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SOMA StrEat Food Park, San Francisco – Beat the (Sunday) Blues! with The Yes Address

Can you believe it’s already March? And how’s that New Year’s resolution going for you? After our extended break from blogging, we’re refreshed and committed to our resolution of continuing to find spectacular restaurants and amazing events to bring to life so that you may vicariously enjoy them. A common resolution is to be bold and try new things, so while you, dear reader, are trying new things by proxy through our blog, Eventbrite is helping share new experiences with people throughout San Francisco. The Yes Address by Eventbrite is a series of 15 events spanning 10 days from February 28 to March 8, with a variety of options like workout classes, a skeeball tournament, and of course, plenty of dining. The Yes Address collaborated with SOMA StrEat Food Park for a memorable March 1 evening called “Beat the (Sunday) Blues!” featuring breakfast for dinner as one of the ultimate comfort foods to “chase away the #SundayScaries”. Normally the collection of food trucks is closed for dinner on Sundays, but when we found out that this was going on, we got on our way across the Bay Bridge – with about eleventy bazillion other cars and an extra 45 minutes of traffic. So although we didn’t get there quickly enough to enjoy games and 80’s movies as advertised, we still had a great time sampling some inventive dinnfast.

Ultra Crepes is a family-operated business based on Sebastapol with a storefront, not just a food truck (lucky local Sebastapolians!). Serving an assortment of sweet and savory crepes, we could not not try one of each. The Monte Cristo sandwich is a hot contender for August’s favorite breakfast sandwich, and Ultra Crepes’ version further helps to secure its seat. With ham, Swiss cheese, raspberry jam, and powdered sugar, it was everything a traditional Monte Cristo would be, but with an edge on texture because, while August likes French toast, she likes crepes more. The naturally tangy sweetness of the raspberries contrasted well against the smoky cheese and salty ham, so even with the jam and sprinkling of powdered sugar, this was definitely on the savory side in comparison to our second crepe, the Palachinka. Palachinka is the Eastern European version of a crepe, and this one was treated to taste like s’mores. Just the right amount of Nutella to keep it from being overly gooey, crumbled Plazma Biscuits (Serbian graham cracker-like cookies), marshmallows, and whipped cream combined to make this our favorite Nutella-filled crepe we have tried so far. Had it had any more fillings or toppings, it would have been simply too rich but as it was, it was just right.

Before getting too deep into dessert-type breakfast items, we needed something else savory and substantial so we walked not far at all to temporarily neighboring Savourie Streets. To keep with the theme of the evening, they added a fried egg to their “famous BLT” with pork belly on lightly toasted sourdough. The bread would have been cutting our gums had it not been for the thick, juicy tomato slice. The fresh produce was a nice backdrop for the perfectly cooked egg and hearty amount of pork belly. To be frank, we were a little nervous to order this because we have had some unfavorable experiences recently with gelatinous, undercooked pork belly, but Savourie Streets restored our faith. We found no fat strips, only tastiness.

It’s not like we arrived in the last minutes of the event, but about half of the trucks were already closed half way through the evening so our options for savory breakfast items were slim. Sweet ones were plentiful, on the other hand. In spite of the cool weather, we couldn’t pass up Frozen Kuhsterd, one of our all-time favorite frozen dessert trucks. This evening, they brought a treat crafted by their landlord specially for this event: liège waffle bites made with sugar cane. Sugar cane is the secret ingredient that provides an extra bit of crispiness for this type of waffle, making it seem as if there are tiny caramelized nuggets of sugar within the waffle. Drizzled with thick burnt caramel and a touch of whipped cream, we were left to choose one scoop of smooth and creamy frozen custard among four flavor options. We stood by the breakfast theme and went with the maple butter, and it was encouraging that that was truck manager Frank’s recommendation as well. We really enjoyed our choice, down to the last drop of melted frozen custard in the bottom of the cup.

Johnny Doughnuts was our last stop, and good thing for it because they loaded us up with an assorted dozen. Whether for being towards the end of the night or that we got along well with the crew, we have to show our appreciation for the half-off deal we were offered because we got to sample plenty of deliciousness. We didn’t think a dozen doughnuts would make a box so heavy (Zach almost tipped the box when picking it up), but since we were ogling them for more than a few minutes observing shape, size, and glaze, the heft of the box shouldn’t have been a surprise.

We had two old fashioned doughnuts, one vanilla and the other chocolate salted caramel. They had an excellent cake-like texture with that little bit of exterior crunch expected in an old fashioned. The vanilla would pair perfectly with a coffee for breakfast, and the chocolate salted caramel was decadently different and delicious. Another four of our assortment were raised doughnuts made with fresh mashed russet potatoes, to make them tender, moist, and more hearty and filling compared to the standard from typical doughnut shops. The classic glazed raised is great for the no-frills doughnut eater, but when glazes and fillings are made with real fruit and chocolate and the flavors are natural and true to their names, they’re hard for even the minimalist to pass up. The chocolate-on-chocolate frosted and sprinkled “sprinkly guy” was deep and rich, and the two fruity raised doughnuts were a strawberry with chocolate drizzle and lime poppy seed, each delightful and refreshing in its own way.

