Friday, June 29, 2012

Samovar - San Francisco, CA

This is a high end Tea Garden that specializes in providing Tea service with an international flair.  They have an excellent selection of tea and pair it with "High Teas" ranging from English, Moorish, Indian, Japanese, Chinese, etc.  The food was varied and excellent.  We had the Moorish and the Japanese.  There were too many individual food items to describe here, but they were all very good and well put together.  We loved the Moroccan Mint Tea so much that we bought some to take home.

We also had the tea cookie sampler which was okay.  The atmosphere was very nice, set in the center of downtown San Fran, with views of modern buildings fronted by older architecture.  It was part of a public park which was cool, except for the screaming child on a skateboard being ignored by her mother on the phone who blazed through the diners every two minutes.  If you're that person, and you're reading this - you suck.

Samovar Tea Lounge on Urbanspoon

BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse - Fresno, CA

Kari remembers this place from Riverside, so we had to give them a try.  Their beer selection is excellent, very well rounded for a brewery.  Kari had their Hefeweizen, and it was quite good.  I had a guest brew, an IPA that was local.  It was also good.

We both had pizza, Kari adding a side salad because she knew their bleu cheese dressing was very good.  She wasn't disappointed and gave the salad a 3.5.  Kari's pizza was mushroom, olive, tomato, cheese, pepperoni - her own creation.  She got the mini and it kind of crowded the toppings so you didn't get a lot.  She gave it a 3.0.  I had the 5 meat, it was loaded and had plenty of topping space.  I gave it a 4.0.

This place was a madhouse  for a Thursday night!  The service was very attentive and friendly.

BJ's Restaurant & Brewhouse on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Calistoga Inn and Brewery - Calistoga, CA

Never pass up a locally brewed Hefeweizen.  Kari and I have lived by this rule for a while and it did not let us down today.  We had the wheat beers, garlic fries and green salad.  They were all pretty good and the garlic fries hit the spot.

We gave the beer a 4, the salad a 3 and the fries a 4.5.

Good stop at just the right time.

Calistoga Inn on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Russian River Brewing Company - Santa Rosa, CA

Stopped in here for a snack and a sample of some beers - and what a sample it was! 18 beers in 2 ounce glasses. Officially, Bumblechick Food's Best Beer Sampler!

The snack we had was the Caprese Salad. It looked like it needed more basil since there was just some chiffonaded basil amongst the tomato and mozzarella. It also seemed like they just drizzled it with italian dressing. Totally different from the way we had it in Italy. Funny thing though - it was frickin' delicious! We scored it a 4.25.

I would go here for the sampler alone, and the caprese bodes well for the food menu.

Russian River Brewing Company on Urbanspoon

Linn's - Cambria, CA

So we're driving up Route 1 on California's coast.  We didn't eat breakfast at the hotel, because we planned on trying something worth blogging about.  Now we're getting hungry.  We see a sign for Linn's telling us to take the first exit in Cambria, so we do, and are shortly pleased to see a sign that says turn right for Linn's.  As we pass it after the turn, we notice it says 5 miles, scenic drive and something else we can't see.  As the road gets narrower and narrower, as well as more blind curvy, we start to wonder.  But the scenes are beautiful, farms, hillsides with that wonderful contrast of dry grass and green trees.

After the requisite 5 miles, we pass Linn's - it's a bakery and food stand, not a restaurant.  It dawns on us, the restaurant is in town!  Oh well, we're having an adventure, and the GPS says in 9.3 more miles we'll be on Route 46 and then back to Route 1.  Not sure what point, but who cares?  The road gets even more scary, my biggest worry being a crazy local driver barreling around a blind curve and hitting me head on.  But it also gets more spectacular.

Five miles in we stop on a bluff for a breather - I'm having a blast but it's pretty white knuckle.  There's actually a really friendly local there getting ready to fly a model helicopter.  He tells us where we're going and that we'll actually be 4 miles backward on Route 1 when we get there.  But the view here is breathtaking: hills in every direction, colors that remind us of Cornwall in England, and a dramatic look at the ocean through the valley.

Back in the car and off to Linn's!  Needless to say we made it, and, I would recommend taking this scenic route every time (you should turn onto 46 from Route 1 and then drive into Cambria vice doing it backwards like we did.) 

The food was also excellent, the baked goods letting us know we should have stopped at the bakery and loaded up.  I had the Olallieberry Cream Muffin and Kari had the Olallieberry Scone.  The Muffin was AMAZING!  Creamy yumminess mixed with delicious muffin and topped with a sweet/tart jelly.  Read the link about the Olallieberry - talk about inbreeding a berry - that would be illegal for people!  The Scone gets a 3.75 and the Muffin a 4.75.

