March 14, 2019

Berkeley: Sliver Pizzeria


80 North

Sliver Pizzeria  2174 Shattuck Ave./Center St., downtown, (510) 356-4044.  L-D daily.

exterior of Sliver Pizzeria in downtown Berkeley, California
exterior of Sliver Pizzeria in downtown Berkeley, California

Featuring an all-vegetarian menu, this informal pizza specialty spot is in the same block as the BART station.  Each day the menu offers one featured pizza that is always ready to go--by the slice or by the whole pie.  A small sample size is also an option, and you can order light bake to finish cooking at home.  When I visited recently, that pizza was topped with corn, zucchini, yellow onions, mozzarella, French feta cheese. cilantro, garlic olive oil, and limes.  It was delicious.  Call ahead for a cheese, vegan, or gluten-free pizza.  Each of these is made to order and takes extra time, and they are available only by the whole pie.  Also on the menu are salads and chocolate chip cookie slices.  (Want to make that last item at home?  Here is my recipe for a delicious chocolate chip cookies in a skillet.)  After ordering at the counter, select from several sauces--a tame red and a peppy green--at the self-help station.  You can take your pizza to go or relax and enjoy it in the small, clean dining area.  Big screen TVs provide entertainment, and live music is scheduled on Friday and Saturday nights from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.

interior of Sliver Pizzeria in downtown Berkeley, California
interior of Sliver Pizzeria in downtown Berkeley, California


menu at Sliver Pizzeria in downtown Berkeley, California
menu at Sliver Pizzeria in downtown Berkeley, California


pizza of the day at Sliver Pizzeria in downtown Berkeley, California
pizza of the day at Sliver Pizzeria in downtown Berkeley, California
Sliver Pizzeria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 


More things to do in Berkeley.

Way more thing to do in Berkeley.

More ideas for exploring Northern California.

images ©2019 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

March 12, 2019

Santa Rosa: Eating and Drinking on Courthouse Square


101 North

Eating and Drinking on Courthouse Square

Beer Baron Bar & Kitchen  614 Fourth St., (707) 757-9294.  A highlight of walking into this cozy spot for refreshment is viewing a golden wall of bourbons.  It’s a wowzer!  Seems like a no brainer what drink you might want to try.  But, as you might expect from the name, this places also has plenty of beers (24 on tap) and wines.  And let’s not forget the cocktails.  Two that are worth swallowing are the easy and colorful Monarch Warrior--made with ruby red port and Monarch citrus bay leaf bitter--and the Northern Song--made with Ming River Baijiu, green chili, soy sauce, and more and served in an irresistible kitty-shaped mug.  Popular small plates include smoked olive-oil guacamole, Belgian-style duck-fat fries, and delicious deep-fried pulled-pork nuggets. 

Beer Baron Bar & Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

bar at Beer Baron Bar & Kitchen on Courthouse Square in Santa Rosa, California
bar at Beer Baron Bar & Kitchen on Courthouse Square in Santa Rosa, California


Monarch Warrior cocktail and chips at Beer Baron Bar & Kitchen on Courthouse Square in Santa Rosa, California
Monarch Warrior cocktail and chips at Beer Baron Bar & Kitchen on Courthouse Square in Santa Rosa, California


pulled-pork nuggets at Beer Baron Bar & Kitchen on Courthouse Square in Santa Rosa, California
pulled-pork nuggets at Beer Baron Bar & Kitchen on Courthouse Square in Santa Rosa, California


