Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Elite Cafe

"American Cooking with a New Orleans Accent*"

(Because "Jack the Spoon" just wasn't quite sinister-sounding enough for Herren Weill und Brecht.)

(I really have no idea what Tom is saying, but I like how he says it, all the same. Perhaps we should get Bob Dylan or Joe Cocker to translate this song into English.)

I went with a little touch o' New Orleans on Fillmore Street for breakfast this morning: The Elite Cafe. They were actually playing the above classic Mr. Armstrong song when I got there this morning, Macheath. The building has been on Fillmore since 1928 and The Elite Cafe has operated there for thirty years now. I had initially headed over to Fillmore Street to see if Citizen Cake had finally opened (see 'blog-entry from May 15th, 2010); they have, but they don't open until 11:00am now for "Brunch", which is way too late for my tastes, and their menu has changed since they have moved (read: not as many good things from which to choose, Orson).

The Elite Cafe is located along the Allée Café section of middle-Fillmore, Millard. There are several coffee houses all within a two to three block radius: Pe
et's®, St*rbucks, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf®, Royal Ground, and a few other small local places.

The Elite Cafe is definitely a typical "Brunch"-ified place: cloth napkins on the tables (Who am I Dame Elton John at the Royal Wedding or something?), Cocktails Galore (that would be Pussy's hotter, younger sister), and they don't open until 10:00am. They did offer a complimentary mini banana nut muffin while I was waiting for my meal; it was only about the size of a shot glass, but free is always nice, no matter what the size, Lemuel.

Their "Brunch" menu isn't really all that extensive (at least for the likes of stupid vegetarians). I simply went with the Veggie Omelet of the Day ~ Spinach, tomato, onion, Crimini mushroom, and Brie cheese; with Baked Mashed potatoes and sourdough toast. (Once again, I would have expected a N'Orleans style place to use the more Frenchified spelling of “omelette”, which I normally use.) I also had a cuppa Thanksgiving Coffee and a glass of the Meyer** Lemonade off their non-alcoholic Eye-Openers menu.

My breakfast was not an awfully large portion (neither the omelette, nor the potatoes), but it was more than enough to fill me up (musta been that freebie mini-muffin). The spinach and Brie was a nice combination in the omelette, but I think that perhaps sautéed pears or apples may have been a better touch in place of the mushrooms. The Baked Mashed potatoes were good (some roasted garlic blended in the mess?), but I still prefer home fried or hashbrowns better with breakfast.

The cuppa coffee was not bad at all, and, because of which, I really didn't feel the need to hit Peet's® or The Coffee B
ean & Tea Leaf® afterward for another cuppa. Again, I was very surprised that for a place that is N'Orleans inspired that they didn't offer coffee from a local New Orleans roastery, or even coffee with some chicory in it.

Their condimentary supplements were the full-range of Tabasco®: Standard Red, Chipotle, Jalapeño, Garlic, and Habanero. I used some Chipotle and Garlic on the omelette, and some Habanero on the potatoes. I had come prepared with three from my own collection, but figured I would stick with the New Orleans/Louisiana theme (even if The Elite Cafe doesn't).

Just one little propriety/society rant of the day:
While I was eating my breakfast, there was a woman seated nearby that felt the need to breast-feed her baby. Now, I am not a prude, and I know this is a beautiful and natural thing, but the damned baby's head kept getting in the way…

Glen Bacon Scale Rating: Veggie Omelet of the Day ~ 6.4; Meyer Lemonade ~ 6.5

*(For some reason, it is just sans accent aigu in their name, which I found kinda strange for a N'Orleans-inspired establishment). 

**(I really couldn't tell a Meyer Lemon from a Meyer Lansky. So here is a little info courtesy of our good friends at Wikipedia: )

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Jo Ann's Cafe & Pantry

South San Francisco

(No official website available.)

I went to Jo Ann's Cafe & Pantry (their menu actually says Jo Ann's Cafe & Pantry, but their printed cards read Jo Ann's Cafe ~ sans accent aigu on both, though) for Easter breakfast today. Jo Ann's is in South San Francisco* right on El Camino Real. It's kinda in an unassuming mini-strip mall with a few other restaurants and insurance places. I love this little, local place; and I have been going there for 10-15 years now. If it were closer, this would definitely be a candidate for my "Breakfast Rotation".

Unlike Dottie's, Ella's, Chloe's, Et Cetera's, there was an actual "Jo Ann" associated with this restaurant, but she sold the place about three years ago. Luckily, most of the staff were kept on and the menu remains basically the same as before. They have lots of good choices on their standard/regular menu and they always have great/interesting choices on their weekend specials menu.

