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Michael Warring-great new restaurant in Vallejo

Just had dinner there tonight for our anniversary and I recommend it highly. It's in the Hiddenbrooke area and completely unexpected for a food desert like Vallejo.
Our dinners were $59 each plus a $30 wine pairing. The place is very small - a bar and about 6 tables. It's just Michael and a server (his wife?) and very intimate and friendly. Let me see if I can remember the menu...
* Pickled carrot puree with Champagne saboyon with fresh greens and mesquite smoke
* Raw yellowfin with house-cured salmon roe. (Excellent)
* Pasta with truffles and slow-cooked egg (Phenomenal but very rich)
* Beef (not sure of the cut - perhaps skirt steak) Perfectly cooked
* Cinnamon donut with salted caramel sauce. Excellent.
* A cup of the best coffee I've ever had, from a local roaster.

The wine pairings were good - a couple were excellent, a couple were not quite on, but overall they were good choices.
Presentation was beautiful and the service was perfect.
This is a "special occasion" place that we will definitely come back to.

Can I save overheated wine?

Our plumbing broke and sprayed water into the house. The cleanup crew put a heater and dehumidifier in the affected rooms and sealed them for three days. The temperature must have reached at least 100F. Unfortunately we had several cases of California reds (and my liquor cabinet) in there.
Can the wine be salvaged? Or do I have the makings for a lot of expensive Boeuf Bourguignon?

Aug 23, 2013
Sisiutl in Wine

Lunch recommendations in Benicia?

There's a new hole-in-the-wall place in the main part of Benicia. It's called the Workshop and serves cajun food. I had an oyster po'boy today that was pretty good.
It is between West 5th and 6th, between West K and J, the actual street name is Claverie - near Bob's gas station.

Where to find fresh crab in Monterey

I will be visiting my brother in Pacific Grove over the New Years long weekend. Is there a place to get live or fresh crab "off the boat" in the Monterey/Pacific Grove/Carmel area? Failing that, is there a good fish monger in the area who will have fresh crabs?

Dec 26, 2012
Sisiutl in California

Vegetarian-friendly restaurant in SOMA

I have a couple of 30-ish guys visiting from our offshore team in India and want to take them for cocktails and dinner next week. I'm looking for a memorable place but casual enough that they won't feel out of place in jeans. We're a mix of vegetarians and omnivores, so it should have some good vegetarian selections. They seem pretty open to any type of cuisine but I'd prefer not to take them to an Indian place since that's where they're from (Bangalore.) This is a going-away/thank you dinner so I'd like it to be something uniquely San Franciscan.
$20-30 entree price range. Walking distance from 2nd/Folsom would be ideal but I will have a car so we can go anywhere.

Thanksgiving dinner in Santa Barbara

We're from the Bay Area but want to meet our daughter (No. Hollywood) for Thanksgiving dinner somewhere in the middle, then send her home Friday and have a romantic spa weekend. We're thinking Santa Barbara or thereabouts and need a recommendation for a nice place that serves a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Recs for a nice spa/resort would be appreciated, too!

Oct 27, 2010
Sisiutl in California

Culinary Tour at Chalk Hill winery

My wife and I took a couple of days off to go wine tasting and stopped in at Chalk Hill, just outside of Healdsburg on Monday. While we were there they told us about their "Culinary Tour" that they were having that afternoon. We thought about it for a few minutes an signed up. If you've ever wondered what it would be like to be fabulously wealthy and have your own vineyard and private chef this may be what it's like!
They hold this every Mon, Thu, and Fri afternoon at 2:30. It lasts 2.5-3 hours The cost is $75 each. As far as I could tell they'll take about 10 people each day (but there was only one other couple the day we were there.)
We all had a glass of wine and then jumped into one of the winery's Suburbans for a trip to the vegatable garden. The gardener showed us what was ready that day and teased us a little about what we might be seeing on our plates in a few minutes. We four-wheeled around the vineyards a bit for some spectacular views of the Russian River Valley - we were blessed with beautiful weather and clear skies and could almost see Mendocino from the ridges. Then on to the equestrian center deep in the heart of the vineyard, where the event center/dining room is also located.
Dinner is a three course event focused on dishes that match the estate's wine using the day's produce from the garden. We started with fingerling eggplant and zucchini in a yellow curry, paired with pinot gris. That was followed by a blanquette de veau and fresh garden veggies, paired with Chalk Hill's justly famous Chardonney (2006). Finally we had "Duck two ways" - a pepper crusted breast and a confit, both sauced with a sangria reduction. This was paired with a 2006 Merlot.
The wine pairings were brilliant, the food was wonderful, the location and ambiance were unbeatable. There were just 5 of us (the quide/host/driver joined us for dinner) and our hostess with the whole, gorgeous room all to ourselves. We finished all three bottles of wine.
After dinner we chatted with the chef, enjoyed the view, and admired the view a bit more while soaking in the luxury. When I'm filthy rich this is how I'm going to live!
After dinner we were back in the Suburban to return to the tasting room for a final glass of desert wine and goodbyes to our new friends.

