Friday, August 26, 2016

San Francisco: Le Colonial

update/p.75

Le Colonial  20 Cosmo Pl./off Taylor & Post, 2 blks. from Union Square.  Hidden away on a back-alley site, this authentic French Vietnamese restaurant is a branch of an upscale national chain.  Its small-scale exterior is a surprise set behind and amid bigger surrounding buildings.
entrance to Le Colonial in San Francisco
entrance to Le Colonial in San Francisco

An enchanting tropical decor evokes 1920s Vietnam--vintage black-and-white photos of turn-of-the-19th-century Saigon adorn the walls, quiet ceiling fans gently stir the air--and, mixed with a high pressed-tin ceiling and a semi-outdoor verandah, the elegant interior dining room offers sweet sanctuary from street bustle.  This divine, romantic spot is the perfect place to celebrate a special occasion.
verandah at Le Colonial in San Francisco
verandah at Le Colonial in San Francisco

entrance to dining room at Le Colonial in San Francisco
entrance to dining room at Le Colonial in San Francisco

dining room at Le Colonial in San Francisco
dining room at Le Colonial in San Francisco

Exotic cocktails include a delicious fruit Mango Mojito made with rum and topped with a vibrant orchid, as well as the namesake Le Colonial made with vodka and passion-fruit puree.
Mango Mojito at Le Colonial in San Francisco
Mango Mojito at Le Colonial in San Francisco

complimentary appetizer at Le Colonial in San Francisco
complimentary appetizer at Le Colonial in San Francisco

An extensive list of appetizers includes several kinds of spring rolls--I especially liked the Goi Cuon (fresh rolls with poached prawns, rice noodles, and a hoisin peanut sauce) and the Banh Hap So Diep Chien (crispy fried wontons stuffed generously with scallops and shrimp).  
appetizers at Le Colonial in San Francisco
appetizers at Le Colonial in San Francisco

My dining partner and I stuck with seafood for our main courses.  I had a house specialty, Ca Hap La Chuoi (a tasty seabass-sweet potato noodle-shitake mushroom combo, wrapped in a banana leaf basket and steamed to perfection),
seabass at Le Colonial in San Francisco
seabass at Le Colonial in San Francisco

while he had Ca Hap Nuoc Cot Dua (delicious coconut-poached Alaskan halibut with a green papaya salad).  More mains include roasted lemongrass chicken, grilled Asian-flavored steak, coconut milk-braised pork, and wok-seared sweet-savory tofu.
halibut Le Colonial in San Francisco
halibut Le Colonial in San Francisco

An absolutely-don’t-miss side is the Xu Bruxelles (spectacularly flavorful crispy-sweet Brussels sprouts with meaty portobello mushrooms and colorful carrot chips).
Brussels sprouts at Le Colonial in San Francisco
Brussels sprouts at Le Colonial in San Francisco

Desserts include light housemade gelatos and sorbets, plus fun-to-share Le Colonial Banana Roties--carmelized banana halves on cassava cake with chocolate-peanut butter ice cream and more.
banana roties dessert at Le Colonial in San Francisco
banana roties dessert at Le Colonial in San Francisco


Upstairs, an inviting bar-lounge with a small, private balcony serves an hors d’oeuvres menu and sometimes schedules live music.  This being hilly San Francisco, you can exit there onto Sutter Street.   
Le Colonial Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

   
More things to do in San Francisco

Way more things to do in San Francisco.

Travel articles to inspire and help you plan some spectacular getaways. 

images ©2016 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

5 North: Woodland, Kitchen 428 + Mojo’s Lounge Bar


Kitchen 428  428 First St., (530) 661-0428.  L-D daily; $$-$$$.  Reservations recommended.  Located on a quiet side street in the Historic Jackson Building, this sophisticated restaurant serves a refined menu in a pleasant environment of exposed brick walls and white tablecloths.  A long banquette hugs one wall, and a high open ceiling holds cooling rotating fans.  Art by local artists hangs on the walls.  Menu selections include crispy salmon-crab cakes, a baked brie platter with crostini and walnuts, an old-time iceberg lettuce wedge salad, and both a burger and a steak sandwich.  Dinner also includes more substantial entrees such as steaks, cioppino, and even a vegan stir-fry.  A menu of cocktails presents the usual suspects as well as a classic New Orleans Sazerac.

