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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.



March 17 thru 24, 2006

jump to the next week of this blog


Friday, March 24, 2006


The atmosphere on Pluto is thin and will not support human life. The atmosphere at Pluto restaurant:

...is thick and supports too much human life.

My orbit took me by this Jetson’s style cafeteria. I checked out their instruction board

(I make typos too, but if I were creating a sign that I expected everyone to read in a chain restaurant, I would be a little more “possessive” about checking the grammar.)

This salad bar is assisted, you tell them what ingredients you want in your custom construction.

The salad guy uses tongs to fill up a measuring bowl with non lettuce ingredients as you name them, he then dumps them into the big salad bowl that the other guy uses to toss them all together. As the next salad customer approaches, he takes his not so white towel hanging from his apron and gives the the measuring bowl a wipedown. This may be a towel dedicated to this purpose, but it’s kind of gross looking. Not so good if you have a food sensitivity that would be triggered by a trace amount of bowl residue either.

They have all the usual salad bar ingredients. The only one that I regret ordering in my Farmer’s greens ($5.95):

... was the grilled chicken which was tough, dry and flavorless.

They carve heat lamp turkey:

... with mashed potatoes as well as serve soups and sandwiches. It’s a chain restaurant that targets health conscious urbanites. It’s a handy, quick, place to get a veggie fix but the emphasis seems to be placed on large portions and healthy food rather than maximizing tastiness (but to be fair, I could have just hit them when they were testing out their new chicken de-flavorizing machine.) This place obviously fills a need (the crowds just kept coming during my visit) so it may not be for me, but it sure rings the bell for the Marina crowd..and “crowd” is the active word, I even caught someone praying:

... for a table to open up, but she had to wait many moons. Luckily, Pluto has several.

3258 Scott Street
San Francisco, CA


From today’s comments, Alex writes:


I like your reviews and agree with the places you recommend. you should definitely try "El Taquito" restaurant in Hayward. 22354 Mission Blvd, Hayward, CA 94541 - (510) 537-8447

They have some of the best Mexican food I have tasted in the whole sf bay area and I have been living here for 20 yrs. Their carne asada tacos are excellent and their green salsa chicken enchiladas will leave you wishing you had more room in your stomach so you can eat more. It would definitely make a nice addition to your list. Check it out and let me know what you think.



Chubby replies:

Dear Alex,

Thanks for the taco tip. I’m always on the lookout for yummy chow.

Next time I’m wayward in Hayward, I’ll give it a try.

Your pal,






Thursday, March 23, 2006

If March is Erishi coffe month:

...let’s make April spell check month, or, to be fair, maybe this is one of those applying-the-letters-backwards-to-the-window-while-dyslexic before your coffee (but after your Irish whisky) situations.

Trader Joe’s has come to Novato and they have made a few improvements to this branch. The aisles are a bit wider:

... so that during the weekends they won’t resemble plaque encrusted arteries coursing with molasses. They have restrooms that are easily accessed and they have a choice of paper or plastic (I bring in reusable bags to elevate my smug factor.)

They have only been open for about a week and a half so it will take a while for some of the San Rafael overflow to spill off here, but I’m sure it will happen soon enough.

I must have passed Sam’s Roadhouse:

... a million times. There’s nothing about this place that beckons. This motel appendage near nothing and nobody was not a place that I approached with high expectations. I walked into a dining room filled with seniors enjoying their waffles and club sandwiches and felt a little out of place. The nice waitresses steered me to a table near an old, (but not fashionably so) juke box which was playing some good classic tunes. Everyone in the busy diner looked happy as they dug into their comfort foods.

I got the Roadhouse Burger ($7.35):

...which was made with a 1/3 pound patty of natural beef. The meat was tasty, but I wish that the bun wasn’t the soft, wonder-bready, variety. It came with the usual sliced tomato, onions, lettuce and pickles. Next time I get one I’ll ask to hold the mayo that they spread on the top bun which kind of gilds the lily (or the burger in this case.) The spuds were good, but I should have ordered them extra crispy.

This place may not be a grand culinary experience but there are some things to appreciate here (aside from the cool taxidermist work on the swordfish.)

They are as convenient as a Denny’s but they have better food and they have more personality than that particular chain. They are right off 101 and serve comfort food that would appeal to junior or grandma. Their 7 day a week, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. schedule will fit into my (often poorly planned) eating schedule.

Destination dining? Definitely not, but with their super nice waitstaff and their unpretentious, comfort food packed menu keeps them on the possibility list.

Sam’s Roadhouse
271 Alameda Del Prado
Novato, CA

Trader Joe’s
7514 Redwood Blvd.
Novato, CA 94945




Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Names are risky things
. It can go either way if you name your kid Kal-El, your movie The Neverending Story or your restaurant Goood Frickin Chicken. The upside is that it’s easy to remember GFC.

I’m happy to report that it lives up to its name. Heavily seasoned with za’atar, garlic and salt the rotisserie and flame broiled birds look almost identical with their bronzed, tasty skin flecked with crispy bits covering moist and flavorful meat.

