Monthly Archives: March 2011

“Famously American”

I’ve been meaning to mention yet another dining establishment that’s, well, worth a mention.  “If you happen to find yourself anywhere near Westlake Village” is what I was about to say, until to my surprise at not already knowing, The Grill On The Alley is happy to welcome us to multiple locations.

A modern-day upscale American grill is how I myself might choose to describe it.  It’s as if large seating areas, contemporary espresso-colored woodwork and elaborate bar displays have propelled my much-revered Musso’s or Tadich well into the 21st century, while maintaining a classic Chicago-style menu.  This means, naturally, that the selections are vast and the portions more than ample.  Simply put, you WILL be fed, and in style to boot!

The proper balance of modern and classic is always important.  At The Grill, “modern” means the martini glasses are at least 10 ounces and filled to the top, versus those irksome 7-ounce glasses at the old-school establishments.  Then, “classic” means The Grill offers a delicious calf’s liver entrée.  Any guess at what I ordered?

The Grill On The Alley clearly succeeds in this balance.  While looking forward to my next visit, I won’t have to return to Ventura County, as San Jose is much closer.  Then of course, I’m confident that any location is just as “famously American” as the next.

And that’s my own balanced opinion.

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Posted by on March 31, 2011 in And That's My Opinion, Restaurants, Reviews


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On The Grill…

Of the several places around town that made my birthday yesterday quite memorable, my lunch spot definitely stands out.  After three months of intent, I finally dined, quite pleasingly so, at the historic Tadich Grill.

I expected to be satisfied.  My expectation was met, hands down.  The menu, while interesting in its extensive selection, was unnecessary; I knew my meal selection well in advance.  After all, Tadich’s version of my always favorite calf’s liver and onions awaited my comparison to the same dish at Little Joe’s.  Both preparations are delicious and unique unto themselves, excusing me from declaring one clearly better than the other.  Whereas Little Joe serves thinner multiple pieces in a rich sauce,  Tadich presents one very large and thick steak off the grill, adorned by a topping of rich sautéed onions.

For any and all of you liver lovers, Tadich Grill is a must.  If your palate calls for something else, your menu choices clearly abound.  My dining companion, for one, seemed to enjoy his very attractive and ample halibut steak.  A Negroni, overflowing in its old-school-sized glass, served as my chosen cocktail accompaniment, though naturally the full bar will accommodate your libation preference.

For its decades upon decades of history, Tadich reminds me very much of Hollywood’s Musso & Frank Grill.  If you know and appreciate Musso’s, you’ll certainly discover some positive words of your own on Tadich.  My next visit will come long before my next birthday, at which time I’ll expect to find even more good to share on the grill.

Tadich Grill menus are printed daily.

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Posted by on March 29, 2011 in Food, Restaurants, Reviews


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The 328 Club

Unsavory as it is to admit, I do share this day.  I must wonder, however, how The New York Times happened to overlook Lady Gaga.  In any case, here’s to all 328s, each and every one a true Aries, no doubt!

Current Birthdays

Actress Dianne Wiest turns 63 years old today.
Actress Julia Stiles turns 30 years old today.
1928 Zbigniew Brzezinski, Former national security adviser, turns 83
1933 Frank Murkowski, Former Alaska governor, senator, turns 78
1942 Mike Newell, Director, turns 69
1944 Ken Howard, Actor (“The White Shadow”), turns 67
1946 Henry Paulson, Former secretary of the treasury, turns 65
1955 Reba McEntire, Country singer, actress, turns 56
1966 Salt, Rapper (Salt-N-Pepa), turns 45
1969 Vince Vaughn, Actor, turns 42
1969 Brett Ratner, Director (“Rush Hour” movies), turns 42
1977 Annie Wersching, Actress (“24”), turns 34


Historic Birthdays

August Busch 3/28/1899 – 9/29/1989 American chairman of Anheuser-Busch, Inc.

