Saturday, February 28, 2009

Sign of the times

Former Chili's

"For Lease", that seems to be the popular sign popping up on restaurant fronts all over. Not to mention retail spaces. I was SHOCKED to be passing Chili's near Northgate Mall in San Rafael and see it sporting this new sign. It seemed to still be busy last time I was around, and have a reasonable price-point. It's not my typical type of place to review, but I have people, especially kids like the twins, who loved this place so I found myself here.

Chili's closure sign

Here's all the news they left. Rohnert Park the closest? I just can't see myself driving that far for this kind of place, even with the twins cajoling. Not when Chili's are nearly as thick around their home in So. Cal. as Starbucks. Anyway this made me sad, and shocked.

Friday, February 27, 2009

The hot spot


It's not been open long, but already there's a wait even early on a week night! Marinitas in San Anselmo already has a following it seems. The greeters were sparkly and got us seated quickly despite the crowd.

Chips and Salsas

The waiter immediately brought over some light and luscious crunchy chips with salsa. I hear these are baked, probably why these are not greasy.

Mexicana Salad

Everything on the menu is made for sharing, so Dad and I shared everything starting with this inventive and stylish Mexicana salad. The salad consisted of chopped romaine lettuce and cabbage with radish, jicama, green onions, queso fresco, fresh oregano, crispy tortilla ribbons and cumin citrus vinaigrette.

Pescado Yucateco

Next up was the Pescado Yucateco which came highly recommended by the waiter. This roast cod with Sikil Pak, corn cakes with epazote, cherry tomato-pumpkin seed vinaigrette was heavenly!

Plato vegetariano

And how could a mostly veggie person pass up an amazing sounding Plato Vegetariano? The plate included achile relleno stuffed with grilled corn and queso oaxaca, quinoa pilaf, chard with raja crema and chipotle glazed butternut squash. As complex and flavorful as colorful!

Arroz verde

And I was just so curious about the Arroz Verde, that we had to try some of this green rice. And the kitchen let me in on the mix - half parsley and half cilantro - that gives this dish its distinctive flavor.


Dad and I decided to make it a celebration and ordered desserts.


These light as a feather churros with chocolate dipping sauce had me thinking about churros in a whole new way. Previously, I never sought out churros, but am rethinking that stance.

Tres leche cake

And noting a famous Mexican dessert, Tres Leche Cake on the menu, we had to try Marinta's version. This one was a delicious rendition with strawberry garnish. We had a totally enjoyable experience here with good service and delicious unique dishes. This is definitely a keeper. However, expect to pay more than at a more pedestrian Mexican restaurant. It was worth it.

Restaurant Inspection Results
Critical: 0
Noncritical: 1
Last inspected: 6/2/2008

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Scoring at the Farmer's Market

Vegetable Stir Fry with Massa Rice

I made this score long ago, and have gone back for a number of bags of this delicious Massa Organics Rice. This rice is so good, it tastes 'alive' when you bite into a forkful! I paired it with a fresh vegetable stir fry that I sprinkled fresh tomatoes over just before serving.


I've been using it for about a year now, and I bought my first bag from this gentleman. He told me that the grain is allowed to mature on the head which makes a big flavor difference. I agree! This organic rice is good and good for you!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Value lunch for carnivores

Hot Wok

My mother taught me that the centerpiece of the meal is the MEAT, which you then plan side dishes around. I think that this was not only about the protein content, but also the fact that the meat was usually the most expensive dish on the table. Dad and I stopped in to Hot Wok in San Anselmo the other day, and found that considering the quality and amount of meat in the dishes, and the price, this is a great value place. However, I don't eat meat.

Vegetables Lunch Combo

There are no labels on the dishes in the glass case, but a paper sign does say that vegetarian egg rolls are available. Of course I chose those, and the proprietor was so friendly and helpful that he took just the green beans from one dish, and some mixed vegetables from another to give me a veggie entree. I had to pick around the delectable looking chicken in the chow mein, and the pork cubes in the fried rice. This wouldn't work for a strict vegetarian, but I enjoyed my meal and kept the feeling of being mostly vegetarian this way. And the vegetables that he picked were great! I didn't see any seafood options.

