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