Archive for the ‘Restaurant Reviews’ Category

Good Restaurants in San Francisco and Carmel Ca Restaurants

Friday, September 9th, 2011

Over the Labor Day holiday we ventured up to San Francisco and Carmel, CA for some R&R.  Here are a couple of good restaurants in San Francisco as well as a couple of Carmel Ca restaurants that we ate at and would recommend.

One of the good restaurants in San Francisco we ate at was Green’s located in the marina district.  Green’s is a vegetarian restaurant but for those carnivores don’t worry, there is plenty to choose from and you won’t miss the meat! Plus, the restaurant offers a great waterfront view.

We ate delicious fresh spring rolls and grilled Blossom Bluff peaches for our appetizer.  For our main course, we had a delicious Mission fig, caramelized onion and goat cheese pizza. Our dessert was a vegan berry fruit tart with almond sorbet.

We ate dinner at a downtown restaurant in San Francisco called Prospect which I would list as another one of the good restaurants in San Francisco. I started out with the Mission fig salad and then for dinner, ordered the Dayboat scallops.  Victor ate the Petaluma organic chicken.  Our friends we were with also enjoyed the ribeye steak and the duck.  For dessert, we ordered the Mississippi mud cake.  Not a morsel was left!

On Sunday, we headed down the coast to Carmel and checked out some of the Carmel Ca restaurants.  For lunch, we ate at Dametra Cafe which not only served delicious food but also had live entertainment. We started out with the baba ganoug and then I ate the steamed mussels and clams, and Victor enjoyed their delicious moussaka.

Dinner that evening was at Pacific’s Edge which offered dramatic views of the California coast.  Again, I couldn’t resist ordering the fig salad (after all they are in season) and went light on dinner with the tuna tartare.  Victor ordered a delicious steak.  Dessert was this incredible peanut butter and chocolate pastry with caramel.

The following day we ate at our hotel.  The food where we stayed at was quite delicious.  California Market offered beautiful views with their al fresco dining, a plus for Carmel Ca restaurants.

Other cute Carmel Ca restaurants is the Tuck Box.  They are only opened for breakfast and lunch and have been on the map in Carmel for over 60 years.

Of course what would be dining along the California coast without delicious wines.  One in particular I remember is the Dashe Zinfandel which we ordered at Prospect.  Since there were 6 of us, we ended up ordering 3 bottles, don’t know how we drank it all!

Of course, when we weren’t eating we were sleeping.  A perfect holiday weekend getaway.  Until next time, remember the Budget Bash mantra: make it simple, stylish, fun and economical for all!

An Engagement Dinner at Il Tiramisu

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

Recently, my brothers and their wives threw a surprise engagement dinner at Il Tiramisu restaurant in Sherman Oaks, California, and I thought I would share with you some engagement party ideas that they implemented at our dinner.  Plus I would love to tell you about our dinner party menu and how it fit within the theme for the party.

The first thing to think about when planning an engagement dinner is your budget and guest list.  This budget and guest list were easy for us since it was a surprise but some things to think about at a restaurant party such as Il Tiramisu are the cost of the dinner, tax, tip and guest count.  Depending upon the guest count is where the restaurant will seat you.  Do they have a private dining room or are you seated in the main restaurant or a portion of the restaurant?  In our case, we were seated on one side of the restaurant at one long table.

Some engagement party ideas to consider are the seating arrangements and whether or not to bring in your own wine.  Our hosts used heart shaped cookies as place cards which added to the table decor as well as small dishes of candy that were placed down the center of the table.  Bringing in the wines was a great idea since it saved money and also provided a variety of choices.  Since the guests were mostly wine collectors it also provided a great conversation starter since no one knew one another prior to the engagement dinner.

Other engagement party ideas to think about are the invitations and the party theme.  Since we are honeymooning in Italy, the theme of the evening was Italy.  Not only the restaurant choice but also the Italian wines selected for the table and the invitations for the event were all centered around Italy.

Our dinner party menu at Il Tiramisu was a four-course engagement dinner.  We started with a pasta, Crespelle di Zucca, a crepe filled pasta with butternut squash and ricotta cheese in a light cream sauce then the house salad.  Our third-course was a choice of Salmon Cipriani, Veal Scallopini Marsala or Chicken Picata.  And of course, Tiramisu for dessert.  The food was great as well as the service and every course was well-paced giving us plenty of time to converse and enjoy our meal.

