Delany’s

Before my breakfast at Delany’s I knew it just as “that place that NEVER has any people in it.  EVER.”  Steve swore up and down that it was perpetually empty, and I believed him because the few times I noticed it as I walked by it was vacant.  We wondered when it would close and how it was still open.  I have to admit, we weren’t too nice about it.  Probably we were a little cruel.  And you’d think that by now I’d have learned not to judge. 

Delany’s was nice inside, though spare.  Until you looked up.

Then it was pretty festive.  It was bright with sunlight, which I like, especially at breakfast time.  We were the only people in the restaurant when we sat down.  A group of three frat-esque guys came in after we’d been there about 20 minutes.  Here’s the thing about Delany’s:  we waited for our food for a long long long time.  We had the time, but if you’re looking for a quick in and out bite, this is not the place for you.  Luckily the coffee was good.

The reason for the long wait for our food may have been because we ordered off the menu of Bolivian specials.  They had some tasty sounding omelets and scrambles at very reasonable prices, but the Bolivian specials were too exciting to pass up, even though they were twice the price of anything on the normal breakfast menu.

I was tempted by the Asado Especial, but I figured I didn’t need to eat rice AND french fries.  So I went with the equally enticingly described Silpancho. 

Steve ordered the Morcilla.

I am a pretty adventurous eater, but one of the things I get a little weird about it blood sausage.  I was surprised when I really enjoyed the Morcilla; it was super rich and creamy, with warm spices like cinammon and cumin.  It was delicious smeared on the french fries, which were golden and crisp on the outside and moist on the inside.  The salad was lovely as well, fresh and brightly dressed with a simple vinagrette.  We were both surprised by the salad, we didn’t expect such fresh greens at a place that seemed to have no customers. 

Steve’s meal looked pretty, but I think it was my dish that really impressed us with its presentation.  It certainly wasn’t what you’d expect at a restaurant that’s empty all the time.  It made me feel kind of bad that these people are putting so much work and thought into their cooking without much reward.  Still, the silpancho didn’t quite live up to its looks.  I enjoyed it, the beef was tender and flavorful, the eggs were perfectly cooked and the potatoes were light.  The little scoop of salsa that topped it was a bit bland, and I really wished that I’d had a lemon wedge or something acid to balance out the richness of the egg and beef and the blandness of the rice.  I was offered tabasco, which added a bit of heat but just wasn’t the right flavor.  So, not a perfect dish, but easily fixed. 

Delany’s is a tiny operation.  When I was there I saw three people; a waitress/chef, a teenager who helped a bit with waiting tables but mostly looked at a laptop at a back table, and another chef that I only glimpsed in the kitchen.  I’m pretty certain they were the only folks working there.  While Steve and I were waiting for our food, we could hear chopping and pounding and sizzling coming from the kitchen.  I think Delany’s could be doing a lot more business, they aren’t in the greatest location, but they are just a few doors down from the behemoth that is Brenda’s.  I’d think that they could be taking more of that overflow.  I think the main problem is that they aren’t advertising their Bolivian food.  There aren’t too many places in San Francisco serving Bolivian food and it seems to be a pretty interesting cuisine.  If they made that more of a focus of their outside presentation,  I think they could draw more people in.  I could be totally off base though; for all I know Delany’s is super busy during weekday lunches.  Several people on Yelp mentioned that they have live music on weekend nights.  I’d be interested to see that.  I’m also interested to come back and try the American/Italian food on their dinner menu, as well as more Bolivian food.  So, I hope they stay open for a while.

Cool Pink Floyd poster.

Delany’s

710 Polk St

Their Yelp Page

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What A Grind

I pretty much need to have coffee in the morning.  This isn’t really a problem on work days, there are a gazillion and one starbucks and peets and donut shops within walking distance of my office, and I keep a french press at my desk.  The weekend is when this can get tricky.  Usually I just order a cup at whichever restaurant I eat breakfast/brunch/lunch (depending on how late I sleep).  There are some days though where various elements conspire to make it difficult for me to caffeinate myself, and then I get a little, shall we say, grumpy.  I was having one of those mornings the other day, when Steve and I were going out of town for some reason or other.  We were going to be riding our bikes down to the BART station.  In the old days, before bikes, we would have walked down to the station and I would have picked up a coffee somewhere along the way.  This was no longer an option, so I needed to figure something else out.  I had grown a bit tired with my usual coffee spot, the gelato place about a block from my house.  Their americanos were nice, but the service could be slow, and I needed food with my coffee.  That’s my other problem, I can’t drink coffee on an empty stomach.  They have some middling pastries at the gelato place, and they make crepes and bagels, but as I mentioned, the wait can be painfully long.  I didn’t have a lot of time because I had to eat and finish my coffee before we had to leave in about 30 minutes.  I decided to head down the hill to the next closest coffee shop, What A Grind.

