Sunday, November 29, 2009

Cool Find in Walnut Creek

Kabob House

I went out to a movie (The Men Who Stare at Goats) with a friend last week, and heard that Kabob House is a great Persian restaurant with good values. My friend was willing to give it a whirl, so that's were we found ourselves after the movie. When you enter the first thing you notice is the mouth-watering aroma of freshly cooking food.

Persian Bread

As soon as we ordered, some fresh, hot Persian bread came out. I couldn't find it listed on the menu, but I believe it's called Taftoon. Whatever you call it, delicious is its second name.

Green Salad

A tossed salad is included with each meal. It was fresh and flavorful.

Chicken Kabob Platter

The Chicken Kabob Platter smelled SO good, and looked fresh and well cooked. My friend Stephanie said it was great!

Spinach Treat

I ordered from the extensive vegetarian menu section, finding the Spinach Treat intriguing. It is described as spinach and eggs sauteed with garlic and onions, served with saffron basmati rice. Somehow I expected something more omelet-like from this description than the savory, lemony spinach treat with bits of egg and topped with fresh tomatoes. I liked it!


I was one of those who couldn't choose between a rose water flavored ice cream, or Faloodeh (a Persian slushy - rice noodles coated in rose water, topped with a touch of lime juice and sour cherry syrup). So I had the Makhloot, which tops the rose-flavored ice cream with Faloodeh. It was a bit much, but what a delicious taste treat!


Stephanie knew what she wanted for dessert the minute she walked through the door - Baghlava. It was great that their rendition is so good. It was very flaky with the right pistacio sweetness. The restaurant seemed to be run by an extended, very warm and gracious Persian family. I would definitely go back.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Fun find


Dad and I were together in San Rafael, and thought Foodles would be fun to try. The first thing we noticed is that it has a very reasonably priced breakfast menu! However, it was lunchtime, so we chose options from their daily specials. Foodles is a casual breakfast and lunch place, and it has a sign in the window about using fresh and wholesome ingredients.

Chicken Teriyaki

Dad opted for the chicken teriyaki which came with rice and a green salad. The portion was generous, and Dad liked it enough to finish the plate!

Salmon Teriyaki

I chose the salmon teriyaki, which was amazing! There was a generous portion of perfectly grilled and sauced salmon and the salad was so very fresh. It's been a few days, and I forgot to right it down, but I believe this plate was $8-9. It is a casual, order-at-the-counter type place that has a bit tied interior, and the food and service was great. The burgers the couple had next to us looked awesome too.

Restaurant Inspection Results
Critical: 1
Noncritical: 0
Last inspected: 6/15/2009

Find address/phone number/directions on Anna's Map.

Friday, November 27, 2009

The day after

Fruit Salad

We had such a lovely Thanksgiving with friends, and I was so busy assembling and making biscuits from scratch on the spot that although I took my camera, I took no Thanksgiving festivities photos. However, before I left home, I did snap a shot of the fruit salad I made, which had pineapple, Capay Farms pears, banana, blackberries and mint freshly picked from my deck, with a whole lemon squeezed over top. It was good and there was not a bit left to bring home, including the bowl that slipped off near the sink after dinner and flew into many pieces!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope everyone who celebrates Thanksgiving has a spectacular meal and much to be grateful for. I made a Tofurky feast with the tofu-turkey roasted with fresh root vegetables from the CSA box a couple nights ago, paired with a green bean casserole. I didn't mention that it was not meat, and Dad didn't notice the difference.

I am grateful for many things, not the least of which is a busy business season, which has made my blogging a little irregular lately. Never fear, I am here and will continue as I can without crazy-making.

Dad and I are having Thanksgiving dinner with Jo-Ann & Jonathon and their extended family and friends. And I will eat some actual turkey today, and will be making my mother's special oyster stuffing....

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 23, 2009

There goes another one

Sam's Roadhouse closed

I liked Sam's Roadhouse in Novato. Now it's gone.

Points South

There is already a new establishment operating in its place, Points South. It advertises both Yucatan and Mayan cuisine. It also serves breakfast!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

I'm becoming my mother

Molasses Apple Cake

Never thought that would happen, but I have to admit, there are sure some signs. Such as improvising a recipe measuring nearly nothing... I promised Dad to make him a apple cake this morning, and I have a French recipe my friends are raving over that I wanted to try. Then we ended up going to "New Moon" with our friend Daniel, and I invited him over for cake. And that means NO sugar. Hmmm.. the recipe I was planning to make definitely has this ingredient. So that set me off on my improvisation. I didn't even refer to the original recipe, nor any for that matter. And it turned out! It was mildly sweet rather than what is typical of an American cake. I remember that I fluffed 2 eggs and other wet ingredients (molasses, vanilla extract, E.V.O.O.) then blended in the apples (3 medium chopped), then the dry ingredients, cinnamon, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, and all purpose flour until the batter looked the correct consistency. I used Pam baking spray on a non-stick cake pan, and then cooked at 350F for 25 minutes once I had it in the pan and the oven preheated. Daniel insisted I take a photo and blog it, as he liked the result, and I have to admit it worked out too.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Invisible, until now

Caffe Acri

I must have passed Caffe Acri in Tiburon hundreds of times. I thought it was just a coffee and ice cream place. I recently heard that there is breakfast served, and I immediately opened my schedule for Dad and I to visit one morning. The restaurant faces Main Street with the well known Guaymas just behind.

