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amydeastbay's Profile

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Dunkin Donuts coming to the Bay Area

Yuck! I lived on the East Coast (Boston/New York) for a good part of my life and don't miss Dunkin Donuts at all. Both the coffee and donuts just taste like sugar. Most of all, I hate the idea of their "regular," or coffee with tons of cream and sugar.

5 Days in London before heading off to Paris. I need help!

I stayed at the Hoxton in May and can vouch for the food there, at least at the lobby-level cafe. It would definitely be a good lunch choice at a reasonable (for London) price. Although we didn't have time to try this other one, there's also a new restaurant called Jar Kitchen on Drury Lane, about two short blocks from the Hoxton, that looked appealing and has had positive reviews in the local press. I believe the people who run it previously worked at Ottolenghi.

Jun 17, 2015
amydeastbay in U.K./Ireland

Wexler's: excellent service, unique tastes [San Francisco]

So sorry to see it go. I always enjoyed the food and had a chance to get acquainted with the owner. The place was fairly quiet the last few times we've been there on a Saturday night, but I always hoped the weekdays made the restaurant worthwhile. I'll definitely miss Wexler's!

Looking for a place for a light lunch in Sonoma (town) that is not girl and the fig

El Molino is great, but the last time we went there the kitchen was overwhelmed. We ended up waiting for nearly an hour to get our food, which was simply fish tacos and a tamale plate. It ended up feeling like an ordeal to have lunch there, making me reluctant to return soon.

Looking for a place for a light lunch in Sonoma (town) that is not girl and the fig

There's a wine and cheese shop inside one of the courtyards in Sonoma that might be an option. I just checked the name (Sonoma Wine Shop and La Bodega), and the menu includes salads as well as soup, pasta, and cheese. We shared a local cheese plate there (modest enough to qualify as a light lunch) and sat at a table outside. The setting and service were pleasant.

5 Days in London before heading off to Paris. I need help!

I was in London in May and highly recommend Lyle's. This was our favorite meal there and, contrary to some posting reporting meager servings, the meal was quite generous. Beyond the five courses listed, you get extras--in our case, a plate of homemade charcuterie and another dish of grilled asparagus. Each was easily an appetizer in itself.

We also went to Portland, but for lunch. Again, I recommend it for interesting and fresh food, although it didn't quite equal Lyle's.

We ate at Dishoom on Upper St. Martin's for lunch, not breakfast, but I imagine you should expect crowds. Even when we went for a late lunch (nearly 3 pm) on the day we arrived, the room was full. I thought the food was good but not as exceptional as its awards might suggest.

We didn't visit Harwood Arms this time but enjoyed it on an earlier trip in 2011.

As for Le Pain Quotidien and Paul's, those are both international chains. I'm sure you can do better in London, even for a quick meal.

Jun 15, 2015
amydeastbay in U.K./Ireland

Duomo or La Madia in Sicily?

I was in Sicily in May, and although I didn't go to either of the two restaurants you mention, I can recommend Accursio in Modica, which is in the vicinity you describe. The chef was previously at the Michelin-starred La Gazza Ladra in Modica, which has closed since his departure to open his own restaurant. The food was creative and flavorful, the service polished but warm and unfussy. Accursio has a website with current menus. The chef's creativity was also featured in a BBC series about Sicily a few years ago, so there's online video available if you'd like a preview of the chef's creativity (not on the BBC website but accessible if you search for it).

Jun 15, 2015
amydeastbay in Italy

Dinner Tuesday evening (8PMish) somewhere near SFO?

We recently went to Delfina Pizzeria in Burlingame before a flight at SFO and enjoyed our meal. In fact, the food and service were better than we'd experienced when we went to the location in the Mission. There's free parking and a Caltrain station down the street (Burlingame Avenue). I don't know how busy they get at 7 pm on a Tuesday, but it's a fairly large space with extra seating outside either out front or on the back patio.

Moving to North/East Bay

I lived in Albany for 9 years and now live in Rockridge so feel I can comment on both neighborhoods. In terms of area school districts west of the Caldecott Tunnel, I would rank Albany second to Piedmont. People in Albany care deeply about the schools and willingly and repeatedly vote to tax themselves to support education. Families pay a premium for tiny houses just to have access to the schools. In terms of food in the area, Solano Avenue, which covers areas of both Albany and Berkeley, offers some Chowhound favorites such as China Village, Zand (a Persian deli), and Ajanta. There are many other restaurants of varying quality along Solano as well.

