Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A Long Weekend of Dining, Part I - Thursday at Chow and the Nouveau Linkery

Condiments @ Chow Noodle House in Hillcrest
I know - I come on here and say I'm back, and then disappear for days. Not too helpful is it. Sorry, but the truth is that I was so busy making up for lost time with the eating and cooking, that I didn't have much time for writing - that, plus the computer issues are continuing. The new laptop is nice, but the new Flickr Uploadr is giving me a lot of trouble, and I'm such a Luddite I can barely figure out how to post photos using Vista. I hope you'll bear with me.
Chow Noodle House in Hillcrest
The long weekend of eating started on Thursday, with lunch at Chow Noodle House in Hillcrest. It could be what we ordered, but my first impression is that the food was a bit too sweet, and the freshness wasn't quite what I was hoping for even at this budget level.
Spring Rolls at Chow Noodle House in Hillcrest
The shredded carrots in the Spring Rolls had that telltale "out of the bag" flavor, and the Vietnamese Grilled Beef Salad and Drunken Noodles (both around $10.00) were downright sugary. Ted ordered a 7 on the noodles, and we agreed they must be using the "white people" scale. The Thai tea (which I rarely order) was so sweet even without the cream, that I literally could not drink it. The salad was also swimming with watery liquid, which you can see at the bottom of the photo below. The space is nice though, and the service was friendly. If I were to go back I'd try the Udon with BBQ Pork and Egg, or maybe the half grilled chicken.
Chow Noodle House in Hillcrest
That evening, James and I ventured out for a more successful meal at the Linkery on opening night. The new space at the corner of 30th and North Park Way is phenomenal. It has a large, open layout, with an open bar and dining area, and the windows you see in the pictures below are large roll up doors that will be open in the summer time. For the opening, they offered a complimentary picnic plate to everyone, and about half of the menu was available for order. The idea was for them to work out some of the kinks with service, etc. Despite the lack of computers and the early start, they seemed to be going great guns. Their cask and tap beer was flowing, and they had a good sized crowd. I predict huge success for them in this location.
Opening Night at The Linkery, 5.22.08
The interior is airy but cozy, with the natural reclaimed wood bar and the same light fixtures from the old location made by local artisan Renee Utt of Starlite Lanterns, which look even better here. There's a wine locker, and a space that will become a brewery in the future - it's all very exciting.
Opening Night at The Linkery, 5.22.08
They offer their tap and cask beers in three sizes - which I would describe as a taster, a glass and a pint. I first tried a taster of the Ballast Point Brother Levonian Saison (a Belgian style of beer I learned about recently at a tasting at O'Brien's put together by Josh) and liked it so much I ordered a 15 oz pour. It has a slightly sour tangy flavor that gives it complexity, but it's not heavy like many micro-brews can be. If you like beer, the new Toronado also opened this weekend just down the street (somewhere near Ritual I believe) with fifty taps of microbrews. Seems it was a good weekend for beer lovers in North Park!
Opening Night at The Linkery, 5.22.08
To go along with our beer, we ordered a charcuterie sampler - with bresaola, housemade salami, and landjager - a type of prosciutto. The thin sliced pickles were especially good. We also had a side of the phenomenal grilled green beans, which have been on the menu practically since the Linkery opened. Marinated in organic shoyu soy sauce and grilled to a nice char, they've always been one of my favorite things on the menu. Jay is updating his blog with posts about the status of the restaurant. Right now it looks like they're targeting July 10 for the grand opening. Until then, the menu might be limited and there may be some kinks - but I think they're up to the task.
Picnic Plate at the Linkery
The picnic plate was as good as ever, with the grilled pork sausage, some coleslaw and potato salad, cheese and mustard.
Opening Night at The Linkery, 5.22.08
Candice ordered the burger, which they serve topped with pineapple and a fried egg. I haven't had this in a while, but I think I may have to order one on my next visit - it looks like such a satisfying plate.

The weekend continued on Saturday with a lamb feast at Aqui es El Texcoco on Broadway in Chula Vista, ice cream at Oasis in Imperial Beach, some Nutter Butter-like sandwich cookies I baked for James, and a dinner at the Better Half followed by drinks at Starlite. Stay tuned!

The Linkery
3794 30th Street, at North Park Way, just S. of University
Hours 5:30 to 11:30
(619) 255-8778
currently offering a special of Cabrito, whole young goat - in honor of the opening. Check Jay's blog for more information and specials. He posts almost daily about the menu. If you like knowing where your food comes from, this is the place for you.

Chow Noodle House
540 University Avenue in Hillcrest
near 6th, on the N. Side of the street
Street parking on 5th, or in the nearby pay lots
open for lunch and dinner
Current Menu

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Super Cake-alicious

Birthday Banana Cake
Between my birthday last Thursday and two baby parties this weekend, I think I probably ate more cake (specifically, frosting) than a person should in the span of four days. But it sure was fun!

On Thursday, my birthday proper, my parents had us over for dinner and my mom made a Sock it To Me Cake - a classic bundt cake with a cinnamon streusel filling and powdered sugar glaze. It's kind of like a coffee cake, but over the years, it's become the family go to for birthdays too. It's one of those things I can never make quite as well as my mother does, for whatever reason. Funny little factoid - the recipe was first given to my mom about thirty-five years ago by Gail Loeb - mother of Lisa Loeb.

On Friday we went over to friends Jora and Brian's for dinner - where they plied us with Pomegranate Margaritas, Chorizo con Queso, Tequila Shrimp, and the beautifully decorated cake you see at the top, Molly's Banana Cake with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting. Jora and Brian's little boy Charlie picked out the decorations for me.

Then on the weekend, there were the two baby parties - Lisa's shower cake was from Flour Power- strawberry bagatelle - the mom-to-be's very favorite, and the Wheelers' was from CAKE (formerly known as "Fab Cakes" hence the website name) - currently online only, but soon slated to open a cafe, so I am told. If you've been looking for an alternative to Extraordinary Desserts for special occasion cakes, you've found it. They definitely know their stuff - the almond cake with raspberries and vanilla custard filling was delicious - the frosting was made with real butter, all the right stuff.
cupcake boxes
Last but not least, as thoughtful gifts for a sweets-loving foodie, I also received two of these cupcake-shaped boxes and some cake shaped chocolates from Burdick - le "Petite Chocolate Gateaux" - each decorated to look like a little cake. The Parentals also kicked down a 7.5 quart Le Creuset to match the other two I got for Christmas. Guess I'd better get to braising! Today at least we're having the weather for it.

Many thanks to all who wished me well this past week - I was truly thrilled and grateful! ;-)

Photo Credit - the cupcake box photo is from Rose and Radish - the linked site where you can purchase them.