Saturday, December 20, 2014

Homewood AL: Saw BBQ

Saw BBQ is in the Homewood neighborhood, a pleasant little downtown area with relatively upscale stores. Some of the old-style BBQ joint atmosphere at Saw is cultivated, but it looks like their oven has been there for a long time, so I suspect this storefront has had more than one world in the meat-o-sphere.

This is my half rack of ribs with a side of baked beans. I was hungry and was tempted to order a full rack, but this was more than plenty. All the ribs were meaty and several had huge, thick layers of meat. (I wouldn't want to meet that pig in a dark alley.) The sauce has a strong vinegar note; the sauce is red but not thick.

The beans deserve special mention---they were superb. They were clearly hand-cooked with great texture and taste. I could imagine making a meal out of a big bowl of these beans.

Saw's BBQ on Urbanspoon

Palo Alto CA: Scott's Seafood

Scott's Seafood in the Town and Country Shopping Center has a pretty and comfortable decor. I found the service to be great: prompt and courteous but not obtrusive.

I started with a cup of New England clam chowder. It was pleasantly creamy with good chunks of clam and potato.

I know it says "Seafood" on the sign but I was in the mood for a steak. My ribeye did a good job of satisfying me. I ordered mine medium rare, giving me a nice pink middle and plenty of juice. I wasn't crazy about the sauce but that was easy to ignore.

For dessert I tried the chocolate mousse with vanilla ice cream. The texture reminded me of a flourless cake but it had all the ingredients I wanted: a nice, runny middle and rich chocolate cake.

Scott's Seafood on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Menlo Park CA: Menlo Grill Bistro

Menlo Grill is part of the Stanford Park Hotel, an upscale hotel at the border between Menlo Park and Palo Alto. I visited there for breakfast but they are open all day. my food was OK but a little bland; my service was disappointing.

The bottom dish is huevos rancheros minus the tortilla. The top dish is, of course, oatmeal. Both dishes were made surprisingly little use of spices. The huevos rancheros didn't have any heat. The oatmeal, to my great surprise, wasn't served with cinnamon. In both cases, I think that a little more spice would give them that extra flavor that one really appreciates at breakfast.

The service I received, as I mentioned above, was slow and erratic. The entrance was totally unmanned, so I ended up walking to the kitchen entrance and asking for a table. (My seat faced the entrance and it remained unmanned for almost the entirety of my meal.) After sitting at my table for several minutes, I finally stopped a staff member and asked to order. Once the order was in place, the service went a little more smoothly.

Menlo Grill Bistro & Bar on Urbanspoon

MSP: Ike's on Summit

Ike's happened to be between my two gates on my transfer at MSP, so I made a dinner stop. It's a bar-format restaurant with plenty of tables and good service.

My turkey burger was an enjoyable and remarkably healthy meal. The patty itself was a pretty good representative of turkey burger-dom; it comes au naturale and I didn't order any cheese. The creamy cole slaw was quite good. The fruit was the perfect healthy cap-off.

Ike's on Summit on Urbanspoon

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Chamblee: Lan Zhou Noodles

I stopped by the China Town Food Court for a quick, satisfying meal. I haven't been there in awhile; they seem to have added several new restaurants and perhaps even freshened up the decor a bit.

I walked in the door convinced that I was going to order dan dan noodles but one glance at the ma po tofu swayed me. I was very satsifed with my order. The combination of soft, silky tofu, hot sauce, and bits of savory pork are a winning combination. Lan Zhou did an excellent job with it. The tofu was cut into small pieces, giving me some good practice with my chopstick skills but also allowing the flavors to soak thoroughly into the tofu.

Since it says noodles on the sign, I guess I should go back and try those dan dan noodles...

Lan Zhou Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Lan Zhou Restaurant

Southbound

The poor service at Southbound prevents me from telling you about their food. The young lady at the front desk showed me to a small table in a far corner with a brusqueness that belied her youthfulness. As I sat at my table, several staff members passed and clearly noted that I had received no water nor other attention. After 10 minutes of this, I left. The two staff members at the front desk saw me leave but said nothing.

Southbound on Urbanspoon

Southbound

Palo Alto CA: Mayfield Bakery and Cafe

This was my second trip to Mayfield Bakery for breakfast. It's in the Town and Country Center across from Stanford. Parking at breakfast is significantly easier than at lunch.

This isn't a traditional, fairly thin pancake. This is a risen cake, close to an inch thick, baked in a cast iron skillet. The edge was slightly burnt so I just ate around that part. The center was soft and warm with a lemon note that really made the cake stand out, not to mention being a great complement to morning coffee. I wasn't able to finish it but I really enjoyed my breakfast.

