Thursday, March 30, 2006

HFF Quickie: O Chamé

O Chamé--that California/Japanese noodle house on Fourth Street--has been another restaurant on my list for a while.

Like À Côté, O Chamé is maligned on message boards like citysearch for its prices and portion sizes. This is usually a sign that the restaurant is actually quite good as anyone who really cares about portion sizes is either lazy, a fat-ass, or a lazy fat-ass. Just saying.

Anyway, finally got to O Chamé for a Wednesday dinner with ex-roommate Cassie. I was impressed with the quality and value, though nothing was particularly interesting. The ingredients were very fresh, portions were plentiful, and the price was incredibly reasonable. I left full for a price half that of restaurants of comparable.

To begin we had vinegared cucumber and radish, tofu dumplings in broth, and fried Japanese eggplant with a soy dressing (served cold). The cucumbers were great, showing that well-picked cucumbers can be very flavorful and a touch sweet. The radishes were so small and sliced so thin as to be inconsequential to the flavors. The vinegar was bright and acidic without being vinegar-y. The tofu dumplings were the highlight--six large disc-shaped dumplings floating in broth flavored with bits of seaweed. Infused with the flavors of the O Chamé's ubiquitous fish broth, the tofu had a nice meaty texture with a clean, mild, seawater flavor. For those who malign O Chamé's portions, I question if they've ever ordered this dish--substantial and inexpensive. The fried eggplant was of a good quality, and a I didn't mind the that it was chilled, but I thought it was overdressed with the soy dressing. Cassie didn't mind as much.

Cassie ordered the udon with smoked trout, enoki mushrooms. and hiziki seaweed. Not sure if the trout is house-smoked, but it was great. Big chunks of fillet with a mild smokiness, not overly salted. O Chamé's fish broth is fantastic and just taste's "good for you." Enoki's were small and flavorless but the seaweed was bright and ocean-y.

I went with the soba with grilled Boston mackerel with mustard greens. This dish was even better than the smoked trout--the mackerel was grilled very nicely, skin on, and filleted and dropped into chunks into the broth. Oily and meaty, mackerel is in general one of my favorite fish and this was a perfectly prepared piece. The mustard greens were fresh and flavorful and great with that broth.

Both the soba and udon noodles were tender and tasted very very fresh and the mix of black and spicy ground pepper (and paprika?) added a great heat when added to the soup.

The noodle bowls seemed like excellent values too--while it's true you COULD get udon for half the price elsewhere, chances are the broth would be very salty and the ingredients would not be of comparable type or quality to that at O Chamé. The servings we both found to be just about right.

O Chamé's wine list is short, well-priced, with a nice selection of sakes and Japanese beer.

The one thing that sucked on the night that we visited was the service. It sucked. It sucked hard. I don't expect much other than promptness and attentiveness. Our server came to the table all of three times in the evening--to take our order, drop off our drinks, and to drop the check. I finished my glass of wine half-way through my soba and was neither asked if I would like another nor had my empty glass cleared. There was not a single check-in after food was dropped. I tend to give the benefit of the doubt a lot in terms of service, but the restaurant was small, the menu low-maintenance, and it wasn't terribly busy. We both felt ignored.

But with the great fresh food and reasonable prices, I'll be back--especially for lunch. I need to try some of the fish-oriented appetizers.

In closing, I'd just like to bitch in particular to those douche bags on citysearch who criticized O Chamé for not being "authentic" Japanese food. O Chamé makes no claims to being a Japanese restaurant--it fuses Japanese techniques with a mix of Asian and Californian ingredients to create California Cuisine. To complain that O Chamé isn't authentic Japanese food would be the same as bitching that Chez Panisse isn't authentic French food. Breadfruit and kumquats people. Breadfruit and kumquats.

O Chamé

Cuisine: Japanese-centered California Cuisine
Price range: Starters: $3.50-$10; Udon/Soba: $10.50-$12; Entrees: $18-$22
HFF's cost for two (three starters, two soups, one beer, one glass of wine, tax, tip): $68
Reservations: 510-841-8783
1830 Fourth Street
Berkeley, Ca 94710

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Zuni Café - San Francisco, Ca

Chef Scott and I had attended the SF Symphony (some Russian--Mstislav Rastropovich--conducting very ponderous and stately renditions of Shostakovich's Festive Overture, Piano Concerto No. 1, and Symphony No. 5) and decided that, following the show, this would be a perfect time to finally hit up the SF California Cuisine institution that is Zuni.

