Save Me, San Francisco

Just like NYC, I never intended to visit SF every year, but things just worked out that way. Last Thursday, Henry and I packed some clothes and snacks and made the 6.5 hour drive up north. We spent the weekend in the city by the bay (+ side trip to Napa, OF COURSE) with a couple of good friends.

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GOOD FRIENDS + GOOD FOOD = GOOD TIMES ๐Ÿ™‚

In SF, we stayed at our usual spot: Coventry Motor Inn. Upon checking in, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the room was completely renovated (new carpet, new memory foam beds, tv, etc)! And the best part was the price remained the same as before! I LOVE this place for being budget friendly, having FREE parking, and for its great location.

Our first night was spent eating dinner at Leopold’s and getting drinks at Horseshoe Tavern. Not only was the food at Leopold’s delicious, the co-owner Albert is totally awesome! I spoke to him briefly on the phone and since we were staying close by, he graciously offered to put my name on the list and provided an approximate time a table would be ready. Doing just that would have been good enough for me, but after dinner, Albert thanked us personally for dining at his restaurant and even remembered my name!

We tried to wake up early on Friday to avoid waiting a long time for brunch at Dottie’s True Blue Cafe. Unfortunately, I suck at waking up early when I don’t have work so we got in line at about 10:30AM and waited a little more than 1.5 hours for a table. BRUTAL. By the time we were seated, we were starving, thus …

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yea buddyyyy ๐Ÿ˜€

Yes, the food was worth the wait.

After stuffing our face, we tried to fight off food coma by walking around Union Square. We then took the F train to Justin Herman Plaza for some urban zip lining!

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The only downside is that you pay $29 for an experience that lasts less than a minute. It’s pricey, but it’s a cool thing to do if you’ve never zip lined before. It runs only in the summer and will shut down by the end of September. Hurry!!

After zip lining, we slowed things a bit by taking a leisurely hike at Land’s End.

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The next day, we headed up to Napa for some wine tasting. I don’t like wine so that made me the designated driver and photographer.

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Domaine Chandon

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Paradigm

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Alpha Omega

And that was that. Another great trip up north.

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SF Eats & Activities (+our verdict):
Leopold’s, 4.5/5
Dottie’s, 4/5
Zip Trek, 3/5
Philz Coffee, 5/5
Ferry Building, 4/5

Napa Wineries (+Henry’s verdict):
Domaine Chandon, 3/5
Paradigm, 4/5
Rubicon, 4/5
Alpha Omega, 1/5

I eat: Grub

Until now, I had never been so repulsed by my meal that I stopped eating. So um, congratulations, Grub. You’ve earned this distinct honor.

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As we waited for food, we were given complimentary Fruit Loops and Coco Puffs to snack on. CUTE POINTS at least!

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I ordered the OOH LA LA! Egg Sandwich and it was anything but ooh la la. Overall, the sandwich was extremely bland with the only flavor coming from the Sweet and Sassy Bacon aka “crack bacon” by the masses. I definitely did not get the hype of the bacon and actually found it a bit odd – one piece was only sweet, the other piece was sweet and spiced with cumin(?). SO CONFUSED. Was this a mistake?

Drenching the sandwich in maple syrup didn’t make it any better either. I KNOW. That’s how bad this sandwich was… even bacon and maple syrup couldn’t save it.

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Henry’s dish, Mamacitaโ€™s Breakfast Burrito was just as bad. Sure, it looks big, but it was mostly filled with bland, scrambled eggs. If Grub wanted to stuff the burrito with cheap fillers, they should have done so with the roasted potatoes because they were actually tasty!

I’m not sure if I’d be willing to give Grub another try. I already wasted $40.

Verdict: 1/5
Grub
911 Seward St
Los Angeles, CA 90038

I eat: Euro Pane Bakery

It’s such a struggle to decide where to eat on the weekends. We always end up at the usual suspects, ordering the same food. So when Henry reminded me that we still hadn’t tried Euro Pane Bakery, I welcomed the break from monotony and off we headed to Pasadena.

Parking turned out to be a breeze, which is more the exception than the norm. I was pleasantly surprised to see that despite the small size of the restaurant, there were tables available. I guess we came at the right time. After placing our order at the counter, we picked a table next to the storefront window to sit.

We started off with a cup of coffee and a lemon bar.

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Dessert first! It’s a way of life ๐Ÿ™‚

Not to toot my own horn, but I like my lemon bars better. I thought the lemon filling was way too dense; it was almost as hard as the shortbread cookie crust!

Anyway, we didn’t have to wait too long for our food ~ only about 10 minutes or so. And good thing since we were starving.

DRUM ROLL PLEASE……

I present to you the infamous open-faced sandwich that was featured on Food Network’s “The Best Thing I Ever Ate: Served Cold”:

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Egg Salad Sandwich

I liked the sandwich! It was chunky, well seasoned and balanced, with just the right amount of mayo/mustard. The sun dried tomato pesto spread was a nice touch and added depth of flavor to an otherwise one dimensional egg salad.

