Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Island City Cafe

Watch out Pampered Pup and Doggy Style, the Island City Cafe is gunning to be the best hot dog establishment in Alameda.   The cafe serves sandwiches, dogs and salads.  It's a new business and across the street from Nob Hill Grocery.  The prices of the food items are decent and not expensive.  This place is worth checking out.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Red Velvet Cake

One morning I was at Wescafe after riding my bicycle and decided to drop in.  I was looking for a snack and nothing too heavy. I saw one slice of the red velvet cake that was inside the cake display.  I asked the staff person if the owners made the cake, which they do not, but the manufacturer delivers it daily. 

The cake looked good, but once I took the first bite, it was disappointing.  The cake was dry. The cream cheese frosting was too sweet.  The benefit was that it added moisture to the cake, but it made the cake overwhelmingly too sweet.  The cake was not enjoyable.  I will pass on it the next time I see it.

Even Nob Hill Grocery has a better Red Velvet Cake in the bakery department.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

No More Aroma

My neighbor use to have a favorite place of all time...Aroma Restaurant at the foot of the Park Street Bridge.  He knew all of the staff and bartenders and that place was his second home.  Unfortunately, Aroma closed down about a month ago for unknown reasons.  I thought they were doing okay financially and was able to weather the downturn, but I guess not.  I hope it wasn't a forced shutdown due to serving underage minors.  Does anyone know what happened?

I think Alameda businesses are suffering and I don't think City Hall is taking the downturn seriously for food establishments or business owners. They are focusing all of their energies on the budget deficient instead of giving themselves a 10% pay cut just like everyone else had to take due to the weak economy.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Grand Opening on Webster Street

The owner of The Frog and the Fiddle removed their shingle and posted a Grand Opening sign. I thought they were only changing the food vendor in the kitchen, and now I don't know what they are doing.  The sample menu from the web site has your basic pub food with french fries, chicken wings, burgers and lasagna.  The menu is limited with not a lot of selection, however, if they can make a home run on each dish, than let it roll.

I sure hope The Frog and the Fiddle can survive the lack of business on Webster Street. 

Friday, November 25, 2011

Reflection of Alameda Food Scene

As each year passes, I have to analyze the food scene in Alameda.  I would have to say that not much progress has been made in the last year or so.  The most exciting new food establishment would be Doggy Style with non-traditional hot dogs with Asian fusion ingredients.  Beyond this, the restaurants play it pretty safe and are not very adventurous with ingredients. 

The most stylish restaurant in town is Spice I Am.  The dining room is slick, modern with clean lines.

Again, I have to re-iterate the fact that a stone's throw away in Oakland where all of the action is.  Plum is still red hot with delicious and innovative dishes.  Daniel Patterson pushes the limits on food and creates not so apparent food combinations and makes them work.  The Side Bar by Lake Merritt has wonderful, home style cooking that I love, and Commis Restaurant is a one star Michelin rated establishment.  To me this is insanity! 

Why can't Alamedans embrace great food.  What is wrong with people on this island?  Decent restaurants come and go on this island, but the mediocre and lower priced places are here to stay.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Cannot Resist 2 for 1

I am a sucker!  I went to buy my favorite pizza at East End Pizza Co. and ordered the Cheese Please pizza with pepperoni.  While I waited, I did my usual routine and walked down to Culina to buy a salad for the pizza since East End will not make sides.  I bought a tossed green salad and a roasted beet salad for a small fortune.  I then continued to walk down the aisle and noticed a new sign at the Feel Good Bakery.  There was a 2 for 1 sign for croissants, danishes and muffins.  I was shocked to see it and did a double take.  I then asked the counter person and asked about the 2 for 1 special.  She affirmed that if you buy a baked item, the second item is free.  For this great offer, I could not resist and bought two chocolate croissants.  Yummy!  This is the first time that I did not get robbed from buying treats at the bakery. 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Fish Tacos

1400 has fish tacos on their menu.  The waiter claimed the tacos were delicious and I decided to go with the recommendation.  The order came with two fish tacos with lots of sliced cabbage and deep fried jalapeno pepper coins.  The fish was grilled and delicate in flavor.  The tacos came with a green sauce on the side and fresh lime wedges.  I am a fan of fresh lime so I squeezed out as much juice as I could.  I then added a few teaspoons of sauce on top.  The tacos looked great, but the taste was uneventful.  The condiments overwhelmed the taste of the fish.  The pepper coins were also overcooked and were hard to chew on.  The light meal did not satisfy my appetite.  I will not order the tacos again.

