#50 Monk’s Kettle: A Belgian beer

 

The Place:

We went to the Monk’s Kettle on a day when they were closed until 5pm due to some water complications.  Normally they are open for lunch, so when we got there around 5:45, the place was already packed.  They are pretty strict about seating and the hostess was outside not allowing anyone else in because they were already at max capacity.  Max capacity on a Saturday at 5:45!   This is a true mission hotspot.  The interior is not too large but is well decorated along classic gastropub styles with rich woods, polished metal taps and a plethora of glassware types and shapes.  The staff is friendly, quick and knowledgable.  The bartenders even taste with the patrons a bit to help build the experience (which probably helps the friendly aspect).  We love their attention to quality beer and food as well as the focus on the pairing of the two.  Each dish on the menu  has three suggested pairings depending whether you want the beer to cut, contrast or compare to the flavors of the dish.  They even age some of their beers  and offer them on the menu. The list just calls for a belgian beer, so we each decided to get our own.

 

 

The Drink:

Him

I went for the St. Bernardus Abt 12 from Brouwerij St. Bernardus.  This Belgian quadrupel ale clocks in at a nice 10.5% alcohol.  Served in a goblet, the color is a rich, dark brown.  The head is nice and frothy and has a coffee colored tint to it.  There’s not much on the nose, kind of faint aromas of malt and dark fruit.  I always have the fear that a lack of nose will lead to a lack of flavor.  This beer is one of those that proves me wrong in a big way.  The flavor is instantly rich and deep with complex notes of raisin, coffee and malt.  There are no hop flavors (standard with ales like this) and the beer is slightly sweet and has a creamy mouthfeel to it.  The alcohol hides itself amongst the well balanced flavors of this beer, though you do feel it halfway through.  It’s ales like this that push belgian beers to the top of my list and why I would hands down take this over the best glass of wine any day.

 

 

Her

There has yet to be a Belgian beer that I have disliked, but to be honest with you beer tasting is not my area of expertise.  I really don’t know what to look for or how to describe it, but here goes nothin’…  Because ‘The List’ directed us to order a Belgian beer and having only 3 Belgian (draft) beers on the menu, our decision was not too difficult.  I went with the Special Belge, a strong Pale from Brasserie Dupont with a lower ABV of 5.7%.  It’s served in a tulip glass which produces a large head.  The color is beautiful, looking like a liquid caramel.  It had a bit of grassiness to it, with some tart acidity and maybe some apricot.  I don’t remember any strong fragrance from the nose of the beer.   This beer was delicious, but being priced at a steep $12 a glass, it was probably the last time I will have enjoyed this tasty beverage.

The Verdict:

We both agree that this place is great.  Though we didn’t try any food, we’ve heard that it’s just as good as the beer, which was fantastic.  The selection is big, the staff is great and they’ve really done a great job from top to bottom.  Our recommendation is go try it out, and snag a tasty belgian beer while you’re there.

Dig In

A & K

Pin It

#30 Balompie Cafe: Pupusas

 

The Place:

With what seems to be the theme with many of The List’s places, Balompie Cafe looks no different from any other small ethnic restaurant in the mission district.  It’s a little space with a counter/bar to the right as you enter, and an open dining room that has one communal table in the middle and a few small tables scattered around it.  The sun shines right through the front door, basking the dining area in warmth and light.  It’s definitely a place free of pretention and hurry.  The type of place you can relax, drink a few beers, watch some soccer and enjoy some home cooked Salvadoran food.

 

 

The Dish:

Pupusas are a traditional Salvadoran dish consisting of thick homemade corn tortillas that are stuffed with a variety of different ingredients.  We ordered pupusas stuffed with ground pork, jalapenos and cheese.  The pupusas come with some pickled vegetables and salsa, and we ordered beans and rice as well. They also provide chips and salsa (always welcome) and we finished it all off with a couple of beers.  The pupusas arrive warm to the touch, but not too hot.  The tortilla is soft and thick, the cheese melted and the meat is nice and tender.  The pickled vegetables are a nice contrast to the pupusas providing some crunch and vinegar to the richness of the dish.  The salsa they provide is pretty killer as well.  You can tell this dish is designed for sustenance not flash and it services that need perfectly.  What we mean is we like this dish; the flavors are simple and plain but good.  It may not be anything we will have a craving for down the line, but if you want pupusas, Balompie is as good as any place in the city.

