Sunday, April 25, 2010

Ad Hoc, Yountville

For the last two months, I had really been looking forward to this past Saturday. I had booked a table for four at Ad Hoc, and I *could * not * wait * to * go.  Ad Hoc is in Yountville, also known as Kellerville, because it is home to not only Ad Hoc but The French Laundry, Bouchon, and the Bouchon Bakery. We killed some time waiting for our table by having snacks at Bouchon Bakery first - but we'll save that for another post.

The premise of the restaurant is that they serve a different four course meal every night for $49. I had been religiously checking their website to see what the daily meals were leading up to our dinner, and I had also been through his cookbook and wanted to eat everything in there. Needless to say, my expectations for this meal were ridiculously high.

Our first course was an endive salad with some tempura'd vegetables - ramps, carrots and mushrooms - in a nicoise olive vinaigrette.  We immediately thought it smelled like Chinese food when it was put on our table, and the first bite was pronounced, "meh".  And really, that sums it up. There just really isn't anything to say about this salad, other than it sort of tasted like Chinese food. We are big fans of the salads at Range - they are so simple, but always taste so fresh and are perfectly dressed - and I expected the salad here to be just as good as that - better even. Especially because I had read so many reviews where people talk about how fresh the lettuce is, how perfect the tomatoes are..... and our salad was, well, fried.  It did look pretty though.

The main course of the night was grilled pork tenderloin, served with pork belly, barley, spring vegetables and kale chips, served with a pink lady apple mustard. This was by far the highlight of the meal for me. The tenderloin was great - tender and juicy, very flavorful, and the pork belly really did just melt in your mouth. The vegetables and barley went really nicely with it all, and all four of us highly approved. Even Kev, who doesn't really like pork. 

The entree is followed by the cheese course, and ours was a Swiss cheese, served with wildflower honey and mixed nuts. We had many different reactions to this course. I liked the cheese with the honey, but not with the nuts. Kev liked the nuts, but not the cheese and not the honey.  Brittany liked all three, and I think Mark just liked making the nuts stick to the cheese by applying the honey like a glue. I also liked the cute little pot the honey was served in.

The final course is dessert, and ours was a tiramisu, made with house made lady fingers and mascarpone cream. We all liked the tiramisu, and the coffee as well.

Maybe my expectations were unrealistic, but I was fairly underwhelmed by the meal.   Or maybe we just went on the wrong night.  When we got home, I looked up other people's reviews, and kept finding different menus that I think I would have loved. For example, the meal  being served tonight, as I write this blog entry - fried chicken and waffles! With potatoes and cabbage! Home made ice cream sandwiches! Made with rum soaked brioche! That is a meal I could definitely get excited about. 

With all of the amazing restaurants in San Francisco, I'm not sure I can convince these guys to take another 3 1/2 hour round trip drive for dinner in the near future. I think our plan instead is to try making the famous fried chicken ourselves.

Ad Hoc
6476 Washington Street
Yountville, CA 94599-1294
(707) 944-2487

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Bi-Rite Creamery (soft serve edition), Mission

Sunday was actually hot, which is so rare in San Francisco. We took advantage and walked over to the newly expanded Bi-Rite Creamery for some soft serve ice cream. The big advantage to the soft serve? You don't have to wait in the crazy long line for the regular ice cream. 
The soft serve window has two flavors (plus swirl), bakery stuff and ice cream cookie sandwiches. Last time I was there it was just vanilla and chocolate. This time it was chocolate and salted caramel. I got the swirl, Kev got an ice cream cookie sandwich.

We had opposite problems: Mine was quickly melting so had to be eaten super fast (not really a problem). The ice cream sandwich needed to soften up a little so you could really taste the cookie.  I thought the sandwich was really good - and I want to go back and try the meyer lemon flavor one. I liked the ice cream too - but I think I prefer chocolate and vanilla. I'm traditional like that.
Now that it is warming up, I think an SF Ice Cream tour is in order.

Bi-Rite Creamery
3692 18th St
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 626-5600

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Dinner at home: Prosciutto wrapped chicken, potatoes and asparagus

Last night we wound up doing some last minute babysitting, and were paid with a fantastic dinner. I forgot to bring my camera, so my iPhone filled in. 

Have you had the black olives from the olive bar at Whole Foods? They are my favorite.
(That's the chef with his striped socks on the striped rug).