I could have passed on the mac and cheese. It wasn’t flavorful enough to compete with the rest of the food and by contrast, seemed a little dull.

The fried pita made up for the mac’s flavor deficit and was a tasty way to wrap up stray bits of chicken.

The salad looks pretty generic:

... but it was a welcome herby, astringent counterpoint to the frickin meat with a nice crunch and refreshing lemony vinaigrette.

This filling combo, the Half-a-rotisserie-chicken meal ($8.75):

... was a goood frickin deal and I’m anxious to see how it stacks up to the chicken at Taste, the new (non-frickin) chicken place in Epicurious Garden that just opened this week.

And speaking of openings, production on fresh sausages started yesterday at Paul Bertolli’s Fra’Mani chub factory. They will begin production on dry cured salami the first week of April and they will be ready in late May or early June. You may be fra’miliar with Paul’s charcuterie if you’ve eaten at Oliveto (where he used to be chef.) It’s good stuff.

Goood Frickin Chicken

29th and Mission
San Francisco, CA




Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Udupi Palace combo ($7.95) comes with these:

... white flying saucer shaped Iddly. They are steamed rice and lentil patties that are like the crustless inside of a dense loaf. They taste good to me dipped into the lentil and mustard seed soup, but are a little heavy and verge on bland alone. The menu wadas are the deep fried, lentil doughnuts. They are a little greasy, but have a nice crisp exterior and have a nice lentil flavor.

Chubby and I both ordered combos which come with a choice of several of their dosai or upatham.

He got the dosa with spiced potatoes:

... which is a thin rice crepe with a lump of smashed, tangy spuds in it’s belly. This carbolicious combination of crisp edged crepe and starchy potato hits the spot.

I got the veggie studded uthappam:

...which has a sour deliciousness that I crave. This tangy, veggie comfort food is dotted with green pockets of peas and cilantro. The condiments in little steel bowls add that Sierra Cup feel that completes the Berkeley experience.

Service can be a little slow, but that is as easily forgotten as the lack of meat in this South Indian, inexpensive restaurant.

Since I often find myself hungry at unsanctioned lunch hours, it’s handy that they serve from 11:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. everyday.

Udupi Palace
1901 University Ave.
Berkeley, CA

From today’s bunrab email:

Susan writes:

Always on the lookout for someplace with yummy chow near our office in Novato, a group of us checked out Cafe Bangkok today. I told the owner about your review and he was delighted. He thanked us with a plate of spring rolls. We all enjoyed the food, which was prepared with varying degrees of heat, as ordered. But more than that, we appreciated the accommodating attitude of the owner and we will be back. Thanks so much for giving us a new place visit.


Gutenberg replies:

Dear Susan,

I’m so glad you had a good experience at Café Bangkok. After your note, I’m anxious to go back for some more of their fresh tasting chow.





Monday, March 20, 2006

A tasty little bowl of Tom Ka Gai:

... with a little piece of chicken breast, cilantro, green onions, button mushrooms and coconut milk was the warm up act to my Pad Phed Pla Merk ($8.95):

... which along with squid masquerading as pinecones, contained crisp green beans, red and green bell peppers and Thai basil in a red chili sauce. It could have used a bit more heat, but the fresh flavors, varied textures and herbaceous perfume made for a good lunch even though it didn’t shoot it’s way into the craveable category. Next time I’m by I’ll try one of their curries.

I like the notation on the bottom of their menu, “if your favorite Thai dish is not on our menu, please let us know; our chef will be happy to prepare it for you (within limits)” How cool is that?

And speaking of cool, check out Herman:

photo from bbc.co.uk

He must have been spending some time at the all you can eat buffets in San Rafael. Destined for a fate that no bunrab should ever have to endure, his obesity was his salvation. Yea Herman.

Café Bangkok
2007 Novato Blvd.
Novato, CA

From today’s bunrab email Gregory writes:


I feel your pain on the whole Epicurious thing, though I didn't drive all the way across the bridge to find out it was closed. That Webmaster screwed up big time. Here's a tip to save you future frustration: on the Soop website there's a phone number (and a menu to drool over).

Call them on Monday and see if they're open. When I called on Saturday, they told me they hope to open on Tuesday. Of course, if the food is fantastic all will be forgiven.

Cesar is very hit and miss. The tapa of the day and jamon serrano are a good bet, and I love the fries, but you roll the dice with the rest of the menu.



Gutenberg replies:

Dear Gregory,

I took your advice and called the Soop hotline. They said that they will open on Wednesday, but to call to be absolutely sure.

I’m with you on the Cesar fries. I should have gotten some of them instead of those beans. Live and learn...


Sam from Becks and Posh writes about yesterday’s I forgotto recipe:


So cute you served it in a Fatted Calf rillettes ramekin!


Chubby replies to his special buddy Sam...

Dear Sam,

Man, you are really sharp to identify Bay Area food products by their empty, unlabeled packaging. Time to pitch a new TV show: FSI (Food Scene Investigation) Sam Francisco.

