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Carolyn Tillie

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Everything posted by Carolyn Tillie

  1. Sorry - I haven't been. It is one of those destination restaurants for me; meaning, I have to make a point of getting that far out into SoMa which I rarely bother with. There isn't much else around there of note and it is simply a neighborhood that is off-radar. I am a person that walks this city so many of the restaurants I have been to are those I have walked to. Only rarely does one pique my interest to the extent that I'll consider a cab and while F&W has gotten decent reviews, the prices on the menu haven't deemed it taxi-worthy for me yet. When I'm ready to spend that kind of money,
  2. I'm sure Sebastiani is what you are thinking of as ChezCherie suggested. Those barrels were carved by Earle Browne and you see some of the images on this site.
  3. There are a handful of El Salvadorian places in the Mission; some of the best are El Salvador at 2278 Mission Street, La Santaneca De La Mission at 2815 Mission St (there is another La Santaneca at 3781 Mission as well), Los Panchos at 3206 Mission Street, and Balompie Cafe at 3801 Mission St. Torakris - report back on where else you ate!
  4. I’m not sure what possessed me. I had been wanting to review Pepples Donuts for some time, but knew I couldn’t handle a full tasting on my own and many of my friends who often join me in these ventures were unavailable. So I headed to the Ferry Plaza, originally with the intention of just trying one or two flavors and thinking I would return with a full crew to help me in my endeavors. Arriving at the north end of the building and seeing a growing line across from Sur la Table, a giant frosted doughnut sign beckoned and with a line already established at the small stand, I knew I was in the r
  5. The Seattle people are pretty fortunate. Not only do they have Top Pot Doughnuts, but another hand-crafted gourmet offering, Mighty-O Donuts. First off, the biggest difference is that while Top Pot is “hand-forged” and all that, they are a chain so their delicious is available all around the city. Mighty-O, on the other hand, is a singularity in this large metropolis and required a bit of a trek (thank goodness for GPS systems!) to get to during my brief visit. I was pretty excited when I arrived. It was relatively early and mid-week so the selection was ample and varied, although mostly of th
  6. Yes, both Brenda's and Dottie's are busy and lines start to form a good half-hour before they open. The earlier you can get there, the better especially since those are big, hearty breakfasts and may make it that you will want a lighter lunch. Also walking distance from Union Square is La Boulange (on Market). They have very good breakfast pastries. Mint Plaza has Blue Bottle Coffee which would be another light breakfast option; the best coffee in the city and well-prepared breakfast options that would be significantly lighter than Brenda's or Dottie's. Another lunch place of note is Naked Lun
  7. David made a great suggestion and is one that is always on my list of places for people who are visiting because it is so different, inexpensive, and fabulous. You haven't told us what your dinner line-up is which would help in making breakfast and lunch suggestions. I'm assuming some of the local biggies or are you coming in for the Benu opening? Shockingly, one of my stalwart lunch suggestions is the food court in the Westfield Mall. I say shockingly because it is a food court but it is a really good food court. The eateries I frequent is Out The Door, the faster version of Slanted Door whic
  8. I grew up in San Diego (where the chain originated) and loved, loved, loved the Jumbo Jack. But that was more than 30 years ago. They were one of the first to create fried chicken tenders which were truly fabulous! A childhood friend who transplanted to the United Kingdom made a point of seeking out a Jack-in-the-Box when he was visiting and we ordered a handful of things that we had fond memories for. I'm sorry to say that not only is it not a pale reflection of what they once were, they are nothing like the fabulous fast food I fondly recall. There is no similarity in taste to what I recall
  9. 54 Mint is small, two-story Italian restaurant which lies within Mint Plaza (formerly known as Jessie Lane). I’ve only recently discovered Mint Plaza and surprisingly, have now eaten at all four establishments within its small confines all within a single week. I didn’t even realize 54 Mint was among the others (Thermidor, Chez Papa, and Blue Bottle Coffee) until it was recommended by a local art guru with whom I was chatting during an Enrico Donati retrospective. My escort and I were debating where to dine on a Saturday night without reservations and Kendy assured me that 54 Mint would be jus
  10. Not recommended without a wetsuit. The ocean here in Northern California is seriously cold and only after several weeks of consistently hot weather, is it possible to stick one's toes in it (the average temperature is around 54°). Concur with Katie - without a car, she will be much happier exploring the markets in Chinatown and she will become very reliant on BART for further exploration. My favorite "splurge" stop in the East Bay is the Rockridge BART station. Right there is a fabulous market with amazing cheese, wine, meat, etc. I am looking to move to the East Bay and am hoping to be near R
