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 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


Friday, November 14, 2014

High Peaks Kitchen


We're back! Our brief hiatus turned into a pretty extended absence. Sorry about that! We're gonna try and keep it steady this time. 

Quite a few restaurants have opened and closed in the three years since we did our last post, so we're backtracking a bit. Our first stop: High Peaks Kitchen! 

Here's their charming mission statement from the High Peaks Kitchen Website
The High Peaks Kitchen is a family and employee owned business. Having been exiled from Tibet, all of our team members have experience in diverse culinary backgrounds from our upbringing in India. This is how High Peaks Kitchen came to serve Indian foods.
You may recognize this location since it used to be Currylicious. If it's possible, this spot has become even more currylicious than it was before. 

Before: Currylicious offered affordable Indian food in an informal setting
After: High Peaks Kitchen offers affordable Indian food in an informal setting

SO MUCH HAS CHANGED! OK, now on to the food.

Veggie samosa. We were pleasantly surprised by the seasoning on these. They had more coriander than the average samosa. Other than that, they were pretty standard. Samosas are always good. 


One thing that stood out on the menu was "garlic cheese naan". We had never seen that before, so we had to try it. We asked our waiter if this was an authentic Indian dish and what kind of special Indian cheese they used. He laughed and informed us that "We don't eat this in India. Americans just love cheese, it's mozzarella." He's not wrong, we loved it! USA! USA! 


 Yellow Daal Tadka. This was fine. It's just a lot of one thing. Don't get us wrong though, we ate all of it.

 Chicken Tikka Masala is another one of those dishes that's always delicious. Goes great with super-authentic garlic cheese naan!

The food was nothing to write home (or a blog post) about, but it was totally tasty basic Indian stuff, and the prices are great. The staff was incredibly warm and friendly, and there is a huge menu with lots of vegetarian options.

And they've got a cherry pie that'll kill ya!

Sorry! Wrong peaks. They do not serve cherry pie. 

We give High Peaks Kitchen 3.5 Sabuys:


Next stop: The Barrel Room

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 Twin Peaks Kitchen High Peaks Kitchen


Oliveto

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.