Tag Archives: SF restaurant review

Unlike My First…

They’re called “wing bombs.”  I call them odd and complicated, despite a strong and tasty bolt of horseradish.  The “corn fritters” deserve marks for creative preparation, while their relatively bland taste falls flat.  Then come two entrees, New York steak “cubes” and sea bass edamame, both of which immediately cry out in embarrassment of their paltry quantity.  While the flavor stood its ground, to my dismay my stomach did not reach its necessary capacity.  Add to this one overworked waitress who clearly needed additional assistance, leading to overall service that was hurried and inattentive.  Thankfully the wine, a Lodi Zinfandel, was delicious!

My second dining experience at Tangerine painfully paled in comparison to my delightful first, I’m sorry to say.  Plus it’s not the place to go if you, like my dinner companion, are in search of a real steak.  Still, for the numerous appealing menu selections yet to be conquered, plus a more hearty dish I eyeballed at an adjacent table, maybe– just maybe– a third trip is in order.

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Posted by on December 9, 2011 in Restaurants, Reviews, San Francisco


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Thumbs Up.

No complaints from me this time.  Unlike my last Castro neighborhood Asian dinner, this one quickly proved itself a strong and flavorful winner.  Now, even after spicy beef, spicy eggplant, fried dumplings and ham rangoon, I have yet to scratch the surface of the extensive menu.  Considering my great satisfaction with this first dinner, no doubt doing so will be a welcome, pleasant and delicious task.  Thumbs up to Brandy Ho’s.

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Posted by on October 10, 2011 in Restaurants, Reviews


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Room for Improvement

My first meal was average.  My second one was passable at best.  Suffice to say, after two dinners involving two very different menu selections, I’m sorry to say I remain unimpressed.  Plus, eyeballing some other plates around me, I saw nothing else I’d rather have chosen.

The patio is pretty and pleasant, while the cocktail choices are creative, attractive and ample.  The food however, involving dry and fatty meat among all else, holds significant room for improvement.  While quantity is generous, quality comes up short.

Still, don’t rest solely on my opinion.  Give Nirvana a try for yourself the next time you’re in the Castro neighborhood of San Francisco.  The setting is inviting and relaxing, and you can certainly enjoy those cocktails under some mature, tropical-like outdoor foliage that, to me, channels Waikiki’s long-gone Tahitian Lanai.  As far as food is concerned, as long as you keep your expectations low, you just might be satisfied.

I may or may not go for round three.  We’ll see.

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Posted by on September 26, 2011 in And That's My Opinion, Restaurants, Reviews


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The Winning Tangerine

If you’ve ever wondered what lamb lollipops and pea mash have in common, here’s your answer:

They both appear on the same menu of one very inviting and satisfying San Francisco dining establishment.  After numerous occasions of walking past the Castro-adjacent corner of 16th and Sanchez, examining the window-posted menu, and telling myself I need to give this place a go, last night it finally happened.  Excellent company in tow for an early (17:30) sitdown, Tangerine deliciously delighted our evening.

As you’ve certainly heard me say before, I always love a restaurant that instantly earns a return visit.  Unfortunately this is all too often not the case.  As such, after a couple rather forgettable meals in the same neighborhood over the past week alone, last night’s last-minute selection proved all the more refreshing.

Lamb lollipops, intriguing by name alone, come through as a creatively substantial though thankfully not-too-filling starter.  Butternut squash soup, rich in both flavor and portion, in itself might satiate a light consumer.  Tangerine’s fried calamari is nothing unusual, rather bland in fact, while their standard yet still-zesty whole romaine caesar salad lacks whole anchovies.  Both have their places on the table nonetheless.  My spicy seafood gumbo emerged a clear winner, striking a pleasing balance of salmon, shrimp, calamari and diced vegetables.  The most visually stimulating presentation of our meal was the large salmon fillet, nestled into a bed of richly seasoned pea mash that looks just like, well, pea green mashed potatoes!  So full were the three of us, that we regretfully passed on the coconut sorbet, this time.

Tangerine wins, and your dissatisfaction would come as a shock.  No doubt the pleasant staff will be seeing me again before too long.  Quite likely it will be on another Wednesday for that complementary glass of wine!

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Posted by on August 4, 2011 in Food, Restaurants, Reviews


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Now I Know.

So much has already been written, that it looks like there’s not much more for me to say.  What I WILL say, quite simply, is that I entirely concur with the numerous positive reviews out there.  I’m thrilled to have been turned on this week to a unique and impressive dining destination of which until now I was unaware.  Everyone else in San Francisco seems to know it, but perhaps I can use the excuse of still being relatively new to town.  Or maybe not.  In any event, now I know Bix.

“This retro-modern supper club, now 21 years old, has a speakeasy vibe. It’s located on a narrow street in the shadows of the Transamerica Pyramid, and you almost feel like you need a secret password to get through the darkened entryway. However, the impressive Deco-inspired interior opens up to reveal a grand space that includes a mezzanine supported by ornate columns. Bartenders expertly mix classic drinks, and chef Bruce Hill gives modern twists to some familiar dishes. There’s also live jazz nightly.”  (Top 100 Bay Area Restaurants)

Don’t be too alarmed by the deceivingly small gin glasses; I quickly got past them, especially after spotting my always favorite and rarely found steak tartare on the menu!  I can’t wait to go back and have it, no doubt dressed in smart evening attire to complement Bix’ grand and elegant atmosphere.  The booths are quite roomy, so you just might have to join me.


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Posted by on June 17, 2011 in Restaurants, Reviews


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Not Just Satisfied…

Spicy means spicy, and rare means rare.  Anytime these two vital culinary keywords prove themselves, I know I’ve found a dining establishment worthy of my repeat business.

