Thursday, August 30, 2012

La Chinita Poblana

Hubby and I had a quick lunch at the new Broad Ripple place La Chinita Poblana the other day—I have been noticing a lot of people talking about it online and wanted to give it a try. It is in the old Boogie Burger location (and I think there was another restaurant there for like 5 minutes in between).  They have opened up the space inside. It seems roomier, although there is nowhere to sit inside, you can only stand.  Currently, you can sit at the patio tables next door, but I am wondering how their lunch business will be after the weather gets cold (if it ever gets cold again).  The man at the counter (assuming he was the owner) was really nice and clearly enthusiastic about his food. I asked him which were his favorites and he told me that would be like choosing between his children.

The tacos were good though—really good on the whole (they’re all $3 each). We shared the crispy shrimp taco, the tilapia taco, the carnitas, and the beef tongue.  We also got an order of chips and salsa ($2.99). I love all the different flavors they are putting into the tacos—they aren’t just Mexican flavors—there is a lot of Asian influences as well.  At first when I read the menu, I was a little suspicious of the combos, but generally they are pulling it off.

The chips and salsa were really good—the chips are homemade and are nicely salty.  The problem with homemade chips is that they are often too greasy (see Pancho’s) but these were not.  Nice and crisp and the salsa was delicious.  Hubby said it was more of a “sauce” than a salsa and I think I agree.  It was pureed very smooth but had a ton of flavor and some different spices than a lot of salsas have. It had a very pleasant building heat—by the end you could feel it on your lips, but you weren’t in pain or anything.  The portion is a reasonable size for two people to share. Usually they give you way too much, but we ate all of these.

Our favorite taco of the four was the tilapia taco.  It was blacked fish with yellow curry and chipotle mayo, pickled cabbage slaw and herbs.  The cabbage was really nice and tangy, but you got a bit of depth and smokiness from the chipotle too.  I also like that they just use one tortilla on the tacos—sometimes the doubled up tortillas make the flavor too much of the tortilla and not enough of the insides.  I would get this one again for sure (hubby and I have decided we might each have to have our own of this flavor).

The next favorite was the carnitas.  Hubby and first disagreed about it because the pork had a lot of crunchy bits to it—he wasn’t so sure he liked it that way, but I really enjoyed it.  It wasn’t dried out—just fried a little crispy on the edges.  It was topped with avocado cream, onions and herbs.  We also had one of the fried shrimp tacos—the shrimp were done in a salt and pepper crust (it was a dry corn meal kind of crust) and then topped with a chipotle sweet and sour sauce and an herb mixture.  The shrimp themselves didn’t wow me here—they were a little dry—but I really liked the flavors of everything else.  You could taste that smoky and deeply spicy chipotle and then there was a really nice tangy kick.  I added a little more of the salsa from the chips to moisten the whole thing up a little more (hot sauce may work well here too) and it was better. 

My least favorite by far was the tongue.  The tongue itself was cooked well—it was very tender, but the taco on the whole was really bland.  It also had the avocado cream, onions and herbs, but there was just nothing that made this one stand out at all.  More salsa and hot sauce would probably help some, but with all the other delicious options, I would take a pass on this one.  In fact, we didn’t even finish it between the two of us.

Honestly though, I am really excited to go back—I want my own tilapia taco and I am kind of itching to try a couple of the other flavors—maybe the red curry marinated skirt steak or the crispy Japanese eggplant (please let me know if you have had them).  Also, a friend recently told me the peanut/noodle salad ($5.25) was really good as well.  Nothing like some tacos and noodles right?

La Chinita Poblana
927 East Westfield Blvd.
Indy  46220
La Chinita Poblana on Urbanspoon

Monday, August 27, 2012

Dig In 2012

I tweeted a lot about this year’s Dig In, so I am going to keep my post fairly brief and just talk about a few of my favorite dishes from this year (in no particular order) (and I didn’t get to try every single item, although I did try a lot of them).