  11. Concur - I Talula back in 2007. A few mis-steps, but overall still very memorable.
  12. One of my biggest challenges living in one of America’s most expensive cities has been to discover tasty, affordable eateries. As much as I enjoy dining out, there is no doubt that even those earning six-figures and above still enjoy a bargain. And my criteria for a bargain is the discovery of the $10 lunch; a lunch so ample as to provide left-overs for dinner or one so substantial as to make a later meal irrelevant. Café Zitouna is such a place for me. Located on the corner of Sutter and Polk, This is a little corner place with table seats for about 20 and counter seats for another six or eig
  13. She will immediately want to go and investigate Berkeley Bowl - one of the best grocery stores in the country. How can you not love a place that routinely has a dozen different kinds of CARROTS? Also, grocery shopping Chinatown can save a lot of money. I bought a pound of Ranier cherries in Chinatown for 79¢ a pound when they were showing up at local farmer's markets for $2.99 a pound. Contrary to popular belief, farmers markets are not necessarily a great place for cheap ingredients, but the ethnic restaurants are. There is the advantage that ethnic dining is usually always cheaper than anyth
  14. I know I live in a part of the world where holistic and healthy cuisine has a reputation of prevalence (although a Vegan friend in Southern California touts that is a better locale for such cuisine). I’ve walked by Cafe Gratitude a number of times and I finally availed myself of a visit during a lazy, shockingly warm Saturday afternoon. Less than half-full, I was having my first Gratitude experience. The room is inviting and full of communal tables, with the walls decoratively painted with life-firming affirmations. Oh wait, those positive affirmations bleed over to the menu and every dish is
  15. The occasion of Lisa’s birthday was the reason for heading to my now-favorite San Francisco restaurant, Nombe. Hakuro Suishu – Junmai Ginjo (winter water). A very, very smooth sake. First course – Suimono; a salad sashimi-based salad with amazingly fresh and vibrant vegetables. Fresh, raw trout sat atop purslane, tofu, arugula, sea beans, chanterelles, squash blossoms, fresh pickled ginger, spinach, sunomono, radish, and a very light seafood broth. It would have been a perfect dinner for two and a more-than-ample meal for one. The chanterelle mushrooms were tender and provided a rich texture a
  16. As part of my adventure in exploring other cultural aspects of fried dough, dear friends Sara and Cassy had brought me into Chinatown for the beginning of investigating Chinese fried dough at Hing Lung. But just a block or so away was Broadway Dim Sum Café and our day of discovery continued. Rather small and somewhat dank, this is an establishment which gives the appearance of desperately needing a good cleaning. It seems the ladies behind the counter don’t speak English, but thankfully I had translators with me to order the three fried dough offerings in the display case; fried sesame ball, f
  17. After a horrifically disappointing meal at nearby Heaven’s Dog, I have BFF Lisa to thank for whisking me away to Thermidor for dessert. I had recalled they had a specialty doughnut on the menu and with iPhone in hand, she had mapped out that it was close enough to a theater where I had tickets for the evening and just enough time to grab dessert before curtain time. It is pastry chef Kyle Caporicci who has created the dessert which called to me; Coffee, Cigarettes and Doughnuts with carrot cake, white chocolate custard and coffee ice cream. The “cigarette” is a stylized, thin white chocolate t
  18. I love last-minute restaurant jaunts with my buddy, Lisa. We have such similar palates and usually are always hungry for the same type of food. It is especially more fun when it is a last-minute decision and no reservations are made and we just figure out what is in the neighborhood. Today, for example, I was working at the library when she texted and we decided to find a place to eat. Both of us had been curious about Charles Pham’s Heaven’s Dog and were very surprised, when we arrived at 6:15, to find the place practically empty. Except for two people at the bar, we literally had our choice
  19. Yes, Katsu-Ya would be a great choice for a good omakase. I like that they have "odd" things like foie gras and asparagus nigiri. Not as traditional, but oh-so very California and quite good.
  20. The place I believe you are thinking of that is half the price of Urasawa is Katsu-Ya. I would also recommend Shin-Sen-Gumi in Gardena for outstanding (I mean, TRULY outstanding) yakitori. Always a wait and always worth it.
  21. Turtle eggs in Panama (now illegal), horse carpaccio in Barcelona, camel and zebra in London, and insects in Los Angeles.
  22. The fact that their beignets have gotten so heavy and laden depresses the crap out of me. But don't let that dissuade you from having breakfast there. For a sweet tooth, they do an amazing French Toast with a toasted pecan sauce and all the tables always have fresh house-made jam on the tables; so far, I have tasted strawberry, apricot, and peach jams. I've also heard good things about the pancakes, but I've never tried them. Usually when I go, I want something spicy so I have had their po-boys, gumbo, shrimp-and-grits, and sometimes just a simple andouille omelet. Just don't bother with the
  23. Here's my review of a version made in San Francisco -- not with pate a choux, but with pizza dough: When it comes to my fried dough adventures, I am beginning to discover there are two very distinctive avenues of exploration. First, there are the must-try, pre-determined establishments, such as when I happened to be in Seattle and made sure I visited Top Pot, or part of the birthday celebration of going to Frances just for Bacon Beignets. These are very particular destination trips for me in my never-ending search for the epitome of fried dough. Then there are the surprises — those trips to hi
  24. One of the stalwart breakfast restaurants in the city is Brenda’s Soul Food, known for producing “French Soul Food.” Mostly, in my mind, they specialize in down south, Cajun-inspired cuisine. Only open for breakfast and lunch, I have enjoyed many savory dishes like cheese-laden shrimp-and-grits, andouille omelets, and spicy gumbo. Their house-made biscuits are huge, flaky, and served with a housemade jam in seasonal flavors. Just like any New Orleans inspired restaurant, Brenda’s offers beignets. But these are not your classic Café du Monde beignets. Brenda’s makes larger, 3″ across pillows of
  25. Bob’s Donut and Pastry Shop is one of those establishments that is a stalwart landmark in San Francisco. It the place that my darling Lisa acquired my giant Birthday Doughnut. Not only do that have giant doughnuts as novelties, Bob’s provides the best quality, hand-made, classically-prepared doughnuts in the city. These are not gourmet doughnuts with unusual flavors like Voodoo or Gourdoughs. You won’t find anything with bacon or childrens cereal as a topping. The interior is incredibly old fashioned; just a plain counter with a handful of two-seater chairs lining the wall. There is an old sig
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