Thursday, August 13, 2015

Swan Oyster Depot - San Francisco

5/5 stars

How many places can you say this:

"It was worth the 45 minute wait."

I can't believe that for the past 20+ years, I've been going to touristy Fisherman's Wharf instead of the Swan Oyster Depot. THAT won't ever happen again!

FOOD: The clam chowder here is the best clam chowder I've ever had in San Francisco. It's not too creamy or butter-y or flour-y... it's not too anything because it's perfect. It tastes like it was made with fresh clam and fish stock (it probably was)... and it's not too thick or thin either. It's got a great mouthful of flavor and seasoned just right. Dip their tough, chewy, sour sourdough in it and thank the stars that you live in San Francisco. I also ordered their combination salad and it's worth every penny. While standing in line, I watched the gentlemen behind the counter build plate after plate of these - each adding the shrimp, prawns, and crab in their own artistic way. They seriously pile on the seafood and the crab is soo fresh and the prawns are huge and "crispy." Mmm... and the cocktail sauce was the best cocktail sauce I've ever had. The bf ordered 3 different kinds of miyagi oysters and they were shucked fresh right before our eyes (his favorite was the huge, sweet Steamboats). 

ATMOSPHERE: I love, heart, adore places that look like the Swan Oyster Depot - even though decades have past, nothing's really changed and nothing big probably will. Even though the place is old, it's timeless and still clean as whistle. The men behind the counter are super friendly, efficient, and kind. Seriously, I'm not even going to complain about the line.


Spago - Las Vegas

5/5 stars

I absolutely loved this place. One of my best meal experiences.

That said, I will begin with the truth. I had my doubts. I only knew a handful of things about Wolfgang Puck: (1) he's a celebrity chef, (2) he haz an accent, and (3) he cooks for the Oscars. S'it. This could have gone either way. It could be amazing because, well, he cooks for ze movie stars and he wouldn't be world famous if his food was awful. Or, it could all just be hype.

Well, Wolfgang Puck is amazing, and he is famous for a reason. Because his talent is delicious.

THE FOOD: We totally conquered.

The white peach bellini was one of or probably the best bellini I ever had. Each sip was like biting into a crisp, juicy, succulent white peach. Even though it didn't seem like very much in the glass, I got a nice little buzz from it. That must be quality champagne.

The bread waiters came and offered you as much as you wanted from a bountiful basket. We got to choose from a sourdough, a cherry walnut, an olive loaf, a cracker (with seeds, herbs, and things - since I don't like crackers, this was my least favorite), and an onion focaccia. The soft, slightly sweet, buttery cube of onion focaccia was clearly the favorite of the night. Dipped in their quality olive oil, it was a great meal starter.

The amuse bouche was a cappuccino sized cup of cold, creamy pea soup. It tasted so fresh. As if you plucked the peas yourself, eating them while still standing in a garden, with your toes in the cool dirt. However, since I'm not a cold soup fan, I didn't like it that much.

We ordered several appetizers to share. The crab cakes, the heirloom tomato soup, the warm wild mushroom salad, and the octopus salad.

The heirloom tomato soup was probably my favorite dish of the entire night, and that's saying something since my meal and the warm wild mushroom salad were both incredible. I mean, sooo many wins here. The soup was large, came in a clay-pot sized, white porcelain bowl complete with cute hat, and a crostini that was spread with a creamy white cheese and then piled high with fluffy parmesan. On top of the soup was a thin design of balsamic vinegar that complimented the soup like jelly compliments peanut butter. Spooning up a mouthful and letting the fresh tomato, sweet balsamic, exotic herbs, and delicate cream dance in my mouth was a little piece of Heaven.

The warm mushroom salad was layered with mushrooms I can't name, but they were each delicious. Some of the mushrooms were delicate, while others were slightly crunchy and "meaty" (like portobellos). The salad was tossed warm with arguala and pomegranate seeds and was a heart warming, unique salad that was perfect for a Fall day (in windy Las Vegas).

I ordered the special because I couldn't resist the following words: truffle-cream + Alaskan king crab. Other words like mushroom, onion, and fettucine were in there as well. It was, of course, awesome. I mean, it had truffle oil in it. Truffle oil makes everything better!