When thinking about your dinner party menu, remember to select a variety of dishes to please every palette as well as to make sure dietary restrictions and allergies can be accommodated.  What I liked about Il Tiramisu is that when they started to take our dinner orders they asked each guest about diet or allergies and were to able to accommodate each guest’s dietary needs.

I can’t believe my wedding is less than three weeks away! We had such fun at our engagement dinner at Il Tiramisu and I hope you picked up some engagement party ideas from this article.  To learn more about planning parties, whether big or small and to pick up a dinner party menu or two check out Budget Bash.  Until next time, remember the Budget Bash mantra:  make it simple, stylish, fun and economical to all!

Mammoth Mountain Skiing

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

Ok, so you expected a food or party idea blog this week?  Sorry, have to describe this incredible trip I took with my cousin Helaine to Mammoth Mountain for a girls snow skiing trip.  We did enjoy some great meals but first let me describe to you what it is like skiing in 48 feet of snow.  I guess you can see by the picture above it wasn’t easy skiing Mammoth Mountain.  Yes, we got stuck on the mountain and called ski patrol (first time in over 35 years of skiing) to come rescue us. First it was my cousin Helaine who fell and lost her ski and then with ski patrol following me down I lost two!

Other fun adventures we had were sipping our martinis after snow skiing, hitting the hot tub with our new friends from Chicago and of course shopping.  Learned how NOT to take of snow chains, luckily a Cal Trans worker from Mammoth Mountain saw us stranded and helped us for an hour to untangle the chains.  Below is a picture of the chains prior to taking them off.

Now for the martinis.  We had two very good meals, one at Nevado’s and the second dinner at Petra’s Bistro.  Yes, there is more to skiing Mammoth Mountain then just the snow.  At Petra’s, we started off the evening with infused martinis.  Of course, I wasn’t going to drink but my cousin made me do it.  I had the cucumber martini and Helaine drank the raspberry lemon martini.  Both were delicious but with the high altitude of Mammoth Mountain and the possibility of snow skiing in the morning we both just drank one.

Since we are cousins and related by blood, we of course ordered the same dinner at Petra’s.  We both had the delicious scallops served on saffron risotto with shoestring sweet potatoes and roasted tomatoes.  As our side, we ordered the asparagus with fried onions as a garnish.  The service was pleasant and we stayed warm inside while we watched the snow dump onto Mammoth Mountain.  After dinner is when my cousin’s East coast expertise came into play, she scrapped off all the snow that dumped onto the car while I sat inside the car ensuring the engine was warming up!

Oh, and yes we did have that beautiful sunny day skiing Mammoth Mountain.  Our first day on Mammoth Mountain was beautiful, albeit a bit windy, but then again when is it not windy when snow skiing at Mammoth?

Still expecting a Budget Bash tip or helpful party hint from this blog? Hmmm, I guess the one helpful tip I can give you today is that even though you may be in the mountains and far from any supplies for table decor, candles are always the next best thing to use to add a finishing touch to your dinner table.  At all the restaurants we ate in, candles (actually the LED votives) were the decor du jour.  They are great since they last a while and are safe to use.  Plus they add that extra flicker to the table.

I hope you can make it up to Mammoth Mountain at some point for either winter sports like snow skiing or  even in the summer, for mountain biking, hiking and fishing.  Skiing Mammoth Mountain with 48 feet of snow isn’t easy but it is quite the workout and helps justify those delicious dinners!  Until next time, remember the Budget Bash mantra:  make it simple, stylish, fun and economical to all!

Desserts at Two New York City Restaurants

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

Last weekend we were in New York City and dined at two New City restaurants, Gramercy Tavern and Union Square Cafe.  The desserts were outstanding at both restaurants and I thought I would quickly share them with you.

The one thing I like about New York City restaurants is their creativity with food.  Mixing flavors and textures and thinking outside the box in terms of different food items.  There were four of us at Gramercy Tavern so of course we had to have four different desserts.  In addition, after dessert and coffee they brought out a plate of petit fours.

