Sunday, March 28, 2010


... Seconda Parte

Bechelli’s ~ “a Chestnut Street tradition since 1977”... 30-plus years in the same location must mean something. It is located in an old (1950’s-ish) coffee shop/restaurant right next to the Presidio movie theatre. The theatre itself has probably been around since the 20’s or 30’s from the looks of some old photos on the wall. There are several other good breakfast joints in the Marina/Cow Hollow neighborhood (namely Baker Street Bistro ~ to be extolled further on another visit) and at least 5-10 along Chestnut Street itself that I could recommend.

I had the Tex-Mex Scramble Special ~ Scrambled Eggs, Tortilla Strips, Tomato, Bell Peppers, Green Onion, Green Chili, Tomato-Corn Salsa, Guacamole, and Sour Cream. This was much like chilaquiles but without any melted cheeses in it. It was very good and made even better by the addition of both a fresh tomato-corn salsa and homemade guacamole. Both the coffee and potatoes were much better than at the Flower Market Cafe yesterday. But I still felt the need to get another cup of coffee up the street afterward: Peet’s® Chocolate Raspberry Mocha (a bit sweet, but still a nice “morning-cap” to breakfast).

I also liked that this location offered a variety of hot sauces: Tabasco® ~ Regular and Jalapeño, Cholula®, and Tapatio®. The friendly wait staff went the extra effort to bring out the Tapatio® when I asked about “other hot sauces”; however, the Cholula® and Jalapeño Tabasco® were actually sufficient. I had come prepared with my own bottles of Cholula® and El Yucateco® Chipotle-Habañero. (Fool me once, shame on you ~ fool me twice and you will be hearing from my lawyer, Jackie Chiles!)

They also have their walls adorned with Bay Area Sports Stars signed jerseys and photos. There was a Barry Zito one from his stint with the Oakland AAA’s. Barry happens to be one of my favourite local athletes (now being highly overpaid, unfortunately, with the San Francisco Giants). I have followed his career since his college playing days when I first saw him pitch for the Wareham Gatemen in the Cape Cod Baseball League* back in 1998. Even back then, his curveball had “Major League” stuff written all over it (no, really, I am pretty sure that he cheated and was using an official MLB baseball and not a standard CCBL one).

Unfortunately, this smaller/original restaurant does not have an official website like it’s fancier sister spot. Check it out for yourself and critique it on Yelp! or something.

Glen Bacon Scale Rating: Tex-Mex Scramble ~ 7.0; Potatoes ~ 6.3; Coffee ~ 5.2; Peet’s® Chocolate Raspberry Mocha ~ 6.5

*(The Cape Cod Baseball League is a premier collegiate summer league that has become a passion of mine. I try to catch a few games each Summer when I am visiting Massachusetts. My favourite team is the Wareham Gatemen; Wareham happens to be the town where my parents live most of the year ~ it is known as “the Gateway to Cape Cod”. Academy Award® winner Geena Davis hales from there.

Some notable Gatemen alumni currently in the Majors: Barry Zito ~ SF Giants, Daniel Bard ~ Boston Red Sox, Aaron Hill ~ Toronto Blue Jays, Carlos Peña ~ Tampa Bay Ray Devils, Nick Swisher ~ NY Y*nkees, and many others. Even 2-Time back-to-back NL Cy Young Winner Timmay Lincecum was a CCBL player back in 2005 for the Harwich Mariners.

Catch a game or two if you are visiting Cape Cod during summertime. It is great, cheap entertainment ~ entrance is free, but they do suggest a donation of some amount, I usually give them $5.00. For about half the price of a movie now-a-days, you can see top quality Baseball being played on a hot summer night by many future MLB stars ~ and played with REAL wooden bats, none of that “ding!” of aluminum bats crap here.

If I could ever figure out how to link videos or songs here, this is where I would have a link to Meat Loaf’s "Paradise by the Dashboard Light".)

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Flower Market Cafe

No “Artificial Flowers” here, Bobby (and breakfast was authentic, too)

Bechelli’s Flower Market Cafe*, as its name states, is located right in the San Francisco Flower Mart (which is open to the public, but mainly services the wholesale industry). It is on the corner of Brannan and 6th Streets in the South of Market Area (SoMa for those trying to sound “hep”). The family that owns this restaurant also has another sister restaurant over on Chestnut Street in the Marina District.