My mom ordered the seafood paella and it was very tasty, though a tad undercooked, IMO. The scallops and shrimp were huuuge! The bf ordered what I deemed the "pig plate" which consisted of pork belly, pork loin, and 3 kinds of sausage including blood - very neat concept. Overall, every single person was over-the-moon pleased with their dinner.

Unfortunately (very very), I was over-ruled when it came to dessert. Everybody else was too full, so we didn't try any. I bet they're fantastic though. Next time...

ATMOSPHERE: Ending with looks and folks. Spago is hard, clean lines, it's modern art, mirrors, and black walls. Too noisy for an intimate dinner, but fun for a family or group. Service was polite, friendly, and extremely accomodating, but I didn't feel all warm and fuzzy like I did at Alexander's. It was quite nice when they saw us pouring our own wine and decided to swoop in and do it themselves. Nice catch. Prices were SURPRISINGLY reasonable! You can spend $50 to $150 a person, your choice.

I'm a Puck fan now.


Tonga Room & Hurricane Bar - San Francisco

2/5 stars

ATMOSPHERE: the tonga room is the definition of kitschy, but the tropical rain + lightening + thunder was kinda cool

DRINKS: hit or miss in regards to level of strength... the scorpian bowl was my favorite of the night (the looong straws are fun)... better tasting than the lava bowl. the mai tai was NOT the best i've ever had, not even close. and the banana daq was bland and water'd down and too icy. ALSO, way too expensive. i mean, cmon, $6.50 for a coors light?! that's awful!

FOOD: overcooked, greasy, fried, bland, limp, mushy, spent too much time under the heat lamps hawaiian fare that doesn't include sides or rice...

COVER CHARGE: really? really! you know who was on the dance floor? old, retired, rich people who could (A) afford staying at the fairmont and (B) were wearing hawaiian shirts and totally having the time of their life. we danced some too and it was fun because nobody took themselves too seriously. good place for a group off-site, but I wouldn't pay a cover charge to hang out here.


Marie Callender’s Restaurant & Bakery - Fairfield

3/5 stars

You have to go to a restaurant like Marie Callender's with the mindset that it's going to be standard, non-exciting, stereotypical American fare. A family restaurant for A) moms who want the mid-day week off from cooking or B) senior citizens. Before I developed my palette and learned about non-chain restaurants, my mom and I would come here and share their tuna melt, salad bar, and sometimes, a slice of pie after a mommy and junior high/high school version-of-me day. Good, warm memories.

ATMOSPHERE: this Marie Callender's is the largest I've ever been in! No wait on a Friday night, it was fairly clean, and nice, friendly service. Prices are a bit on the high side for a chain and portions (sigh, fat America) are way too big.

FOOD: they are way generous with the warm cornbread and yummy honey butter. I think we ordered WAY too much. I wanted the chicken pot pie, but barely had room for it after the cornbread, the clam chowder that came with my meal, and a hit at the salad bar. The salad bar wasn't the freshest (browning veggies are not attractive), but had good pasta salad variety. Note, those salad plates are like ICE. The bf ordered the prime rib sandwich, which I ended up eating half of - leaving 75% of the pot pie for home. The prime rib sandwich was actually more like a steak sandwich - the steak was a thick cut, but a bit tough/chewy. The roll it was served on was good bread, the au jus was juicy. I wanted pie, but didn't have any room. Eating here makes you feel fat.

IN A MOUTHFUL: it's only okay (better than Denny's, Carrow's, Baker's Square, or Hobee's). I only ate here because I had to... there was nothing else in the area. It's a once in a year occurance, but a good mom n' me memory.


The Oasis - Menlo Park

3.5/5 stars

Beer + really yummy beer battered onion rings + good ol' American cheeseburger n' chips + Red Sox on the HD TV + 8 delicious pickle spears for $1 + feeling like you're just hanging out in your backyard = really smart idea.

We should have more places like these around the Bay Area that are open late, late, late!!

It would be more stars if I hadn't read another Yelper's review about how they watched an Oasis employee not wash his hands after using the restroom... yuck.


Cousin Jack Pasties - Grass Valley

3/5 stars

The ORIGINAL hot pocket!!