Off their standard menu one of my favourite "go-tos" is the Spicy Migas, which is very similar to a chilaquiles dish and very tasty. I almost went with the Fancy French Toast, but decided on the Easter Sunday Special Omelette ~ Prawns (skipped this one, Mr. Way), asparagus, Fontina cheese, tomatoes, white onions, & Hollandaise sauce. Served with home fries and choice of toast, muffin, bagel, tortillas, or scones. I chose the cranberry-orange scone. They bake all of their pastries on the premises; who would choose plain ol' toast when you can get a homemade muffin or scone?

There was lots of asparagus in it ~ always a good thing ~ which was fresh and grilled (a nice touch). The omelette was incredibly huge and I really couldn't finish it all. I did make sure to scrape out all of the asparagus-y good stuff, though, and eat-up all of that. The scone was good, if not a little dry, but more than made up for it with the amount of cranberries and orange zest/peels in it.

Their condimentary supplementation is simply Tabasco® (just the basic red type) and Cholula®. Once again, I used some
Trees Can't Dance ~ African Hot Sauce (Thanks yet again, Cindy and Greg!) on the home fries.

Their Hollandaise sauce had something in it that I just couldn't put my finger on (or, more correctly, my tongue on). Like I said yesterday, I really can't tell a Béchamel from a Hollandaise (see 'blog-entry from April 23rd, 2011). Was it cinnamon, possibly? So I asked my server and she confirmed there was something added to the traditional sauce, but said it was a family secret and could not divulge the special ingredient to me. I swore I would tell no living soul and take it with me to my grave, so she divulged that it was a little bit of cayenne.

Anyone reading this, please commit Harry Caray right now:

Glen Bacon Scale Rating: Easter Sunday Special Omelette ~ 7.2; Cranberry-Orange Scone ~ 6.4

*(South San Francisco is not actually affiliated with San Francisco in any way; unlike South Boston, South London, or even South Detroit†, Mr. Perry. South San Francisco does not even share a border with San Francisco proper; there are Daly City and Brisbane ~ not the one in Aussie-land ~ between the two San Franciscos.,_California

†This is an inside joke, as I have been told by more than one indigenous populace of the Motor City/Michigan that there is no such thing as "South Detroit"; there is of course a southern portion of the city, but "South Detroit" would actually be Windsor, Ontario, Canadialand. )

Saturday, April 23, 2011

STRAW ~ Carnival Fare

Breakfast under the Big Top, Art?

(Hint: If you click on the little carney* guy picture on their homepage, you can play a video game called "Carnival Showdown".)

(I went with The "English" Beat's** version of this old classic, as it is a little more upbeat than Smokey and the Miracles.)

This morning I went to STRAW ~ Carnival Fare. It's a relatively new place over in Hayes Valley (right along Octavia Boulevard) located in the spot that us
ed to be occupied by SOUL (see 'blog-entry from April 24th, 2010 ~ coincidentally enough, exactly one year ago today ~ it is just too bad that SOUL didn't do a good enough business to remain open). STRAW has been open for just three months now. I have driven by it many times on my way to work and finally checked them out the other night for dinner. It was interesting enough and tasty enough (Can you say "corn gelato"?) that I knew I had to come back for breakfast.

STRAW is a very small place ~ seating a maximum of 28 people o
nly; because of which, it was completely packed early on a Saturday morning (well, there was one seat available at a table with some lone loser, who shall remain named Brian). This was a very good sign.

These were several other good signs all along their walls, too:

As you walk in the door, on your left, there is an original seat from a Tilt-A-Whirl ride that is used as a fun and intimate table for two. This was actually purchased from the private collection of the wife of the designer/inventor of the ride. Unfortunately, they only have the one, and I did not get there early enough to snag this really cool table.

Their breakfast (well, they call it "Brunch") menu is called Eggs with Greg (just like in Ripon, North Yorkshire, Englandland, Great Britannia, but with several more options other than a good omelette or hardy Irish oatmeal). There are many fun looking items from which to choose. I saw someone order the baby needs milk (cinnamon toast bread pudding/whipped cream) and it looked very tasty. I went with the rocky mountain madame ~ egg in the hole sourdough toast/proscuitto (skipped the porky product, Sean)/béchamel***/home potatoes. I also had a glass of orange juice (they were all out of their homemade lemonade, which I had the other night and knew to be very good).

This was a good choice, not overly exciting, but tasty all the same. Now I really can't tell a Béchamel from a Hollandaise, so that is always lost on me. However, the toast was made from a very thick slice (at least 1" or so) of sourdough bread, which I liked. The home potatoes came with a fresh marjoram(?)**** sprig/branch thingy across the top, and there were lots of red bell peppers, green onions, and regular onions throughout them. I think the only thing that might have been better would have been a side order of their sweet (potato) tots (with a blackberry BBQ sauce) on the side, but they don't serve those until after 11:00am (I had these as a starter with dinner the other night and really enjoyed them).