Synopsis: Intimate, casual, exquisite three course meal in an unparalleled location. This isn't a restaurant - it's a private 3 course dinner with wines prepared for 2-10 people in a semi-private dining room. M,Th,F - 2:30, 2.5 hours. $75 each. They'll do other days and times if you have 6+ people. Reservations are requested but we just lucked into it an hour before it started. The chef and hosts were charming and extremely willing to accomodate any food preferences or allergies.

Chalk Hill Estate Vineyards & Winery
10300 Chalk Hill Rd, Healdsburg, CA

Benicia update

Edit: The name of the new restaurant is LuccaFR (not "Lucca fr") and it's owned by the guy who used to own O'Leary's Pub. The pub will not be reopening.

Chopin Cafe in Walnut Creek/Pleasant Hill: Any good?

I second your recommendation. Chopin is great for good solid Central European comfort food. They don't have a big menu but what they have is great.

Nibblers in Pleasant Hill

He changes his menu every month to highlight a new region, so it's a completely different experience almost every time you go. The dishes are creative and unusual.
It's all small plates so don't go expecting to get a big entree. Have fun!
My wife belongs to a small professional group that has lunch there once a month. It's great for that because it's always new and surprising.

Benicia update

There has been turmoil in the Benicia restaurant scene lately, with several long-established places closing.
Cap'n Blythers, Mike 'n' Gayles, Shoreline, Sala Thai, Mi Mexico are all gone. There's currently nothing to eat on 1st below D St. Char's hotdogs has moved up the street and O'Leary's Pub is gone too. I don't know if they're gone for good or have simply moved. There was also a really nice little coffee cafe in there that's gone now too.

The good news is there's a really good new place - Lucca fr - on E. The waitress said the "fr" means "french" because everyone assumes a restaurant named Lucca would serve Italian food. Actually it's more California that French - lots of pan-seared dishes without heavy sauces or elaborate presentations. The place is contemporary/modern, dark painted walls and exposed brick, and very comfortable. The service was very good. My vote for the best in town now that Sala Thai is gone.
There's a new Indian place called Aroma where Mi Mexico used to be. Haven't been there so I can't say how it is. The Sahara across the street has been there a year or more, serving middle eastern food.
The Rellick Tavern opened in the sleazy old Pastime location. It's not what I'd call a tavern at all, more like a slick Vegas cocktail bar. The owners wanted to create a "killer" bar for Benicia (Rellik/killeR - get it?) It doesn't serve food at all. Expensive/pretentious/no food.

Mike and Gayles/Shoreline is trying to reopen in the Southhampton (Raleys) center (there used to be a pancake place there) but have apparently run into problems 'cause they're still not open.
Sala Thai and Cap'n Blythers both got kicked out by their respective landlords, and both say they're looking for a new location. The landlords also say they're planning on opening a new restaurant in the spaces. We'll see.
The Tannery building has a big banner saying the "Tannery Grill" is coming soon but it's been there a long time.

Upper 1st hasn't changed much as far as restaurants are concerned. The Grand China says it has new owners so I'll give it another try.
The greasy divey lovely old cheeseburger joint out on W 9th is still closed and no signs of activity.

Best restaurants in Medford, Oregon?

The family ate at tapatia last night (the place on on hwy 99 behind the auto dealer) and it was abyssmal. Food was all overcooked, tasteless, touristy tex-mex glop. There were 7 of us and we ordered a variety of dishes including several of their house specials. None of us got sick but we were all disappointed. It's definately not a place we'll return to.

Aug 21, 2009
Sisiutl in Pacific Northwest

ISO: Tillamook sharp cheddar

I can't seem to find Tillamook sharp or extra sharp cheddar in the stores anymore. Do any local hounds know where I can find it in Solano or East Contra Costa?

(I hope I'm not violating the rules by asking an ingredient question. Is there a better board for this type of question?)

Benicia -- what's to eat?

Petal's has closed.
Cliff's Pleasant View burger joint closed on Halloween.
Mi Mexico closed and is now an Indian restaurant
The Union Hotel restaurant is still good but suffering from lack of attention since the owner took over the Liberty Hotel in Pittsburg and has been spending his time there.

Any good choucroute garni in Bay area

It's not quite the same thing, but Chopin in Pleasant Hill has a very good bigos that might scratch your itch if you're in the East Bay.