General Tsao's Chicken Lunch Combo

Dad was in heaven with what looked like a General Tsao's chicken in a mildly sweet sauce, and he had no issues with any of the meat. He loved his lunch, and at the same time, the portions were so generous that we both took a good portion of ours home and enjoyed it once again, reheated. It won't be my hang out simply because of the meat-laden entrees, however the meat looked good, all white meat chicken and the beef had a nice appearance as well.

Restaurant Inspection Results
Critical: 0
Noncritical: 0
Last inspected: 6/10/2008

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Japanese Restaurants in Marin, and Beyond

Special Vegetable Mulitgrain Roll
Sushi Holic's Special Vegetable Multigrain Roll

Well, I did it. I've visited every Japanese restaurant in Marin at least once. At least until the next new one opens up! I've visited a few in San Francisco as well, and that list is expanding too. If I'm missing any in Marin, please let me know!

Japanese Restaurants and others serving "Japanese" food (and link to my review, if I wrote one, or other info)

Corte Madera

Pacific Catch - Fusion


King of the Roll
Sushi Ko

Mill Valley

Ino Sushi

May Lee's

Robata Grill & Sushi
Sushi Gourmet


Masa's Sushi & Appetizer Bar
Neo Tataki
Sushi Holic
Taki Japanese Restaurant

San Anselmo

May Lee's Asian Bistro - Fusion
Sushi 69

San Rafael

Fujiyama Restaurant & Sushi Bar
Mikado Sushi
Oedo Grill
Sushi Boat Restaurant
Umi Sushi & Grill
Yu Shang Restaurant & Sushi Bar - Fusion


Sushi Ran
Sweet Ginger
Tsukiji Sushi


Ginza Sushi

Japanese Restaurants reviewed in other places...

San Francisco

Ai Sushi

Delica rf1
Japanese Tea Garden (Not really a restaurant, but a nice place to enjoy Japanese Tea)
Shabu House
Sozai Restaurant & Sake Lounge
Sushi Bistro

San Francisco's Japantown

Kushi Tsuru
Mifune Udon

On the Bridge
Sanuki Udon


Other Greater Bay Area Places

Boat House Sushi

Monday, February 23, 2009

Still bright and busy

Half Day Cafe

The Half Day Cafe in Kentfield is one of the consistently cheeriest and light filled breakfast places in Marin. And given that their food has been consistently good over time, it seems to never cease to have a crowd waiting for a seat!

Scrambled Eggs & Fruit

Dad and I revisited one fine morning, and Dad wanted some specific things for breakfast, without being overwhelmed by the sheer amount of food. Well, the amount was still quite a bit, but he enjoyed having his choice, part of which were the scrambled eggs with fresh fruit and some toast (the toast just came with the meal, or he wouldn't have had it, considering what else he had with this breakfast.)

One Pancake

And he had a side order of one pancake with this. The orange butter impressed him so much he asked why I didn't buy this brand of butter... I took a little taste too and had to agree it was a sweet fruit finish to the smoothness.

Tofu Scramble

I on the other hand ordered the Tofu Scramble out of the 'egg' section. I was thus surprised when it didn't include eggs, however, it was delicious just as it was with fresh tomatoes, crisp-fresh corn and lightly sauteed spinach mixed in with the firm tofu. The home fries were good too, soft yet with some brownness on the outside of most of the pieces.


You can upscale to a fresh bakery item for a small amount so I went for the freshly baked biscuit. After tasting a smidgen of my Dad's orange butter I was sorry that I hadn't taken the server's advice about having it instead of plain. Next time I'll know better! We had a delightful breakfast with prompt and friendly service, and despite the crowd we were able to get a seat relatively quickly.

Restaurant Inspection Results
Critical: 1
Noncritical: 0
Last inspected: 1/2/2009

Previously reviewed:
December 12, 2006

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Tasty Thai in Rohnert Park


Jo-Ann and I were out bargain shopping one day a few weeks ago, and she had wanted to try an interesting looking Thai place, Sukhothai in Rohnert Park. I was all for trying something new! The interior was very clean and pleasant, and the staff very quick and kind.

Thai Iced Tea

The Thai iced tea was served in a pretty glass. It was quite refreshing after a morning of running around.

Fresh roll with Noodles

The lunch specials included pieces of fresh spring rolls, which were great, and I chose a wide rice noodle entree with mine. The noodles were tender and the other vegetables, such as the bright green broccoli were perfectly done. The shrimp in the dish tasted very fresh too.

