Category Archives: Drink

Between Excellent & Outstanding…

Opt for the descending cable car ride, or choose the many terraced steps through lush foliage. Either way, you’ll soon have arrived more than halfway down a pristinely landscaped waterfront embankment to the front door of a truly unique and captivating establishment. While architecture dazzles and decor delights– both outside and in– where you end up sitting makes all the difference, not between good and bad, but rather excellent and outstanding.


The seating decision, while a challenging one, likely came well before your arrival. After all, do you have dining reservations, might you be looking for a lighter bite, or are you simply en route to a refreshing oak-cask Negroni at the bar? In any event, all of these scenarios are welcome here at this impressive spot of social history, the one-and-only watering hole of its kind.

The tuna poke appetizer is surprisingly generous; the unfortunate fried chicken sandwich can be forgotten, and may you not be misled by the “ahi melt”– not the rare steak I anticipated, but rather just a fancier name for… you guessed it.  All this and much more is merely in the bar, on the Rock Room menu.  The main show gets underway in the dining room, with seating options spread out over three descending levels no less. (Remember: you entered mid-embankment; the water is still a ways down.) Here now to razzle-dazzle your palate comes the impeccable blackened lamb, taking the gold medal on the dinner menu, if I may say so. Alongside it comes such close competitors as “seafood campanelle”, osso bucco and the typically fail-proof prime rib, among all else– and believe me, there’s plenty “else.”


After the last bite and sip– be it lighter bar fare or no-holds-barred dining– your satisfaction has no excuse for being any less complete than mine, unless of course you insisted on that one tired chicken sandwich.  No matter what you eat and drink here, your ingestion is just half of the total experience, maybe two-thirds with the lamb, while the remainder comes in the unsurpassed architecture, layout and decor with which you’re surrounded.  Altogether, this is the standout establishment to patronize whenever you pass through Capitola, California. This is where ‘excellent’ is trumped only by ‘outstanding’. This is Shadowbrook.


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Posted by on September 7, 2016 in Drink, Food, Restaurants, Reviews


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To a T.

Considering the more-than-generous portions at less-than-outrageous prices, with soup and salad courses included, alongside classicly well-poured libations, altogether it might just be the best deal in town.  After almost 60 years, this special dining spot clearly has it all down to a T.

Tee-Off Santa Barbara

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Posted by on December 19, 2014 in And That's My Opinion, Drink, Food, Restaurants, Reviews


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“Seared” Into Memory…

There’s always a first time, and in this case it’s bacon and ahi tuna in the same bite.  These two distinct yet divergent ingredients lay the foundation for the single most delicious sandwich I’ve eaten in recent memory, if not ever!  Such a successful contrast of flavors really is like no other.

The Best.

The menu wording reads quite simply:  “Seared rare ahi tuna with avocado, grilled pineapple, bacon, red onion, island slaw and greens with wasabi aioli on toasted sourdough.”  What arrives before you:  Absolute bliss. The ahi tuna club at Boathouse at Hendry’s Beach wastes no time in proving itself a unique and delightful experience on the palate.  Then with the addition of a blackberry mai-tai, the deal’s done.  This meal “seared” itself into my discerning culinary memory.

Needless to say, a repeat sitting can’t come too soon.  May your own “taste” meet mine.



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A Bite & Sip of Old-School Santa Barbara

In good company...

You’re in good company here.

Richly flavorful as expected, and while not the single greatest version I’ve ever eaten, indeed a winning incorporation of bacon– chopped into small pieces and mixed evenly among the other main ingredients:  So went my most recent liver-and-onions dinner, this time in Santa Barbara.  It’s a weekly special at this location, served hot though not-quite-hot-enough to counter a rapid drop in temperature, at least in this instance.  As such I polished off my generous plate in a good clip, against the cooling clock that is.  (The arguable and subtle infraction was not enough to send it back.)

Meanwhile, service proved consistent and attentive, once the transition from bland bartendress to talkative table server was complete.  The history is on the wall– literally– and with so many decades of photos and other classic decor to take in, an entire afternoon of “indulgence” seems perfectly reasonable. The copious cocktails runneth over, as well they should– and in this delightfully old-school, red-boothed establishment always do.  And when the time finally comes, the robust coffee will have prepared you for your exit quite comfortably, as of course it did for yours truly, dessert notwithstanding.