Rockridge has more upscale dining choices than Albany plus proximity to Temescal restaurants. In terms of schools, I know many people with children in elementary schools who seem happy with their options. Everyone appears to be assigned to the closest schools, either Peralta or Chabot Elementary. I also have a neighbor who seems happy with Claremont Middle School.

Dopo > Palmento a Dopo [Oakland]

I'm also going to Sicily soon and wondering whether you could let me know the names of the places you've described--they sound great, and I think we have a similar itinerary (Siracusa, Etna, the Baroque towns, and the southwest but no Palermo or Catania). I've done my research, but I'd love to have recommendations from a fellow Bay Area Chowhounder. Thanks!

Will also comment on Dopo Sicilian vs. Sicily when I return.

2 Days in Berkeley

I've been to many of the places on your list and the ones you mention in Oakland. In answer to your questions:

I've never found an online menu for Ippuku either, but the food is very good there if you're looking for izakaya with a Berkeley flavor (high-quality local ingredients).

Gather is nothing like Bar Tartine. It has moved on from its initial, more creative incarnation to a more typical, less interesting restaurant with nice salads, prices that seem higher than they should be for the setting, and middling pizzas.

Tigerlily is new. There was a review in the East Bay Express a couple of weeks ago that praised a few things but indicated that prices were often higher than they should be. The place seems lively on a Saturday night, empty on others.

As for the other places you mentioned, I definitely recommend Comal as a lively place where you can get Mexican food with Berkeley-quality ingredients. Could be spicier overall, but interesting preparations that could later fit a student budget if ordering is done carefully. Of the Indian places you listed, Vik's Chaat is the one to visit for its spicy food and casual setting. I occasionally like the wraps at Chaat Cafe if I'm in the area, but that's all I'd order there. Cafe Colucci is my regular spot for Ethiopian food--it's tasty and the people who work there are friendly. By the way, this restaurant is in Oakland, although it's not far from the Berkeley line or campus.

Speaking of Oakland, I love both Hawker Fare and Ramen Shop. Both are consistently busy, but you can make a reservation at Hawker Fare on OpenTable. Ramen Shop involves a long but well-managed wait unless you arrive when the place opens.

I just went to the latest incarnation of Plum, which was okay but heavy on fried foods. Haven't been to the new version of Haven yet, but I'm hoping the service has changed along with the food (it's been awful the past couple of times I was there). The new fixed-price format is well beyond a typical student budget.

A place not far from campus that has been particularly strong lately is Corso, on Shattuck. The menu changes regularly, and my experience with both the food and service has been positive.

If you're interested in barbecue (or beer) near campus, Perdition Smokehouse is another idea.

Sichuan Peppercorns & Chili Bean Paste in East Bay? SF?

I just saw Sichuan peppercorns at the Oakland Spice Shop on Grand Ave. across from Lake Merritt yesterday. Very convenient to Berkeley and a good place to find almost any spice. Their blends are particularly good.

Is Frances regularly so difficult to book?? [San Francisco]

I've never had a problem booking a table at Frances on OpenTable on the day reservations open (two months ahead), even though I usually go there on a Saturday night. In fact, I recently forgot to book until the afternoon and still got a 7 pm table for a Saturday in October. Perhaps I've been successful because I'm looking for a table for just 2 people?

Updated Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market Recommendations [San Francisco]

Are you asking about places to eat inside the Ferry Building or outside at the market itself? Inside, the salads, soups, and sandwiches at Il Cane Rosso are good and take advantage of the seasonal produce. It's also possible to get indoor or outdoor seating there. Hog Island is good and has expanded but still has waits. I also like Delica if you're in the mood for lighter Japanese food. Outside, there are several good choices but these usually require waiting in line and finding seating can be a challenge. That said, I like Namu's Korean tacos and okonomiyaki, everything is good at Primavera (Mexican), and I've enjoyed some of the open-faced sandwiches at San Francisco Lox. I also agree with Melanie that Cremeux ex Machina gelato is excellent. They use ingredients from the market in many of their flavors. I'm less enamored of Humphrey Slocombe, and the line for ice cream there has been long every time I've walked by.

stone fruit 2014 bad season?

I go to the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market on Saturdays, and the peaches and nectarines from Tory Farms have been delicious. Good texture and very sweet, especially the white varieties (specific varieties vary from week to week). I find that if you leave them out of the refrigerator for a day or two, they end up being absolutely perfect.

