Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Great Brunch at Toast Eatery on Polk

Toast Eatery on Polk recently opened its doors to the hungry brunch crowd of San Francisco. Brunch in San Francisco is a "must-do" for locals and visitors on the weekend. Most brunch places are super busy and overpriced, but not Toast. I was pleasantly surprised to find a brunch place that wasn't pretentious like Red Door or expensive like Olea.

As the name suggests, breakfast is Toast's specialty. Toast offers traditional breakfast items as well as some house specialties. House specialties include eggs benedict, lox benedict, trendy chicken and waffles, and hash brown hill (a massive plate of hash browns with everything but the kitchen sink). They also have delicious scramblers and omlettes as well as fresh from the griddle waffles, toasts and banana-nutella pancakes. Although Toast only has a beer and wine license they do offer classic breakfast cocktails such as a bloody mary and screwdriver made with han soju. Mimosas are also available, not bottomless, made with prosecco, the cheaper cousin of champagne.

Toast is a great new addition to the brunch scene in San Francisco. The lines are short and the rush doesn't hit until 11:00am, so if you can manage to get out of bed before noon, you won't have to wait. The restaurant is clean and has that classic diner feel. The hipster waitresses are super nice and service is fast and efficient. Toast also offers lunch and dinner but breakfast is clearly the best!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

B Restaurant and Bar's Killer Happy Hour

Last Friday we ventured to B Restaurant and Bar for Happy Hour and it was a fantastic find. B restaurant is a not-so-hidden gem atop Yerba Buena Gardens in SOMA. B Restaurant is a contemporary bar and restaurant offering delicious cocktails and food with killer views. The restaurant sits at the top of Yerba Buena Gardens overlooking the gardens and waterfalls as well as offering panoramic views of the city. The best part is B Restaurant has a spacious terrace opening off the main dining room with plenty of room to relax and take in the sunshine after work.

B Restaurant's Happy Hour specials are amazing. Happy Hour begins at 4pm and ends at 7:30pm Tuesday through Friday, providing plenty of time for you to sample their specialty cocktail list and appetizers.  Happy Hour drink specials include a "Ginger Ricky", a concoction of gin, fresh lime and house made ginger ale; $5 well drinks; $4 Trumer Pilsner and $5 red wine sangria. In addition to individual drinks, you can also get a table side pitcher of red, white or sparkling sangria for $40. The table side sangria presentation is sure to please everyone at the table (and get them a bit tipsy). Happy Hour food specials are just as tempting as the drinks and include dollar oysters and your choice of small $5 plates such as truffle fries, confit honey-mint chicken wings, marinated olives, baby gem ceasar and salmon rillette.

B Restaurant is a great Happy Hour for locals as well as out of town guests. The stunning views and relaxed atmosphere are a great way to decompress after a hard day of work or shopping.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Yabbies Costal Kitchen's Sunday Brunch

Yabbies Costal Kitchen has one of the best Sunday brunches around. I haven't found a brunch spot that has come close to the delicious flavors of their menu. Seven days a week for dinner Yabbies serves up tasty fresh seafood such as sesame crusted ahi tuna and oysters from Bodega Bay but on Sundays from 10:30am until 2:30pm, Yabbies transforms into a magical brunch spot.

The brunch menu is diverse and features lunch type items in addition to traditional breakfast. Popular items are the French Toast, Breakfast Sandwich with pancetta, fresh Crab Cake Benedict, Grilled Asparagus Salad and the Classic Shrimp Louie. But by far the stand out choice is the Mushroom Scramble Frittata. I haven't stopped thinking about this frittata since I had it. The perfect balance of goat cheese and delicately sliced mushrooms with a drizzle of truffle oil is enough to make me crazy in anticipation of Sunday mornings.

Yabbies is a charming little restaurant in Russian Hill on Polk Street. It's busy for brunch on Sundays so be prepared to wait 20-30 minutes for a table at peak hours. Yabbies also offers a few outside tables for those few days when it's warm enough in the city to eat al fresco. Next time you need a brunch spot on Sunday head over to Yabbies for the most delicious frittata ever!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Myconos: Not as good as the island

I was craving Greek food on Saturday and after much Yelping we decided to venture to Myconos Greek Restaurant on Polk Street. On the way, we almost got side tracked by a Thai restaurant but we kept our focus and made our way to Myconos. I should have taken the Thai diversion as a sign because our experience at Myconos was horrible. After being a server for 5 years, it takes a lot to annoy me at a restaurant but Myconos sure knew how to push my buttons.

First off, it seemed as if they were understaffed or not staffed at all. The entire restaurant was being served and bussed by who seemed to be the male owner and a busboy. The female owner sat us but did so while also trying to wrestle a pen out of her kid's hand, whom she was holding. Not professional at all. She left shortly after so I can only assume the kid needed to be put to bed. After seeing the family drama going down, we should have left, but I really wanted Greek food!

