Sunday, November 4, 2012

Harris': Close To Perfection

I could only describe our dining experience at Harris' as CLOSE TO PERFECTION.

Harris' has been serving steaks in San Francisco since 1984. We haven't had an enjoyable dinner such as our dinner at Harris' in a very long time.  We enjoyed the elegant venue and old-school service where patrons are catered to all throughout dinner. Harris' has mastered the art of turning simple beef into a well-crafted steak.

Harris' is like an old boys' club--handsome, dark and formal. Heavy chandeliers were hanging on the high ceiling, stained dark wood furniture and the oversized oval booths were made with real leather (and super-comfy!). The restaurant was divided into a number of dining rooms. The diners appeared to have been more of an older set (50+).

Harris' requests that patrons don a business casual attire. Almost every man that evening wore a black dinner jacket while women also dressed up for the classy venue.

Upon coming in we were given a complimentary crostini plate with butter and pungent cheese spread. Hot rolls were also generously given all throughout dinner.

I am not a hard liquor drinker but I am so, so, so glad that I ordered Harris' Manhattan! I think this was the most perfect drink that I have ever had. The single barrel bourbon whisky, aged 10 years and crafted exclusively for Harris' was so smooth, so balanced and so sophisticated! It was served with sweet vermouth and Peychaud's bitters.

STEAMED MUSSELS WITH PEPPERS A delicious bowl of plump mussels in broth so flavorful that when the server took away our bowl, we already wiped it clean with the hot fresh rolls that a server kept on putting on our plates. Each mussel shell came with a slice of pancetta. I am not prone to superlatives but along with the Manhattan, this dish of steamed mussels at Harris' was the best I have ever had and I've had many bowls of this dish in my lifetime.

*Each order of aged beef came with steamed brocollini and baked potato or buttermilk mashed potatoes.

~49 NINER CUT $53 
Knowing I will never finish this, I ordered this generous cut of bone in New York so I can have leftover for lunch on Monday. The beef was very tender and flavorful w/o any dry parts. It was perfectly medium-rare. Delicious!

My guy ordered this, ate and enjoyed every bite of the marbled steak. I ate the crispy fatty pieces that he left on his plate. Very delicious and also cooked medium-rare.

*BROCOLLINI AND MASHED POTATOESEven the veggies were crisp and very flavorful. The buttermilk mashed potatoes were so creamy and also very nice.

BAKED APPLE TART W/ ICE CREAM & COFFEE $9 We hardly had any room after my guy ate most of my mashed potatoes, his whole ribeye and I had 3/4 of my NY steak in a brown bag right next to me. We still decided that a dessert would just be an appropriate way to end this sumptous meal. The apple tart was sweet and spicy. It was not remarkable but very nice. Even the coffee was well-made and strong.

TOTAL: $185 including 1 Iced Tea

A splurgey "special occasion" dinner for us but worth every hard-earned dollar. Despite the formal atmosphere and servers dressed in traditional black and white uniform that is rarely seen these days, the service was not stuffy and the servers were friendly.

Now I am dreaming of a life of idle luxury in San Francisco doing nothing but drinking Manhattan at Harris' in a little black dress and pointy heels. Maybe when I retire in a million years..........

Harris' on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 3, 2012

Lers Ros Thai (Hayes Valley)

Lers Ros Thai on Hayes is the chic  sister restaurant of the original Lers Ros on Larkin.

Lers Ros on Hayes is indeed modern and new. It has a contemporary bar  that is separated from the dining area by a frosted glass. The walls are made of cut stones with exposed pipes on the ceiling.

However, the venue has a very poor noise insulation. The place is very loud even with very few diners at 2 o' clock in the afternoon.  I can only imagine how loud Lers Ros can be when it is in full swing during dinner time.

I ordered the LUNCH SPECIAL which I always order at Lers Ros on Larkin.   I had the YELLOW CURRY WITH TOFU AND SAUTEED EGGPLANT W/ RICE.

Portions were generous but both dishes were very sweet and oily. I only finished the yellow curry and rice because the sweetness became too overwhelming for me. Even the complimentary salad with peanut sauce was sugar-sweet.

Lunch Special at Lers Ros on Hayes = $9.95 vs. Lunch Special at Lers Ros on Larkin = $7.75 (I guess you pay $ for the location, decor and the ambiance.)

If I want chic sugar-sweet Thai dining with classical music on the background I will go to Lers Ros Thai on Hayes. If I want close to authentic Thai food, I will go to the one on Larkin. They have the same menu but different chef interpretations. My experience at this Lers Ros Thai was not very impressive that I would continue to go to Lers Ros Thai in the Tenderloin despite its unpleasant location.