exterior of Kitchen 428 in Woodland, California
exterior of Kitchen 428 in Woodland, California

interior of Kitchen 428 in Woodland, California
interior of Kitchen 428 in Woodland, California

salmon-crab cakes at Kitchen 428 in Woodland, California
salmon-crab cakes at Kitchen 428 in Woodland, California

baked Brie platter at Kitchen 428 in Woodland, California
baked Brie platter at Kitchen 428 in Woodland, California

iceberg lettuce wedge salad at Kitchen 428 in Woodland, California
iceberg lettuce wedge salad at Kitchen 428 in Woodland, California

Sazarac cocktails at Kitchen 428 in Woodland, California
Sazarac cocktails at Kitchen 428 in Woodland, California

dessert at Kitchen 428 in Woodland, California
dessert at Kitchen 428 in Woodland, California

shared cheesecake sliver at Kitchen 428 in Woodland, California
shared cheesecake sliver at Kitchen 428 in Woodland, California

Mojo’s Lounge Bar is adjacent.  This atmospheric bar positively buzzes.  I like sitting at the long bar, but tables are also available and many people eat a meal here as well.  Noteworthy decorative details include a lovely pressed-tin ceiling. 


Mojo's Lounge Bar at Kitchen 428 in Woodland, California
Mojo's Lounge Bar at Kitchen 428 in Woodland, California
Kitchen428 Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


More things to do in Woodland.   

More things to do in nearby Davis.

Travel articles to inspire and help you plan some spectacular getaways.


images c2016 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

 

Thursday, August 18, 2016

San Francisco: Cafe de la Presse


Cafe de la Presse  352 Grant Ave./Bush St., Financial District.  This corner just might be the sunniest spot in the city, and outdoor sidewalk-side tables here are enticing on nice days.
sidewalk seating at Cafe de la Presse in San Francisco, California
sidewalk seating at Cafe de la Presse in San Francisco, California

Also on the west side of the cafe, large windows offering views of the sidewalk make the interior room the place to be for breakfast.  Dine then on housemade croissants and lattes as well as waffles, pancakes, and oatmeal.
almond croissant and latte at Cafe de la Presse in San Francisco, California
almond croissant and latte at Cafe de la Presse in San Francisco, California

Lunch brings on a refreshing Nicoise salad, a good-old-American hamburger, and a classic croque monsieur.
croque monsieur at Cafe de la Presse in San Francisco, California
croque monsieur at Cafe de la Presse in San Francisco, California

For dinner, the sunken main dining room in the back on the east side becomes a comfortable place to enjoy a Very French brasserie dinner.  It features a brick wall, high ceiling with turning fans, and wood banquettes along either wall.
sunken dining room at Cafe de la Presse in San Francisco, California
sunken dining room at Cafe de la Presse in San Francisco, California

The establishment’s changing menu, which is the same for all dining spaces, might include a warm fingerling potato salad topped with goat cheese and olive tapenade, grilled sea bass with mashed potatoes made delicious with a sauce Vierge, and for dessert if you’re really lucky, Ile Flottante (Floating Island)—the lightest-ever meringue floating in vanilla crème Anglaise.  Recently I enjoyed a Salade de Laitue consisting of crispy romaine lettuce with hazelnut oil-Dijon mustard dressing;
salade de laitue at Cafe de la Presse in San Francisco, California
salade de laitue at Cafe de la Presse in San Francisco, California

a Steak Frites with a flavorful Bordelaise sauce, caramelized onions, and a pile of crispy French fries that were way better than McD’s;
steak frites at Cafe de la Presse in San Francisco, California
steak frites at Cafe de la Presse in San Francisco, California

plus a mildly disappointing Croissant Pudding with chocolate and toffee sauce, caramelized hazelnuts, and vanilla gelato (the bread was too compressed).
croissant pudding at Cafe de la Presse in San Francisco, California
croissant pudding at Cafe de la Presse in San Francisco, California