This place has lots of seating in addition to an outdoor patio (with another 8 tables). Parking on the weekends seems to be easy enough with ample street parking in the area. They also have a nice looking bar in the restaurant; it was closed when I was there for breakfast, but I am sure it does a nice business during Summer nights as it is located just a few blocks away from AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants. Each table and the counter had fresh flowers on them ~ I’m thinking that these were probably bought at a nearby Safeway®

I had the Spinach, Mushroom, Caramelized Onion, & Goat Cheese Omelette. This was a three-egg behemoth chock full o’ fresh spinach (enough to impress even Popeye), with shiitake (which they had misspelled on the menu as “shitake”), goat cheese ~ lots and very good, and onions ~ which seemed more like grilled than caramelized to me. All in all, the entire combination was very good. The large side of home fries was okay, but seemed to be lacking some basic flavour, as they only had Tabasco® on the tables/counter (I didn’t bring my usual stash of hot sauces with me), I had to make due with what there was. The coffee was nothing special, typical restaurant-style coffee.

Domani, Seconda Parte ~ Bechelli’s in the Marina District...

Glen Bacon Scale Rating: Omelette ~ 6.5; Potatoes ~ 6.0; Coffee ~ 5.0; Flowers ~ 6.5 (like I really would know)

*(Today's entry was at the suggestion of a fellow 'blogger and old Air Force buddy ~ Hi, Jim! I had not eaten here in over 15 years; I used to work just two blocks away in the early 90's. But don't think I am gonna start taking requests, I can only eat so many breakfasts every weekend.)

Thursday, March 25, 2010


Caffè, Café, Kaffee, Кофе, Καφές, Cà phê, Kahve, قهوة... 


Mocha Java, Espresso, French Roast, Viennese, Cappuccino, Latte, Forty weight, Ink, Mud, Brew, Joe…
No matter how you say it, it is not truly morning or breakfast without a good cup of coffee. (Unless you are Mormon or Jehovah’s Witness, then you probably wouldn’t be having breakfast with me, anyway. And how can they enjoy a Mimosa or Bellini with their meal? Isn’t that just called orange juice or peach juice?) Between Peet’s®,
St*rbucks, and the plethora of good local coffee shops in San Francisco, there really isn’t an excuse to ever have to suffer through crummy coffee.

My current local favourites are a couple of small chains in the Bay Area: Philz Coffee and Blue Bottle Coffee Co. They make each cup of coffee fresh for each person by the drip method; it takes a little longer to wait for it, but it is completely worth the extra few minutes. Fans of weaker Dunkin’ Donuts® style coffee will not like this extra strong brew.

I normally drink my coffee “black, no sugar” so as to get the most out of the robustery (not a real word, but you get the idea). Once in a while I don’t mind a Cappuccino or even a flavoured Latte. And whenever I eat breakfast at a Mexican restaurant, I will drink it like locals ~ 1/3rd cream (or leche) and 2-3 sugars; it actually seems to pair well with the spicy food.

And who says the English are a buncha “tea”totalers? I just finished a very nice cup of Bettys Christmas Coffee. Next time any of you are in North Yorkshire check out a local Bettys ~ great food, tea, and coffee!

Glen Bacon Scale Rating: Philz ~ 8.0; Blue Bottle Coffee Co ~ 7.9; Bettys Christmas Blend ~ 7.9; Peet's® ~ 7.0-7.5; St*rbucks ~ 6.5

“Life is too short for a bad cup of coffee.” ~ Spike’s (c. 1990), a true breakfast “dive” if ever there was one, as it was located in the basement below a bar.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Secret Breakfast

Ice cream: It’s not just for dessert any more…

Who says you can’t have ice cream for breakfast? It has milk, eggs, and sugar in it ~ sounds like breakfast to me, Bill Cosby.