Kari had the Mr. Potato Stack, two potato cakes topped with eggs, cheddar cheese, salsa and sour cream.  I had the Linn's Bin, more potato cakes topped with eggs, cheddar, avocado, ham onions and peppers.  The eggs were perfect and the potato cakes nicely crusty.  We both loved them and gave them a 4.25 (mine was better but Kari won't let me give it a higher score.)

Linn's Main Bin Restaurant & Gifts on Urbanspoon

Monday, June 25, 2012

Pasta Moon - Half Moon Bay, CA

We stumbled into this place after a long day of driving up the California coast on route 1.  The views were spectacular, and the drive very pleasant - but now we were hungry!  We decided to see what Tripadvisor had to say and they identified this place as #1 of 45, and barely 100 feet from where we were standing.  Sounds like fate!

Bad news was, they didn't open until 5:30, so we had twenty minutes to wait.  The bar was open, so we enjoyed a beer and some helpful talk from the friendly bartender.  Before we knew it, it was time to eat.

The waitress was knowledgeable and helpful,and the specials were numerous and enticing.  The pictures don't do the food justice, the lighting from the setting sun just wouldn't let me get them right.  You'll also notice based on the last few posts that the photos go in unedited due to being on the road and lacking my usual photo editing software.  I decided to leave these in so you could at least get an idea what they looked like.  Trust me though, they looked a lot better in person:

Kari started with Spring Pea and Fava Salad with Feta Cheese and a Lemon/Mint Dressing.  They caught me by surprise with the intense flavor, but after a second I really enjoyed them.  It was served cold and was very refreshing.  We scored them a 4.25.

I had the Sweet Corn Soup which was delicious and creamy, even though it was pretty much all corn.  There was no cream in it, but you wouldn't know.  It was completely blended and piping hot.  I gave it a 4.25 as well.

For the Main Course, Kari had the Butternut Squash Ravioli with Sage Butter and Marscapone Cheese.  They had an italian amaretti cookie crumble that added to the sweetness.  She enjoyed them and gave them a 3.75.

I had the special: Skate Wing with Sweet Pea Mousse, Curriy Red Lentils and Micro Greens.  The Skate was lightly pan seared and the Lentils flavorful but not too spicy.  The Pea Mousse was a little weird, but actually brought the whole dish together.  I liked this a lot, and scored it a 4.25.

The decor here is really cool, especially the grey cat or, organic mousetrap, as it was referred to as.  The rooms are spacious with a modern feel, but still an italian flair.  We will come again next time we pass through.

Pasta Moon on Urbanspoon

Pea Soup Andersen's - Buellton, CA

So you find yourself cruising up the 101 on California's coast, and your hungry for something wholesome and that's not hawked by a cartoon character.  If you're near Buellton, you could cruise a few miles off the road for a Danish in Solvang, or go a few more miles and lose some money at an Indian casino, but if you want to just get it and get back on the road, have a quick meal mere meters from the 101.  You can get Pea Soup and Salad for about ten bucks. It's really good, too.

Pea Soup Andersen's has been serving soup for 85 years, and they've been helped in the pea splitting department by Hap Pea and Pea Wee for most of that time.

The soup is rich and good, and the salad is decent, with a generous helping of dressing (ours was blue cheese.  I would give the soup a 4.0 and the salad a 3.25.  You also get some good bread and crackers.

Andersen's Pea Soup Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Centifonti's - La Mesa, CA

Even though we were here for breakfast, I couldn't help but admire the bar area.  They had beer boots and a good selection of beer.  It looks like a cool place to hang out.  Breakfast was alright too.

I had the House Made Granola with An Over Medium Egg and Their Centifonti's Potatoes.  The Granola was awesome, with great dried fruit and nuts.  I gave the Granola a 4.5.  The Egg was cooked perfectly but the potatoes were a little bland.  I give the Egg a 4.0 and the Potatoes a 3.0.

Roz and Kari had the French Toast, which was cooked with Almonds.  They absolutely loved them.  They were just the right custardly consistency inside the Toast.  They both agreed they deserved a 4.5.

I would come back for breakfast, but I'm really looking forward to drinking here.

Lulu - Palm Springs, CA

This restaurant has a unique and interesting motif.  Full of artwork and modern looking decor.  Lots of pastel colors, bubbling columns of water and a really nice bar area.  They call themselves a California Bistro, but they have an extensive menu including classic dishes with a California Flair.  They even have scallops from Maine.  Their menu includes a number of vegetarian and gluten free options.