Goose the Market’s “walking taco”

You can always count on something interesting from Chris Ely of Goose the Market and Smoking Goose and this year was no exception.  (You can also count on some of the longest lines there). You got a little paper bag full of tender goat meat and some crunchy cracklins on the bottom—the “tacos” had a bit of seasoning in the form of some chopped onions, but mainly you got to add toppings yourself.  There was tomatillo salsa, a creamy sauce, corn pico de gallo, cilantro, cabbage slaw (the things I remember off the top of my head).  I put a little bit of most of the things on and really enjoyed it.  And I am sure goat is certainly a meat that a lot of Indy people might not have had before.

Brad Gates Catering Bison Succotash
This dish included a decent portion of slow cooked bison shoulder with lots of great local (and crispy fresh) veggies—corn, cabbage, green beans and tomatoes.  I thought this was one of the dishes that had the most varied flavors and the meat was also super tender.  As it turned out, it was one that had quite a line later in the day as well.

Late Harvest Corn Salad

I loved Late Harvest’s corn, walnut, goat cheese, and housemade pancetta salad.  The pancetta was nice and salty and I really enjoyed that this dish also had a bit of acid to it—there was a lot of rich food to eat at Dig In, and this one stuck out to me because it was different and was a really nice combination of flavors.  I may have to try and recreate this one at home.

Chef JJ’s Sweet Cheeks

This was a dish that was somewhat similar to Brad Gates’ dish, but made with pork—and I loved the crunchy bits of falafel on top.  Few dishes could really give a good crunch under these circumstances and this one was really good.

Duos (Food Truck) Goat Cheese Quesadilla

This was probably my favorite vegetarian option and I really enjoyed that it was also something totally different from pretty much everything else. It was a potato, mustard green and goat cheese quesadilla.  You definitely need to like goat cheese to like this one, but I love goat cheese and thought it was really good.  I liked that there were veggies being used that weren’t the corn, tomato and green beans that were in a lot of dishes (and I love all of those things as well, don’t get me wrong).

I got to go as a VIP (I was given 2 tickets for my work as a gastronaut), which meant we got in the gates at 11:00 and didn’t have to wait in line for much of anything, which was really nice.  Overall, our impression was that the food has continued to improve over the course of the 3 years that Dig In has been around. My general observations about the food this year--tacos and chilled soups were the most popular dish and many people tried to come up with novel ways to serve the food that didn't require a spoon or fork, which was nice since you are walking and eating. (Which reminds me, the little tortilla filled with pork and seasoning from Indiana Downs was also really good--see pic below.)

The good news is they ended up selling out all the available tickets, which was a goal I know they wanted to achieve and it makes me happy that so many people were excited to eat local Indiana food. The downside, from what I saw and have been hearing, is that the lines got really long shortly after 12 and remained that way for most of the afternoon.  Apparently several chefs also ran out of food by 3:00 or so.  I am not sure what the solution is, but hopefully they will get it all worked out by next year (although there will always be lines I think).  I know I really enjoyed my day and nearly everything I ate.

So what were your favorites? And what was your experience like?

Dig In
A Taste of Indiana

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Loft at Traders Point Creamery--Revisit

We finally got around to taking the kids to Traders Point Creamery for lunch the other day—my in laws were in town and we thought it would be a nice place to go with everyone.  I haven’t been since my last post and honestly, couldn’t wait to try the grilled cheese again. I remembered it being so good.
Since there were so many of us, we also got a starter—it was the  “Bloomy Puff” ($14) which is one of Traderspoint’s cheeses wrapped in puff pastry and served with a bunch of fruit and veggies alongside—there were apple slices as well as zucchini, squash, and peppers.  There was also a bit of fruit preserves on the side.  The bloomy cheese is a fairly mellow cheese—it sort of has the texture of a goat cheese, although it is a cow’s cheese.  It is light and has just a little tangy kick—and when you wrap any cheese  in puff pastry, I am going to be a fan.  I did think the portion of cheese, particularly for the price, was a little small. I was expecting something a little bigger.

