Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Counter--Mountain View, CA

Yesterday we met my dad for lunch at The Counter, a new hamburger restaurant at The Village at San Antonio Center.
The 2/3 lb. burger with American cheese cucumber and pineapple. The hot wings sauce give this sandwich just the right amount of kick.

Though it's a sit-down hamburger joint, a couple of things separate it from your run-of-the-mill malt shop. First, The Counter has a wide variety of exotic sauces (Would you like Cabernet reduction with your burger?), toppings and buns to make your burger. Second, The Counter has a bar.
Fifty-Fifty fries with the kid's meal in the background.

The highlights for us were the fries--we ordered "Fifty-Fifty", an even mix of fries and sweet potato fries. Also, it was pretty amazing to see the 2/3 pound burger my dad got (and split with me). How often do you get to see a burger that big? The sauces were OK. My apricot sauce didn't make itself known, but the horseradish sauce I used for dipping was excellent.
The birthday cake shake, made with cake mix!

If there were any complaints, it was that the burgers were undercooked (Jenny even said the center was cool) and the kids meal was an iffy value proposition--basically two sliders and some fries for $6. After tax but before tip, the two shakes, fries, two kids meals and three burgers came out to $63, putting it in a price category where it has to meet tough expectations given this is lunch, after all.

With all of the flair found at The Counter, though, for pure beefiness and value, I prefer Five Guys. Still, The Counter is a fun experience. The restaurant is airy, bright and cheerful. The staff is clearly happy to be working there. We'll keep it in the back of our minds as a once-a-season type of restaurant to hit on a random weekend.

I ordered this burger medium; it was a bit pink.

The Counter
2580 W El Camino Real
Mountain ViewCA 94040
(650) 948-2333

Friday, July 26, 2013

Salsa de Molcajete Verde by Del Real Foods

Included with a sample back I received from Del Real Foods I received two containers of salsa, both of them hot: Salsa de Molcajete Verde and Salsa de Molcajete Roja. For each, the heat level was in the same tier as, say, the sriracha sauce by Hoy Fong. The Roja, however, had a roasted, smokey flavor that would go well with Mexican food. I used it with Chinese food, though, and it still worked out.

The better salsa, though, is the Verde. Made with jalapenos, it offers a rich, tangy flavor. It's versatile, too. In the photo, I used it with pork butt from a slow cooker. My wife used liquid smoke and salt to season it, but the flavoring didn't quite reach all of the meat. But, it was the Verde to the rescue! It turned a bland roast into a pork with pop.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Bao by Okami

Tonight we shared a pack of steamed pork buns we picked up at a sample station at Costco.

I don't usually buy a product after trying a sample, but this one captured me and the boys at first bite. We were taken by how soft and fluffy the bun was.

The buns are easy to prepare. We just wrapped four bao's in a wet paper towel and nuked them for 90 seconds.

They were just as good as at the sample table at Costco, though Jenny thought the buns a tad salty. Also at the sample station there was sushi, including shrimp and California rolls by Okami. They were good considering they came from a box, but you could tell they weren't made fresh that day in a restaurant. Those, bao's, though? I would have believed it. As a straight value proposition, though, consider the pork buns from 99Ranch, who sell for the same price ($4 for six), but offer buns that are larger.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Chicken Pad Thai by Ventera Ranch

Last night, tired and hungry from a long drive from Big Sur, we threw some Pad Thai into the microwave. The directions call for each of the three bags, one sauce and two noodle, to be microwaved separately. Mix everything in a bowl, and voila.

Jenny and I both agreed the sauce was pretty good. I've downed a lot of Pad Thai in my day and am honestly surprised this sauce came out of a box and would have been perfectly in place in a restaurant. The noodles were very soft--the kids loved them.