Mushroom, Tomato, Avocado Omelet

I tied the Mushroom, Avocado and Tomato Omelet. It came with home fries and thinly sliced whole grain bread. It was all quite good, I'd have it again in a heartbeat. There were a few things that could be improved however. There were no napkins given with the meal, and none were set out with the usual coffee condiments, you had to request a napkin! Also, the toast was not only not buttered, but there was no butter on the plate, another trip to the counter to request it. Lastly, the women behind the counter seemed much more intent of flirting with the men who stood and chatted with them over the counter than noticing or acknowledging those waiting for service.

Croissant Breakfast Sandwich

My Dad had the croissant sandwich, he said it was a winner. Bacon, eggs, cheese and tomato all pressed against croissant halves and pressed in a panini grill from the looks. I think that this place is a perfect place to wait for the ferry as the entrance is just a couple businesses away. They also serve simple lunches.

Restaurant Inspection Results
Critical: 0
Noncritical: 1
Last inspected: 4/22/2009

Find address/phone number/directions on Anna's Map.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Nouveau Tarte

Left Bank

It was a warm and beautiful day in Larkspur, and the perfect parking spot appeared! So I found myself visiting an old favorite, the Left Bank at the Blue Rock.

Left Bank Interior

The interior is still warm and inviting, and I was sitting next to the fireplace with a good view of most everything. The waiter was quite friendly and brought me an iced tea while another brought some fresh French bread!

French Onion Soup

I went a little crazy for caramelized onion and cheese, first ordering this flavorful French Onion soup. The stock was great and it had lots of soft and simmered onions.

Caramelized Onion and Mushroom Tarte

I ordered a Caramelized Onion and Mushroom Tarte which was also topped with melty cheese. I have to say this was not your mother's french tarte! I had imagined a petite, well - tarte! This was more like a French flatbread pizza and took up an entire dinner plate! I took some home and had it again for dinner with some vegetable soup. It was tasty, just unexpected, and I realized my faux pas in ordering two dishes with onions and cheese as main ingredients.

Restaurant Inspection Results
Critical: 0
Noncritical: 1
Last inspected: 7/3/2008

Previously reviewed:
January 15, 2007

Find address/phone number/directions on Anna's Map.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Matches the memories

Crustacean Crab

I had a special reason to meet my friends Michael and Karen at Crustacean in San Francisco the other day. It was Michael's birthday! The request was to recommend a French/Vietnamese restaurant that was special. I remembered a number of happy meals at the Crustacean, and thought it also wasn't too far from the Orpheum, where Michael and Karen were going to see "Wicked" afterwards.


The neon crab on the building is actually a better beacon than the restaurant signage. An old friend of mine, Yves, dropped into town to say hi some years ago, and he was effusive in his praise of this restaurant and introduced me to it. I've been back many times since that first visit where I tasted their famous crab and garlic noodles.

Steamed Seafood Dumplings

We had a couple appetizers, the first which was the Steamed Seafood Dumplings. These were stuffed with black cod, prawn and eggplant. These were delicious!

Hot and Peppered Calamari

We also tried an appetizer special that night, a Hot and Peppered Calamari dish. We thoroughly enjoyed these as well.

Basa Fish over Garlic Noodles

Karen had the special fish of the day, Basa, over garlic noodles. She was positive in her comments about this dish.

Pan Roasted Halibut

Michael insisted we each taste his Pan Roasted Halibut. It was wonderful! It was in a toasted sesame miso vinegrette with shitake and corn, accompanied by baby bok choy. This all was atop white cheddar Asian basil mashed potatoes. We all enjoyed our meal and the good atmosphere (not too noisy) where we could have a good dinner conversation. The service was attentive as well.