Despite minor forgivable hiccups during a crowded dinner hour, my first visit can be considered a success.  I’m confident my imminent second trip to Harry’s Plaza Cafe will be even better.  Join me anytime for a bite and sip, assuming you can locate this discreetly situated local hideaway.

At Harry's...

As you take a seat and get started…


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Posted by on November 17, 2014 in And That's My Opinion, Drink, Food, Restaurants, Reviews


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With Our View…

Seeing as the world did not end yesterday– whether to your dismay or delight– we carry on with our view of the planet largely unscathed.  With this remains the chance to enjoy a lovely cocktail– or any number of your choosing– before an equally lovely 39th floor view, all at San Francisco’s appropriately named View Lounge.  The fish tacos look pretty good as well, by the way.  Here’s to the world intact.  Cheers!

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Posted by on December 22, 2012 in Daily Activities, Drink, News, Restaurants, San Francisco


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Always A Winner

For attentive, efficient and confident service, along with delightfully tasteful live music, an elegantly stunning bar display, and one of the most scrumptious filet mignons in town, Mastro’s Steakhouse is always a winner.  Ambiance, tone and overall presentation remained unmatched in my book, not to mention the large martini shaker remains on the table for your own copious second pour!   While I’ve yet to be hit with a less-than-thoroughly satisfying experience at Mastro’s, it’s a safe bet to say I never will, thankfully enough.

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Posted by on November 21, 2012 in And That's My Opinion, Drink, Food, Restaurants, Reviews


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Simply Another Night

The atmosphere quickly proves inviting and luxurious, far exceeding any expectations the name itself connotes.  I’ve always enjoyed the space, though less so on a crowded Saturday evening as eager patrons hawkishly manuver for a chair at the bar.  Once seated, the reasonably priced bar menu seems the way to go, at least where cost is concerned.  The $14 burger remains for me one of the most satisfying in the area, best enjoyed I must say on an empty stomach, meaning:  Very rich and filling!  Unfortunately, the Grey Goose martini with which you might want to wash it down is not as good a deal, being not just surprisingly undersized, but costing the same amount as the burger itself!  You’re far better off with wine, if not their deliciously strong coffee.

Inviting & Luxurious

My most recent experience echoes some of the words of this review written last year, not my own.  Initially friendly service grew inattentive throughout the course of our meal, ending with a bill mistakenly charging me for glasses of a $16 wine instead of the $9 selection my party had consumed.  Overall, some of the main menu offerings simply do not seem worth their exorbitant price tags.  If cost if no concern for you however, by all means judge for yourself.  The comfortable and elegant ambiance makes for a lovely evening, assuming of course your entree is cooked correctly and the staff does not ignore you for too long.  For better or worse, it’s simply another night in Woodside at the Village Pub.

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Posted by on November 22, 2011 in And That's My Opinion, Drink, Restaurants, Reviews


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I’ll Be Back

On this auspicious occasion of my father’s birthday, I finally acted on his months-old suggestion to visit the House of Shields.  The website states upfront:  “In keeping with tradition, there is no clock on premises, nor is there a T.V.”  I must add:  There is no designated happy hour– as in no drink specials– and also, perhaps contrary to my father’s half-century-old recollection, no food.  In 103 years of history, solid nourishment was served once upon a time, I’m told.  Alas, no longer is this the case.  So do not show up hungry!

What does exist is a convenient if not surprisingly small spot to get a decent drink in San Francisco’s financial district, anytime throughout the afternoon long into the evening.  On the city’s sizable list of historical watering holes, the House of Shields has clearly earned its place, obviously having served countless thirsty patrons throughout the decades.  From the intricate woodwork, to the detailed tile, and even to the seemingly original bathroom, you can tell this special place has been around a while and deserves respect.  I only wish the overall tone were a bit warmer.  Fortunately my acceptably sized Hendricks martini upped the temperature a bit.  All in all, I’ll be back!