I had gotten there a few minutes before they opened this morning and decided on getting a great cuppa local brew from the Blue Bottle Coffee kiosk in the alley nearby. Today's daily brew was the Giant Steps blend. It was a pretty decent (and very strong) roast. Of course, if I hadn't stopped over there first, I would probably have been first in line to get the Tilt-A-Whirl table…

I probably should have waited and just gotten a cuppa at STRAW. I asked, and they offer BICYCLE COFFEE co as their house coffee; this local roastery will only provide coffee to places that they can deliver their product to by bicycle! That is also very cool.

The only condimentary supplements STRAW has on the tables were bottles of Tabasco®, and just the standard red variety. So, I went with some Palo Alto Fire Fighters Pepper Sauce (Thanks once again, Amy!) on the béchamel sauce/eggs and some Trees Can't Dance ~ African Hot Sauce (Thanks once again, also, Cindy and the aforementioned Chef Greg!) on the home potatoes.

Another fun touch is that the check is brought out in a little treasure chest box thingy and comes with a Mary Jane®***** candy accompaniment instead of the ubiquitous mints ("Ubi est Mintia? Mintia est in Europa."?) that you get everywhere.

I am sure that I'll be coming back again for breakfast or dinner and plan on getting there early enough (and with my "E ticket/E coupon" ready) to grab the Tilt-A-Whirl table, P.T. ("You can’t cheat an honest man; never give a sucker an even break, or smarten up a chump." ~ W.C. Fields).

Glen Bacon Scale Rating: ro
cky mountain madame ~ 6.5; Blue Bottle Giant Steps ~ 7.5

*(Alternate spellings of this word are "carny" and "carnie". I just went with "carney" as it sounded more "Art-sy".

That is just a little entomological pointer of the day at no extra charge, and not really a useless cunning linguist pointer.

"Entomological", you ask?! Yes, 'cause it really bugs me when I don't know how to spell a word correctly.)

**(The "English" Beat were simply known as "The Beat" in their hometown of Englandia, but had to have the "English" part added in 'merica as there was already another group from Los Ångeles with the same moniker at the time; yeah, I am sure that people would have mistaken Ranking Roger for Paul Collins.

After the break-up of The "English" Beat, Ranking Roger went on to form General Public and Andy Cox went on to form Fine Young Cannibals; or as we know them in the good ol' USofA: General "English" Public and Fine
Young "English" Cannibals.)

***(For anyone else wanting to know what a Béchamel sauce is:

By the way, it has nothing to do with "kissing", I checked.)

****(I had no idea what the herb/garnish on the potatoes was. I asked my server and he told me it was marjoram. After looking at this info:

I am not so sure that was actually the case. Whatever it was, it wasn't that bad when leaves were picked off and added to the pile of potatoes.)

*****(Mary Jane® candy is an old-style peanut butter and molasses taffy candy. It is currently being made by the good folks at Necco®: )

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Hollywood Cafe

"Fancy" a decent cuppa?

(no official website available)

(Here's a little Noel Yang in honour of Earth Day 2011, and an alternate live take by Natalie Merchant.)

I finally got a chance to check out Hollywood* Cafe on North Point in the Fisherman's Wharf neighborhood (see 'blog-entry from February 27th, 2011 for my first attempt). This is basically a major tourista breakfast spot, as it is right in the heart of the Fisherman's Wharf hotel area: it is directly across the street from the Hyatt and right next door to the Holiday Inn Express, plus right down the street are both the Hilton and the Marriott, and it is just a block away from the Powell & Mason Sts. Frisco Trolley Car turnaround spot.

There is definitely a dearth of decent breakfast places in this neighborhood, so it is good to have places other than those that may be directly associated with or inside the surrounding hotels. Hollywood Cafe recently reopened after a remodeling/expansion. They have expanded to twice their original size (into what used to be yet still another tourista gift shop). I was fortunate enough (due to both the weather and time of the morning) to dine al fresco at one of their sidewalk tables (in addition to the many tables that they now have indoors, they have about seven tables along the sidewalk that seat four people each). I wonder why they chose the name Hollywood Cafe? And why haven't they been sued yet by Ahnold, Brucie, and Rocky Balboa?

Hollywood Cafe has a decent enough selection from which to choose on their standard menu and even five daily specials named after Hollywoodland legends, such as the James De
an, the Clark Gable, and the Marilyn Monroe (which is just some French toast with fresh fruit; I think they missed a perfect opportunity at a good joke and this dish should have been simply two eggs, sunny-side up, naked, on English muffins). On the back of their menus, there are photos of old Hollywoodland stars. For some reason, my menu had a photo of the late Princess Grace of Monaco on it, I guess they like monarchy, too.

