Friday, February 22, 2013

Asian Box - Mountain View!

Sophia says: Today for lunch we went to the Asian Box! It is a place where you decide what food you want, and then they put it together for you in a box. The first thing you choose is the base. You can choose short grain brown rice, long grain jasmine rice, Asian vegetable salad, or chilled rice noodles. Next you choose your protein. For this you can choose, chicken, pork, beef, tofu, or shrimp. They also have vegetarian only food too. Finally they finish your box and you have box toppers or house made sauces. There is a choice of sides and drinks. For the kids meal you can only choose the base and a protien. For the base, I choose chilled rice noodles and chicken and apple juice. When you order, the waiter/waitress gives you a number and calls that number when your food is ready. Our number was 151 and it got called pretty quick. We came at just the right time because it got crowed later on. It was a nice day so we sat outside. My lunch was really good. The chicken was sweet and tender and the noodles were white and had a good plain taste. I had a really fun time and would come back.

142 Castro Street, Mountain View, CA (650) 584-3947

Mr. Snappy "Before"

Mr. Snappy "After"

Josh says: Today we went to the Asian Box for lunch. You walk up to the counter and order your food. Then you pick a table, outside or inside and we chose outside. Our lunch came really, really fast. I ordered beef over rice noodles. I thought it was kind of plain. But I liked the beef. And we also had apple juice. The most fun part I had was after lunch. We went to the fish store and got crickets. Last week, my grandma got me and Sophia a Venus fly trap! That is a type of plant that eats bugs but not ants. We didn't have anything to feed it so we got 4 crickets from the fish store. We brought them home and started to feed Mr. Snappy. My mom had to pick them up and put them in our plant's pods. It was exciting and scary because they kept trying to run away. We even took pictures to show you!

Jodie says: I really liked the Asian Box. 10 minutes after we got there, they had a line of people waiting to order. I ordered a combination of rice noodle and salad with beef and some toppings. We had just sat down when they called our number.  Everything is gluten free and all their packaging is compostable and biodegradable which was really nice to see. They serve a lot of food and the prices are very reasonable. And in case anyone is wondering, I've never fed live crickets to a plant before, it was an exciting day for all of us!

Food: ****
Service: ***
Atmosphere: ****

4 Ladybugs!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Raincheck Lounge Feb 2013

Had an absolutely superb and faultless dinner at Raincheck Lounge in North Hobart last night.

This little gem is scruffy, noisy and mostly busy, with arguably the most uncomfortable chairs in town but, boy, do they turn out some fabulous food! It’s a place that, for me, is totally under the radar. It’s been there for years, and most times I’ve arranged to meet someone there, it’s been so full we have had to find somewhere else on the North Hobart strip to eat, so I usually totally discount it as a possible eating destination.

Luckily, my mate Deb persuaded me to eat there last night, but I did have the alternative venue of Mulan across the road if they were too busy at Raincheck!

The occasion was just like an episode of the old TV sitcom “Cheers” as I walked in to be greeted enthusiastically by Shane (ex-Gondwana, ex-Smolt, ex-many other assorted Hobart restaurants) who I hadn’t seen for quite a few years. This being small Hobart, just because I hadn’t seen him didn’t mean I wasn’t aware of his presence, and I have been told a few times that he was working two jobs, one of them being in the restaurant at the Airport Hotel at Cambridge. His waiting style is of casual efficiency. He manages Raincheck, and together with chef Andrew Lax (another of those locally trained great chefs who has worked at many restaurants round town) they make a formidable and effective team. I signed Andrew up into his cookery apprenticeship many years ago, so am obviously a biased fan!

Now to the food. They have a smallish menu, which includes what they call the Chefs Table, which is a special menu, changed weekly, to capitalize on currently available produce, and so regular customers (of whom I am assured there are many) won’t get bored coming often and seeing the same boring old menu items on for 3-6 months, as is the case at many other restaurants. It comprises 4 shared plates of food (plus house bread, balsamic and oil) for 2 people for $65.

Every Wednesday, the two powerbrokers at Raincheck sit down and discuss the following weeks Chefs Table menu, then Shane orders all the required ingredients. Shane tells me they have a few couples who eat there every Wednesday night so they can sample each weeks new Chefs Table offerings. Sounds like a plan to me!

Last night we ate this weeks Chefs Table specials comprising the following:
Crispy school prawns with chilli and garlic
Heirloom tomatoes, basil and pearl bocconcini salad
Confit duck leg with sweet potato rosti and sangria reduction
Crème brulee
Plus we ordered an extra plate of BBQ calamari ($12), just in case!

