Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Hob Nob

After reading some of the comments on this blog, many people consistently wrote about The Hob Nob. I had gone there a few times for drinks, but never for food when it first opened two years ago. In the few times I had gone there, I was not a huge fan of board games in a dim lit room on a Friday and Saturday night. I then decided to go there for food and see what all the fuss was about.

The restaurant is popular for their brunch menu and light fare food items. The prices on the menu are very reasonable with a good selection of food. The Fish and Chips for $9.00 consisted of three slim pieces of fish and a mountain of french fries. The fish was nicely cooked and the batter was just right of not being too thick. The french fries were tasty and crunchy and not soggy. The malt vinegar for the fish complimented the fish, but the tartar sauce was too sour from an over abundance of lemon.

The Cuban Sandwich is basic and not really satisfying. The sandwich has thin slices of Serrano Ham with pickles and condiments between two slices of egg bread. The sandwich came warm to the table since it was on the grill, but this was not a wow item.

The spicy Chicken Wings were good and the sauce definitely had a kick. The wings were cooked perfectly without biting into red or bloody chicken bones. The sauce was a bit oily, but it gave the wings tons of flavor. The ranch dressing that came with the celery and carrot sticks was too sweet and the viscosity too thin. The dressing had the same problem as with the tartar sauce; the chef is heavy handed with lemon.

The Truffle French Fries were slightly more expensive than their regular fries, but the taste is worth it. The truffle oil on the fries were subtle and the melted Parmesan on top was pure heaven. The fries had a great texture and crunch, which is extremely important for a tasty french fry. The sauce that accompanied the fries had a much stronger flavor of truffles and it complimented the potatoes just perfect.

The space has not changed much when it was called Kelly's. The space was a mixture of modern, pub and country kitsch interiors. The one aspect I did not enjoy in the dining room was the wood chairs with the little cut out hearts. The chairs brought a dowdy feeling to the room.

The Hob Nob is a friendly, neighborhood hangout that serves good food. You don't want to miss out on the fun and comfortable atmosphere.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Grand Opening! The Churchward

The old Pop Inn on Park Street had a makeover and a new owner! The new bar is now called The Churchward. The grand opening date is the last weekend of September. I looked inside the renovated space and it is so much better in every way. The room is now open and not closed in as it was before. The bar looks clean and refreshed. I now feel safe in having a drink here, before I always wondered if I was current on my tetanus shot and hoped to not get a disease.

The new owner claimed that drug dealers and drug addicts were no longer allowed at the bar. The seedy element of the Pop Inn has been exterminated. Hooray!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Planet Crepes is Removed from the Galaxy

Planet Crepes closed its doors. I am not shocked to find out about this when I drove around the neighborhood the other day. The times I have come to the establishment, high school kids were cooking in the kitchen and I am not sure if there was sufficient adult supervision present. The food was palatable, but definitely not gourmet crepes by any means. The owner should have realized that its neighbors had better quality food items and competition is high. Families have less disposable dollars to spend outside the home during these uncertain economic times, and when they choose to dine out, the food has to be decent.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Peanut Butter & Jam Festival

If one had a chance to attend the Peanut Butter and Jam Festival on Webster Street in between the rain spurts, one major factor was missing, the Skippy Peanut Butter. What happened to the peanut butter, where did it go? The entire intent of the festival was to pay tribute to the first homogenized peanut butter that was created in Alameda AKA Skippy. The Peanut Butter and Jam Festival years ago, had wonderful Skippy company history and use to give away free peanut butter by the jarfuls. This year's event had no trace of Alameda's history and its significance in the American diet. It is a sad and disappointing moment where the moniker of a street festival had no connection with the visitors of the event. I am sure that most attendees did not even know that there is a plaque in front of Walgreens on Webster Street that signifies the original Skippy Peanut Butter plant.

This was a missed opportunity of informing children on local Alameda history.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Monday Night Picks

With Monday Night Football coming upon us, where does one go to get food and enjoy the game? Does one buy food and bring it home, or should one have a beer and watch the game at a bar?

There are a few places around the island that you can watch the game and have a decent meal at the same time. McGee's Bar and Grill is a happening place to be at for a popular team. Of course this is not a good place if you are vegetarian, but nonetheless the atmosphere is exciting. Another popular spot is Scobies on game night. They don't have HDTVs, but they have large screened televisions. This is a great place for a wide selection of beer on tap.

If you are watching the game in the comfort of your own home, sushi is an easy take-home choice. The only Japanese restaurant that is open on Mondays is Kamakura. The food is fresh and tasty, however slightly expensive. The restaurant does have a flat screen television behind the sushi bar, but the atmosphere lacks camaraderie. BBQ is also a good option for football food. Ribs and football are almost parallel in the action of the game. While one watches 300 pound men beat each other to a pulp on the field, the rib eater is attacking a piece of meat with the same ferocity and with delicious sides dishes. Everett and Jones on Webster is a decent take-out joint and so is Great American BBQ. Eating BBQ is truly Americana food, just like football.

The low-brow NFL night is watching the game with a bucket of KFC and rooting for the Tennessee Titans.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Still Cruising for Desserts

While cruising up and down Park Street a few hundred times, Alameda still lacks a great place for desserts. Even though there are several yogurt places, yogurt sometimes just does not hit the spot. Moreover, dessert places around Alameda close early with the exception of Tucker's and the yogurt joints, if you think 11 PM is late. What happened to options? Most restaurants in town serve desserts, but they don't specialize in them. That is one reason why the dessert options are lacking. There has got to be someone in Alameda that serves a great dessert that is not ice-cream! I wish Alameda had a local pie shop that was not Nation's Hamburgers. This is peak season for fruit pies. Oh by the way, I am still waiting for a souffle in this town.

By surprise, I recently came across a great dessert at an unexpected spot. I went to C'era Una Volta on a weekday night. The room was empty. After dinner, the server came to the table and inquired about dessert. This restaurant is usually off my radar for desserts because of the several times I have been disappointed on previous encounters. The server then said they have a warm chocolate cake with vanilla gelato. I love chocolate and so I had to order the warm chocolate cake. The cake was really good and had great flavors. The gelato was also delicious. I would come to this restaurant for the dessert and a glass of wine to accompany it.

Feel Good Bakery does not stay open late, plus you can't really enjoy a good dessert since there is no atmosphere inside the Marketplace. Having dessert here would be an afternoon snack. This bakery has good desserts, but it's not a date kind of place.

The same situation occurs for Boniere Bakery, the interiors does not invite customers to sit down and have a dessert. You pay and leave. However, the desserts at Boniere are palatable, but not fabulous. The fruit tarts are decent.

The Alameda Wine Company sells desserts, but they have a very limited selection. Karen, the owner of the shop, envisioned a pleasant little retail store, but much to her chagrin, the business turned into a bar. She is basically a bartender. Nonetheless, the desserts she buys for the store, are items that accompany wine like truffles, cheese and fruit platter and at times a chocolate pie or brownies.

Does anyone have any suggestions? Where does one go on a Friday or Saturday night?