While waiting for my meal, I saw about 2-3 of the Wild Parrots of San Francisco flying (and chattering) overhead. I wonder how many of the touristas also seated outside were even aware of that "only in San Francisco" freebie attraction.

I ordered the Vegetarian Omelette ~ mushroom, tomato, onion, green bell pepper, arugula**, no cheese. All egg breakfast dishes are served with hash browns and toast (I chose sourdough, again). I also had a cuppa the house coffee.

There really was nothing overly spectacular about the omelette. It was good and had lots of fresh ingredients in it (I particularly liked the addition of the arugula ~ not your common omelette add-in).

Minor coffee-snob rant of the day:
The best thing I can say about the house coffee that was served at Hollywood Cafe was that it was black, hot, and a bottomless cup (there must have been 5-6 attentive servers asking me for refills and top-offs). Due to this fact, after breakfast, I figured I'd get a decent cuppa at one of the local coffee shops nearby.

Where I had parked was about half-way between Fisherman's Wharf and North Beach, and I assumed I would be able to get a decent cuppa at one of the little local Italiano coffee houses in that area. As luck would have it, only a block away from where I was parked there was a place called Caffee Capriccio***. Their business cards read: "BUY TEN OF OUR COFFEE DRINKS, GET ONE FREE". After tasting their swill, I probably wouldn't like that deal if it were "BUY ONE OF OUR COFFEE DRINKS, GET TEN FREE" (yes, it truly was that 'orrible). I ended up throwing it away after only three sips.

Which brings up two caffeinated rhetorical questions:
How can a professional coffee shop have such terrible coffee?
And how could it taste both burned AND flavourless at the same time?

Hollywood Cafe's condimentary supplementation included: Cholula® and Tabasco®, both the standard red and the green Jalapeño. However, I had come prepared with two hot sauces from my own collection, and used some Roland's® Piri Piri with Lemon on the omelette and a little Castillo® Chipotle Habanero on the home fries (unlike yesterday, I didn't put either in my coffee, but it might not have been such a bad idea).

This place may need to have another "look-see" sometime in the future to order one of their specials. I just won't make it a priority as the parking in this neighborhood is one of the worst in all of San Francisco. The parking meters actually operate every day of the week, even on Sundays and holidays (because the City knows it can always make a buck on the touristas). I found a free/legal spot just three blocks away, though. However, the time it takes to drive over to Fisherman's Wharf really doesn't merit an immediate return. For the time it takes to drive over there, I could easily get over to Just For You cafe (see 'blog-entry from January 3rd, 2011) which is a much better place for breakfast.

I will just be sure to skip Caffee Capriccio entirely, no matter the "whim"!

Glen Bacon Scale Rating: Vegetarian Omelette ~ 6.3; Hollywood Cafe house coffee ~ 5.5; Caffee Capricccio house coffee ~ 4.8 (and, believe me, that is a very lenient grading)

*(Stupid useless historical pointer of the day:

"The name Hollywood was coined by H.J. Whitley, the 'Father of Hollywood'. Whitley arranged to buy the 500-acre E.C. Hurd ranch and disclosed to him his plans for the land. They agreed on the price and Hurd agreed to sell at a later date. Before Whitley got off the ground with Hollywood, plans for the new town had spread to General Harrison Gray Otis, Mr. Hurd's wife, Mrs. Daeida Wilcox, and numerous others through the mill of gossip and land speculation.

Daeida learned of the name Hollywood from her neighbor in Holly Canyon (now Lake Hollywood), Ivar Weid, a prominent investor and friend of Whitley's. She recommended the same name to her husband, H.H. Wilcox. On February 1, 1887, Harvey filed a deed and map of property sold with the Los Angeles County Recorder's office. Harvey wanted to be the first to record it on a deed." ~ borrowed again from Wikipedia, much like the name "Hollywood" was by Mrs. Wilcox)

**(Stupid useless cunning linguist pointer of the day:

In Englandia, "Arugula" is called "Rocket". Jamie "the Naked Chef" Oliver would always mention this on the Food Network and I had no idea what he was talking about until it was translated into 'merican for me. Thanks, Cindy!

Man, those Britishers have a different word for everything. Don't even ask me what a "pack o' faggots" is supposed to mean.)

***(Stupid useless cunning linguist pointer of the day, parta seconda:

"Capriccio" in italiano means "whim", "fancy", or "caprice"; but from the quality of their coffee, I would have thought it meant "overpriced, tasteless, brownish crap-water". For some reason, there is a giraffe logo on their business card; perhaps their coffee is blended from a special African bean with giraffe manure mixed in.

If it feels as though I am unfairly picking on this particular establishment, let this be a lesson to all crummy coffee joints:
"Life is too short for bad coffee.")