I ate the Chocolate Almond Tart with Coffee Ice Cream and Toffee Mousse.  Loved the textures and the rich flavors.  The presentation was beautiful as well.  Gramercy Tavern is known for their desserts and this one did not disappoint me at all.

Other desserts that were enjoyed at the table of one of the most famous New York City restaurants were the trio of ice creams and sorbets and pictured below, the Peanut Butter Semifreddo with a Chocolate Macaroon.

The fourth dessert served was the Plum Cheesecake with the Butter Pecan Cookie. 

The petit fours were outstanding at Gramercy Tavern.  There were mini-chocolate tarts and vanilla macaroons as well as these delicious mouth-watering chocolate nut truffles.  Of course, I was completely full but I just couldn’t leave them on the plate to go to waste.  Too bad I am trying to diet or I would have asked for a doggie bag.

On Sunday night we dined at Union Square Cafe for dinner which is another one of the many New York City restaurants that has been around for years.  Again the desserts were fabulous and each one of us had something different.  I ordered the USC’s Banana Tart, Macadamia Brittle and Honey-Vanilla Ice Cream.

and my fiancee ordered the Roasted Peach Shortcake with Mascarpone Mousse.

Our guest Todd ordered the Flourless Lemon Cake with Greenmarket Berries and Maoscato d’Asti Zabaglione.  It was so delicious that he had to ask the waiter to ensure it was flourless!

Of course, none of us left anything on our plates either night.  What I enjoyed about the desserts from these two New York City restaurants were that they were creations of art in terms of presentation, style and texture.  In fact, they could have been meals themselves.

I hope you enjoyed the dessert pictures  and hopefully, if you are in New York, will consider stopping by either restaurant for if at least anything, dessert and coffee.  Until next time, remember the Budget Bash mantra:  make it simple, delicious, stylish, fun & economical to all!

Sustainable Food and Chez Panisse Cafe

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

Over this past weekend, I experienced firsthand sustainable food at Chez Panisse Cafe located in Berkeley, California.   Alice Waters is the chef credited for creating the sustainable foods movement when she opened Chez Panisse close to 40 years ago.

Chez Panisse Cafe has been opened for 30 years and after sampling the delicious whole wheat sourdough bread served with the incredible olive oil (okay I will admit I ate nearly the entire loaf!) and then sharing a rocket salad and clams for lunch, it’s no wonder why the cafe was jammed packed.  Sustainable food philosophy is to source fine local ingredients that not only are organic but also seasonal.  I believe it is evident in the taste of the sustainable foods as well since there is more flavor to these food products than mass produced food.

Since we were celebrating a birthday at Chez Panisse Cafe, we were treated to a delicious serving of apricot ice cream, another fine example of the sustainable food we experienced.  I could have sworn I was biting into the fresh apricot itself – not just a spoonful of ice cream.  Us foodies and sustainable foods junkies are indebted to Alice Waters and her desire to serve the freshest tasting, best and locally produced ingredients for our own food enjoyment!

We also experienced a fantastic pizza with tuna on top.  Never would I have thought to add tuna to my pizza and I couldn’t believe how wonderful it was.  I ate 2 slices.  (It was a big bread weekend!)

On the way out of Chez Panisse Cafe I couldn’t help but walk by the desserts sitting upon the kitchen counter.  Again, the sustainable food philosophy was evident in the fresh fruit tarts and of course the chocolate brownies.  Being a lover of chocolate, I couldn’t resist purchasing a brownie to go.  It was a good thing that my fiancee bought the brownie because when I heard how much it was I nearly choked on it.  I just made sure that not a morsel of brownie was left.  We were going to eat every last penny of this most expensive dessert I have ever experienced!

Finally, even the wines were a good example of sustainable foods.  We ordered a bottle of wine and it was served out of a metal container, not a glass bottle.  Apparently many restaurants are now serving wines in this fashion to save on cork as well as glass.

All in all, I loved my foodie experience at Chez Panisse Cafe and can’t wait to go back.  Everything tasted so fresh – a testament to the sustainable food movement.  Until next time, remember the Budget Bash mantra: make it simple, delicious, stylish, fun and economical to all!