I’m friendly with two of my fellow tenants in my apartment building, and one of them told me a few months ago that What A Grind has the best coffee in San Francisco.  I was pretty skeptical about that; I’d waited at the bus stop in front of the cafe almost everyday for 2 years and I saw the volume of business they were doing.  If this place really had the best coffee in San Francisco some hipster would have found it out and it would have grungy kids queuing down the block.  Mostly the customers are burnouts and old Chinese guys from the neighborhood.  The place definitely inspires a fierce loyalty among some, I saw the same faces there the Sunday I stopped by that I’d been seeing every weekday morning for so long. 

I went inside and ordered a regular coffee and an everything bagel with ham, cheese and egg.  The interior was not at all what I expected, it was much brighter and filled with odd knick-knacks and framed photos.  There was a life size painting of Marilyn Monroe on one wall.  The small dining area, off to the right of the small entryway room that housed the counter and the kitchen, was homey with mismatched chairs and tables and potted plants.  I watched as Sam, the proprietor, who I recognized from my bus stop days, put my bagel on the toaster and sliced pressed ham on a meat slicer.  My breakfast sandwich was about 4 bucks, which is just a little cheaper than the non-breakfast sandwiches they offer.  They also have some deli salads that didn’t look bad at all.  I’m thinking this could be a decent place for a quick, cheap lunch.

That is, if my bagel is any indication.  I was put off a bit by the amount of liquid that came off the bagel, I’m not sure why it was so wet.  I mean, I guess it must be from the ham but it was a serious amount of juice.  It did not seem proportional to the amount of filling.  Beyond that initial weirdness, it was a pretty good breakfast sandwich.  The egg was fine for microwave cooked egg, the ham was standard, pretty salty but good.  The cheese was American, but I’m ok with that on a hot sandwich because American cheese has a pretty superior melt-ability.  The bagel was toasted enough that there was a crackly crust on the cut sides and the outside.  When I have a toasted bagel I want a well toasted bagel.  If I were to grab breakfast at What a Grind again, I’d probably get a bagel with cream cheese or tomato or something, because those bagels are pretty cheap at $1.50 and, though I found my sandwich quite satisfying, it probably wasn’t $4 worth of satisfying. 

Oh, and the coffee?  Not the best in San Francisco, sorry.  I knew you were hoping I’d be the hipster who discovered the diamond in the rough, but it’s not to be.  It was pretty good though.

What A Grind

881 Post Street

www.whatagrindcafe.com

Oh, something really cool about this place is that it’s in the same building as the apartment that Dashiell Hammett lived in while he was writing The Maltese Falcon, among other stories.  There’s a plaque on the wall near the gated entrance where you can read a bit more about it.  Neat, huh?  You can also check out this site for a photo tour of the building and apartment.

Tommy’s Joynt

I think Tommy’s Joynt would be a good place for a first date.  You can be kind of intimate if you sit in one of the high walled booths, but not feel too secluded because of the constant chatter of the place and the TVs and all.  All the kitschy decorations, the old beer advertisements and other bric-a-brac, would make for good conversation starters.  And if you’re really shy it would be the perfect place to bring a bunch of your friends to make it a less stressful group date. 

Or maybe I’m crazy.  I was just thinking after my last visit that it was kind of a romantic place.  I find it very easy to get caught up in a conversation and just forget that you’re in a room full of other people.  Maybe it’s because you order your food at the counter and then carry it to your table yourself so you don’t get interrupted by a waiter.  I know I’ve said before I don’t like places where you order at the counter, but Tommy’s is an exception.  Usually the line is long enough that you have plenty of time to peruse the menu, and it’s nice to be able to look at your food before you order (as well as watch it be carved up after).

Tommy’s is a hof brau.  They have various steam table dishes to choose from, some, like the turkey sloppy joe and the spaghetti and meatballs they have nearly everyday, some, like the turkey enchilada are occasionally available.  They also have about 6 meats available everyday that you can have as a dinner plate or a sandwich, as well as daily specials.

I L-O-V-E Tommy’s a lot, I’ve been coming here for years and it’s almost always really hard for me to decide what to order because they have so many good things to eat.  I’m a big fan of the sausage sandwich and the turkey sloppy joe (which is the best deal on the menu).  This particular day though I went in with a clear idea of what I wanted.  For some reason (I think I’d seen a Campbell’s soup ad or something) I had a craving for a real holiday meal, turkey, stuffing, all that.  So I ordered the turkey dinner plate.  The dinner plates usually come with mashed potatoes or veggies and beans or a salad.  I figured I’d order green beans and salad and get a side of stuffing.  I really lucked out though, because it turns out the turkey plate comes with potatoes and stuffing AND salad.  Wow.  I hit the jackpot.