Saturday, April 16, 2011


… because Eggs Whistle Stop Cafe Benedict was just too long and confusing, Fannie.

I went back to Q Restaurant for breakfast this morning (see last 'blog-entry from January 15th, 2011). They just happen to be a block up the street from Eats (see last weekend 'blog-entry). I sat at one of their cool artsy tables, the one with the scary arachnoid tableau*, Mr. Parker.

Damn kids! You think you can go out to eat and enjoy a nice breakfast without having to see any of their stupid taggings. There was this graffito on the wall above me:

Apparently, Mr. Guy Fieri** has eaten at Q before. It was featured on one of his programs: Diners, Drive-Ins, & Dives. However, he never once mentioned the Glen Bacon Scale Rating, though, so take it for what it is (just a local pseudo-celebrity idiot's opinion).

Q has several good things for breakfast on their standard menu, but their weekend specials always has great things from which to choose (à la Dottie's TRUE BLUE CAFE). I went with the Fried Green Tomato Benedict ~ Poached eggs, bacon (no thanks, I left that for Guy to eat), and avocado on fried green tomatoes with Hollandaise, and homefries. I had seen this a few times in the past on their specials menu and figured they'd have it again sometime.

I am happy to say that it was another good choice. This was very similar, but not quite as good, as the Chayote Benedict I had last Summer there (see 'blog-entry from July 31st, 2010 for my ravings on that one). However, unlike the Chayote Benedict, the slices of fried green tomatoes were just about the right thickness to hold the eggs; about the thickness of a standard English muffin. Plus, it came with an extra slice of fried green tomato, which is always nice!

There is one sad note to relate, the Martha & Bros® coffee shop that used to be on the corner of 3rd and Clement is now closed. I was planning on getting a good cuppa their house blend before heading over to Q. Well, there is still a coffee shop there, but it now looks to be an independently owned store. They have painted over the lettering on the awnings with purple paint, but it's not exactly the same shade as the awning and it just looks like darker lettering on a lighter shade of purple now. Because of which, I ordered a cuppa coffee with my meal at Q.

The condimentary supplements that Q offers are actually pretty good: Tapatío®; Castillo® Salsa Habanera (extra hot); and "Louisiana" Brand ~ The Perfect Hot Sauce (their claim, not mine). However, I still went with some Palo Alto Fire Fighters Pepper Sauce (Thanks again, Amy!) on the eggs and some HP® Brown Sauce on the potatoes (and a little in my coffee***, too).

I like their tradition of bringing candy with the check instead of plain, boring ol' mints; today there was a Fruit Punch Frooties® (from the Tootsie® people, Dustin).

Glen Bacon Scale Rating: Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe Benedict~ 7.4

*(Stupid useless cunning linguist pointer of the day:

The word "tableau" is simply the diminutive of "table" in French. I am not quite sure what "table" means in French, though.)

**(Apparently, Guy Fieri is the "new face of the Food Network". I mean, c'mon, this culinary tool has shilled for T.G.I. Friday's, fercryin'outloud~ everyone knows that you can get "fine
kwiseen" there: "Would you like a side order of deep fried crap with your deep fried crap entrée?"

Sorry, but I preferred the "old faces" of Giada De Laurentiis, Rachael Ray, or Sandra Lee… well, in Giada's case, I hardly ever look just at her "face". )

***(There was a 2003 Irish black comedy/crime film called Intermission which starred Colin Farrell and Cillian Murphy. One of the back stories was that Cillian had stolen many cases of brown sauce from the warehouse he worked at, but can't find anybody willing to buy them from him; so he has taken to use it in his coffee to get rid of the stuff. To quote Colin Farrell "It's not fookin' bad…"

And, no, it really didn't work for me; maybe I used too much, or too little. I will try anything once. This really wasn't as 'orrible as you would have thought, though.)

Sunday, April 10, 2011


Abraham Stoker has been trying to contact me all morning…*

Eat at Eats (see last 'blog-entry from January 8, 2011), Bela?

I went back to Eats, in the Richmond (at the beginning of Clement Street), for breakfast this morning. They have new menus, which have incorporated a lot of the more popular dishes from their SpEcIaLs board, but they still do not have a company web-site. So, I guess it is just me and Yelp! that you can trust to tout this great little place.

I am happy to see that their newest menu now includes the breakfast that I had on my last visit there, Spinach & Roasted Mushroom Benedict (Good job, Shelly!). Another interesting choice was the Caprese Scramble ~ Heirloom tomatoes, pesto, fresh Mozzarella, and Parmesan (next time?). However, I decided on the
Farmer's Scrambled Eggs ~ Kale**, mushrooms, leeks, green beans, Goat cheese, and parsley; which comes with their most Excellent! Roasted Home Potatoes and toast (I chose multi-grain toast ~ for optimum garlic absorption). I also had a Power C smoothie ~ grapefruit, orange, and pineapple; and a cuppa Equator coffee (I didn't think to ask what blend/roast it was; it was good and strong, and after 10-15 cloves of garlic, would it really have mattered?).

