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Posts Tagged ‘Date Night’

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Last Friday, the hubs and I took advantage of Outback’s free steak dinner promo.  While Outback certainly is delicious and can make a great date night (I love me some bloomin’ onions and wings), it’s a popular chain so I’m sure most of you guys don’t need me to tell you about the food.  Not to fret though, I had the pleasure of trying the famous Hog Island Oyster Company for lunch the following day so I’ll tell you about that experience!

Those of you who have visited or live in the San Francisco Bay Area know that going to the Ferry Building Farmers’ Market on Saturday is a must for any food lover.  And it’s even better when it’s a gorgeous day.  But of course that also means that there’ll be tons of other people there so be prepared to wait!  My friends and I ended up waiting close to 1 hour, but we were able to snag an outdoor table with views of the Bay Bridge so it was all worth it.  Since there was 4 of us, we decided to split the Oyster Bar Mix.  Our server made sure we had 4 of each kind of oysters for a total of 2 dozen so we’d all be able to try everything.  The oysters were a-mazing!  Each one was so tasty and refreshing.  The highlight for the whole table was the New Zealand oysters (sorry, I can’t remember the exact name).  My friend is from New Zealand, which is known for some of the best oysters in the world, and even he thought it was especially good!

We also ordered the grilled cheese sandwich, the clam chowder, and a light mixed greens salad.  I didn’t try the grilled cheese but my friend, who loves cheese, said that it was really delicious.  The clam chowder was also tasty.  It’s thinner than what you’d typically expect of New England clam chowders, but it did have an abundance of fresh clams (with the shell and everything!).

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Needless to say I would highly recommend Hog Island to anyone who’s an oyster enthusiast.  If you ever get the chance though, visit their oyster farm up in Tomales Bay (about an hour and a half north of SF) for a true farm-to-table experience.  You can buy fresh oysters to go, shuck them on-site at their picnic grounds, or have a meal at The Boat, which offers various shellfish, cheeses from Cowgirl Creamery, and charcuterie from Fatted Calf, all good stuff!

Hog Island Oyster Company

1 Ferry Building, Shop #11

and

20215 Highway 1

Marshall, CA

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Armed with a Bloomspot deal (similar to Groupon, sign up!), the hubs and I ate out at Piqueo’s last Friday.  The restaurant is located in the lovely Bernal Heights neighborhood.  Have you guys been? It’s such a quaint neighborhood, with cafes, markets, and little shops like Dog Eared Books (love the name!), that I’m making a mental note to come back for a visit during the daytime.  Also, nearby is the Bernal Heights Park which is known for being one of the most dog friendly parks and boasts wonderful views of the city.

Anyway, back to the restaurant.  Piqueo’s serves contemporary Peruvian cuisine.  They offer a variety of tapas and also larger entrees.  We had been craving cebiches for a while so of course we shared the Cebiche Mixto as an appetizer.  While the fish pieces were a little larger than we’d like, we’re used to the bite size pieces, it was still tasty and refreshing.  For our entrees, we shared an order of the Clasico Paella and the Adobo, which is pork shoulder braised in adobo sauce.  The paella was chock full of seafood, which is great, however I did wish they had put more rice into the dish to make it a little more substantial.  The adobo dish was so delicious.  It was perfectly cooked and the meat was especially tender.  Again, we opted to skip dessert and decided to stop by Mitchell’s Ice Cream for some take-away ice-cream.  There’s just something so wonderful about curling up on the couch with a bowlful of ice-cream!

Piqueo’s

830 Cortland Avenue, between Ellsworth & Gates St.

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Woodhouse Fish Co. is one of those restaurants everybody would want in their neighborhood.  It has a casual, yet lively atmosphere, friendly staff, and a good selection of seafood staples.  The only negative is that it’s so popular that there is always a wait and they don’t take reservations.  Despite the wait though, their offering of comfort type food is enough to keep us coming back.

We started with a bowl of their creamy New England clam chowder and the fried whole-belly Ipswich clams.  The clam chowder was wonderfully thick and creamy with a great taste that is not too salty or greasy.  We’re a sucker for fried calamari so the fried clams were a nice change.  It had a nice clam-y taste and you could tell that it was fresh.  Definitely brought back memories of eating fresh seafood by the seaside.  For our entrees, the hubs HAD to have the split-top Maine lobster roll, really the reason why we tried the restaurant in the first place since he has never had a lobster roll before.  Of course he also HAD to order the larger version which is 6 oz of creamy lobster meat in the same size bun! He definitely enjoyed the lobster chunks and thought it was tasty, however at $26, it’s a bit steep for him to be ordering it on a regular basis.  I decided to try the stuffed artichoke, a dish that seemed out of place amongst all the fish and shellfish options, but had great reviews.  And let me tell you, it was delicious!  Take a look:

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First, the artichoke is split in half and grilled.  Then, one half is filled with Dungeness Crab and the other half is filled with Bay Shrimp.  Finally, it’s served with a light refreshing salad and garlic bread.  Okay, I’m going to admit something embarrassing, the hubs and I sat there for a good minute wondering how to eat the artichoke before we finally flagged the waiter down and asked her 😦 what??!!  The only artichoke we’ve ever had come in dip form! Hey, you learn something new every day right? So anyway, after we learned that you basically eat it like edamame (nibble on the thick part of the leaf to get the taste and then eat the tender part that comes off easily), we happily nibbled each and every artichoke leaf! To be honest, the seafood part of this dish was a bit bland, but I guess it complemented the artichoke well since it was so flavorful.  The salad was also a good complement to the artichoke and the garlic bread helped to make the dish a bit more substantial.

