Monday, February 16, 2009


I am fond of crepes. I can eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I know certain people have reservations of eating crepes for dinner, but they are light and versatile. Crepes can be savory and sweet.

Alameda has two restaurants that serve crepes. Planet Crepes on Encinal Avenue only serves crepes. Marti's Place, also on Encinal Avenue serves Swedish pancakes that are similar in taste and consistency of crepes.

Planet Crepes is a hang out for young, high school kids on the weekends. The interiors of the restaurant are bright, bold and youthful which could explain the young customers. The menu lists savory crepes of meats, cheeses and vegetables. While the sweet crepes have fruits, ice cream, nutella and melted chocolate options. If you don't like any of their fixed combinations, than one can create a new crepe with any ingredients. The savory crepes are decent in flavor and size. I was surprised that I was able to taste all of the flavor combinations of the ingredients of the Florentine Crepe. The feta cheese was not over powering, the grilled red onions gave a slightly sweet taste, and the spinach was fresh. The crepe was overall a healthy meal. The dessert crepes had a lot more pizazz and appeal in the presentation compared to the savory ones. The dessert crepes had the whipped cream and melted chocolate to garnish the beautiful creation. Planet Crepes is the only crepe place I know of that scoops ice cream right inside of the crepe. The heat of the crepe with the cold ice cream is a good combination. Prices are affordable for both the savory and sweet crepes. You could get a savory and sweet crepe for under $10 total. That is a decent price considering it is a meal and dessert. I would recommend this place because it is casual, inexpensive and interesting. This place stays open at night.

Marti's Place serves up their Swedish Pancakes with nothing inside. The lingonberry jam that comes with the pancakes is spread on top of the pancakes. The pancakes are slightly sweet and taste very similar to a crepe. These pancakes are very plain compared to the crepes served at Planet Crepes. The pancakes are served as a side dish since the meal comes with eggs and bacon or sausage. If you are looking for simple crepes that don't have all of the fancy options than Marti's Place is a good choice. This place is open for breakfast and lunch, no dinner.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Valentine's Day Dining

When one thinks of romance, Alameda may not come to mind for dining options. San Francisco is usually the first choice in wanting to capture a special moment or a romantic evening. I don't think Alameda Diners are screaming "Love Me!" on Valentine's Day.

February can bring unpredictable weather since it is winter. If the weather comes around and brings warm, sunny days around Valentine's Day, a romantic picnic on Crown Beach would be the perfect venue. The skyline view of San Francisco is awesome, you are able to see the entire city. The beach is clean and it's not heavily populated in winter. A gourmet picnic basket would be fantastic with a great bottle of wine (that you will have to hide from the Parks Department personnel). Sunsets on clear days are breathtaking. The beautiful colors of pinks, purples and mauves are gorgeous that light up the sky. I think a picnic would be more romantic than dining out in Alameda.

If an outdoor picnic is not your style, than a dinner reservation is a great second choice. Reservations need to be called in advance since there are a limited number of restaurants in Alameda. A few places come to mind for Valentine's Day dining: Pappo, Cera Una Volta, Acquacotta, Yume, and Havana. I selected these establishments based on food quality, ambiance, uniqueness and customer service. Pappo has the cool, loft, industrial chic vibe to it. The food is delicious and the wine selection is good. The dim lighting in Pappo also inspires a romantic setting. I recommend a table in mid section of the room, or a table on the bench side. Cera Una Volta has a rustic, Italian feel to it. The food is authentic Italian cuisine in which the Italian chef (from Italy) has put his heart and soul into his creations. There is one table that is slightly inside an alcove which is somewhat romantic for two. Dining should be commenced on the first floor and do not recommend the second floor. The sushi bar at Yume is a great spot for fresh seafood. The customer service is impeccable due to the diligent attention of the Sushi Chef. Sitting at the sushi bar is lively and interactive since the chef and the other sushi bar patrons are all talking with each other. The food is unique and fresh. Havana has a great Latin vibe to the room. The colors and the music connect and inspire a laid back energy to the dining experience. The lighting and mojitos also promotes customers to sway with the music and have a good time. The food is tropical and it's the type of food that most Americans do not prepare at home. I would recommend a table mid section or closer towards the back wall of the dining room. Acquacotta is a dim light restaurant with warm, rustic colors. The food is fresh with unique Italian flavor components. The quality of the food is amazing and the wait staff can recommend dishes. The dining room has great acoustics, so the noise level remains low even when the room is packed. The ambiance is romantic in a simplistic way. Seating is best when dining at a window or on the right side of the entrance door.

The Fireside Lounge is hosting a Valentine's Day event. The bar will have a DJ, dancing, chocolates and beverages for guests. I believe the event is focused towards singles and goes from 6 PM to 2 AM. Good luck to all you singles out there! There is no cover charge.

The USS Hornet is hosting a Valentine's Day Dance Party on board the carrier. Music, food and dancing is scheduled for the party. Anyone is invited to attend. There will be a cover charge of $45, $55 and $75. $75 allows guests the best view of the entertainment stage and access to the dance floor. $55 is a limited view of the stage, and $45 is the general admittance to the event. Dinner will be served that evening, but at an additional cost of $15 per person. The party will be held from 8 PM to 12 AM.