Posts Tagged ‘Food’

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Last weekend was the hub’s birthday and it’s been a ritual now for the past few years to celebrate at a steakhouse.  Being new to the area, we selected Harris’ Steakhouse based on yelp reviews and it lived up to expectations.  I’m not a red meat-eater so most of the review will be based on the hubs’ opinion.

First off, as you can see above, the decor of the restaurant was reminiscent of a 1960s steakhouse for businessmen.  It was still in good condition but definitely gave off a stuffy formal vibe.  I made reservations and due to the weather, we were 10 minutes late, but despite that, the host was really nice and we were seated promptly, which is a huge improvement from House of Prime Rib, where we waited nearly 45 minutes before being seated, despite having reservations and being early.  The service at Harris’ really was quite good and our waiter did a good job of making sure we had everything we needed.

On to the food.  We started off with the Veal Sweetbreads and Crab Cakes with Beurre Blanc.  The hubs loves sweetbreads and was eager to try Harris’ version.  While he liked the dish and thought it was tasty, he preferred sweetbreads just simply grilled to really taste the flavor over Harris’ saucier version.  I thought the crab cakes were done really well.  It was very flavorful, although maybe a tad on the salty side.  For entrees, hubs got the Bone-in Ribeye Steak and I had the Salmon served with scalloped potatoes instead of the rice.  The salmon was good, but the champagne sauce was a little rich so it wiped out the healthiness aspect of the dish.  The scalloped potatoes however were absolutely delicious.  The hubs thought the rib-eye was done well, he likes it medium rare, and definitely could tell that it was quality meat.  We also ordered a side of the Deep Fried Onion Rings which was good, it was fried just the right amount and it was a very generous portion.

Overall we both felt that the food was good, but not spectacular.  The formal feel of the restaurant and the good service makes this restaurant a safe bet for a special occasion, especially for steak lovers.  But if you’re looking for a good piece of meat for a reasonable price, then House of Prime Rib definitely is the better option, even with the annoying wait.  One other thing, the restaurant calls for business casual attire, but there were definitely customers dressed casually and they still got seated and served.  We also saw customers that were dressed for a night on the town too so really you can just wear whatever you feel comfortable with.

Harris’ Restaurant

2100 Van Ness Ave, at the corner of Pacific Ave.

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4 years ago, roughly around this time, the hubs and I took a week long trip to Montreal, Mont Tremblant, and Quebec City to celebrate our first wedding anniversary.  At the time, everyone, including the hubs, thought I was crazy for suggesting Canada in January, but it turned out to be such a fantastic vacation.  There was so much to do in the region and with all the snow and festive holiday decorations, it was uber romantic.  There’s also lots of active family friendly activities, so I would highly recommend this trip to anyone looking for a fun family trip.

We started our trip in Montreal, about a 5 hour drive from the NYC metro area.  Unfortunately we didn’t see as much as we would’ve liked in Montreal since it had snowed pretty badly and we only had one full day before we were off to our next stop.   We spent most of the day walking around Old Montreal, taking in all the historical, quaint buildings on Rue St. Paul and also doing some light shopping on Rue St. Catherine.  Old Montreal is touristy, but it is a very pretty area.  There’s lots of little shops, restaurants, galleries, and of course famous sights like the Notre-Dame Basilica.  We also spent a day in Montreal at the end of our trip, windowing shopping in the Plateau neighborhood, a hip residential area, and visiting the Canadian Centre for Architecture, which was interesting and something different from the usual art museums.

What we ate:  Modavie – good french bistro located in the heart of Old Montreal with a reasonable prix fix menu and nice ambience.  Fairmount Bagel – delicious Montreal bagels, freshly baked on site and open 24 hours a day!  Poutine – can’t remember which one we went to but it was a fast food chain and it was greasy and fattening and good.  L’Express – french brasserie with great comfort food, croque monsieurs, steak frites, etc.