Help us Choose: Plum/Homestead/Oliveto [Oakland]

I'd recommend skipping Homestead. Although it's received excellent reviews, I found the food was only okay. In particular, a scallop entree I ordered was surprisingly lacking in both its combination of ingredients and cooking technique. Placing so-so slices of raw Asian pear on the plate with the pan-seared scallops didn't seem to add anything to the dish. I started with a soup, which was thin and unexceptional. I can't even remember more than that about it. Someone else at my table ordered an appetizer that included badly burned bread. I'd been looking forward to trying Homestead, but I came away feeling no desire to return.

Chino - guest vendor at Saturday's Ferry Plaza market in SF

I've been there two Saturdays in a row and tried everything except the chicken wings. The cucumber/avocado/seaweed dish was stronger the first time around, although I we may have had the very end of the supply the second time, when it seemed softer and more pickled (they'd already run out of the slaw on our second Saturday). The dumplings were tasty although a little thick-skinned. The soup was spicy and more substantial than it first appeared (especially at $10). The mixture of ingredients added just before serving definitely enhanced the flavor. I asked about the ingredients but unfortunately can't recall what they were, although dried shrimp and some form of pork were definitely among them.

For all you AQ lovers: TBD [San Francisco]

I also enjoyed my meal there a lot. In fact, I give TBD the nod over AQ, where my meals have been uneven and the service has seemed to worsen each visit. In contrast, our server at TBD was [enthusiastic and helpful, and everything we ate was both interesting and flavorful. The carrot dish, the scallop ceviche, and their version of a dolma (chard/feta/farro) were particularly notable. People at the adjacent tables also seemed very happy with their meals, and the dishes they ordered that we didn't looked great, too. Obviously, I disagree completely with the negative review in SF Weekly!

Caravaggio Gelateria Italiana, Downtown Berkeley - any reports?

We were walking by soon after they opened and decided to walk in. The person behind the counter offered us samples of a few gelato flavors (including a balsamic fig) as well as a taste of a fig sorbet. As I recall, everything we tried was fairly good, but the fig sorbet was so good that we ordered it.

Anderson Valley wineries

Just got back from tasting in the Anderson Valley. We tried some that were new to us: Drew, Baxter, and Knez. Based on what we tasted this weekend and in past visits, Knez was far and away the best. The winemaker is also involved with Ant Hill, and his capabilities show well in the Knez pinot noir and chardonnay, too.

Jul 29, 2013
amydeastbay in California

Best intimate French or other yummyspot in SF for a nice birthday dinner.

L'Ardoise just north of Market Street on Noe in SF (near the CPMC Davies campus) would be an option if you definitely want French. I haven't been there for awhile but have enjoyed my meals there in the past. The atmosphere is cozy/intimate, the staff is French, and the food is fairly traditional bistro style. Not sure that they do wine pairings.

Seafood For One; State Bird Provisions [San Francisco]

Based on th Block and Tackle menu, i'd say Local's Corner in the Mission would be most like it in SF and satisfy your search for a seafood dinner. I've only been once, but I liked the food, room, and service. Tight space but charming and tasty.

Lunch spots between San Fran and Sonoma

Unfortunately, the heart of Sausalito has a lot of bad food primarily geared to unfussy tourists. There are a few exceptions--for example, I thought Poggio was fine even if it didn't strike me as worth seeking out if I wasn't already in Sausalito--but my favorite lunch spot in the area is Fish. It's just north of town on the water and serves a variety of sustainable seafood.

Cremeux Ex Machina - California style gelato at SF Ferry Bldg Farmers Market on Sat - it's Yummy!

I've eaten the blueberry and the basil gelato and had tastes of a few of the other flavors (they change regularly). The texture was creamy without tasting fatty, and the flavors were fresh and true to their names. I definitely recommend trying it.

FYI, they're also at the Temescal Farmers Market in Oakland on Sundays.

Open July 4th

Thanks for checking. I did call again, and you're right: They are open. They also had more times available than shown on OpenTable. I'm not sure whether they changed their minds or the person I spoke with initially was misinformed, but now I'm all set.

Jun 25, 2013
amydeastbay in Los Angeles Area

Open July 4th

Yes, I saw it included as an available reservation on Open Table but called to be certain and was told that it wouldn't be open on the 4th. I actually made a reservation on Urbanspoon for Superba Snack Bar a few days ago, but now it isn't shown as open on the 4th. Neither of these sites seems to provide accurate information for this date, which is why I asked about other options.

