Archive for Food

Fremont Diner

fremont dinerWhen you’re driving into or out of Sonoma during breakfast and lunch hours, it would be easy to miss this little place — it looks like something out of another decade and if it weren’t for the lot packed with cars you just might not notice it. The Fremont Diner is a wonderful find and a throwback to the country roadside restaurant. They’ve got tables outside to eat at as well as a screened in porch inside for a little relief from the hot weather…


The food here is something special with all sorts of country favorites: fried chicken (and waffles!), beans, slaw, cornbread, and catfish. Too much good stuff to order at one sitting. So I know I’ll be going out of my way to plan my next visit to Sonoma so I can stop in here and enjoy a great breakfast or lunch. (their eggs and some other ingredients come from their own on site farm too)… abc

Fremont Diner
2698 Fremont Drive, Sonoma, CA 95476
707.938.7370

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Donut Savant

donut savantIt seems like there’s something new in Oakland’s Uptown almost weekly now. First there was local clothing and house ware store Oakollectiv. Then Oaklandish opened their first retail store. And, of course, there are other nearby faves such as the revamped Fox Theater, the 2nd Can’t Fail Cafe, Xolo, Plum (Bar), Bakesale Betty’s #2, Flora, and too many other places to list at once. Now there’s another new place that has me pretty excited given my obsession with dontus the past few months: Donut Savant!

They’ve been open for about 3 weeks now on a block of Broadway that hasn’t looked better in more than 20 years. They have tons of different varieties of cake style donuts — formed in ball shapes without holes. Every variety I tried tasted great (not too much frosting) and I noticed that the cake dough is nicely flavored as well. I got to try about six flavors but they make more than 20 and you never know what you’re gonna get b/c the chef is making new ones in the back all the time. If you’re lucky you will order any flavor that just came out of the fryer — there’s nothing like a warm donut made with quality ingredients.

Donut Savant
1934 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94612
510.972.8268

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BSide BBQ

bside bbqTanya Holland made Brown Sugar Kitchen a huge success in out of the way, industrial, West Oakland. Her newest venture, a BBQ spot called BSide BBQ, is taking on an even more desolate stretch of San Pablo north of Downtown.


Open for lunch through early evening Tue-Sat each week, this place is worth the effort to get to its out of the way location. Inside, the theme is industrial and modern as you might expect and with a block rodeo theme (videos of the old B+W movies, western style etchings on the tables.


Recently wen there and had the pulled pork sandwich. You can get it with different sauces and I picked the carolina mustard sauce. It was awesome and served on a nice roll that had been browned on a grill. We also tried their special of the day which was chili made with brisket ends and pork shoulder debris. Very savory and not too spicy — with a title dollop of sour cream and chives on top. We also had sue sides: beans, a nice vinegar based cole slaw, and some cornbread which was served with a brown sugar butter.

Top top it all off, we had some of their house made peach lemonade and if I didn’t have things to do I think I could have relaxed there a lll afternoon long just soaking in the sunlight

BSide BBQ
3303 San Pablo Avenue, Oakland, CA 94608
510.595.0227

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A16

cotogna

It’s been a few hers since I last went to A16 Founding chef Nate Appleman was still there
and a reservation was essential. We dropped in there just before 11 on a Saturday night and it was packed full of people. We got a table without any problem. We’d originally planned to go to Mamacita which advertised itself as being open til midnight but its kitchen actually closed at 10:30.

As much as I was looking forward to a Mexican meal, I am glad I ended up at A16 after all. We started with some artichokes and mozzarella paired with some pine nuts that was cooked in some savory broth almost like a thick kitchen soup. It was delicious. Then we had the pizza bianca. Green olives, fresh herbs, and fontina went well with the slightly burned thin crust. We then topped the meal off with a real special treat: porchetta. The porchetta didn’t have much in the way of herbs inside but it did have crispy salty skin to complement the moist pork meat and fat on the inside. It was served with some arugula, pickled strawberries, and hazelnuts. Though it wasn’t exactly what I expected, I am glad we had it. Very delicious.

A16
2355 Chestnut Street, San Francisco, CA 94123
415.771.2216

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Cotogna

cotogna

Quince is one of SF’s best dress up restaurants. Cotogna (Quince in Italian) is Quince’s little sibling, more casual and affordable than it’s grown up sibling next door. Even at 10:45 on a Saturday night (with a reservation) we still had to wait a few minutes for our table. Even that late at night the place was hopping.


We started with the sformato, which is like a savory custard — it was quite good. The tagliatelle with duck bolognese was also good. We even had the squid flatbread and while it was good it was not as good as Starbelly or Zero Zero. For dessert, I got the bombolini which are little Italian donuts. Can’t resist an opportunity to have some donuts, right?