The scramble was excellent with lots of fresh (sautéed) kale in it (this is not a normal ingredient in most scrambles and was the main reason I chose this today) and lots of shiitake (as in mushrooms; sorry, Skip!). I think the only thing that might have made this even better would have been asparagus instead of the green beans; however, that would probably have unfairly relegated the kale to co-star status.

Now, I don't want to go on and on and on about their most Excellent! Roasted Home Potatoes (Diane, these would be considered the "home fried" variety, not of the "hash brown" ilk), as I had already sung that paean in my first visit there that they started offering these with whole roasted garlic cloves in the dish (see 'blog-entry from November 13th, 2010). And I wouldn't want to dedicate another whole paragraph to just potatoes and garlic… well, I guess I already have (besides that should really have a separate 'blog-entry all on its own). One of the servers (Thanks, Kent!) remembered me from my last visit and had the cooks put even MORE garlic gloves in it for me; there had to have been at least 20+ cloves in with the potatoes (I honestly think there was more garlic than potatoes); it wasn't as if they had ever skimped on the amount of garlic in the past.

The Power C was very good, too. I am not a big fan of canned pineapple juice, as I always find it too sweet (but love fresh pineapples and even the canned ones), but this seemed to have just the right balance of (fresh) pineapples, grapefruit, and orange juices.

Their condimentary supplementation includes Tabasco® (standard red), Cholula®, and Tapatío®, which is a pretty decent selection. However, I went with some Palo Alto Fire Fighters Pepper Sauce (Thanks, Amy!) on the potatoes and some Trees Can't Dance ~ Belizean Habanero Sauce (Thanks, Cindy & Greg!) on the scramble. They also have fresh pepper grinders on every table, but, in my excitement over "buttering" my toast with the roasted garlic, I completely forgot to use any on the meal.

All in all, this was a great breakfast repast. This was a very good idea to bump this place up in my rotation. I really don't know what I would do if they ever dropped the roasted garlic from their potato dish. (Can you say "Hello, AAA!"?)

Glen Bacon Scale Rating: Farmer's Scrambled Eggs ~ 7.0; Power C ~ 6.8; E
xcellent! Roasted Home Potatoes ~ 7.5

*(Why is it that Vampiri hate garlic so much? I am sure it would greatly improve their undead halitosis.)

**(Iron-ically, kale is in the same vegetable family as "the vile weed", but it is one of my favourite leafy greens. It is not normally a green with which most 'mericans are familiar. 

I especially like it in soups and in the Irish dish "colcannon" ~ which is another potato-based dish!

If we can't "borrow" information from Wikipedia once in a while, why are we paying so much for the Intro-Net?)

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Baker Street Bistro

"Elementary, my dear Ratatouille."

I really can't think of a better way to start the weekend: the Boston Red Sox Home Opener Win (plus, they beat the D*mn Y*nkees, so that is a Double-Win) yesterday morning; the San Francisco Giants Home Opener/2010 World Championship Flag Celebration Win (in a grueling 12-Inning battle) yesterday afternoon; dinner in North Beach at Caffè Macaroni ~ Sciuè Sciuè* last night; and breakfast al fresco (as opposed to dinner Al Rosa*) at Baker Street Bistro.

This was my second trip to Baker Street Bistro this year (see last 'blog-entry from January 22nd, 2011). Once again, I sat outside in the sun in their sidewalk patio area; it started out a little cool, but by the end of the meal it was clearly time to 86** the coat.

As I had their most excellent Pain Perdu on my last visit there, I went with their 2nd best dish Oeufs Baker Street again (see 'blog-entry from September 25th, 2010). This dish in itself would be reason enough to go back to Baker Street Bistro even if they didn't have one of the best Pain Perdu in the U.S. of A. It is basically an Eggs Benedict-style dish with ratatouille (zucchini, ?eggplant?, green and red bell peppers) under the poached eggs (instead of Canadian Bacon) and a tomato-based sauce (instead of the standard Hollandaise sauce). This is still as good as it ever was. ***

It is served with home fries and mixed greens. I never really understood this whole "salad for breakfast" thing. I mostly skipped the greens and focused on the good stuff.

For condimentary supplementation I used some Roland® Piri Piri with Lemon on the potatoes, the tomato sauce on the eggs/ratatouille was pretty tasty on its own.

I had parked over by the Lombard Gate of the Presidio and saw several of the Wild Parrots of San Francisco ~ 10-12 flying overhead ~ near their roosting area in the tall eucalyptus trees.