Me and Chef Scott.

The Space:
A series of paradoxes. Cramped but spacious. Crowded but open. Meandering but homey. Owing to its location on a corner intersection on Market, entering Zuni is like entering a big slice of pie from the point. A big slice of pie with beautiful high ceilings. In the very front of the restaurant are a handful of tightly packed tables that are left available at all times for walk-ups. A long copper bar runs along the left side of the front of the restaurant (limited but well-thought out selection, no draft beer). On the right behind the host's station is a staircase leading to upstairs seating. We were lead past the bar, through the first dining area to the big dining space in the rear. We sat at a corner banquette, directly across from the famed wood-fired brick oven (and a stack of logs). Tables are stuck into Zuni's every corner, but always in a very thought out way with tables seemingly custom-built for the unusual nooks (including triangles and pentagons). It's definitely eclectic but executed beautifully.

The Wine:
Went with a 2003 Pouilly-Fuissé after the 2004 Sancerre we were eyeing proved unavailable. Citrus-y with a nice minerality. Served at a perfect temperature from the start.

First Course:
Opted for three appetizers, small plates, or whatever you want to call them to whet our appetites before the main course (having decided from the start to go with the chicken). First out of the chute was "Pepette's graisserons" which our server described as a sort of pâté made of pork and duck. We received six cubes of the graisserons, which essentially seemed to be a terrine of the meats and herbs, served cold. From how it was described, I was expecting something saltier and fattier than what we received--the pork and duck flavors were distinct and delicious. I would've liked some stronger flavor--either mixed in in the form of a sharp spice, or with a sauce--Scott suggested a horseradish or mustard sauce. More interesting than the graisserons was the side of winter vegetable slaw that came with the dish. Fresh shredded veggies dressed with a simple mayo, it was succinct and flavorful.

Next up was the Tuscan white bean and chard soup. As seems to be the theme of California Cuisine, this was direct, uninflected, and tasty. It consisted of a handful of big white beans and pieces of chard floating in a deep, flavorful chicken stock (or so we surmised). It was the best stock I've had. The beans lent a slight creaminess to the soup. Would've liked more chard.

Last up was our orange and grapefruit salad with green olives and fresh onions. This presented the only hiccup of the evening. It's not that this salad wasn't good--it was great and fresh with a surprising mix of flavors. The onions were sharp, crisp, and delicious. The problem was that in the process of coursing out our meal, we ended up getting the citrus with our chicken. This citrus would've been better enjoyed either first or with a substantial break between it and the chicken so it would serve as a palate cleanser (this, I think, was our server's intention). Regardless, the citrus salad became a tasty but forgotten sideshow to the main event when it arrived.

First time at Zuni for dinner, have to try the roast chicken for two. Cooked in that brick oven for close to an hour (at who knows how high a temperature), the two or so pound chicken comes to the table cut into eighths (two legs, two wings, two thighs, two breasts) perched atop a mound of warm bread salad with roccola, currants, and pine nuts. The chicken was great--roasted beautifully with a crisp salty skin and and subtle herb flavors that permeated the meat throughout. A few parts were a little dry (unavoidable when roasting at such a high temperature), but for the most part the meat was nice, juicy, and pulled easily off the bone. The dark meat in particular was great. We both agreed that the thigh meat was the showcase--though I had a nice piece from the leg that was an orgasmic mix of salty skin and rich dark meat.

As great (and simple) as the chicken was, it was surpassed in greatness (and simplicity) by the generous serving of the warm bread salad. The bread is grilled and then torn into big chunks, tossed with roccola, pine nuts, and dried currants and then dressed with a warm balsamic vinaigrette. The acidity permeated the bread with a nice sharpness, the roccola was bright and pepperty, the pine nuts and currants were, well, pine nuts and currants. Meaning they were delicious. Bites that included all the components of the salad with a bite of chicken had a gestalt that was impossible to beat.

We went with the Gâteau Victoire, a flourless chocolate cake served with whipped cream. It was simple and bittersweet--bordering on bland--with a light airy texture. I would've liked a warm chocolate or fruit sauce accompanying it, the room temperature cake not being all that interesting by itself. Good but not great.

The double espresso I had was nice, slightly smoky, with a mild bitterness.