+ cute, old fashioned place
+ nice, ol' owners
+ fresh n' piping HOT out of the oven
+ pot roast pastie warmed my hands and my insides (delish with ketchup!)
+ comes in a variety of flavors: beef (original), chicken, turkey, pizza, greek, and veggie-filled

- prices kinda high
- I'll admit that the pasties weren't ohmygoodness so good, but they're unique and a toast to "old fashioned" foods and I admire that


Leatherby’s Family Creamery - Sacramento

5/5 stars

Places like Leatherby's are magical.

The instant you step inside the doors, you know it's family owned and loved. Super friendly staff who let you taste as many flavors as you want and homemade ice cream with marshmallow sauce, caramel, and whip cream piled sky high. Sure is a great place for kids - or for people like me who feel like kids! The Swiss Milk Chocolate is the perfect chocolate chip ice cream. I don't have much else to say except:

My Favorite Ice Cream Parlors:

  1. Fenton's
  2. Leatherby's
  3. Friendly's

Foster's Freeze - Milpitas

5/5 stars

I think it's HILARIOUS that a (friendly) Vietnamese family owns and runs an awesome Foster Freeze. I love America for this reason.

The bf was giddy like a school boy when we spotted this beloved chain. We didn't know it existed in the Bay Area. Such an old school favorite. What's not to like?

+ the super dirt cheap prices on everything
+ the DELICIOUSLY dipped chocolate cone... omg classic!

It's like fair food available all year long (without the outrageous fair food prices).

I want to come back when we want "fast food"... skip Wendy's... the prices and burgers and variety and what appears to be freshness looks better at Foster's.

Run-down sort of look, but I think it adds to its charm.


Pho Nam Restaurant - Milpitas (closed)

3/5 stars

LOVE me my pho (f'uuh) and honestly, I'm quite the connoisseur. From Vietnam to Little Saigon in Los Angeles to my own ma's kitchen - I've enjoyed this best.noodle.soup.concoction.ever. 

Unfortunately, my much favored Superbowl in Cupertino closed down, so I'm off looking for new places. Pho Nam in Milpitas is:

THE FOOD: solid, meat is plentiful (more than average), and their large is one of the biggest I've seen. Broth is a bit too fatty and could have been more flavorful/less watered/muted. Noodles were perfectly cooked, not hard or cooked till it crumbled. Bean sprouts, limes, and basil leaves appeared to have been washed. Average pho prices.

THE PLACE: would've been 4 stars if the restaurant was cleaner and the hostess/waitress wasn't rude to us. She didn't smile, say hello, or let me pick another table even though there were dozens of empty tables around us. Instead she crammed us into a dirty, tight corner. Grrr... however, the waiter who took our orders and served us was nice.


Gables End - Mountain View

1/5 stars

Did my research, you DO NOT want to buy here. Gable's End townhomes are built on a toxic, hazardous waste site. Thought I should let others know.

You can read about it here:

or (scroll down to the comments)


Lanesplitter Pizza & Pub - Berkeley

3/5 stars

Going to keep this one short and sweet.

Genius equals delicious, gourmet, New York style pizza in a bar + many yummy choices for pizza toppings + lots of different kinds of cold beer + awesome art on the walls + a really nice staff.

Thus, Lanesplitter is genius.

Minus some stars for the super gross bar bathroom.


Latitudes Restaurant - Auburn (closed)

2.5/5 stars

ATMOSPHERE: I like a restaurant building that's got history. Really, really neat that the menu changes once a month and each time, they focus on a different part of the world. I don't eat French food very often so was quite pleased that French food was the current cuisine. Latitudes is a nice place to take grandmothers - it's all lace, ruffles, and velvet, muted and polite - maybe a little too outdated and... moldy? Prices are on the higher side since it's a "fancy" restaurant. Really sweet staff, though.

FOOD: I had a salad nicoise made with salmon, spinach, boiled egg, and the other usual nicoise suspects with a delicious, light n' tangy french dressing. It was very fresh. The bread was served with hummus and cocktails were strong.


Darla's Restaurant - San Francisco (closed)

3.5/5 stars

In a fantastic place to eat like San Francisco, you've got the guts if you dare to claim "quite possibly the best burgers around"...

I'm an avid Jatbar reader and they've got some pretty terrific (and plentiful) burger reviews. One of Jatbar's FAVORITE burgers is Darla's, so I've been wanting to go for awhile.