The school prawns were little ones, crispened up and deep fried sufficiently for us to be able to comfortably eat the whole prawn…, head, feelers etc It was a beautiful dish, and despite my fears that it would not be enough for two girls with hearty appetites, it was all good and there was plenty on the plate for both of us.
The calamari was stunning. The BBQ flavour predominated, and the flesh was not rubbery, but cooked to perfection.
My doctor has forbidden me to eat tomatoes, much as I love the tomato/basil combination, so it was left to Deb to eat that plateful – which she well and truly did!
What can you possibly do wrong with a confit duck leg? Nothing! It was tender and tasty and served on an onion braise which complemented it well.
The crème brulee finished up a perfect meal, with its signatory cracking lid top, and delightful crème patisserie beneath.

We left in a hurry when we realized it was 7.30, and time for My Kitchen Rules to start! Both being MKR tragics, we needed to get home to my place (the closest to Raincheck) asap to see the latest episode. We watched it with a nice cup of tea accompanied by a square of my freshly baked Peach Slice.

All in all, a wonderful night, with good friends, top class food and excellent service. Thank you Raincheck. Christina – you missed out big time!

POSTSCRIPT Tuesday 20th Feb 2013

Following that superb meal last Wednesday evening with friend Deb, I decided to return to RC for dinner with my daughter. We ambled into an empty restaurant (at 7.05 pm) , to be told that the kitchen closes at 7.00 pm on Monday and Tuesday nights! Make sure you don't fall into that trap, will you!

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Basin!

Sophia says: Happy almost Valentine's Day Readers! Tonight we went to The Basin. My mom and dad have been there before and they said it was good so we went there for an early Valentine's Day dinner. When we got there, we were the first ones. We made reservations so we got seated quickly. The restaurant was smaller than I thought, but really cute and fancy.We ordered seafood gumbo, trout, steak and ribs. The seafood gumbo came first and we shared it and they brought each of us a little bowl. When I tried it, it was the best soup I had ever tasted. It was nice and hot and you could feel it running down your throat and it was so delicious! For dinner Josh and I shared ribs and they brought us each a plate. The ribs tasted more like pot roast but they were nice and tender. I tried some of my mom and dad's dinner and it was really good. Our waitress was super nice and someone came all of the time to fill our water and take away our plates. Before I knew it, it was time to go. We were too full for dessert because our food was very rich. I would definitely want to come back anytime and order the gumbo again!                                                                                                                                  

14572 Big Basin Way, SaratogaCA 95070 (408) 867-1906

our seafood gumbo

Josh says: Happy Early Valentines Day Readers! Tonight we to The Basin for a special dinner. When we got there, we sat down right away. And then we got some bread to eat. Then we ordered our food. We had seafood gumbo. It was kind of spicy for me but I liked it. For dinner I shared the ribs with my sister. And the ribs were good but too spicy for me. Especially the vegetables. I ate most of my dad's mashed potatoes instead. p.s. I asked him first! And we did not have any dessert because we were full. But we got girl scout cookies at home for dessert! I would really love to come back because it's a nice restaurant. 

Paul says: The Basin is a downtown Saratoga favorite! Every dish is perfectly made and seasoned. The staff is incredibly attentive and knowledgeable. I ordered the steak and it was amazing.  I would come back anytime. 

Jodie says:  This is one of my favorite special occasion restaurants. I had the trout with sauteed kale which was also amazing! I can't say enough good things about the food or the service. I would recommend The Basin to anyone looking to have a lovely and delicious evening out! 

Food: *****
Service: *****
Atmosphere: *****

5 Ladybugs!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Chipotle Mexican Grill!

Sophia says:  Hi Readers, we have a special review for you! The other night we went to Chipotle with our friends, Noreen, Julia, Katia and Lucy. Chipotle serves Mexican food and I have never been there before. When we got there, I noticed it was not that big and you stand in line to order at the counter. I ordered a taco kit from the kid's menu and on it I asked for black beans, chicken and white rice. They did not offer lettuce or cheese. The food was good but my chicken was kind of spicy. The kids meal comes with a drink and chips. My chips were salty. I had fun because it is a loud and crazy place and I would come back again sometime.

1039 El Monte Ave, Mountain View (650) 919-8448

Lucy & Katia!

Josh says: Hi Readers! We went to Chipotle with our friends. P.S. I am older than Lucy and Katia. When we got there, we had to go to the line to order our food. There was a lot of people waiting. The restaurant is kind of small but a lot of people ordered and took their food home. We stayed there to eat. I ordered the chicken quesadilla and I loved it. When we were done, we were about to leave until Katia's big sister Julia let us play a Temple Run game on her phone. Temple Run is a cool game. And then we left. I would definitely come back! 

