Archive for the 'Restaurant Review' Category

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Swan Oyster Depot – San Francisco

Swan Oyster Depot - Nob Hill - San Francisco

Swan Oyster Depot has been on my list of San Francisco must-eats for quite some time, but I always passed it over in favor of trendier spots. It’ll always be there, I rationalized—after all, it’s been around since 1912.

On my latest visit to the city, I craved fresh seafood and the kind of old fashion charm that can only be found at a century-old dining institution. So, off to the Depot The Astronomer and I finally went.

Swan Oyster Depot - Nob Hill - San Francisco

We were greeted with a line snaking out the door upon arriving at the restaurant on a Monday afternoon. After a 40-minute wait spent snacking on a few choice doughnuts from Bob’s down the street, we settled into two stools along the 18-seat counter.

Swan Oyster Depot - Nob Hill - San Francisco

Owned by the Sancimino Family, Swan Oyster Depot serves up wonderfully fresh, barely fussed seafood. The quality of the catch really shines when the preparations are this minimal.

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San Francisco Sweets: Morning Buns, Russian Honey Cakes, Egg Tarts, Doughnuts and more!

Bi-Rite Creamery - Mission - San Francisco

The Astronomer and I traveled to San Francisco back in October for the super-sweet nuptials of two friends (with a side of super-sweet treats).

We don’t always have time for serious gastronomic endeavors when we head north, especially with so many friends and family to see, but we somehow manage to fit in desserts. Lots of desserts. Priorities, priorities.

Tartine Bakery & Cafe - San Francisco

After years of pining for Tartine‘s famed morning bun, I finally got my paws on one. Dusted with cinnamon and sugar, imbued with candied orange, and most importantly, perfectly flaky and buttery, the bun was as lovely as hoped.

Tartine Bakery & Cafe - San Francisco

We also indulged in a slice of cake (before noon!) along with our morning bun because that’s what vacations are for. Our choice pick featured lime-moistened genoise cake with passion fruit Bavarian cream, topped with sweetened cream and coconut. Mmm…cake for breakfast—that’s how we do.

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Ice Cream Lab – Pasadena

Ice Cream Lab - Pasadena

I scream. You scream. We all scream for liquid nitrogen ice cream!

Ice Cream Lab, which first introduced its made-to-order liquid nitrogen ice cream in Beverly Hills in 2013, recently opened a second outlet in my neck of the woods—Old Town Pasadena. The Astronomer and I swung by to check out the new kid on the block during its debut weekend. We cannot resist an intriguing food and science mashup!

Ice Cream Lab - Pasadena

The opening menu, which was more concise than expected, featured four “Classic” flavors (vanilla bean, chocolate, strawberry, and cookies and cream) and three “Signature” specialties. All are made with either a custard or yogurt base.

Ice Cream Lab - Pasadena

Once we settled on our flavors, the shop’s “techs” used machines that looked like suped-up Kitchen Aids and -320 degree liquid nitrogen to instantly freeze the raw ingredients into ice cream. Very cool. Literally.

Note: The Astronomer, a scientist and proponent of safety, was surprised that the techs were not required to wear safety goggles and protective gloves. He feared for their eyeballs and exposed extremities.

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Chain Reaction: Red Lobster’s Endless Shrimp® & Olive Garden’s Never Ending Pasta Bowl®

Red Lobster’s Endless Shrimp®

My weekday lunchtime habits have changed as of late. Working at a restaurant group with nearly 2,000 locations, I’ve been thinking about and eating at more chain restaurants than I ever did before. Fueled by a desire to scope out the competition and by genuine curiosity, I’ve been exploring places that I used to pay little mind to.

So while I usually dedicate this space to touting the merits of under-appreciated mom and pop shops, I thought it’d be fun to change things up a bit and shed some light on two permanent fixtures in the American dining landscape: Red Lobster and Olive Garden. Humor me, yes? Thank you.

Red Lobster’s Endless Shrimp®

First up, Red Lobster‘s Endless Shrimp®! For $17.99, I had my fill of six different shrimp preparations: Sriracha Grilled Shrimp, Parmesan Shrimp Scampi, Hand-Breaded Shrimp, Garlic Shrimp Scampi, Shrimp Linguini Alfredo, and Coconut Shrimp Bites.

Red Lobster’s Endless Shrimp®

The offer also included a salad (not pictured and not eaten) and unlimited Cheddar Bay Biscuits®. Whereas the former was anemic and sad, the latter were tasty lil’ carbohydrate bombs. We asked for seconds, thirds, and fourths. No joke.

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