Mr. Bauer added Lers Ros Thai on Hayes to his 2012 Top 100 Bay Area Restaurants. Although I only had one meal at Lers Ros on Hayes, I do not agree with Mr. Bauer. I am not inclined to go back again to try the other dishes.
Lers Ros Thai on Urbanspoon

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Ono Grindz

Labor Day Weekend: 09.02.12 @ 1:30 PM

Enrique travelled to Hawaii every year for 8 years. He is in constant search for delicious Hawaiian food in the Bay Area. After hearing and reading about the hype about Ono Grindz, I wanted to see if Ono Grindz would end Enrique's search for delicious island food in SF.

Ono Grindz serves Hawaiian fusion cuisine. I was expecting a bigger space but it is really small, newly painted, minimalist and typical of square business spaces on Clement.

We were expecting a long wait for a table. However, at past 1:30 PM on Sunday, the place was full but the diners were finishing up their meal. We got seated as soon as we arrived. By 2:20 PM, the place was almost empty.

OG serves many interesting fusion dishes such as Kalua Ranchero, Spam and Cheddar Waffle, etc, -- combinations that you  will mostly likely not find somewhere else.


We ordered:
1. THE BIG ISLAND $11:  2 eggs, plantation potatoes, apple banana pancakes, choice of Portuguese sausage, Spam, bacon or house made sausage

2. LOCO MOCO $9.5: white or brown rice, fresh ground steak patties, 2 eggs, saute ed onions, house made mushroom gravy

3. APPLE BANANA PANCAKES $6: apple bananas, coconut creme, macadamia nut


Enrique thought that the food tasted but did not pass the "island test." He was not happy with the smallish portion either which was not characteristic of the traditional and messy Hawaiian meals.

My Loco Moco tasted good. The brown rice was nutty and perfect with the flavorful thick gravy. The beef patties were dry. My whole plate was below room temperature including the eggs.

The Apple Pancakes were sweet and delicious. You get 4 pancakes for $6 which is a good value. Worth the carbs that I am constantly trying to avoid.  The texture resembled "Bibingka" which is a fluffly but slightly dense Filpino coconut pancakes if you have ever tried one.

TOTAL: $38 before tip including 1 Coke in a bottle, coffee and leftover pancakes.

The temperature of our food was what ruined everything for us. Everything was either at room temperature or luke warm. I was not expecting sizzling Loco Moco but mine was cold. My coffee was lukewarm. Enrique's Big Island was also below room temperature.

Ono Grindz did not pass the island food test for Enrique but we both said we do not mind returning for more if we are in the area. And next time I will just get something to go and heat it up at home!

Ono Grindz on Urbanspoon

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Everett and Jones

SUNDAY FUN DATE: 08.26.12 @ 7 PM

Under the umbrella.
At checkered  picnic table.
Sit on a long bench.
And feel like you are at a backyard barbecue indoors.

Water with lemon or Iced Tea out of a MASON JAR.
Or get the Saucey Sistah Ale.

The FOUR WAY COMBO for two.
You will get brisket, hot links, ribs and chicken.
Plus sides of candied yams, mac&cheese, collard greens, baked beansAnd cornbread with butter.

The meats were flavorful inside while heavily slathered with mild, medium or hot barbecue sauce (your choice). I only wanted to eat the chicken but I ate the pork ribs by mistake  thinking it was chicken. It was good, though. Our chicken arrived not a minute later because they forgot.

I usually do not like chicken but E&J barbecue chicken was delicious! Very flavorful and not dry! Enrique ate and enjoyed all the meat.

The candied yams were runny. I was disappointed.
The collard greens with pork was not as flavorful but still good.
Enrique finished the mac&cheese and cornbreads which I did not touch. Must be good.

$29.99 for the 4-way combo
Paid $36 before tip with 1 Iced Tea

A big thing of leftover links and brisket to enjoy again the next day.

Everett & Jones Barbeque on Urbanspoon

Friday, August 17, 2012

Troya (Fillmore)

DATE NIGHT: August 17, 2012 @ 5 PM

Troya on Fillmore is the sister of the original Troya on Clement Street. Troya Fillmore took over the previous Citizen Cake  but did a good job of transforming it into a space that is classy, bright and airy.  The decor consists of red brick walls,  exposed pipes on high ceiling and naked bulbs for lighting. The understated decor was minimal but elegant.

At 5PM on a Saturday, the place was empty but as we were leaving at past 6 PM, the place started to get packed.

One look a the menu and I knew this was what I wanted. Sure enough, it managed to fight my tastebuds numbed by the nasty cold  and I was able to taste the lovely spices. It was smooth, so flavorful and so comforting!

I even tried to eat my soup with the complimentary herb flat bread. These flat breads were thin, crispy and I managed to taste the dill.  I ate just one since it was not worth wasting my carbs on something I could not fully taste but these delicious flatbread were much appreciated.

