Saturday, August 10, 2013

Cafe Rain Tree

"Take a walk on the mild side…"[1]

(No official web-site; well, it might be, but when I tried that link, nothing came up.)

654 Irving Street (on the corner of 8th Avenue)

phonicular contact: (415) 665-3633

(The first EweToob song somewhat goes along with the name of this morning's restaurant; this is a Bob Dylan cover duet by Tom Russell and Lucinda Williams, both of whom I have seen perform live a few times ~ Thanks, Skip! The second song is just a very strange cover and I like it, and the title to today's 'blog-entry sorta relates to it.)

I have passed by Cafe Rain Tree[2] many times (it's right next door to a funny-book store ~ not that I would ever frequent such an establishment, Dr. Cooper), but this was the first time I have ever eaten at this location. From what I can tell, there is a second/sister restaurant on West Portal Avenue (see 'blog-entry from November 6th, 2010). So, which came first: the chicken on Irving Street or the egg on West Portal?

They open early enough to be called a real "breakfast" place, as they open at 7:00am daily. Maybe if you are looking to get a Five-Star "Brunch" meal, you will have to wait four more hours and go across the street to Pasión. For seating, Cafe Rain Tree has five tables for four; two tables for two; and eleven diner counter seats (replete with the requisite red/burgundy vinyl covering) ~ these were the 360° spinning kind, but had backs to them and weren't just round stools. There is easy parking just a block away in Golden Gate Park, which is always nice.

Cafe Rain Tree has your typical diner-ish breakfast menu, but they do offer a few specials, too. I am sure those of you that partake of the dead, decaying animal flesh would like the Irish Breakfast ~ 2 Irish bacon, 2 Irish sausage, 2 eggs & homefries (they didn't specify if these were of Irish origin or not), black & white pudding, grilled tomatoes, & toast (for some reason, no baked beans, though). I had the California Omelette ~ with tomato, avocado, spinach, (the Oxford comma was provided courtesy of me, and at no extra charge) & Jack cheese; served with home fried potatoes and toast or English muffin. I also had a glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice (with lots of pulpy goodness ~ if you want your orange juice pulp-free, drink Fanta®).

The omelette was good enough and contained lots of spinach, but not really enough avocado for my liking, though. I went with sourdough as my choice of toast. Their homefries are made with green and yellow bell peppers and white onions.

For condimentary supplementation, Cafe Rain Tree offers both Tapatío® and Crystal® Louisiana's Pure Hot Sauce on the tables. I used some of my own Cholula® Hot Sauce on the potatoes (Thanks, Brian! That was the last of that bottle. Now I only have about seventeen more to use up in my refrigerator.) and a little Serious Food… Silly Prices Mango Hot Sauce (Thanks, Cindy & Greg!) on the omelette.

My French model girlfriend always says, don't believe what you read on yelp* (or the rest of the Intro-Net even, especially in this 'blog). In doing a little research before going (back) to Cafe Rain Tree (what time they open, what they might offer on their menu, etc.), I read a lot (I mean A LOT) of negative reviews on yelp* and the like. I am pig-headed[3] enough to reserve my own opinion (and foist it upon people here) until I have actually tried a place. I don't know what all of the brouhaha was on yelp*. This was a decent enough place to eat. Would I recommend it to people or go back again someday? Sure, it's not as if you need to run right out and visit it, but it's a fine enough place to eat if you are hungry and are already on Irving Street (and Crepevine, Irving Street Cafe, or Art's Cafe aren't open yet; I have no idea whether the food at Pasión is any good or not, as I have never waited until 11:00am to eat there for "Brunch").

I skipped a cuppa at the restaurant, as I figured anything I can make at home had to be as good or better than standard diner coffee. So I am enjoying a very decent cuppa fresh-dripped Peet's® Ethiopian Fancy.

I also asked my French model girlfriend what she thought would be the name of a good Chinese-French fusion restaurant? But of course ~ "Měi Wèi"[4].

Glen Bacon Scale Rating: California Omelette ~ 5.9; Peet's® Ethiopian Fancy ~ 7.1

1. This motto was used by a local musical group, the Dinos. They were active in the late 80's and early 90's. They mainly were a kitschy lounge-lizard combo group that played a buncha hokey songs (their Tom Jones tribute was hilarious: "It's Not Unusual"/"Delilah"/"What's New Pussycat?"). They used to play every Thursday night at the old Club Paradise (on the corner of Folsom and 11th Streets). They used to joke that they would be playing there every Thursday night until the end of time ~ and that then you'd probably catch them playing twice a night on Thursdays in Hell afterward, too.

The lead singer was (Little) Roger Clark. He used to have a band in the 70's called Little Roger and the Goosebumps. Their claim to fame was a novelty song called "Stairway to Gilligan's Island". It got a lot of airplay on the Dr. Demento Show and the like.

Supposedly, Lead Dirigible threatened to sue them for using this song. Of course, that publicity only "lead" to its appeal. Apparently, Roger Plant found it pretty funny, though. It was also said that Sherwood Schwartz (creator of "Gilligan's Island" and he co-wrote the theme song to it, too) absolutely hated this parody.

There is no truth to the tale that if you play this backward that it plays "The Brady Bunch" theme song.

2. If you are like me and are about as botanical as Monsanto (I am getting to where I can tell the difference between some types of flowers at least), you wouldn't know a "Rain Tree" from a "Eucalyptus" unless there were koalas climbing all over them (luckily, we have eradicated most of the marsupial scourge in this part of California). So I actually looked up what a "Rain Tree" was. It's some kinda tree that is native to the Neotropics, ranging from Mexico south to Peru and Brazil.

Why the owners chose "Rain Tree" as a name for the restaurant, I do not know. As far as I could tell, the place is owned by an Asian family.

3. As a vegetarian, maybe I should call myself "cauliflower-headed" instead.

4. Stupid, useless cunning linguist pointer of the day:

When I first came up with that joke, I just figured it would be funny because "mais oui" in French (pronounced "may we") simply means "but" or "but yes". Now here is the truly strange part (sometimes I amaze even myself): the Chinese sound-alike words "" (close enough to "may"/"mais") and "" (close enough to "we"/"oui") together mean "beautiful place".

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