It’s not too much to look at (it’s pretty dark in Tommy’s, especially in the little nook past the bar where we were sitting, so the pictures are a bit wonky) but it tasted pretty good.  The turkey was moist and full of flavor.  The mashed potatoes and gravy were pretty standard, though not bad, but the stuffing is what really does it for me.  It looks like a big pile of dun-colored mush, and that’s pretty much what it feels like when you first put it in your mouth.  I think it has a great flavor though, umami all the way, and some turkey bits in there give it some texture. 

This is my 3 bean salad covered with pickles.  They have a pickle barrel near the cash register and you can take all the pickles you want.  I usually take approximately half a pound.  Most of their salads are delicious, but I favor the three bean salad.  The beans stay pretty toothsome, not all mushy and slimy, and there’s a nice acid bite from vinegar and onions to balance out the creaminess and saltiness of the beans.  After I finished my turkey and stuffing I was way too full to finish the salad, or my mashed potatoes, or my sourdough roll.

Sorry for this incredibly crappy picture.  This is Steve’s turkey enchilada, which seems to be a Saturday special.  Steve orders it whenever we come to Tommy’s on a Saturday.  It’s pretty good.  It reminds me of the enchiladas my dad made when I was growing up in that it is similarly cooked casserole style, is fairly inauthentic and tastes strongly of chili powder.  I like it, though I wish the tortilla was not so soggy, it seems to just disintegrate.  It’s not offensive, and the flavors are still good, and it is stuffed with tons of yummy shredded turkey.

Tommy’s is kind of half restaurant, half bar.  They have a large selection of beers and liquors, and a pretty interesting specialty cocktail list, especially the section that focuses on hot drinks.  I thought I got a picture of my beer, but I guess I forgot.  I believe I ordered the Croatian beer (the bottled beer list is separated by Country of origin) called Karlovacko.  It was pretty good, though I’d recommend the Baltika beers from Russia. 

I think Tommy’s Joynt is pretty great.  It’s comfortable, the food is good and cheap and you can linger as long as you like.  I know it has its detractors (hi Dad) but I’m not prepared to chalk up my fondness for it to good memories.  If you try it for yourself, I’d love to hear which side you fall on.

Tommy’s Joynt

1101 Geary Blvd at Van Ness

www.tommysjoynt.com

Mel’s Drive-In

My visit to Mel’s Drive-In was pretty useful in that it reminded me why I don’t go to Mel’s Drive-Ins anymore.  I’ve been delaying this post because I kind of hate Mel’s.  The food is mediocre and overpriced.  Anyway, I’m getting a little ahead of myself.  I was optimistic when Sarah and I walked in to the restaurant.

It was pretty festive.  Lights and decorations and all that are my favorite thing about the Holidays.  Everything else…not so much.  Well, holiday cocktails,  I like those.  The actual Holidays though, those I could take or leave. 

Mel’s was pretty empty when we got there.  It’s one of those places that is depressing when you’re there alone.  It’s so big, there are lots of booths and tiny jukeboxes at every table…this is a place that is supposed to be full of groups of young people scrounging for change to pay for their fries and families of tourists with screaming babies.  That’s the Mel’s I remember from my youth.  When we were about finished with our meal a group of about 6 or 7 kids came in, but they only depressed me more.  They looked like babies to me, but the odds are they were 18, 19 or 20.  One of them was wearing a Furby backpack.  They caused me to reflect on my past in a severely unpleasant way. 

I don’t want to depress you, and I don’t want you to think I was crying into my curly fries the whole time I was there.  It’s not like that.  Sarah and I were having a pretty good time.  We had a laugh over the food prices;

It’s weird how they end in such unround numbers.  There’s nothing for $3.99, it’s $3.41, or $10.24.  Also, I’ve never really understood why Mel’s puts those mini menus inside of their larger menus.  It makes everything more difficult to read. 

Is it stupid to say that I only just read Fast Food Nation, even though it’s been nearly a decade since it was published?  Well, I can’t help it, and I can’t help that that book put me off ground beef for about a week.  A week which I happened to be smack in the middle of when I went to Mel’s.  That’s how I ended up with the No-Name chicken sandwich

Which turned out to be a very dry chicken breast with gloopy “swiss” cheese melted on top.  It wasn’t worth the 10 whatever bucks I paid for it, but it didn’t make me puke or anything.  The curly fries were exceptional.  Very very crispy.  If I ever go to Mel’s again I’m not even going to try to have a semblance of a real meal.  It’s going to be french fries and ice cream all the way (probably in the form wet fries, which are fries with gravy, and a milkshake, probably coffee).  If I were smart or clever, I would have ordered a grilled cheese like Sarah did

It’s really really hard to fuck up a grilled cheese sandwich.

