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Another Ho hum food experience in Palo Alto

Them's fighting words, comparing the mid-peninsula to Danville/San Ramon/Walnut Creek. I haven't eaten in that area for a long time (worked in WC until about 93), but I'm pretty sure you're wrong.

Or, I hope you're right, and that area has improved to the point of level with the peninsula.

Another Ho hum food experience in Palo Alto

Oh, I don't think it's as bad as a "deadzone". Madera, Flea St, Village Pub, Mitsonobu are off 280 and between Los Altos and San Mateo.

In RWC I truly enjoy Vesta and Martin's West and Broadway Masala and all the taco joints. There's a Refuge in Menlo Park. There are tolerable sushi joints in Menlo Park. San Carlos has only a couple of places we go regularly, about the same as RWC.

Another Ho hum food experience in Palo Alto

Most Americans would grumble about the walk from California Ave Caltrain to Da Sichuan. I know it's not REALLY that far, but it's not that close, either.

Another Ho hum food experience in Palo Alto

I find a pretty big difference in menu. Amber has a lot of more classic northern-style, or "standard indian menu", but really really well executed. Amber Dara is continuing the Junoon ( previous joint ) tradition of more interesting and unusual indian dishes, cocktails.

Does anyone else have slow service issues with Dhara ?

Another Ho hum food experience in Palo Alto

Nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded.

Another Ho hum food experience in Palo Alto

Agreed, went there a few days ago, very nice to sit outside. Fusion-ish in a good way.

Another Ho hum food experience in Palo Alto

I suggest some future trip, one night hopping the train down to MV. It's really just a hop-skip by train, almost like a walk, and you can perambulate the entire street.

I miss andale too. Yes, steam's in their old spot, and they've maintained a bit of the open patio. Order toward the spicier end of their menu - there's some kind of schechuan chicken which is not hot but simply tasty. Since the chefs are from Taipan they seem to know their business - but it is on the shanghai side and fresher and lighter.

Gravity is owned by the Reposado / Creamery people, so if Reposado goes downhill, we will have to worry about the whole group - but I haven't found any problems yet.

Based on what you like, you should try Local Union and report. ( Trendy Alert: LU has a "bacon bar" with 5 different suppliers of bacon, where as an appetizer you can get just two slices - or as an entree, all 10, and essentially make your own BLT ).

The "andale replacement" is Pancho's, down on Lytton, and their carnitas is not bad. I prefer Andale.

I have no idea what you mean about Delfina being "too much work". But to each their own.

The problem with the burmese places is they are making a lot of gloopy-sauce dishes, which, reading your post, you won't like. You can order carefully around them, or just avoid those joints.

Places I don't like: tacolicious, which is worth a try but you won't like it, curry up now, something's just unusual about their food in not-a-good-way, umami burger ( you call that a burger??? ). I suspect sushirito is the same. These are all recent imports ( like delfina ) generally from SF's "trend areas" ( umami from LA hit the marina first, then PA ).

Another Ho hum food experience in Palo Alto

What's keeping you in Palo Alto (by which I mean downtown)? It's well known there's no "wowing" food there. You should be happy if you get a pleasant meal. It's getting worse, too. What other towns can you get to? If you can hop a train for a few minutes, there's a few good places near many train stations. $10 of Uber gets you places like Da Sichuan, Flea Street.

I disagree on Palo Alto Sol but agree on GoldAngl95's notes. Oren's is CROWDED these days - even at 10pm++.

Local Union 271 is hip right now. I doubt it would wow you, but it's on the upper end of a sad lot.

Many like Evvia. I find it a bit pricey for simple food well executed, but it is well executed.

Tamerine is often mentioned. I like eating at the bar or shared table, a couple of appetizers. The menu never changes so I haven't been back in a long, long time.

Zola has good notes --- one of the few places I haven't been.

If you like wine, you might have missed Vino Locale - which is not what it once was perhaps, but a pleasant outdoor evening place for a light bite.

Pizza Delfina has its plusses. Again, not wowing.

Coupa Cafe isn't bad. Get the arepas or the burger.

Siam Orchid? Ha. Taiphoon? Ha ha. Taipan - passable, it is actual chinese, but I prefer Steam (same owner, less stuffy).

The two burmese places sometimes give a decent dish. Ask for spicy.

We probably eat at Gravity more than most PA places, and get a small pasta and some wine.