Belly Left Coast  523 Fourth St., (707) 526-5787.  L-D daily.  You’ll find  no cocktails here, but the huge beer list includes 35 by the bottle and 32 on tap.  Choosing a flight of four 5-ounce tasters seems the way to go, but you are also welcome to two complimentary mini tastes.  I enjoyed sampling the Humboldt Cider Honey Cider and the Lagunitas Brown Shugga’ ale, settling on the ale.  Taco Tuesday--when most tacos are $1 each--is a particularly good time to visit.  The menu also offers tasty bacon-wrapped dates, pulled-pork sliders, a delectable grilled artichoke, and excellent pizzas (the mushroom-arugula is a personal favorite).  This spot is justly known for its delicious desserts, including a beer-infused Campfire Stout chocolate mousse topped with spun sugar.  The chef’s credentials are impressive.  According to the website:  “What do Motley Crue, KISS, Black Eyed Peas, Katy Perry, Blink 182, Godsmack, Tori Amos, and Linkin Park all have in common? They had Chef Gray Rollin, Owner of BELLY, as a personal chef in over 66 countries for 10 years.”  And the rest of his bio is pretty interesting, too. 

Belly: Left Coast Kitchen & Taproom Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

interior at Belly Left Coast on Courthouse Square in Santa Rosa, California
interior at Belly Left Coast on Courthouse Square in Santa Rosa, California


owner Gray Rollin at Belly Left Coast on Courthouse Square in Santa Rosa, California
owner Gray Rollin at Belly Left Coast on Courthouse Square in Santa Rosa, California


roasted artichoke at Belly Left Coast on Courthouse Square in Santa Rosa, California
roasted artichoke at Belly Left Coast on Courthouse Square in Santa Rosa, California


mushroom-arugula pizza at Belly Left Coast on Courthouse Square in Santa Rosa, California
mushroom-arugula pizza at Belly Left Coast on Courthouse Square in Santa Rosa, California


Campfire Stout chocolate mousse at Belly Left Coast on Courthouse Square in Santa Rosa, California
Campfire Stout chocolate mousse at Belly Left Coast on Courthouse Square in Santa Rosa, California


Perch+Plow  90 Old Courthouse Square, (707) 541-6896.  L-D daily.  Situated upstairs on the second level, this lively spot has a spectacular decor featuring colorfully painted walls with big graphics, a variety of seating and spaces, and a large bar.  Appetizers and cocktails are the way to go, but larger plates and beer and wine are also on the menu.  Two photo-worthy drinks are the Purple Rain, which is colored with butterfly pea tea, and the Smoking Gun, which involves bourbon, brown sugar, and cherry-wood smoke.  Several mocktails are also options--I enjoyed the tall and lovely Pink Lady made with hibiscus, strawberry puree, and soda.  Among the spectacularly tasty food items are baked brie with honey and sourdough toast,  pan-roasted brussels sprouts tossed with walnut gremolata and whiskey maple bacon jam, and buttermilk fritto misto with calamari in a sweet chili sauce.   

interior of Perch+Plow on Courthouse Square in Santa Rosa, California
interior of Perch+Plow on Courthouse Square in Santa Rosa, California


interior of Perch+Plow on Courthouse Square in Santa Rosa, California
interior of Perch+Plow on Courthouse Square in Santa Rosa, California


menu + Pink Lady mocktail Perch+Plow on Courthouse Square in Santa Rosa, California
menu + Pink Lady mocktail Perch+Plow on Courthouse Square in Santa Rosa, California


fritto misto at Perch+Plow on Courthouse Square in Santa Rosa, California
fritto misto at Perch+Plow on Courthouse Square in Santa Rosa, California





Purple Rain cocktail at Perch+Plow on Courthouse Square in Santa Rosa, California
Purple Rain cocktail at Perch+Plow on Courthouse Square in Santa Rosa, California

March 7, 2019

San Luis Obispo: Kreuzberg Coffee Company


101 South

Kreuzberg Coffee Company  685 Higuera St., (805) 439-2060.  19 Daily 7:30am-10pm.  Started up in 2010 by two Cal Poly roommate grads, this spacious, welcoming spot offers good vibes and coffee from beans that are roasted fresh daily.  Millennials set up camp with their laptops and stay a while, but we still found space to sit and sip and chill.  Choose from a large menu of coffees--including cold-brewed--and a smallish menu of foods that for breakfast that includes good bagels, bacon and eggs and tater tots, and fresh pastries.  In addition to the gigantic main dining area, more seating is available upstairs and on a sidewalk-side patio in front. 

