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Foodoofus Special Issue: The NorCal Chronicles #2; Reflect, Repent and Revisit.

Last year was a very unstable year for myself, however I discovered many new things about me that I didn’t notice until now. Before my current significant other, the last person I dated insisted to the very climax of our break-up, that I wasn’t “ambitious enough.” I guess it’s all in the eye of the beholder; Working hard and effectively has always been my philosophy in life thus far.

Now with 2012 setting the stage there are more things that are on the horizon that I wish to finally get in order. However the road remains just as arduous (and occasionally treacherous) more than ever before. Most recently I’ve become a bit more involved in the restaurant industry, slowly building my network of professionals from the ground up to having worked small part-time gigs to get an understand for why a restaurateur sets this approach for their customers or how a chef chooses to cook chicken a certain way (be it sous vide or on the grill).

Currently, I do not have a cushion job/career like many of my peers/associates who can enjoy this on the side or have the means to participate in something else at the sleight of hand. One could argue it’s like the foolish aspiring artist who will never make it in Hollywood and get lucky with that one particular song  climbing the Billboard charts, faster than Rebecca Black. I wouldn’t want to be “that guy” but I gotta be patient and hope all of this hard work will pay off someday. Anyway, let’s get into the restaurant highlights:

T-Rex barbeque (one of five restaurants under the K2 restaurant group) doesn’t have Barney smoking or grilling any of your favorite meats. However their hospitality, home style cooking and traditional American BBQ flavors have me coming back for more. Mac and Cheese was more cheesy than al dente in Macaroni, it’s still enjoyable for the common palate. Baby back ribs and Brisket are my all time favorites. Brisket has enough gristle on the edges, not too pink and definitely full of flavor. The ribs were delightful and I literally ripped the last piece of meat off the bone.

Hearty Mac and Cheese (T-Rex BBQ; Berkeley, CA)

Sliced Beef Brisket and Macaroni Salad (T-Rex BBQ; Berkeley, CA)

Baby Back Ribs and Macaroni Salad (T-Rex BBQ; Berkeley, CA)

Bistro 1491 was a nice little quiet french brunch bistro tucked away in the hillside area of Albany. For those with a sweet tooth my best friend J.T.S. scarfed this thing down with the quickness. Whereas myself, I enjoyed the Beef Short Rib Hash, plenty of chunks of meat, the plate is well and balanced (especially in seasoning). While the poached eggs were perfect, the yolk is runny and the hollandaise sauce is of the highest quality (comparable to Pastis in NYC).

Dark Chocolate French Toast w/ Blueberries (Bistro 1491; Albany, CA)

Beef Short Rib Hash w/ Poached Eggs and Hollandaise (Bistro 1491; Albany CA)

Sea Salt (a sibling of T-Rex in the K2 Restaurant Group) was also a delightful experience with a few misses here and there. The frisee’ salad was an excellent starter, the bacon vinaigrette was prominent throughout the consumption of this dish and the egg and croton brought it altogether. Oysters were of the freshest quality so again no complaints. The Risotto wasn’t as promising as Cafe Hiro’s or many other one’s I’ve tried in the past. The Dungeness crab was prominent through and through, the rice wasn’t cooked evenly some parts of it were a bit more al dente than expected and lacked the fluidity of many great risottos have. Salmon was well executed, seasoned and cooked properly but I could have done with out the spaghetti squash and kale, it was unnecessary.

Warm Frisee Salad contains: Bacon Vinaigrette, Cherry Tomatoes, Crouton and Fried Egg Yolk (Sea Salt, Berkeley, CA)

Duo of Oysters; Kumamoto and Fanny Bay, I believe not entirely sure: (Sea Salt; Berkeley, CA)

Dungeness Crab Risotto w/ Roasted Mushrooms and Parmesan (Sea Salt; Berkeley, CA)

The Sycamore, a small hipster gastropub in the Mission District caught me off guard because of one particular offering, which is what I’ll get into in a moment. The Sliders were all appetizing except my main favorites were the Ground Beef and Lamb for flavor and price approval. Their roast beef sandwich was definitely filling and tender. Nothing really stood out but it is a well made sandwich. The one item that drew me here… Pork Belly Donuts. I’d like to think the person came up with this dish was high, on LSD and/or has a vivid culinary imagination. For a good two visits to this place, I literally felt like the Asian Homer Simpson each time I ordered this (hmm Pork Belly *salivates*).

Quattro Sliders; Top Left going clockwise: BLT, Ground Beef, Fried Chicken and Lamb (The Sycamore; San Francisco, CA)

Sycamore's Famous Roast Beef Sandwich w/ BBQ Sauce and Fries (The Sycamore; San Francisco, CA)

Their Most Popular by Demand Bar Appetizer: Pork Belly Donuts in a Marker's Mark Glaze (The Sycamore; San Francisco, CA)

Le Charm French Bistro, situated on the outskirts of SOMA provided a unique and first time experience for my girlfriend to try some elevated French dishes. French onion soup was a great starter, the gruyère blended well into the broth, however it melted whatever existence the croutons had on said dish. Filet mignon was as tender as they come. With the slab of foie gras (somewhat tender) and the puddle of truffle serving as blanket and comforter; Giving the plate a savory touch, without overpowering the Pommes (providing contrast and a bit of texture; think balls of hash browns).

The chicken was soft and flavorful from the outside given the coating of the Red Wine sauce. While I got closer towards the core of the chicken and the mashed potatoes it became a lot more dry. I’m all for natural juices that soak in the flavor rather than superficial dousing of it. For dessert, mother of cream puffs… The profiteroles served as the perfect ending to this somewhat heavy dinner. They whip was light, the puff pastry was airy and the chocolate wasn’t too overwhelming although the presentation needed a bit of refinement.

French Onion Graintee (Soup) w/ Gruyere cheese and Croutons (Le Charm French Bistro; San Francisco, CA)

Rare Filet Mignon topped with w/ Foie Gras, Truffle Sauce and Pommes Landaises

Braised Chicken w/ Red Wine Sauce and Mashed Potatoes

Profiteroles w/ Vanilla Ice Cream, Chocolate Sauce and Almonds

Well, life’s been a roller coaster and I know it’s taken me this long to keep updating but fear not, there’s definitely a lot more. After this meal my companions and I absorbed the SF nightlife, it was a Winter treat for the three of us to enjoy this break. However there was one surprise I wasn’t looking forward to… but I’ll get to that soon enough.

About Foodoofus

I am a Writer and Food & Beverage Insider/Editor in Chief located within the SF Bay Area. Subscribe to us here on Wordpress (and other social media outlets) for all the latest food and beverage news and trends. Thanks for all of your support.


One thought on “Foodoofus Special Issue: The NorCal Chronicles #2; Reflect, Repent and Revisit.

  1. Nice NoCali Post Foodofus! I really want to try that PorkBelly Donut, it just looks soo wrong, yet soo right at the same time! When is the next post coming out? Happy to see you back on the scene and posting!

    Posted by Tom | March 7, 2012, 9:25 am

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