To continue with the cheese theme (it is a dairy after all), I got the same thing I ordered last time—the grilled cheese with avocado and bacon ($9) and upgraded my side dish to the mac and cheese ($4).  Sadly, I was disappointed with my sandwich.  The bread was much thicker and not really grilled much at all (I would call it very lightly toasted) and there was nowhere near enough cheese (just look at the one I had in my first post, they look really different).  The bacon and avocado were plentiful and tasty, but you really want to taste the cheese here.  Last time, the bread was really thin and grilled even flatter with a nice crispy exterior.  This sandwich made me a little sad, because I was so hyped up for it (and had recommended it to everyone at the table).  The side of mac and cheese was my saving grace—everyone really liked it and I ended up having to share mine with hubby and both my kids.  It was not over creamy, and had good flavor from the Fleur de la Terre cheese (which is a Gouda and also happens to be one of my favorite Traderspoint cheeses).  I will say, I thought it needed a little salt and pepper, which I added, and then it was perfect.  I picked up some of the cheese and am making my own variation of it at home tonight.

Hubby ordered the patty melt (we actually split half and half) ($12) and we both liked it much better than the grilled cheese. They raise their own cattle and the beef was great (and cooked to order properly).  There was Swiss cheese and grilled onions as well as a “special sauce.”  The meat was really super tender and juicy and there was more cheese here than there was on the grilled cheese.  The thicker bread worked on this sandwich because there was a lot of filling—you needed it with that big patty.  It was a good burger.

I like the atmosphere of the place—and the fact they have beer and wine.  The interior is like the inside of a nice barn—woodsy but with modern tables.  The service was good and very friendly. And my kids liked checking out the cows after lunch.  I just wish they hadn’t changed my grilled cheese, but at least now I know I will try something else next time.

The Loft
Traders Point Creamery
9101 Moore Road
Zionsville, IN 46077

Monday, August 20, 2012

Shanghai Lil--Revisit

Shanghai Lil had been a fairly regular place for us (particularly for carry out and dim sum), but for whatever reason, we hadn’t been in ages (last time I posted about it was 2009, holy moley).  One of the reasons we don’t go a lot is because my son is allergic to a whole host of nuts, which pretty much rules out Chinese food because of all the nuts used-- I fear that there is a lot of cross-contamination going on with woks, etc.  It is just too scary.  But the other night he was spending the night at a friend’s, so we took our daughter and went.

I noticed a change on this trip—there are no longer any of the Japanese offerings that they used to have. I always wondered about this, because we never ordered Japanese, and I never saw people eating it. That has got to be expensive to keep up the fresh fish angle (for sushi) if no one is ordering it.  We went with a couple of things we have had before and a couple of new things as well.

We started with the stuffed eggplant ($6) and the dumplings in chili oil ($6).  The eggplant was a new dish for us—kind of interesting. It is slices of eggplant stuffed with minced pork and tempura fried.  It had a garlic ginger sauce.  We liked it—a lot of stuff going on here, but the more we ate it, the more we enjoyed it. It was really hot and freshly fried, so it was nice and crunchy on the outside, even with the sauce drizzled on top.   It is probably really more of a pork dish than an eggplant dish though—there was a lot of pork stuffed in there.  I liked the sauce—it had a nice flavor and wasn’t too sweet.
The dumplings in chili oil are an old standby (one is already missing in the photo), and I am not sure why, but they just weren’t as good as I remembered.  Maybe they weren’t made as freshly as other times I have had them or something.  They just seemed a little bland and the insides (that contain pork, shrimp, and scallions) didn’t seem to have enough seasoning or something.  They have a “spicy sweet” chili oil that was fine, but wasn’t saving the dumplings.

For a main dish, hubby wanted to try the pepper-salt flounder ($18) to see if it was as good as some salt and pepper fish we had in Chicago awhile back.  This is a dish that doesn’t really have a sauce—the fish is just lightly fried and has a very distinct salt and pepper flavor in the crust.  There are chilies and scallions chopped and served with it.  It was very good.  The flounder was nice and tender and the seasoning on the crust while simple, was really good (salty and peppery, go figure).  I think we may have even liked it better than the Chicago version.  The crust was a little crispier, and it had more of a battered kind of feel than the cornmeal crust that we had before.  Not the healthiest choice, but darn good.

