Thursday, February 16, 2006

Pinole Creek Cafe

Well Valentines came around so we headed to downtown Pinole.
I score this restaurant 3 puppies
The wait was only twenty minutes yet the place was packed. They had a set menu of either crab cakes or shrimp as an appetizer, Steak, Salmon, or Rack of Lamb for dinner and a choice of Chocolate souffle, raspberry cheesecake, or sweetened pears.
I decided on shrimp and my husband got the crabcakes, we both ordered Salmon which came with mashed potatoes, asparagus, and a berry vinegrette sauce. For dessert he opted for the souffle while I went with the cheesecake.
They were very shorthanded but we were attended to quickly. The shrimp was scampi style and came with a spring mix salad with balsamic vinegar dressing. It was good though it only had two shrimp. The crabcake was moist, tender and definately home made. The Salmon was cooked perfectly and with the mix of the vegetables it left your mouth watering for more. The chocolate souffle was decadent with a gloss of vanilla bean ice cream flowing down the side. It was soft and fluffy. The cheesecake came with fresh raspberries and mint sprigs. It was based in a chocolate graham cracker shell. The kitchens and the bar were very clean even though it was hectic.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Waffle House, Pinole, CA

3 1/2 puppies
If you're into hometown breakfasts with lots of food this place is for you. I ordered a cinnamon apple waffle and some hashbrowns with country gravy. What can I say I'm a southern woman. My order came on two full sized plates. The waffle was covered with apple compote and fresh cinnamon surrounded by a cloud of whipped cream. Now I must note that the fruit (unlike some places) actually covers the entire waffle enabling you to savour the flavors in every bite. The hashbrowns (at least two potatoes worth) were crisp and piled high then smothered with a homemade creamy country gravy. My eating buddy had te special with two eggs, 4 sausage and a waffle. He also had two plates with his fresh squeezed OJ. Needless to say we ended up with another breakfast to take home.
The kitchen was clean though the building has had some construction done lately leaving patches on the ceiling. However, it's decorated in old time country kitsch with plastic floral garlands, old time farm pictures ad little stuffed knick knacks.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Pier Fish Market, Pier 39 San Francisco

4 hungry puppies
The Peir Market was one of the first restaurants opened at Peir 39. Today, it still serves as a place of rustic charm and old fashioned seafood faire. It's quaintly decorated with nautical items such as a pirate's stern wheel over the bar and small bronze, yardarms throughout the restaurant.
Personally, I have a great weakness for Pacific Red Snapper which is served lightly grilled with sprigs of fresh veggies and rice pilaf. Pier Market's charm also includes complimentary San Francisco sourdough bread for waiting patrons to stave off thei hunger. The bread has a deep salty aroma that you just can't buy on shelves. The Clam Chowder is exquisite, rivalled only by Cape Cod, filled with huge clams, celery, and potatoezs and layered in a leathery sauce that can be chewed through. So worth it. The Peir Market is also known for its Hurricanes (vodka, cranberry, pinapple mixture), presenting official ollector's glasses to any who can finish the bohemouth drink.
There is a pick up window for those strolling along the peir. I personally dislike the entire concept of wandering around with a tacky breadbowl sloshing around however the lines are always full of anticipitory tourists. The Pier Market offers both indoor and outdoor dining tables. The indoors contains a main restaurant, bar, and two banquet rooms that overlook the bay. The outside tables offer a barrage of obnoxious seagulls, creepy fowl if you ask me, and views of the Peir itself for plotting your shopping course.
The servers are polite and prompt and the indoor and pickup window grills are virtually spotless. The kitchens are very clean and open air (you can see inside). Bathrooms are clean but they're limited to long lines and little space.
Overall, the food is definately top notch and worth it and it would be a 5 puppy sweep if not for the seagulls and the tacky breadbowls.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Leatherby's Sacramento, Cal. Arden Way

4 puppies
Leatherby's is an old time kitschy diner with a jukebox and an ice cream counter. They serve sandwiches and simple fair. All good for a stop but they are known for their Homemade Ice Cream, churned fresh daily!
While there, in their considerably clean for having three parties of 25 each, I had a tuna salad sandwich with fresh country style potato salad. And I was Forced to have a Granny's special sundae. To my surprise it came topped with fresh strawberries, nuts, whipped cream, cherries, and six, count them, 6 scoops of homemade Pumpkin Ice cream. It tasted like cool, refreshing pumpkin pie from Mom's kitchen.
I also hovered over my newest in-law next door who got a roast beef sandwich, which was like mine, overfilled with meat and essentials (green crisp lettuce, tomato, sweet pickles, and condiments0 and chose the cole slaw option. (fries also available). However, we became friends when his Black and White arrived. The Black and White specialty comes with a scoop of vanilla, a scoop of chocolate (these are huge friendly neighbor type scoops), nuts, whipped cream, cherries and the piece de resistance- Hot Fudge.
This is a definate, eat a small meal and go for the ice cream place. It's worth it for a celebration or because you accomplished rising out of bed this morning treat. they do take reservations.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Mario's La Fiesta Berkeley, Cal. Telegraph Ave.