 

The Bismark doughnuts, also known as Berliners, are hole-less and filled like the traditional Berliner Pfannkuchen of the north of Germany. We sampled four: lime marscapone, strawberry apple, chocolate vanilla creme, and wild berry. What we loved most about the Bismarks is that it was clear the fillings were scratch-made and not spooned out of giant plastic tubs. Fresh fruit, quality marscapone cheese, and real chocolate made the centers sing. Not the shape we typically think of when it comes to doughnuts but a doughnut nonetheless (and tasty yet), we got a cinnamon twist with great texture. And to round out our dozen, we tried the wheat-free “That Fritter Thang!” with blueberries. Its texture was almost like that of an old fashioned with some crunch to the outside, just with more of an all-around chew to it.

schwag

schwag, thank you eventbrite and the yes address!

Being that this event was unique and supported by the partnership of SOMA StrEat and The Yes Address by Eventbrite, the latter was on site to promote the awesome activities lined up through March 8 as part of spreading awareness about the features of Eventbrite. To spark conversation, Eventbrite set up a mobile unit with amiable spokespeople facilitating a prize wheel. Zach won a flask and August was bestowed an outdoorsy blanket with fleece on one side and tent material on the other. Had it not been for the prize wheel we wouldn’t have learned about how Eventbrite can be used to find new, unusual, and sometimes one-time events in our extended backyard of the Bay Area. Thank you, Eventbrite, for the schwag and the super fun and yummy evening at SOMA StrEat!

 

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The Lunch Box, Oakland CA

Anyone can make a sandwich, but not everyone can cook their own meats.  The Lunch Box is a wondrous find because the quality of the meat is impressive, and the freshness of the produce, breads, and, well, everything, matches.  It is like most deli/sandwich shops in its layout: order at a counter, and either sit at a tinier counter or take your food to go.  But what keeps a steady flow of customers in the small establishment is the consistency in uber-friendly customer service, speed, and the finest ingredients made and used by expert hands.

wrapped to-go, no matter what

wrapped to go, no matter what

To minimize water and energy waste, foods are packaged in biodegradable or recyclable materials.  Whether you choose to stay or go with your food, it will remain piping fresh until you open it, be it sandwich, soup, salad, wrap, or hot plate.

The gumbo soup had a base of a rich and mildly spicy chicken broth, slightly thickened from the okra (the origin of the name of the dish; gumbo is derived from the Bantu word for okra).  The chicken was tender and juicy, and the plentiful vegetables were still somewhat crisp and not at all overcooked or mushy.  Green pepper is one of our least favorite ingredients, but its use in this soup didn’t phase us in the least and we both enjoyed it thoroughly.

baked ham and swiss

baked ham and swiss

On one of the softest french rolls we’ve tried with a thin crispy, crunchy exterior and soft, chewy inside, came the fork-tender baked ham sandwich.  We got it with all the fixings: choice of cheese, mayonnaise, zippy brown mustard, lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, and choice of homemade tapenade.  Zach always loves a good ham and Swiss, so that was the choice of cheese.  The tapenades included olive & garlic, sweet pepper, and jalapeño carrot.  It was tough choosing among those, but he went with olive & garlic.  He was a little apprehensive that it would overpower the delicate, smoky, delicious oven-baked ham, but the balance was perfect.

classic rueben

classic rueben

Mexican sodas are making their way into the most unexpected places.  This is due in part to increasing awareness of the issues of hyper-processed ingredients, therefore natural sugar sodas instead of American versions with high-fructose corn syrup are being sought out and embraced.  The Mexican Pepsi, not yet as popular as Mexican Coca Cola, was refreshing with the classic Rueben on soft marbled rye with Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, creamy and tangy thousand island, and the shop’s own corned beef.  The meat was extremely tender, so much that we could bite right through without having to tear away.

roasted turkey hot plate

roasted turkey hot plate

And there’s the Mexican Coca Cola, sabroso and great for washing down this giant hot plate.  For about $8, you get thick, moist, abundant roasted turkey, smothered in savory gravy, on a bed of creamy homestyle mashed potatoes with the skins mixed in, plus a hefty house or caesar salad and a hunk of bread.  Add a side of cranberry sauce, and it’s almost Thanksgiving (yes, you can get a side of cranberry sauce if you ask).  With the house salad we chose ranch dressing, which is house made.  It is very creamy as it is made with buttermilk and sour cream.  The herbs come through as a pleasant aftertaste, with dill being the star of the salad show.