My daughter got the crispy shrimp rolls ($4.50) and chicken fried rice ($11).  I have had the shrimp rolls a lot before and they are pretty basic (a shrimp wrapped in a spring roll wrapper and fried).  There’s a little seasoning in their (chives I think) and they are nice and crunchy, but nothing amazing.  Their fried rice is pretty good—not a ton of veggies which my daughter likes. In fact she ate it for several days after for breakfast and was very content. 

I still think Shanghai Lil is one of the better Chinese places we have on the Northeast side.  It isn’t cheap, but the ingredients are fresh—I feel confident ordering seafood there, which I can’t always say about some Chinese places.  And they have dim sum for lunch---and now I am craving that again.  But remind me again, what are your favorite places for Chinese?

Shanghai Lil
8505 Keystone Crossing
Indy  46240

Shanghai Lil on Urbanspoon

Thursday, August 16, 2012

U.S. Adventures: Maui

Hubby is lucky enough that he gets a sabbatical from work every 5 years and this was the year.  We wanted to take advantage of him being off work for such an extended time and decided it would be a good time to try Hawaii with the kids.  I realize this may or may not be a place that everyone who reads my blog may be interested in, but I have to admit that while obviously the main point of this blog is to share my thoughts on restaurants in Indy, a nice secondary benefit for me has been that it has also turned into a type of meal/travel journal for me.  I do know that some of you travel to Hawaii though because several of you gave me recommendations. 

I am only going to talk about our top 3 places that we ate because we ate at a lot of places since we were there so long.  Unfortunately, as I have discovered in previous visits to other Hawaiian islands, the food is not the reason to go to Hawaii.  Overall, while you can get amazingly fresh fish, a lot of the food ends up only being okay, often because the fish is overcooked or under seasoned.  So the reason for going to Hawaii is the sheer beauty of the place—one of the most beautiful places I have ever been, especially Maui.  But here were our favorites:

Mama’s Fish House:  This is a place that I think everyone, and I mean, everyone, that has ever been to Maui recommended to us.  It has been around since 1973 and judging by the crowd is a well-known favorite.  The food was very good, but the prices for a lot of the entrees were pretty outrageous, even for Hawaii.  I started with the uku (a type of snapper) ceviche ($21) with Tahitian lime, kaffir lime leaf, cilantro and lychee.  It was really well done---lots of lime flavor but not so much that it was too tart.  There was a nice little bit of avocado served alongside which was a nice buttery balance to the citrus.  The fish was so tender and the housemade fried chips (taro and various colors of potatoes) were thin, crispy and salty.  Hubby was really jealous of this dish and still talks about it being one of his favorite individual items of the trip.  He had smoked marlin carpaccio with a sauce of lemon, olive oil and chili water ($12).  It was nice, soft, fresh, tender fish, but the smoke taste dominated all the other flavors for me. 

For my main dish, I had the mahimahi stuffed with lobster and crab and baked in a macadamia nut crust ($52).  You see this whole macadamia nut crust thing all over Hawaii because macadamias are local, but to be honest I had kind of avoided it because it seemed a little contrived to me, but this was very good.  It was a nice piece of fish stuffed with a mix of shellfish and topped with a perfect tender little lobster tail.  The crust was made of very finely ground macadamia nuts, making it like a breadcrumb crust with a little more of a nutty flavor.  Hubby had the opakapaka which is pink snapper, another local fave, more simply sautéed with garlic butter and white wine ($50). It was a preparation that accented the more delicate flaky fish nicely allowing the super fresh flavor of the fish to shine.  I appreciated the fact that the menu highlighted the name of the fisherman or woman that caught the fish and exactly where it was caught (assuming this adds to the price point) and the interior of this place is great.  It feels like what you expect to find in Hawaii—pretty much right on the beach, lots of wood inside and big open window. 

