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Name: Gutenberg

Location: Somewhere near the Golden Gate Bridge.

Occupation: BRPR (Bunrab public relations.)

the BUNRAB blog spot

Do you need to answer back? You can send me comments if you want to.

If I want to, I'll post 'em in this very blog.



August 16-23, 2006


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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Mythic Portions

I was finishing up a project and had to pass up a tasty sounding Chinese lunch with some friends. Later, when I came up for air,  I walked along Pacific Avenue looking for somewhere to grab a quick bite. It had been a while since my last visit to Myth Café so I popped in for a roast beef sandwich ($8.50):

... which contained beautifully cooked, thinly sliced beef. It was a shame that this sandwich was so mono-cow-matic. The description sounded like it was full of flavor, but there were no crispy shallots or trace of the horseradish as the menu promised, only a melted, mild Fontina cheese, war rations of sliced tomato, romaine and some aioli. The baguette was not so much toasted as slightly heated to a rubbery bread jerky.

It appeared as though the portion size took the front seat to the flavor. This huge sandwich delivers in the calorie to dollar ratio department, but was not an efficient flavor delivery system. I’ve had some good chow here in the past, so I may return, but I should have headed to the Helmand or Bocadillos for lunch today.

Myth Café
490 Pacific Ave.
San Francisco, CA







Tuesday, August 22, 2006

And on that farm there were some drinks…

Watermelon Margaritas and Mint Juleps ($4 each during happy hour):

... were tossed back at at the Farmer Brown bar tonight with the newly married and shutter-happy C.

The bartenders fashion cocktails from fresh herbs and fruits and serve them alongside a mini skillet of hot and spicy peanuts.

Crisp little popcorn shrimp ($7.00):

... are served up with a remoulade on a bed of iceberg. These are perfect cocktail munching.

The fried chicken ($12.50):

... had perfectly cooked dark meat (the white was a touch dry) and a crunchy coating alongside an overly rich and cheesy mac:

The little salad offered a tiny bit of relief, but I was glad that Chubby had the foresight to order an astringent veggie side dish to Brillo off our taste buds.

The sautéed greens ($4.00):

... was just the thing to take on the Tillamook challenge. The generous portion of red chard was a simple way to shake the etch-a-sketch of our palate upside down.

Polly Pocket inspired biscuits and cornbread muffins:

... come with a pepper jelly to help deliver a carbo zing to the meal.

Farmer Brown knows how to keep you fed and get you ploughed. The people who work here are friendly and efficient and it’s a fun place to grab a casual bite at the bar.


Farmer Brown
25 Mason St.
San Francisco, CA






Monday, August 21, 2006

I don’t know what hot shot marketing researcher thought of the name of this restaurant, but I don’t think that they were targeting the white males between the ages of 17 and 34 demographic. Old Mandarin Islamic Restaurant may not be aimed at the MTV crowd, but they do have a TV on continually as well as festive ornamentation.

The Peking Beef Pie ($6.95):

... is what would happen if a beef stuffed naan bread went-all-Reese’s with an onion cake. This fried Frisbee was heavy and a little greasy. After this “Peking” dish, we got a “Beijing” City-o-nym entrée.

The Beijing style hot pot is a fun and tasty interactive dinner.

The soup base and dipping sauce are three dollars per person. You then order things to cook up in this broth of star anise, little fishies, ginger and green onion. We got the sliced lamb:

... shrimp:

... and lamb kidneys ($6.95 each) as well as the sour cabbage and rice noodles ($3.50 each.)

A propane hot plate heats this copper bundt/volcano pan of perfumed broth. The paper thin lamb and noodles cook lickety split, the previously frozen shrimp took a little longer (although we were told by the waitress that we were undercooking them.) My favorite was the lamb kidney:

They were sliced into small chunks and cooked up quickly to a delicate and tender offal experience. I feel sorry for the lamb who is waking up in the motel room bathtub filled with ice with a note to call 911, but it was worth it.

Old Mandarin Islamic Restaurant
3132 Vicente St.
San Francisco, CA







Sunday, August 20, 2006

M&G isn’t new to Marin, but the recent Larkspur addition has an updated feel from their old Fairfax burger shack.

I like the Prather burger at the San Francisco Ferry Building Farmer’s Market and decided to see how it held up compared to the M&G Prather burger ($6.95.)

I liked the way M&G matched the patty and bun diameters so that there are not bread-only bites. The organic beef was packed densely into a patty that was a little too thin for the ideal meat to bread ratio. The bun was soft, but held up to the burger even so. I wasn’t crazy about their “special sauce” which was a mayo/ketchup/relish spread.

Chubby got the Prather buffalo burger ($7.25):

... which he cleverly ordered without the special sauce. His burger was okay but didn’t fully deliver in the texture, flavor, and bread to meat ratio departments. We decided that it was best to leave the specialty, organic meat burgers to other venues.