70 William Byrd 3/28/1674 – 8/26/1744
American planter, satirist, and diarist
71 Henry Rowe Schoolcraft 3/28/1793 – 12/10/1864
American explorer and ethnologist; discovered source of Mississippi River
48 St. John Neumann 3/28/1811 – 1/5/1860
Bohemian-born American bishop canonized the first American male saint in 1977
84 Wade Hampton 3/28/1818 – 4/11/1902
American Confederate war hero of the Civil War
69 Aristide Briand 3/28/1862 – 3/7/1932
French statesman; served 11 times as premier
77 Paul Whiteman 3/28/1890 – 12/29/1967
American bandleader
88 Rudolf Serkin 3/28/1903 – 5/8/1991
Austrian-born American pianist and teacher
76 Onoe Shoroku II 3/28/1913 – 6/25/1989
Japanese actor and interpreter of kabuki plays
67 Freddie Bartholomew 3/28/1924 – 1/23/1992
Irish-born American child actor
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Posted by on March 28, 2011 in Current Events, History


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Her Last Laugh

It’s always good to maintain a sense of humor, especially posthumously.  Apparently Elizabeth Taylor, laid to rest yesterday at Forest Lawn in Glendale, managed to pull off her last laugh from the grave

Good for her, I say!  Then, I wonder if she expected anyone to dare attempt to one-up her.  In any case, the service was smaller than I would have expected.  I’m sorry I missed it, but my invitation must have gotten lost in the mail. 

Thankfully we have this portrait to enjoy for the ages, which of course has already hung in the Abbey for the past few years.  The same place at which I dined this past Monday, some 36 hours before her death, was one of Liz’s recent favorite hangouts

Once the Abbey’s current construction is complete, the Grand Dame will again preside over her scores of martini-slinging visitors.  No doubt she’ll be enjoying her own martinis in spirit, right along with us.

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Posted by on March 25, 2011 in Current Events, News


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Less for More?

It’s what happens when I’m away from West Hollywood for an extended period:  The Abbey remodels, expands, and changes its menu, again.

I don’t recall exactly the last time I visited the Abbey before my lunch yesterday.  Even when I still lived in L.A., my visits grew rare.  As such, it had been quite a while for me, as I arrived yesterday to multiple changes in progress.

The bathroom area expansion appears sensible and well designed.  The new VIP “peninsulas” may be the preferred place to sit, if you don’t need much table space.  I miss the island bar, though not nearly as much as I do the cozy lounging cabanas.  The latter have been replaced by large tables and bench seating, sans curtains.  It’s just not the same.

Also not the same is the menu, as it’s undergone yet another reinvention.  While the BLT and burgers remain ample in portion, the famous heaping pile of nachos has been cut down in size by almost half, now with a higher price to boot.  Don’t you just love getting less for more?  Thankfully, the martinis have not been scaled back, while holding steady at a barely-palatable $12.  I recommend the cucumber.

Perhaps I’ll pay another visit in a few months when I’m back in town again, at which time all the current rear bar construction will no doubt be complete.  Then, perhaps, the Abbey will have finally grown to its limit, or not.  I have a feeling the menu will look different, if not offering less for more.

And that’s my hungry and thirsty opinion.

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Posted by on March 22, 2011 in And That's My Opinion, Drink, Food, Restaurants


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“Equal Night”

I’d say I’m looking forward to less rain, warmer temperatures, and a return to regular cycling mileage.  In the Bay Area, however, this may be wishful thinking.  In any case, the vernal equinox has passed, and whether we can tell or not, spring is here.  If nothing else, now following “equal night,” daylight will once again exceed nightfall.

“The March equinox is the movement when the sun crosses the true celestial equator – or the line in the sky above the earth’s equator – from south to north, around March 20 (or March 21) of each year. At that time, day and night are balanced to nearly 12 hours each all over the world and the earth’s axis of rotation is perpendicular to the line connecting the centers of the earth and the sun.”  (

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Posted by on March 21, 2011 in Current Events


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Erin go Bragh!

The “greenest” day of the year has come once again, and yours truly is very much here for it!  Having survived the Ides, it’s now high time to break out my infamous green suit and celebrate every last Irish part of myself on this always auspicious St. Patrick’s Day!