There is a great ice cream parlour over in the Mission (on Harrison and 24th) simply called Humphry Slocombe ~ an “only in San Francisco“ kinda place. It is named after the owner/chef that has come up with some pretty interesting flavours from which to choose. This place is pretty tiny and they only offer 10-12 different flavours at a time, but they are all usually pretty interesting and always fresh. If you didn’t know it were there (aside from the usual line out the door), you would miss it entirely.|_Flavors_|.html

Believe me, this ain’t your mother’s Baskin-Robins® ice cream joint. One of my favourite flavours of theirs is called “Secret Breakfast”. It is made with real Bourbon and corn flakes; hard to explain, but it actually works (I think Guinness® and Cocoa Puffs® might be pushing it though). I paired it with a scoop of “Racer 5 IPA” (made with real beer from the Bear Republic Brewery). In addition to the two flavours I had today, there were “Jesus Juice Sorbet” (made with red wine and Coke® Classic) and one called “Boccalone Prosciutto” (and, yes, it is made with actual salted porky parts, Sean ~ I did not try a sample of this one, but I talked the complete stranger in line behind me into trying it and he said it really wasn’t that bad. I rewarded him for his bravery by buying both his and his girlfriend’s ice creams. He had the “Secret Breakfast” paired with another one that escapes me, and his girlfriend had “Balsamic Caramel” ~ a great choice, which I have tried before ~ with “Salted Chocolate”.)

This is one secret breakfast that you don’t have to hide in a paper bag to enjoy.

Glen Bacon Scale Rating: Secret Breakfast ~ 7.5; Racer 5 IPA ~ 6.0

Hot Stuff

Just a little something about bottled hot sauces (or even the fresh made stuff at some good taquerias).

I think a good hot sauce can enhance the flavour of some foods: egg dishes and potato sides are two of them. As long as the hot sauce is doled out in the right amount and doesn’t blow the roof off your head. I am not a big proponent of adding salt to most dishes, so I like to add a little spice with hot sauces instead (and salt is already a main ingredient in most hot sauces).

Most restaurants normally offer either Tabasco® or at least Crystal
® on the table (along with the ubiquitous* ketchup/catsup and salt and pepper shakers). Both of these are simple cayenne peppers, vinegar, and salt blends. They add some flavour and heat, but are not always the best choices. Tabasco® has several different flavours from which to chose now: Original (2,500-5,000 SHU on the Scoville scale**), Garlic Pepper (1,200-1,800 SHU), Jalapeño (600-800 SHU), Chipotle (1,500-2,500 SHU; the best of their brand; not too spicy, but very tasty), and even a Habañero version (7,000-8,000 SHU; hot, but not as mind-numbingly/tongue-burningly hot as some other Habañero sauces I have tried).

I do like the history of Tabasco
®, though. It was first made after the Civil War by the McIlhenny family in Louisiana and the bottles they used to package it were actually cologne bottles. The bottles retain that shape to this day. It is still a good product, just not my #1 favourite. If it weren’t for the popularity of this condiment, we probably wouldn’t have as many choices today (think St*rbucks® of the hot sauce world).

® (or Crystal®) are just fine if there are no other viable options; however, because of this, I generally bring 1-2 bottles of my own with me when I go out to eat (I usually have 5-6 different types in my 'fridge ready to go). A couple of the Starters in my Rotation are El Yucateco® Chipotle (3,400 SHU, with a blend of Habañero and Chipotle chilis) or Cholula® (3,600 SHU, with a nice blend of arbol and piquin chilis); both are not really that hot, but pack mucho sabor. In San Francisco, most Mexican restaurants will have either Tapatío® (3,000 SHU) or Cholula® on the tables instead of Tabasco®. Cholula® has to be one of the best widely-available brands out there, and, in my opinion, the best tasting one, too. I don’t know why more restaurants don’t carry it instead of Tabasco®; it is usually cheaper when I buy it in the stores (by a good $1.00/bottle) than Tabasco®. I spoke with one restaurant owner that said they buy their Tabasco® in bulk (in larger containers) and just refill the bottles when needed. He wasn’t sure that Cholula® is available in the same quantities.

As the chili pepper (like its plump, juicy cousin the tomato) was indigenous to the New World, I wonder what people used to really spice up foods prior to 1492. Thai, Indian, Hunan, Szechuan, and several other cuisines are based on the fiery little devils now.