Overall it was a good and informative dining experience! Our only complaint would be that the meal ended up a bit pricier than we were expecting.  Next time we come back though will definitely be a Tuesday to take advantage of their $1 oysters!

Woodhouse Fish Company

1914 Fillmore Street, between Wilmot & Bush St.

and

2073 Market Street, between 14th & Reservoir St.

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Incanto…what can be said about this place that hasn’t been said before.  The hubs has been dying to try this place since he first saw it on Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations San Francisco episode.  Bourdain can recommend cold mushy peas and the hubs would want to try it, so you can imagine what salted pig parts does to the man!  To say that we were excited to finally try out this place is an understatement.

All in all the experience and the food was excellent.  The restaurant itself is warm and inviting, albeit a little boisterous.  We were actually seated in the Dante Room which is a small private dining room usually reserved for group dining, so it was a lot more intimate than the main dining room.  As per usual, we were given a basket of bread to start, which also came with an olive tapenade spread! I am really loving the spreads these farm fresh restaurants give as an alternative to butter!

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For appetizers, we ordered the Boccalone Salumi Platter, which comes in three sizes, piglet, sow, and boar.  We went with the piglet, but only because we decided to share a pasta dish as an appetizer too and it proved to be just the right size.  We selected the Handkerchief Pasta & Rustic Pork Ragu.  Both dishes were delicious and a particular highlight was the roasted garlic bulb on the salumi platter.  I looove garlic so it was a great complement to the cured meats.  For our entrees, I ordered the Pork Belly dish while the hubs tried the Goat dish.  I didn’t try the goat but the hubs seemed to enjoy it.  As for the pork belly, well, let’s just say it was THE BEST PIECE OF PORK I have ever tasted! And I don’t say that lightly.  It literally just melted in my mouth.  The hubs even had the nerve to pull the “hey, what’s that” move and steal a piece off my plate!  Needless to say, I will definitely be coming back again!

Again, rather than try their desserts, which I’m sure would’ve been just as delicious as their entrees, we opted for a stroll and ice cream again.  Since we were near the Bernal Heights area, we walked a few blocks over to Mitchell’s Ice Cream.  Mitchell’s is just as popular and tasty as Bi-Rite Creamery but offers very different flavors.  While Bi-Rite tends to be more gourmet-y (yes that’s a word), with flavors like salted caramel and honey lavender, Mitchell’s flavors are hawaiian-esque or asian-y, with tropical flavors like halo halo, ube, and ginger.  Between the two of us, we tried the ube, white pistachio, mango, grasshopper pie, and black walnut O.O!  So, yeah, they were all good 😀

Incanto

1550 Church Street, between 28th and Duncan St.

Mitchell’s Ice Cream

688 San Jose Avenue, between Valley & 29th St.

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Last Friday night eats was at a Firefly, a quaint neighborhood restaurant that’s tucked away in a residential area of Noe Valley.  Upon entering you get the sense that the place is mostly frequented by locals.  The atmosphere was lively without being noisy and felt very warm and inviting.

After ordering, they brought out a loaf of bread that was complimented with a carrot and bean spread.  It was so delicious I very nearly licked all of it off the knife, until the hubs gave me his please don’t embarrass me look.  We ordered the Dueling Kona Kampachi, as an appetizer, which is a white fish prepared two ways, grilled and tartare.  The grilled version had a sweet buttery taste but the tartare was light and refreshing.  The hubs had the Seared Scallops entree, which he ordered after seeing so many other diners ordering it as well.  I’m not a big fan of scallops but these were a-mazing.  So good that next time I want to order my own plate and have each and every one of them to myself.  Ever see the Friends episode where Joey gets upset that his date tried his food?  Yeah, well, that’s how I’d feel about these scallops!

I ordered the Roasted Duck Breast, which was very flavorful, especially when paired with the figs.  The hubs and I opted to skip dessert in hopes of finding something else and I’m so glad we did!  Just down the street from Firefly, we stumbled upon Pasta Gina, an Italian deli/specialty market.  We walked in unsure of whether they even had any desserts and almost walked straight out of there since all we saw were savory items, until I saw a sign for fresh cannoli.  Being from NYC, the hubs and I have missed all the wonderful italian pastry shops and being able to grab a good cannoli whenever we wanted.  Well, let me tell you, this did not disappoint! It was better than a lot of cannoli’s we’ve had in NY.  Even at a whopping $6 a piece, I highly recommend trying the cannolis here.  They were filled to order so that the shell stayed fresh and crunchy.  The filling was just the right amount of sweetness with chocolate chips sprinkled throughout.

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If you’re looking for a neighborhood-y restaurant with delicious food, attentive staff, and an unpretentious atmosphere without having to make a reservation weeks in advance, I’d recommend Firefly.  And if you ever need a lovely take-out option, I’d suggest giving Pasta Gina a try.  With a selection of pasta, cheese, wine, and dessert, you can pick up a whole meal for a romantic night in ;).

Firefly

4288 24th Street, between Diamond & Douglass St.

Pasta Gina

741 Diamond Street, between 24th & Elizabeth St.

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