Sunday, January 31, 2010

Lou La Bonte's

On our way home from Tahoe, Anne and I continued the Roadside Project with a stop at Lou La Bonte's restaurant in Auburn.   

Lou's is a fixture on the I-80 roadside.  In my memories of family ski weekends, Lou's neon-lit sign was a milestone en route to the mountains.  As we found out today, it has been an Auburn staple for 64 years.

Based on all of this, I was more interested in the stop than the snack when we pulled up to the restaurant.  At 2:45 or so, the cavernous space was empty, so with our pick of tables we cozied up next to the fireplace.  

We perused the menu, bypassing lunchtime classics like the Shrimp Louie salad and prime rib French dip sandwich for a plate of skinny French fries topped with bacon bits and melted gorgonzola.  Healthy eating starts tomorrow, I guess!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

My Roadside Project: L'Omelet Cafe

This winter I plan to spend a majority of my weekends up in Tahoe (especially with snow as epic as yesterday's).  And, I began the winter with a very strange but deeply rooted desire ... to stop in the eclectic roadside cafes and restaurants that line I-80 with their neon signs and bizarre meal deals.  I mean, why not?

Today I unexpectedly began that project when Kerry locked her keys in her car at a bathroom stop at a Penryn 76 station.  With 45 minutes to kill before roadside assistance arrived, we hopped across the street to Houston's Steaks and BBQ and L'Omelet Cafe, a single building with an array of entrances, names, and apparently specialties. 

At 2pm, we were routed into L'Omelet cafe, where between the four of us we ordered a hot chocolate, several beers, a vanilla milkshake, and a namesake omelet.  The sausage/mushroom/cheese omelet was not bad, especially after dousing it in hot sauce! My advice for next time: skip the toast.  Also, beer and eggs makes an interesting combination.

Next time I am hoping to pass through when Houston's "next door" is open ... they have a charming fire place with leather club chairs, perfect for enjoying that happy hour special $2 margarita.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Today's treat: a Blue Bottle fix

Driving east on Folsom, on my way into the office, I have been eyeing a new-ish coffee spot that has popped up in the last couple of months.

Vega is a little coffee bar serving the individually dripped cups and carefully prepared espresso drinks for which Blue Bottle is revered.  It could easily hide behind its corrugated metal garage door and be lost in the leather shops and adult video stores that line Folsom St.  In the morning, however, the scooters and cars that nearly swerve to the left side of the road are an obvious indication that something amazing is happening between 8th and 9th streets.

Usually I am racing to get in to work. Today, I felt like the long weekend needed to be kicked off with a treat. As I passed Vega, I actually veered left and looped around the block to come back for a parking spot.  I started my day with an au lait and the conclusion that I need to veer off course more often. 

Happy long weekend everyone!
(Picture borrowed from the Vega website)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Indulge yourself, please!

Last night I went to an event put on by the lovely Havriluk sisters and their venture, Indulge. Indulge brings the Bay Area food and wine scene to life, hosting monthly events in local restaurants to showcase culinary talent while bringing the food community together. I love these events as much for the exposure to new places and flavors as well as the opportunity to connect with friends over two of my favorite hobbies ... food and wine.

The event last night was hosted at La Mar Cebicheria Peruana, a strikingly scenic waterfront location.  Just as striking were the tuna and halibut ceviches we enjoyed while mingling with other guests.  Fiercely hungry after the event and eager to sample more of La Mar's menu, we ducked away to the bar area to order a couple dishes and savor another glass of Malbec.  After a plate of empanadas and some arroz norteno (a rice and seafood dish, much like a Peruvian paella, flavored with cilantro and Huancaina sauce), I was ready to head home and reflect upon the indulgences of the day. 

Thank you, Ali and Jordana, for helping me indulge myself once again!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Monk's Kettle

I have definitely been eating, but I haven't been writing ... sorry, folks.  This post was meant for New Year's Eve, when I did a little antique store shopping in the Mission with Rachel.  Aside from finding about three sets of nesting tables to love, I also found a little respite.

We stopped into Monk's Kettle, eager to try their famed giant pretzel.  Aside from the pretzel, our choices were nowhere near as straightforward.

There were a delightful array of beers on tap but hundreds, literally hundreds of bottles on the beer list.  I might return just to sip my way through the list of Belgian trippels, but on this particular Thursday I couldn't overlook the fact that they had Pliny the Elder on tap.  The apricot finish on the Pliny gets me every time.

Because the food menu was similarly daunting, we decided to order a few plates to share.  We ended up with a potato and corn chowder, a black bean and corn cake, and the giant pretzel, which came with a cheddar ale dipping sauce as well as a spicy mustard.  I would have preferred that the mustard be more spreadable ... the flavor was delicious but it was hard to get a piece of pretzel to carry enough mustard for me. Too bad ... I just ate more cheese!  Of all that we tried, however, the soup was hands down the best. 

And, by the way, every single table around us had a plate of mac'n'cheese.  Next time.