Heat up and enjoy!

*(Is it just me, or is “ubiquitous” being used too much now-a-days? You see it everywhere. Much like “superfluous” is an entirely dispensable word.)

**(The Scoville scale measures the hotness or piquancy of a chili pepper, as defined by the amount of capsaicin it contains. Capsaicin is a chemical compound which stimulates chemoreceptor nerve endings in the skin, especially the mucous membranes. The number of Scoville heat units, SHU, indicates the amount of capsaicin present.

The scale is named after its creator, American chemist Wilbur Scoville, who developed a test for rating the pungency of chili peppers. His method, which he devised in 1912, is known as the Scoville Organoleptic Test. An alternative method for quantitative analysis uses high-performance liquid chromatography, making it possible to directly measure capsaicinoid content.

If you really want to learn more about this, see Wikipedia, as this is where I copied the main information.)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Popovers & a bit o’ History

"Mmmmmm… popovers!" (to be read in your best Homer Simpsonesque voice)

To say that their popovers are "to die for… " may be an understatement ~ well, they may not be worth committing actual Murder over, but they are at least worth breaking a few of the lesser Commandments. (I mean who really knows what "covet" means anyway? And who among us hasn’t broken the 11th Commandment at one time or another: "Thou shalt not use God's name in bed."?) The Cliff House is well-known for their supreme popovers, people come from all over the Bay Area just for these baked goodies. I like to butter them while still warm and fresh, and on the first one add dollops of orange marmalade; for any subsequent ones, I just butter them. The popovers come abundantly with most meals, in place of toast or bread, in a little basket; more can be requested at no extra charge if you go through what they first serve. But please don't be sacrilegious and do not waste these; we can always do with less trees in the Rainforests, but do not ask for more of these popovers to not eat them.

The Bistro at the historical Cliff House: "Where San Francisco Begins"® (… and civilization ceases to exist?), which is their actual "Registered Trademark" slogan. They also use the slogan "Where Geary Meets the Pacific Ocean", while not technically on Geary ~ it is at the end of Point Lobos Avenue, where that street meets the Great Highway. This is right down the street from my apartment (15 blocks or so) and it is a handy place to go if I am too lazy to drive anywhere else. It has been situated in one incarnation or another at this location since 1863. And how many people can say they ate breakfast at a National Park? The Cliff House is located on National Park land in San Francisco; it is now part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

I had the Farmer's Breakfast Scramble (no ham ~ sorry, Sean and Emeril, with me it is a "no-pork fat" thing). It was a good combination of scrambled eggs, green onions, potatoes, and Cheddar cheese (no need to ask for a side of home fries ~ though their sautéed red potatoes are pretty good, too). As with most restaurants, they only offered the standard Tabasco
® sauce (and ketchup) with the meal, so I came prepared with two bottles from my own collection: Roland® "Piri Piri with Lemon" (a semi-spicy Português brand that I got from a local Spanish import shop) and El Yucateco® "Chipotle Habañero" (a little spicier Mexican one). One time I had forgotten to bring my own hot sauces and the waiter went back in the kitchen and brought out a bottle of Cholula® that he "borrowed" from the cook's private stash. They really should have that particular brand on all tables.

As this place has been around for many, many years, they have their walls covered with vintage autographed photos of Hollywoodland celebrities (à la mode the Brown Derby, etc.). The wall closest to me was festooned with the likes of such vaunted stars as Noah Beery (Sr.), Johnny Weißmüller (the only real "Tarzan" ~ How many people, not named Washington, Jefferson, or Franklin, have a town named after them?), Alice Faye, Martha Raye… and Howie Mandel and Kevin Costner(?)! They also have Noah Beery's brother, Wallace, on another wall; however, my favourite wall of theirs has not only two separate signed photos of Clark Gable right next to one of Carole Lombard, but one with the Mark Brothers (sorry, Zeppo's and Gummo's autographs were not included).

