Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Stinking Rose

The Stinking Rose is San Francisco's famous garlic restaurant. As they say, all you need to do is "follow your nose" in order to find this restaurant, because everything on the menu is made with garlic...including dessert! Apparently, this restaurant serves 3,000 pounds of galic each month! This restaurant's wit and lively atmosphere is perfect for large parties who are looking for a time.
Settled in San Francisco's little Italy (North Beach), you can't miss this restaurant's eye-catching neon sign. The inside is adorned with witty cartoons and photos and the ceilings are decorated wtih bulbs of garlic. The restraurant itself was pretty crowded, making it difficult to maneuver through the restaurant. We were in "tight quarters" with our neighbors.
Chef Andrea Froncillo offers prime rib, pastas, and sizzling skillets of seafood all prepared with the beloved "stinking rose." To start the meal off, the Bagna Calda or "garlic soaking in a hot tub" is the suggested way to enjoy the hosue-baked focaccia bread. This dish includes garlic cloves that have been oven-roasted in extra virgin olive oil and butter with a hint of anchovies. I found it tasty, but too greasy for my liking.
For my entree, I chose the gnocchi with shrimp, cherry tomatoes, olives, basil and of course, garlic! It was very tasty and the gnocchetti or "mini gnocchi" was a nice way to enjoy the tomatoes and olives in one bite.

The garlic theme even extended into dessert... yes, there was garlic ice cream!! The thought was so absurd, that I just had to try it. It was a gigantic bowl of garlic ice cream with a molasses syrup drizzled over the top. I can't say I loved it, but it wasn't very bad either. Upon first bite, it is definitely strange and quite gross, but after a few bites, the taste becomes more enjoyable. It was something to experience...I don't think I'll be ordering it again though.
Overall, this restaurant was fun and something to experience; however I think this place was a "one-time" kind of place. I experienced it once, and that's all I needed. The food can be quite rich (to balance out the the garlic) and it can be pretty pricey for what you get. Nevertheless, I would still recommend this place if you're looking for something unique...any garlic lover would have a good time at this restaurant that celebrates everything about garlic!

The Stinking Rose
325 Columbus Avenue
San Francisco, Ca 94133

Sunday, March 11, 2007

The Crab Cooker

The Crab Cooker was another stop on our road trip in Newport, California. It resides near the beach and makes you feel like you're eating at the busy home of a fisherman. In fact, this restaurant was started by a fisherman and the entire restaurant is refelctive of his love for seafood as it is filled with fishing memorabilia and photos. On each table are two plastic containers filled with breadsticks and "crackerbals." The crackerballs are yummy crackers that resebmle gumballs. I imagine they would taste yummy with a bowl of chowder!! The paper plates, paper cups, and plastic utensils help to make this place very laid back, while keeping the cost down.
The restaurant's motto is "Eat Lotsa Fish!" so the menu is filled with seafood selections like crab, salmon, shrimp, and crab cakes. The front of the restaurant also has a refrigerator filled with crabs and fish to enjoy at home. To add to the restaurant's laid back atmosphere, all the waitresses are older ladies, who act as if you're long-time customers. This surely isn't a "high class" seafood restaurant, but it guarantees a good time! :)
The crab cocktail was delicious; especially because the cocktail sauce was spicy and tangy! We even requested more cocktail sauce to eat with the breadsticks and the rest of our meal. My meal was a combination of grilled shrimp and scallops. Both the shrimp and scallops were cooked to perfection (not overcooked) and surprisingly light. With the ambiance of the restaurant, I expected all the food to be deep fried and heavy (like fish and chips) but my dinner was neither. All entrees come with a choice of romano potatos or pilaf and cole slaw or sliced tomatoes. My friends all enjoyed what they ordered. The Crab Cooker was definitely a fun and memorable experience!

The Crab Cooker
2200 Newport Blvd.
Newport, California

Friday, March 9, 2007

Bistro 211

Bistro 211 is a quaint little restaurant in Carmel, California. I visited this restaurant in March 2007 while on Spring Break. My friends and I went on a road trip from Tacoma, Washington to San Francisco, California. My good friend Amanda discovered this place online as she made plans for our trip. We had our share of great food on this trip, and Bistro 211 was one of the favorites! It turned out to be a very charming restaurant with good food, wine, and ambiance!
Bistro 211's charm is reflective of the surrounding city. I immediately fell in love of Carmel's charater. Anyone who shares my passion for bistros and cafes would enjoy visiting Carmel. Chefs Jon and Carmen Magunsson present european cuisine and offer an selective wine list with reasonable prices.
Amanda's parents treated us to a 2002 bottle of De Tierra Merlot which was made nearby in a winery in Monterey. This wine was made from organically grown grapes and according to wine critics, it has hints of mocha coffee and smooth body. I felt that this was a nice addition to our bistro dinner! The menu of dishes were a mixture of salads, sandwiches, pastas. I ordered one of my favorites, Gnocchi. Gnocchi are little pillowy potato dumplings served like pasta. The Gnocchi included sauteed white prawns tossed with chicken, italian sausage, peppers, and mushrooms in a light cream sauce with parmesan cheese. It was truly delightful and I was so excited to try it that I regretfully forgot to take a picture of it first! It was definitely a meal to remember!
Of course, no meal would be complete without dessert and the Baked Crepes were delightful! The crepe itself was soft and mild in flavor and it was nicely complemented by the light and fluffy mascrapone cheese filling. The crepes sat ontop of two fruit sauces, mango and raspberry, which complemented each other well. This dessert was a perfect ending to our evening at Bistro 211!

Bistro 211
211 Crossroads Boulevard
Carmel, CA