Thursday, January 22, 2015

Smitten Ice Cream


Smitten is an ice cream shop that makes your ice cream while you wait using liquid nitrogen. It's kind of like the Blue Bottle Coffee of ice cream, but with more liquid nitrogen (probably).


We're not sure what the benefit of making ice cream with liquid nitrogen is, although Smitten's website will tell you all about it if you're curious. We couldn't tell any difference between Smitten's extra-cold ice cream and regular ice cream, but they did have some great flavors and it was delicious (all ice cream is delicious). 


Just your typical neighborhood ice cream parlor, with its 50,000 gallon nitrogen tank. 

Seems like a lot of work for something you could just scoop out of a freezer. 

Who knew making ice cream was so complicated?

 Brrrrrr! So cold!

 The finished product! We tried brown sugar with cinnamon cookies (left) and lemon with ginger snaps (right). Both were great, but the brown sugar was the winner. 

Also this.

We give Smitten Ice Cream 3 Sabuys








Next Stop: Jules Thin Crust

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Cactus Taqueria


Cactus Taqueria has a reputation as a kid-friendly restaurant, so we decided to bring our little munchkin with us for this review. We weren't that hungry so we didn't order many things, but honestly Cactus has been there for like 1,000 years so you've probably eaten there already anyway. 

The food is pretty bland, which is great for kids, but not so great for sophisticated, refined culinary geniuses like ourselves. 


Here we see Jane sampling a traditional Mexican dish called a "quesadilla". She appreciates the authenticity. Jane's review: "THE PLATE IS BLUE LIKE LEOMARDO!"


Briana and Steve shared a couple of crispy tacos. Our plate was also blue.


 Jane's review: "Can we get ice cream now?"

We give Cactus two Sabuys.







Jane gives it one jellyfish and two bumblebees.






Next stop: Bica Coffeehouse (turns out Bica does not prepare food on site) Smitten Ice Cream!


Bourbon and Beef

"Bourbon and Beef" sounds like the name of the worst cocktail ever invented, but we would almost rather drink one than eat at this place again. We did not like this restaurant. 

Where to begin...  

This rib-eye steak was OK (not great), but it was pretty small and it cost us $27 and came with NO SIDES! More like rib-off, am I right?


The fried chicken would have been fine, but it was covered in a way-too-sweet honey sauce (it may have just been honey, or honey with sugar added). The cornbread was a dry hockey puck of flavorless crumbs, and their "coleslaw" was just shredded cabbage and water. Maybe they got the recipe from the Burrito Shop?


 We've been loving brussel sprouts lately, especially after we had those great ones at A16 recently, but these were terrible. Soggy sprouts, gross sauce, and spongy bacon. How do you mess up bacon?! It didn't taste any better than it looks.

Big ol' TV over the bar showing football. The big red chairs at the tables looked like something from the kids section at IKEA. The whole place gives off a real chain-restaurant type of vibe although fortunately there's only one.

So yeah, we've got major beef with Bourbon and Beef. How could a restaurant named for two things we love so much be such a letdown? Oh well it will probably be closed soon, I mean how could they stay in business after a review like this?

We give Bourbon and Barf Beef 1 stupid Sabuy.







Next stop: Cactus Taqueria!

Homespun Cafe

We were about to eat at Homespun Cafe (formerly I-Squared), but it turns out that it's still the same food as I-Squared, they just changed the name.

We give the new name 4 Sabuys. Way better than I-Squared.







Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A16

A16 sounds like the name of a fighter jet, or maybe a highway in Europe (because it is), but it's also a pretty fancy restaurant located where Garibaldi/Marzano/Hudson used to be. Their main thing is wood oven cooked pizza, but they also have other entrees. 

This review features special guests: Anna, Christa, and Peter. Thanks for joining us, guys!  


Margherita pizza. Standard yummy pizza, but nothing that blew anyone away. One great thing about all the pizzas at A16 is that they bring them to the table un-sliced, but they come with a pair of pizza scissors that allow you to cut whatever size piece you want. Other restaurants, take note, pizza scissors are the future.


Brussel sprouts seem to be the new it-vegetable at fancy restaurants. These were among the tops. Favorite dish of the night for most of us. They were crispy and lemony. So good.

Funghi pizza (with proscuitto). Kind of sad there was no sauce on this pizza, but it was very good. Observe the pizza scissors in action. Just look at them, slicing wherever they wanna slice without a care in the world.

Bean and veggie soup with croutons. Hearty and warm for a cold night. We were convinced there was a lamb base to this, but the rich flavor was somehow constructed entirely from veggies!

Lamb sugo pasta with cannellini beans. These pastas were pretty gummy. Some of us thought they were like the Twizzlers of pasta and didn't like them. Others of us (mostly Briana) thought they were the Twizzlers of pasta and liked them a lot. The lamb flavor was a little overpowering. This time the lamb flavor was from actual lamb.

A dinner for one. Anna (our vegan friend) had this pizza with marinara sauce topped with arugula and her cocktail: the bronze horseman. This restaurant might not be super vegan-friendly, but it looked like Anna enjoyed herself. She said the cocktail was good, but on the sweet side.

A16 is a lovely restaurant with great food. It's a big place, but it still manages to seem cozy. The staff is super friendly. We've eaten here a few times before this review, and we'll definitely come back when we are in the mood for a cozy restaurant with great food and wine, fun cocktails, and unusually shaped pizza slices.