4 puppies hands down. A top puppy pick for value.
Authentic Mexican food made by Mario himself since 1959. Flautas (taquitos to the laymen) are the best, with beef, chicken, or cheese varieties. Mario's serves everything from traditional Burritoes and Tacos to Huevos Racheros and Chili Con Carne`. It's so hard to choose. I'm partial to their taco, tamale1 meal all chicken wioth spanish rice and refried beans and their special soup. The soup includes the freshest potatoes, rice, stock, also carrots, cilantro, and celery. The meat is tender and seasoned perfectly covered in the right amount of cheeses. They offer fresh guacamole`, three kinds of salsa (regular, hot and green). Also offers two kinds of Agua Fresca a day, Margaritas and a huge assortment of Mexican Beer. Not easy to get a table do to lack of space but worth the wait.

Butter San Francisco, Cal

2 1/2 puppies
Doesn't really have a kitchen but a well-stocked bar. Kitchy in appearance and fare. Butter speciallizes in microwave delights from childhood. TV Dinners, White Castle burgers, Tater Tots, etc. A fun place to go if Mom won't make you dinosaur chicken anymore. Drinks were great, not lacking in alcohol or taste. It was fun to go in and order Tator tots, and other nukable nostalgia foods. A great place to meet people in a relaxed fun atmosphere. Heard about this place on Food Network.

Hooters, various nationwide

2 1/2 puppies
Sorry, guys! They refuse to let me see their kitchens. The food is sub par butif you're going for the entertainment value I guess it's all right. Their famous wings are just tabasco sauce with an extra jiggle. The only palatable item I found was a chicken burger that was drowned in sauce. I had to send it back. As I said, if you're a guy or a lesbian ready to drink and go chick watching you probably won't notice the lack of taste in the food.
I did find the waitresses very friendly. Most of them are Moms or girls working their way through college and make good tips.

Embers Restaurant El SObrante, Cal

3 puppies
Open air kitchen, very clean, has a Denny's feel but the meat is better.
They smoke all of their meats and have fire baked pizzas. The meat is wonderful, like choosing your own farm animal. The steaks are cooked to perfection, not dry and overbasted like some places. The meat is tender and sweet. however, if you're a vegetarian their salads are less to be desired. With just lettuce, onions, beets and 3 bean combo- boring.

FatApple's Berkeley, Cal. El Cerrito, Cal

4 puppies
Open air kitchen you can look into very clean, popular with the environmental crowd like me.
I like to start with their incredible spinach salad. It comes with egg, fresh spinach, bacon if preferred, red onions, tomatoes, and feta cheese. Then I follow up with a wonderful cheeseburger, pick your cheese: swiss, american, jack, or my favorite chedder. Add some crispy fries thick cut and a seasonal iced tea. Then have a piece of the best Ollalieberry Pie in the known world. They make all their pies fresh from Cal fresh fruits: Apple, Cherry, Blueberry, Strawberry Ruhbarb, Pumpkin, etc plus morning danishes and Peet's Coffee.
The environment is down home, small restaurant tables. Their bathrooms are always clean like their kitchen.
For you history buffs this was originally Fat Albert's because that was the owner's name until it was passed on to his wife. She renamed it Fat Apple's.

El Chalan El Sobrante Cal

3 1/2 puppies even though we arrived late and they were running out of stuff.
This little hole in the wall restaurant provides South American Food Primarily Peruvian. We sampled Chicha Morada- a purple corn punch which was very sweet and not unlike common variety fruit punch. You could not taste the corn though the meal is the basis for it. To eat we had Anticuchos de Corazon- beef hearts marinated in aji panca and served with grilled potatoes, corn, and a zippy salsa. Also, Pollo Salbado- sweet, tender chicken meat, a hearty habinero salsa (hot), with potatoes and cheese mixed with creamy eggs. For an appetizer crab Raviolio- fresh stuffed pasta with real crab, no imitation. Last but not least Picarones- Peruvian Donuts- made with banana squash and potatoes.
They happily let me see their kitchen which was in excellent condition,very clean.


Hi, my name's Jilliann and I love to eat. I've decided to share my favorite restaurants (some old and some bizarre) from my travels and my munching around the neighborhood. I was a prep cook, line cook, and a caterer for many years and am picky about where I go, even to the point of checking out the kitchens. I hope you enjoy my experiences and list a few of your own favorites. Please list the town, State and or Country is need be so others can find the places too.

I use what I call a puppy rating system, with 5 puppies the highest. My small dog usually gets to sample anything healthy and nutricious I bt=ring home, usually meats and I know it's terrible if even she won't eat it.