Monthly Archives: April 2007

Why I’m Always Captain Crankypants

It’s been rough going since I completely nixed fish from my dining out possibilities. Places I might have raved about a year ago have become big disappointments. I look over the majority of my posts, and it’s Bitch Fest 2007 in here.

Frankly, I feel kind of crappy about it. I hate being the person who never seems to have anything nice to say. But what can I do? I’m going to call it like I see it. Or as I taste it, as the case may be. My standards are high, and I intend to keep them that way.

For those of you who think I’m off my culinary rocker, I invite you to conduct a little experiment. The next time you go to your favorite restaurant, order a vegetarian meal. No shrimp. No fish. No chicken broth in the stock. You gotta play by the rules for this one. Then compare your experience to the last time you ate there. Bonus points if you can make it through dessert without being force fed risotto.

I’m not looking for pity, people. I’m looking for a good meal.

I’ve had vegetarian food that has taken my breath away. I’ve had eight course tasting menus that kicked their meaty counterparts flat on the ground—amazing, innovative, flavorful, beautiful food. So why are the everyday menus of San Francisco such a vegetarian wasteland?

P.S. I’m serious about the experiment. Try it. Tell me what you find.

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Filed under Rants

Salt House Redux

So remember how I was all enamored of Salt House? Better meal than I expected, surprisingly good veggie option, yadda, yadda, yadda? Well, I take it back.

I took my dad there Sunday night—I figured it was a no-brainer. And while I still give them a huge points on service (and pickles, oh those delicious house-made pickles) the rest of the meal fell flat.

My dad is not a picky man, and he reported that his roasted chicken was Sahara-in-the-heat-of-summer dry. My vegetarian entrée (again, not on the menu, but graciously offered by the waitress) was simply a rehash of my opening salad. Same ingredients, warmed up. Plus, this time, it kind of missed the mark. Instead of serving the vegetables over a creamed spinach with green garlic, they sat on top of a squash puree, which was way too sweet.

Sigh.

I thought about just lettin’ it go. But if you’d decided to go Salt House on my recommendation, then had a completely uninspired meal, would you ever trust me again?

Nah. I that’s what I thought.

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Filed under Mid-range Meals, Reviews

Malacca: What happened?

You have to believe me when I tell you this: I don’t want to write another cranky review. My hand to God, I’ve been feeling bad about how much negativity I’ve been pouring on to these pages as of late. I’m actually a pretty positive person on the whole. Sarcastic, sure. But positive.

Well, kids, you’re going to have to wait another week for smiles and puppydogs and lollipops. Cuz it’s about to get ugly again.

I’ve been out of town for the last week, this time in Orange County. I wanted to come home and have some QT with my partner, maybe grab a nice dinner and bar hop around the Castro for a bit. I specifically set out to make reservations somewhere where I felt reasonably certain of a decent meal—because like I said, it’s time for some good vibrations around here. (The Beach Boys type, not the store.) Then I thought of Malacca.*

My partner and I first wandered into Malacca a little over a year ago, when they were at their 18th Street location. We didn’t know a thing about the place, and we were pleasantly surprised. The interior was warm and sophisticated, they had a great wine list, including several nice flights, the menu was focused and unique, and the food turned out to be refreshingly good. I remember commenting, “Wow, finally a decent place in the Castro.” Continue reading

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Filed under Cocktails First, Mid-range Meals, Reviews

TWO

Well, roll me in feathers and call me Icarus. It seems the Gods have punished me for my hubris.

I really, really, really wanted to have a great meal last night. I wanted to be able to write a glowing review, and feel all smug and self-satisfied with my bad, left-coast self.

Instead, I got the old cosmic pimp slap for dinner.

Dallas, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have been such a schmuck.

I guess I deserved dinner at TWO.

two_photo.jpg

I knew something was amiss when we walked in and they were playing Steely Dan. Not that there’s anything wrong with Steely Dan—it just felt like an odd choice for the space. A little too KFOG for the hip design of the interior. And it is hip, by the way. Nice color palette, gorgeous walls, lovely bar. Still, my partner and I couldn’t shake the feeling that something wasn’t right. Continue reading

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Filed under Mid-range Meals, Rants, Reviews

The Strip Mall Cuisine of Dallas, Texas

Uh, yeah. So. Dallas.

Not my favorite city.

One strip mall blurred into the next, mile after mile, day after day. I tried making reservations at decently-reviewed restaurants I found online. Then we’d plug the cross streets into our navigational system, head towards the address full of hope, and drive up only to find the restaurant located in…yet another strip mall.

If it weren’t for the preponderance of steak houses and Hooters—or my new personal favorite, a Hooters-esque mini-chain called “Twin Peaks”—we could have been in any city, anywhere. It was nothing but mattress stores, fast food joints, and big box chains, as far as the eye could see. (And trust me, I could see for a long, long while. Dallas is as flat as Gwen Stefani’s stomach, circa 1995.)

Folks are sweet down there, though, I’ll give ‘em that. Helpful, kind, and open. Too bad the food was so bad. If you’re not eating meat, you’re not eating much. Continue reading

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Filed under Mid-range Meals, Rants, Reviews

Dallas!

(Cue the intro music. I can almost see J.R. and Sue Ellen…)

Big hair! Big cars! Big steaks!

Yep, I’m headed to big, big, big state o’ Texas next week for work. The question is, where to eat?  Think posh, not necessarily vegetarian. Any Dallas dining suggestions?

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Filed under Uncategorized

Greetings from Quarantine Level 7

It’s been a rough week here at A Few Reservations. On my recent trip to the East Coast, I managed to bring back a souvenir flu bug that knocked me on my ass. 102 degree fever, hacking cough, throat of fire, the works. I missed two full days of work, plus the entire weekend. Thanks to the wonder of an early diagnosis and some prescription Tamiflu, I’m working my way back to normal. But I’m still in no shape to be sitting in a restaurant.

Not to worry. As the old saying goes, that which does not kill me only makes me really, really hungry for a lavish meal to review.

I’ve got one bit of intelligence to share from the East, though. If you’re ever in Bethesda, check out a spot called The Grapeseed. They offer several vegetarian apps (including a savory and satisfying Fricassee of Wild Mushroom with Sherry Vinegar and Truffled Polenta) and a vegetarian entrée that’s actually entrée-like. It’s a Swiss Chard Ravioli, but the ravioli are more like delicate little chard containment units. The pasta is homemade and ultra thin, so it doesn’t weigh the dish down. And the plate is rounded out with a decent amount of Haricot Vert and Grilled Portobello Mushrooms, all with just the right amount of Arugula Pesto. It actually feels like main course, rather than a mound of carbs. Me likey. (Don’t get me started on the previous night’s dinner, eating solo at the Olive Garden. Between that and the flu, I must have done something very, very bad in a past life.)

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Filed under Mid-range Meals