In Conclusion:
Zuni was great. It also illustrated how friendly, attentive (albeit idiocyncratic) service--we never had to ask for anything, silverware was refreshed, water refilled, wine attended, all without being overly intrusive--and a beautiful well-executed space can enhance the dining experience. What Zuni offered was California cuisine--beautiful ingredients impeccably prepared. There was nothing innovative, unusual, or big with spice or flavor beyond the elegant flavors of the ingredients themselves (not Bendean, for instance). The food at Zuni is something that the attentive and mildly talented home cook could easily replicate with patience and the right ingredients (and a 700 degree wood-fired oven in the case of the chicken)--but the home cook could not replicate the experience of eating at Zuni. This is what sets places like Zuni Café and Chez Panisse Café apart from the myriad California Cuisine pretenders--attnetion, care, and execution.

As a side note, Scott and I discussed our favorite meals since we started these dining excursions and we plunked Zuni in the Number Two spot after the joint 1a and 1b positions of Bendean and Chez Panisse Café (both incredible for very different reasons).

Zuni Café
Cuisine: Cal-Med
Entrée price range: $14-$28 (chicken for two--$39)
HFF's cost for two (three appetizers, chicken for two, one dessert, one bottle of wine, one espresso, tax, generous tip): $155
Reservations: 415-552-2522 or
1658 Market St. (at Gough)
San Francisco, CA 94102

Friday, March 10, 2006

HFF Quickie: À Côté - Oakland, Ca

À Côté has been on my list of "places to try" for a while now--from those who've been reviews have always been mixed. It's also one of the restaurants that seems to have the "pricey" or "overpriced" tag slapped on it as if it were an ancient Greek epithet. Grey-Eyed Oliveto cockslapped Overpriced À Côté last Tuesday would be how Homer would've written it.

Point is, Cesar was busy, I was hungry, and À Côté serves until 11PM.

Went with my friend Serra and we were both impressed with the space--stylish yet homey with beautiful thick wooden tables, warm dark accents, nice big bar, and great lighting. There was some weird optical illusion working as to how the various sections of the restaurant were terraced, making the bartenders appear about eight-feet tall from our vantage in the pit area near the front of the restaurant. The nearly-full restaurant was at an easily manageable conversation volume.

We opted for a half-order of pomme frites, the prawn and serrano ham croquettes, the duck confit flatbread and a side of de ciccio broccoli, and the Garratxa cheese. The frites were good but unremarkable--fresh thin fries with an excellent garlicky (but not sickeningly so) aioli. It was an enormous portion for a half-order. Next to arrive were the croquettes--four dolma-sized cylinders dusted in pankow. These were incredibly rich--just made of prawn pieces, ham, and bechamel. The bites consisting of prawn and ham were great, but the bechamel was simply overwhelming. I would've preferred a drier croquette with more textural substance. Or perhaps some sort of citrus, herb and oil-based dipping sauce might've balanced the richness of the croquettes themselves.

The duck confit flatbread was ridiculous. Essentially a sauceless pizza, as opposed to more Mediterranean-style flatbreads you find and other restaurants, the warm slightly sweet crust was loaded with incredibly flavorful duck. The mild fontina cheese let the gamey richness of the duck--some of the most flavorful duck I've ever had--showcase. There wasn't enough of the pink lady apples (we barely noticed they were there), which was too bad because it was a great complimenting flavor in the one or two bites where it was detected.

The side of "de ciccio broccoli with crispy shallots" should've been listed as "cauliflower with de ciccio broccoli and crispy shallot." Cauliflower was easily two-thirds of the volume of the dish with maybe three or (at most four) thin pieces of de ciccio broccoli. In the bites that I had I detected crispy shallot once--Serra didn't taste any at all. Everything was cooked very nicely and was very fresh and flavorful, but if I'm ordering something listed as de ciccio broccoli I'd expect that to be the primary ingredient.

And then there was the cheese plate. This is what a cheese plate should be. Generous piles of toasted almonds, (not very) candied walnuts, poached figs, walnut levain toast, and a few pieces of fresh sweet apple accompanied a perfect sized portion of cheese served on a thick slab of tile. The Garratxa, a "firm" ash-rind goat cheese, was nice and goaty, creamier than I expected, and not too salty. A sliver of cheese, a slice of apple, a fig and an almond in one bite was absolutely heaven.

The wines that I had--a mineraly 2003 Hungarian Furmint from Bodegas Oremus in Tokay-Hegyalja was very nice, a touch oaky, and complex. The dry 2002 Slovenian Ribolla Gialla from Movia in Girska Brda was very light to the point of being watery. Great globe-spanning wine list with 38 wines by glass.