There is a paid parking lot right around the corner that’s “never full,” and while the lots’ and meters’ fees might be a tad bit steep, the surprisingly low costs at The Lunch Box help mediate what you pay for your vehicle.  It’s worth it, though, to drive in for lunch, but if you’re already in the area, you have no excuse not to eat here.

Waterbar, San Francisco CA

What a fine experience!  The view, the service, and of course the food, were all well above par at Waterbar.  From the moment we walked in, we were impressed by it all.  We were here for lunch, so of course we want to come back sooner than later for dinner to enjoy the view of the lights on the Bay Bridge and the giant saltwater aquariums inside the restaurant.

petite iced shellfish platter

petite iced shellfish platter

To split among August, Zach, and August’s dad, we started with this platter.  Half of a dungeness crab from Sausalito, oysters and clams from Washington, and big, meaty prawns were served with a classic cocktail sauce and a blood orange vinaigrette.  The crab was juicy and slightly sweet, flavored from the boil.  The oysters were mildly sweet, briny, and buttery, and the clams were also pleasantly briny.  The prawns were cooked perfectly, and the cocktail sauce with tangy horseradish was ideal for dipping them.  The vinaigrette was delicate and flavorful, great for the oysters and clams.  We heartily enjoyed all aspects and Zach, who typically doesn’t favor raw clams, surprised himself at liking these here.

brioche crusted ranch egg

brioche crusted ranch egg

This cara cara orange salad of jumbo Zuckerman asparagus, mâche micro greens, and speck ham was a delightful backdrop for the crusted egg.  The asparagus was very crisp and mild in flavor, while the salty speck ham had a very light smoky flavor.  The egg itself had a crispy crust, and the broken yolk made for a creamy sauce.  The salad provided a wonderful balance of sweet, tangy, and acidic.

french fries

french fries

These fries were special with Maldon sea salt, but it was the ketchup that blew Zach away.  He “hates” ketchup because often the store bought brands are over-processed and sit on the shelves too long, but by adding Maldon salt to the fries as well as the house-made ketchup, this was tangy and sweet.  Sea salt does wonders.

hedgehog mushroom frittata

hedgehog mushroom frittata

August’s dad ordered the frittata of hedgehog mushrooms, cippolini onions, Madeira wine, and petite herbs with house-made crème fraîche on top.  Zach and August tried bites, and we all thought it was excellent.  The egg was exceptionally velvety in texture and moist, and the crème fraîche added a good zing of flavor.

crisp fish and chips

crisp fish and chips

Zach’s entree was fish and chips, and we were surprised that it came with literal American chips, not British chips aka french fries.  The Alaskan cod was “very, very fork tender” and had a light and crispy Anchor Steam beer batter.  The chips were crispy, salty, fresh, and flavorful with Old Bay seasoning.  The hot sauce aioli was like icing on the cake – not too spicy but enough heat to liven up your taste buds, and a welcome change from standard tartar sauce.  Without the typical mayonnaise base, the coleslaw on the side was refreshing.

grilled lamb porterhouse

grilled lamb porterhouse

Schmitz Ranch Californian lamb was medium rare, tender, and rich.  August loved the texture and the taste, as it was cooked just right and seasoned very well.  It laid on a bed of sauteed beet greens, supported by potato galette, and was drizzled with intriguing harissa sauce, something she had not tried before.  A Tunisian hot sauce with multiple chilies and spices, there are many varieties differentiated by region and even household, but the commonality is deep, flavorful heat.

bittersweet chocolate budino

bittersweet chocolate budino

Yes, tomorrow is the long-anticipated Chocolate Salon, but we got a head start today with the selection of desserts.  This budino was fluffy, rich, and smooth, with the tiniest bit of light crust texture due to the baking process.  It was placed with rich caramel, malted milk chocolate ice cream, graham cracker cocoa sugary bits, and mini coffee meringues.  The caramel was creamy and had the added essence of vanilla bean.  August’s father said he was particularly impressed by the ice cream, since malted milk chocolate is not a flavor you find much anymore.  We loved the light, airy pillows of meringue that melted like cotton candy once in the mouth.

chocolate bites

chocolate bites

Buttery graham cracker base added texture to these very rich, very smooth caramel chocolates with sea salt.  More like ganache, the consistency was creamy, not chewy like a caramel.

house-made sorbet

house-made sorbet

The final dessert was the house-made sorbet.  Today’s flavor was bergamot orange zest which, when paired with the tart blackberry coulis, tasted like a mild earthy tea with floral accents.  Resting inside the brown sugar tuile sat a fresh blood orange supreme.  For the people who are more calorie-conscious, this is a sinfully rich and satisfying dessert.

The hosts and managers were all very pleasant and accommodating, so hats off to the whole team.  Tahra was an amazing server – knowledgeable, attentive, conversational, and someone we would be happy to have as a personal friend.  She was wearing a necklace that August liked, and when asked about it, she revealed that she made it herself!  As we said earlier, the view, service, and of course the food, were all extremely impressive.  We can’t wait to come back.