Bucci's -- What a Gem [Emeryville]

Oh, yeah, nizza. The food always seemed OK but I never loved the atmosphere.

Bucci's just radiated some kind of gracious and easy living, comforting in atmosphere and with food to back it up.

I wish I could say I've been there in the last decade, though.

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

If you're interested in Hippie History you'd want to see the FSM monument, and maybe people's park, so BARTing over to Gather might be worth it.

Then you'd also consider Cheeseboard & Chez P. upstairs & maybe the original Peet's (not that it's that much different from the other Peet's to be worth it)

Bucci's -- What a Gem [Emeryville]

replacements on that side of town --- Paisan? 900 Grayson?

La Ciccia [SF]

One restaurant (vesta in RWC) told me that a full sound baffle treatment cost $ 500,000 , by a reputable firm. They finally spent that ( the place has done well, apparently ) and it's an extraordinary difference.

St. Vincent 2.0 [San Francisco]

Enjoyed a meal at the bar here. Benefit: on a friday night, seats walk-in, no problem, when other places on valencia were packed.

Tomato & Melon salad. Great week for both tomatoes and melons. Could have used more buttermilk tang. Herb on top was excellent.

Rockfish. Loved this. The sauce was more like a really good cioppino. Rich, deep. Fish itself was nicely done, with the crispy skin on top.

Wine. I said "it's a hot friday how about something white and ... " and the guy behind the bar (a pretty hefty white guy) kind of disappeared. I was a bit put off, but he showed up behind me about 3 minutes later and said "here's my favorite white right now", and it was great --- just enough bite, just enough body & "taste". As I was slowly working through that ( had driven, thus 1 drink limit ) he poured me two really small tastes (free), one was a slovenian, one was some kind of really fun Rose.

Did have desert - the affogata - which was served on a slab of rock. I had the small bit of Twist of Fate (or was it Death and Taxes) but didn't finish it (again, the driving alcohol budget).

Was it the best meal of the year? No. Excellent, with little expectations, and especially for a no-reservation on Valencia street .... it'll stay on the list.

Where to open a bottle of Champagne (legal or not) ?

The prettiest danged place near the bay is the Wave Organ, although it's not that close to bix.

The best way - assuming you're driving - is to park at Chrissy Field lots, walk past the St Francis, although simply having a glass at Chrissy Fields is pretty swank too.

Of course, then you'll have to get from Chrissy to Bix, which could either mean leave your car there and repark (yuck), or taxi there and taxi back. If you're coming from Marin this isn't a bad idea at all.

Coming from the east bay, you might consider Treasure Island, favorite views of the city, no problem parking, can be cold.

Peir 7 was mentioned, it's probably the best choice that's not a repark.

you might also try Pier 14, because there's some nice art there. You can walk to the end of P14 which has some benches, or sit by the large arrow sculpture. Again, it's a repark / cab over to BIX.

Rehoboth Beach Delaware--Long Weekend

Bump! It's Summer 2015 - any comments on these places?

most seem to still exist --- and if there's a particular spot for fried clams, love me some fried clams.

Aug 14, 2015
bbulkow in Mid-Atlantic

Where's the coffee, vancouver ?

Greater SF is somewhere between. The "high end" shops will pull a portland/seattle style shot, but once you step out of there you get either very nice italian style shots, or you get starbucks - influenced shots.

I'm back in SF, and as a comparison to the Vancouver coffee I had, went to one of the shops I've always liked - RedRock, in Mountain View. Had an espresso at their single origin bar. Expertly pulled ( not digitally measured for coffee grounds, actually, but measured for water volume after pulling the shot ), first shot thrown away. YUM. Shivers of high-power deliciousness up and down my spine. They use 4barrel, that particular one was Ethopian ( don't remember which ).

Aug 14, 2015
bbulkow in B.C. (inc. Vancouver)

Upscale lunch suggestion

I suggest waxing eloquent about Saison's gorgeous tables at least twice during dinner, and how a tablecloth means you've got something to hide - cheap tables.

Of the michelin 2+

No tablecloths


50/50 !

Birthday Dinner before Shoreline Amphitheater

I'm not big on large music shows, but making a long afternoon on the grass with some friends can be quite pleasant. Hard for the venue to screw up sitting on the grass with friends. I find the seats a little depressing.

French Laundry Reservation Swap

Are you saying you need someone else who has a 2-top reservation on the same day around the same time, to swap?

I suggest you call the restaurant to explain, post haste. If you do it early, they may not ding you.