The only complaint I have is there wasn't much chicken--certainly not as much as the photo on the box indicated. (There's a lot of tofu, though.) Still, it was a tasty time-saver and we'd probably get it again. We bought our box from Costco.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Dynasty Seafood Restaurant--Cupertino, CA

Crispy fried chicken

We've been going to Dynasty for years, usually when friends and relatives come to visit. Their dishes are consistent. Though I rarely say, "Wow, this is amazing", they almost never disappoint. Dynasty features Cantonese cuisine.
Shrimp with greens
Whenever we go, we usually stick to the safe stuff such as the crispy fried chicken or just about any stir-fried dish. They do have live seafood such as fish and lobster.
E-fu noodles

Because Dynasty has an abundance of space, you're almost always assured of getting a table--even on a Friday night--except perhaps when dim sum is served on the weekends.
Dynasty Chinese Seafood Restaurant
10123 N Wolfe Rd.
Cupertino, CA 95014
(408) 996-1680

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Pizza My Heart--Mountain View, CA

The host for my sons' field trip prepped the pizzas the kids made for the oven.

My sons went on a field trip to Pizza My Heart last month and really enjoyed themselves. Not only did they make a pizza, but they got an inside tour of the restaurant, including the walk-in refrigerator and the kitchen.
The pizzas made by the kids--ready to eat!

The boys liked it so much, in fact, that they wanted us to take out from there. So, we did a couple of weeks later. Taking advantage of a coupon that let us get two 18" pizzas for $39, we ordered The Lane (featuring pesto, sausage and tomato) and the Figgy Piggy (sausage and black figs).
The "Figgy Piggy": Black figs with sausage

Both pizzas were good! The crust was chewy, as it should be. At the dinner table, both Jenny and I ended up going for the Figgy Piggy, as we both liked the sweet and savory flavors it offered. However, we also both agreed that in this category the apricot-mushroom combo at Pizza Chicago was even better.
"The Lane": Pesto, tomato and sausage
The service during both of our visits, especially the field trip, was kind, enthusiastic and timely. We'd love to go back!

Pizza My Heart
1037 El Monte Ave  Mountain View, CA 94040
(650) 938-4200

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Arcangeli Grocery Co.--Pescadero, CA

With it being so hot on the 4th, we headed for the coast and passed through Stage Rd. in Pescadero, CA, not far from Hwy. 1. There, we stopped by Arcangeli Grocery to pick up a loaf of their famous artichoke garlic herb bread.

We checked twice during the day and found the loaves in stock were always hot, as though they were flying from the oven to the shelves (and quickly into shopping baskets). Weighing in at a hefty 18 ounces, the super-soft (and a bit oily) bread featured baked-in artichokes. The flavor was irresistible; we ended up buying three loaves. It's two days later and I can say the bread is still soft!

The store also has a butcher department in the back as well as fresh produce. Their preserves took up a disproportionate amount of the store and some intriguing flavors were offered. How does fig and ginger sound?

There can be no doubt, though, that the artichoke bread is the main attraction here and justly so. That said, I also appreciate their doors were open on the Fourth.

Arcangeli Grocery Co.
287 Stage Rd
PescaderoCA 94060
(650) 879-0147

Monday, July 1, 2013

Scott's Seafood--Mountain View, CA

Since things went so well my last birthday at Scott's in Oakland, this year I wanted to celebrate with my wife for lunch at Scott's, this time in Mountain View.

Again, Scott's delivered! We started with a Grilled Lamb Kebab, which came with a spicy seasoning. The ground lamb was tender and I'd love to try it again. I even thought it a good value at $7.

With the Chive Crusted Rainbow Trout coming with an entire Dungeness crab in the sauce, I was intrigued and couldn't pass it up. I probably would have wanted the dish to come with a bit less sauce, but otherwise I was delighted by it. The fish was cooked to perfect doneness.

Scott's also did a great job with Jenny's ahi tuna salad. The seared fish was delectable and the vegetables crisp.

It was my first time trying this Scott's location and was delighted to see such a substantial improvement over the restaurant that used to occupy this location, The Cantankerous Fish.

Scott's Seafood, Mountain View
420 Castro St
Mountain View
(650) 966-8124