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.")


  1. Are you sure those parrots were wild? Maybe they're dead.

  2. Oh, and nice PDA in your cable car picture! :-)

  3. The really strange thing about that cable car PDA is that neither of those two people work for MUNI...