Birthday Dinner before Shoreline Amphitheater

In that case, I'd go to Stein's. I'm fond of the food, fond of the beer. You didn't mention favorite alcohol choices.

Still: scratch (perhaps high for your price range, depending on whether you mean $20 entrees or $20 out the door), Doppio Zero, Chef Zhan, Amber India, Sushi Tomi, Sakoon.

( notice, not Cascal )

Upscale lunch suggestion

Cotogna no tablecloths.
Benu no lunch.

Bix lunch friday
Campton Place

That being said, you should tell your friend that the best restaurant in san francisco has no tablecloths. You'd be happy to buy them lunch there but ....

Birthday Dinner before Shoreline Amphitheater

It's really hard to recommend for a 40th Birthday. It depends how fancy the people like, what their calibration for food is like.

1. Xanh - sure. Glitzy room. Food's interesting the first time or two (fusion viet) but they never change their menu.

2. Masa's Sushi. I wouldn't consider this special enough. The fish is pretty good, for a neighborhood place, but it's not ... like .... actually special.

3. Sushi Tomi. Much better choice. still an average looking japanese place, but the fish is pretty swank.

4. Cascal. Fun outdoor patio but the food is somewhere between annoying and mediocre (depending on the dish). Festive, though, if you want to put the outdoor festive thing way over the food quality.

5. Voya. I know exactly where that is, didn't know it had turned over 7 weeks ago. Thus, can't say.

6. Vive Sol. The Sol restaurants are much beloved, I could take 'em or leave 'em (I begrudgingly like Quinta Sol in RWC). I find the menu limited and the food bland.

Here are some to consider:

Scratch. Probably the highest end looking room in Castro St, cocktails, and I like the food (although it's a little generic-californian instead of inspired). Gets poor marks around chowhound for pretending to be more than it is, I think the food is usually pretty good so might fit well.

Doppio Zero. I would think it "not special enough" but it's pretty good.

Shell Shock. New place. Good if you like oysters, hipster menu, I would consider it only pretty good (like Xahn).

The Sea by Alexander's. Haven't been, is supposed to be "high end". Really, really high end.

Los Altos is within range. Consider Los Altos Grill and Ambience? I haven't been to either.

Amber India. This is actually a great choice (depending on who is going). Amber is a local mainstay, it might be the best higher end indian around, and it's just fancy enough.

Where's the coffee, vancouver ?

Musette was RIGHT UNDER MY NOSE. Thank you.

1. It seems that I have to order a "ristretto shot" here in Canada, but people are happy with that. I've had american shops get a bit snooty when I do that ("sir, we only make ristretto shots because that's the only way to make espresso"). Yes, snooty with me, but that's america for you.

2. I see what you mean about the 49thP beans aren't great for espresso.

3. But musette handles them well. Very tolerable.

Still, Musette is a well-hidden spot and can easily be my morning coffeestop for a few more days. Thanks!

Aug 07, 2015
bbulkow in B.C. (inc. Vancouver)

Commercial Drive

Tried Tangent last night. Jazz on Wedsnesday sometimes, apparently, too. Agree the food is plausible/fun, beer list seems friendly enough, crowd is nice. If I lived around here I'd be a regular --- but not a destination.

Aug 06, 2015
bbulkow in B.C. (inc. Vancouver)

Where's the coffee, vancouver ?

Thanks for the tips, and yes I'm aware of the italian vs west coast split. Many parallels vs beer, and one can argue that west coast IPAs and 3rd wave roasts are all abominations that should perish, and will perish, when their 5 minutes of fame have passed.

I kinda figured Vancouver was on the west coast, thus would have west coast espresso.

I am also learning that the vancouver downtown area is about like being in Union Square in SF. There's no good coffee around union square (and barely around the greater financial district).

Revolver and TimberTrain are close to my office, see comments about them. I'd be interested in your comments about shot size and "watery ness" compared to other purveyors of the west coast style.

Will keep an eye out for Bel Cafe and Small Victory. Thanks for the rec.

I had an espresso at a little joint called Darryl's, the guy is firmly in the 70's italian way, and I respect that. I'd rather have his than a poorly made 3rd wave / west coast thing.