Note: My friend Zoomie pointed out that I hadn't included my dish! Here it is:

Egg Noodles with Vegetables and Prawns

The Egg Noodles with Vegetables and Prawns was delightful! Plump shrimp with fresh vegetables and noodles - it's hard to beat!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Pleasant Agave Fiber Drink

Spoon of Viv Agave

I noticed "Viv Agave" Organic Blue Agave Inulin at Whole Foods a couple weeks ago and thought it was worth a whirl. It looked unusual to me. It's just a light, white powder with a soft sweetness and hint of vanilla. So far, after adding it to water or other beverages it's either imperceptible, or adds just a top note of vanilla. It adds fiber and is also a prebiotic which aids the good bacteria which protect your health. I've found it an easy add to the diet.

Viv Agave

Monday, November 16, 2009

USDA: More Americans going hungry

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, these numbers are saddening. The Marin Food Bank has a list of ways you can help.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Tried and true

The Dipsea

Dad and I went to The Dipsea Cafe in Mill Valley for breakfast a few days ago. The Dipsea provides a reliably solid breakfast, with lots of choice and well-executed, interesting specials. The service is friendly without keeping you from your friends. It's a great place to meet friends for a chat, and since so many others agree, the restaurant can be quite noisy.

Vegetarian Frittata

I ordered the Vegetarian Frittata. It had generous portions of mushrooms, tomatoes, onions, spinach, and zucchini. It was smothered with a melted pool of Jack cheese. The wheat toast is covering the home fries, and you can clearly see the housemade strawberry jam, which is so good it can cause swooning.

The Usual

Dad wanted "The Ususal". The dish of two eggs, two slices of bacon, home fries, and a biscuit is $8.95 on weekdays. Most other dishes are around $12, including my frittata. It's a bit pricey, and worth it for it's charm and good food. We both enjoyed our breakfasts.

Restaurant Inspection Results
Critical: 2
Noncritical: 1
Last inspected: 1/26/2009

Previously reviewed:
July 31, 2008
July 19, 2007
June 6, 2007
December 15, 2006

Find address/phone number/directions on Anna's Map.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

New Japanese place in San Rafael

I Love Sushi

Dad and I went out for lunch to check out the new I Love Sushi in San Rafael. The owners of the previous place there, Jason's Burger Joint, decided to recreate the spot into a sushi oasis. They've nicely redone the interior with Japanese theme.

Miso Soup

The miso soup that accompanied each of our lunches was great. These days some restaurants leave out the wakame (seaweed) that is traditional to this soup, however this had a full complement of it.

California Roll

We started with a California Roll, it was fine, but nothing special. It was made with the imitation crab sticks so common these days.

Bento Box

I chose a two item bento box for my main course. The fry cook needs a bit of training on how to make tempura. The vegetable tempura that was one of the item choices was so limp as to be floppy! There were browned edges and spots where the batter didn't cover. However, whoever created the items knew their Japanese food. There was the grated daikon radish for the tempura sauce. This is missing in many US Japanese restaurants these days, and it is an important piece as it helps cut the grease. The teriyaki salmon that came was perfect. It was grilled nicely and the teriyaki sauce was good. The green salad section was overflowing with lovely fresh spring greens. That was a definite plus. The rice was slightly skimpy, but good nonetheless. The edamame pieces in the middle was also a nice touch.

Green Salad

Dad's salad came separately, and he said it was better than the usual.

Chicken Satsu Donburi

Dad's main course was the Chicken Satsu Donburi. It was basically a deep fried Chicken Cutlet sliced and placed over a simmered egg and onion base, all topping rice. He said that he liked the green onion tops that not only added a bit of flavor, but put some color in the otherwise brown/yellow dish. He liked the flavor and insisted on taking the small bit he couldn't finish home. I Love Sushi has not been open long, and I anticipate that as they keep going things will gel in the kitchen for more consistency.

Restaurant Inspection Results

I Love Sushi has not yet been inspected.

Find address/phone number/directions on Anna's Map.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The real deal

Trish's Steakhouse & Lounge

I had lunch in Hoxie, KS at Trish's Steakhouse & Lounge earlier this week and took some photos. This place seemed to be a hangout for local farmers where there was free internet connection and a social place. It was fun to listen to the farmer talk; because of weather conditions this is the latest harvest for corn on record and the farmers were talking about when they were havesting their respective fields. The staff was friendly and efficient.

Old sign

There was a sign from an earlier restaurant in Hoxie hanging on the wall, I'm supposing that this philosophy may have contributed to its being history. "It's Old, It's Tough. We cook it... You eat it. Come and get it or We'll throw it out." Nuff said.

Fish Sandwich

I was pleasantly surprised by the Fish Sandwich. For being so far from the water it was quite tasty and cooked just right for a crisp crust on the breading, and served piping hot. The french fries were great, and the ketchup was to die for! I asked if they made it themselves (it came in unlabeled red squeeze bottles), and the response was a simple 'no'. It was thick, rich and flavorful. Most of my companions had various forms of burgers, and they were thick and stuck out nearly an inch from the buns. The person sitting next to me had the jalapeno burger that he commented positively about.