Noreen says: I found Chipotle to be delicious, quick, efficient, healthy and reasonably priced. The staff is always very friendly. The food always tastes fresh and the servings are generous. I love the taco salad and the kids are always happy with their bean burritos. The pinto beans with bacon are especially good as is the cilantro-lime rice. We will definitely keep going back.

Jodie says: We had such a fun time at Chipotle! There was a long line of people but it moved pretty quickly and we were able to order and find a table. I ordered the taco salad and they assemble everything in front of you at the counter. Even though it was very busy, all the staff were extremely friendly and the work space was very clean and organized. I accidentally chose hot salsa so my dinner was very spicy for me but I still liked it. Special thanks to Julia for taking all of the photos for this review! 

Food: ***1/2
Service: **1/2 (self serve after you order)
Atmosphere: ****

 3 Ladybugs!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Hong Kong Bistro!

Sophia says: Hi Readers! Tonight my mom and I went to a Chinese restaurant called Hong Kong Bistro. Just so you know this is NOT the same as Hong Kong Bakery because there is a bistro at the end. When we got there, the waitress led us to a table in the back near the back entrance. We had to let our waitress know when we were ready to order. They did not have a kids menu and I ordered shrimp chow mein and honey lemon iced tea. My chow mein was so big it was enough to feed 4 people. I did not know that because our waitress never said it was going to be that big. Our food took about 15 minutes to come and we never saw our waitress again after that.  Since there was so much chow mein I ended up getting it to go. I would wait a long time before I came back.

                        147 Castro Street, Mountain View 650-968-8938

Jodie says:  We have seen Hong Kong Bistro many times and decided to give it a try.  Once we were seated we had to flag our waitress down to order our food and once she brought it, we never saw her again.  I had the pumpkin vermicelli Saturday special. It was HUGE but tasted very mediocre to me.  There were a lot of people there but I would not go back anytime soon.

Food: **1/2
Service: *
Atmosphere: **
 2 Ladybugs!

Crumb Street Kitchen

The busiest and most popular restaurant in town currently has got to be Crumb Street Kitchen (or CSK as it is more familiarly known), at 144 Harrington Street.

I am a Face Book friend, so get sent all their FB entries, and every day it’s the same…..”sorry guys, we’ve sold out”….at around early/mid afternoon. So it would appear if you want to eat their food, you need to get there spot on at 12.00 or you miss out.

They very cleverly have thought of the most popular food Australians love – ever! BBQ’d meat. Well-cooked and smoked BBQ meat. So you have a small but compact menu with a few ways to have each days BBQ offering.

All food is served in a pizza box, whether you are getting it to take away or eat in at one of the four or five tables. The plastic cutlery and assorted sauces are kept on the front counter so you can pop over there if you need to, from your table. Very smart = no washing up required!

The décor is shabby, pseudo-trendy chic. It was obviously done on a budget but in this place it really doesn’t matter. The clientele is a mixed bag. I have never seen such an eclectic bunch of customers coming and going as at this little restaurant. There are old, pot-gutted guys in singlets queuing up for food alongside families with young children, and smart-looking Sandy Bay-ites.

When you order, you select and pay, and they ask for your first name. Your name is subsequently called out by chef when he brings your pizza box full of ordered goodies out of the kitchen and leaves it on the counter for you.

The menu is pretty limited to whatever meat the owner/chef has managed to have had time to slow cook overnight (around 10 hours) the night before, served in a few ways. Mainly in sandwich form (you get a pile each of the separate fillings you have ordered plus bread, in your pizza box, then make it up yourself at your table, within the confines of the pizza box) or soft taco form.

Yesterday you could get:

burnt brisket     $7
eggplant            $4.50
bean                 $3.50

pulled pork in brioche bun with coleslaw           $10
shaved brisket  with BBQ sauce                       $7

The prices are very reasonable, and the food tasty. The concept is brilliant.

We ordered two pulled pork brioche buns with the coleslaw (one to drop off at Bec’s friend who was at work), and a serve of the burnt brisket taco with some BBQ sauce. It came in the same pizza box, so was easy to transport home. Bec wanted to try the food at CSK, and ate most of it. I was merely an interested onlooker, so only sampled each item.

To be honest, the food didn’t really excite me, but that’s beside the point. It excites pretty well everyone who goes there, and that’s the main thing. I note today that the owner/chef comments that it must be time for them to open another shop (which, at this stage, would have nothing to sell, given that they run out of food in the Harrington Street outlet so quickly!) either on the eastern shore, or northern suburbs or Kingston.

I reckon it would be easy for them to franchise it out, then they would have great suburban coverage, and, an added bonus would be that they themselves are now the distributors for one of the BBQ’s they use. Call me stupid but I foresee as many CSK’s as there are Banjo outlets, down the track!  

Crumb Street Kitchen
144 Harrington Street
Ph: 6234 7002