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downhill alert: Vallejo's (4th and S) Sacramento

very sorry to say that one of my favorite places for affordable mexican food has gone downhill. have gone twice recently just to be sure, and both times they had slipped in both service and quality. in fact, service was very rude the last time, possibly because i pointed out that their nacho chips were stale (which they did not even bother or offer to replace). and i was not a coupon user, so there was no reason for their chitziness.

i even heard hear them talking loudly in spanish about our table, and it did not make me feel welcome.

anyway, the steak jumbo burrito that i ordered was its usual massive size, but the meat was decidedly not fresh. some of the steak was as hard as beef jerky. my wife had the same comment about her chicken jumbo burrito, and both of us had stomach cramps afterwards.

business seems to have slowed down somewhat the times i visited as well (weekend nights), so turnover is probably not was it used to be and, consequently, things are not as fresh.

hope they recover, because it was a nice place for affordable mexican food.

May 14, 2008
sushidog in California

"Top Chef" Upset: Sam and Elia Pack Their Knives

have to disagree about sam earning respect from the show. while the show allowed him to showcase his considerable culinary skills, it also showed sam to be liar and morally bankrupt. He lied about the timing in clippergate; he lied about creating Marcel's second dish at the finale when he really just help Marcel to calm down; and he has a habit of just standing by when others are being assaulted (clippergate) or thrown under the bus (elia and the cheating accusation).

Also, i just listened to marcel's interview on chow.com and marcel asserts that during the 4 hour prep time, Sam barely helps and actually disappears for an hour to do an interview. Some help. In fact, Marcel praised Michael for being a workhorse during the prep, something the cameras did not show. Also, during Marcel's interview, he does not come off arrogrant at all, and does indeed seem to have the passion for food that great, creative chefs have.

Ironically, i was also rooting for sam and elia to be in the finale, but in the aftermath where their lack of character was exposed, i am glad neither of them were.

Feb 04, 2007
sushidog in Features

Top Chef 2 Finale, lets get the conversation started (Spoilers inside)!

Curious, does the episode show who was responsible for cooking the taro?

Feb 01, 2007
sushidog in Food Media & News

Top Chef 2 Finale, lets get the conversation started (Spoilers inside)!

the job description that best describes mike's performance would be'
"unemployed minimum wage kitchen helper." Sous chef, no way. No even up to line cook quality.

Feb 01, 2007
sushidog in Food Media & News

Do you tip for take out?

I'm in between. I always tip about 10% on take out for particularly large orders, anything that requires a little bit of time or attention from the waiter. I think that is fair, since large or special orders take up more of a server's time. On single orders, like Janet above, i generally don't tip unless it is obvious that the server is relying on tips for a living (such as in hole-in-the-wall places).

Feb 01, 2007
sushidog in Not About Food

Marcel exposed?

gingersweetpie, you seem to know Ilan so let me try out a hypothesis on you regarding Ilan's ultimately successful scheme to get the better of Marcel.

Realizing that Elia was Marcel's sole friend, Ilan took it upon himself to coax by whatever means possible Elia over to his side. The first obvious attempt was when Ilan moved into Elia's room and prompty suggested to Elia that Elia's team blame Marcel if the team lost. Elia refused then.

It is not shown, but though the next episodes, Elia and Ilan seemed to form a bond, perhaps culminated when both decide to shave their heads and after Elia had ignored Marcel's pleas for help when being held down by Cliff in the head shaving incident. Fast forward to the plane trip to Hawaii and Elia joins in the Marcel bashing, and then to the finale part one, where she is persuaded by the boys to accuse Marcel of cheating.