Jun 24, 2013
amydeastbay in Los Angeles Area

Open July 4th

I made a reservation on Urbanspoon at Superba Snack Bar for July 4th, but now it appears it isn't open on the holiday. Open Table doesn't seem to provide reliable information either; I saw Tar & Roses listed as open on the 4th, but I called, and this restaurant also isn't open on the 4th.

Does anyone know which restaurants with interesting food and high-quality ingredients are open on July 4th, or is there someplace I should look to get accurate information?

I'll be visiting LA from the Bay Area, so I need to eat somewhere good! Location is flexible. Thanks for recommendations.

Jun 24, 2013
amydeastbay in Los Angeles Area

eliminate 3 out of 5; final itinerary decisions for 3 night stay

I have to disagree on the AQ vs. Commonwealth. I definitely find the food at Commonwealth more consistently interesting and flavorful, plus the service at Commonwealth is far, far better than at AQ. I've been to both several times and like them both, but AQ has yet to reach the level of Commonwealth. When I was there a few weeks ago, the servers bumped into me repeatedly while rushing by, our initial server went AWOL for most of the meal, other servers weren't informed enough to place the right dishes in front of the right person, and at one point one our entrees were delivered to the table behind us before the server realized this was a mistake. The food itself was a mixed bag; my softshell crab was ample and excellent, while my husband's fish (I think it was seabass) was tiny and very simple in both its taste and presentation. In contrast, our last meal at Commonwealth was strong across the board and our visiting friend--an adventurous eater--thought it was fantastic, too.

Mayday, mayday, grayelf on a collision course for SF Bay Area in... May

You are correct that Reveille is in a permanent spot with counter seating and a couple of tables. It serves both breakfast and lunch at its new location, and I've been impressed with the sandwiches and salads. Most recently, I had a grilled chicken banh mi that was quite flavorful. The salads on an earlier menu were also tasty and interesting: quinoa with persimmon and goat cheese; roasted carrots, cauliflower, and radicchio; farro with roasted brussels sprouts. They're taking a lot of care in the preparations and seem genuinely pleased to know that their customers are enjoying what they serve. Last time I was there, I wanted a sweet afterward, but the cookies I'd seen earlier were gone; I was told they were baking a new batch that would be ready in 15 minutes, so it's clear that they're baking there, too. I recommend the place if you're looking for more than coffee.

Oahu Trip Report

After posting my Kauai trip report, I thought I'd also post one for the Oahu portion of my trip, which included much more interesting food.

My favorite meal was dinner at Lucky Belly in Honolulu. The location is a somewhat sketchy street in Chinatown, but once inside, everything is great. I had the shrimp and kimchee ramen and ended up telling the manager/owner that it was one of the best bowls of ramen I've eaten anywhere. Even though we ate at the bar, the service was excellent. The cocktail was quite good, too.

We also had dinner at Restaurant Wada (a recommendation I found on this board), Town, and Salt Kitchen and Bar. We tried the tasting menu (the "course") at Wada, and I have to say this was the first time I ever liked any dish with tongue in it. The meal as a whole included a little more meat than I normally choose, but I particularly liked the cold noodles with the sesame sauce and ground tongue in it and the early seafood-based courses. The dessert of coffee jelly with banana cream was also far more appealing than it sounds. I'd recommend this Japanese restaurant to anyone in Honolulu. I was happy, though, to eat more veggies when I went to Town. The salad with baby mustard greens was both delicious and beautiful. The one slight disappointment at dinner time was Salt; I'd had high expectations after reading about it in Food & Wine magazine and found the food perfectly fine but not exceptional. The best dish by far was the gnocchi.

Our lunch time travels took us to the Heeia Pier General Store and Deli, which was a fun spot away from everything except the ocean. The mahi burger was messy and good, and the ahi cakes that came with rice and salad were also tasty if a little overcooked. We also tried the Whole Ox Deli in Honolulu one day and were surprised that the veggie pakora sandwich was far better than the burger, which had less flavor and a softer, greasier quality than we had hoped. The veggie sandwich could have used more of a kick from the harissa listed as an ingredient, but it was served on excellent pita.

We'd also hoped to go to Eat the Street and wandered through the trucks/stands as they were setting up, but our visit coincided with a rainy period in Honolulu, and the weather was too unsettled to make that a Friday night option.

Mar 08, 2013
amydeastbay in Hawaii