Nick's Cove in Marshall

Had lunch there yesterday and would not recommend it. The oysters and clam chowder were fine - no complaints, but the special of the day was fish and chips and I ordered that. It was two generous looking pieces of locally caught beer battered cod but when I broke them open I realized the batter had "exploded" so much that the fish was only about half the size of the original appearance. My pieces had curled and floated to the top of the fryer so that the top center was undercooked while the rest was greasy and burnt. For $19 this was criminal.
The fries were OK - equivalent to McDonalds.

Sidebar question - what is the appropriate tip for parking valets these days?

My dinner at ad hoc

It was my birthday so I got to pick where we went to eat and I chose ad hoc in Yountville, having read such raves about their fried chicken. When I made the reservation they told me it was a fried chicken day so I was primed and ready. Alas, there was no fried chicken yesterday but the dinner was still absolutely wonderful. (They serve chicken one day a week, on alternating Mondays and Wednesdays. Maybe my wife will take me back tomorrow:->) But it got me thinking...
Why aren't there more restaurants like this: a single prix-fixe menu that changes every few days. The only two I can think of immediately are ad hoc and Chez Panisse, both pretty expensive. Could something like this work in the $25 per person range?
It seems like this would cut the cost of operation since the kitchen only cooks one item a day, the wait staff has less to do, there would be lower waste, shopping would be easier, and customers might eat there more often since the meal would constantly be different. If there was something like this in my neighborhood I'd be tempted to eat there once or twice a week, assured that I'd always get something new and interesting. One drawback I see is that the chef would need a huge repertoire.
I have absolutely no experience in the restaurant business so I'm sure I sound very naive, but I'd like to know why this isn't done more often.

Sazerac Cocktail

I just bought Peychoud's, Herbsaint, and Sazerac rye at the BevMo in Pleasant Hill, CA, so it's apparently becoming more common. I readyto try my first home-made Saz!

Jul 06, 2008
Sisiutl in Recipes

Benicia -- what's to eat?

Petals has elegant asian-fusion food. It's just up the street from Sala Thai.
The First Street Cafe and the Union Hotel offer high quality "continental" cooking, and Capt'n Blyther's offers mediocre seafood with a great view. Matsuri sushi is very good; its entrance is on the side of a building so look carefully. Sahara offers nicely flavored middle eastern food.
All these places are on First Str.
Here's an earlier thread:

Any good pubs between Winters and the Bay?

I'll be fishing on Putah Creek near Winters this weekend and would like to stop at a good pub somewhere on the way home for some good beer and great burger or BBQ. Any suggestions?

My dinner at Incanto

Mr Lauriston,
My comment about getting just as good for 1/3 the price was mean-spirited. I regret the comment and withdraw it. My companions were disappointed in the dish simply because it didn't match the rest of their meals. I didn't mean to imply that the dish wasn't excellent or worth the money.
Regarding the lamb: is lamb neck a particularly gamey portion? I generally associate strong gaminess with cheap mutton stew; hence the dissonance I felt when getting that taste at a top quality restaurant. Are you saying that gaminess is also an attribute of the very best quality lamb? Like some cheeses, or a durian, is it something to savor and appreciate?

My dinner at Incanto

Last night a friend who lives in Noe Valley invited us out to Incanto. It's been on my list for a while so the wife and I sped right over. We liked it a lot although it's a little noisy for my taste, but all restaurants seem to be like that.
The service was ideal. The servers were attentive without being obtrusive, and extremely knowledgable about the food and wine. Earlier posts on this board had me worried, so I was glad that they seem to have really improved this. Our server was able to steer me to a perfect wine for our meal.
We started with the warm olives (beautiful) and then the signature handkerchief pasta with pork ragu (awesome!) A glass of wine, a big bowl of that pasta, a good movie or game on tv, and I'd be a very happy camper for a long Sunday afternoon.
The desserts were also exceptional. I especially liked the bay leaf scented panna cotta, which was the perfect finish to our meal.
But all this is well-trodden ground. The reason I'm writing is the entrees. To be honest, we all wished we'd skipped the entrees and simply had starters, wine, pasta, and dessert. My wife and friend had the whey-braised pork, which was .... boring? Just a plate of stewed pork. Nicely done, braised with spring onions or ramps, tender and tastey, but I've had pork just as good for 1/3 the price.
I had the lamb's neck. I've never had this before and didn't know what to expect. What I got was a 3 inch slice of the neck column, braised until it was fork tender. My first bite was "ewww, this has aged a little too long." But my brain kept saying a restaurant this nice won't serve food that has gone off. The meat was very fatty and rich, and had such a strong mutton/gamey odor that it was actually unpleasant. My stomach did a few flip-flops on the way home and I actually had some doubts about whether I would keep it down. Is this right? Is lamb neck supposed to be like that and I just ate too much rich food, or did something go wrong in the kitchen?