The food was all pretty good, with only the flatbread being a standout. I found the prices just barely on the higher end of the comparable small-plates restaurants out there, but the portions are also a bit larger than at Fonda or Cesar. In fact I would question even calling what À Côté serves as small-plates in the traditional tapas sense--a flatbread and a side of veggies could easily make a meal for one.

With a great space, good hours, a full bar, and that fucking ridiculous cheese plate, I'll be back at least once more, even if it didn't come close to unseating Cesar as my small-plates favorite.

À Côté
Cuisine: French & Spanish small-plates
Price range: $4-$15
HFF's cost for two (three small plates, one side, one cheese, three glasses of wine, tax, and generous tip): $85
Reservations: 510-655-6469 or (very limited early and late time slots--mostly walk-ups).
5478 College Ave.
Oakland, Ca 94618

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Baraka - San Francisco, Ca

Honestly? I was leaving campus at SFSU at right around 5PM, hungry, and rather than deal with annoying traffic decided to grab an early dinner at one of several Potrero Hill eateries that I'd been meaning to try for a while. I opted for Baraka because I'm a whore for Mediterranean food (the ownership's other Potrero Hill options--Chez Maman and Chez Papa are decidedly and firmly meat-heavy french cuisine and Aperto is, well, Italian and nobody likes Italian food).

Just me.

The Space:
Small (5o seats), dark, and richly accented. Beautiful candles and fixtures, high copper bar in the corner. All the tables are topped with copper. Dark red is the principle color theme. Very stylish but a little bit spooky, I think. The barstools are improbably high and very very heavy, but comfortable once you catapult into them.

The Wine:
I didn't take a close look at the wine list, option for the Kronenbourg 1664 lager from their drafts. No wine list available online for evaluation.

First Course:
I went with the soup of the day (carrot ginger) and an order of the "Spanish Fries with Harissa aioli." These were both mild disappointments. The soup had clear ginger and carrot flavors, but it lacked a textural depth (rather brothy) and a creaminess that I associate with carrots--I mean the natural creaminess of a puree-heavy carrot dish (like carrot juice), not just from the addition of cream (which this vegan soup did not have). I'm also a sucker for ginger and really like to punched in the face with it in dishes.

When the bartender explained the "Spanish Fries" to me, I was excited since thicker wedge-cut potatoes are my favorite sort of fry and I love harissa in general. The potatoes themselves were excellent (I believe they were Yukon Golds) but they were underseasoned and the "harissa aioli" had barely a whisper of this usually fiery Mediterranean hot sauce (compare to the hot sauce at Sophia Cafe in Albany, which I think is the best there is). I found it to be rather bland (though a generous portion for $4.50).

I love monkfish and it's relatively hard to find, so I ordered the prosciutto-wrapped monkfish with spinach, leak, and golden raisins, and a sherry beurre blanc. In hindsight this might've been a bad choice as I'm not the biggest fan of French cuisine outside of that from Provence and this might've been more French-y then I was looking for. The monkfish was nice and prepared well (though almost to the point of being overdone) with the prosciutto contrasting nicely with the delicate fish. It would've enjoyed an even stronger pork contrast from pancetta or even smoked bacon.

The vegetables were presented as a sort of succotash--the raisins were nice and plump but the leeks and the spinach were cooked to an almost flavorless mush. What I found the most distracting was the beurre blanc--it had the taste of cheap butter flavoring (like you'd find on movie theatre popcorn) and its richness I thought was unneccessary when there already was porky richness wrapped around the monkfish. Maybe a more vinegar-heavy sauce? Any suggestions, Scott?

With Mediterranean cuisine's general penchant for sweetness and my own tastes toward bittersweet chocolate I probably shouldn't've ordered the chocolate roulade with hazelnut crisps. But I did, because I hate myself. Actually, this was a pretty nice dish--with alternating layers of semisweet and milk chocolate cream and impossibly thin layers of cake rolled into a perfect swirl and the scattering of hazelnut crisps tasted exactly like Ferrero Rocher (I'm talking EXACTLY). It was just way too sweet for my tastebuds--sickeningly sweet, actually. It was also accompanied with a buttery sauce that had that same unwelcome buttered popcorn Jelly Belly taste. It was fucking beautiful and I don't doubt that someone who likes milk chocolate would find it quite delicious.

