Friday, July 29, 2011

Baji's Down the Street Cafe--Mountain View, CA

Last Friday I met Jenny for lunch at Baji's Down the Street Cafe in Mountain View. I got the "Baji's Down the Street Cafe" from the omelet section, though it was actually an egg scramble. The dish had a vague list of ingredients "...everything but the kitchen sink...I dare you to order it!", said the menu. The kitchen sink and avocados, apparently. I asked if it came with avocado. "No", I was told, "but we can add some." What I wasn't told is the avocado would cost another dollar, making it $10.75 for a two-egg scramble. Yikes! Overall, the "omelet" was good, but a bit of a mishmash, almost as if it was made up of random scraps left over from other omelets. Unfortunately, this mishmash that wasn't all that filling. Included were diced jalapeno peppers, though, which gave lunch a good kick.
With Jenny's Chicken KO, she got fruit instead of fries, which cost an additional 75 cents. She liked the sandwich, though it was messy, hard to handle and required a fork to eat it. What stuck out, though, was the dish, with the fruit substitution, was $10.50.

I find it hard to imagine I'd return here, though Baji's has no shortage of customers. Lunch was expensive and it was a lunch I could make at home. And, I left hungry. Baji's nickel and dimed us on substitutions and additions without saying a word when we ordered. Most importantly, if we're paying top dollar for their omelets, can they at least use three eggs like everyone else?

Baji's Down the Street Cafe
2423 Old Middlefield Way
Mountain View, CA 94043
(650) 967-7477

Friday, July 22, 2011

Napoletana Pizzeria--Mountain View, CA

Being without a working refrigerator for the past few days, we left the house for a rare weekday dinner out Wednesday. With Napoletana Pizzeria just down the street it was a convenient choice--and we could even browse Cost Plus afterwards. Jenny and I shared a prosciutto e funghi pizza. As the name implies, it featured prosciutto and mushrooms, but basil as well. The basil, in fact, packed a surprising amount of flavor. The prosciutto was salty when eaten on its own but not so when eaten with the pizza--interesting! Juice from the toppings soaked through the pizza's thin crust, though for me that was fine. The pizza was 12" and was enough for us two adults.
The boys shared a full order of linguini alla polpette di carne, a long name for linguini with meatballs. The big eater in our family snarfed his half down in no time flat.

For dessert the four of us (but mostly the boys) shared a chocolate tartufo, which arrived at our table in its original Bindi packaging. Essentially, the tartufo is a ball of chocolate gelato with a cream center covered with hazelnuts and cocoa powder. It was good, but the price was steep.

We left with a sense of longing. It wasn't the fault of the restaurant's, but Jenny and I missed the heavier pizza one would find at, say, Pizza Chicago, especially with their combination of sweet (apricots, for example) and savory. Also, we regretted getting the exorbitantly priced tartufo. Unfortunately, that little ball of ice cream that left us more than $7 poorer (if you include the associated tax and tip) just might be what we remember most about our visit.

The service was good.

Napoletana Pizzeria
1910 W El Camino Real
Ste C
Mountain View, CA 94040
(650) 969-4884

Friday, July 15, 2011

Shanghai Dim Sum (Round 2)--Cupertino, CA

Sticking to Chinese tradition, I had noodles for my birthday (for a long life, get it?). And, sticking to what was safe, I wanted Shanghainese--it's been ages since a Shanghainese dinner was a bust. Although it was a surprise to find that management had changed since my last visit (though the name of the restaurant remained the same), dinner was good nevertheless.

In my mind, there are two tests for a Shanghainese restaurant. The first is the braised pork, the other is, of course, the xiao lung bao. They passed both most deliciously. The braised ham was tender and flavorful, though a bit fatty (and it must be for a fat lover like me to point this out). The xiao lung bao was among the best I'd had, with a paper thin skin that was able to hold its soup. It felt like velvet in my mouth. The Shanghai fried rice was fine, with much of the flavor coming from the ham. The Young Chow fried rice was adequate, but generic. The shrimp was good--they nailed the texture. And those noodles we came for? The kids couldn't get enough of them.

The drawbacks? The pumpkin mochi we had for dessert was flavorless, even bland. And, we got a basket of dumplings that were essentially oversized siu mai which was twice the size, but not twice the flavor. It left me wondering if the dish was trying to copy the Cantonese dim sum delicacy or if was an original dish I'd missed after all these years.

All is forgiven, though, because they prepare the traditional Shanghainese dishes so well. I'd love to go back.

Shanghai Dim Sum
19066 Stevens Creek Blvd
Cupertino, CA 95014
(408) 366-2318

Friday, July 8, 2011

Old Port Lobster Shack--Redwood City, CA

Returning home from San Mateo during dinnertime, we dropped by Old Port Lobster Shack a couple of weekends ago. Hoping to avoid an overdose of mayo, we went with the "Naked Lobstah" instead of the standard roll. The lobster roll was great--the meat was cold, fresh, sweet and prepared to a perfect doneness. The bread was delicious, too, as it was buttered and slightly toasted. Through some snooping I found out the bread they use is a sourdough from La Boulangere. The fries were hot and remained crisp throughout the dinner--I still wonder how they did that.

The bad news, however, is that the sandwiches, as expensive as they were ($35 for two), far from filled us. They were more like half sandwiches. But, we weren't all that upset because what little we ate was so delicious.

The kids meal was likewise small in quantity, but at $5.50 for mac and cheese, apple sauce, a chocolate chip cookie and milk it's hard to complain.

Would I go back? Yes! But not before stuffing myself at home first.

Old Port Lobster Shack
851 Veterans Blvd
Redwood City, CA 94063
(650) 366-2400

Friday, July 1, 2011

Angelica's Bistro--Redwood City, CA

For Father's Day Jenny set us up with a brunch at Angelica's Bistro in Redwood City. Upon entering we were greeted by their thoughtful host, Peter, who in addition to extending a warm welcome, would make the long trek to our table outside just to ask if things were all right. And, for the most part, things were.

The egg in the eggs Benedict was cooked to perfect doneness, with the yolk soft but not runny. Jenny thought the ribs overdone, but I thought they were fine. The oatmeal pancakes appealed to both of us, but the kids didn't like them. They were heavier and denser than what you'd fine at, say, Denny's, but they were tasty nevertheless. What the kids' favorite was the penne with sausage. Jenny enjoyed the crostini, which came with cherry tomatoes. The bread was the same as, or very similar to that used for the eggs Benedict. Omelets were served with a smile, and my omelet from the station was good, but it's not a differentiator compared to stations elsewhere.

The highlight of the brunch, though, would have to be the beer, which was complimentary for all dads. Upon Peter's recommendation I went with a freezing cold Spatan, which was light and frothy. It went down so well with the brunch I'll never forget it. For everyone, mimosas and orange juice were included.

Angelica's Bistro
863 Main St
Redwood City, CA 94061
(650) 365-3226