All posts tagged “bay area

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Coqueta

Coqueta, the Spanish restaurant created by Chef Michael Chiarello, has easily become one of my favorite spots in the city. With its unbeatable location on Pier 5 overlooking the Bay Bridge, its exquisite selection of cocktails and wines, and its mouthwatering tapas, Coqueta is the perfect place for a special occasion or entertaining clients and relatives.

Coqueta’s drink menu features a multitude of wines and cocktails, including gin drinks, tequila, rum, whiskey, etc. The cocktails are all light and fresh, with beautiful fresh flowers and fruits as well as subtle spices and flair. The drink on the right is the Barça Gin & Tonic, with fresh grapefruit and thyme, and the drink on the left is the Salt “Air” Margarita (above).

The menu is split into two sections: hot and cold. The cold side features pintxos and tapas such as Deviled Eggs and Lacinto Kale Salad, as well as my personal favorite, the Salmon Ahumado, which is a slice of smoked salmon laid on top of a layer of queso fresco smeared on a crunchy bite of bread, with a drizzle of truffle honey.

The ultimate starter, of course, is the ham & cheese plate, or in fancier terms, the ‘charcuterie’ plate. At Coqueta, diners can order any combination of meats and cheeses they desire, with choices such as the Jamon Serrano (below), Chorizo, Salami, and cheeses such as Manchego (below). The plate comes with Marcona almonds, an olive oil torta, and little breads with tomáquet.

The winning dish of the entire meal, however, may have been the ‘Pulpo a la Parrilla,’ the wood grilled Mediterranean octopus with fingerling potatoes and Pimentón olive oil. The octopus was tender and slightly charred, while the potatoes were savory and soft.

For an entree, we ordered the special of the day: the suckling pig with romesco sauce and a small side salad with watermelon radish and citrus. While the pig was a bit on the dry side, the outer layer of skin was sweet and flavorful, and the jus, with the romesco sauce and flakes of salt, added the perfect level of moisture to the succulent pork.

We also ordered ‘Esparragos Trigueros,’ which were juicy with hints of lemon, laid in a bed of romesco sauce that paired well with the entree.

The dessert could not have been better. We started with the ‘Bizcocho de Arroz con Leche,’ which is a warm molten arroz con leche cake with arroz con leche ice cream and huckleberries. The cake resembled a volcano, that revealed an eruption of rice pudding when sliced through the middle. The cake was sweet, warm, and not too rich in flavor, creating the perfect balanced dessert.

The Manchego Cheesecake, however, with caramel popcorn, was amazing, but a bit too rich. It was very sweet with the outer layer of caramel, but with the thickness of the manchego cheese, proved to be a little too on the decadent side. For sweets and cheese-lovers, this dessert is the way to go!

Whether it’s date night or your parents last night in town, Coqueta is an amazing place to go for dinner and drinks, or even a cocktail with some small bites. You can’t go wrong with the Barça Gin & Tonic, or go big with the massive paella!

Pier 5, The Embarcadero
San Francisco, CA 94111

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La Note

La Note is one of the most highly sought-after brunch places in Berkeley. Boasting gourmet French cuisine, La Note most often has wait times of over an hour, and a large crowd waiting outside.

The food was phenomenal. La Note is mostly known for their French pastries, which you can order as a filled basket, and their incredibly fluffy egg dishes, all of which come with their garlic home fries.

Their pastries include croissants, coffee cakes, brioche, tartine, and baguettes. While the basket and a brunch plate might be too much, a select few are great to share – we ordered the Toasted Cinnamon Brioche with Lavender Honey and the Sour Cream Coffee Cake Maison. I was completely taken by the Lavender Honey – the airy Cinnamon brioche dipped in the Lavender Honey was heavenly, with the Lavender leaving a subtle but lasting taste.

The main courses included a variety of egg dishes, pancakes, French brioche (fancy for French Toast), and smaller oatmeal cups. The dishes come with a side of home fries, with meaty garlic cloves as big as the potatoes, and combo dishes include the fluffiest, softest eggs you’ve ever tasted.

Above is the Les Oeufs Lucas, with Scrambled Eggs and Goat Cheese on toast and a side of home fries and roasted tomatoes. Below is the classic Two Eggs + Bacon dish, sunny side up.

I ordered the Cote Est, which was a combo plate with eggs, a pancake, and bacon or home fries. I asked the waitress for the “Swirly Pancake” after seeing multiple people enjoying them. Not only are they incredibly photogenic, but the “Swirly Pancake,” which turned out to be the Creme Fraiche pancake, was creamy and delicious too!

The coffee and eggs completely won me over, and the Creme Fraiche pancake along with the aromatic garlic and potatoes completed this incredible brunch meal. The atmosphere is perfect for family meals and cute dates, with the bustling but gentle wait staff and the romantic French environment. La Note also has a large back patio covered in greenery. This is a place I will definitely be returning to!