I did, however, have an excellent espresso. Aromatic, hints of cocoa, and not in the least bit sour. I also received a small taste of their muscat with my dessert that was delicious--not overly sweet with a distinctive apricot taste (probably a great match with their rice pudding or date desserts).

In Conclusion:
So this is a pretty mixed review. Nothing really clicked 100% for me in terms of either concept or execution on the food that I ordered and I'm usually a big Mediterranean fan. Perhaps the heavy French influence on the menu was its downfall for me. Still, this is a pretty highly regarded restaurant--if I do return I'll probably focus on ordering multiple tastes from their more eclectic small plates menu (which seems to have more straight-forward Mediterranean fare) and avoid the heavy-handed entrees. Service was friendly and attentive without being intrusive.

As a side note (not that I would've ordered it), but they offer a $29.95 early bird prix-fixe from 5:30-6:30PM on Sunday-Thursday, but I was never offered that menu (I ate right at 5:30).

Cuisine: (Heavily) French-Influenced Mediterranean
Entree price range: $16-$22 (small plates and sides $3-$16)
HFF's cost for one (one small plate, one entree, one side, one dessert, one beer, one espresso, tax, generous tip): $57
Reservations: 415-255-0387 or
288 Connecticut St. (at 18th St.)
San Francisco, Ca 94107

Sunday, March 05, 2006

HFF Quickie: Gregoire - Berkeley, Ca

Not that Gregoire needs more advertisement, but I felt the need to post about my most recent meal there.

I love Gregoire for lunch (I've yet to order a dinner item). Their sandwiches have been fresh, rich, interesting, and well-priced. And those goddamn potato puffs rock. Tell me a better way to spend $4.75 on food in the east bay and I'll be there in minutes.

That being said, with my most recent meal, I was actually mildly disappointed with Gregoire for the very first time.

An item on their March menu had been in my mind since I first read it--a chilled Maine cod, boquerones, and aioli sandwich on foccacia. Let it be known that those are probably my three favorite things in the world (more favorite than oxygen or sex with hobos, even). However, instead of an oily-rich experience of goodness puncuated by briny bites of boquerones, I instead got a mild fishy sandwich that was somehow managed to be a little bit dry. Don't get me worng--the flavors were great and the ingredients top notch, but it lacked the unabashed richness of previous sandwiches--particularly a rock-shrimp, herb, and tomato sandwich that i had that was absolutely stunning. Basically, this was a sandwich that I could've made better at home without much difficulty in finding the ingredients .

As a side I opted out of the potato puffs for the very first time and instead got the pesto potato gratin. It's a generous serving, but the dish just lacked any real character--the potatoes were well-cooked and soft and it was sufficiently creamy, but it lacked any real flavor. The pesto was very mild with just a mild hint of basil and olive oil and (even for my sodium-sensitive tongue) I thought that it could've used a decent amount more salt.

So there you have it. Gregoire is flawed. Oh well. The end.

Cal-French Take-Out
Entree price range (lunch):
HFF's cost for one (sandwich, side, beverage, tax):
Order by phone: 510-883-1893
2109 Cedar St.
Berkeley, CA 94704
(also at 4001B Piedmont Ave in Oakland)

Wine: 2003 Blanco Nieva Verdejo

So this is a bad pick to review since it represents the last of the 2003 vintage. Kevin at The Spanish Table said that the 2004 verdejos should be available in about six weeks.

For you zero people (except you, Anthony) who are regular readers of this blog, you know that I'm a big fan of Spanish whites. Most major spanish varietals--albarino, verdejo, txakoli, et al--have a great balance of citrus, acid, minerality, and fruit to make them wonderful drinking wines and also pair excellently with fresh, light to medium bodied food (perfect for "California Cuisine").

This particular verdejo comes not from the Rueda municipality of Spain (well-known for its verdejo wines), but rather from Nieva in the Segovia province--a region, like Rueda, the produces primarily verdejo and sauvignon blanc grapes.

The wine has distinct musty notes on the nose very similar to a muscadet. Across the tongue, the wine has a pronounced citrus quality, quite dry, with a nice tartness that got my salivary glands going. It's this middle range that makes Spanish white varietals so perfect for food--and it's a characteristic that seems to be found across the board with well-crafted Spanish whites. The finish of the wine is clean and very acidic although without any of the minerality that I've found in verdejos from Rueda.