So, what it boils down to is, if you find yourself at Mel’s diner, I suggest you get fries and dessert.  Ice cream is good, pie could also be ok.  A better suggestion though; don’t go to Mel’s.

Mel’s Drive-In

1050 Van Ness Ave

Moulin

As I was reminiscing on my visit to Moulin, trying to come up with something witty and interesting to say about it, I started to ruminate on this blog as a whole, and what my brain spit out after all this work is that I think if you were to sum up Goldentooth in two words, they would be “pleasantly surprised.”  In the cases of most of the restaurants I’ve visited for the blog that I hadn’t frequented before I was apprehensive and/or pre-convinced that they would suck.  But again and again my assumptions are coming back to bite me in the backside when I am served another delicious meal.  This all occurred to me especially with Moulin because I went there with the lowest of expectations. 

I had actually been planning to go to Brenda’s because it was a rare weekday off for me and I thought that the wait would be less on a late Monday morning.  Turns out I was wrong, as usual.  Moulin was a third choice after I decided I didn’t have time to walk the extra couple blocks it would take to check out the line at Dottie’s.  I’ve been aware of Moulin for some time, I’ve passed by hundreds of times and I’ve heard people talk about it like they used to go there and it was good, but they stopped going.  It is kind of weird that I’d never been there, considering that I live barely 4 blocks away, but in terms of breakfast greasy spoon spots, I’ve been pretty loyal to New Village on Polk.  I’ve been eating farmer omelets and hash browns there for going on 7 years.  That’s why it pains me a bit to say that I want to go to Moulin for breakfast now and forever. 

My preconceived ideas about Moulin started to change as soon as I walked in.  I had been expecting something dingier and dirtier with more booths.  Instead, the interior was neat, though a bit cramped, and it was bright in the front and shadowy in the back.  It looked a bit like a chalet or some sort of Disney version of Scandinavia.  I kept thinking that it felt more like a diner in Southern California than one in San Francisco.  It was easy to forget that the Tenderloin was bustling right outside.

The food at Moulin is cheap.  Not astoundingly cheap, not especially cheaper than other diners, but cheap enough.  I ordered my coffee and I ordered the French toast breakfast, which came with sausage and an egg, which I asked for scrambled.  As I drank my coffee and found it being refilled at an astonishing clip, I noticed that there were only two people working in the restaurant.  An older Asian man who was taking orders, serving food and coffee and running the register and an older Asian woman who was doing the cooking and picking up the slack on the other tasks when her partner got busy.  Only two people in a restaurant that was fairly full of customers, and my coffee never got more than three-quarters empty.  Also, nobody entered or exited without getting a sincere and cheery greeting or farewell.  Several customers they seemed to know and they would stop and chat with them for a moment or two.  And still my coffee and water stayed full and my food came out in a reasonable amount of time considering there was only one cook.

I was astounded by the efficiency of the proprietors, but I was most astounded when my breakfast arrived.  It was GOOD.  And I don’t mean “good” like, “oh yeah, it was pretty good.”  This was one of the more delicious breakfasts I’ve had in a while.  The french toast was eggy and light and sweet after I drenched it in syrup.  The sausage was cooked in such a way that a crust formed on the outside of the link that you crunched through to reveal a juicy interior, yet the usual slime of grease you find with your breakfast sausage was absent from the plate.  And the egg…this was the highlight of the meal for me.  So many times you get scrambled eggs at a diner and they seem kind of like a throwaway; almost always they are cooked incorrectly, either they’re too dry or too runny.  These eggs were cooked absolutely perfectly, they were soft without being wet, they were fluffy and moist.  And to think that this level of perfection was achieved in a kitchen with just one cook.  My loyalty switched as soon as I put the first bite of egg in my mouth.  And everything was served on pretty fiestaware!  Moulin forever. 

Can I say more good things about Moulin?  As I mentioned before, the people working there were so so nice.  The cook, Janet I assume, cleared my empty plate from my table and remarked “you finished everything!  good for you!”  Too adorable.  As I paid (I think my bill ended up being about 9 bucks) and walked out of the restaurant, I was escorted by a chorus of “goodbye, thank you, have a nice day!”  I could still hear it as the door closed behind me and I was back in the world.  Luckily, morning is the nicest time to be on Geary Street.  The streets are cool and quiet, the odors are relatively non-offensive, and everybody on the sidewalks seem to be in a better mood than they are in the afternoon, when the street denizens seem not as happy to be alive.  I walked back up the hill home with a spring in my step, already looking forward to my next trip to Moulin.