San Francisco surprisingly held its St. Patrick’s Day parade last Saturday, as did Chicago, both far too early in my opinion.  Why not have them on the real day, I ask.  A friend told me that in SF’s financial district, many workers go to lunch on this day and never make it back to the office.  A parade might just be a far more excusable justification for this than a pub.  However, since no parade awaits our city’s Irish and/or Irish-spirited partygoers today, it looks like the Irish pubs will be the destination “an lae.”   Then, as no green river flows in this vicinity, with a nod to Chicago’s wonderful Irish tradition, there’s likely not much “green” to see outdoors today anyway.

St. Patrick’s Day Tradition in Chicago

If you’re in Chicago today, go see if there’s any green left in the river!  If you’re in San Francisco, head here, or here, or here!  If you’d rather sit home with your own homemade corned beef & cabbage and a bottle of Jameson, then be sure to freshen up on your SPD history, as plenty awaits.

This truly is my second favorite day of the year.  Erin go Bragh!


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Come, But Not Gone

The 15th of March is always an occasion on which to ponder a much-remembered event of ancient history, while perhaps exercising an element of caution throughout our own day! 

In modern times, the term Ides of March is best known as the date that Julius Caesar was killed in 44 B.C. Julius Caesar was stabbed (23 times) to death, led by Marcus Junius Brutus, Gaius Cassius Longinus and 60 other conspirators.

On his way to the Theatre of Pompey (where he would be assassinated), Caesar saw a seer who had foretold that harm would come to him not later than the Ides of March. Caesar joked, “Well, the Ides of March have come”, to which the seer replied “Ay, they have come, but they are not gone.”  This meeting is famously dramatized in William Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar, when Caesar is warned to “beware the Ides of March”.  (Read more on Wikipedia.)

The Ides have come, but not gone.  Go forth and beware!

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Posted by on March 15, 2011 in History



7.52 Miles

Here’s a prime illustration of how much, or little, I’ve ridden my motorcycle over the past few months since moving to San Francisco: 

Last November 1, on the one-year anniversary of my moto ownership, my odometer read 18,103.  Yesterday, on our Homoto ride down Hwy 1 and through Woodside, 133 days later, my odometer passed 19,103.  Simply put, it’s taken me nearly four and a half months to ride 1000 miles!  This equates to a whopping 7.52 miles per day.

Of consistent yet short-range use of late.

It’s not that my big red two-wheeled machine goes neglected; I’m on it regularly.  Except for a couple of weekend excursions and one round trip to Sacramento, however, the bulk of my moto use has been in and around San Francisco itself.  While a motorcycle is an enjoyable and practical way to navigate the city, naturally the mileage does not accumulate.  This is a far cry from last spring in Los Angeles, when I logged 3,000 miles in six weeks!

Nonetheless, yesterday’s approximately 100-mile journey was some good exercise, for my engine rather than my body, that is!  It’s always enjoyable to get out on the scenic roads, at least until the rain starts coming down!  Riding north on Hwy 280 in a downpour was the less-than-enjoyable part of the day.  Fortunately, the hearty burger and fries at Sullivan’s gave me the energy to deal with it and get back to the city in one piece.

Now, with spring upon is, let’s see how long it takes to log the next 1000.  Thanks the today’s ongoing rain and overall wetness, it looks like the next 7.52 will have to wait.

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Posted by on March 14, 2011 in Motorcycle, Restaurants


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The Diesel Comeback

Today’s growing production of diesel-engine cars, especially large diesel luxury cars, has certainly piqued my interest.  First, I think, it’s the early 1980s all over again, when at one point Mercedes-Benz offered five diesel-engine models in its U.S. lineup.  Granted, if nothing else, this time around has already proven much cleaner and quieter.

An increasingly common badge on the road

Then, I continue to think, it’s time for me to get out and drive at least a couple of the various new luxury diesel models, to really see and feel what diesel-circa-2011 is all about.  (Personal diesel trucks have existed all along and are another story altogether.)  The last occasion on which I recall driving a diesel car was in 1992, when I enjoyed the use of a 1982 300 SD.  Clearly, times have since evolved, and it’s safe to guess that diesels of today, with a nod to Audi, will accelerate faster than I can run!