Glen Bacon Scale Rating: Oeufs Baker Street ~ 7.5; Caffè Macaroni - Sciuè Sciuè ~ 7.2

*(I had dinner last night with an old Air Force buddy of mine that I hadn't seen in over twenty years. Al Rose and I were stationed together in Athens, Greece from 1979 to 1981. He was in town with his two teenagers, Andrea and Nick, on their Spring Break from school in the Seattle area. We ate at this great Ristorante Napoletano in North Beach.

Unfortunately, I have no stupid cunning linguist pointer as to what "Sciuè Scuiè" means. I did a few searches, but came up vuoto.

And afterward, for dolce, we headed over to Caffè Puccini for some cannoli and tiramisu.)

**(Stupid cunning linguist/etymological pointer of the day:

By "86", I don't mean the atomic number of Radon. The term "to 86" something simply means "to get rid of" something or "refuse service to" someone. There really is no clear definition of the term's history, but it may just be an Americana rhyming slang for "nix" dating back to the 20's or 30's.)

***(I was debating on whether to use the original video for "Once In A Lifetime", but decided on this live version from Stop Making Sense. You may ask yourself "Am I right, am I wrong?"… well, my 'blog, my rules… "My God, what have I done?!")

Sunday, April 3, 2011


"The One with the Grilled Asparagus, Spring Onion, Fresh Peas, Thyme, and Gouda."*

For today's early morning comestibles, I went back to Ella's, which, strangely enough, is still located in Laurel Heights (see last 'blog entry of January 9th, 2011). As it was a quiet Sunday morning, I actually found a parking spot only a block away, and I got there early enough to be seated with the first wave of impatient diners. 

For a change, I sat at the counter overlooking the stoves** and preparation area, where you get to watch all the action (and can keep an eye on the shifty cookstaff to make sure they don't spit in your food or anything). They have three different counter seating areas, the other two are overlooking the bar and overlooking the bakery area (where I normally like to sit and watch il Maestro della Panificazione working).

They do not have a set Weekend Brunch/Breakfast menu; it changes every weekend and always has interesting and fresh, seasonal things to try. Once again, I went with the Potato Scramble ~ with grilled asparagus, spring onions, fresh peas, thyme, and Gouda (and two eggs added into the mess). I did choose a different toast from my customary honey oat raisin toast; I had the sourdough rye for a change, which was served with their own homemade (or restaurant-made) orange marmalade, Lady (today's version was made with seasonal blood oranges). I also had a glass of my habitual Ginger Orange Juice Punch ~ also made with blood oranges; I don't think that they really add any extra flavour, but it just makes for a really cool looking drink.

The scramble was excellent (as always); I knew I'd like it as it had one of my favourite fruits, asparagus, in it (Stinky pee be damned, Nancy!). Now, I can't tell thyme from parsley or sage, Rosemary, but I really liked the entire flavour combination. The sourdough rye was a nice alternative to the honey oat raisin and paired well with the tasty marmalade.

Ella's house coffee is good enough, but I stopped at Peet's® (the one over in Laurel Village) before having to wait in line and got a cuppa Sumatra blend (I hear this blend is "untouched by human hands"; the coffee beans are hand-picked by local orangutans***).*GroceryTab*na*Explore_nav

I knew that for condimentary supplementation they only offer Tabasco® (both the standard red and the green Jalapeño), so I once again went with a little Palo Alto Fire Fighters Pepper Sauce on half of the mess and a little Sylvia's Restaurant® Kickin' Hot ~ Hot Sauce (Thanks again, Sean!) on the other half.

So, when it hasn't been your day, your week, your month, or even your year, meet me for a counter seat at Ella's, Meneer van Rijn, and I'll be sure to be there for you… (fade-out on clapping hands)

Glen Bacon Scale Rating: Potato Scramble ~ 7.3; Ginger Orange Juice Punch ~ 7.2; Peet's® Sumatra ~ 7.0

*(The TeeVee show Friends always used to name their episodes as "The One with…" or "The One Where…", etc. I remember reading a review of Ella's once where they described the crowd waiting outside to get in as "a casting call for extras on Friends". That pretty much describes the clientele at this place.)

**(Completely useless culinary pointer of the day:

I had been trying to remember the name for the professional broilers that are above the stoves in most restaurants. I asked my most knowledgeable server and she reminded me that they are called "Salamanders".

And a bonus completely useless legend-… wait for it… -ary pointer of the day:

"Modern electric or gas salamanders take their name from the earlier salamander, an iron disc on a handle which is heated and placed over a dish to brown it, which in turn is named after the legendary Salamander, an amphibian that was mythically believed to be immune to fire." ~ from Wikipedia, again )

***(Completely useless cunning linguist pointer of the day:

The word "orangutan" comes from the Malay words "orang" ~ meaning "man" ~ and "(h)utan" ~ meaning "forest"; and thus you have the term "cheap labour coffee-picker"“.)

