Some quick hits on our recent trip to San Fran.
Seen on Bourdain's show, my oldest brother Kim suggested we hit this Chinatown spot for lunch. We were seated downstairs right by the fish tanks.
We had to order the famous Salt and Pepper crab and it lived up to it's billing. The crab was for the most part cooked perfectly, though I did have a few bites that were a bit over done. The best part though was the crispy fried bits on the shells. So yummy. And the crabs were broken apart before frying so that the guts and everything were fried too. This meant fried crab roe! Amazing!
The rest of the dishes weren't as great. I'm pretty sure we could have gone to any other Chinatown restaurant and have gotten pretty much the same thing. The R&G Special Beef was nicely cooked but tasted very much like meat on the stick you can get anywhere else. The Princess Chicken wasn't anything to write home about either. The chicken barely had any meat on it. The snowpea leaves with garlic was a nice veggie dish, however I'm sure I could get that same dish in Boston.
My adorable nieces, the wonder twins, seemed to enjoy the meal very much.
If I lived in the area I'd probably come back for the crab from time to time. I give R&G Lounge a 3 and 1/2 out of 5.
A small and narrow gastropub with a really laid back feel, the Alembic was definitely a surprise to us. We sat at the bar, after kindly asking two ladies to slide over to make room for the 5 of us, and received the cocktail menu. While we were all waiting to order, we were able to witness the bartenders and their meticulous manner of making cocktails. It's a lost art, it seems, for a bartender to really pay attention to details and make a drink the right way. (Maybe it only seems that way because the bars I go to in Boston where the bartenders are trying to turn as many drinks as possible because the bar is crowded 4 deep.) The bartenders at Alembic could care less if there are customers leaning over the bar trying to order; they are just going to have to wait until the correct number of stirs or the right amount of mint is added to the current drink the bartender is making is completed. When we finally ordered, Abby went for their supposedly famous Mint Julep and the rest of our group ordered various cocktails from the menu. I went for the beer, for no other reason than I really wanted a beer. Abby's Mint Julep came in a metal container with a lot of ice and a big handful of mint. She said it was delicious.
The menu at Alembic is very limited, but each item is very intriguing. We went with the duck hearts and a pork slider. I'd never had duck hearts before, and I'm so glad we ordered this dish. Multiple duck hearts were skewered and cooked to perfection. I was expecting a chalky consistency, but it was juicy and flavorful and tasted like duck. Fantastic! The pork slider likewise was very juicy and had a nice special surprise: little pork rinds! I love me some pork rinds and I just wish there was more.
Alembic is the classic "I wish this place was in Boston". I'd come back for the cocktails alone, but the menu would make me a regular. I give Alembic a 4 out of 5.
Pancho Villa Taqueria
We just left the Warriors game (where we got to sit in box seats) and just downed a couple of very large beers. We entered Pancho Villa with empty stomachs and a slight buzz. Instead of doing like my sister and her husband and sharing 3 tacos, Abby and I ordered 3 each. These were not small tacos. The carne was definitely the best, but the carnitas was not that far behind. Prices weren't bad for all 3, but did seem expensive if you just ordered 1 taco.
If I lived in the neighborhood, I'd come back routinely. I give Pancho Villa Taqueria 3 and 1/2 out of 5.
Brenda's French Soul Food
Located in the Tenderloin neighborhood, right around the corner from my sister's condo is a very small restaurant apparently known as one of the best breakfast spots in all of San Francisco. Of course we had to try it out. We started with the flight of beignets, which consisted of a plain, an apple, a chocolate and a crawfish beignet.
We only ate the plain and the crawfish ones, and were not disappointed at all. (We had the other two wrapped so I could bring my dad something.) While they were not as light and fluffy as I thought they were going to be, the beignets were still perfectly cooked and very good. Especially the crawfish flavored one, which I could easily see myself eating 3 or 4 of them for lunch. Salty, with a nice hint of heat and with a crawfish filling was better than I had expected. Great start so far. For our main breakfast, Abby went with the adouille omelet and I went with the biscuit and gravy special.
Both were very filling and with great flavor. The gravy was had a nice hidden sweetness to it and when placed over the biscuit made for a delicious breakfast. Abby had no complaints on her dish at all, other than the potatoes were just above average. However, as much as I can gush over how great our dishes were, I cannot tell you how good their homemade strawberry jelly was. (So good in fact that we wanted to purchase some, but were sadly told they don't sell the jelly yet. I'll have to have my sister get a jar for me when they do start selling the jelly.)
Come to Brenda's and have a great breakfast. Hell, come for lunch were their specials included a crawfish and andouille pot pie (which I wish I could have ordered). Just make sure you get a biscuit and some of their jelly. Plus, the music playing was great: nothing like some old Ray Charles to start your day. I give Brenda's a 4 out of 5.
A good burger and a good milk shake. Nothing more, nothing less. A 3, bordering on 3 and 1/2.
On The Menu
Some quick hits on our recent trip to San Fran.