Moulin

887 Geary

Their Yelp page

Pearl’s Deluxe Burgers

Is Pearl’s burger the best in San Francisco?  Plenty of people on yelp think so, and I believe it was recently awarded that title at the Great American Food Festival.  I wouldn’t go so far (I am a Bill’s girl through and through) but best burger in the general Tenderloin area?  That is a pretty safe bet. 

Pearl’s Deluxe Burgers is one of my go to spots on a Tuesday or Sunday night, those being the two nights I most often find myself dining alone.  I’m a big fan of the buffalo burgers there, I find the buffalo meat to be so intensely MEATY and juicy and I love the texture of a medium rare buffalo burger.  It’s kind of a bummer that Pearl’s only offers the buffalo meat option for their larger burgers (the one-third pound patties), because often that is too much food for me and after consuming one I find myself groaning that I’ll never eat again.  Still, because I love the buffalo so much and because it’s supposed to be healthier, I keep ordering the larger burgers.

Well, the visit I’m writing about today was different.  Instead of heading to Pearl’s for dinner, I was  looking for something more like an afternoon snack.  I’d been TCB all day and kind of forgot to do lunch when suddenly it’s 4pm and I was supposed to go out and paint the town in a few hours.  I was hungry, but I didn’t want to go too crazy because I knew I’d be eating dinner soon.  So I decided to keep it simple at Pearl’s and try the mini deluxe burger with cheese with a small order of fries on the side.  Sorry I don’t have any pictures of the interior of Pearl’s, I wasn’t planning on field research so I didn’t have my camera.  I can tell you that Pearl’s is really really tiny, maybe six tables in a space that would better fit four.  I’d suggest ordering take out.  The people who work at Pearl’s are so sweet, I almost always end up talking to them about something totally random while I’m waiting for my food.  This visit the cashier was nice, but we didn’t end up chatting, so I got to listen to a couple hipster dudes talk about jerking off at The Lusty Lady.  Nice!  My order came up, I put a bunch of pickle spears in one of the provided wax paper bags (unlimited free pickles, so awesome) and headed home with my loot.

I was pretty surprised by how cheaply I got out of Pearl’s, because usually my tab is more like 15 bucks, but that’s with the regular size burger and the buffalo upgrade (omigod, how bored are you yet of reading buffalo?  sorry!), and this time  I made it out of there under seven dollars, which is pretty good anywhere.  I was pumped and anxious to chow down.

Ooh baby you lookin’ good.  What a color on those fries!  When I say golden that’s what I’m talkin’ about.

I was totally taken with this mini burger.  Isn’t it adorable?  I was like “Squee!  This is the cutest burger I’ve ever seen!!!!” and then I took about a million pictures of it.  Look how tiny it is, like a gourmet McDonalds burger!

So tiny! 

There were two really amazing things about this burger, beyond how adorable it was.  1) It had amazing beefy flavor, and did that thing where you get a bite in your mouth and before any food even touches your tongue a moist, beefy aroma hits the back of the roof of your mouth.  I know it sounds gross, but it is so rare and amazing.  2) This burger was put together perfectly.  The patty fit precisely inside the bun, no overhang and everything stayed together to the last bite.  No dripping condiments, no sliding tomatoes, no onions dangling.  It was shocking to be honest.  I can’t remember the last time I ate a burger and didn’t end up with food all over myself. 

THESE FRIES ARE THE SHIT.  Can I just say that?  Totally yummy fries.  Crispy, velvety, salty…a perfect storm of carbohydrates and oil.  Way to go Pearl’s.   I’ve also had Pearl’s garlic fries in the past and those do not disappoint, though I’m not super keen on their sweet potato fries.  I want to try their onion rings again, I think they were good but it’s been a while…

If you want a hamburger in the Tenderloin, especially if you don’t want to go out but you don’t feel like cooking I recommend Pearl’s wholeheartedly.  I think you’ll like it too. 

Pearl’s Deluxe Burgers

708 Post

(I think it’s pretty cute that their website has nothing but a link to their latest reviews, which are newspaper reviews from 2004.  Also, the reviews are all for their location in Mill Valley.  But also, get a real website dudes!)

Original Perfect Hamburger

Sorry it’s been so long between posts.  I have been a busy busy bee!  And now I am so behind on restaurants!  It seems like I’ve been out millions of times since I went to farm:table.  So I guess I better hop to it, eh?