Dig In

A & K

 

 

Pin It

#53 Rickhouse: The Laphroaig Project

 

The Place:

This week’s post, like the drink being reviewed, is short and slightly sweet.  Scotch drinks aren’t exactly Kristina’s favorite, so this week I’ll be your friendly blogger (also, apologies about the picture).  This Financial District bar is a personal favorite. I mean the place is literally made out of bourbon.  What I mean by that is a majority of the bar’s fixtures (ceiling, railings, tables, etc) are made from recycled bourbon barrels.  You walk in and you feel like you’ve been transported somewhere into the 1920’s.  The bartenders all wear prohibition style clothing, the lighting is dim, and the bar is stocked with one of the larger varieties of whiskey I have seen.   Another great part about this bar is they use one huge ice cube for their cocktails. This way the ice melts slower and keeps the drink cold longer.  Top all this off with some of the best cocktails I’ve ever had and my liver starts salivating the minute I walk in this joint.

 

The Dish (in this case the drink)


This cocktail gets its name from one of the smokiest scotches around, Laphroaig.  When I say smokey, I mean stick your nose in a peat campfire smokey.  I’m partial to this scotch, though it’s not for the faint of heart.  The Project is an attempt to wrangle that barrage of smoke into something manageable and enjoyable and boy do they nail it.  The cocktail consists of the scotch, green and yellow chartreuse (herbal liquors), lemon juice, maraschino and peach bitters.   This heavenly combination hits you first with a nice, sweet, herbal citrusy flavor that fades into a mellow smokey backbone.  The balance is just perfect and it always tastes the same (these bartenders are very regimented).  It almost drinks too easy and you have to be careful with these because this stuff is nectar of the gods quality.  I heavily recommend this cocktail, even to those that don’t like scotch.  It’s a one of a kind and boy is it a doozy.

Dig In

A & K

#41 Gott’s Roadside: Ahi Burger

 

THE PLACE:

Everyone knows that SF is not always blessed with the same beautiful California weather as the rest of the state.  So when we have a nice, warm, sunny day, we take advantage and want to be outside as much as possible.  Gott’s Roadside is located in the oh so famous Ferry Building with a nice outside patio packed with picnic tables right along the Embarcadero.  This is the type of place where you walk up and order and then pick up your food when it’s ready.  There is quite a bit of seating inside, but on a beautiful day it’s almost impossible not to want to sit outside and people watch while throwin’ a couple back (beers that is).

THE DISH:

Her

If you’re feeling a little slow and want to better your mood and brain functionality, go for the Ahi Tuna Burger. With the gargantuan hunk of fish they slap between 2 pieces of toasted bread, you’ll for sure have fulfilled you’re expected intake of Omega 3’s for at least a month! Normally, I’m all about hefty portions of meat, but this piece of Ahi was a little larger than my liking.  With only a quick sear on both sides, there was just way too much raw fish in my mouth at once.  Let’s just say I had to focus real hard while I chewed, just to make sure it stayed down the hatch-pipe (as I’ve noted before, I have a little bit of a texture issue).  The asian slaw added a great texture and the ginger wasabi mayo provided just enough zip.  Good sandwich, but probably won’t be ordering it again.

 

Him

I liked this dish for what it was.  It’s not going to win “best sandwich” any time soon nor have people waiting for hours to get it, but it’s a great way to get some quality ahi in a nice location.  It’s very simple really, a toasted bun, wasabi mayo, carrot cabbage slaw and a big ‘ol piece of grilled rare ahi.  The ingredients don’t overpower the flavor of the ahi and it all works well together.  Now I’m partial to rare ahi, so they could have almost had anything in the sandwich as long as the fish was there.  The price is a bit steep ($14), but is to be expected for Ferry Building food.  No need to rush there, but if you find yourself around the area, it’s worth a try.

Dig In

A & K

Pin It

#51 A16: Maccaronara with Ragu Napoletana and House-­Made Ricotta Salata

 

For this weeks culinary adventure, we were proud to celebrate our two year anniversary.  Two awesome years of fun, food, love and laughter!