Your pal,





Sunday, March 19, 2006


Led down the Epicurious Garden path:

A sunny Sunday meant a drive to Berkeley to check out the long awaited, uber-food-court who’s website announced, “NOW OPEN! Come visit us!”

I started out Epi-curious, now I’m just epi-pissed off. Could they please get it together to coordinate their cyber “open” sign with reality? They were epi-closed.

On the verge of malnutrition, it was time to refuel at Cesar’s next door. It was practically empty and I devoured the little bowl of citrus infused olives immediately.

The jamon Serrano, lomo embuchado and chorizo palacios ($7.75):

...were drizzled with evo and topped with a few caperberries. These thinly sliced, cured meats were flavorful and delicious.

The fried artichokes and asparagus ($8.75):

...were served alongside a saffron aioli. The breadcrumb coated choke hearts and battered spears were a little on the greasy side. The asparagus was cooked to the point of limpness and offered a mushy interior to the thin coating. The aioli had some punch, but this dish did not call out for more oil.

Sturgeon a la plancha ($9.75):

... was a little more cooked than I prefer. The pimeton lended some pep to the dish, but the overcooked cauliflower didn’t help matters. As the server removed the plate she spilled some of the pool of olive oil on my trousers, gasped and apologized for the grease spot on my clothes. Perhaps I am too rigid in thinking that perhaps comping one of the drinks would have been in order or even a biscotti or some sort of gesture to reflect upon when I went home to apply my Shout stain stick… Nada.

The weird thing is that Cesar’s is usually a good bet and I have been very happy with food there in the past. I could be that the slow afternoon meant people weren’t as on their toes as they are on a busy night. I won’t give up on them yet, but I’ll bring some Shout portable wipes next time.

Rumor has it that Epicurious Garden is opening on Monday, but I’m going to believe it when I see it.

My faith in good chow was rekindled with a taste of Chubby’s easy to make dessert. Check out his recipe for I forgotto – it’s seriously delish.

The Chubster has been having better luck than me with his Berkeley dining. Take a look at his brand new review of Indus Village.


1515 Shattuck Ave.
Berkeley, CA




Saturday, March 18, 2006


The Rhone Rangers' San Francisco tasting was held today at the Festival Pavilion in Fort Mason.

A sunny break in the weather didn’t keep wine lovers away from this gathering of American wine makers who produce Rhone style wines.

I was reluctant to bring Chubby because he does not make a habit of utilizing the dump buckets

and just gets liquored up at these events, but luckily, this gathering had the added appeal of food purveyors showcasing their wares (and slowing down alcohol absorption.)

The Aidell's Sausage table was one of the more popular sobering stations:

there were also local cheese, charcuterie and chocolate makers. I even ran into someone I know:

at the Crunchy Foods table. They produce biscotti and, well, crunchy things. I couldn't figure out where the chocolate covered marshmallows fit in, but that didn't prevent me from sampling a few.

There are so many interesting wines to try.

It could be argued that many are too young to appreciate fully, but, just as I will happily enjoy a bit of chocolate chip cookie dough to evaluate it’s potential as a fully realized cookie, I will delight in a taste of the grapey, liquid version.

I particularly enjoyed stopping by the Palmeri station:

Kerry Damskey’s 2003 Alexander Valley Syrah with it’s blackberry and vanilla notes was a result of their first vintage from their Van Ness acreage.

Chubby ended up eating more than his share (and more than his weight) of coco nib chocolate tiles from the Peter Rabbit chocolate table (I think that the name is what hooked him) so he didn’t end up all sloppy for the drive home.






Friday, March 17, 2006

Top of the Mornin’

If I were in charge of the Oakland Airport, I would make an effort not to evoke the sense of a burnt out fuselage with my interior design:

…but that’s just me.

I got to Burbank and grabbed breakfast at a place chosen out of convenience rather than craving. The Laredo sandwich ($3.75):

... is an omelet with cheese, avocado, tomatoes and beans on Cuban bread – sort of a burrito/egg muffin hybrid. It wasn’t interesting enough to order again, but a perfectly welcome calorie delivery vehicle on this chilly morning.

I also got a chorizo pie (75¢):

... which as a good thing to get if your coach needs you to gain 25 pounds to play in the big game this weekend, for those of us who aren’t linebackers, this is way too heavy for my taste. The rich, thick pastry walling in the salty chunks of sausage might sound appealing, but this innocent looking pie isn’t worth the investment (even at 6 bits.)

I took a pass on Porto’s answer to a Shamrock Shake:

I have more faith in humanity than to believe that anyone actually placed an order for this celebratory beverage to ring in the holiday. I’m not up for green beer either, it seems to me that the color would make you more prone to the delayed rejection of this liquid in the most undesirable way.

When I got back to Oakland this evening, it was a zoo:

When it was my turn to pay for my parking, the cashier was Ethiopian. I asked her which local restaurant serves the best interpretation her native cuisine, she said “Café Colucci.”

Porto's Bakery
3614 W. Magnolia Blvd.
Burbank, CA




check out March 9 thru 16



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