Fresh Roll with Pumpkin Curry

And Jo-Ann was even more adventurous, trying the pumpkin curry with duck. I tasted a bit of the pumpkin and curry from the dish and was favorably impressed with the complexity and flavor of the curry sauce. The pumpkin was tender and well cooked. Jo-Ann also enjoyed the restaurant. We'd made a new cool find together! I'd stop by here again anytime!

Sonoma County also makes their restaurant inspection results easily obtainable on line, so I will be including those when venturing into their eating space from this point as well.

Restaurant Inspection Results
Critical: 1
Noncritical: 2
Last inspected: 12/2/2008

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Slow growing broccoli

Broccoli February 2009

I believe I planted this broccoli from a start towards the end of September. It never died, but just didn't seem to grow much. In the sunny spurts we've had, it's grown a little, and finally is growing a flower that we can eventually eat. This is the largest of the six starts planted, and coincidentally has the biggest pot. I'm glad we were not counting on this winter vegetable for our food supply! It is interesting learning about how the various vegetables grow.

Friday, February 20, 2009

"An Adult Day Care Center"

Dave & Mike's

I just love Dave & Mike's slogan for their restaurant. And ever since I noticed, and enjoyed their retro setting in Tiburon, I knew I'd have to bring my Dad here. We wanted a simple lunch recently, and were in the neighborhood so we stopped by.

Egg Salad Sandwich

There's not a whole lot of vegetarian choices, but I found an egg salad sandwich which I paired with a yellow lentil soup. There's nothing like a classic recipe done well, and with a twist. This egg salad sandwich had the right amounts of the usual ingredients, plus a noticeable amount of fresh diced celery. The crunch was great, and lightened up what could have been a heavy choice. The soup was awesome, with a complexity of flavor I didn't expect.

Turkey Sandwich

Dad went with a classic turkey and cheese sandwich, which had fresh lettuce and tomato topping the sandwich as well. The service was friendly, everything fresh, and I just had to query about those odd prices, ending in things like .93 or .98. The clever staff has calculated the amounts so that with tax the check amount comes out even!

Restaurant Inspection Results
Critical: 0
Noncritical: 0
Last inspected: 6/5/2008

Previously reviewed:
April 4, 2007

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Pizzas are still great

Pizza Antica

Dad & I stopped by Pizza Antica at the end of a hectic day. Seemed like a good time for pizza and salad.

Fall Chopped Salad

We ordered the Fall Chopped Salad, which had mangoes, pears, pomegranate seeds as well as red cabbage mixed in. I thought it was taking an unusually long time, and then I discovered why. The waiter thought we wanted everything delivered at once. I have no idea why since we were at a small table which physically would not hold all the dishes, nor had the topic of timing come up in the conversation. And after all of that actually, I like the more typical chopped salad that they previously served better. The fruit was too mushy except for the pomegranate seeds, which were too seedy.

Three Cheeses, Shaved Broccoli, Caramelized Onion and Pancetta

On to better things, this pizza of Three Cheeses, Shaved Broccoli, Caramelized Onion and Pancetta is what my Dad craves. I've had this one on previous visits, and it's a fabulous combination. I picked off some of the Pancetta and enjoyed some of this one too.

Spinach Tomato Portabello Pizza

We also had a custom creation, pizza with spinach, fresh tomatoes and portabello mushrooms. It's making me crave another one just writing about it. It was lovely with ingredients that were so fresh and at their peak. Pizza Antica has a solid place in Mill Valley and I will enjoy returning the next time.

Restaurant Inspection Results
Critical: 1
Noncritical: 0
Last inspected: 2/9/2009

Previously reviewed:
November 6, 2008
July 12, 2007

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Tsukiji Sushi

I'd previously made some posts about a building that has long been closed in Sausalito. It appeared that a new Japanese restaurant, Tsukiji Sushi would be moving in. Then a big blue 'for lease' sign appeared in the window. I speculated that perhaps Tsujiki was not coming after all. In the last few days, a new double doorway appeared in the building! It is easily identifiable in the right part of the photo, being made of lighter, unpainted wood. Is the building being divided into two spaces? Is Tsukiji coming after all? Stay tuned, and if you know anything about this mystery, please comment!