The Place.

If you’re just doing a little shopping along Chestnut Street, you might miss this place.  The restaurant front is small, the sign is simple, just saying A16 and nothing really catches your attention but the nice brick and growing ivy.  Upon entry, there’s a small wine bar to the right, a hostess stand to the left, and at first glance not much beyond that.  However, as you’re led to the back of the restaurant, it opens up nicely and has a great aesthetic.  Odd note:  the hostess walks patrons to the right down a narrow passage past the bathrooms.  What makes it weird is on the left side, there’s another passage through the dining area which does not force you to dodge the bathroom line.  We’re sure there’s probably a good reason they do this.  (Perhaps they’re proud of how clean their restrooms are?)  Anyways, we digress.  While the dining room is not extremely spacious, the many tables are spaced very well to maximize the size.  There’s a nice open kitchen with a wood burning pizza oven and a counter running along the kitchen with tall stools for customers to dine at and watch their food being prepared.  We were seated in a small patio room that was separated by glass from the main dining room.  The seat against the wall was freezing.  From behind there was a cold draft that necessitated the wearing of a jacket the entire time.  Alex, being the gentleman, volunteered to sit in the frozen tundra.

The Dish:

The noodles themselves are what really stood out in this dish.  It’s a bit tough to describe, but hell, it’s a blog so we’ve got to try.  It’s a long, round, thick noodle they make in house.  It almost seems as though there are two textures to it, one being a dense middle, the other being a soft outside.  Now, we don’t want you to think it was under-cooked, because it wasn’t.  In fact, we’re pretty sure it takes a lot of skill to get it right.  The pasta is tossed in a fresh, tangy tomato sauce with shaved parm and what is described as a “house-made ricotta salad”.  The sauce was great, though we didn’t notice the influence of the ricotta.  Overall, the dish was good, but not even the favorite of what we ordered.  We don’t think this will be any dying person’s last meal request.  The pizza on the other hand….

The Rest:

Now this is what we’re talking about.  This little number gives Delfina’s pizza (our first post) a good run for it’s money.  We ordered their salsiccia pizza which consists of tomato sauce, fennel sausage, spring onions, grana padano (type of cheese, we had to look this up), drizzled olive oil and chilies.  Being the spice lovers we are, we also asked for some chili oil to go with it.  As you can see it has a generous helping of sausage and the crust seems cooked to perfection and adds that delicious, slightly burnt taste.  For us however, what stood out was the sausage and spring onions.  The fennel was very flavorful and a little spicy, and they had roasted the spring onions to add a nice sweetness.  The crust was soft but not doughy and was the type you want to chew at the back of your mouth instead of trying to rip with the front of your teeth.  The middle of the pizza was a bit soggy, though that is hard to avoid.  Add a few drops of smoky chili oil and this thing will rock your world.

Another shining dish was the the Stone Fruit Salad. This little beauty comes with cherries, apricots, arugula, frisee, fried almonds, pecorino cheese and a little reduced balsamic vinegar. From the get-go we knew this was going to be tasty. The balance of this dish was great, with the salty and creaminess of the cheese, a little spice from the frisee, sweetness from the fruit and tang from the vinegar. However, what made this dish was the fried almonds as they added a great layer of nutty goodness that just made things pop.

We also got roasted wax beans that supposedly came with anchovy, lemon, and breadcrumbs. We say supposedly because while we saw breadcrumbs, and tasted a bit of lemon, that was all we could find (trust me, we searched for the other flavors). For dessert we also got a variety of homemade italian cookies and…….well, not so much either.

All in all we enjoyed our experience at A16, had a great anniversary and would recommend this restaurant to others searching for some good Italian.

Dig In

A & K

Pin It

#57 Lucca Delicatessen: Sandwich No. 1

  The Place.

Down in the busy heart of Chestnut Street, Lucca Delicatessen sits as a little portal to Italy.  As we walked in,  we immediately began salivating as we surveyed the hanging salame, coppa, the sliced meats, cheeses, breads, sauces and other ingredients, most of which are straight from the mother land.  The huge deli counter houses a variety of freshly prepared dishes, each looking  as good as the last.  The place seems to be always bustling, and the deli workers are quick and polite.  You take a number and countdown the minutes until you get to indulge in your fancy.  The only problem is trying to decide what to have.  Fortunately, the List picked for us.Continue Reading

Pin It

#78 Bob’s Donut and Pastry Shop: Apple Fritter


 

The Place.