Having lost Elia as a comrade, Marcel must then turn to Sam as his sous chef selection. And Sam in turn persuades Marcel to pick Mikey over Mia. Had Ilan not been successful in alienating Elia from Marcel, he probably would have chosen her as his teammate, as he did on a prior occasion, and really, as pointed out elsewhere, it was Elia's sous chef skills that help Ilan win as much as anything. True, Sam was of some assistance to Marcel, particularly with the save. But I have to wonder, if Elia were the Sous Chef, she no doubt would have recommended Mia, and maybe Elia might have been able to talk Marcel out of the plain salad dish, or at least enhance it. And Mia would have been much better for Marcel than Mikey, who as I said elsewhere, acted like a minimum wage kitchen helper rather than a sous chef.

this is all conjecture, but i would suggest that a key to Ilan prevailing was alienating Elia from Marcel. For this, he truly deserves the title of top conspirator.

Jan 31, 2007
sushidog in Food Media & News

Top Chef 2 Finale, lets get the conversation started (Spoilers inside)!

totally agree with you. If not for Elia coming up with the dessert centered around Elan's bay leaf, who knows what Elan would have concocted. And, as you pointed out, Mkey was a worst choice for Marcel. Mia would at least have been a morale booster, and i am sure, an better contributor to the effort. Sam, to his credit, did try his best to help Marcel, it seemed, during the prep and cooking time, though he did not hesitate to throw Marcel under the bus for being a disorganized leader. Still, I don't think that Sam undermined Marcel during the prep and cooking stages, and it is unfortunate (and immature) that Marcel hinted during the Bravo webcast that there was a possibility that Sam might have.

But tsk tsk on Sam for taking all the credit for the save. Granted, he helped to steady Marcel when the fish could not be found but he did not create the dish as he claimed. I wonder it that misrepresentation might have swayed the judges in Ilan's favor, given that initially it was said that both dishes were equally liked.

But back to Mikey--it would have been better for Marcel had Mikey stayed in Lodi. He appeared to be of marginal help during prep and cooking, acting more as a minimum wage kitchen helper than a sous chef.

On another point, i am a bit surprised the judges let Ilan get away with his claim that he thought of everything on the fly; wonder how they feel now after seeing that the first course he absolutely had to use his preserved baby eels and had to use his bay leaf in the dessert. As someone commented elsewhere, maybe it takes a bit of dishonesty to be a top chef. too bad, and very sad.

Too bad Marcel did not execute better..

Jan 31, 2007
sushidog in Food Media & News

Top Chef 2 Finale, lets get the conversation started (Spoilers inside)!

I am sure Marcel wishes Mikey had stayed in Lodi. For a guy who was supposed to be cool and laidback, Mikey was the total non-professional. Frankly, Marcel probably showed poor judgment in picking Mickey, but was encouraged to do so by Sam. Hindsight is 50-50, but I wonder if things would have been different if he had chosen Mia.

Jan 31, 2007
sushidog in Food Media & News

Top Chef Backlash [Spoilers in Post]

I hope some of the famous guest judges/chefs that lend their name and thus credibility to the show decide tor boycott this farce that has become Top Chef.

I was really disappointed in the show this seaon, with frankly, none of the contestests worthy of the title (unlike Harlod last year). Ilan played it safe all season, cooking recipes from his job. Top Chef is supposed to be about leadership, which granted, Marcel also lacks, but the only thing Ilan lead was the attacks against Marcel. I think they should have disqualified everyone and donated the $100,000 to charity as a message to future contestants.

Hopefully, the producers of Top Chef will read some of this public condemnation and not serve up so much BS on the show next year (more cooking, less drama-BS). However, the BS format is apparently successful and, thus, they may serve up more of the same. If so, count me out.

Jan 31, 2007
sushidog in Food Media & News

"Top Chef" Upset: Sam and Elia Pack Their Knives

After listening to Elia's and Sam's interviews on Chow, I have to say that both are morally bankrupt in contending that the Cliff's wrestling of Marcel to the ground and holding him down was "just a joke" and nothing more. It was a flat out assault, for which Cliff as well as BravoTV could be held liable for lots more that $100,000. And for Sam to say that Elan and Elia had shaved their heads before the incident--well, i guess that was a convenient lapse of memory.