interior of Kreuzberg Coffee Company in downtown San Luis Obispo, California
interior of Kreuzberg Coffee Company in downtown San Luis Obispo, California


menu at Kreuzberg Coffee Company in downtown San Luis Obispo, California
menu at Kreuzberg Coffee Company in downtown San Luis Obispo, California


interior of Kreuzberg Coffee Company in downtown San Luis Obispo, California
interior of Kreuzberg Coffee Company in downtown San Luis Obispo, California


breakfast at Kreuzberg Coffee Company in downtown San Luis Obispo, California
breakfast at Kreuzberg Coffee Company in downtown San Luis Obispo, California
Kreuzberg Ca Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


More things to do in San Luis Obispo.

More ideas for exploring Northern California.  
  
images ©2019 Carole Terwilliger Meyers


March 5, 2019

Kenwood: Paradise Ridge Tasting Room & Art Gallery


Wine Country

Paradise Ridge Tasting Room & Art Gallery  8860 Sonoma Hwy., (707) 282-9020.  Tasting daily 11am-6pm; $15-$20; food pairings $35+.

tasting room at Paradise Ridge Tasting Room & Art Gallery in Kenwood, California
tasting room at Paradise Ridge Tasting Room & Art Gallery in Kenwood, California

Though the main winery in Santa Rosa was damaged badly in the 2018 Tubbs Fire and is now open only by appointment, this roadside tasting room is open and serving during regular hours.  In addition to tasting, special programs (reservations required) include a Wine & Cheese Pairing, a Wine & Herb Sensory Experience, and a Wine and Infused Chocolate Sensory Experience.  I indulged in the chocolate pairing, which included four herb-encrusted dark chocolates and four vintages.  A sparkling Blanc de Blac began the show, paired with a nasturtium-apricot-chives chocolate.  That was followed by an earthy Rhone-style estate blend called The Posse--my favorite of the four wines.  I also particularly liked its accompanying lemon-peppercorn-parsley chocolate.  Then came an Elevation Cabernet Sauvignon from the Rockpile Vineyard in Sonoma--described as a “jewel of a vineyard.”  It paired beautifully with a chives-sorrel-rosemary chocolate.  This enjoyable educational tasting concluded with a bone-dry Sparkling Shiraz and a hazelnut-tarragon-kale chocolate.  It is interesting to know that the winery provides dried herbs to local Wine Country Chocolates in Glen Ellen, which then produces delicious little chocolate squares for this tasting (they are also sold in the tasting room).  I took home a bottle of 2016 Nagasawa Estate Chardonnay along with some chocolates topped with hazelnuts, tarragon, and kale and did a sense-expanding tasting later with my husband that was almost as much of fun as at the winery.

menu in tasting room at Paradise Ridge Tasting Room & Art Gallery in Kenwood, California
menu in tasting room at Paradise Ridge Tasting Room & Art Gallery in Kenwood, California

tasting set-up in tasting room at Paradise Ridge Tasting Room & Art Gallery in Kenwood, California menu in tasting room at Paradise Ridge Tasting Room & Art Gallery in Kenwood, California
tasting set-up in tasting room at Paradise Ridge Tasting Room & Art Gallery in Kenwood, California 


More things to do in Kenwood.

More things to do in the Wine Country.