Now we live a block away from this place, and when we first moved here we passed it a few times and didn’t think much.  The sign is unassuming, the shop is small, but it does have a good display window. Finally we tried some pastries and donuts and they were good.  Not write home about it good, but definitely our destination for donuts.  When we spotted it on the list, we were a bit surprised, thinking “really?”.  Then we started noticing a few times we’d walk by and there would be a line.  Once we saw one on a Sunday morning (expected) but then again at 1am friday night (huh?).  So we decided to knock it off our list, and man, it was goooood.Continue Reading

Pin It

#42 Turtle Tower: Pho Ga


 

The Place.

Nestled deep in the Tenderloin, we’ll admit, Turtle Tower doesn’t look like much.  An unassuming door leads to a small, narrow dining room with plain tables and a few condiments.  The servers are relaxed, but helpful, and since it’s a smaller place, you can always get someone’s attention if needed.  Having eaten at our share of Vietnamese joints, we know not to judge a book by its cover, and Turtle Tower definitely proves that it’s what goes on in the kitchen that matters.

The Dish

Doing a little research, we found out that Turtle Tower does Northern Vietnamese style soup, which is why it comes with just lemon and jalapeno, as well as the standard sauce arrangement (sriracha, fish sauce, chili paste, etc).  We tend to prefer having lime, sprouts and some thai basil, since it allows you to control the flavor a little to your own liking.

The Pho Ga is a chicken broth pho, and when it arrives it’s pretty standard looking, in a good sized bowl and steaming.  We don’t shy away from adding the extras, so in goes the lemon and jalapenos. Oh and make sure to also add Sriracha and fish sauce (not too much, it’s potent!) for a little extra kick and saltiness.  Do you ever remember being sick as a kid and feeling hungry, but nothing sounded appetizing?  Then mom warms up some Campbell’s chicken noodle and it’s the best thing in the world?  It’s like that, maybe even better.  The broth has this full, warm chicken flavor.  You can feel it warm you from your mouth to your toes.  What stands out is the meatiness of the broth, which comes out from days of roasting bones.  It’s not overly salty, the cilantro provides a nice balance, and there is plenty of chicken meat to go around.  The noodles are fresh made each day (though bought elsewhere), and are a great vehicle for the  flavor.  It’s one of those dishes you slurp in silence, savoring each bite, and when you’re done, the satisfaction just stands out on your face.

The second time we went, both of us almost ordered our own bowls of Pho Ga, (I don’t know about Alex, but I dreamt about it almost every night and didn’t want to share my future bowl). But, then it occurred to us that if they can do the chicken pho so well, they must do other pho’s well, so we asked our waiter what we needed to try. He recommended the Pho Bo Xao, and boy oh boy, am I glad we decided to branch out. This pho has nearly raw veggies which add a nice crunch to the dish. Also what set this Pho apart from others, is that they dry-fry the veggies and noodles, adding a smoky and oh so savory element. Delish.

Don’t let the surroundings discourage your entry to the restaurant.  If you’re cold, sick, hungover, or just plain hungry, this is a great place to go. The food is well worth the slightly anxious walk, and questionable appearance.

CASH only.

Dig In

A & K

Pin It

#17 Delfina Pizzeria: Margherita Pizza (w/ Tuna Conserva)

 

The Place.

Before we moved to SF, pizza was food you got at 2am after the bars closed, when cooking sounded like too much work, or used to soak up beer while watching the football game. It always seemed to be the same; greasy, cheesy, and doughy (and usually pepperoni). Now we’re not knocking that type of pie, because it still holds a place in our hearts (mostly my arteries), but SF has introduced us to the wonders of artisanal pie making. Wood burning ovens, delightful topping combinations, fresh bubbling cheese, and slightly burnt but perfect crusts. Arguably one of the best in San Francisco is this week’s 100 review: Delfina Pizzeria and their Pizza Margherita.Continue Reading

Pin It