THE FOOD: It was solid - not my favorite, Clark's still holds that title, but pretty darn well made. Meat was lightly seasoned and of quality - a drippy, juicy, 1/3 pound. My favorite part of the burger was probably the chewy french roll that held it all together. I ordered the classic - a simple cheeseburger made special with three kinds of cheese - American, Jack, and Swiss. Smeared lightly with mayo and served with lettuce, thin red onions, store-bought, dill pickle chips, and crispy, shoe-string fries, it was overall, a satisfying meal - complete with strawberry milkshake that tasted like it was made with homemade ice cream. Second best part of the meal was the fudge-a-licious brownie served with your check. Nice touch! I want to come back and try the Southern-lookin' fried chicken and mashed potatoes. The burgers were nice, but definitely not the best around.

THE PLACE: Cute and neighborhood-y, with Japanese influences. I thought that was funny. An all-American burger place with Japanese art on the wall and vending machines that you'd find in Akihabara. Prices were reasonable.


Wine Spectator Greystone Restaurant - St. Helena

Such a letdown!!!!

No offense, but if you gave this place anything above 3 stars, it makes me question whether or not you've ever actually been to a GOOD restaurant. My hole-in-the-walls cook better food than the folks at Greystone.

Took my mom here for a joint Mother's Day/birthday celebration and we were so very disappointed. The food was unspectacular... below medicore. I expected better for a restaurant attached to the Culinary Institute of America. I don't blame the school. We asked the waitress and she informed us that the chefs, the waitstaff - everyone - were not students or teachers of the school. Unfortunately, I felt like the restaurant was using the great school's name to attract guests.

1/5 stars

THE FOOD: We ordered the Chef's Temptations and it was unimaginative: lamb carpaccio, small, fried fish, pate, and mozzarella balls? So common! Sure, the french onion soup was good, but I've had better. I also didn't expect french onion. I mean, this was supposed to be the chance for the chef to make little pieces of edible art with the flavors of the season. Alexander's Steakhouse did better wow-ing me with their honey jello + tangerine + mustard sprig concoction. That's what you're SUPPOSED to do. Throw together flavors that a normal person like me would never put together in a kitchen!

The cocktails and berry lemonade smelled and tasted funny - in a bad way - too syrupy, too mineral-y tasting.

I ordered the quail and the presentation was so messy and the quail was way, way, way too game-y. I was completely fed up with the dish after a couple bites. The scallops were too salty, and the steak was tough. The fish was decent, but again, not exciting.

The chocolate souffle will be the biggest souffle you've ever seen in your life and even though it looked and smelled great - fresh out of the oven - it was weak in the chocolate area. The beignets were hot and tasty, but leaving out the sour lemon sauce would've been better.

Over two-hundred, totally unhappy meal.

THE PLACE: Restaurant space was not laid out well, it felt... cramped... probably felt even worse because it was 100+ degrees outside and there was NO AC in the restaurant. The school itself was gorgeous though - all castle-esque. Server was polite, but distant. Non-engaging, and she hardly smiled.

I wonder if people actually find this place tolerable because of the wine that was consumed in the vineyards not so far away? Heck, Denny's tastes half-decent through merlot-colored glasses.


Candybar - San Francisco

don't tell the bf, but the Candybar is my new lover. clean lines, candle-lit skin, wine-soaked lips, and he knows how to use his chocolate.

$14 four-course tasting menu will make you swoon like a good kiss. I've never ever had cheesecake the way I had it here. it was deconstructive, as in, not in cake-like form. it was made with toffee and olives and the flavors filled every centimeter of my mouth. it was artistic, it was out of this world, and it was yummy. with an exotic wine menu, cozy couches, and attentive service, I would visit my lover nightly if I lived in the city.

owner is smart, polite, handsome, and oh-so-sweet. pastry chef(s) made me think french laundry thoughts. and whoever splashed the art on those walls is bold, confident, and romantic. this place, my friends is perfect. try it before others discovery the lover in the Candybar.


Kara's Cupcakes - San Francisco

5/5/ stars

Kara's Cupcakes is the reason why I started using Yelp. I was looking for cupcake-ries and my co-worker had shown me Yelp and before I knew it, I was bookmarking, and reading, and relying on, and then writing to commemorate all the places I had nom nom nom'd.

