Brickyard Coffee – San Diego

24 Nov

brickyard-cafeI was wandering around on my first day of vacation in San Diego and came across Brickyard Coffee. I loved the look of it. It’s sort of funky, rustic vibe felt cozy and they have a great patio. It was mid to late morning on a Friday so I decided to stop in for a coffee and bagel.

Stepping up to the counter was when things went downhill fast for this little dog. The staff was, less than friendly as if my presence there was somehow unwanted. I had what I thought was a simple order, a sesame bagel toasted with cream cheese and a latte; a no brainer for a coffee shop right? Well not this place.

They took my money and gave me a number sign. No thank you we’ll bring it out to the table, nothing. So I went out on the patio, found a table and waited…and waited…finally 10 minutes later my bagel arrives. I mentioned that I had ordered a latte thinking the order should come out together. The guy shrugged his shoulders and walked away. The bagel was cold, and unappetizing, I nibbled waiting for the latte. I saw the guy delivering someone else’s coffee and asked about my latte. His response…”It’s coming.” So after more waiting, the tasteless bagel gone, I finally get my latte. I think I’d rather have scooped out muddy water from the street. Their coffee is terrible.

Long story short, don’t make a special trip to come here. If you happen to be walking by and want a coffee, wait, don’t bother because with their terrible food and customer service, they don’t want you.

My rating 1 paw

Shata's Signature

With love from my dog bowl to yours….Happy eating…or not!

Don Chido’s – Gaslamp District San Diego

22 Nov

UnknownMexican cuisine has always been my downfall. I could eat good Mexican food three meals a day, seven days a week and still I’d want more. As a dog with ancient roots in China, I’m not sure where my love of Mexican food came from, but it’s with places like Don Chido’s that keeps me wanting more.

Picture it, a beautiful sunny day in mid-November. Temps are in the upper 60’s; you’re sitting at a table surrounded by open windows sipping a delicately sweet yet tantalizingly tart icy margarita. Could it get any better? Oh, it does because the food hasn’t even arrived yet.

In comes my taco platter, which consists of three street tacos, a side of refried beans and Mexican rice. What I really like was the fact that you, the guest, got to choose your three tacos all for the same lunch price of $11.00. The refried beans were smoky, creamy, and delicious and the red rice dotted with small green peas was cooked perfectly. The carne asada taco was spicy, and grilled to perfection. The fish taco, which was mahi-mahi today, was delicate and light with the crunch of cabbage and a green sauce that was out of this world, and even though these two were top notch, my favorite was the rajas poblano taco. The smokiness of the peppers, corn, and mushrooms was something to be savored.

This is not your high-end Mexican restaurant on the contrary; this is solid Mexican food without the attitude but with loads of flavor.

My rating

ShatasSignature_2-4-1

With love from my dog bowl to yours….Happy eating!

Le Parfait Paris – Gaslamp District San Diego

21 Nov

IMG_0658This is my first trip to San Diego, but already I know that it will not be my last. My first morning here I walked down 5th Avenue and found what I believe to be the best café outside of Paris. Le Parfait Paris, a very sleek, modern café in the Gaslamp District of San Diego is not to be missed.

I must say walking up to the café at 8:30am on a Friday morning with only one other person in the café set my tail and paws quivering with disappointment. Was it that bad? I decided to push my apprehension aside and give it a try. I’m glad I did.

Let me just say here and now that I am a coffee and pastry snob. Yes, I admit and embrace that part of myself. What passes for pastries in this country is pathetic. Le Parfait Paris doesn’t fall into the Americanized version thankfully. This place has without doubt the best French pastries outside of Paris or at least the best that I have ever had.

I order a cappuccino, which was perfectly made and delicious with a thick layer of foamy goodness on top. It was a bit small for my coffee habit and a bit expensive so I had to forego a second one. I ordered an almond croissant that was warm, flaky, delicate, and delicious. A perfect pair it was, and I will be back every morning during my stay.

Do yourself a favor and get to Le Parfait Paris, place your order, find yourself a small table, close your eyes and be transported to Paris.

My rating

ShatasSignature_2-5

With love from my dog bowl to yours…Happy eating!

Salt and Olive, Cambridge, MA

10 Sep

saltOne of the things that make this little doggy happy is a good bottle of olive oil, and no I am not talking about the olive oils you get at grocery store chains. I’m talking about the olive oils with the rich, deep, grassy notes that linger on the food or on your tongue, the kind that has a bit to it as it slides down your throat. Do you know what I’m talking about? If not, you’re missing out.

One of the things that Cambridge has been missing is a store the celebrates olive oil, but that is no more, because Salt and Olive has opened up at 1160 Massachusetts Avenue in Harvard Square, but wait there’s more. This isn’t just about the vast array of oils, oh no, they have vinegars, salts, spices and teas. This place is a piece of heaven and better yet you can sample the oils and vinegars.

I’ve been to other stores in Boston and in other city, that specialize in oils and vinegars, but none of them have compared to Salt and Olive. The staff here really knows their products, and are their to help the novice with understanding the subtle differences, while allowing the oil connoisseur to indulge on one of the most amazing gifts from nature, the olive oil.

5 paws

ShatasSignature_2-5

 

 

With love from my dog bowl to yours…happy eating!