Our fries ($1.30 for small):

... were delivered to an extra crispy doneness as we specified. They were fine, but nothing to get too excited about.

They serve sandwiches, salads and soft serve ice cream in addition to the burgers and fries. M&G may not be trip worthy, but it is a good place for a standard burger experience without feeling you are supporting some evil corporate empire.

989 Magnolia St.
Larkspur, CA






Saturday, August 19, 2006

Just to see how the other half lives, we went to the San Francisco Ferry Building's Farmer’s Market at 8:30 this morning. Our habit of rolling in later in the day delivers the penalties of massive crowds and limited selection.

Our first stop was the Fatted Calf, which had full product availability.

Taylor describes the beef jerky:

... as “grown up.” I would have to agree. These sheets of Marin Sun Farms beef have a peppery smokiness and a satisfyingly chewy resistance with a deep, primal, carnivore appeal.

The pork rilletes:

... spread like a piggy butter over slices of toasted, garlic rubbed levain. The guinea hen terrine:

... was infiltrated with swine as well in this slice of meaty satisfaction.

After securing our protein purchases, we made a loop to pick up produce and cheese before stopping at the Hayes Street Grill booth for breakfast.

I got the Marin Sun Farms chorizo scramble ($7.00):

... which was served with grilled pain de mie. Bacon ($1.50) and slices of tomato (.50¢) gave a boost of flavor to the disappointingly tough, overcooked eggs.

Chubby was surprised when he got his oyster po boy ($7.50):

He was expecting a soft, slightly hollowed out roll instead of grilled pain de mie. The fried oysters, mayo, tomato and lettuce sandwich was homey and good, but nothing re-orderable.  They cooked the shellfish until they were nicely squiggly in the middle with  crunchy edges. The tomato sector was limited to two small circles in the center, it would have been better if they diced them up to even out the bite distribution. Instead of a baby lettuce mix, a chiffonade of iceberg lettuce would have been a better (albeit not as uptown) contrast of textures in this mostly soft sandwich. The biggest improvement they could make to this sandwich is to swap out the bread for a roll.  The thin white bread slices soaked up the juices and got mushy and flattened out with every bite.

For dessert, it was off to the Noe Bakery stand:

... for a couple chocolate chip cookies (.75¢ each):

... which  were buttery, but soft (my preference is crisp) they were still good.

Chubby got a coconut macaroon ($1.25):

You have to have a bit of a sweet tooth to fully appreciate this dense haystack of chewy cholesterol.

We bypassed the century-long wait at the Blue Bottle stand as well as the line at Peets (that stretched well out the shop into the hall) in favor of the immediate service at Out the Door. We then downed our cups of Blue Bottle coffee ($2.00 each):

... before hitting the road.

From today’s bunrab email Sam writes about Jason’s Restaurant:


This must be a reincarnation of "Seafood Pasta Kitchen" which before that, under direction of Franco, was the sometimes-glorious "Pronto Pasta". It sounds like experience has faired the young chef, Jason, well. Good to hear. Fred and I used to eat at that place 50 times a year and it definitely had its ups and downs in our experience.


Gutenberg replies:

Dear Sam,

I checked out your posting on Seafood Pasta Kitchen and it’s definitely the same place (with a different sign.)

Also, we were hoping to run into you this a.m. since we were among the excruciatingly early crowd at the Farmer’s market.








Friday, August 18, 2006

Jason’s Restaurant is off the beaten path. Once you exit 101 and pass all the Handyman Hookers in front of the mall, you hang and couple of rights and voila, a strange collection of garages and a discount golf supply shop. Not the most likely place for a restaurant, but that’s part of it’s charm.

This dimly lit, Italian inspired eatery is a hodge-podge of white table cloths, fake flowers and it displays no evidence of feng shui intervention. Luckily, none of these were important factors in my restaurant selection criteria today.

I was thinking about going with a plate of kitchen made gnocchi until I heard that they had a wild salmon salad ($14.00):

... as a lunch special. The most common infraction with any salmon salad is fish abuse. It’s either overcooked or they use the castoff elbows and eyebrows from the filets that are used for dinner entrees. So I was pleased when a  generous slice of perfectly cooked fish arrived atop a Caesar with anchovies, croutons and sliced romaine. I’m a fan of Caesars with a more aggressive garlic and parmesan stance, but I’m glad that they didn’t shy away from the anchovies (which always generate lots of whiney complaints from people who only think they like Caesar salads.)

This is not destination dining, but if you are picking up discount golf clubs, getting a tune-up or engaging the services of an undocumented worker (or doing all three if your are some sort of Marin fat cat on a budget) it’s worth dropping by for a bite.