CUPCAKE: It was my first "bookmark" and now, I'm hooked on Yelp's plethora of honest reviews and hooked on Kara's picture/tastebuds-perfect, moist, not too sweet, airy, fluffy, oh-so-pretty, deliciously yummy sprinkled Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla frosting + petite cake concoction. 

PLACE: It was like a mirage. We've been driving, and walking, and were kinda tired, and oh-so-thirsty when I saw the sign on the sidewalk. I had no idea Kara's was in the Marina!! I totally jumped for joy!!!! Kara's Cupcakes was chic n' boutique-like, crisp, n' pink. I wish there was such a dream-like store in the South Bay. Pretty please?


Celestin’s - Sacramento (closed)

1/5 stars

On our way back to Grass Valley Part 2. We were hungry, we were uncertain on the looks of the place, but we were also intrigued because we don't get a chance to eat Cajun food real often.

The fact that it was Happy Hour, something else we don't ever make it to, was a yay! but their sangria was a disappointment. Sangria is supposed to come with fruit, people! It makes the whole wine-in-glass presentation more appealing and getting to eat the red wine soaked orange is the reason for ordering sangria!

FOOD: Empanadas that were like... $3 or $4 were a hot, pastry treat. Gumbo was a mite too spicy, but it really warmed the insides. Loaded with yummy sausages, it came in a massive, comforting bowl, but the rice was undercooked. Had to tame the heat with a refreshing tomato and avocado salad with House Italian dressing. Expensive for a tiny, itty bitty salad, but delicious. I'm gonna make that at home someday.


Centro Cocina Mexicana - Sacramento

3/5 stars

On our way back to Grass Valley Part 1.

First time I've ever really hung out in downtown Sacramento. This place reminded me of Vive Sol in the Bay Area. Same decorations even. Crowd was quite the hip. We were underdressed, but oh well. They didn't treat us like we were underdressed. Yay for them. Yay for California where flip flops are almost okay everywhere.

+ tasty refried black beans which, btw, are hard to find, most places just fry normal colored beans
+ free shot of their fruit infused tequila (tasted like a sangria!)
+ friendly service and cool bartender who gave me said free shot

- un-exciting menu
- small menu
- prices kinda high
- since I only remember the creamy refried black beans, I would say unmemorable food... I do remember it being small portions, but good


Tommy’s Joynt - San Francisco

3.5/5 stars

Tommy's Joynt Haiku

"sticks to your ribs" joynt
is what Tommy's all about
And volumes of beer

A wall of foreign
Chimay on tap, read the walls
Barrel of pickles

Cheap, 8 dollar plates
Corned beef, brisket, sausages
Hearty German fare

Quite eccentric crowd
Young, old, rich, poor - all hungry
Open late - till 2!


BriarPatch Co-op - Grass Valley

5/5 stars

The 5 stars isn't for the hippies, no. Or for the yuppies.

It's not for the $9 portobello mushroom or for the "Yes, that's nice, it's organic, but it's also $3.99... for an avocado." It's not for the twenty-something-a-pound meat or the seven-something-n-another for a small, plastic container of pesto.

The five exuberant stars is for the BEST GRILLED CHEESE SANDWICH I've ever had in my life. 

Fresh sourdough bread, sharp, sharp cheddar, spicy pepper jack all melted into ooey-gooey-goodness. Throw in perfectly grilled, slightly sour green apples and sugary caramelized onions and you have got yourself a work of art.

Save your money, don't shop here. However, treat yourself to what Heaven probably tastes like and order the Gourmet Grilled Cheese at the deli.



Hanamaru - Sunnyvale

4/5 stars

Hanamaru Haiku

Reasonably priced
Wouldn't call it authentic
Lots of fried sushi

Rolls were some of the
tastiest I've ever had
Lots of sauce on rolls

Such a friendly staff
Bottle after bottle of
free sake we downed

Toasting with the chef
Free roll, free ice cream
Went here with 10 friends

Cream cheese filled fried roll?
All I have to say about
that is - nom nom nom!


Ike's Place - San Francisco

5/5 stars

It's like somebody told you to go to the corner of 16th and Sanchez because there was a unicorn there. Seriously, a really beautiful unicorn with flowing, rainbow colored hair n' everything! You just HAVE to go see the unicorn... right there... on 16th and Sanchez. Would you believe the hype?

