Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Frankie's Bohemian Cafe

John and I wandered into Frankie's last Saturday to use a Groupon. I'd passed this little place on the corner of Divisadero and Pine for a few years as I used to work down the street at Mt. Zion and had only popped in once for beers with coworkers.  I had been holding onto the Groupon for a while as the reviews were quite mixed on Yelp and I seriously didn't want a hockey puck hamburger or warm beer.

We ordered popcorn shrimp to start which were divine. I could have bathed in their popcorn shrimp, sadly a dish left off of most San Francisco restaurants. We both chose the bacon cheeseburger and were pleased. They were juicy and delicious. Only complaint is that John got three times as more fries as me. Just cause I'm small doesn't mean I don't like my fries.

The service was great. A nice European man greeted us from behind the bar and pointed for us to sit where ever we wanted, which was 99% of the restaurant as their was only one table occupied. We presented our Groupon as instructed and the waiter very pleasantly said to just hold onto it and he'll ring us up at the end. He really was quite nice, so I am confused by all the Yelp reviews that say he is rude. When we did go to pay, he apologized for not being able to take our credit card for the $7 balance. I could tell he said this a lot and probably more times than not someone yells at him and scoffs off. To me it's the restaurant policy and it's their place so they make the rules, minimum $30 charge period.

All in all, the food was good, the atmosphere cozy and the service pleasant. However, I really don't think I'll be back, unless its for the popcorn shrimp. Nothing really set this place off from the other thousands of restaurants in this city. I don't see this as a restaurant that draws crowds, only a convenient neighborhood spot.

Farmerbrown Restaurant: An all-u-can-eat brunch in San Francisco

Farmerbrown is the best spot in San Francisco to get a reasonably priced all-u-can-eat brunch with a whole lot of hipster vibe on the side. A couple of out-of-town friends of mine stumbled upon this little gem in the heart of San Francisco's Market/Union Square district. I must say I was a bit skeptical when they told me they found a great breakfast spot on the corner of Mason and Turk. It turns out this place is a fabulous find for both locals as its downtown and on a bunch of major bus lines and for out-of-town guests as its smack dab in the middle of the Union square hotel district.
The ambiance of Farmerbrown is uber hipster. The restaurant is all about supporting local and African-American farmers using organic, biodynamic or sustainably raised foods and beverages. The theme is Southern hospitality and good hearty eats, as their website claims is often misinterpreted. Southern food really can be healthy and good for you! The restaurant's ambiance matched this message. The artwork covering the walls is inspiring and the music finger snapping good.

Brunch is served from 10am until 2:30pm Saturday and Sunday. The all-you-can-eat brunch was $16 (if I remember correctly) but the real expensive kicker was the $14 all-you-can-drink Mimosas. Sadly our waitress didn't reveal the high cost of the mimosas, which came as a shock when the bill came. The buffet was delicious and replenished constantly. My favorites were the fried chicken, waffles, eggs, biscuits and mushroom gravy, grits, bacon, fresh fruit..... the list goes on. It's a comprehensive buffet with good healthy eats but I am holding strong and still don't believe that the fried chicken and bacon are healthy, locally sustained yes, but healthy no.

I would definitely go back to Farmerbrown. The dinner menu looks as intriguing and delicious as the brunch menu. It's a great find in a convenient neighborhood with a positive message.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Mamacita: Best Mexican Restaurant in San Francisco

Mamacita, in my opinion, is the best Mexican restaurant in San Francisco. Every time I eat there, I leave happy, full and a little drunk. Mamacita is located smack dab in the middle of the Marina district on Chestnut. The restaurant is one long narrow room, nicely decorated with hanging metal lights, cool art and warm tones. The restaurant tends to get crowded and loud on the weekends and it can be so loud sometimes that you have to scream across the table but that's part of its hip and happening vibe and the food is worth it.

Mamacita serves tapas style dishes and yummy sides. I've eaten just about everything on the menu and loved it all. However, I am sad that they discontinued my favorite dish, a polenta cake with baked clams and chorizo in a cast iron little pot. The flavors in the dish were so mouthwatering delicious, I hated sharing it. Some of my favorite plates are: Callos de Mula- pan seared scallops with butternut squash mole and brussel sprout chorizo hash, classic Carne Asado Tacos made with Meyer Ranch skirt steak, Camaron al Pastor Tacos- prawn tacos with grilled pineapple, and Tamales de Puerquito- house-made banana leaf steamed pulled pork tamales.