Mayfield Bakery and Cafe on Urbanspoon

Santa Clara CA: Sara's Kitchen

Sara's is a small, comfortable breakfast spot. I have always liked Santa Clara for its established, homey feel and Sara's fits right in.

My veggie omelette hit the spot. The vegetables were fresh and cooked to the right amount of softness. The mushrooms added a savory taste that I really enjoyed. Fresh fruit is one of the several options for sides; as you can see, the fruit was indeed fresh and it tasted great.

Sara's Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Monday, December 8, 2014

Santa Clara CA: Fish Market

Every time I come to the Bay Area, Mom makes me promise to eat seafood so she can have the vicarious experience of eating seafood in San Francisco. On this trip, I honored Mom's wish by visiting the Fish Market in Santa Clara. This chain has been a favorite of mine for many years, ever since they opened in Palo Alto many moons ago.

I was disappointed to be asked by the host to wait for five minutes for a table even though almost all the tables were empty, so I ate at the oyster bar. The bartender quickly gave me some sourdough. Doesn't it look great? It tasted great, too.

I ordered grilled salmon for dinner. It was perfectly cooked with just a little bit of char. The cole slaw is of the creamy variety and very crunchy.

Fish Market on Urbanspoon

Santa Clara CA: Corn Palace

I have driven past the Corn Palace on Lawrence Expressway for decades but never stopped until today. For as long as I can remember, which is a long time, the Corn Palace has stood at the edge of a small field in the middle of the Santa Clara suburbs. You can't get to it directly from Lawrence---you have to weave your way around a couple of blocks of suburbia. I really admire their dedication. The selection today was small, as one might expect in December, but I came away with two large Fuji apples. Keep at it, guys.

Santa Clara CA: Bombay Garden

I stopped for lunch at Bombay Garden on the corner of El Camino and Lawrence Expressway. This is the latest in a series of Indian restaurants that have occupied this location for several decades.

The lunch buffet features a good selection of dishes, including both north and south Indian, and I believe that one of two Pakistani dishes were on the buffet as well. The bread you see on my dish isn't naan---that was delivered separately to my table. This was a fry bread that I found quite tasty; it reminded me a little of American Indian fry bread. I enjoyed it enough to go back for seconds.

Bombay Garden on Urbanspoon

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Hong Kong: Sing Kee Seafood Restaurant

I had a wonderful trip to Hong Kong in September. This is the view from the top of the tram line.

Jiang and Wei took me to a lot of great restaurants. One of them was Sing Kee, which is right on the water in a part of Hong Kong that I couldn't possibly point out on a map. It is a Michelin one-star restaurant and the food is wonderful.

You can look at the menu, but the real way to order is to go around to the side and point at what you want from the tanks. Then you return to your table and wait just a few minutes for your dishes to start to arrive. I will let the photos speak for themselves.

El Senor Taco

Helen and Vin introduced me to El Senor Taco, tucked into a small strip mall on Buford Highway. It's an order-at-the-counter place with great food. Here are some photos of all the things we enjoyed.

The shrimp cocktail has a superb tomato base with avocado and other tasty bits---a far cry from Fisherman's Wharf.

Helen reported that the enchilada was superb.

They recommended the seafood soup, which was wonderful from the broth all the way to the bits of octopus, shrimp, and all the other types of seafood you could wish for.

Fish tacos...

and yet more tacos (what do you expect from El Senor Taco?).

El SeƱor Taco on Urbanspoon

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Smoked Turkey for Thanksgiving

I found out almost a year ago that Patak Meats, that palace of smoked meats in Austell, smokes turkeys for Thanksgiving. I inquired and learned that I needed to reserve a turkey a month in advance. I bided my time until October, when I ordered my turkey. After all that anticipation, I picked it up a week before Thanksgiving, along with a supply of other meats: smoked sausages, unsmoked sausages, pastrami, and some of their wonderful bacon.

For Thanksgiving, I decided to steam my turkey to keep it moist. I used the large pot I bought for corn on the cob---the basket made a perfect receptacle for steaming something as big as a turkey. The turkey was outstanding. The smoking is very subtle. You don't get a blast of burnt wood flavor but the smoking gives the turkey a meatier taste. And smoking certainly didn't make the turkey any less moist---it was perfect.

I made the bones into a turkey stock. Tonight, I used some of the leftover turkey and some of the stock to make a turkey pot pie. If anything, the smoked turkey with the vegetables and rich gravy was even better than the turkey itself.

Patak Meats on Urbanspoon