Chez Soul, Fairfield

Fairfield is stretching the limits of "Bay Area" but there are so few notable places to eat there that's it's worth mentioning this place.
This is a family-run soul food/barbecue place similar to Trinity in Richmond but better.
The non-barbecue food is great. I've had the catfish, gumbo, and jambalya. I'm no expert on this style of cooking but thought it was excellent. Not New Orleans sublime but pretty darn good. The preparation and presentation are always perfect. Lunches are around $15 and include two sides. (I haven't been for dinner.)
The sides are good but nothing special, except the hush-puppies which are crispy outside and creamy inside with no oiliness or harshness. Nice creamy mac-n-cheese, collards, rice and gravy, yams, beans, okra (I've overheard people say the okra is great.)
The 'cue is done off-site by the dad. It isn't bad but not great - I wouldn't go just for the 'cue. The beef had a nice smoke ring, and the ribs have some smokey flavor but it's all been a little chewy. The beef link was lean and good quality; if it's not homemade then it's purchased from someone that knows what he's doing. The sauce is a thin sweet red sauce poured over the meat - ask for it on the side.
Chez Soul is shares an office building with Solano Magazine and the entrance is inside so it's tricky to see from the street. They occasionally have an A-frame sign out front.
It's sparkling clean and very friendly. The staff remembered me after my first visit and always has something cheery to say.
Chez Soul
711 Madison St, Fairfield
(On block north of Texas)
Tues - Sun, 11:00am - 9:00pm

Chez Soul
711 Madison St, Fairfield, CA 94533

Giant New York Pizza - Vallejo, CA

The Napoli's in Vallejo, next to Gumbah's, is much superior to the Benicia (Rose/Columbus) location. They have a bigger menu, the space is cleaner and nicer, and the pizza is a whole lot better. It's the best pizza I've found in the whole Benica/Vallejo area (although I haven't done extensive research)
I never tried Gumbah's pizza (the sandwiches are just too good), and I'm not sure they're still offering it under the new owner

Lunch before heading to Catalina

"Long Beach Downtown"
320 Golden Shore, Long Beach, CA

Apr 10, 2008
Sisiutl in Los Angeles Area

Lunch before heading to Catalina

We're arriving at Long Beach airport on a Friday around 10:30am and catching the ferry to Catalina at 4:00pm, so we'd like to have a nice lunch somewhere along the way. Daughter has a car but doesn't know the area at all. The wife and I enjoy almost anything but the daughter is a new age neurotic eater and won't go for anything too funky (taco trucks or 'cue joints are out.) What can you recommend for a nice, sit-down weekday lunch, preferably not chain (e.g., Applebee's)

Apr 10, 2008
Sisiutl in Los Angeles Area

Keeping Cheese

I received a 5 lb wheel of Stilton for Christmas and it's way more than I can eat in the next week or so. How can I preserve it? I was thinking of cutting it in quarters, wrapping in saran or foil, and freezing it. I have a seal-a-meal vacuum gadget - should I vacuum pack it before freezing?

Dec 30, 2007
Sisiutl in Cheese

BBQ Wedding in Antioch: Can you help?

Boss Hog's on Bethel Island supplied the food for a company picnic a couple of years ago. (We ordered ahead and picked it up, so it wasn't really "catered".) It wasn't the greatest but everyone liked it. I remember the beans and potatoes were especially good for mass-produced food. It's close to Antioch so you can run out there and check it out.

Tourists in Lisboa, Seville, Cordoba, Toledo, Madrid

My wife and I will be on holiday and would like to find places to eat that offer good food that represents the area. We won't have a car, and will be staying in tourist hotels in the central part of each city. Our iteneray includes Lisboa, Seville, Gibralter, Cordoba, Toledo and Madrid.
I apologize for such a broad request and I have searched this board already, but I hope that some of you will have some advice for us. We don't want 5-star eating, we just want good food that represents each area,
Thanks for your help

Oct 17, 2007
Sisiutl in Spain/Portugal

Theme Dinners

Do any restaurants in the East Contra Costa or Napa/Sonoma area offer theme dinners? What I mean is a multi-course dinner with wines matched to each course, usually centered around a seasonal theme (e.g., Oktoberfest) or a special ingredient (e.g., wild mushrooms, beaujolais nouvelle.)
I'm not looking for a multi-course "tasting" menu - I'm thinking something akin to going over to a chef's house for dinner where she's planned the meal from start to finish and we just sit and enjoy while all the decisions are made for us.