Well, I did and today, we decided to drive all the way to San Francisco for yes, one of the best sandwiches ever.

I mean, how could we not? It was Ike's birthday after all and Misty had bought him a princess balloon n' everything!

Ike et Co. are amazing people. Heck, I was only standing there for maybe 5 minutes and I think the only words I said to Ike were, "Ex-Boyfriend" (darling name of the sandwich I ordered) and "Happy Birthday" BUT STILL I could tell that they were amazing people. They had to be to make sandwiches bursting with that much love.

Like many other Yelpers, I can't wait to go back. I'm jealous of my friend Misty who A) lives a block away, B) may get a sandwich named after her, and C) got to eat an Ike-made sandwich 3x this week already. On the other hand, I love my friend Misty for introducing me to this gem of a gem of gem. 

LOOK OUT! I'm going to start cataloguing the sandwiches I eat here because yes, I'm definitely going back to see the unicorn. Besides, I had SO MUCH trouble deciding on which sandwich to order. I want to try as many as I can!

March 26, 2008 - I ordered the "Ex-Boyrfriend" on Dutch Crunch which had what I believe to be not one but TWO kinds of lean, high-quality salami, Ike's yummy, perfectly cooked (not limp, not burnt) bacon, cheddar, dirty sauce, avocado, lettuce, and tomatoes. The sandwich was heated to perfection so that the cheese was all gooey-melted, the bread was toasted, but not dry, and everything was warm and still moist. I hate how Quiznos toast their sandwiches. They have a thing or two or three hundred to learn from Ike's. And the dirty sauce - garlicky deliciousness. Now THIS is my kind of mayo! I wonder where they get their bread? I never had Dutch Crunch that good - chewy n' tasted like it just came out of the oven fresh.

April 12, 2008 - I brought a loved one to Ike's because A) mama always said sharing is caring and Ike's sandwiches of love are totally meant for sharing and B) if I brought a friend and we each ordered a different sandwich then technically I would get to try TWO of Ike's incredible sandwiches... GENIUS!

I am not a wine connoisseur. I buy wine based on what the BevMo! employees tell me to buy or if the bottle's got a cute label. However, I am proud to say that I am a chicken fried steak connoisseur. My skinny Asian @$$ is from the South, after all. Cruising through the menu, I knew I had to try it... the "FORTY?!" A chicken fried steak smothered in melted cheddar cheese on dutch crutch. Oh mercy! 

I'm not gonna lie, it was greasy, it was fattening, and my arteries probably cried a river afterwards, but Ike is a mad genius. I talked to him afterwards and he told me that he had originally made the sandwich for himself. Well, Ike, thanks for sharing. Chicken fried steak was flavorful and still had a bit of a crunch despite being made up into a sandwich drippin' in dirty sauce.

The second sandwich I tried was the "Super Mario" and it's... you know why Ike's so successful? Because he doesn't just make a meatball sub with frozen stuff. It all tastes like it was made carefully. I heard the vegan meatballs were killer, so in my mind, that meant that the non-vegan meatballs were gonna be good. I like being right.

Melted mozzerella sticks, tangy marinara sauce, and let me tell you, I don't like wheat, but Ike's wheat bread is soft and cushiony and delicious. Way to go, Ike!


Grubstake - San Francisco

4/5 stars

Ever get the munchies after a drink or seven? It's 3 o'clock in the morning and everything tastes or sounds good? Well, at Grubstake, the food actually IS good!

So we closed out the 500 Club and after convincing my German friend that San Francisco unfortunately stops selling alcohol at 2AM, we were all craving a burger. But none of us lived in the city so we had no idea what was open at 3AM. After consulting ye wise ol' Yelp, I found Grubstake! It was like discovering treasure! AND this place was featured on the Food Network's "Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives!" Score!

So I rounded up my three boys and went off in search of Pine street. I'm glad we didn't give up, because this place is quite the find. Hole in the wall, completely packed, couldn't be friendlier, and open till 4AM!! I don't think I've ever been happier seeing a lit-up neon Budweiser sign in the window. We snagged the last table and gazed around at the Portuguese emblems. The diner is in some sort of converted, previous mode of transportation - looked like a trolley or roach-coach, but bigger and nicer. Everybody in there was so cheerful, that the cheerfulness exuded from the walls itself. Nobody was rowdy or foul. It was as if they were behavin' because they were at their own mama's kitchen table.