Parking, even late at night, was a challenge since the place is so close to crazy North Beach. Upon leaving I dropped my phone on the floor and broke the screen. How sad — it took my almost a week to get my replacement phone. All in all, this is one of the hottest reservations in the city and it was good but didn’t blow me away. Even late at night, I’d highly recommend a reservations.

Cotogna
490 Pacific Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94133
415.775.8508

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Starbelly

star belly

Owned by the same folks who brought you the Mission’s Beretta, Starbelly is also a casual, mostly Italian, place on the edge of the Castro. We started our meal with some terrine which was served with mustard and some tangy jam. We followed that up with a nice salad featuring some goat cheese and pears. Our entree was a mushroom pizza with gruyere and we added sausage to that. It was pretty busy on a Sunday night around 10 but we got seated right away and ended up having a very relaxing and delicious meal. I love restaurants like this and I would certainly go back to Starbelly anytime.

Starbelly
3583 16th Street, San Francisco, CA 94114
415.252.7500

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Sidebar

sidebarIs it a bar or a restaurant? Sidebar in Oakland is both. Over the past few years, this has been a great go-to lunch place when I am in town for a weekday lunch. They always have a nice selection of sandwiches (both hot and cold) and their fries and burgers are good too. Good quality and local ingredients are the focus here and if you get a good seat you can look out at lake Merritt too.


Still need to try out the dessert foods here at some point. The mussels are also a good bet any time!

Sidebar
542 Grand Avenue Oakland, CA 94610
510.542.9500

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Bellanico

bellanicoI’ve been meaning to try Glenview’s Bellanico for a few years now but haven’t made the time. Susan suggested trying this place for her birthday this year and after taking a look at the menu online we made our reservations. I remember the original review in the SF Chronicle and, based only on having arancini on the menu I knew I’d enjoy a meal here.

Started out with their soft and fluffy focaccia which was seasoned nicely with seal salt and rosemary and served with olive oil for dipping. And then of course the arancini were next. Would have been better if served with a little more sauce since they could have used the moisture and acid. Then the arugula (and radicchio and endive) salad with a goat-like cheese and walnuts was nice. My main course were tortelli filled with a beef filling in a beef broth with foam. All of it was topped with some nice dry italian cheese shavings. This dish was pretty special and I’d order it again in an instant. It was the perfect savory dish for a cool, damp late winter night. And I was surprised at hose crowded it was for a Monday night!

Susan had the 4 course tasting menu also with arancini, as well as a lamb ‘salad’ and a clam/scallop seafood stew. For dessert I had the bomboli which are italian donut holes (very tasty) which they served with two sauces: one chocolate and the other vanilla.

Bellanico
4238 Park Boulevard, Oakland, CA 94602
510.336.1180

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Tim Horton’s

tim hortonsI am back in the Toronto suburb of Markham again today where I come every couple months to visit the satellite office of my employer. A former co-worker of mine asked me earlier this week whether I ever went to Tim Horton’s while I was here (in true Canadian spirit you can read their website in Francais). I had indeed noticed the signs on my way to and from the airport before but had no idea this was something like the Candian dunkin’ Donuts.


Tonight I decided the best way to try this place out was with some variety. I’ve always loved donut holes and have a special place in my heart for Dunkin’ Donuts Munchkins. Here in Canada they call ‘em Timbits. It’s a play on tidbits, and the the ‘bit’ part can also stand for ‘big in taste.’


So I am enjoying my Timbits guilt free because I hardly ate anything today. Yum-a-doodle-doo! So if you ever do visit Canada, give Tim’s a try. And if you don’t make it all the way up to the great white north, you can find them all over the northeast where they compete head to head with DD.

Tim Horton’s
9005 Leslie Street, Richmond Hill, ON L4B1G7
905.882.9990

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Pepples Vegan Donut Farm

pepples donut farmHoused in a former fish fry restaurant space on San Pablo Avenue in Oakland, Pepples Donuts (aka the Donut Farm) has limited hours (Wed-Sun 9-3). It’s primarily an industrial kitchen where these wonderful vegan creations are baked and then sold all over the Bay Area at places like Philz Coffer and Subrosa.


When it is open, you will know, because they’ve got a bigger than life size pink donut out front. These donuts would be great even if they weren’t vegan. They’ve got regular/traditional flavors such as chocolate, coconut, various kinds of sprinkles and such. They also carry some specialty flavors as well. My favorites are Salted Caramel, Phil’z Coffee, and the Candy Cap (sweet mushroom).


On the weekends they also have a vegan brunch which does seem to attract a regular crowd. Haven’t tried that yet but am looking forward to my next batch of donuts here soon. (They also have a stand in the Ferry Building in SF for those of you who can’t make it to the East Bay). Everyone once and a while they also have raised donuts. Those are awesome — light and fluffy with just the right amount of glaze.

Pepples Donut Farm
6037 San Pablo Avenue, Oakland, CA 94608
510.712.0295

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