I thought we were going to the City Limits for dinner one night, however we changed to Montana Mike's. I reviewed it on Yelp since I had taken no photos. I also reviewed the Village Inn where we had breakfast on Yelp for the same reason. Both of those are part of chains as well.

I enjoyed Kansas, and got a lot of work done as well. I'm back now, and back to the Marin 'beat'.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Yes, I rode in the red one

KS Combine & grain truck

A Kansas corn field -- just got back and rather too tired to write much. I did ride in that big red combine while harvesting a corn field. The operator was 74 years old and had been farming all his life. It was a wonderful slice of life there, a lot of down to earth people working hard to get a very late harvest, delayed by rain, in to the silos.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I'm in Kansas

Last night, or rather today Kansas time, I arrived! We drove in darkness from Denver airport, and so I haven't had a chance to see the terrain. When I told the hotel clerk that I was excited for sunrise so I could capture my first glimpse of Kansas, he said "It's flat". Hmmm. So I chose a photo of Kansas from iStockphoto that matched his voice. We'll see if that's what I see! I understand that we'll be having dinner at the City Limits Bar & Grill tonight. I'm not sure if the circumstances will allow me to take photos, but certainly I'll give you a report. Not sure if I will be able to blog again until I'm back, but I'll try!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

New kid on the block

Savory Orient

In the space that I believe last housed Mezzo Mezzo in San Rafael, a new place has opened, Savory Orient. I enjoyed lunch there a few days ago. The waiter told me that Savory Orient aims to bring us good tastes from many countries in Asia. The menu had things from Thailand, Japan, China and Malaysia that I could see immediately.

Fresh green salad

The lunch items come first with a salad. It was cool and fresh and served elegantly. In fact the whole space was quite elegant, and there was a big buddha sitting in the restaurant with us.

Fresh Spring Wraps

I loved the Fresh Spring Wraps which were indeed fresh and served artfully in a glass. There was a good amount of iceburg lettuce inside which gave it some extra snap.

Drunken Noodles

I ordered off the specials menu for my entree, which was Drunken Noodles. The drunken noodles consisted of hokkien noodles with prawns, scallops, bok choy, red bell peppers, mushrooms, basil (tomatoes) in a spicy Thai basil sauce. I put tomatoes in () since these were listed on the menu, but not in the dish. This was a fusion dish with a very Thai flavored treatment of Chinese noodles. These egg noodles orginated in the Fujian Province of China and are popular in Singapore and Malaysia. These were served beautifully and spiced just right.

This is a place that emphasizes presentation and taste rather than family-sized large portions. The service was prompt and friendly.

Restaurant Inspection Results
Critical: 1
Noncritical: 0

Find address/phone number/directions on Anna's Map.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Great pasta!

Vin Antico

Jo-Ann and I got together for a girls night out at Vin Antico in San Rafael. We came early and were the first diners to arrive that evening. The staff was very welcoming. The ambiance of the restaurant itself is very warm and inviting.

Caesar Salad

I felt like some greens, so started with their classic Caesar Salad. It is a large portion with a generous amount of shaved Parmasean. I enjoyed it!


For the main course, I chose the "Strangled Priest". It won out over other selections because of the intriguing name. The Strozzapretti pasta consisted of sauteed mushrooms, spinach, shaved ricotta salata, garlic, and toasted pine nuts. The name comes from the open tubes that are said to resemble priest's collars. The pasta was tender, the other ingredients fresh, and the whole dish melded together deliciously!


Jo-Ann chose the Peposo Delicato which is a kind of lasagne with green peppercorn braised pork shoulder layered between fresh pasta in garlic broth. She enjoyed the dish although she thought the pasta in mine was slightly sweeter and better. She also thought that the pork preparation was a bit more 'sour' than she is used to having. Not in a bad way, but a different taste sensation.


The whiteness of the cup made it difficult to get a well focused photograph of this awesome Affogato. It was artfully served, and the dish consisting of espresso poured over mascarpone gelato, with house made biscotti cookie was really a wonderful contrast in tastes.


I was intrigued by the description of the Tramezzino Gelato: "Hazelnut gelato sandwiched between chocolate drizzled piselli cookies, topped with honey and crushed hazelnuts." It sounded delicate and delicious, so I was prepared for the deliciousness, but not for the large size of the dessert. Jo-Ann and I both approved of this one. It was a 10! The piselli cookies are a crisp lightly sweet waffle type cookie, and the hazelnut gelato was smooth, creamy and everything you dream of in a gelato. Vin Antico is a wonderful place to have a special evening!

Restaurant Inspection Results
Critical: 0
Noncritical: 0

Previously reviewed:
July 19, 2008

Find address/phone number/directions on Anna's Map.