Steve and I slept in late one Sunday and I suggested we go out for some breakfast to get our strength up.  I knew Steve wanted to go to Perfect Hamburger, we’d thought about going another time but had not been brave enough.  I was still a little skeeved out by the thought of actually eating there, so I said “why don’t we walk by Dottie’s, see how the line is, and if it’s too crazy we’ll do Perfect Hamburger.”  I don’t know how I could have thought that that plan might work out in my favor.  Of course the line at Dottie’s was off the fucking hook.  I am a little concerned about having to eat at Dottie’s, anyone have any suggestions about their off time?  I will go crazy if I have to wait on that line.  So, back to the story, we made our way to Original Perfect Hamburger.

The outside was scary as ever.  They have the weird raw meat looking hamburger photos in the windows and the promise of Chinese AND American food.  I have found that to never be a good combo outside of Chinatown.  When we went inside things were a bit better.  At first…

This place is full of retro kitsch goodness.  If we were rating restaurants on decor alone, Perfect Hamburger would be my new favorite spot.  Everything in there looks to be about a million years old.   I doubt much has changed since the grand opening, save for the addition of the paper plates.  I was cheered considerably by the atmosphere, and by the menu.

Shit was cheap.  And you could get pancakes with a scoop of ice cream!  Insanity.  I decided ice cream was a little too much for my first meal of the day, but I definitely wanted pancakes.  I ordered two with scrambled eggs and sausage.  The waiter/owner asked if I wanted cheese on my eggs.  What?!?  I don’t think I’ve ever been offered gratis cheese on my scrambled eggs in a restaurant.  Of course I wanted cheese!  Steve ordered a mushroom cheeseburger and a strawberry milkshake.  I was super stoked and my feelings about this meal had shifted.  I was encouraged and optimistic.  Steve’s milkshake came;

More positivity.  It was rich and sweet but not overly syrupy sweet like a McDonald’s milkshake.  This was a bona fide ice cream milk shake.  Very creamy with bits of strawberry flesh and seeds.  I was a little weirded out that it came in one of those plastic cups with the pebbly texture, but whatever.  We watched the wife/co-owner work the griddle and soon enough Steve’s burger arrived.

It looked promising.  Lots of vibrant veggies, nicely toasted bun.  Smallish patty but it smelled good.  Then came my pancakes.

Looks pretty right?  So everything looks good, let’s get down to the nitty gritty:  how’s it taste?

Eh.  It was all right.  My pancakes weren’t too heavy and were cooked correctly, no wet spots, no spots where the batter wasn’t mixed well enough.  They were served with butter instead of margarine, which is always appreciated.  I had to ask for syrup 2 or 3 times and they seemed to have only one bottle, which seemed weird for a spot that devotes a lot of its menu to breakfast.  So the pancakes were fine, but after eating about half of my first one I found myself wishing I had ordered hashbrowns instead.  My eggs with cheese were a real bust, they were a sort of mini American cheese omelet, but the cheese was oddly watery and very cheap tasting.  The sausage was perfectly standard cheap diner sausage.  Satisfying.  Steve’s burger was pretty standard as well.  Nothing to write home about, but not a total loss either.  The worst thing about Perfect Hamburger, and why I wouldn’t want to return, is the service.  Usually I am really forgiving when it comes to service issues at restaurants; I’m not a demanding diner and I don’t want to browbeat someone because my food’s not letter perfect, but Perfect Hamburger was a little too much for me.  There was the aforementioned syrup issue, and I had the same issue trying to get milk for my coffee (which, by the way, was some of the worst coffee I’ve ever had, beaten probably only by the gas station coffee I got in Santa Cruz).  When the waitress/wife/co-owner brought me my mug she asked if I needed cream, I answered yes and she nodded and walked away.  She passed by our table a couple times, taking the orders from the table behind us, but I never got my cream.  I had to ask twice more.  I can forgive even these sorts of things, but the proprietors have to be nice, or at least benign.  The people here were pretty offputting, very gruff, obviously disinterested in their customers, upselling…when you ask for water they ask if you want bottled water, which is really strange in a place like this.  It took me a second to piece together that they are probably usually frequented by tourists from the many hotels nearby and that’s why they offer the bottled stuff, but I was taken aback.  It kind of takes away from what I’m looking for in a greasy spoon.

So, unless unstoppable forces compel me, I will not be going back to Original Perfect Hamburger.  No, the Chinese food portion of the menu does not entice me.

At least it was cheap.

