl in San Francisco Bay Area

Abyssinia Ethiopian Restaurant-New in Santa Rosa

Hi Mimi! and Thanks Rworange!

Mimi, I think your short human will approve, as much as a short human can! I'll post to the nbchowdown group. Let's see if we can get something shaking.

Mar 06, 2008
snarkygirl in San Francisco Bay Area

Abyssinia Ethiopian Restaurant-New in Santa Rosa

Thanks for the placemark.

I found the take out menu. Here's the scoop:

I forgot to mention that Abyssinia serves breakfast on the weekends from 9:30 to 11:30 am. The breakfast menu includes foul, a popular dish made from mashed garbanzo beans, green peppers, and onions, served with yogurt. They also serve things I've never tried; ehilkibe, genfilefel, kinche, kita firfir, and scrambed eggs with vegetables. Look the dishes up on the internet for full descriptions. Prices are from $4.50 to $4.95.

The lentil appetizer we had the night we were there for dinner is called Azifa. It's described as lentils with hints of red onion and green pepper, stirred with mustard and lemon. I didn't notice the mustard taste.

The other appetizers are but'echa, a chickpea dip that sounds like humus with ginger and onion in it. Turns out there is a third appetizer, yetelba fitfit, described as powdered flax seed mixed with pieces of injera and served slightly chilled. Appetizers range from $4.50 to $5.

The menu offered at the table explained the spices used as bases in different entrees. Netir kibe is butter cooked with garlic, ginger, cardamom, coriander, and other spices. Mitmita is made from very hot peppers, onions, garlic, cumin, ginger and other spices. Berbere is less hot than mitmita, and has peppers, garlic, onion and other spices. Awaze is really interesting. It's berbere mixed with honey wine. Our server brought us some to taste. It's a bit like a spicy ketchup with a prominent sundried tomato presence.

The chicken dish I liked so much is the Doro We't, $13.95 for the entree. The menu describes it as "An Ethiopian delicacy. Spicy chicken stew simmered in berbere, garlic, onion, and nitre kibe. Served with hard-boiled egg. I can't say enough about this dish. The stew sauce was so delicious. It has a touch of heat, but not high heat.

The two lamb dishes on our platter were Yebeg Key We't, $12.95 for the entree, and Yebeg Alecha, $12.95 for the entree. It's possible I've got these confused, so if you're trying to choose between them, ask the server which one is really the hotter one. If I've got it right, the Yebeg Key We't was my husband's favorite of the lamb dishes, and I think was the "hotter" of the two. "Lamb cubes stewed with awaze and onion." I thought the heat in this didn't allow the other spices to come through, even though the awaze we tried plain didn't seem as hot. Go figure. The Yebeg Alecha was amazing. I loved the complex spices in this. "Delicately stewed lamb strips seasoned with garlic, onion, turmeric, and ginger."

The notes I wrote on the take out menu for the veggie dishes we had were not extensive, but I can tell I really liked the Miser We't, $10.95 for the entree, "Lentils stewed in a red-pepper sauce and Ethiopian spices." I simply wrote, "Fabulous." It was more interesting than the lentil appetizer, so if you are only going to have one lentil dish, this, in my view, would be the one. As I mentioned earlier, I also really liked the Tikel Gomen, $10.50 for the entree, the cabbage, carrots, and potato dish that's lightly cooked with Ethiopian spices. Although both of these are available as vegetarian entrees, I would prefer the Miser We't if I were having a single dish for my meal.

The collard greens we all loved so much are called Yabesha Gomen, $10.50 for the entree. I can't recommend this dish highly enough. "Collard greens cooked lightly with green pepper and garlic." I've never been able to cook collard greens this well and rarely had them this well prepared at a restaurant. They really are lightly cooked, and so nicely spiced.

The other meat entrees are:

1. Kifto, "Ethiopian steak tartar," $12.95

2. Special Kifto, "Ethiopian steak tartar served in netir kibe and seasoned with mitmita. Served raw or rare with homemade cottage cheese." $13.95

3. Gored Gored, "Tender beef cubes blended with awaze and light nitre kibe. Served raw." $12.95

4. Tibs, "Beef cubes marinated in Ethiopian spices and sauteed with green pepper, tomato, onion and traces of jalapeno. $13.95.

5. Abbyssinia Combo-this is the combo my husband and I had. $19.95

The other vegetarian dishes:

1. Shiro "The Ethiopian Hummus" $10.95

2. Miser Alecha "Lentil stew flavored with garlic ginger and a touch of tumeric and jalapeno." $10.95

3. Yater Kik Alecha "Mild split peas flavored with garlic, ginger, and turmeric." $10.95

4. The Vegetarian Combo for two is "A delightful mix of vegetables: shiro, miser we'et, yater kik alecha, yabesha gomen, and tikel gomen with tomato salad. $18.95

The Eritrean beer we had is named "Asmara" after Eritrea's capital. It's light and refreshing. $5.25. The Ethiopian beer, "Harar" is the same price. Heineken and Corona are $4.50. Soft drinks and hot drinks are $1.75 to $2.

The restaurant also does a traditional coffee ceremony at certain times. I have an Eritrean friend who has treated us to this. It's worth going to.

Hours are:

M-F 11AM to 2 PM and 4 PM to 9PM
Sat 9:30 AM to 10 PM
Sun: 9:30 AM to 9 PM

Let's do our best to give this restaurant a long and prosperous life!

Mar 06, 2008
snarkygirl in San Francisco Bay Area