Friday, May 25, 2012

Saigon Sandwich

I finally made it to Saigon Sandwich, the place that sets the standard for banh mi in the city. I had never found it that convenient to get to the Tenderloin for lunch.  But yesterday, with the luck of a metered spot right out front, I finally got to try the sandwich I've heard so much about.

As soon as I walked up to the door, they called out for my order.  No time to weigh your options at this rapid-fire operation.  I ordered the roast pork (although next time I will get "fanci pork and pate") and watched the three-woman team work smoothly, one slicing the freshly baked French bread, one assembling sandwiches, and the other on register duty and general crowd control.

Toasted bread, that delivers a crispy bite but doesn't cut your mouth.  A slather of mayo.  Flavorful, non gristly roasted pork.  Pickled veg (carrots, jalapeno, and green pepper) and a pile of fresh cilantro.  All the makings of a delicious banh mi, but especially at $3.50 a sandwich.  I think I'll be eating in the 'Loin more often!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

1833 in Monterey

If you're in the Monterey area, 1833 is an absolute win for cocktails and appetizers.

In a restored old adobe house (curiously from the 1840s), the bar and lounge space take over the rooms of the lower level while diners eat in one of the various small rooms upstairs.  We had intended to go only for a cocktail before another dinner reservation, and wound up canceling to stay and continue tasting from the fantastic menu.

In the library room downstairs, we perused a long list of spirits and carefully crafted cocktails offering a nod to the pharmacy that resided in the building in the 1840s.  We chose drinks called Penicillin #1 (scotch, honey, lime, ginger, and a bourbon floater) and Penicillin #2 (tequila, agave nectar, ginger, soda, and a mezcal floater), both garnished with candied ginger and both balanced and delicious.  We also ordered bacon cheddar biscuits for a nibble, served with maple chili butter and a dish of sea salt.  When we closed the bar tab, the check was delivered in an antique canvas-bound book, whose pages we signed with a healthy flourish.

Instead of leaving, then, we requested a table upstairs and wound up in a stylish booth near a fireplace.  We shared an array of starters, including crispy pork trotters, hamachi with pickled jalapeno and avocado, and a stunning English pea soup. Although we tried a couple of main plates that were totally decent, they were not worth choosing over the widely pleasing appetizers we enjoyed.  I would absolutely go back, for cocktails, shared plates, and the chic ambiance old town Monterey has been missing.