 

 

Summer Shack – Boston, MA

6 Sep

imagesOne of the things I love about being back in the Boston area, is the fact that friends from all over the world eventually pass through our fine city for some reason or another, which gives me a chance to show them the city, or at least share some food, wine and conversation while catching up on both our lives.

This happened this past week. A former co-worker was coming in for a job interview, and as it was her first time in Boston, she wanted to go someplace that was “Boston-like” so I met her at the hotel and we walked to Jasper White’s Summer Shack.

All I can say is that I am sorry I’ve not been to Summer Shack before now. The service was friendly, personable, and not at all rushed; obviously not the norm for a lot of Boston restaurants. The food was fresh and well prepared. Oh, and can I stop here for a moment and say, the best freaking house-made potato chips on the planet – seriously.

Even with all my mad ravings about this place, there is one criticism I must discuss, because it’s a big issue for me. It’s called, “Portion Control.” I mean my fish sandwich filled a large dinner plate, no kidding; there was barely room for my 1/8 of a slice of a dill pickle. The chips had to be placed in a separate large bowl. The food is great, the prices are decent for Boston standards, but please why can’t we reduce the portions, perhaps cut the fish by oh at least a 1/3 and then add some fresh steamed vegetable? Does anyone need that much deep fried fat in one meal?

Okay, I’m done with my puppy rant for today. If you want some great seafood and fish, in a fun and lively environment, go to Summer Shack. There are four locations, so I can’t speak for all of them, but if you’re in the Back Bay check out their Boston restaurant. 

My rating 4 paws

ShatasSignature_2-4-1

With love from my dog bowl to yours…Happy eating!

Masa – South End, Boston

17 Aug

MasaLast night I went for a stroll in Boston for the first time since my little paws returned home to Cambridge back in July. It was truly a wonderful night to be out in the city. My destination for the evening was a southwestern restaurant called Masa in the South End on Tremont Street. It had been over two years since I had been here and I was anxious for my return.

I ordered off their 3-course prix-fixe menu for Dine out Boston. My spinach and artichoke flautas were out of this world. Two perfectly crisped tortillas stuffed with cheese, spinach and artichokes, were doused with a spicy, smoky red sauce that made my little tail wag feverishly.

The entrée was a slow cooked chicken adobado with black bean mole, jalapeno cream salsa, grilled peaches. Here’s where the tail stopped wagging.

Don’t get me wrong everything was expertly prepared, wonderfully flavorful, and beautifully presented. So why did my tail stop wagging? The portions were way skewed for my taste. The plate consisted of two very large, perfectly prepared portions of chicken (literally a half chicken), their grilled peaches should not be plural, I received ½ a grilled peach, and perhaps 6 wilted spinach leaves under the chicken. As I said, very unbalanced. Um, guys? How about some spicy pozole, mashed potatoes, or even some rice with the meal? Perhaps some steamed vegetables, anything, but a heaping plate of chicken with nothing else.

So there you have it. Masa is a great restaurant, don’t get me wrong, just be prepared. If you like all meat and little else, then you’re all set. For me, the next time I go back, and I will go back because it’s just that good, I will probably order a few items off their appetizer menu. At least that way I’ll be able to control the balance of my meal.

With love from my dog bowl to yours…Happy Eating.

3.5 paws

ShatasSignature_3.5

 

Fresca – Noe Valley, San Francisco

7 Jun

IMG_0136Friday the boys took me up 24th Street and into Noe Valley. After a few short stops along the way (there is plenty to see and do) we arrived at our dining destination, Fresca, a Peruvian restaurant with an amazing menu.

We split a trio sampler of their ceviche (you can actually choose between seven different options) We ordered the Ceviche Mixto with white fish, calamari, shrimp, and scallops; Ceviche Chifa with tuna; and Ceviche de Coco another tuna dish with coconut-jalapeno milk, cashews and jicama. The ceviche trio came with a small plate of house toasted corn nuts, and a basket of fried plantains. This could have been a meal in itself. Each of the dishes was fresh and bursting with an assortment of flavors and vegetables from sweet potatoes with cilantro and corn to a pondu-leche sauce with crispy wontons and avocados.

For dinner, I decided to go on the lighter side. I ordered the El Toro Steak Salad. First of all, their salads are huge. Enough that two people could easily split. The steak was melt in your mouth tender and juice. It sat on a bed of mixed greens with tomatoes, avocados and onions. All topped with a creamy cilantro dressing. This little doggy had her tail wagging the entire evening.

Fresca’s food is amazing. It’s inventive, fresh and, exploding with flavor. Alas, sometimes you have to take the good with the bad. The bad part of the evening came from our waiter who just couldn’t keep it together. Twice we asked for sparkling water, we never did get it. When we first got seated we ordered a couple of glasses of wine, we waited and waited. I happened to look over, our wine was sitting on the bar waiting to be served. Our waiter was off in the corner of the restaurant laughing and carrying on a conversation oblivious to why he was actually there…to serve his customers.

If I were rating this restaurant on their food alone, I would gladly give it 5 paws, but I am a bit picky when I go out to a restaurant, I want to be treated like they want me there. And no it wasn’t due to a shortage of staff or a busy evening. We ate early, about 6:0pm. There were only four tables with customers and it wasn’t like he was the only waiter there.

From my dog bowl to yours….Happy Eating.

My Rating

ShatasSignature_2-2-1

 

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