If you asked hubby, he would probably tell you that Mama’s was his favorite.  If you asked me, I would say my favorite meal of the trip was Amasia, which is a new restaurant that had just opened in one of the resorts where we stayed.

Amasia is the newest restaurant by Chef Alan Wong—and it is a tapas type concept but with influences from Asian countries as well as Hawaiian/Polynesian influences.  As is the case with a lot of tapas restaurants, the kitchen just sent things out as they finished.  Because there were several different kitchens (sushi, hot, cold, etc) it was random and the only downside was just about everything we ordered came at once which was a little too fast paced.  If I were ever in Maui again, I would most definitely go again, but I would only order one or two things at a time.

The first thing we got was the seafood wontons with a black lemongrass lemon chili veloute ($12).  Seriously, this is the item that I will not forget from this trip.  And may go onto my personal “best things I ever ate” list.  There were three wontons filled with shrimp and lobster held together by scallop mousse, wrapped in wontons and served in this amazing broth.  The seafood filling inside was somewhat compressed in the way pork wontons are, but it was still really tender. And there were bits of ginger that were still a little crunchy mixed in.  The broth was buttery and rich with a little heat, but also the spicy lemon flavor from the lemongrass.  The wontons were fresh and perfect.  After we were done with the wontons we were trying to figure out a way to soak up the rest of the sauce but we didn’t have any appropriate items.  Our server walked by and just said, “I’d recommend your spoon.”  Good call. That dish was amazing.

The next thing was the chef’s interpretation of shrimp tempura ($14).  This was interesting because it was a sort of mousse as well (shrimp) that was on a stick and then tempura battered and fried.  I appreciated it for the crunchy texture variation.  It was good, although not the highlight of the meal by any stretch.  We also got the beef tenderloin skewer from the robata grill section of the menu ($14).  This was very good as well—the beef was on a skewer along with shishito peppers (generally fairly mild peppers) and served with a mustard foie gras coulis on the side and a miso sauce on top.  The coulis served to dip the meat into was what made this dish.  The meat itself was done well—super tender and pink, but the sauce had both a touch of mustardy heat and tiny bits of rich, buttery foie gras.  What a cool way to incorporate it to make the fairly simply grilled meat feel completely decadent.  I have never had foie served in quite this way.

The chopped ahi sashimi with avocado, wontons and soy wasabi was next ($12).  Like I said, ahi is amazing in Hawaii, if usually a little under seasoned, but this one was great.  I would call it more of a tartare type of consistency—there was the chopped tuna on top of lots of seasoned chopped avocado and the crispy wontons were actually incorporated into the little stack instead of being served alongside.  It made it really easy to eat and get a little bit of all the flavors in each bite.  My only complaint was the amount of ahi was a little stingy I thought in comparison to the other ingredients.  But the wasabi and soy gave it nice flavor and the textures were pretty perfectly balanced.  Finally, we had the Kona Kampachi tiradito with passion fruit ceviche sauce and topped with peppers ($15).  This was good, but probably my least favorite of the evening.  The pieces of fish were rolled and sitting in the sauce—I love passion fruit, and rarely have I had really good passion fruit flavored things outside of Hawaii, but this one was just a little too mild—the fish pieces were so large, it was hard to really feel like you got the right amount of the sauce with it.  Again, it suffered the fate of being slightly under seasoned. My favorite part of the dish was the little “cornuts” that were served with it adding a little crunch. But after ordering this one, I really wished we had just ordered another bowl of those dumplings. 

Monkeypod:  This was our first venture outside of the resort on one of the first few days—and I think one of the reasons I liked it as much as I did was just because we got out and about.  They had amazing fries that we all shared as an appetizer (reminded me completely of Brugge fries).  They were hand cut and nicely browned.  For my main dish, I had an appetizer of ahi tacos ($17.95) (by the end of this trip, my mercury level was probably through the roof) which were little wontons fried and shaped into little taco shell shapes, filled with seasoned ahi (marinated with soy and ginger) and topped with cabbage and an avocado cream sauce.  They were really good—small for sure, but tasty.  Hubby had fish and chips ($19.95) (which were made with mahimahi on this day) and they were quite good as well.  Luckily he shared with me because mine was kind of small.  This place is supposed to be known for their house made cream pies, so we go the banana cream as well as a chocolate cream ($6.95 each).  They were good, but not amazing (I don’t know, maybe I am never really amazed with cream pies?).  All in all it was a nice, family friendly place with good food.