We give A16... A4 sabuys!







Next stop Homespun Cafe. Bourbon and Beef!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Pucquio

Pacquiao Pucquio serves "contemporary peruvian street food" and is located where Guest Chef used to be. The first time we tried to eat at Picachu Pucquio, it was too crowded. We showed up with a party of five, and no reservation. They had a full house, and we didn't wanna wait for our lives to be over, so had to go eat somewhere else. This time we were the only customers in the whole place. We really lucked out. 

There's a weird thing that happens when you're the only customers at a restaurant. It can sometimes be awkward, but other times you can end up bro-ing down with the staff in a special way. We had a lovely time chatting with our waiter Scott, and meeting the chef, Carlos. In fact, in a first ever for B2B, our waiter actually gave us each a big hug as we were leaving. Aww. 

Full disclosure: Since we ended up getting so familiar with our waiter and chef, we did end up telling them about this blog. We may have received some special treatment (and definitely a free dessert) because of our well deserved status as jet-setting taste-makers. So this review may be somewhat biased. We don't care. 

They start you off with these addictive lightly fried corn and plantains. We ate 'em all.

This salad had a particularly herby dressing, very tart with lots of delicious cumin. The ring of olive oil around the edge was buttery and flavorful. Super thin slices of persimmon were not too sweet, just right.

WINNER!! Lamb on pureed pumpkin with some amazing sauce and dots of onion sauce. This was so tasty it was unreal.

Cebiche De Pescado (comes with the fried corn stuff, other corn, pickled onions ((bonus for steve)) and pumpkin jam). Very bright and limey, in the best way. The pumpkin jam when eaten with the fish gives a whole new experience to the cebiche.

These guys were so sweet!

WTF!? Tiny cups of cumber and fennel sorbet, each topped with a little prosecco. They make their sorbet in house and it's delightful. The cucumber one almost tasted like a perfectly ripe honeydew melon... Steve ate that one. The bubbles and sharpness of the prosecco was so great with the sweet sorbet, we are definitely going to try a poor man's version of this at home.

We had such a fun experience eating here and meeting these people that we are giving __ 5 sabuys! Bonus sabuy for the best playlist at any restaurant.









Next stop A16!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Barrel Room


This week we went to The Barrel Room, a restaurant/wine bar/wine retailer. Since Briana is not drinking due to being knocked up (again), and Steve is an ignoramus (still), we invited our friends (and wine aficionados) Cory and Alice to join us for dinner and explain wine to us. Turns out it comes from grapes! Who knew?!

The Barrel Room is currently specializing in food and wines from Spain & Portugal, but apparently they switch it up every so often and do a different region. So they may have a totally different menu and wine list if/when you go check it out. 

Our waiter/sommelier/manager seemed very knowledgeable and passionate about wine, and was happy to recommend flights (they do wine flights!) for all of us (except Briana) to try.  

The night we were there they had about 20 different flights to choose from with three wines each. Cory had the Spanish Garnachas, Alice got the Obscure Spanish Whites, Steve tried the Riojas, and Briana had East Bay MUD.

Everyone liked all the wines, and the little hand written labels were a thoughtful touch. Well done Barrel Room!

Dates stuffed with goat cheese and marcona almonds. They were good, but not amazing. They complemented the wine nicely, and they kinda look like giant coffee beans.

Jamon, rosemary, arugula and manchego flatbread. The flatbread was nice and crispy, and the arugula seemed fresh and didn't wilt like you would expect it to sitting on top of hot bread. Everyone enjoyed it, but we weren't fighting over the last piece or anything.

The sauteed prawns with saffron rice and frisee were probably our least favorite dish. Not bad, just kind of bland.


The paella with chorizo, prawns, and chicken was also surprisingly flavorless. To be fair this dish was supposed to have chicken, but we were told when we ordered that they were out of chicken so they added more prawns. We can't imagine that it would be made much better with the addition of chicken, but there it is. Also, where's the chorizo? So it was basically just prawns and rice.

The sauteed green beans, pearl onions, and cherry tomatoes were OUT OF CONTROL DELICIOUS! We found ourselves spooning the sauce onto some of the other dishes because it was so good. Such a simple dish, but the flavor was so rich and light at the same time. We're not sure what was in the amazing tart sauce, but this was the standout dish. 

Tri-tip steak with chimichuri, fingerling potatoes, and green beans. This was really good, but maybe not $26 good? The sauce was tangy and the steak was tender, but split between four people, it wasn't a lot of food. But if the main complaint is that there isn't enough, that probably means we liked it a lot.

Peanut butter cookie / chocolate ice cream sandwich. Tasted exactly like it looks, and that ain't bad. We split this bad boy four ways, and it was the perfect amount of dessert, although Briana would have preferred a flight of ice cream sandwiches.

The space is small, but they've managed to fit in a retail wine shop, a wine bar, and a restaurant without it feeling cramped. The staff was very warm and friendly and their enthusiasm for wine and food is undeniable. The wine was great, the food was mostly good and occasionally great. We came away feeling like we would definitely come back, especially when Barrel Room shifts focus to a different area of the world.

Special thanks to Alice and Cory for joining us on this review and going sharezies on all the food. You guys get 6 Sabuys every time.

Barrel Room, you get a generous 4 Sabuys (think about those ice cream flights).







Next stop: Pucquio