 I got these as my main meal thinking it was one big piece of savory pie.  They turned out to be 3 little itty bitty phyllo dough pies stuffed with spinach, currants and pie nuts. They were good! I could have easily eaten a dozen of these little ones!

Aside from the soup, this turned out to be the dish that I enjoyed the most.  Enrique commented "eggrolls!" when they were placed at our table. Wrapped in phyllo dough and deep-fried, they did resemble eggrolls but what you will get in each cigar is  hot gooey melting cheese that you will dip in honey and ground nuts before taking a blte. Delicious savory sweet small dish!

I honestly thought it was just okay. They even tasted bitter to me  but it was not fair to judge this given I could barely taste or smell anything because of my cold.

A huge plate of traditional eggplant casserole with bechamel sauce. I had a little bite from Enrique's plate and it tasted good. He liked it as well but he complained that it was mostly eggplant and the ground beef was pretty skimpy.

TOTAL: $53 with 2  sodas and before tip

Troya in Fillmore is a  pleasant bright and spacious place to share Mediterranean tapas with your friends and loved ones.   Definitely order a bunch of little plates to have a full appreciation of Troya's cuisine.  I would not mind going back someday when my senses are all fully working to really enjoy the food next time. Troya is a also great as a pre-Sundance Kabuki movie dinner where we headed after our meal to see "Borne Legacy."

Troya on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Taqueria Vallarta (Mission)

LUNCH DATE: 4th of July 2012 @ 11:30 AM

You only have $1.75 in your pocket?

Taqueria Vallarta's TACO BAR will feed you for mere change. And you don't need to wait for Happy Hour.

On  July 4th, Enrique and I decided to drive to the Mission for a spontaneous Mexican food adventure. We did not even have a particular place in mind. It was Divine Intervention in the form of an empty parking spot across the street from Taqueria Vallarta that decided our lunch destination that day.

Taqueria Vallarta is colorful and full of murals of cultural Mexico and San Francisco. Eating at this taqueria was a feast not only for the palate but for the eyes as well. It was well-patronized by Latin families drinking traditional Mexican sodas in bottles.

The TACO BAR will greet you as soon as you enter TV. It can be more appropriately described as a TACO KIOSK manned by Taco Dude.  You tell him what you want and he will make the taco for you. In less than 5 minutes you can be holding a taco loaded with meat which you can garnish according to your heart's desire.

1. Choose your meat: Tripita or tripe, Carnitas,  Lengua or tongue,  Beef neck, etc.
2. Garnish it with:  Red or green salsa,  onions, cilantro, radish, lemon
3. Proceed to the counter to pay or if you want to order other dishes aside from tacos.

The best part -- each taco only costs $1.75!!!!

Tripita Taco

Enrique and I went a tad crazy once again. We kept on adding to our orders. He started off with CHILE RELLENO then before paying added an order of MENUDO.

Chile Relleno

I ordered POZOLE.

While waiting for our food, I could not resist the call of the Taco Bar, got up and got me a TRIPITA TACO. Chips and salsa were provided for us while waiting. Sinful and a quick snack. The meat was flavorful although slightly dry.

~ POZOLE : Last time I had menudo was probably about 5 years ago. I love offal, pig's feet, snout, you name it. Eventhough my doctor pronounced me as being in excellent health,  my  determination to live a healthy, low-blood pressure and cholesterol-free life sometimes turns me into an irrational health nut.
Sadly all I could do was stare at the gelatinous pig's feet in front of me. I was salivating but I ate the broth which was very flavorful and finished the pozole. I tried a little bit of the meat but I left most of it untouched. All dishes came with about 5 piping hot corn tortillas each. It was a nice try, though, but I just really cannot ingest fat because of this paranoia that it might just attach itself to my heart.

~ MENUDO and CHILE RELLENO: Enrique who is a 3rd generation Latino finished and enjoyed his order. He complained that his menudo did not have a lot of meat but came mostly with fat. He also pointed out that my pozole should have been lighter in color and flavor than the menudo. I do not know any better. It just tasted good to me.

~ TACO: I loved and enjoyed my tripe taco. It was packed with meat which was tender and nicely seasoned. Next time I will order me a 12 tacos at Taqueria Vallarta. LOL!

Service was very slow if ordering other dishes. One person cooking and one woman handling the cash register, delivering food and answering phones. Order some tacos as appetizers if waiting for other food. The place got packed at around noon.

We had a very enjoyable spontaneous Mexican food adventure in the Mish. The Taco Bar at Taqueria Vallarta  was fun and one of the best deals in town.  Taqueria Vallarta is a great place to grab authentic Mexican food in the Mission.

TOTAL: ~ $32 including water and soda before tip (the dishes were about $8.75 each)

Taqueria Vallarta on Urbanspoon

Chop Bar (Oakland)

Dinner Date: 08.11.12 @ 4:45 PM

CHOP BAR resembles  a converted garage (or at least made to look like one) at Oakland's Jack London Square District. 