More ideas for exploring Northern California.

images ©2019 Carole Terwilliger Meyers


March 1, 2019

Kenwood: Tips Roadside


Wine Country

Tips Roadside  8445 Sonoma Hwy., (707) 509-0078. L F-Sun, D W-Sun. Set on the side of the road like a typical roadhouse, this bustling restaurant was formerly a gas station. Now spiffed up inside with rustic recycled wood and local art (don’t miss the flag painted by a local fireman that includes the hose spigot in one of the stripes), the dining rooms exude an inviting casual atmosphere--think old-time tin-ware table settings and napkins improvised from classic dish towels. And the chow described as “wine country comfort food” is terrific. House-brewed beer is made in two vats in the back dining room, but, of course, the menu also offers plenty of local wines. If you’re avoiding alcohol, satisfy your thirst with the tasty cucumber-lime spritzer. Favorites on the menu include spicy tri-tip chili, crispy fried chicken made with boneless thigh meat and gluten-free rice flour (I adored the accompanying pile of mashed Yukon potatoes), and a huge braised short rib with polenta fries. The dessert beignets are a must. They are pool-ball-size rounds in either lemon or smoked bacon flavor. But the peanut-butter skillet cookie is also a darn good choice. Weekend brunch includes the expected plus more, including biscuits and gravy and a hangtown fry, plus a special blues version with live music is sometimes scheduled. 



exterior of Tips Roadside in Kenwood, California
exterior of Tips Roadside in Kenwood, California


interior of Tips Roadside in Kenwood, California
interior of Tips Roadside in Kenwood, California


dining room with antique gas pump at Tips Roadside in Kenwood, California
dining room with antique gas pump at Tips Roadside in Kenwood, California


main dining room at Tips Roadside in Kenwood, California
main dining room at Tips Roadside in Kenwood, California


owner Andrew Pryfogle with flag painting at Tips Roadside in Kenwood, California
owner Andrew Pryfogle with flag painting at Tips Roadside in Kenwood, California


cucumber-lime spritzer at Tips Roadside in Kenwood, California
cucumber-lime spritzer at Tips Roadside in Kenwood, California


short rib with polenta fries at Tips Roadside in Kenwood, California
short rib with polenta fries at Tips Roadside in Kenwood, California


fried chicken at Tips Roadside in Kenwood, California
fried chicken at Tips Roadside in Kenwood, California


Executive Chef Thaddeus Palmese offers up beignets at Tips Roadside in Kenwood, California
Executive Chef Thaddeus Palmese offers up beignets at Tips Roadside in Kenwood, California


peanut-butter skillet cookie at Tips Roadside in Kenwood, California
peanut-butter skillet cookie at Tips Roadside in Kenwood, California


satisfied cow at Tips Roadside in Kenwood, California
satisfied cow at Tips Roadside in Kenwood, California


More things to do in Kenwood.

More things to do in the Wine Country.

More ideas for exploring Northern California.

images ©2019 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

February 26, 2019

Santa Rosa: Flamingo Conference Resort & Spa


101 North

Flamingo Conference Resort & Spa  2777 Fourth St./Hwy. 12, (800) 848-8300, (707) 545-8530.  170 rooms, 2 stories; $$-$$$.  Heated pool; hot tub.  5 tennis courts.  Health club with fitness room; full-service spa ($15 day use fee).  Restaurant; room service.  Pets ok.  When this spacious, unpretentious resort was originally built in the 1950s, it was way out in the country.  Now, due to urban sprawl, it is right in town.  Originally designed to mirror the namesake resort in Las Vegas, it attracted Hollywood stars--most famously Jayne Mansfield, whose photographs by the pool and in front of the roof-top name tower hang in the lobby.  The resort was declared an historic city landmark in 1996.  Five lodging buildings surround a central courtyard like a wagon wheel.  The lobby is a sixth spoke and holds meeting rooms, a restaurant, and the Flamingo Room lounge featuring live music and dancing on weekends.  It gives guests all the comforts of a full-service resort but also provides the convenience of a motel--parking near the room; not having to walk through a lobby--and the amenities of a hotel--a piano bar with live entertainment and dancing; a full-service restaurant with poolside dining.  This hotel is an especially fun place for family and kids.  I enjoyed a summer stay here, when the lovely weather filled the pool with happy frolickers.  In addition to racquetball and basketball courts, the hotel’s adjacent Montecito Heights Health Club and Spa features a full-service spa, classes, and childcare.  The club is open to the general public as well.