My companion had a tender and juicy, long-cooked, falling-off-the-bone Poulet au Citron Confit that was infused with flavor and served with braised summer vegetables and lemongrass sauce.
poulet au citron confit at Cafe de la Presse in San Francisco, California
poulet au citron confit at Cafe de la Presse in San Francisco, California

Our delicious wine was a smooth 2014 Erath Pinot Noir from Oregon.  Additional noteworthy items on the menu include Duck Foie Gras (which I was surprised to see), escargots, mussels, and a burger.  Special three- and four-course fixed-price menus are also available.  It is enjoyable to have a drink at the impressive horseshoe-shaped alder-wood bar, and 15 wines are poured by the glass.
bar at Cafe de la Presse in San Francisco, California
bar at Cafe de la Presse in San Francisco, California

International newspapers and magazines are displayed along a wall and for sale.
magazine stand at Cafe de la Presse in San Francisco, California
magazine stand at Cafe de la Presse in San Francisco, California

The surrounding neighborhood is filled with French cafes and has become popular with French visitors, and the ornate gate leading into Chinatown is just across the street. 
Chinatown gate seen from Cafe de la Presse in San Francisco, California
Chinatown gate seen from Cafe de la Presse in San Francisco, California
Cafe De La Presse Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

More things to do in San Francisco

Way more things to do in San Francisco.

Travel articles to inspire and help you plan some spectacular getaways. 

images ©2016 Carole Terwilliger Meyers  
 

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

5 North: Woodland, Velocity Island Park


Velocity Island Park   755 N. East St., right off Hwy. 5, (530) 723-6885.  $34/2 hr.+.  Though cable parks are super popular in Europe, in California the trend is taking a while longer to catch on.  This cable wakeboard park is only California’s second.  Instead of a boat, an overhead cable system is used to tow participants.  The man-made lake here is 8-feet deep in the middle and has plenty of smooth water.  Paddle boarding is available before the cable opens.  Rentals, packages, and lessons are available.  The Black Pearl cafe dispenses snacks and meals.  


Velocity Island Park in Woodland, California
Velocity Island Park in Woodland, California


wakeboard takeoff at Velocity Island Park in Woodland, California
wakeboard takeoff at Velocity Island Park in Woodland, California




 
More things to do in Woodland.   

More things to do in nearby Davis.

Travel articles to inspire and help you plan some spectacular getaways.

images c2016 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Thursday, August 11, 2016

80 North: Berkeley, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA)

update/p.285; also an update of these former blog posts

The dramatic new incarnation of the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA) is now open downtown at 2155 Center Street/Oxford Street.  Read my detailed blog post about it at Visit Berkeley. 

A new exhibit, "Berkeley Eye:  Perspectives on the Collection," runs through December 11, 2016.  It draws from the University of California, Berkeley's extensive art collection and is presented in thematic groupings. 
Berkeley Eye:  Perspectives on the Collection exhibit at the Berkeley Art Museum in Berkeley, California
Berkeley Eye:  Perspectives on the Collection exhibit at the Berkeley Art Museum in Berkeley, California

Among the standouts are Andy Warhol's 1964 "Race Riot," Alexander Calder's 1926 "Circus Scene," and Richard Serra's 1972 "Circuit" litograph.  Some of my other favorites are:

"The Finding of Moses," 1924, James Ensor
detail from "The Finding of Moses," 1924, James Ensor, in exhibit at Berkeley Art Museum in Berkeley, California


"Berkeley #4," 1953, Richard Diebenkorn
"Berkeley #4," 1953, Richard Diebenkorn, at Berkeley Art Museum in Berkeley, California


"Typewriter," 1965, Robert Arneson
"Typewriter," 1965, Robert Arneson, at Berkeley Art Museum in Berkeley, California


 More things to do in Berkeley.

Way more thing to do in Berkeley. 

Here are some travel articles to inspire and help you plan some spectacular getaways.

images ©2016 Carole Terwilliger Meyers