after dinner sneeze

a lot of g says, t says

Posts Tagged ‘Mission Bay

Double-brunch in MB/Dogpatch!

leave a comment »

t says:  There was this curious little frontage called “the Lab” in Dogpatch – we’ve seen it on numerous ventures to Piccino.  Each time we peered into the windows and read the posted flyers we were intrigued; we had stumbled upon one of the sites of “Feastly”, which is essentially an organization that conducts pop-ups all over the country.  As far as the Dogpatch site, I would say that it is reminiscent of “Cook” in Philly, but less “instructional” (i.e. you’re not all up in the chef’s business the entire night), and more like a venue that is forever a pop-up restaurant.  Each night (nearly every night), there’s a different chef and “theme”.    Hoping to be one of the cool kids, I dipped my toe into the water by making a brunch reservation for a Saturday.

April 2016, Saturday Brunch, Party of 2.  The space is pretty simple.  The tables are simple.  The chairs are simple.  They aren’t going to win any awards for decor … but we got the feeling that that wasn’t the point.  This was not a showcase for “the next super chef” or “chef that’s so hot right now” (even though that’s what the website is espousing), rather, this was a space for some chefs to share their independent creations with a bunch of random people.  The theme for the morning: crepes.


There was an open kitchen adjacent to a dining room of about 20 seats among two communal tables.  We arrived precisely on time and had the whole table to ourselves, but as you can see, by the time we left, it was getting full (lesson: early bird got the worm … with more elbow room)



It started with a savory crepe – this one featured mushrooms, onions, and egg, and it was amazing.  The buckwheat added this grainy texture and savory, bittery flavor as a backdrop to the shrooms and sweet onions.



The ham and cheese was similarly awesome – I mean – yes, a saltier ham might have been nicer, but there was something about it that really brought me back to breakfasts with my family at Verona in Vineland.  All smiles here.



And then there was a dessert crepe.  Yours truly ventured the nutella crepe (above) while g ventured the salted caramel.  They were both the homiest sweet hug that you could get in the morning.  And because it was paper-thin, you were free to rationalize, “no, this is way better for me than eating a slice of cake for breakfast …”.  Exceedingly complex?  No.  Mouthwateringly delicious?  Absolutely.



Above is a single shot of the pancakes at Cafe Reveille.  You read it here first: these are bite-for-bite as delicious as Plow’s pancakes.  And there’s no line to wait through.  ‘Nuff said …

Written by afterdinnersneeze

8 May 2016 at 3:01pm

Nearby Eats

leave a comment »

t says:  Mission Bay, where we live, isn’t exactly a hotbed of restaurants.  As a result, we were super-excited to find that on Wednesdays, there’s a farmer’s market that pops up right outside our apartment!  Sure, there are fruits and vegetables, but there are also things like nuts, fresh pressed juices, a Lebanese food stand, a fresh bread stand and then the requisite vegan stand, gluten-free stand, etc …  As we visit more of the stands, we’ll report back.  For now, the one stand I bought prepared food from was this one:


Sure, the menu was a little bit more “fusion” than I was hoping (the Lebanese stand looked more authentic, and I would have gone there, but there was a huge line for this one, so I figured I wanted to see what all the rage was about …) 



I got a banh mi with lettuce instead of cucumber (they ran out of cucumber – insert sadface here) – and I have to say that it was a disappointing.  And it’s not just “disappointing”, rather “disappointing” in the same tone that you would use to try and guilt-trip a child into realizing that his/her behavior was unacceptable (i.e. new age parenting).  The bread wasn’t crusty.  The meat didn’t have enough caramelization.  The cilantro was too subtle.  For the full experience, imagine a “bad” cheesesteak (like if you were visiting Bismarck and ordered a “Philly Cheesesteak”) … and now make it worse by swapping the onions for weakly pickled carrots, the cheese for lettuce, and the beef for bland pork.  Ok – so I guess there really wasn’t much use in starting off with a “bad cheesesteak” at all because I just changed every component, but I at least think that this adequately captures my disappointment. I’m not sure why everyone was lining up waiting for like 15 minutes for these sandwiches!  They weren’t particularly cheap, they weren’t particularly unique.     *sighs* I really miss the chicken banh mi from Rotisseur …  Strike 1 for the Mission Bay Farmer’s Market!!



g and I did venture into Dogpatch for a restaurant called Piccino.  Now this place was pretty cool.  Upon reading the menu, we were expecting something like Barbuzzo – they had a tasty-sounding burrata on the menu, a few pastas, a few pizzas, a few secondi; the prices were reasonable.  But we found that they were a step less casual than Barbuzzo.  The space was open and free, with nicely manicured wooden tables and modern-looking black chairs, with shiny silverware and good-sized wine glasses.  The food was similarly grown-up,  For instance, the burrata wasn’t a decadent cheese-and-bread course, rather, a very nicely composed salad as you see above.  At first, I was a little disappointed (salad?  who the hell wants salad?), but at first bite, I turned that frown upside down.  The California-fresh greens were dressed lightly, but with quite a zippy, mouth puckering dressing.  And the cheese was gooey and rich – almost like butter.  Did I still wish for grilled bread?  A little … but it wasn’t a deal-breaker.  I do think, however, that it was a smidge over-priced.  g and I did share it, but it could have been an app for one if opposite a hungry enough stomach.  



We went for the plain white pizza, which was done up with a thin crust and lots of sliced garlic – it was simple but oh-so-right.  Sure, there were fancier toppings on the menu, but we opted to keep the pizza simple and have it accompanied by a few sides, like …



… meatballs!  If you’re going to call yourself Italian, you better bring it with the meatballs.  Now keep in mind that we are tough critics here, having grown accustomed to NJ-Italian-mom meatballs-and-sauce.  Barbuzzo’s meatballs probably hold the title for best restaurant meatball we’ve encountered thus far, but I’d still only venture a “very good” rating for them because of sauce dissatisfaction.  These meatballs are just a hair underneath those.  Not being stuffed with cheese, these rely on the meat itself, which had a very nice flavor (beef and pork) but could have benefitted from better caramelization on the outside; the sauce was just still a little off for my taste – a bit thin and separating on the plate to reveal an oil phase.  Don’t get me wrong – I took the last remaining meatball home and pwned in the following day – still delicious!



But man those Brussels sprouts never stood a chance at making it to our home fridge.  Not relying on a pork crutch (no ham, no bacon, no sausage, no pancetta),  I’m not sure what the extra flavor was (g was guessing it was some kind of fish sauce), but they were spectacular.  Totally worth ordering.

Piccino gets an A- from the sneeze, but with potential for the full A for sure – we need to do some more “testing”.  And the cafe next door as well as the wine store two doors down (Dig), which we think are associated with Piccino (we can’t tell if they’re associated, or if they just share the same building) show a lot of promise as well.  Rest assured that we will be back!  And when we have visitors, I’m sure we’ll bring them with us – we just have to prep them ahead of time: this isn’t Barbuzzo … but it’s still really good!


And here’s a bonus pic!  I didn’t order wine at Piccino (trying to keep living costs down), but we did pre-game and ?post-game? with this guy, my latest find from K&L.  Having first had Picpoul de Pinet in London, when I found a few bottlings at K&L, I knew it would hit just the right spot for weekday drinking (i.e. cheap, quaffable).  And just like my London experience, this delivered that palate-cleansing, mouth-watering, petrol-peach smack to the face that I love.  If you want a short-and-snappy, seafood-pairing (or summer-drinking) white without breaking the bank, Picpoul should be the way to go.  Even the PLCB has one online!.

Written by afterdinnersneeze

29 January 2016 at 1:30am