Thursday, April 23, 2009

San Francisco: Decorator Showcase


update/page 9.
The 32nd annual San Francisco Decorator Showcase runs April 25 through May 25. Among the creative rooms you'll see in this 1910 four-story Georgian mansion are a puppet theater and a wrapping room in converted closets, an ethereal, cloud-like powder room, and a fully-planted roof garden with a 360-degree view.

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Way more things to do in San Francisco.

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image copyright 2009 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Friday, April 17, 2009

San Francisco: San Francisco Railway Museum


San Francisco Railway Museum 77 Steuart St./Market St., in Hotel Vitale bldg. across from Ferry Bldg., The Embarcadero, (415) 974-1948; http://www.streetcar.org. W-Sun 10-6. Free. This tiny museum features historic artifacts and archival photography among its exhibits, including fare boxes, the Wiley "birdcage" traffic signal, and a replica of the front end of a Market Street Railway Company White Front car emerging from a mock-up of the west portal of the Twin Peaks Tunnel.

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image by David Dugan

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

80 North: Berkeley, Angeline's Louisiana Kitchen

Angeline's Louisiana Kitchen 2261 Shattuck Ave./Bancroft, (510) 548-6900; http://www.angelineskitchen.com. L Tu-Sun, D daily; $$. Reservations advised. Spicy Louisiana-style Cajun and Creole cooking is the name of the game here, and the atmospheric music and brick wall-decor only enhance the experience. The menu includes everything a southern-food lover could want, including fried chicken, crawfish Etoufee, both brown Cajun gumbo and red Creole gumbo, po’boys, a muffaletta sandwich, and bananas Foster bread pudding. Personal favorites include spectacularly delicious deep-fried cornmeal hush puppies, spicy jambalaya loaded with andouille sausage, and signature voo doo barbecue shrimp. Louisiana beers—how about an Abita Amber, Turbodog, or Purple Haze?—are served in a chilled Mason jar mug; swamp water, sweet tea, and strawberry lemonade are also options. Laissez les bon temps rouler (let the good times roll)!

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Way more thing to do in Berkeley. 

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Monday, April 13, 2009

101 South: Palo Alto, Shokolaat--CLOSED

Shokolaat 516 University Ave./Cowper St., (650) 289-0719; http://www.shokolaat.com. Tea (8-4) & D Tu-Sun; $$. Set way back from the street, with a protected dining patio in front, this spot is decorated in cool grays and blacks and features an open kitchen. A banquette lines one wall, and additional seating is at the bar. Cocktails include a fresh, lemony Persian Fling as well as an international wine list. Though the menu is limited, housemade soups are exceptional, as is quail stuffed with figs and foie gras on the dinner menu. Desserts include a chocolate souffle as well as a pastry case filled with delectable sweets. Best of all is a selection of tiny jewel-like chocolates. Delicious breads and the desserts and chocolates are made at a sister business in San Mateo.

More things to do in Palo Alto.  

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image ©2011 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

80 North: Berkeley, Digs Bistro--CLOSED

Digs Bistro 1453 Dwight Way/Sacramento St., (510) 548-2322; http://www.digsbistro.com. D daily; $$-$$$. An offshoot of an underground restaurant run from a private home, this cozy little spot operates in a reformated fairytale-style house featuring heavy beams and a dramatic curved floor-to-ceiling brick fireplace. The short-but-sweet menu doesn’t strain the brain and offers an enticing selection of homey fare that changes regularly—perhaps a soothing barley soup with nettle pesto, a oven roasted halibut with a stand-out potato-fennel gratin, a divine chocolate bread pudding that is like a soft brownie. Local and organic ingredients are used when available.

More things to do in Berkeley.

Way more thing to do in Berkeley. 

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Saturday, April 11, 2009

San Francisco: Metro Kathmandu

Metro Kathmandu 311 Divisadero St./Page St., Haight-Ashbury, (415) 552-0903; http://www.metrokathmandu.com. D Tu-Sun, Sat-SunBr; $$. Reservations taken. This engaging venue is just one room, colored red and featuring a decorative mirrored chair rail and black wood tables. The specialty is exotic Nepalese cuisine, which is influenced by Indian and Chinese cuisines. Appetizer choices include momo (like steamed Chinese dumplings) and deep-fried samosas stuffed with potatoes and peas. Main courses are kebabs and some curries (don’t miss the very tasty, and spicy, lamb vindaloo), and side dishes include flavorsome sautéed spinach with garlic and several breads—a buttery paratha and the always popular roti. Soju (rice wine) cocktails and a mango lassi are available along with beer and wine. The restaurant is open until 1 a.m. A backyard patio is opened for brunch in good weather.