The restaurant has a full bar but it's small. The sangria is delicious and goes down way too easy. For tequila connoisseurs there is a tasting "tequila flight" and a large selection of tequilas all reasonably prices. The bar also has "Hora De Feliz" weekdays (happy hour for the non-Spanish speakers) until 6:30 with drink and food specials.

Mamacita is my favorite go-to restaurant. It's great for large groups and a perfect spot to for out of town guests. It can get a bit pricey. Small plates cost from $8 to $18 with 80% of the menu $12 or more.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Alamo Square Seafood Grill in San Francisco

Alamo Square Seafood Grill in San Francisco's Hayes Valley is a quaint Parisian style cafe tucked away between Victorian homes on Fillmore Street. It's a popular neighborhood spot that's been open for 9 years. The restaurant is tastefully decorated and very small, about 10-15 tables total with no formal bar. The General Manager, Andre, is a highlight of the place. His garish French attitude is fun and he says everything with a smile while God knows what he is thinking in his head. He adds quite a bit to the charm and amusement to the place.

The menu is proportionate to the restaurant, small but good. It is almost entirely seafood except for three land lover dishes: a rib eye, a chicken and a vegetarian dish. Fish is their speciality, with few shellfish choices, so you really need to like fish fish to enjoy your meal here. I had the blackened sole with tomatoes, capers, olives and my mother the grilled salmon with bearnaise white wine, shallots and tarragon hollandaise. Both fish dishes were delicious. My fiance asked Andre what he would recommend and in fine French fashion he looks him over and said, "you will have the sauteed salmon with beurre blanc" and quickly scribbled it down on his pad. We all called out "no!"  as he was looking for one of the land lover dishes and not fish, but we all liked his enthusiasm. His rib eye turned out to be delicious with its yummy truffle butter and pmme frites (french fries). We had the creme brulee for dessert and it was divine but the crust wasn't hardened enough and I wasn't able to get that cracking sound when I dove in for my first bite.

Alamo Square Seafood is a delicious under recognized restaurant. Its a neighborhood favorite but should also be a San Francisco landmark. It's got everything you need on a night out on the city, a little attitude, quaint atmosphere and delicious fresh seafood. Plus they have 1/2 wine on Mondays and no corkage fees on Wednesdays!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The California Palace of the Legion of Honor: A San Francisco Museum

The California Palace of the Legion of Honor is located in Lincoln Park in the northwest part of San Francisco. The building alone is a work of art as it's a three-quarters scale imitation of the Hotel de Salm in Paris. An interesting piece of little known history is that the Lincoln Park Golf Course that surrounds the museum was once the site of the Golden Gate Cemetery. The bodies were moved down to Colma, CA in 1908 when the cemetery was closed; however, in the 1990s when the city was doing seismic retrofitting of the surrounding park, coffins and skeletal remains were still unearthed. Very cool history for a very cool spot in the city. Also, the beautiful historic building is a popular backdrop for couples taking their engagement pictures as well as day-of pictures with their wedding party.

The name is used for both the museum building and the collection it houses. The Legion's collection spans more than 6,000 years of ancient and European art. Some of the collection highlights and my favorites are: St. John the Baptist by El Greco (1600), The Trotting Horse by Edgar Degas (1881), and Waterlilies by Claude Monet (1914). The museum has a variety of classic and innovative traveling exhibitions. I've seen a traveling exhibit of beautiful Cartier jewelry and works from the Louvre and Museum de Orsay.

Currently the Legion is showcasing Pulp Fashon: The Art of Belgian artist Isabelle de Borchgrave. de Borchgrave creates fashion literally out of manipulating paper. The exhibition features masterpieces of intricate paper clothing inspired by early European paintings or from famous museum pieces from around the world. The exhibit is somewhat of a history of fashion from such famous individuals as the Medici family, Elizabeth I, Marie-Antoinette and Christian Dior, and Coco Chanel, to name a few. The pieces are literally amazing and its mind boggling how she was able to create these extraordinary pieces of clothing (and shoes) out of paper. The Legion is the first American museum to dedicate an entire exhibition to these works of textile art.

The exhibit costs $15 for adults, $12 seniors, $11 for kids 6-17 and college students with ID. The museum is open from 9:30am to 5:15pm and has a delicious cafe with outdoor seating.