Cafe Maddalena, located in Dunsmuir’s historic district, was a very pleasant surprise while we were staying in Dunsmuir. We arrived early in the evening and went hunting for a place to eat and just by sheer chance ended up in front of where one of the locals passed by us and said the place was “always very good”. Personally I consider that an understatement because it was more than good. It was GREAT! The food was excellent and the staff was extremely kind and helpful. I’m not surprised that some food critics have said that Cafe Maddalena was one of the best restaurants in Northern California. I would definitely agree with that and that’s why they get the #2 spot on my personal favorites list. The presentation of the food had a lot going for it but the deserts were real works of art that tasted even better than they looked and I can tell you, they look amazing! I’m not a big fan of fish but the way that Cafe Maddalena did their grilled swordfish almost turned me into a fish lover, instantly.
Archives for December 20, 2006
This place was a surprising discovery that turned into a very pleasant one. While driving in the city we decided to just look for a place for dinner by doing a spot-check of “hey that looks good, let’s try it”. After driving around and feeling hungry while looking for a place to park we ended up at David’s Kitchen, a hole-in-the-wall place that didn’t have any clear ambiance or characteristics… other than the menu that looked to be interesting. Well, those are famous last words because the food was simply great and the ambiance is created mostly in part by it being a small place with a small kitchen with one cook (David) who works his butt off to create very tasty fresh food. According to David a lot of the locals know of the place and those make up the bulk of his customers and that he has some help from his sister and his mother when things get busy (you will have to be patient but it will be well worth it). I started off with the Half Moon Wraps which were Enoki mushrooms wrapped in thinly sliced beef in a black pepper sauce. Very very tasty!
By now you may figure out that I like Italian food a lot. And lots of it! Tonno Rosso was this incidental find we ended up for dinner at while being at the Embarcadero because we had planned to go to the Slanted Door (which unfortunately had a 5-week waiting list for reservations!!!). The food was very good and the service was prompt and quick. The place uses waiters and runners so when you ask for a another glass of wine the runner will tell the waiter who then comes over to the table again. This process may work out well, logistically, for the restaurant but does seem a little odd when the restaurant isn’t completely full. The food was good and the service was decent and effective. Not a place I will go out of my way for but definitely a place that should be on my recommended list… and so it is. Unfortunately, it’s now closed.
Roy’s is a Hawaiian Fusion Cuisine. A very innovative, surprising, and excellent place to go for food that is quite different. All food comes as a presentation of a work of art where a lot of effort is put into the balance between looks and taste. Lots of good medium priced wines and really interesting and tasty food if you want to try something you may not have had before. The ambiance lacks the romantic feel but the overall feel fits in perfectly with the food.
The Brookdale Lodge, good food but with an even better ambiance. The restaurant (Brookroom) has a real live brook running through it which is lit with colored lights at night and provides an atmosphere that is very good for both casual and romantic dining. The food, as I already said, is good. It’s not spectacular but the fruit salad I had was almost unique and really worked well for me. It may be a bit out of the way but if you ever pass through Brookdale, or come near it, going to the Brookroom would not be a mistake you’d regret.
Well, what can I say about this place that hasn’t already been said. Not much I suspect. “If you haven’t eaten at Fior d’Italia you haven’t been to San Francisco!” is what they say and I can agree with that. The place is up there with the best of all time and while it’s not inexpensive it’s definitely worth it for their authentic cuisine and their excellent wine selection. This place always pops up in the top-100’s that are published and for one I can’t disagree with that. It’s one of those places where it’s good to dress up and make sure you make it worth your time by going the whole route from appetizers to desert (so you can experience the full range).
Fresh preparations with a Californian/Mediterranean touch which you can find on 1373 Solano Ave. at Beauregard’s California Bistro. Excellent fish. Efficient, friendly service with a smile. I am not a big fan of fish unless it’s Swordfish, Salmon, or… SHARK. The shark as provided by Beauregard’s was to die for. And it was the first time I had shark so I was naturally cautious and suspicious. The selection of, mostly, Californian wines of moderate prices seem to provide a good balance with the quality of the food and the overall ambiance of the place (which can be a little noisy but has great lighting at night for that almost-perfect romantic dinner).
Dining out extensively is something I really love to do and I appreciate the better restaurants that one can find on this planet so it may come as a surprise that a BURGER place would be listed this high on my personal recommended list. However, Barney’s burgers aren’t just burgers, they are just the BEST burgers you can ever hope to get in the Bay Area. I return to Barney’s very regularly, sometimes once a week, just because they make the best burgers in town. I usually go for the Barney’s Salad and a Californian Burger of a Maui Waui Burger, or I take a half order of spicy curly fries with their home made ranch dressing instead of the salad. Don’t do the house wines, though… they’re a bit under par. Then again, with burgers like these you should go with beer anyway (unless you don’t drink alcohol in which case they have a huge list of non-alcoholic beverages as well).
As far as Italian food goes, Trattoria La Siciliana is about as good as you will ever get it. Unfortunately the place lacks the ambiance I so like at Frantoio, which is why this place doesn’t rank at my #1 position. However, the food is so good that on food alone this place should be highly recommended. The arrangements are a bit cramped and noisy but that is often the case in a small family-run restaurant like this. Be prepared to wait a while before your food is served because the staff is small and the cook really takes his food seriously and it will require its time to prepare when you want to have it done RIGHT. This place does it RIGHT but not in any hurry. A great selection of Italian wines to go along with the food, as can be expected, is always a huge plus for me. If you are willing to part with a little ambiance and if you can be patient enough then by the food quality alone you will come to love this place (unless you can’t stand Italian food, then this place isn’t for you).
The food is really nice (well, needless to say it has to be or you won’t get on my list other than at the bottom of it!) but the peanut sauce is certainly the best I have ever had (and that spans any place on the planet I’ve had Thai food). The staff is kind and friendly and the presentation of the food is great. A week after first having been there I walked past the restaurant again and the waiter, while putting menus on a table, saw me pass by and immediately nodded kindly. Clearly a staff that remembers their customers instead of just serving food to nameless faces.