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880 South: Oakland, Dopo

Dopo 4293 Piedmont Ave./John St., (510) 652-3676. L M-F (11:30-2:30), D M-Sat; $$. Reservations for 5+. The sophisticated Italian cooking here makes the usual prime-time wait worthwhile. Soups can be interesting—perhaps a deep-flavored lentil with chanterelle mushrooms—and the thin-crust pizza is reliably tasty. The ever-changing menu has offered crostone of pork, lasagna, and a memorable crab tortellini. For dessert, don’t pass up buttermilk panna cotta. Lunch is less crowded, and panini are available.

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Friday, April 10, 2009

San Francisco, San Francisco Museum of Craft + Design


updated June 17, 2015
See new museum information.
 
San Francisco Museum of Craft + Design 550 Sutter St./Powell St., 1 blk. from Union Square, (415) 773-0303; http://www.sfmcd.org/. Tu-Sat 10-5:30. Free. Situated behind ornate black-iron gates in a renovated 1909 structure that once was home to spa queen Elizabeth Arden, this charming small museum hosts regularly changing exhibitions designed to showcase and interpret the art of craft and design in contemporary society. Past exhibits include: "My First Royal Jewels," by emiko oye--a contemporary reinterpretation of classic 20th-century jewelery; "The Enlightenment Room," by Nick Dong--constructed of 15,000 handmade, sanctified white porcelain tiles, and you can meditate within it for a while. An exceptional, but small, gift shop is browse-worthy.

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"Maharajah's 6th," 2008 (repurposed Lego, rubber cord, sterling silver)

image copyright 2008 Gene Meyers

Thursday, April 9, 2009

80 North: Berkeley, Amanda's--CLOSURES

Amanda’s 2122 Shattuck Ave./Addison St., downtown, (510) 584-2122; http://www.amandas.com/. L-D daily; $. No reservations. Step in line here for fast food Berkeley style. Hamburgers are tasty and made with naturally raised beef; a veggie burger is also an option. Fries are a choice of regular or sweet potatoes and are baked; salads are organic and crisp; sodas are house-made and sweetened just right with agave nectar; and cookies are small, but warm and satisfying. The idea is “feel good fast food” that is prepared with little saturated fat and no trans fats. Diners can sit either inside or outside; inside, a communal picnic table made from reclaimed wood is an option. Serving wear is compostable, but of course.

More things to do in Berkeley.

Way more thing to do in Berkeley. 

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San Francisco, Urban Tavern


Urban Tavern
updated March 9, 2017

In Hilton San Francisco, 333 O’Farrell St./Mason St., 2 blks. from Union Square, (415) 923-4400; http://www.urbantavernsf.com/. B-L-D daiily; $$$. Reservations accepted. This inviting, spacious venue features booths and tables, a ceiling with rustic beams made of reclaimed wood, and a signature full-size horse sculpture made with recycled metal. The seasonal menu of organic Mediterranean-inspired fare might include a flavorful braised beef Daube casserole, a perfect portion of hanger steak, or a whole de-boned snapper for two. Diners choose from a variety of sauces to flavor the simply grilled items (black pepper and Armagnac pairs nicely with steak), and side dishes include french fries in a cone, smooth garlic mashed potatoes, and perhaps some roasted Brussels sprouts or mushrooms with garlic—all served attractively in heat-retaining cast iron serveware. Salads include a spare but delicious Nicoise with olive oil-poached tuna. A white peach Bellini is a cocktail option, and sometimes a blissful poached pear sundae with vanilla ice cream, chocolate sauce, and toasted almonds is a dessert selection. The kitchen seems to hit the perfect note on everything, so order fearlessly.

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San Francisco, Chow


Chow 215 Church St./Market St., Castro District, 4 blks. from Castro St., (415) 552-2469; http://www.chowfoodbar.com/. B-L-D daily, Sat-SunBr; $. No reservations. Italian and American selections dominate the menu in this comfortable spot. Best bets include spaghetti and meatballs, hamburgers made with meat from grass-fed cows, pizza, grilled chicken, and tender short ribs with garlic mashed potatoes. For dessert, it’s warm gingerbread with pumpkin ice cream, housemade pie (butterscotch-banana and pecan are primo), and fruit crisp.