This is a a nice, solid wine at a great price ($9.99 on sale [from $12.99]--the 2004 vintage should price in at $15-$16) that drinks alone very nicely and is a solid, well-rounded wine for drinking with appetizers, salads, small plates, and spicy entrees. Definitely not the most complex verdejo out there, but it's tasty.

Country: Spain (Nieva, Segovia)
Varietal/Blend: 100% verdejo
ABV: 12.5%
Price: $9.99 (end of vintage sale)
Purchased: The Spanish Table, San Pablo Ave.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Cheese: Cacio di Bosco al Tartufo

Here's something new for HFF, cheese reviews.

First, let me say that I enjoy cheese quite a bit, that being said I don't really "get" cheese. Then again, it could be said that I don't really "get" wine either. What I mean by that is I love the range of flavors, textures, and sensations that both good cheese and good wine offer, but I don't experience anything transcendent or orgasmic in the process of such enjoyment. The single food/drink items that have moved me anything close a transcendent culinary experience are: some really good dark chocolates, Laphroaig Cask Strength scotch, and Cesar's orange bread pudding with caramel sauce.

BUT, cheese is still good and worth spending money on. So, on with the cheese.

I was at A.G. Ferrari to purchase some pasta and decided to get an inexpensive pecorino or asiago for grating. I found a nice pecorino and figured I'd head out, but the tattooed gentleman behind the counter suggested I try a cheese that they were offering. After tasting the Cacio di Bosco al Tartufo--described as "basically pecorino with white truffles"--I was hooked. It definitely has pecorino's characteristic saltiness, there is also a nice creaminess that I was surprised to get from such a hard cheese. The distinctive feature of this cheese however is the white truffle flavor. This is not just a "truffled" dish or a cheese imbued with a whiff of truffle oil. This cheese tastes like motherfucking truffles. I'm by no means a fan of truffles, but I found the flavor of this cheese incredible. It's only downside is the cheesy-truffle aftertaste that lingers for a while and will color anything you eat or drink for the next hour or so.

I only ate the cheese out of hand (lightly chilled and at room temperatre), but it would also go well with some fresh fruit, candied nuts, or honey to temper the strong saltiness of the cheese itself. It would accompany pasta well but that could be construed as a waste of a not inexpensive cheese. Whatever you do with your money is your business.

Country: Italy
Milk: 100% Sheep
Firmness: Hard
Price: $27.99/lb
Purchased: A.G. Ferrari Foods, Piedmont Ave.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

HFF Quickie: Squat & Gobble

This chain of suggestively named creperies in the city seems to be ever growing, with locations in West Portal, the Castro, and two in the Haight (and one coming to the Marina soon). I'll admit that I'm a fan of a similar establishment, Crepevine over in Rockridge, and I think it offers a significantly better quality product at similar prices--but Squat & Gobble just seems to be right where I am when I'm looking for food (in this case, wanting food and a draft beer with the wait too long at Magnolia).

Squat & Gobble offers a wide selection of sandwiches, burgers, salads, omelettes, other breakfast fare, and (naturally) sweet & savory crepes. The first (and most striking thing) is that, despite it being a "chain" and in the Haight, they manage to keep the place pretty damn clean. None of the crepe options jump out you the way Crepevine's do--and some seemed rich (even for crepes)--but they all sound good. Feeling like a pussy, I ordered the tofu veggie crepe with sauteed peanut sauce, opted for the side salad, and, to restore my manhood, a generous pint of Speakeasy's Prohibition Pale Ale.

The draft beer really is a major draw of all these establishments--as it's usually rather inexpensive (2.75 for 16oz. at Crepevine, 3.50 for 20 oz. at Squat & Gobble) and it usually is exactly what you're looking for. When I get late night food I almost always just as much want a draft beer as I want the food.

So I'm not really talking about the food that much because, well, it was unmemorable. The tofu was good but rather soft (I've had smoked or at least extra firm tofu in similar crepes before) and the other veggies (an Asian-esque assortment of broccoli, peppers, and cabbage) were cooked until very soft, giving the crepe an overall uniform mushy texture. Not terribly exciting. The "peanut sauce" it was sauteed in was unlike any peanut sauce I've had--it tasted mostly like a sweet & sour sauce with just a hint of peanut. That was the biggest disappointment after expecting a more traditional, slightly spicy Thai-style peanut sauce. The crepe did come with a large mixed green salad (a good European-style mix with frisee, arugula, etc) with a decent dressing.

But at the end of the night it was fresh, filling, and diverse food. And a beer. For just $12.

Get the info on the various locations at: