Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A Touristy Day in SF

After a great tea at Crown & Crumpet (see previous post), we walked down to Fisherman's Wharf, amidst all the tourists. It had been a while since we've done that and it was remarkably fun! There was a ton of energy, lots of street performers, horse-drawn carriages and people taking photos.

We made a stop at In-n-Out on the Wharf for some french fries (to counteract the sugar?! again, see previous posts about love of french fries) and then walked over to the Musee Mechanique. This is a small private museum filled with little modern and antique amusement park machines that used to be located at the by the Sutro Baths on Highway 1. The new location on the wharf is equally scenic but the warehouse decidedly lacks at atmosphere. We put lots of quarters into skee ball, fortune telling, a sticker photo booth and a mechanical fun fair that comes to life. Then we watched the sunset over the Bay.

Finally we finished up with clam chowder in a bread bowl at the new and fancy Boudin bakery - we ate in the cafe area (not the upstairs restaurant) and their grilled cheese served with tomato soup was a wonderful end to the day.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Crown & Crumpet

It was an unbelievably gorgeous day in San Francisco last Saturday - high 60s, sunny and warm. This is why I live in this part of the country. We headed up to Ghirardelli Square to try out a new adorable tea room called Crown & Crumpet. Open about 4 months, it serves, breakfast, lunch, dinner (on weekends) and of course, my personal favorite, afternoon tea.

I seek out afternoon tea with a passion - I'm a big tea drinker anyway and I love the three tiered cake stands, finger sandwiches and scones with clotted cream. My two favorite places in SF are Lovejoy's (but too busy, always need a ressie) and the Neiman Marcus Rotunda at Union Square (afternoon tea is just so-so but they have good scones and the best view).

I may have a new favorite now - C&C did not disappoint. Not only is the decor lovely, they have customized dishes and the best teapot with a built-in strainer that you can raise out of the level of the tea with a small adjustment of the end. And a lovely bay view with Alcatraz in the distance.

We were a party of 3 adults, 2 kids and one baby - so we ordered the afternoon tea for two (one pot with Earl Grey and one pot with their house blend), plus two nursery teas for the kids (served with a rich hot chocolate). It all arrived on tiered cake plates, with finger sandwiches (the egg salad was delicious but the best was a lovely pear and blue cheese sandwich), nice crumpets, 3 small scones and some desserts including small cookies, brownies and an odd bright pink cupcake thing.

I preferred the savouries over the sweets, which is actually a common occurrence. I would have ordered their sausage rolls but they only serve those on Fri and Sat evenings - will have to make a special trip to try those sometime soon. The house blend tea was just ok but the Earl Grey was exceptional (sourced from the Tea Palace in London and available for sale at a rather exorbitant $5-6 an ounce). In fact, there was a delightful little shop just off the entrance that sold the aforementioned cool teapots ($48 but I didn't pull the trigger just because it was such a large pot), all the dishes and cups and lots of other cute little gifty items.

The service was welcoming and friendly and the owner seemed lovely in my short little chat with her. This would be a great place for a birthday celebration or a shower (one was taking place in the corner when we were there). There's patio seating available in addition to the indoor space. And finally, they brought two cute candy bracelets for the kids with the bill.

I can't wait to go back!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Fries for Dinner

After taking a bit of a break for the holidays (Why do I need a break, since I'm not exactly employed right now? Don't ask...) we're back to eating our way through the Bay Area, since I don't have any travel plans for the next few weeks.

Last Friday night, we were debating where to go for dinner. Hubby wanted a burger and for that, we usually head to Jeffrey's, a casual dining joint that serves a perfectly good burger, and makes a nice chocolate shake for older daughter. Alas, the main drawback to Jeffrey's is that their fries are just so-so. And I like fries. A lot. If I'm going to expend valuable calories on fries, I want them to be goooood. Unfortunately, I also have no self-control around fries, so even if they're just so-so, I will continue to consume them at an undeserving rate.

Then I had a brainwave and suggested that we go to the newly re-opened Left Bank in Menlo Park, which had been closed for a few months for renovation. It's a reliable standby and has a good burger and most importantly, EXCELLENT skinny cut fries.

Hubby had a cheeseburger, served with fries. Older daughter had steak frites, which were of course accompanied by frites. Younger daughter had the chicken tenders off the children's menu, served in a silver bucket, sitting on a healthy bed of fries. And I ordered the moules. Alas, while on their lunch menu, the moules are properly served with frites, they are served alone for dinner. So I ordered a side of fries. Yes, 4 servings of fries for 4 people. Just so you know, we don't usually roll like that.

My moules were excellently plump and juicy, and the fries were glorious when dipped in the white wine juice at the bottom of my bowl. There was even some sort of altercation at the other end of the table when a party, who shall remain nameless, finished his fries first and tried to scam some from his daughter, who was remarkably uncooperative.

When asked the next day what she had for dinner, my younger daughter replied, "French fries!" Alas, I may have damned them to a lifetime of unhealthy eating habits...