Of course, at home, I pull my own. I have a pretty solid restaurant-grade rig that I keep in my office, have a mazzer major grinder, tend to use Barefoot due to price-performance. I have about 4 coffee shops within 5 miles that make espresso I like. 4 Barrel and Stumptown are the most prevalent beans - my closest shop is struggling to get a good, consistent pull out of Stumptown's Hairbender and having a tough time - I was rapping with the owner about it. It's a great roast when you get it right.

Aug 06, 2015
bbulkow in B.C. (inc. Vancouver)

Where's the coffee, vancouver ?

My portable espresso machine - "Hand-Presso" - didn't make the trip. I figured y'all had decent espresso here.

I can find good espresso in LA, SF bay area, Portland, Seattle, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Philly, Tokyo. I didn't try in TO or Montreal (too busy eating smoked meats, cheese, and bagels), if this is a canada thing.

Aug 06, 2015
bbulkow in B.C. (inc. Vancouver)

Where's the coffee, vancouver ?

Thanks, will try and report. I saw Timbertrain, I'll walk over there right now.

Hey, still in the edit time window.

TimberTrain is A-OK.

Although they're still doing long shots for my taste - he said they were pulling 37 grams, I think 20 to 25 is better - it didn't taste actively watery like Revolver. The TimberTrain guys seem more engaged.

Watching them, they're doing a high volume, and a lot of milk drinks where you can't tell the difference (75% milk drinks). They (thank god!) threw away the first shot they made me, which had overfilled by about 2x. Since they're doing manual (yay!) that have to watch what they're doing, which is harder during a lunch rush.

I rapped with the guy, he said I could ask for a "tighter shot", he mentioned the guy behind me liked his shots like that, and now that he recognized me he'd make my espresso tighter. Now, to do it "right" on a tight shot you'll actually want to change up the grind... it takes some dedication to custom-grind each shot (I do know a place that does, but they have a separate counter to filter the picky guys like me from the "just give me a latte" folks), but it's all good.

As a note, they've got a cold-brew operation there as well, with taps (will try maybe this afternoon :-), and have a plan to start bottling and selling bottles (like beer bottles) sometime next week. Love me some cold brew.

Thanks for the tip !

Aug 06, 2015
bbulkow in B.C. (inc. Vancouver)

Where's the coffee, vancouver ?


I thought I'd wait a few days before posting --- but I'm now getting desperate.

* Downtown. My office is downtown, I'm staying downtown (west end actually), I need my coffee in the morning. Would travel to Yaletown or anywhere else in "greater downtown" as the bus system is awesome.

I drink espresso.

Without milk.

Short, well pulled, espresso. I think the ur-espresso may be at the train station in Milan. It's actually not that great - lacks crema, very 2nd wave heavy handed, but it is the tradition all espresso comes from. Yes, I went to Milan to drink espresso.

I like the third-wave thing. In SF, Stumptown and 4barrel etc etc.

Getting to the "big boy" - I tried Revolver yesterday. Good try, misses the mark. Simply pulled way too long (about 2x long), even though the beans are solid and the rest of the technique is solid (someone should tell them espresso is always served with sparkling water, not still).

Like they're afraid of scaring the natives.

I've tried all the espresso within a few blocks of my apartment. They're all rather inoffensive, decent cups in one way or another. I've tried the chains - Blenz and Waves - out of desperation. Also inoffensive. Forgive me the pop-sych out of saying canadians are really nice and don't want to offend anyone.

There's no shortage of good espresso machines.

Everyone's pulling long. REALLY long. And not griding fine / tamping hard.

And they're using machines without manual control ( a sin in my book, it's not "artisan" if it's a mechanical push-button process ).

Forget doing fancy things - like temperature controlled portafilter heads. I haven't seen anyone digitally weighing the amount of coffee (although I couldn't see at Revolver).

Thus --- where's the coffee ?

Best Chinese in Vancouver?

My favorite sichuan places in the bay area are:
* Chef Zhao in MV
* A place in east san jose my chinese friend took me to
* Da Sichuan in PA
* Crouching Tiger in RWC isn't great but their water beef, dry-cooked dishes scratch the itch.

I haven't been to any of the SF-proper places so can't compare.

I think those places I listed are only average when compared to actual chinese places

I would love a bump in quality compared to these.

Aug 06, 2015
bbulkow in B.C. (inc. Vancouver)

Authentic Sichuan Found in Richmond

Ok, I'll see what I can do. As only one eater, I certainly can't tell if a place is reliable across the menu. Only so much one stomach can do.

Aug 05, 2015
bbulkow in B.C. (inc. Vancouver)