The next part of our trip was in Mont Tremblant, a ski-resort 2 hours from Montreal.  We stayed at Le Westin Resort and Spa, which is right in the heart of the pedestrian village and has ski-on access to the mountain.  Below is the view from our room.  All the rooms are suites with a living, bedroom, and kitchenette, so extremely spacious and so convenient.

We spent one whole day snowboarding and another day dog-sledding! I also had reservations for a  horse drawn sleigh ride through the forest, but unfortunately it was cancelled last minute.  Other activities there include ice-skating, snow-mobiling, tubing, zip-lining, and just strolling through the village.  See, TONS of activities!

What we ate:  La Savoie – restaurant that specializes in fondues and raclettes (melted cheese that is scraped off and eaten with potatos, bread and cured meats), which is so delicious and can only be found in Switzerland or certain parts of France.  Creperie Catherine – sweet and savory crepes, tasty and satisfying since the crepes are about the size of my head.  BeaverTails – a super delicious pastry that’s the best snack in between skiing/snowboarding.

The final stop on our Quebec trip is Quebec City, about 3 hours north of Montreal.  It was so absolutely charming there, I definitely recommend for a winter trip.  We spent our time there exploring the Upper and Lower Town of Old Quebec (first picture).  There was fresh snow almost daily and all the shops and restaurants were decked out in holiday decor.  We walked uphill to the Chateau Frontenac (above picture) which had beautiful views of the partially frozen St. Lawrence River and the Lower Town.  Right outside the Frontenac was a toboggan slide and some taffy, which I imagine would be pretty popular with the kids.

We also went ice-skating in the evening, visited the Ice Hotel, one of two in the world, and went snowboarding again in nearby Mont St. Anne, smaller but less crowded than Mont Tremblant.  We stayed at the boutique Hotel le Germain Dominion, which is centrally located in Old Quebec, and was really charming.

What we ate:  Le Lapin Saute – a cozy restaurant specializing in rabbit and duck, it was delicious.  L’Echaude – an upscale French restaurant with great ambience.

I absolutely loved visiting all 3 places and would definitely love to visit Montreal in the summer when I can do more outdoor activities.  The only thing I would’ve done differently is to make sure we put anti-freeze in the car, it really does get below freezing in Canada! And have dinner at Au Pied de Cochon, we meant to go on our last day for lunch but realized that it’s only open for dinner and unfortunately we had to be on the road by then.

Just remember to dress warmly and you’ll have the time of your life!

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So as you all know, I recently went back to NYC/NJ to visit family and friends for the holidays.  While my main purpose was to catch up with everyone, I did manage to visit a few new places and restaurants, yay!  I’ll spend the next few posts talking about places I went to, in addition to some of my favorite city activities, by general area, to give you guys a flavor of the Big Apple.

The hubs and I spent our 4 year anniversary wandering around NYC and one of our stops was to the High Line park.  I visited the park last winter when it was only partially finished so I was excited to see it was nearly completed this time around.  Even in the winter, this park is awesome.  Located in the Meatpacking district, the park has a great urban feel to it.  It’s set amidst old warehouses and new architecturally stunning apartment buildings.  There’s loungers and benches scattered throughout the park and in the warmer months, there’s even movies projected onto the side of a building, making for a great respite from the hustle and bustle of the city.

If you find yourself visiting the High Line, start off at the cool looking Gansvoort Hotel.  There’s tons of restaurants, high end designer stores, and art galleries housed in old warehouses in the area.  For lunch, head to Pastis, the sister restaurant of Balthazar (one of my favorite restaurants), or Del Posto, a michelin starred restaurant with a $29 lunch prix fix!  Or if you just want to snack, go to Chelsea Market.  There’s tons of unique food shops (try the brownies at Fat Witch Bakery, baked goods at Amy’s Bread, or amazing hot chocolate at Jacques Torres) and boutiques, making for a fun afternoon!

