Monday, December 19, 2011

Guest Chef

One of our commenters alerted us to this brand new restaurant that just opened between Rikyu and our least favorite restaurant, The Burrito Shop. Guest Chef is a unique concept, this is from their website:

"Guest Chef is a fully equipped restaurant and kitchen incubator. If you have a specialty dish, a novel cuisine, or an experimental take on a classic, come and showcase your culinary skills to an audience of eager diners. Schedule your two week run and Guest Chef will become YOUR restaurant."

We went on December 17th, 2011. The chef that night was Paul Skrentny of Paul's Paella

Brussel sprouts with bacon AND prosciutto. This had a high meat to veggies ratio. We noticed Paul cutting the brussel sprouts straight off the stalk; you could taste the freshness. We love bacon (AND prosciutto) but sometimes dishes like this can be heavy or greasy. The sprouts were so lightly cooked and crispy that the whole thing seemed more like a salad than a pork soup.

Scotch eggs. These were amazing! It's a hard-boiled quail egg, wrapped inside chicken-basil sausage, dredged in Panko breadcrumbs, (wrapped in an enigma) and then deep-fried. It came with some kind of pink sauce that looked like thousand island dressing, but it wasn't. Whatever it was, we liked it a lot. Go eat these.

Chicken and chorizo paella. We figured the paella would be good, since it's kind of Paul's thing, and it was. Great seasonings, perfectly cooked rice, tangy olives, and bright green peas. It tasted as delicious as it looks. And it comes with a (non-edible) doily!

Flan. This was the only desert on the menu, and we didn't actually order it. Our neighbors at the table next to ours (who we struck up a conversation with during dinner) were too full to eat theirs and insisted that we try it (and take a picture). We're not huge flan fans but as flans go, this one was not too sweet and had a delicate consistency. We wouldn't say it was "flantastic" but it was certainly "fladequate".

The kitchen crew. That's Paul in the center. If you can make it to Guest Chef before January 1st, these guys will make you some awesome paella. If you go after that it will probably be completely different.

The restaurant itself is small and cozy with nice exposed wood beams in the ceiling. Service was great, and we're looking forward to trying Guest Chef again the next time there's an interesting sounding chef. We hope it's as yummy the next time as it was on our first trip! And no, we will not be going back every two weeks to review it whenever the chef changes.

We give Guest Chef (and Paul's Paella) 4 sabuys.

Next stop: Cactus Taqueria


We ate at Oliveto in august with our good friends Peter and Christa, but got too busy this fall (see previous post) to write about it. So, without further ado...

Grilled Sardinian-style sausage with sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts, and mint. With roasted Jimmy Nardello peppers and frisee salad. The sausage had interesting spices and the three parts all complemented each other.

Burrata cheese with Early Girl tomato mamellata, arugula, and charcoal-grilled crostino. We liked this.

Charcoal-grilled prime flatiron steak with Yellow Romano beans, Parmesan sformatino, and Yellow Finn potatoes. The sformatino is the little bit poking out from behind the potatoes on the left. It is like a cheese flan.

Tortelli of roasted pork with Early Girl tomato-vodka brodo. It was delicious, but tiny. You can fit 100 of these tortelli on the head of a pin.

Charcoal-grilled pork porterhouse with fresh Cranverry beans, oven-roasted Early Girl tomatoes, and pork sugo. This was a little smokier and gamier than we would have liked.

Pappardelle rosse with San Marano tomato-braised beef shoulder, hot pepper, and  oregano. Also tiny. Picture taken at 1000X magnification.

We have had great meals at Oliveto in the past but this wasn't one of them. Considering the crazy high prices, you expect it to blow your mind, but our minds were unblown. Oliveto gets three sabuys.

Next Stop: Guest Chef

Been gone for a while

So, we haven't posted in a few months because we've had... er... some other stuff going on. For the next 4.5 months the tiny person above will be attending all our reviews and Steve will be drinking for two (or three). We will try to get back to posting more regularly... until around May 30th.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Market Hall

We thought Market Hall was going to be an epic review since there are so many stores in there that serve food. But it turns out there are only three places in Market Hall that actually qualify as "restaurants" according to the rules of our blog.

The restaurants we reviewed are: 
  1. The Pasta Shop
  2. Market Hall Bakery 
  3. Peaberry's Coffee and Tea
So we figured we could do all three in one trip. 

We will not be reviewing Market Hall Produce, or either of the butchers as they don't prepare food onsite. We will also not be reviewing Bloomies Flowers, sorry vegetarians!

The Pasta Shop

The Pasta Shop has fresh cut pasta, a deli counter, cheese counter, and a large selection of scoopable salads and other prepared foods.

We knew we were going to have pastries for dessert, so we opted for a light lunch. From top to bottom of the stack in the above left photo:
  1. Indian cauliflower - Briana thought this one was bland and gross. Steve found it bland but not that gross. Not a ringing endorsement. It sounded so promising! 
  2. Quinoa salad with sun-dried tomatoes, eggplant, red onions, and green peppers-  We both liked this one a lot. The texture was interesting, and the tomatoes were tart.
  3. Avocado salad with corn and lettuce - Another winner. Very fresh and light tasting. A great choice for a hot day (which it was).
  4. Meatballs in marinara sauce - How do you mess up a classic like this? The texture was just wrong, like they used bubble gum instead of bread or something. The sauce was also very Boyardeesque (TM).
  5. Picante Tuna Salad - This one was also great. Pretty similar to the avocado salad, but with tuna, and a teeny tiny hint of spiciness.
We give the Pasta Shop three Sabuys. The dishes we tried all could have used a little more flavor, but enough of them were good that we feel OK recommending this place. We probably only tried about a tenth of the things they sell in the salad section alone, so we know we're missing a lot of stuff here, for example, the pasta that the store is named after.