It took about 10 minutes to get someone's attention to take our order. We never got the coke we ordered. The hummus and pita bread was straight out of the freezer. The pitas were way too chewy to be fresh. The only positive out of our experience was the Kotopoulo, the half roasted chicken, that we had as our entrees. The chicken was roasted to perfection and the Greek salad delicious. I wasn't impressed with the roasted potatoes that came with the meal, as they had zero taste. And it took 25 minutes for us to get our check. All we wanted to do was pay and get out of there, but after asking about 5 times for our check finally we got one with an attitude, as if we were inconvenience to them.

All in all, Myconos is a mess. Certain aspects of the menu are good but for the most part they just don't seem to have their act together. I've been a few times before and I always thought, "oh they will be better next time", but sadly Saturday was my last time. Myconos' slogan is they "treat everyone like family" but sadly we were treated like a red-headed step-child. There are far more Greek restaurants in San Francisco to explore that have the service to go along with the tasty menu.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Cafe Altano

Cafe Altano is located in the quiet neighborhood of Hayes Valley in San Francisco. A perfect spot for a weekday date night or quick bite before the ballet, Cafe Altano never disappoints. It's a small European-style cafe with minimalist decor and large windows facing Laguna Street. There is a small outside alcove on the Hayes Street side with a few high tops for those warm San Francisco nights. I've been to Cafe Altano twice now, both times before I've gone to the opera or ballet. The service is fast, maybe a bit too fast. Both times, our food arrived within 5 minutes of ordering. To me this is both a good and bad thing. It's great because most people on those two nights were there are scarfing down their food to catch a show and it's a bad thing because it leaves me with the impression the food isn't made fresh, that it's pre-made. I understand how some things can be cooked in advance but not all food, especially fresh fish should come out within 5 minutes. One great thing about Cafe Altano is that you can always get a reservation. Whether it's 7pm on a Friday night or brunch on a Saturday afternoon, there never seems to be a wait. This could be because they turn tables over so fast by getting the food to you within minutes. Good for the customers but not so good for Cafe Altano.

The best part of Cafe Altano is the deliciously simple Italian food. The food is reliable and I've enjoyed every selection I've tasted. The best appetizers are the: polenta cake, mozzarella caprese salad, Chiogga beets salad and the pizza margherita (best to share as an app rather than an entree). The stand out pasta dishes are the: whole wheat pasta with eggplant and zucchini, potato gnocchi, butternut squash ravioli and the linguine with clams, muscles, scallops and shrimp. My friend, Kerstin, ordered the halibut special which was both pleasing to the eyes and stomach. She literally cleaned her plate, it was that delicious. Cafe Altano only serves up wine and beer, and the selection is small but reasonably priced. A good bottle of Zin was only $29. All in all, Cafe Altano is a delicious and reliable Hayes Valley gem. I'll definitely go back before a show for a quick bite.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

B44 Catalan Bistro

B44 is a Catalan Bistro located on San Francisco's picturesque Belden Place in the Financial District. B44 offers classic Spanish cuisine with a modern touch. As B44 is located on Belden Place, they offer al-fresco dining in addition to a tastefully decorated dining room complete with pictures of "Castells" (human towers famous at festivals throughout Spain's Catalonia).

After a recent trip, my friend Erin passed along her "amateur review" which I will happily expand upon.

Great sangria
Good paella
Hot waiters w/ accents

They ran out of sangria on a Friday night (at least a waiter w/ a hot accent told us so)

She was particularly impressed with her hot waiter thus he is mentioned in two out of four of her comments, but the best part of the restaurant IS the food and the wine. B44 artfully crafts delicious and visually pleasing dishes of which their paellas are the best in San Francisco. The stand-out appetizers/tapas are: sauteed aqua gem clams, tiger shrimp with garlic and adobo, ceviche of shrimp, octopus and scallops and the Spanish cheese with quince paste. B44 has 10 different styles of paella on their menu with my three favorites being the 1) classic Paella B44 with saffron rice, chorizo, chicken and seafood 2) Arroz con Bogavante with Maine lobster and 3) Arroz Negre with squid, clams and squid ink. The wine list is just as impressive as the food and features reasonably priced Spanish wine.

B44 is a great place to spend a long lunch or a romantic meal and the location on Belden Place couldn't be more perfect for this Spanish gem.

Belden Place in San Francisco

Belden Place in San Francisco's Financial District magically transports its customers to a quaint street in Europe. The alley, tucked away amongst the many high rises of the San Francisco, offers an American representation of classic European dining. Eight restaurants line the alley providing both indoor and al-fresco dining. The alley is set up in classic European style with small 2-4 person tables dotted with large umbrellas and space heaters. Cafe Bastille, Cafe Tiramisu, Plouf, B44, Brindisi, Trademark, Sam's Grill, Belden Tavern line Belden Place offering Italian, Spanish, and French cuisine. Belden Place is a perfect place to have a power lunch with clients, enjoy drinks and appetizers for happy hour or to share a romantic meal under the stars. The restaurants lining Belden Place are usually quite busy. The convenient location in the Financial District and the quaint al-fresco dining make this group of restaurants one of the hottest tickets in town. Make a reservation on http://www.opentable.com/ or come during off-hours or expect to wait at least 30 minutes for a table. Belden Place is well worth it, so come down and enjoy a relaxing meal in European style.