Original Perfect Hamburger

601 Geary

Their Yelp Page

farm:table

 I wanted to go back to farm:table a second time before I wrote this post, but I also wanted to get a post up without any more waiting.  I’ll try to go back soon and then I will update.  I feel like this is necessary because I don’t think I got the whole experience on my visit.  I didn’t even get any photos of the food or the interior!  I went around 10 am on a Saturday morning.  farm:table is TINY.  I’d heard that it is really small, but I wasn’t prepared for just how small it is.  The customer area is maybe 8′ by 8′ and most of that is taken up by a square wood table that is surrounded by benches.   Each side of the table can fit two people comfortably, three if you are with your best friends and don’t mind rubbing thighs.  The morning I was there I thought it was busy because there were six people at the table already.  It turns out it was actually quiet that day; when I walked by the next week people seemed to be spilling out the window it was so packed. 

farm:table has a daily changing breakfast and lunch menu (you can get updates on their twitter feed) and I was tempted to try their bread pudding or their hard boiled egg sandwich of the day, but I was deterred by the communal seating situation.  It’s one this for me to sit and eat a muffin and have a coffee while sitting with my face just four feet from a stranger’s, but another thing entirely to try to eat a meal with a fork and knife and all.  This is probably just me, but I’d be way too self conscious.  I ordered what seemed to be the house special drink, the tendernob, and a buckwheat banana cake thing.  The girls running the counter were super super sweet, and they did an amazing job with my drink.  I didn’t catch all the components, but it was espresso, steamed milk and something else in a tiny glass cup, maybe four ounces?  Anyway, it was the most velvety steamed milk I have ever had.  It’s been a long time since I’ve had drink with hot milk because most places can’t make it for shit.  This froth redeemed my faith in humanity.  I think you could have put any sludge in that milk and I would have been okay with it, but of course they had a pretty lovely espresso too, very mellow with a definite floral end note.  It was the perfect sip for a chilly San Francisco morning. 

The little cake was slightly disappointing.  The banana flavor was good, and it was moist on the outside, but the interior was dry.  It was sticking to the inside of my mouth in a most unpleasant way.  Even if it had been the best breakfast bread ever, I probably wouldn’t have been able to enjoy it fully because I just felt too awkward sitting at the communal table.  I was all alone and hadn’t brought any activities with me, everyone else at the table was either there with friends or had a paper or book to read.  I was just sitting there, eating my food, trying not to look at people…it’s just not my thing.  I know plenty of people love this kind of seating, but I can’t get down with it, certainly not when I’m alone.  As I left, I noticed two outside tables that I wish I’d seen on my way in.  I would have been so much happier out there, even though it was pretty breezy. 

I’d really like to try farm:table again, their menus always sound super delicious and I want to try their drip coffee and for sure the latte.  If I can’t round up any dining companions, or if the people are packed in like sardines I guess I’ll have to inquire about their to go options.

farm:table

754 Post St

http://www.farmtablesf.com/

PS – If anyone can tell me exactly what’s in the tendernob, I’d be much obliged.

Hank’s Eats

Before there was Hank’s Eats, the space it now occupies housed a small restaurant called Love’s.  Love’s was a breakfast and lunch only kind of place and it was awesome.  I only visited once before it closed, but from what I observed on that one visit their specialty was stuffed baked potatoes.  Like, whatever you could ever imagine wanting in a baked potato, you could get it at Love’s.  It was pleasant inside, really sunny (it’s right on the corner of Polk and Post with floor to ceiling windows on both walls) and had a sweet sort of vintage feeling green and white color scheme.  It was run by a group of little old ladies who would chatter continuously while they deftly made scrambled eggs on a hot plate and tossed breakfast burritos under the salamander to brown.  It was nice place to go on a lazy weekend late morning and I was sad to see it close ( I had never had the baked potato!).  I was prejudiced against Hank’s Eats from the start, just because it was replacing Love’s.  I avoided it for a long time after my loyalty to Love’s had waned because I was confused by it.  I didn’t understand sangria and bacon wrapped hot dogs and pulled pork sandwiches together.  Also, for a long time they had an off putting photo of a woman, her head thrown back, her mouth wide open and smeared with condiments, with a hot dog propelling towards her mouth.  They must have finally taken that down.  I was still kind of down on the place, but Steve suggested we go there the other night for dinner.  I checked out their Yelp page and I noticed several reviews mentioned blue cheese tater tots, and every bad memory was erased.  I was focused:  must. have. tater. tots.  Nothing else mattered.  