Previous posts on this topic:
December 24, 2008
September 5, 2008

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Hidden delights

Ambrosia Pizza

There's a neighborhood Italian place in Larkspur, Ambrosia Pizza which blends in to the point of being easily overlooked from the street. This would be a mistake. Not only is there an extensive menu, with an extensive specials list, but an amazingly large choice of wines by the glass.

Caesar Salad

The service was friendly and prompt. In fact I had hardly voice the 'd' at the end of Caesar Salad, when it arrived in front of me! This was a generous portion of salad, cool and well dressed.

Linguine with clams

I was drawn to their Linguine with Clams. I was wary when it first arrived as I'm not a fan of 'soupy' sauces. However, I sipped a little, and was floored by the amazing flavor. I kept sipping the broth until nearly dry thinking is was so good that I wouldn't mind if the broth was all I had room to eat! I did tuck into the noodles, and found that these were cooked to the al dente degree that I liked. And there were SO many clams, both fresh and additional chopped, layered all through the noodles. These I couldn't finish. I'd come here again in a heartbeat.

Restaurant Inspection Results
Critical: 1
Noncritical: 5
Last inspected: 2/7/2008

Monday, February 16, 2009

View breakfast

Bridgeway Cafe

Sitting in front of the windows at Bridgeway Cafe in Sausalito gives you a fabulous view of the Richardson Bay and San Francisco skyline. However the day I last visited, I was with Paul who was visiting from Portland and we were more interested in talking. And it was fun to introduce him to this delicious breakfast spot.

Short Stack of French Toast

Paul ordered the short stack of French toast with bacon. He gave it high marks and enjoyed the nice piece of cantaloupe on the side.


I had a custom omelet with some perfectly cooked home fries.

Omelet interior

I was very happy of my choice of spinach, tomatoes and jack cheese for the filling. I've never had a bad experience here, and the breakfasts have always been meticulously plated and delicious!

Restaurant Inspection Results
Critical: 4
Noncritical: 7
Last inspected: 8/14/2008

Previously reviewed:
June 21, 2008
June 24, 2005

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Warm red and friendly

Thai Bistro

I made it over to Novato to try Thai Bistro the other day. The place has been transformed with the new ownership. It is stylish and warm with lots of red tones. The staff was friendly too.

Spicy and Sour Soup with Lemongrass

Having recently had a good experience with a Thai soup, I couldn't resist trying one from their specials list, Spicy and Sour Soup with Lemongrass. I ordered it with tofu, and it was not only delicious, the tofu pieces were cut into blossom shapes!

Pumpkin Curry with Tofu

I love pumpkin curry, so ordered the Pumpkin Curry special, again with tofu. The tofu was again cut into pretty blossom shapes, and the whole plate was stylized. The curry was tasty and the entree held together well. I would order it again. The only surprise was that although the menu said it was served inside a 'fresh pumpkin', it came in an oval dish. There was plenty of pumpkin inside, although I do wonder how that presentation would have looked, pretty I'm sure. I also enjoyed the light sesame taste of the salad dressing. Thai Bistro is a positive upscale option in Novato's food scene.

Restaurant Inspection Results
Critical: 0
Noncritical: 0
Last inspected: 11/17/2008

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day!


I'm noticing a pattern. Dad rarely requests steak dinners, but request it he did the other night. So we found ourselves at Outback Steakhouse in Sausalito just a few days short of Valentine's Day. I've blogged Outback previously related to Valentine's Day. Maybe it's the red color?

Bread and Butter

After you order, hot fresh bread appears magically at your table with lots of butter to slather on it.

Caesar Salad

I had a decent Caesar Salad to start my meal, Dad declined his salad course, stating he just wanted to get to the steak!

Small sirloin

Dad ate every bit of his 7 oz Outback Special steak. In accordance with the times, the restaurant seems to have added this smaller size since the last visit, and priced it the same as the previously bigger size. However, this version was perfect for Dad's 88 year old appetite.

Alaskan King Crab

I have a weakness for their Alaskan King Crab offering. Simple and tasty, I also enjoyed it all. Although a chain, it provides a nice change of pace and allows Dad to get a sized well steak while I can enjoy a luxury seafood.

Tonight I'm taking Dad, Toran & Aurelia to Round Table Pizza while the kid's parents get some romantic Valentine's moments. The company will be fun and high spirited I'm sure!

Restaurant Inspection Results
Critical: 1
Noncritical: 1
Last inspected: 5/22/2008

Previously reviewed:
February 15, 2007