If diesels are now or becoming poised to compete with hybrids, while offering competitive MPG with superior power, then I’m all for it.  After all, my hybrid-driving experience has thus far yielded about as much satisfaction as riding a city bus.  The diesel comeback has my attention.  Now let’s see if it wins!

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Posted by on March 9, 2011 in Cars


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A Quick Spin

For a relatively short yet satisfying bicycle workout, I highly recommend Canada Road, starting at the junction of Highways 280 and 92, next to the Upper Crystal Springs Reservoir.

This stretch has been a part of my longer treks on several occasions, most notably via a few Alto Velo club rides.  Most recently, I’ve been making the easy jaunt down from San Francisco for a quick spin on what’s proven to be some satisfactory nearby open road.  Following Canada Road into Woodside, then adding a short loop around Sand Hill Road before heading back to the start point, will give you a whopping total distance of 20 miles.  Do it twice, or three times, if you have the energy and aren’t bored with scenic repetition.  I have yet to add of few legs onto the route, which I hope to do on my next visit, possibly over into Belmont and back.

Perhaps the best, yet most crowded, time to cycle on Canada Road is on “Bicycle Sunday,” when a good stretch heading south from Hwy 92 is closed to all motor traffic from 9am to 3pm.

This is merely a small, very easy, yet relatively enjoyable cycling suggestion, if you’re unfamiliar with the area or just tired of pedaling through the city!

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Posted by on March 8, 2011 in Cycling


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On This Day

One of my favorite journalistic sources to check out on a regular basis is the “On This Day” page in the online version of The New York Times.  It’s a succinct and well-organized snapshot of various historical moments that have occurred on any given calendar date.  Prominent among the content, to my keen interest, is a generous handful of noteworthy individuals, both living and dead, whose birthday falls on this day.  The page was recently redesigned, and I appreciate the many visual improvements all around.

I recommend this page as a quick and interesting dose of history du jour.  After all, something of course has always happened every day.  No doubt this will continue!

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Posted by on March 7, 2011 in History, Media


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Automotive Time Warp

A fascinating journey back in time it was, as I felt in some moments I was reading the article on the date it actually first appeared.  Suffice to say, this piece published in Car and Driver on the numerically catching date of 7-7-77 is well worth a relaxing and informative read for car lovers who appreciate distinctive events of automotive history.

It’s likely no surprise by now as to what make of car I’m discussing here.  The surprises, for me, were for one, that the fastest production sedan in the world at the time, putting out by today’s standards a paltry 286 HP, cost just $40,000 in 1977, and for another, that apparently you could then buy a Rolls Royce for the same price.   No doubt 40 Gs made for a very large amount of money for any car 34 years ago.  Still, I thought the model at hand would have cost a bit more, considering I recall one of its somewhat-lesser relatives costing $39,000 in 1980.  And RR would presumably have been on its own higher plateau, much like today.

The subject of this article remains on my lifetime wish list of models I would love to own.  Many similar enthusiasts share my sentiment, and the buys are definitely out there.  But no power seats?!   Shocking indeed.

If you’re so inclined as some form of a car nut, sit down with a cup of coffee and experience the same automotive time warp that I did.  For all you may already know, there’s certainly enough material at hand to learn something new and interesting.

The Ruler of the Day

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Posted by on March 3, 2011 in Cars, Mercedes-Benz


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Better Than Cow

More Than Moo...

My bison steak dinner at Big Four this past weekend was so deliciously satisfying, that it’s still on my mind three days later.  Several bison meals have generously satisfied my demanding hunger over the years, especially in Kansas where such meat rules the land.  I must go so far as to say, however, that Big Four’s preparation is definitely the best I’ve had to date.

Dense, lean and wonderfully intense in natural flavor, bison meat far outshines the best cut of any standard cow, if I may say so.  If you’re the adventurous, discerning and hungry carnivore that I am, a bison dinner should in no way disappoint you.  Certainly have it at Big Four if you’re anywhere near San Francisco.  Then, if you’re the home-cooked type, this useful website will come in handy. 

Bon Appetit!

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Posted by on March 1, 2011 in Food, Restaurants


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