roof-top name tower at Flamingo Conference Resort & Spa in Santa Rosa, California
roof-top name tower at Flamingo Conference Resort & Spa in Santa Rosa, California


outdoor pool at Flamingo Conference Resort & Spa in Santa Rosa, California
outdoor pool at Flamingo Conference Resort & Spa in Santa Rosa, California


guest room at Flamingo Conference Resort & Spa in Santa Rosa, California
guest room at Flamingo Conference Resort & Spa in Santa Rosa, California


Snoopy statue at Flamingo Conference Resort & Spa in Santa Rosa, California
Snoopy statue at Flamingo Conference Resort & Spa in Santa Rosa, California


childcare center at Flamingo Conference Resort & Spa in Santa Rosa, California
childcare center at Flamingo Conference Resort & Spa in Santa Rosa, California


The Terrace Grill serves a continental buffet breakfast as well as a full menu and also has a popular Sunday buffet brunch, when among the options you will find what is probably the best rendition of Black Forest cake this side of Germany.

Sunday brunch dessert spread at Flamingo Conference Resort & Spa in Santa Rosa, California
Sunday brunch dessert spread at Flamingo Conference Resort & Spa in Santa Rosa, California
Terrace Grille Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 



February 20, 2019

Oakland: Benchmark Oakland


880 South

Benchmark Oakland  499 9th St./Washington St., Old Oakland, (510) 488-6677.  L M-F, D daily.  One of several vibrant dining establishments located in a quiet neighborhood where trees strung with tiny lights bring cheer to the night, this corner restaurant is situated inside a vintage 1876 building that features original mosaic-tile flooring and enormous windows.  Red walls are accented with a high black ceiling, which work together to provide a cozy feeling.  You can see some kitchen activity and the red-tile pizza oven behind a zinc-topped semi-circle bar.  The decor makes this spot is a feast for the eyes as well as the tummy.  This is the second location for this pizza-centric eatery, and it features the same wood-fired, naturally leavened pizza as at the first (Benchmark Pizzeria in Kensington) with the addition here of fresh house-made pastas and breads.  The restaurant is noted for its house-stretched cheese and sourdough starter made with their own wild yeast.  Menu highlights include a Caesar Salad, strozzapreti Bolognese pasta, meatballs with polenta, and a pizza topped with fried sage.  My choices included marinated olives (a mix of plump green and small black orbs, some of which retained their thin stems), a colorful and flavorful orange-beet salad, and a spinach and thick-pancetta pizza on a chewy blistered crust.  From two dessert choices, we opted for light, spongy Italian beignets made with ricotta, flavored with lemon, and presented with a dark chocolate dipping sauce.  Specialty cocktails are on the menu along with an international wine list and assorted beers. In good weather, outside sidewalk-side seating is available. 

exterior entrance of Benchmark Oakland in California
exterior entrance of Benchmark Oakland in California


interior at Benchmark Oakland in California
interior at Benchmark Oakland in California


bar at Benchmark Oakland in California
bar at Benchmark Oakland in California


red tile pizza oven at Benchmark Oakland in California
red tile pizza oven at Benchmark Oakland in California


colorful citrus-beet salad and olives at Benchmark Oakland in California
colorful citrus-beet salad and olives at Benchmark Oakland in California


spinach-pancetta pizza at Benchmark Oakland in California
spinach-pancetta pizza at Benchmark Oakland in California


beignets at Benchmark Oakland in California
beignets at Benchmark Oakland in California



More things to do in Oakland.

Way more things to do in Oakland. 

More ideas for exploring Northern California. 

images ©2019 Carole Terwilliger Meyers