Jason’s Restaurant
783 Anderson Dr.
San Rafael, CA

From today’s bunrab email Steven writes about yesterday’s half-baked lunch plan:



Almost daily you stun me with places I didn't know about. You didn't mention that the Boulangerie de Strawberry was part of Pascal Rigo's little empire so I wonder, could I be actually giving you info for once ?


Gutenberg replies:

Dear Steven,

You are definitely up to date on the baked goods scene! I didn’t mention that important fact, but that was part of my eagerness in hovering around their locked front door.

I gave them a call this morning to see if it was employees, equipment or red tape that was standing between me and my morning pastry. I was told that it was the latter. If final inspection goes well on Monday, they will open on Tuesday and Chubby and I will get our carbo on.



Susan writes about yesterday’s Thep Lela experience:


We've had a similar experience at Thep Lela and tend to stick with the good old standbys when we stop in. The folks who used to work at Thep Lela opened their own place last year in Larkspur. R'noh Thai has Fresh Rolls that are delish and they do a yummy Yellow Chicken Curry. They also have the best coconut ice cream with fried banana that we've had in the Bay Area. And the people who work there are very accommodating. Hop on over when you're in the nabe.


Gutenberg replies:

Dear Susan,

Thanks for the R’noh R’minder. I haven’t been in a long time and need to try the curry or dessert that you mentioned. Time for a revisit.







Thursday, August 17, 2006

A flaky pastry shop left me fit to be Thai’ed

I stopped by Mill Valley’s Strawberry Village to check out the new bakery that was supposed to open today (at least that’s what the sign said last week.)

There was no new information posted in the window so I’m guessing it’s either red tape or equipment (or both) that is coming between me and my tartines.

Deflated, I trudged down to Thep Lela for some Thai food. The salmon lunch special ($11.95):

... was exactly the wrong thing to order. The fishy smell arrived well before my plate. It acted as a mocking herald of my grievous ordering error. I really should have stuck to what they do best here. I like this place just fine, and I should have realized by now that the popular dishes are popular for a reason. 

My bland and overcooked seafood could not be seamonkeyed back to hydration with the herbed, pepper sauce. The unadorned, steamed veggies were healthy, but diety-tasting.

Also what is up with having to choose between veggies and rice? Just charge a little more and include both.


From today’s bunrab email Patrick writes about Ozumo Restaurant:


On Ozumo... the first executive chef at Ozumo, Koji Makiyama, was a former sumo wrestler. His brother, Hideki, runs the rowdy izakaya in the Marina, Oyaji.


Gutenberg replies:

Dear Patrick,

Sounds like food, drinks and wrestling go well together. I haven’t checked out the brother’s “sister” restaurant. Next time I’m in the mood for a lively Japanese pub experience, I’ll know where to go.








Wednesday, August 16, 2006

I have been ordering rib tips for the last several visits to Memphis Minnie’s but today, I broke with tradition and went with the Pastrami Sandwich ($8.95):

This Wednesday only special is made with meat that they cure and smoke themselves. The moist slices of sweetly sauced succulence were encased in a soft roll. If you expect a New York style assembly, you will be bitterly disappointed, this is a barbeque house version and a good one at that. A few shakes on their hot sauce and I was in hog heaven with my cow sandwich.

Memphis Minnie’s

576 Haight St.
San Francisco, CA


From today’s bunrab email Suzy writes:


Don't know if you were aware, but "ozumo" is the honorific form of the Japanese word "sumo", as in "sumo wrestler." The owner of the restaurant, an American who lived many years in Japan, is close friends with a famous sumo wrestler (whose name escapes me if I ever knew it.) Just FYI. Thought it was interesting.

That is quite a block for restaurants, isn't it? Ever been to Shanghai 1921?

Love the site, by the way.


Gutenberg replies:

Dear Suzy,

I think that it’s cool that you can add an “O” to the start of a word to make something honorable in Japanese. I think the o-wner of o-zumo is smart to befriend a wrestler, they have more street cred (and more elaborate underwear) than bouncers.

I haven’t been to Shanghai 1921 (although I’ve heard it’s a fun place) I’m just concerned that if I order a drink there, they will compute my age from their namesake and I’ll be stuck with Shirley Temples all night.  


Jen writes about the Crepevine:


Regarding your pumpkin pancake disappointment at Crepevine: the quality of the pancakes varies tremendously on the location. I've always had great pumpkin pancakes at the 8th and Irving location, and always had disappointing ones in the Castro location. Maybe the location you went to is similarly bad.


Gutenberg replies:

Dear Jen,

That is too crazy about the wild variation of quality, but it makes sense given the letters we’ve been getting about this mini chain. 

From what I’ve learned from Linus, “great pumpkins” are worth seeking out (but you risk equally great disappointments.)






back to last week - August 8-15, 2006



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