Anyway, I really hope Marcel wins on the merits, and not by some default or artifice-- that would really diminish the credibility of a show that has slipped a lot from season 1 (except for Padma, who is an improvement over Ms Billy Joel).

Also, I:
--agree that Elan is a major tool for manipulating Elia into backstabbing Marcel. I wonder how many phone calls occurred during the 2 month hiatus between the two of them that caused such a distinct shift of Elia's position of neutrality into one of a co-conspirator. Or is there more?
--Agree that Elia is too weak in character to run a kitchen, with her penchence for quitting at the first signs of adversity and for being the sucker for Elan and Sam.
--Agree that Sam is definitely passive-aggressive, and is just as smarmy as Elan, only he is more deft at it than Elan.
--Agree that the producers wanted Elan in the finale instead of Sam for the added drama.
--would be very disappointed if Elan won, because it would justify (to him and others) his smarmy behavior.
--Hope that Marcel is not "the elitist" sh*t that others say he is. If so, I hope all the judges get food poisoning in the finale and disqualify everyone.

All in all, there has been too much bs on the show this year; in fact, i may just watch the last five minutes to see who won before deciding to invest the entire hour to watch the entire program.

Jan 27, 2007
sushidog in Features

Slocum House in Fair Oaks (Sacramento area) means slow coming food

I've been frequenting Slccum House off and on since Paul Alexander (now at the Firehouse) was the head chef in the early 90's. And I actually enjoy the direction of the current menu with its asain cuisine influences in some of the selections.

Unsure if I would go back, given the fine dining alternatives available (Waterboy, except it does not have the outdoor patio atmosphere, Biba's). Foodwise, maybe if someone posts a postive report on this board. Service-wise, very doubtful, Atmosphere, the outdoor patio with its rock amd water sculpture, that might be the main reason. however, with with its entrees ranging from $25 to $36 and starters from from $10 to $13, I will probably resort to use of an entertainment book coupon to hedge my bet. (No, we did not use a coupon this last outing>)

If the manager had comped us in some way, I probably would have felt that he at least was was making an attempt to maintain goodwill. But, then again, his performance was par for the course for our evening at Slowcome House. It will forever maintain a place in our parables of dining horrors (because like your occations, it was a spacial event dinner and the server knew it).

Sep 19, 2006
sushidog in California

Slocum House in Fair Oaks (Sacramento area) means slow coming food

Maybe it was bad night or their kitchen staff was understaffed, or their server wasn't fully trained, but my friend and I just had a terrible dining experience at Slowcome House.

To make a long story short, one hour and ten minutes after we were seated, we were just being served our soup and salad course, after we had already expresed our dissatisfaction at the very slow service and indicated our intent to leave. Before that, we had to ask about our starter course (after about 50 minutes), And earlier than that, we had asked for sparkling water and got tap. We were served hard bread, without butter, and had to ask for that. And the bread plates were cleared even before we were served our soup and salad. After getting the starter course and waiting some more for the soup and salad, we decided enough was enough and asked for our check. They then quickly came out with soup and salad, and the manager came over and apologized, and did not offer any comps for the inconvenience and ruined evening. And the food?
The shrimp bisque was way too peppery (too much cayenne?) and my friend didn't even touch the salad. The crab cakes, though, were very good, with nice firm lumps of crab meat without the overuse of bread crumbs as a filler.

Still, a ruined evening and a ruined reputation.

Sep 18, 2006
sushidog in California

dim sum in Sacramento suggestions please

I'm with Hewn. King's is totally old. A reasonable alternative I've found is King's Palace on Stockton. A friend recommended it, and it was very reasonable in price, maybe 15% less than New Canton. Quality was good to very good, much better than King's in West Sac, though not across the board as good as New Canton (haven't been there in since May, so I can't say it is if new ownership has changed quality), but, alas, not even the variety of New Canton. Still, for basic dim sum, a reasonable alternative (Caveat: I might have detected a bit of msg in their selections; I will have to check the next time I eat there.)

Sep 18, 2006
sushidog in California