2377 Shattuck Ave
Berkeley, CA 94704

 

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Brown Sugar Kitchen

Brown Sugar Kitchen in Oakland is the soul food restaurant run by Tanya Holland of the Melting Pot, a show on the Food Network. What started as a small restaurant in a rarely visited area of Oakland is now a hot spot for one of the best Chicken & Waffle breakfasts in the Bay Area.

Brown Sugar Kitchen isn’t like the other Bay Area brunch spots with Benedicts and Pancakes. Brown Sugar Kitchen has a limited brunch menu, featuring a variation of Chicken & Waffles (or just chicken, or just waffle), and other items such as a Veggie Scramble and their Daily Special, which was the Pork Hash with Poached Eggs.

The Pork Hash with Poached Eggs was flavorful and had a small spice kick, which, covered in the yolk from the poached eggs, created a filling and savory breakfast. Other menu items included granola, BBQ shrimp & grits, side dishes such as sausages and eggs, and giant beignets.

The Beignets were gone within seconds. Since they weren’t too greasy or heavy, the sweet layer of powdered sugar and the fruity jams (Raspberry & Marmalade) that they were paired with created a dessert-like appetizer that didn’t make anyone feel too guilty before indulging in their Chicken & Waffles!

The Chicken & Waffles were everything I’ve dreamed of (yes, I dream about Chicken & Waffles) and more. The waffles were made out of cornmeal, which, while it was still airy and buttery, weren’t too heavy or overly sweet. The dollop of butter on top was mixed with a hint of brown sugar, lending a sugary but also molasses-y note to the waffle. The chicken, fried to perfection (one dark one white meat), was the perfect balance of savory and spice, fried with a Cajun seasoning that flavored them through to the bone. All of this with the Apple Syrup drizzle (tasted like cinnamon apple pie) created one of the best Chicken & Waffle dishes I’ve ever had. It wasn’t too heavy or greasy, and I didn’t feel overly stuffed afterwards (so naturally it left me wanting more!).


With mimosas, plenty of side items and sweet/savory options, Brown Sugar Kitchen is definitely a place I would recommend if you find yourself in this part of Oakland. The Chicken & Waffles is a MUST, and goes great with your morning coffee or mimosa!

2534 Mandela Pkwy
Oakland, CA 94607
 

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The Mill

The Mill, located on Divisadero in Hayes Valley, is my favorite cafe North of the Panhandle.

With its large windows and beautiful exposed dark red brick, it’s hard to keep from going inside. The cafe is large and open, with bright lights, window lounging areas, ornately decorated walls and shelves, and an intricately twisted rope structure dangling over the community table.

The Mill is known for their bread and coffee, a combination of Four Barrel Coffee and Josey Baker Bread, who work together to run one of the best cafes in the city. Along with the rich creamy coffee that is brewed by Four Barrel, Josey Baker Bread bakes the most fresh and fluffy bread, with thick crunchy crusts and full of hearty grains. These breads can be bought by the loaves, but are also served as toasts – $4 for a thick slice of toast with your desired topping – all of which are incredibly delicious.

There are usually four kinds of toasts offered:

Dark Mountain Rye Bread with Cream Cheese and Salt & Pepper
Country Bread with Butter and Cinnamon Sugar
Sesame Poppy Bread with Almond Butter and Salt
Bird Bread with Butter, Honey, and Salt

My favorite is the Dark Mountain Rye Bread with Cream Cheese and Salt & Pepper. The cream cheese is made by The Mill as well, and is a thick, rich schmear, with a plentiful helping of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper topped onto this savory toast.

For a sweeter palate, I like the Country Bread with Butter and Cinnamon Sugar, which, while sugary, is not overpowering, and reminds me of a Churro-toast. I love cinnamon, so this is the perfect alternative to go with my latte when I am wanting something sweet.

The Mill was one of the first cafes I visited when I moved to the city, and still remains one of my favorites a year later, along with Jane. The combination of one of my favorite coffee brewers, Four Barrel, with the undeniably delicious toasts by Josey Baker, make for an amazing coffee shop, with the added perk of no wi-fi to force people to enjoy the beautiful company and establishment that they are in and take a break from their tech!

The Mill also serves one-of-a-kind pizzas on Mondays 7-9, made with unique and interesting ingredients (think Cheeseboard Collective in Berkeley). I have yet to make it for Pizza Night at The Mill, but will be sure to update when I do!

736 Divisadero St
San Francisco, CA 94117

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Homeroom

Homeroom – because what’s better than a restaurant dedicated to gourmet Mac & Cheese?! Nothing. Located in Oakland on 40th Street, Homeroom and Homeroom-To-Go are known for their giant portions of cheesy goodness, ranging from Classic Mac & Cheese to Gilroy Garlic Mac & Cheese,… Read More

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Local Union 271

Local Union 271, located on the bustling street of University Ave in Downtown Palo Alto, is a hip and rustic eatery that prides itself in its ‘farm to table’ ingredients. The restaurant, which serves breakfast/brunch, lunch, dinner, and drinks, is inviting and airy, with massive… Read More