If you walk the High Line to the end at 30th Street and 10th Avenue, make your way over to 8th Avenue, head south and you’ll find yourself  in the Chelsea neighborhood, which is a great residential neighborhood full of great restaurants, nightlife, and unique stores.  Make sure to cap off your day with a stop at Billy’s Bakery for dessert.

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Hey there! Remember when I waxed poetic about the pork belly at Incanto?  Well, I may have found a dish that rivals it and it’s that dish you see up there in the picture.  The salt roasted bone marrow appetizer at Wayfare Tavern.  Perfectly paired with sourdough bread and rutabaga jam, the bone marrow was tasty and oh so fatty in a good way.  But let me start from the beginning.

Wayfare Tavern is Tyler Florence’s flagship restaurant, and being a fan of Tyler Florence, I knew we had to try it out.  I made reservations a month in advance but could only manage a 9:15pm slot, which worked out well for us since we ended up sitting at the chef’s table, which is basically a counter with a direct view of the kitchen and the chefs hard at work.  It was so much fun seeing the chefs preparing all the food and in the end we wanted to try everything we saw coming out of that kitchen!

I loved everything about the restaurant.  From the moment we stepped through the door, everyone from the hostess to the waitstaff were friendly.  The ambiance is what you’d expect of a tavern, warm and inviting yet lively.  If you go, I’d highly recommend trying to get a seat at the chef’s table or at the very least on the first floor since that’s where all the action is.

Most restaurants start off their customers with a few slices of bread and butter, not Wayfare though.  They brought out freshly baked popovers!  I wish I took a picture, but trust me when I say it was delicious.  Also I’ve never seen the hubs rave about bread so much before.  It was hard narrowing down appetizers but we managed to select the bone marrow of course and the deviled eggs, which I had read about alot in reviews.  I’ll let the picture speak for itself.

For entrees, the hubs settled with the guinness braised lamb shank and I had the organic fried chicken.  I’m not a lamb person so I can’t comment but the hubs praised its flavor and tenderness.  As with everything we tried, the fried chicken was good as well.  If you’re looking for an outstanding dish with flavors exploding in your mouth, this is not it, but it is really good fried chicken.

Even though we were stuffed, we couldn’t help ourselves and ordered the wayfare tavern chocolate cream pie.  And it was…. you guessed it… so good!  It was the perfect sweetness, which is how we judge our desserts, sweet, but not too sweet.  And to top it off, the waiter brought over two little warm butter cookies to complement the dessert.  I don’t know that it necessarily complemented it but they sure were yummy!  Excuse the picture below, I was too excited and took a bite before remembering to take a photo!

Wayfare’s cuisine can be described as creative American comfort food, which is why the hubs and I enjoyed it so much.  I don’t really consider ourselves foodies  since we don’t dissect every aspect of a dish but we do appreciate and enjoy good food and we especially love comfort type food done really well so Wayfare was definitely a winner in both our books and a place we’d love to visit again and again and…

Wayfare Tavern

558 Sacramento Street, between Leidesdorff and Montgomery St.

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I had such a good time last weekend visiting friends and exploring San Diego/La Jolla from a local’s perspective.  Although I really love Nor-Cal, the wonderful weather and beaches were enough to make me miss living in Southern California.  I didn’t have much time to spend down there (less than 48 hours) but we still managed to fit in so much, especially in the food area!

Friday night was spent at Harney Sushi in Old Town.  Not only was it close to the airport and bus station, making it a convenient stop after everyone arrived, but it was a great spot for late night dining.  We arrived there at 10:30pm and the place was happening! The ambience was great, the scene was lively, and as a bonus, they also had a half price late night dining menu!  Definitely check this place if you’re looking for a place for drinks or late night cheap sushi.