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Posted by on August 31, 2011 in Current Events, Drink, Restaurants, Reviews


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No Substitute…

Insightful and thorough as the article happens to be, still I’m left asking myself, “Why bother?”

Granted, perhaps out on a picnic in a non-glass-friendly location, a slight though unconvincing advantage could take hold.  Such a purchase even recently appeared on a weekend country retreat at which I was in attendance, though no requirement steered this decision.  Expansion of variety and possible enhancement of quality notwithstanding, the bottom line remains:  There is no substitute for the bottle, a corked one that is.

The opening words of the NYT piece say it best:  IT’S the epitome of déclassé, the vinous equivalent of trailer trash, the wine snob’s worst nightmare. No, I don’t mean the screw cap. I’m talking about boxed wine.

The choices are increasing, but why?

In times when quantity trumps quality, most likely in quickly serving a large group of undiscerning palates en masse in the middle of nowhere, perhaps– perhaps– the boxes could be argued as the way to go.  But sitting one on your own kitchen counter for weeks on end?  Again, why?  “The craziest thing” indeed.  As far as I’m concerned you’re still better off with “Two Buck Chuck” and a corkscrew, especially where cost is a factor.

And that’s my out-of-the-box opinion!

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Posted by on August 3, 2011 in And That's My Opinion, Drink


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“You Won’t Like It”

“Like other bitters, Campari has a strong aroma and a characteristic flavor which some consumers find overwhelming when consumed straight.”  (

In other words, a lot of people can’t stand Campari.  It’s most definitely an “acquired taste” as many say.  And as I always say to anyone who’s about to try it for the first time:  “You won’t like it.”  Most times I stand correct. 

Not that this is a bad thing.  In fact, it’s rather good I say, in that there will always be more Campari for yours truly, while rarely if ever will anyone fight me to share the bottle.  After all, this famous yet still somewhat mysterious Italian aperitif remains my very favorite and most often enjoyed alcoholic beverage.

So I’m a little late for the party, as Campari is now closer to its 151st birthday than its sesquicentennial.  Nonetheless, it’s my true delight to have effortlessly obtained one of the above-pictured limited edition 150th anniversary bottles yesterday, the middle one to be exact.  The inexplicable mystery remains, however, as to how such a welcome acquisition took me so many months, considering the bottles debuted last summer.  All I will say on this is, as with most good things:  Better late than never!

If you’re one of those inquisitive and daring types who’s never yet tried Campari, I recommend you do so first on ice with soda water.  Then, you might opt for an orange juice mix.  For a stronger drink, mix it with gin or vodka.  Or for a lighter refreshment, pour a splash into some chilled (and inexpensive) white wine.

If all options have failed you and I stand correct once again, I’ll of course be more than happy to relieve you of your surely closer-to-full bottle of red Italian mystery. 

Campari:  Truly a pleasure I will never go long without.  You’re always welcome to join me, even at risk of my having to share.

Did I mention this all has something to do with my “acquired” opinion?

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Posted by on April 12, 2011 in And That's My Opinion, Drink


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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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Words of Wine

“The wine is deep ruby red in color and is exploding with spicy cherry and earthy raspberry aromas, with a hint of anise and white pepper. The palate delivers flavors of black cherry framed nicely by bright acidity and ripe mouth coating tannins.”

The Words of Wine

If you were to taste this wine without having read the above description, would you snap to attention and shout out:  “Spicy Cherry!  Earthy Raspberry!  White Pepper!”  Or rather, are such words forming and steering your experience for you, before you can even begin to consider your own true reaction?

If such words of wine have you tongue-tied if not palate-confused, then it’s high time for a read of this very well-written and informative article in today’s New York Times. Decide for yourself if you’re one for “sweet,” or for “savory,” or if you have some another, better words altogether.  In any case, with a nod to the article, I’m certainly one for streamlining the efficiency of clarifying our wine preferences.  Perhaps you are too.

While such typical wine-tasting descriptions can be creative and marketable exercises in palate anticipation, they are typically, if not always, open to interpretation.  At least that’s my wine-loving opinion!

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Posted by on February 23, 2011 in And That's My Opinion, Drink


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