The chicken curry is positively delicious, fire-breathing upon request of course, by far the best I’ve tasted in recent memory.  A half-fries-half-rice accompaniment works very well, yielding an overall portion that’s probably gargantuan for many, while nicely satisfying for yours truly.

The pepper cheese-jalapeno burger called out to me as well, or perhaps I should say it was mooing as the big rare patty arrived to the table, nestled in a soft, round sourdough bun, alongside a heaping mound of crisp mixed greens.  Having asked beforehand if the chef would walk the cow past the stove, the answer from the waitress was an immediate and emphatic “oh yes.”  I knew I was in the right place, even before discovering the weekly liver-n-onions special!

The fried calamari appetizer is standard fare, surprisingly modest in quantity.  Then again, you won’t want to fill up before your generous and carefully selected entrée.  You might join me in wishing for a garlic or chipotle aioli in place of the calamari’s basic cocktail sauce.

The fish-and-chips remain to be tried, as do the ribs, which hopefully won’t have run out next time.  If I don’t hit the right day for the liver, I’ll just have to hit the curry again, this time with shrimp.  Whatever the selection, it all gets washed down with one of many import drafts.  Be sure to have company with you, as did I, so as to sample and share more than one plate.

The large open space is instantly inviting, with plenty of bar stools and high-top tables to be had.  The numerous wall-mounted flatscreens allow you to see your sporting event from all angles, while the variety of country flags on the ceiling create a pleasant international flair.

I’m always love it when I’m not just satisfied, but thoroughly impressed, with my first visit to a neighborhood dining establishment, especially one in walking distance of my home that’s been on my list for some time.  I’ll back, sooner than later, to Martin Macks.


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Posted by on June 10, 2011 in Food, Restaurants, Reviews


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Have a Bite…

They might be called the ultimate comfort food, definitely unique and delicious.  “Spicy Irish Potato Bites” at The Chieftain, those I discovered and briefly mentioned here back in November, seem to satisfy the most growling palate.  Just be sure to specify “well done” so that they’re not cold in the middle, as I learned the first time around.

More than what you might imagine as a “bite,” these clever pub morsels are large, deep-fried balls of mashed potatoes, complete with jalapeno pieces baked inside to earn their “spicy” label.  Five of them for $7.95 are a great and filling deal, especially on a cold rainy day when you find yourself anywhere near San Francisco’s northwest corner of 5th and Howard.

The bites don’t fail.  What does fail is the special $4.00 Bombay martini with which you might opt to wash down your bites.  Whether bartender skill or price justification, the pour level is horrifically low.  And if you’ve ever had a drink with me, you know my sensitivity to low pours!  To avoid such potential suffering, I recommend a draft, preferably a Killkenny, as the suitable bite accompaniment.

And this is just the beginning of a complete Irish Pub menu.  The corned beef, ahi burger and fish-n-chips await sampling and review.  Considering the Chieftain celebrates its first decade anniversary next month, now you have one more reason to pay a visit and have a bite!

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Posted by on February 18, 2011 in Food, Restaurants


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Dining “Trip”

My “trip” to the Folsom neighborhood restaurant Triptych might be worth a mention. 

I could tell you about the open, airy seating space surrounded by tall walls of attractive artwork, almost as if you were dining in a small, intimate gallery.  If I were to address the inviting wine and beer bar that offers a very unique selection of imported drafts, I’d say you could comfortably sip your selection while appreciating a peaceful atmosphere quite conducive to pleasant table conversation. 

Then, I could go on eliminate the bland, undercooked crabcake sandwich from my menu recommendations, while yawning at the rather pedestrian breaded pork loin.  I’d suggest instead you consider the hearty lamb chops with well-cooked bok choy, if not the heaping bowl of eye-turning paella.

But who am I to say, after all?  I’d just be writing up yet another restaurant review, and you’d simply be getting my own opinion, again.  Perhaps I should let you take your own dining trip to Triptych, where you can sip, taste and decide for yourself.

(I’m waiting.)

Oh, too late.  Maybe next time.

And that’s… what it always is.  🙂

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Posted by on January 25, 2011 in And That's My Opinion, Restaurants


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A Full Belly

My first dining visit to Starbelly came last night, after having heard about the popular Castro eating establishment more than once in recent weeks.  So of course this means a review is in order.

To get the major minuses out of the away:  The tables are quite small, and the seating not too comfortable.  If you don’t mind parking yourself on a wooden bench or metal chair, while inadvertently eavesdropping on the conversation next to (and very close to) you, then keep reading.

The food itself:  Interesting, adventurous and mostly satisfying.  The chicken liver pate, with onion marmalade and grain mustard accompanied by toasted sourdough:  Absolutely divine, easily earning its place as my favorite of the night.  The mussel dish:  Tasty as mussels go, though paired rather oddly with mexican chorizo, creating a flavor competition I would not have expected.  The spaghetti:  Ambitious, as surprisingly thick noodles lead a welcome scattering of sliced jalapenos, mixed with slices of thick bacon that seemed to excite my dining companion more than they did me.  The squash, goat cheese and black garlic pizza:  A clear winner, proving its strength through a refreshing combination of flavors that for some odd reason yielded me a slight taste of Hawaii.  All of this, washed down with a soothing Malbec, made for a unique, though not unparalleled, culinary experience.

Starbelly, despite heightened audibility, limited limb-waving space and unforgiving landings for your rear, is certainly worth a repeat visit.  After all, the thick rare burgers on the table next to me were loudly calling!

Taste it all for yourself, if you haven’t already.  Your belly, like mine, will be full.  The rest is not too much to stomach.

And that’s my (palate’s hunger-driven) opinion.

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Posted by on January 21, 2011 in And That's My Opinion, Restaurants


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