The prices and atmosphere (REAL clothe napkins? What are we royalty?) would almost make this place a "Fancy Schmancy Brunch" place, but it opens at 9:00am on Saturdays and I got out of there for just under $20.00 'merican, so I will let it slide, and they do not allow "reservations" at this part of the Cliff House. (Plus, did I mention the

The views from the large windows on a clear day of Seal Rocks and Ocean Beach are unbelievable ~ one morning I saw some porpoises following some of the surfers around on the waves (I am sorry, I see fins of any type and I am sticking to shore for good).

There is ample (free) parking either on the street right in front of the building (however, these are taken up pretty quickly in the day due to the proximity this is to Ocean Beach) or there is a large (20-30 cars) parking lot located up the street about ½ a block away. After a large breakfast, the walk uphill is not really a bad thing.

Come for the food, come
back for the divine popovers!

Glen Bacon Scale Rating: Popovers ~ 8.2; Farmer's Breakfast Scramble ~ 6.5 (They used to have a Greek Omelet on their menu ~ with real
Καλαμάτα olives in it ~ it was great and at least a 7.0. For some reason the owners ~ who are actually Greek ~ have taken it off the menu.)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Simple Pleasures Cafe

Do people that work at St*rbucks® get to take a “No-Coffee Break”?



Located in the Outer Richmond District of San Francisco on Balboa Street, this coffeehouse has been (bean?) a local favourite since the late 70’s. This is not really a “breakfast joint”, per se (and who is this “Percy” guy and why does everyone always reply to him?), but they do serve sandwiches, pastries, bagels, and the normal light breakfast stuff (again, “my 'blog, my rules). It is only five blocks from my house, so I go there several times a month (their coffee is much better than anything I can ever brew). And they also have live music some weeknights and on the weekends, which is nice...

Their coffee is always first-rate. I had a cuppa their “House” blend, which is what they normally have a-brewin’. They do offer many different roasts for sale as they have their own roastery (which is not a real word, as my spell-checker is pointing out, but I am too lazy to type out “roasting room”) two doors down from the café. They don’t have a website for the coffeehouse, but here is a link to their “roastery”:

For my breakfast repast this morning, I went with my standard “Bagel with Hummus and Veggies”. They make their own hummus weekly and it is excellent. The hummus is made by one of the baristas* there. It comes with a bagel (I chose “sesame” today) and assorted sliced/diced vegetables: red onions, black olives, tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, and (not always) pepperoncini (and sometimes alfalfa sprouts). I know this might sound like a strange combination, but hummus on bagels is so much better than plain ol’ cream cheese ~ try it and you will never go back to that Philadelphia Brand® crap again. Paired with a good strong cuppa coffee, it is great. Also, never order this “To Go” as it has way too much stuff to make into a bagel sandwich ~ order it to eat there and enjoy while drinking their coffee.

Glen Bacon Scale Rating: Coffee - 7.0; Breakfast - 6.2 (I would score it higher if they used real sliced Καλαμάτα olives instead of the flavourless canned type; however, they do get extra points for having great homemade hummus.)

*(Do you think that some of these guys became baristas as they thought they would be training to practice Law in England?

Which brings up a whole lotta ~ as opposed to a little lotta ~ set of stupid questions:

If a coffee shop runs out of Half-and-Half, what would an optimist or a pessimist say?

Is it fair to teach your neutered dog the command “Come!”?

And, what would Scooby do?)

Sunday, March 14, 2010


The Marilyn Monroe of Breakfast Joints

I had to start my first breakfast 'blog with this perennial favourite of mine. In my opinion (and, of course, my opinion is all that really matters here ~ my 'blog, my rules), this is by far the best Breakfast place in San Francisco for your money. I have been going there for close to twenty years now (early 90's at least), and go there about 6-10 times a year (do the math ~ I have eaten there a lot). Anyone coming to visit from out of town is usually "forced" to join me there for breakfast (after which, they join the legion of satisfied customers who will now pass along to anyone visiting San Francisco about this great place).

Dottie's TRUE BLUE CAFE is located on Jones Street, between Geary and O'Farrell Streets. It is right on the border of the Theatre/Hotel District and the Tenderloin, so that is always an interesting location ~ no charge for the "street performances" while you are waiting in line outside. It is owned and run by Kurt Abney ~ chief cook ~ but I am pretty sure someone else washes the bottles. Watching him work the grille is a work of art.