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There’s nothing I look forward to more than brunch on the weekends and Hash House a Go Go definitely delivered.  It’s one of the more popular brunch spots so make sure you make a reservation or be prepared to wait.  It is located in the Hillcrest neighborhood though so you can definitely explore the neighborhood while you wait for a table.  Hillcrest is a hip area filled with unique restaurants and shops and also borders the northwest corner of Balboa Park, close to where the San Diego Zoo is located, so it’s a fun area to visit.  But back to Hash House.  They serve what they call “twisted farm food”, but I basically call it yummy comfort food on steroids.  One meal there and you’re good for the whole day!  They have all kinds of hashes, scrambles, benedicts and pancakes.  Everything we ordered was delicious so you can’t go wrong with anything on the menu.

After our hearty breakfast we headed to Coronado Island for the Annual Artisan’s Craft Fair and to check out the famous Hotel Del Coronado.  The craft fair was a good way to walk off all the food we ate and a good place to pick up some holiday decor and gifts if I didn’t have to carry it back on the plane with me.  Even though Coronado Island is separated from San Diego by just a short bridge, you feel as though you’ve been transported to a small island village.  The homes on the island are incredibly charming, the people are so friendly, and the beaches are vast.  The Hotel Del is a beautiful beachfront hotel that’s conveniently located by the main drag.  The town center was already decked out in holiday lights making for a very festive atmosphere.  We toured the hotel grounds, taking in the various Dr. Seuss sculptures, the ice-skating rink set amidst the palm trees, and the ocean views.

Since it was only about an hour to sunset, we decided to take a stroll on the beautiful beach (one of the nicest in So-Cal!), grab a cup of hot tea and wait.  Seems like everyone else had the same idea since all the ocean facing tables with fire pits were taken! The sunset definitely did not disappoint, it was so beautiful.

Afterwards we drove back into the city for dinner at Oceanaire Seafood Restaurant in the Gaslamp District.  The service was impeccable and the seafood was delicious.  I would recommend this restaurant to anyone looking for fresh seafood or just a nice night out.  We had the Whole Flash Fried “Angry” Mexican Lane Snapper, the Boston Pan Fried Scallops, and the “Drunken” South Pacific Swordfish.  All were extremely tasty.  After dinner, we strolled through the Gaslamp District, which is chock full of bars and nightclubs if you’re into that sort of nightlife, and headed straight to what else, desserts, or more specifically Extraordinary Desserts!  This place was a-mazing.  There’s all sorts of desserts that you can pick from including a handful of daily specials.  The place is also open until midnight, making for a great spot to hang out post-dinner.  I wish there was a place like this in SF, or maybe there is but I’m not aware of it (if you guys know of any, I’m all ears!).  All the desserts were giganto so I’d suggest sharing and were beautifully decorated with fresh flowers.  Needless to say it was all delicious and we were plenty satisfied.  They also have an extensive drinks list, all kinds of specialty teas and food if you want to have dinner there too.

Our final day was spent in La Jolla.  We started the day off going to the La Jolla Open Aire Farmers’ Market where we sampled in-season fruits.  The market is not too big but there’s still plenty of produce vendors, cooked food stands, and a live band, lending to a fun Sunday activity.  We had brunch at The Cottage, another great brunch spot.  That Sunday happened to be the annual Christmas Parade in La Jolla so we caught part of it walking down Girard Avenue.  There’s definitely a great community down there with families and pets all dressed up in holiday garb getting into the holiday spirit.  We then headed towards the ocean and saw the birds and sea lions at La Jolla Cove, Scripps Park, and the seals at Children’s Pool Beach.  I don’t think I can ever get sick of seeing those seals and sea lions, they are so amusing sometimes and the seals have such cute faces!

Sadly it was time for me to head back home to reality.  There’s still so much that we didn’t get to, like Balboa Park, Old Town, and spending more time in Hillcrest, that I definitely see another trip in the future.  Thanks so much for a wonderful time ladies, and special thanks to G for driving us around, planning activities, and hosting.  It was so great to catch up with you gals.  I hope to see you guys soon in San Francisco!

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