   Things were kind of uncomfortable from the get go.  I was waiting on Steve and sat in Hank’s for probably about 10 minutes.  It was totally empty.  As you can see, it’s pretty dark in there.  The new decor has none of the charms of Love’s bright retro kitsch.  It’s all dark wood paneling and lots of sandstone-esque tile.  They are trying waaay too hard.  It’s counter service, so I sat studying the paper menu while the cashier kept staring at me, probably wondering if I was ever going to order.  A lot of the items sounded good, but most of them looked to have one component too many.  There were a lot of sliced almonds in places where they didn’t seem to belong.  It was hard to decide what to get, but I knew I wanted the sangria, which is advertised heavily in the restaurant, and of course the tater tots.

Steve finally arrived and we got a pitcher of sangria.  This was probably the biggest disappointment for me.  When I saw the pitcher I was pretty impressed, it seemed like a lot of punch for $14 bucks.  They offer three flavors; watermelon, peach and mango.  We got watermelon because watermelon is the best, duh.  It turned out to be one of the weirder drinks I’ve had.  The first taste was as though you had a big glass of Welch’s grape juice, put a watermelon Jolly Rancher in it then put a shit load of ice in there and set it out on the counter until all the ice melted then you drank it.  Then there was a finish of musky, dessert wine flavor.  It was pretty unpleasant, but not undrinkable.  It’s the kind of stuff where you’re drinking it and drinking it and drinking it and you think you’re going to get a buzz but you never do, but you sure get a stomachache.  Fun!

OMG, do you see those tater tots?  They’re beautiful right?  Those things were so tasty, there are not words.   I have never had tater tots so wonderfully crispy; they had a crust on them like a loaf of sourdough bread.  The blue cheese was definitely there but it was subtle and delightfully creamy.  These were good on their own, but I think even better dipped in ketchup or one of Hank’s housemade sauces.

From left to right; sweet tomato sauce was like a perfect middle ground between ketchup and barbecue sauce, it had the salty sweetness of ketchup with background chile smokiness.  The sweet mustard sauce was exactly what the name says, thinner than your average mustard, very good.  The mango hot sauce was too hot for me, but if  that’s your thing it was perfectably serviceable.

You can see Steve’s salad behind the tater tots, he ordered the Tuscan.  Goat cheese, romaine, grilled chicken, roasted red peppers…it all sounds good.  And it wasn’t bad.  I was disappointed by the chicken, it was that waterlogged lunchmeat type stuff formed into a ham shape you find wrapped in plastic in the deli case at the store.  It’s fine, but I was hoping for real chicken. 

I had a similar issue with the chicken in my wrap.  Let me start off by saying that I originally ordered the bangkok pup, a hot dog with cilantro and some spicy sauce.  The counter guy said they were out of cilantro so I took that as an opportunity to change my order to something I thought would be a little more healthy, the Cajun chicken wrap.  The description said it contained cajun chicken, which I assumed would be grilled but turned out to be fried.  It also turned out to be cold.  In fact, the whole wrap was refrigerator-cold; cold tacky tortilla, cold lettuce and tomato, cold spicy “aioli” (it was mayonnaise).  I couldn’t taste any of the blue cheese the description said it contained.  Really, this wrap was gross.  I only ate half of it, but that might have been partly because I was feeling pretty full of sangria at that point.  The half I did eat I left the very end of because it was so logged with mayonnaise.  Steve ate the chicken out of it and really enjoyed it, but agreed I probably ordered the wrong thing.  I was really disappointed the chicken was cold, but when I went behind the counter to get to the restroom I noticed they don’t have a real kitchen at Hank’s, just a refrigerated counter, a salamander and a deep fryer.  I’m interested to know how they make hamburgers with that set up.  I’m also curious why they decided to move the counter so that your customers have to go into your work area to use the restroom.  When Love’s was in the space their counter was to the left of where it is now.  Seems like an odd choice to me.

I think what all this boils down to is that I ordered the wrong thing.  I’ll probably be back to Hank’s Eats, I’d like to try one of their hot sandwiches or the burger.  The tacos sound interesting and the hot dogs seem to be their specialty, so it seems like I made a big mistake not ordering one of those.  Also, they have a pretty interesting and cheap beer list.  I think ordering beer instead of sangria would have made an impact on my meal as well, it seems like Hank’s serves more beer food than sangria food.

Two dollar cans of Pabst with food, if you’re in to that kind of thing.

Anyway, Hank’s Eats is really reasonably priced, they have a diverse menu and they are in a fairly nice stretch of Polk street.  The atmosphere isn’t the greatest but if you order the right thing it could make up for it.  I’d stay away from the wraps and the chicken.  But hey, if you love cold chicken, it could be for you.

Hank’s Eats

1101 Polk St @ Post

Hank’s Eats on Yelp

PS – What is up with restaurants not having websites?  It’s 2009 people, get with it.