Wedge Salad: All the classic ingredients, but spread out and separated for the compulsive food separators among us.  Jupe and Eric gave it a 3.75
Meatloaf: Eric and Scott each had the Meatloaf, one with the Tomato Sauce and one with Mushroom Sauce.  This started a theme of incredibly tender meat in all the dishes.  They both agreed it was a 4.5
Curry Chicken Salad: Really flavorful but not too hot curry sauce and the aforementioned incredibly tender meat.  Mikey insisted this was a solid 5.0 and Kari and Sarah both agreed.
Corn/Quinoa Spaghetti: Kari got this as a side dish to the Eggplant.  It was hard to see that the spaghetti was anything but regular pasta, but it was still good.  4.0
Egglpant Parmesan: This was the weak link dish.  Okay, but nothing spectacular.  3.0
Pan Seared Maine Scallops: Jupe really enjoyed these (even though he insisted the menu said "marine" vice Maine - he was wrong, I was right.)  I do agree that they deserved a 4.5.
Golden Coconut Shrimp: Sarah was impressed by the now redundant tenderness of the shrimp.  The sweet and sour sauce was excellent.  She gave it a 4.25.

Chicken Picatta: The chicken was incredibly tender and the white wine sauce was good, if a little on the non-tangy side.  I really enjoyed it and feel it deserves a 4.25.

This was a really interesting restaurant with an outstanding food selection.  The only issue we had was that the service was a little slow.  We would have prepared to think it was due to our enjoying our conversation, but it took way to long to get the check when we were ready to go.

Overall, the meal was outstanding and the atmosphere really great.  This is Bumblechick Food's current Best Restaurant in Palm Springs.  We only sampled a few, but this was the best of all.

Lulu on Urbanspoon

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Matchbox - Palm Springs, CA

Jupe didn't want to go here.  He thought it might be a tourist trap.  But it was the restaurant with the live music near the street that trapped all the tourists and made sure our dining experience was pleasant and uncrowded.  I got some major "I told you so's" in on Jupe on this one.

One of the coolest things about the place is that they had sixteen plus specialty pizzas and they allowed you to do half and half's on them.  This meant I got to try five different pizza styles by sharing with everyone else.  The only real thing I would warn is to stick to well drinks, martini's with top shelf vodka were $14.

This is the Simple Salad that Jupe and Eric shared.  It was a delightful mix of leafy greens, tomatoes and a variety of other yummy stuff.  They gave it a 3.25.

The pizzas we tried were: Matchbox Meat (4.5), with spicy italian sausage, BACON and pepperoni; Fire and Smoke (4.0), which was delicious but I could only eat two bites (the menu says "very hot" and means it!); Spicy Meatball (3.75), with the aforementioned meatball, crushed red pepper, garlic puree and bacon;  Proscuitto and Black Mission Fig (4.75), with roasted garlic and black pepper honey; Coppa Italian Ham and Arugala (4.25), with pesto sauce.  All were very good as the scores indicate and also very original while still having traditional choices.

Sarah and Kari shared the Chicken Breast Sandwich.  They thought it needed something more and that the roll was not perfect.  They said it was basically bruschetta with a chicken breast on it.  They scored it a 3.0
Jupe and Eric had the Ribeye with Fries.  They enjoyed it but weren't amazed.  They gave it a 3.75.  The Asparagus was a nice touch.

The service was fast, attentive and the drink selection excellent.  The prices were reasonable, except for high end drinks.  Bottom line: Go here, drink beer, wine or well drinks, and get the pizza.  You will enjoy your meal and experience.

Matchbox Vintage Pizza Bistro on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Sherman's Deli and Bakery - Palm Springs, CA

The group stopped in here for some breakfast and a little entertaining attitude.  The food was awesome, the service fast and the portions ginormous!  Everything, even the most normal of breakfast foods, tasted a little unique, in a good way.

This was the special - Pancakes, Eggs and Bacon for a GREAT price.  Jupe seemed to enjoy it, but I didn't get a score from him - bad blogger!  I assume based on his silence while chowing down that it was at least a 4.0.
Kari and Sarah had the Matzo Brei, which the server (and maybe owner) made sure to explain was scrambled eggs with Matzo in it that is extremely filling.  He also explained that most people had trouble finishing their plate.  Kari and Sarah did not heed the advice and share their plate.  They thought it was good, but could have been less Matzo Brei and thus have a side dish.  Score it a 3.0
Eric and I both had the homemade Corn Beef Hash.  He had scrambled, I had over-medium.  I also had a Bagel with the best cream cheese I've had in like forever!  My eggs were perfectly cooked and the hash was distinctly flavored, meaty tasting and awesome.  I give it a 4.75.  I think Eric agrees.

I really liked this place and thought it had a great atmosphere with unique art and famous artist photos on the wall.  The coffee was quite good.  It's only a few blocks from the Marilyn statue - so check them both out.

Sherman's Deli & Bakery on Urbanspoon