Dottie's is a kinda small place. It only has ten tables (averaging 2-4 seats per table) and five counter seats. So the total amount of people that can enter and be served at one time is less than forty normally. The clientele are generally lined up outside the door a half-block long (rain or
shine ~ usually rain) and the wait can be anywhere from a ½-hour to one hour, depending on the time of day. Be patient; it is well worth the wait. They are only open for Breakfast and Lunch, seven days a week, and are usually busy all day long.


I had the frittata from their specials board: Avocado, tomato, corn, scallions, jalapeño, and Feta. It comes with a heaping mound of home fries (superb) and a side of corn bread toast. As always, the combination of the fresh ingredients and sides were excellent. To me, it just ain't breakfast unless there are good 'tater dishes involved somehow (and lots o' black coffee).

All of their breads and pastries are fresh bak
ed daily. Unfortunately for me, whenever I go alone, I can never eat that much food so have only tried their baked goods a few times. Their selection is excellent and always interesting, though. Today's line-up included: Black Plum Whiskey Crumb Cake, Coconut Honey Muffin, White Chocolate Blueberry Coffee Cake, Pear Toffee Cream Bar, Sweet Potato Honey Nut Bread, Pumpkin Cranberry Bread, and several other original ones.

Unlike most restaurants, they offer a great selection of hot sauces on the tables and counter from which to choose: three or four varieties of Tabasco® Sauce (Regular, Jalapeño, Chipotle, and Habañero), plus a few other brands (which is nice so that I do not have to schlep my own bottles from home with me as I normally would). Their salt and pepper shaker collection is always fun as most people do not even know what they are until they ask for some salt and pepper ~ mine today looked like standard sized avocados.

The beauty of this place is how people from all over the World come here when they are in San Francisco (the location near many hotels is a plus). At the counter with me were a lady from Hampshire, England (very cute, I must say), a man from Frankfurt, Deutschland, and a couple from Austin, Texas. Sitting at the counter is always a plus as you get to see "the show" of the
meal being prepared (and you can make sure that Kurt doesn't spit in your food). Every time that I have gotten there when the restaurant opens (and I assume it is probably every day of the year, too), there is an elderly gentleman named Mr. Skinner seated at the counter that has a daily bowl of oatmeal ~ more than likely comped by the guy working the grille (I hope his boss doesn't find out).

Anyone coming to San Francisco, or even those locals that might read this, do yourself a flavour and go to Dottie's for the real San Francisco breakfast treat (Rice-A-Roni® be damned).

Rating on the Glen Bacon Scale*: 8.5

*(The Glen Bacon Scale was developed in the 70's as a highly scientific way to rate the female species. Unlike the normal 1-10 rating, this is a logarithmic scale, similar to the Richter Scale, which is a much more precise way of determining the tastitude of a female and I have appropriated it here for the use in determining a restaurant's worthiness. Simply speaking: anything under 5.0 is inedible ~ think most fast food places ~ everything over 5.0 is worth checking out. You will never eat a "10" meal ~ if you do, say "Hi!" to God for me, 'cause you are dead and have gone to heaven. In terms of women: Uma Thurman is an 8.0, Nicole Kidman is an 8.2, Marilyn Monroe was an 8.5, etc., you get the idea.)

Saturday, March 13, 2010

What Are YOU Lookin' At?!

This is my first post on my first (personal) 'blog.

This 'blog will basically be dedicated to cool breakfast dives in San Francisco (or wherever my travels bring me). I specify "dives" as they are normally the best places to eat breakfast
~ no fancy-schmancy "Brunch Restaurants", thank you; plus, dives are generally cheaper and open earlier.

I am sure that this 'blog will deviate (as in the noun: 

"a person whose sexual behavior departs from the norm in a way that is considered socially or morally unacceptable") every so often into my other main interests or whatever pops into my "wee li'l haid". As that great bard, Woody Allen, once said: "The only things I take seriously are Comedy and Baseball!" There are few things that I enjoy more in life than live Baseball games, pretty women, and a good breakfast... at least I can usually afford the breakfast and it never rejects me.

Read along, comment, enjoy the breakfast places!

а ваше здоровье!