SERVICE: was fast and so so nice. They must be used to dealing with people who think they're funnier when they're drunk. I don't know if it was the owner himself who greeted us at the door, whoever he was, he treated us as if we were old regulars - or maybe a lost niece and her three endearingly buzzed friends. Prices are a little high for a diner, but A) it was open at 3 in the morning and B) the food here was so much more solid than any ol' diner.

FOOD: we ordered way, way too much. Heck, I wasn't even hungry. I just thought I was. We got breakfast, a burger each (mine came with a fried egg!), fries, onion rings, AND mashed potatoes to share as an appetizer. It was awesome. The burger was surprisingly non-greasy, packed full of meat, huge and seasoned well. My only complaint is that the chocolate in my chocolate milkshake tasted fake. Next time I'm ordering strawberry.

IN A MOUTHFUL: Grubstake is wonderful. They could've just made mediocre food and been mean-spirited and people would still come because there aren't many places open till 4 in the morning. Instead, they chose to make really good food and take care of you. Thanks.


500 Club - San Francisco

2.5/5 stars

2 stars for the bar - it smelled and looked like a college bar... sweat and stale beer lingered in the air, the music was too loud and IMO, not very good. it was small and crowded, but we managed to camp out in the corner with a high school desk and some bar stools, so that was nice. but the floor, wall, everything was sticky and one of my friends accidentally leaned on a table littered with broken glass and ended up with a bloody hand. he had to suck the glass pieces out with his mouth... yow.

3.5 stars for the crowd - nobody was inconsiderate or pushy or grope-y, everybody was chill and just there to hang out with their friends.

3 stars for the drinks and bartenders - drinks weren't more expensive than elsewheres and my vodka and Sprite was definitely a lot more vodka than Sprite. bartenders were nice enough.

500 club did its job for the night! lots and lots of rounds were bought for my funnyman pal, Silvio!


Ti Couz - San Francisco (closed)

4/5 stars

One of my favorite Germans - who also happens to be the funniest guy I know - was going back home to Dublin so we had our goodbye dinner here for him. This place was every bit the lovely everyone said it would be.

ATMOSPHERE: We needed a table for ten, and they were able to accommodate us in their small restaurant - after about an hour wait. When they say everyone needs to be present to be seated, they mean it. No problem though, because when you're in the company of good friends and delicious, fresh pear cider (seriously, the best I've ever had... every sip felt like I was biting into a juicy pear... and BONUS, served in adorable, small bowls) - the wait wasn't noticeable. Place is cozy small, chic, and LOUD. It felt like everybody kept raising their voices to compete with the patrons around them. Service was polite, but French, and go figure - there was only one bartender on a Friday night so that takes forever.

FOOD: made very, very well and dinner here isn't too expensive! The crepes, yes, they will be the best you've ever had. Done crispy, the savory crepes are made with buckwheat flour and filled with fresh ingredients - can't go wrong. Only con was that the edges were kinda on the dry side - could've used more sauce. We each ordered a savory and shared 4 dessert crepes and a chocolate mousse. We got the following dessert crepes:

  • white chocolate/banana/raspberry sauce (needed more white chocolate) * apple/vanilla bean ice cream/caramel (tasted like apple pie!) 
  • nutella/banana (clearly the winner of the night, a very happy dance in your mouth!) 
  • apple/vanilla bean ice cream/apple brandy (very cool because it was lit on fire, but taste-wise, it was too strong! a dessert shouldn't taste like taking shots...) 

If you can bear not to order a dessert crepe, I recommend the chocolate mousse. It was decadent and probably one of the best mousses I've ever had. Melt in your mouth chocolate! Fresh whip cream, too!

We also had several more pitchers of the pear cider - seriously, an amazing liquid. It was refreshing and reasonably priced at only $13 for a large pitcher. I also ordered the Ti Couz cocktail, but didn't like it much. The flavor was off somehow. It's made with vodka, blackberry puree, mint, lime, and champagne. They don't pour in the champagne until they serve it to you. Kind of a silly presentation tableside. Why dirty a small pitcher, I say? Maybe that's how the French do it.

IN A MOUTHFUL: This is a great place for a large party! I wonder if they sell the pear cider by the bottle?