We had a great trip, and some amazing food (and a lot of just okay food). But the reason to go to Maui?  Here’s the reason:

Mama’s Fish House
799 Poho Place
Paia, HI 96779

Mama's Fish House on Urbanspoon

Alan Wong’s Amasia
Grand Wailea Resort
3850 Wailea Alanui Drive
Wailea, HI  96753
Alan Wong's Amasia on Urbanspoon

Monkeypod Kitchen
10 Wailea Gateway Place
Kihei, HI 96753
Monkeypod Kitchen by Merriman on Urbanspoon

Monday, August 13, 2012


I don’t usually do dessert places, but lately, for some reason we have been hitting several of them a lot.  It started this summer with BRICs—we have been before, but there is a growing obsession with it in my family.   It’s right on the Monon Trail too, so several times recently, after dinner somewhere in Broad Ripple (usually Brugge); we take a walk down to BRICS.

I have to admit, a lot of dairy doesn’t sit particularly well with me, but it is hard to resist at BRICS—the first time we went, hubby and I split the caramel x 3 which I am pretty sure is my favorite flavor to date—although it is hard to choose.  This is caramel ice cream with caramel swirls and little caramel filled chocolates mixed in.  Well worth the heartburn I often endure after too much dairy.

The most recent time we went with the kids, and I just had a bite (ok, several) of everyone else’s.  My daughter had the yellow cake batter which is rich golden ice cream that really tastes like cake batter with chocolate swirls throughout.  This may very well be my second favorite so far.

Hubby had one of the rotating flavors which involved lots of toffee—it was tasty too, but loved the caramel more.  My son went with chocolate chip cookie dough.  I love raw cookie dough (one of the main reasons I ever make cookies), but I am not as big of a fan of it in ice cream—something about the coldness takes away from the dough angle—but still tasty. If you are into cookie dough ice cream, I am sure you would like this one.

yellow cake batter
cookie dough

On this trip we also discovered the “briclet” which is a smaller-sized scoop than their normal scoop (which is huge).  The briclet is $2.70 and the regular scoop is $3.20.  Trust me, the briclet is enough.  We also got our cones chocolate dipped, which added $.60.  They have a ton of different cone options as well, from huge waffle cones (made in house), to the traditional cake and smaller waffle cones.  The people who work there are super friendly and happy to give you a free sample of any of the flavors.

They have a large list of regular flavors that they always carry as well as a rotating list of various special flavors. I like this so you don’t get bored—but thank goodness the caramel x 3 is one of the regulars!

901 East 64th Street
Indy  46220
Brics on Urbanspoon

Thursday, August 9, 2012

U.S. Adventures- San Francisco: Gary Danko

Our last night in San Francisco, hubby and I went to Gary Danko.  Gary Danko is a restaurant that opened while we lived in San Francisco and at which we had a couple of amazing meals. It had been probably close to 8 years or so since our last meal though, so we really wanted to go again.  The funny thing about Gary Danko is that I don’t think the menu has really changed that much in all that time.  There are certain dishes that they are pretty well known for, and while they certainly add seasonal ingredients, the menu stays pretty similar I think.  But before I even talk about the food, I have to mention service again.  It was amazing once again.  This is one of the nicest restaurants in San Francisco—but the servers treat you like you are a regular and talk to you like you’re an old friend.  We chatted about various restaurants in San Francisco, and he let us in on the fact that the bar at Gary Danko is a great deal because you don’t have to order the 3 or 4 courses.  We chatted about our kids and his kids and our upcoming trip.  There was not an ounce of pretentiousness or snobbery. 