You can't really go wrong with prosciutto, rosemary, cheese and butter.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

San Francisco Food Crawl Part 1: Ferry Building

Last year, a co-worker told me she had gone on a food crawl with some friends. This was the first time I had heard of a food crawl, which is basically like a pub crawl but with food - so obviously way better. I had been wanting to do my own version ever since I heard about it, and so after about a hundred emails trying to figure out what date works best for 4 people, we decided on this past Sunday.  We picked a bunch of places (mostly based off the 7x7 100 Things To Eat List) where we could go as a group of 4 and order one item and share it between us, which would allow us to try lots of different things before we got full. 

We started out at the Ferry Building, at Mijita. They are on the list for their Albondigas soup, which I learned when I ordered it is actually meatball soup. This was a slight problem because two of our four are vegetarian. They ordered something else, and Brittany and I shared the soup.

It turns out that Mexican meatball soup tastes a lot like tortilla soup - the flavors to me were really similar, plus meatballs. It was good - but I don't know that it would be on my top 100 things to eat list. The two of us made a small dent in the giant bowl before we called it quits and got ready to move on to the next stop, Miette.
Remember when I said I'm a font snob?  Miette's branding has the opposite effect on me that Philz Coffee does. Everything about this place - the logo, the packaging, the displays - makes me want to buy something. How could it not be good when it looks like this?

We managed to only buy the one thing on the list: gingerbread snaps.  They had a good crunch to them, but again, I'm not sure that of all the amazing things at Miette that this one would be at the top of my list.

Our last stop at the Ferry Building was supposed to be Out The Door (for their spring rolls). We showed up and found this sign: 

And.... that was it for the food crawl. We hadn't accounted for the fact that it would be pouring on Sunday, the kind of rain that would not be fun to roam around the city in, looking for food. Instead, we headed to my apartment, ordered pizza and watched the Devil Wears Prada.   It worked out though, because pizza + movie + your girl friends is high on my list of 100 things to do (many, many times) before you die.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Spork, Mission

After living in the Mission for two years, we have only just discovered Spork. We've walked by it countless number of times, but had never eaten there. I'll admit I was put off because we had heard that it was overpriced. But we wanted to go somewhere new (to us) and walkable, so this seemed like a good option. And it was! (though I do think it was kinda overpriced).
 When you are seated, they give you a paper that tells you the story of Spork. Here it is in a nutshell: The space used to be a Kentucky Fried Chicken. KFC introduced America to the concept of the Spork. The people behind Spork wanted to "serve slow food in a fast food shell". The menu changes daily based on what is fresh and seasonal. Got it?
The first thing you are served are their "original pull apart rolls" with whipped honey butter. These are SO GOOD. The rolls are soft and hot and fluffy, basically everything you would want in a roll. We also ordered what is probably my favorite name of an appetizer ever: Cauliflower and Calamari Unite! I partly ordered this just so I can keep saying the name of it.  I love that the calamari was grilled and not fried, and it was a really nice combination of flavors - one of those dishes that you really want to get a little bit of everything on your fork at once - calamari and mint and chili flakes and lemon aioli. I only could have liked this more if the calamari didn't have their freakish legs. I just can't make myself eat those. Luckily Kev doesn't mind them.
Kev ordered the In-side-Out Burger: basically a tower of a burger with caramelized onions on top and what they call "smashed fries". I would not call those smashed fries - they were more like roasted potatoes: crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside and very, very tasty.

I ordered the special pasta, which was fresh sheet pasta with ground beef, mushrooms, red onions, and chilis. It was good - but I liked the burger better. I think there were just too many chilis for my taste. 
We followed up our meals by sharing the strawberry crisp, which was also really, really tasty. Our waiter was very nice and also let us taste one of the Humphry Slocombe flavors they had that day: chocolate covered potato chip, which was kind of weird but definitely good. 
And what better way to end a big meal than with an after dinner hamburger?

1058 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110-2427
(415) 643-5000

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Nordstrom Cafe, Union Square

I debated if I should post this or not, because eating lunch at the mall is not usually something to write home about. But I seriously love eating at the Nordstrom Cafe. I don't know that I would make a special trip down to the mall just to eat here, but if you are out shopping and want a quick and reasonably priced meal, this is the place to go.

The picture above - that is the reason to go here. The French Onion soup is salty and cheesy and incredible. It really is one of the best French Onion soups I've ever had, and what I order every time I eat here. The french fries, which are great on their own, come with an amazing garlic aioli dip. We also ordered the chicken club sandwich so our meal would have some semblance of nutritional value.

The other nice thing about eating here is the view, which looks over downtown San Francisco.
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