Market Hall Bakery


From front to back:
  1. Shortbread - Shortbread is shortbread. Briana loves it, no matter what. Steve is not a big fan. If you like plain old boring shortbread, you'll like this. 
  2. Chocolate mint crinkle - Steve LOVED this. Briana is not a big chocolate lover, but Steve loves chocolate... he loves it long time. We both agreed this cookie has a great texture, with a crispy, crinkly outside, and gooey, fudgy innards. The mint keeps the chocolate from being too overwhelming. 
  3. Carrot cake - Both of us generally love carrot cake, and we were excited about this one because it has so much icing (which everyone knows is the best part). But something was just a little off. The icing didn't have the awesome creamcheesiness that EVERY OTHER CARROT CAKE has.
We've eaten a lot of baked goods from this place, and went out of our way to try some new things this trip. Some of them weren't that great (we're looking at you, carrot cake) but everything else we've eaten there has been delicious. Their brioche, scones, tarts, morning buns, and tres leches cake (to name a few) are all stellar. So we're giving Market Hall Bakery 4 Sabuys based on previous experience. 

Peaberry's Coffee and Tea


It's a cafe. They serve coffee. Steve had a cappuccino, and Briana had a cup of plain ol' boring coffee. They were both fine. You can see from the photo that they do cool stuff with the foam, and IF you can find a table outside, it's a great place to sit and sip on a nice day. Sometimes though, people hog up all the chairs and won't move for hours no matter how close you stand and mouth-breathe on them.

Peaberry's gets 3.5 Sabuys.

And that's it folks! WE DID IT!

Next stop: Oliveto

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Becky's Chinese

We had never been to Becky's Chinese, but we've always been intrigued by their decor. While the interior design may be somewhat modern and unique, the menu is classic "Americanized Chinese" cuisine, and sometimes the classics are all you really want:

We did this one by the book; we ordered all our favorite, predictable dishes:

 Spring rolls! Tasted like... spring rolls. Note to the vegetarians: these had meat in them (but we don't think it said so on the menu), so be sure to ask for the vegetarian spring rolls if you don't want meat.

Steve thought they were average, Briana thought they were sub par. Served with sweet and sour sauce (also just OK).
 Mushu Pork! No surprises here, except that they roll them up for you at the table, Benihana style. But they only roll your first one, and then you're on your own. These were also unremarkable, and as usual: not enough plum sauce. THEY NEVER GIVE YOU ENOUGH PLUM SAUCE!
 General Chao's (Tso's/Cho's/Zhao's) Chicken! This was actually pretty great. Spicy, with crispy breading, and less sweet than at a lot of places. Quite salty though, so be ready for that.
 Good to know.
Also good to know: Becky's does not supply each table with it's own soy sauce, rice vinegar, and chili oil. In our opinion, this should be illegal. We've talked before about the holy trinity of Chinese condiments. HOWEVER, if you ask for them at Becky's, they not only bring the holy trinity, but also spicy mustard sauce, which is a nice bonus. And that's... good to know.

We give Becky's Chinese 2.5 Sabuys. What can we say? It's a Chinese restaurant that's a lot like a lot of other Chinese restaurants. The food was fine, but we probably won't be coming back.

Next stop: Market Hall Eatstravaganza!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Ben & Nick's

We are sorry for the long break, we just moved, but we did go to Ben and Nick's and we ordered a bacon cheeseburger with curly fries and chicken strips and delicious beers (Steve had a Downtown Brown and Briana had some kind of amber ale that we can't remember the name of), everything was pretty good, and next time we promise to take better pictures and not write our review as one long run-on sentence, now here are some pictures of food:

Ben and Nick's is good bar food, and they have a good selection of beers (and some cocktails), we give it 4 Sabuys, OK bye now!

 Next stop: Becky's Chinese!

Friday, May 6, 2011


There are over a hundred restaurants called Crêpevine in the United States. So as a public service, we will now provide a list of alternative crêperie names:
  • Planet of the Crêpes
  • Crêpe Canaveral
  • The Crêpes of Wrath
  • Date-Crêpe
  • Oops, I crêped my pants!
Now that that's out of the way, let's talk about the food:

Briana ordered the "Kyoto" crêpe, which contains Marinated grilled tofu sauteed with spinach, bell peppers, shiitake mushrooms and peanut sauce. It was a little bland. Not bad or anything, just kind of boring. It could have used more spices... or some meat.

Steve ordered the "Santa Rosa" scramble with spinach, tomatoes, onions and mushrooms and cheddar. It was similarly bland, but totally edible. We disagreed on the salad dressing. Steve thought it was pretty good, Bri thought it tasted like mayonnaise. 

Say, "Maaaaaaaayo!"

Good to know: Crêpevine has self-serve water with lemons! Quelle fancy!

We give Crêpevine 3.5 Sabuys. The food isn't great, but the prices are decent, and the outdoor patio is a pleasant place to eat brunch and watch people push their strollers around.

Next stop Ben & Nicks