If you read the reviews on Yelp, you’ll see mixed reviews regarding the Egg Salad Sandwich. I understand that people will have differing opinions, but some of the negative comments I’ve read about this sandwich are a bit ridiculous. Complaints include:

– not a real sandwich since there’s no piece of bread on top (UM, that’s why it’s described on the menu as being served open-faced)
– too much egg (UM, it’s an egg salad sandwich)
– difficult to hold in hand and eat (UM, it’s called a knife and fork)

The only reasonable thing to complain about is the price: $7.50 (w/o tax) is a steep. It’s interesting to note that the cost differential between the Egg Salad and the Salmon Sandwich below is only a $1.

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Salmon Sandwich

The Salmon Sandwich ain’t no Russ & Daughters bagel and lox, but it was still pretty good. Next time I would definitely choose another bread. In hindsight, brioche was an odd choice to pair with smoked salmon. My bad.

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Yea, that’s right. I couldn’t leave without some macaroons! I took home 2 sea salt caramel, 1 pistachio, 1 passion fruit and 1 mocha. My favorites were the passion fruit and mocha because they weren’t overly sweet. The macaroons were a little chewier than I’ve had before, but delicious nonetheless.

Verdict: 3.5/5
Euro Pane Bakery
950 E Colorado Blvd, Ste 107
Pasadena, CA 91106

I eat: Griddle Cafe

Griddle me this. Griddle me that. Griddle me up some delicious flapjacks!

Eating at Griddle Cafe takes a lot of patience. For those who live in or around the area, screw you! For those, like myself, who drive about 40 minutes, spend 15 minutes looking for parking and another 25 minutes waiting outside to be seated, I feel your pain. Is it worth it? Absolutely. Whoever came up with “good things come to those who wait” must have been talking about Griddle Cafe.

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At Griddle, the good things come in the form of ginormously thick pancakes, filled and topped with sweets that would make your dentist cringe. We ordered the “Time to Love” – streusel, butterscotch chips, caramel, pumpkin filling, topped with powdered sugar, whip cream and caramel. Given the filling and toppings, you would think that the pancake would be overwhelmingly sweet, but it totally wasn’t! It was PERFECT!

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I wish I could say that we demolished this baby, but shamefully, we only finished slightly more than a quarter of it; We had filled our bellies with other, unmemorable items on the menu. I ordered the “Gone Shrimping” – egg whites scrambled with shrimp, basil pesto, scallions, tomatoes, topped with capers. Sounds good on paper, but not so much in my mouth. It was very bland and I’m not a big fan of frozen shrimp since they usually turn out rubbery when cooked. Henry ordered the “Chicago Charlie’s” scramble – Italian sausage, potatoes, bacon, bell peppers, mozzarella, garlic, basil and lots of onions. A lot better than my shrimp scramble, but still bland overall with pops of flavor from the sausage and bacon. It kind of reminded me of a pizza with no sauce. Now I understand why a lot of people just ordered pancakes and nothing else.

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Next time the game plan is to share one order of pancakes/french toast and another breakfast dish. I’m thinking… “Addicted to Noisella” – nutella stuffed french toast.. or how about “Black Magic” – oreo filled flapjacks topped with more oreo cookie pieces?? DAMN.

Verdict: 4/5
Griddle Cafe
7916 Sunset Blvd.
Hollywood, CA 90046

I eat: Toast Bakery Cafe

When our original plan to go to Griddle Cafe fell through, we decided to meet at Toast Bakery Cafe for Saturday morning brunch. As with any LA establishment, parking is a painful ordeal. I ended up parking near Beverly Blvd. and walked two blocks down to the restaurant. Toast Bakery Cafe is located at the edge of a residential neighborhood which means no street parking on the weekends unless you have a permit.

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Although the restaurant does offer both indoor and outdoor seating, we opted for a table inside by the entrance. In the middle of the restaurant, there was a bakery counter filled with sweets such as cupcakes, cakes, brownies, banana pudding, cookies, muffins, etc. When I saw the red velvet cupcakes, I knew I had to order some to take home!

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The menu was pretty standard. Available were the usual breakfast items: scrambles/omelets, pancakes, french toast. I decided to forgo my beloved Denver Omelet (I seriously order this EVERYWHERE) and ordered the Breakfast Quesadilla (scrambled eggs, mozzarella & cheddar cheese, grilled chicken breast, served with sides of sour cream, pico de gallo & guacamole). My girls ordered the Favorite Omelet and the Thai Chicken Salad.

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As you can see from the picture, there was a lot more egg than chicken in my quesadilla. Despite this, I still enjoyed my breakfast and it was plenty to fill me up. I wouldn’t mind coming back to try the other items on the menu. However, if I had to wait in the line that we saw as we were leaving, I think I would have felt that Toast Bakery Cafe wasn’t worth the wait.

I also bought a half dozen cupcakes to take home: 2 red velvet, 1 blue velvet, 2 peanut butter/chocolate and 1 vanilla pudding/chocolate. I consider myself a red velvet cupcake connoisseur, having eaten a-plenty, and I can definitely say, TBC’s red velvet cupcake was terrible. The cupcake itself was really dry and/or not freshly baked. RED VELVET CUPCAKE FAIL! How dare you!

Verdict: 3/5
Toast Bakery Cafe
8221 W. 3rd St.
Los Angeles, CA 90048