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Balboa Cafe

(Well, I guess it is officially called PlumpJack* Balboa Cafe now.)

Since 1914, the Balboa Cafe (sans accent aigu, Rocky) has been a fixture in the Cow Hollow/Marina area of town. I suppose the gentrification of this area started right after they started to rebuild the City (and making the Marina the newest man-made/land filled neighborhood) after the Great Earthquake of 1906, and during the halcyon days of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition of 1915. Now the neighborhood is one of the more expensive ones in town. From humble cow pastures come multimillion dollar homes? That's a lot of bull, if you ask me.

The Balboa Cafe is located in "the Triangle" area over on one corner of Fillmore and Greenwich Streets. "The Triangle" refers to the trio of restaurants and nightclubs that encompass three of the corners; the other two "angles" being East Side West and City Tavern.

As the parking is really challenging (Can I say "sucks" on my own 'blog?) in this neighborhood, I was forced to park five blocks away over by the Presidio (Wasn't I just there last weekend?) and walk over to the restaurant. It was all good, as I liked having to walk off the breakfast afterward by strolling along Chestnut Street and doing a little window shopping (bought a couple of transoms, a clerestory, and some Venetian blinds) .

The "Brunch" menu isn't really too extensive, but they do have some interesting choices. Their version of French Toast looked kinda good: caramelized apples and pears with Vermont maple syrup; however, if I'm going to have authentique Pain Perdu in this neighborhood, it will be at Baker Street Bistro, merci beaucoup. Their list of Brunch Cocktails was pretty tempting, too, but it was still a little too early in the morning to try a Dark and Stormy (Hi, Fran and Don!) made with Gosling's Black Seal Rum, spicy ginger beer, and fresh lime.

While I was waiting to order my meal, there was a little Keely Smith (post-Louis Prima days, I think) playing on the house stereo:

The wait time between ordering and being served had to be less than five minutes. I was very impressed by this. It was still early in the morning, but the place was by no means empty. There had to have been a number of people that had gotten there before me and had ordered already. Sometimes there is something to be said for a "Table for One" (most times it stinks, though, as I can only try one thing at a time).

I went with the Omelette of the Day ~ cherry tomatoes, Feta, and spinach. This was served with roasted potatoes, mixed greens, and an English muffin. The omelette was really stuffed with lots of Feta, spinach, and tomatoes, which is always a good thing. I think the tomatoes were actually of the grape tomato variety, as they looked more like tiny plum tomatoes (I asked the waiter for clarification, but he had no clue). I also had a cuppa good, strong coffee ~ Peerless®, a blend made especially for Balboa Cafe (which the waiter did clue me in about).

All in all this was a pretty decent breakfast, the cherry/grape tomatoes added a lot of flavour and pop; plus, spinach AND Feta are one of my favourite combinations, Ζορμπάς. Their roasted potatoes were nice, too, not greasy, and perfectly crispy. I really only ate a little of the mixed greens, though. Salad for breakfast? What am I, some kinda wascally wabbit or something?

Their supplementary condimentation included Tabasco® (just the standard red) and Cholula®, so I went with a little Palo Alto Fire Fighters Pepper Sauce on the roasted potatoes (this hot sauce really goes well on potatoes and most foods in general) and some Trees Can't Dance ~ African Hot Sauce on the omelette. There are mini pepper grinders on each table, so I didn't even need the portable one that I have been bringing with me lately. Most especially of all, they have small glasses with Crayola®** crayons on all of the tables, too, and this really ain't your standard, family-oriented, chain pancake house. This gave me the opportunity to graffiti the paper table cloth a bit before my meal was served.

Glen Bacon Scale Rating: Omelette of the Day ~ 6.8

*(Apparently, PlumpJack Group is an organization ~ founded by former Mayor of San Francisco and current Lieutenant Governor of California, Gavin Newsom ~ that owns and operates several restaurants, wineries, hotels, spas, and other hospitality businesses in the Bay Area. 

"Plump Jack" refers to the Shakespeare character of Sir John Falstaff, dubbed "Plump Jack" by Queen Elizabeth.

Here is a picture ol' Fatty Carbuncle himself:

This picture was taken a few years ago when I had the good fortune to visit Stratford-upon-Avon. That would be my Your 2010 World Championship New York/San Francisco Giants cap on his head.

Breakfast, Baseball, AND the Bard? Bet you never saw that coming.)

**(Crayola® now lists the colours on their crayons in English, Español, et Français.

Useless cunning linguist and Crayolese pointer of the day:

The colour for "plum" is known as "ciruela" in Spanish and "prune" in French.)