The food at Gary Danko is really good and really solid. I like that even though you have to choose 3, 4, or 5 courses ($71, $89 and $104), you can order whatever you want from whatever part of the menu (there are appetizers, a fish and shellfish section, a meat section, cheese and dessert).  He told us if we wanted 4 courses of dessert, go for it.  I started with the “crispy farm egg” with white polenta, mushrooms, frissée and pancetta.  It was great.  It was the smooth, slightly sweet polenta on the bottom with some dressed greens, and the egg on top.  The egg was actually breaded and lightly fried—and perfectly runny inside.  It was a nice take on the classic frissée salad with a poached egg, the breadcrumbs giving it just a little more substance.  It had a nice balance of flavors though with the dressing on the greens and we both really liked it.  Hubby had the risotto with lobster, rock shrimp, mushrooms, corn, roasted tomatoes and peas. We have had a version of this before and as before, it was spectacular.  How they get the lobster and the shrimp EXACTLY perfectly cooked, I don’t know, but I wish they would teach all the other restaurants in the world.  The shellfish just melted in your mouth.  The risotto is rich and creamy, but not so much so, and not such a huge portion that you were sick of it by the end (often my problem with risotto).

My next course was the roast Maine lobster with potato puree, mushrooms, corn and tarragon.  This was a dish I had once before (or a similar version anyway) and I loved it so much, I had to have it again.  It was just as good as I remember. I love lobster when it is cooked properly, but honestly I rarely order it because it so rarely is. Again, they had it down—especially that claw.  It was amazing. A little crunch from the corn and slight anise type flavor from the tarragon with the milder potatoes—the ingredients just let the lobster shine through.  Hubby had a pork dish with pork belly and pork tenderloin medallions with potato ramp puree, cauliflower, roasted peppers and maple cider glaze.  The pork belly was beautiful—I love it when it is served in a slice type format and you can see the layers of fat. It also seems more balanced between the meat and fat when it is cut like that as opposed to some of the overlarge hunks with too many gelatinous fatty bits I have seen at other places lately.  The tenderloin wasn’t as good—it just doesn’t have as much flavor and depth.

I have pretty much given up on fancy cheese services since leaving San Francisco—but Gary Danko reminded me why I like them so much.  They brought us the huge cart and let us pick whatever we wanted (we only ordered one cheese course and then one of us got the dessert). We had a nice selection of things and a nice discussion about cheese carts in San Francisco with our waiter.  Apparently there are only 3 or 4 restaurants that have them even in San Francisco.

Dessert was warm Louisiana butter cake with apples, huckleberry sauce and vanilla bean ice cream.  It was basically croissants that were cut up and then more butter and caramel added.  Can you say buttery and rich?  It was really good though, and the huckleberry was nice because it was a little tart and you always need some sort of creamy type thing to go along with something like this.  This is one of the desserts they are known for, and it is clear to see why.  All I know is I am glad we only got the three courses option because we were completely stuffed at this point.  I would say the portions are very generous, especially for a multi-course fine dining experience.

Even though we were stuffed and done with our dinner, we still enjoyed the extra little petit fours that they brought out at the end.  It is always fun to bite into them all and taste all the different flavors.  As if that wasn’t enough, they even bring you little cakes (these were pineapple upside down cakes) wrapped up to take home.  Because our waiter knew we were traveling all day with our 2 kids the next day and gave us 4 to take home (see what I mean about the service?).  Because we had had a fairly long chat with our doorman at the hotel about how much he also loved Gary Danko, we gave him the extras—we figured he would appreciate them more than our kids. (Other thing I love about San Francisco—everyone loves food in this town. I have had long discussions with taxi drivers about restaurants, and they all know where the restaurants are unlike a certain city’s taxi drivers—talking to YOU Chicago!).

All in all, this trip was a bit of a whirlwind, but we ate really well and satisfied my son’s need for Dungeness crab (had several crabs at Fisherman’s Wharf for lunch one day too) as well as taking them to a few more places that they haven’t been yet (the Exploratorium was a favorite spot).  San Francisco certainly owns a little piece of my heart that is for sure.

Gary Danko
800 North Point
San Francisco, CA  94109

Gary Danko on Urbanspoon