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Wine Country: Calistoga, Brannan's Grill

Brannan’s Grill 1374 Lincoln St./Washington St., (707) 942-2233; http://www.brannansgrill.com/. L-D daily; $$-$$$. Reservations advised. It is a delight sitting here in one of the oversize booths in the large, open interior dining room outfitted with high rafters and a cozy fireplace for cool weather. The sidewalk-view booths, which have windows that change to screens in warm weather, are also choice. The hearty meat-and-potatoes menu is includes braised short ribs—you can’t go wrong with these--but fish, pasta, and sandwiches are also options. For a perfect ending, consider a flight of dessert wines, but keep in mind that the kitchen is famous for its chocolate lava cake.

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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Greater East Bay: Hayward, Bijou Restaurant & Bar

Bijou Restaurant & Bar 1036 B St./near Main St., downtown, (510) 888-1092; http://www.bijouexperience.com/. L-D daily; $$. Reservations advised. “Bijou” means “a little gem” in French. And this sleek, chic venue is an unexpected gem of a find in suburban Hayward. It showcases reasonably priced contemporary French/California cuisine. Lunch offers sandwiches, including a French hot dog or hamburger on a baguette, a croque monsieur or madame, and sometimes a crab melt. Dinner items might include crab and avocado salad, grilled skirt steak in peppercorn sauce, and oven-roasted sea bass in mushroom sauce. Smaller appetites might be satisfied with a small plate of sliders or sautéed prawns. Desserts are elegant, perhaps crème brulée with a hint of green tea, crêpes Suzette, or a selection of macaroons. A full bar offers specialty cocktails and an international wine list, and a sidewalk patio is available in good weather.

Be aware that on Sundays this area closes up tight, except for the Century at Hayward movie complex ((800) FANDANGO; http://www.cinearts.com/.) that is just across the street.

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Greater East Bay: Orinda, Casa Orinda

Casa Orinda 20 Bryant Way/Moraga Way, (925) 254-2981. D daily M-Sat 4-10, Sun 4-9; $$-$$$. Reservations advised. This former roadhouse feels to have been here forever, but actually it’s only been 75 years. Seating is in three rooms, mostly at tables with chairs, but a wall of banquettes is also an option. The cowboy decor includes large oil paintings of Old West scenes and a gun case, plus a stuffed moose head over the fireplace. Options on the all-American steak-and-potatoes menu include a stellar fried chicken (marinated in buttermilk overnight and then fried in a pressure cooker) served with mashed potatoes and gravy and a really good biscuit with honey, plus old-time Italian dishes—think chicken cacciatore and veal piccata.

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Monday, April 6, 2009

San Francisco, Boogaloos


Boogaloos 3296 22nd St./Valencia St., Mission District, (415) 824-3211; http://www.boogaloossf.com/. B-L daily; $. No reservations. Comfy booths line the walls of this large open room. Mosaics provide accents, and artwork made by individuals with disabilities cheer up the walls. After the usual wait, service is quick. Scramblers are made to order from a list of ingredients, and several variations of Eggs Benedict are options. Lemon-cornmeal pancakes, a spicy Mexican-style breakfast, and even The Basic (two eggs and homefries) are also on the menu. Breakfast is served all day, but at lunch sandwiches, soups, and salads join the menu. The housemade savory biscuits are the best, and many vegetarian choices are provided.

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Wine Country: Calistoga, Bennett Lane Winery


Bennett Lane Winery 3340 Hwy. 128, (877) 629-6272; http://www.bennettlane.com/. Tasting daily 10-5:30. Hidden away at the end of a long vineyard-lined drive, this newish winery operates within a Mediterranean-style building. “Our red wines are soft, with great depth of color,” promises winemaker Rob Hunter. Bennett is the world’s only winery that owns and sponsors a NASCAR racing team. A “petting vineyard” out front permits getting up close and personal with various grape varietals, and inviting picnic tables await on a large grassy area with vineyard views. Get together a group of six or more friends and you can sign up for a unique blend-your-own wine seminar that permits blending and corking a bottle of wine that you get to take home with you ($175/person).

More things to do in Calistoga.

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image copyright 2009 Carole Terwilliger Meyers