On this gorgeous warm weekend, Chop Bar was the place to be.  The restaurant was very open and airy, with the  open street side patio area flowing into the dining area.  Chop Bar is more industrial-rustic than industrial chic.

We arrived at the Chop Bar during Happy Hour (daily from 3pm to 5:30 pm)   Since they would not serve dinner until 5:30 PM, we decided to get an appetizer and drinks.

*This appetizer was on the small side but packed with flavors!  It is savory sweet because of the apples but the ribs were juicy inside and had a crispy caramelization on the outside. Delish!

I ordered a GINGER GREYHOUND $5 which was a  Happy Hour drink made with rain organic vodka, grapefruit juice topped with ginger beer.  It was refreshing but weak.

It as funny because we waited for the dinner menu but ended ordering burgers which were also available during Happy Hour.

I judge the yummy-ness of my burger by how many crumpled paper napkins are left at the table by the time I finished it.   I used 4. That means it was good!
And not only because I only ate half of the bun. (TIP: That's a low-carb diet technique. You still get to taste the bread that way without eating lots of carbs.)

The burger at Chop Bar was finger-lickin' good. I asked mine to be sans bacon but asked for a side of Cowboys Onions $1 which were caramelized, sweet and delish! The burger was dressed in aioli and topped with heirloom tomatoes and avocado.  Instead of fries we got fresh greens which was perfect for this "low carb eating" gal.
The burger patty was so juicy and flavorful! A really good burger bordering on great!
Enrique also ordered a burger with bacon and extra cheese on his.

*He wanted some french fries so we put in an order for Jo Jos  after we already received our burgers.  They arrived within 5 minutes and were piping hot. These are not french fries but steak cut potatoes which were surprisingly crispy on the outside.  It was more of a side dish than "finger food" like french fries. The flavors were "different" because of the chimichurri sauce but nice.

TOTAL: $56 before tip

Chop Bar is the place to eat burgers and have a drink or two while soaking in the warm Oakland sun.  Lively and casual venue surrounded by JLS's contemporary loft. Very urban with neighborhood vibe. The staff were very friendly and efficient.
Another gorgeous Saturday date night!

Chop Bar  on Urbanspoon

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Cinnaholic (Berkeley)

I have always known about Cinnaholic because my vegan friend Alexis showed me this place. She makes a special trip from the City just to get her fill of these cinnamon buns.

Cinnanolic is located right across from the  UC Berkeley campus. It is one of the many eclectic stores on Oxford St:  chic boutique, Starbucks, Afghan buffet restaurant, print shop, etc.

The store is spartan like a small ice cream shop with nothing but white walls and a counter. There is a huge menu board that features the frostings and the toppings. 3 garden tables are outside if you want to devour your rolls before leaving the store.
The choices and combination were too daunting that I was staring at the board like Bambi caught in front of headlights.  They can customize the rolls according to your heart's desire like Elvis with his PB and Banana, Rocky Road, Pina Colada and Coconut, etc.

After ~ 3 minutes of being in catatonic state, I finally chose:


TOTAL: $10.50 for two cinnamon rolls

Cinnaholic rolls are gourmet VEGAN cinnamon rolls that are slightly different from the ones grandma bakes unless your granny is hip,  vegan and from Berkeley. The roll itself was a little bit denser than the melt in your mouth rolls like hot Pillsbury that's right out of the oven. (How dare I make such scandalous comparison?!!) It did taste like something was missing.

I did not tell Enrique that they were vegan. He devoured his butterscotch cinnamon rolls and told me that he they were good and rich. He liked them. I did reveal that they were vegan after he finished the roll. We both agree that the frostings were the best part while the bread itself was dry. However, Cinnaholics rolls were good nonetheless.

Despite the above observations and being on the pricey side of ~$5 a piece, I enjoyed my cinnamon roll so much that I licked the plate clean. Well, only my cat was my sole witness to such barbaric act.

Although I would have liked the bread to have been softer, the frosting was  bursting with the pumpkin and spices flavors of Fall although it was a blazing hot summer day in the Bay Area. The flavors were just plain lovely. The fact that they were vegan just sweeten the deal for me eventhough I devour animal products.

I usually wait until I have made at least a couple of visits before I write a review but since I have changed my lifestyle to eating "angel (good) carbs" only, it will be awhile before I would have the pleasure of enjoying a Cinnaholic again.

Not the best cinnamon rolls ever but on a beautiful quiet sunny day like today, over a hot cup of coffee, Cinnaholic is one of life's simple pleasures.
(And the staff were as equally lovely.)

*Dreaming of my next Cinnaholic........*

Cinnaholic on Urbanspoon


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