Luckily for Calafia Taqueria, they have no worries or competition from 1400.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Wedge Salad

I love blue cheese crumbles and blue cheese salad dressing.  When I go to The Hob Nob, I am always checking the menu to see if the wedge salad is listed.  This salad has been a bit inconsistent the last few times that I have ordered it.  The portion sizes were at times, huge and monstrous.  Most of the time the wedge was 1/8 or 1/4 of a head of iceberg lettuce. This makes sense since the salad was an appetizer and not an entree.  However the last time I ordered this salad, the portion was one-half of a head of lettuce.  There was plenty of blue cheese crumbles, walnuts and blue cheese dressing on top. I wonder if the restaurant was trying to get rid of the lettuce?  Of course I didn't complain since I got value out of the salad.  Who knows what portion size I will get the next time.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Sweetie Station Cafe on Webster Street

While we are all waiting for Cafe Jolie to open, we can hang out at the Sweetie Station Cafe down the street.  This new place on Webster is somewhat hilarious because the cafe is very girlie.  I am not sure if teen aged boys or men would step foot inside.  The decor is pink, need I say more...

Asian tapioca drinks are quite popular here, but I don't think you can drink many of these in one week due to the high sugar levels. The restaurant also serves savory food items.  The food menu is quick and easy Asian items such as noodles and chicken wings.  I am not sure if the savory food comes out of a frozen bag or do they make the food fresh on demand?   I do know the quick stir frys are done on demand, so this could be the safer way to go when purchasing food here. 

I also recommend taking the food home instead of eating it there.  The ambiance is least to be desired, unless you are hosting a Hello Kitty party.  Meow!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Boo! Beware of Witches and Monsters

As Halloween falls upon the last Monday of October, there will be lots of little ghosts, goblins, witches and monsters walking around the Gold Coast and Fernside areas.  Regardless of what age you are, we are all seeking decent candy from trick or treating.  Decent candy is anything chocolate in a pre-packaged wrapper. I would be hesitant in taking or eating candy that was packaged from the home owner unless you directly know the person.  You never know what people do in their kitchens or their food handling practices.

Halloween in Alameda is such a wonderful family experience.  It's a riot seeing all of the adults get into costumes and character when passing out candy.  The grave yards and haunted houses in the Gold Coast are also spectacular and uplifts the children's imaginations.  Please be careful when driving around high traffic areas of little ones.  We want safe and enjoyable activities for all.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

What is the Attraction?

I have failed to understand what the attraction is to Sushi House Restaurant in the mall.  The dining room is a large scaled cafeteria and the lighting in the space is less than pleasant or romantic.  I then decided to give this restaurant another chance because I was hungry and it was late.  My friend and I ordered a wide variety of rolls and sushi.  

From the get go, the hostess placed us at at a dirty table.  There was spilled soy sauce all other the table, which was not acceptable to me. Strike #1. I then moved over to another table and sat down.  The waitress then came over to our table and took our order.  When she gave us our plates, there was food remnants on the plate from the previous customer.  Of course we returned the plate and asked for a new and clean plate.  Strike #2.

When the food was delivered to the table, the food came out of order.   The sushi came out before the appetizer.  The gyoza tasted alright, but I had to double check to see if the pork meat inside the dumpling was properly cooked.  The color of the won ton skin was very light and the temperature inside the dumpling wasn't exactly hot.  Strike #3.  My friend and I took our chances and hoped for the best. The sushi of unagi and the hamachi was palatable and it tasted okay.  The rolls however, were another story.  The rolls were quite difficult to eat. You could not bite into the roll and have a clean break.  You literally had to eat the entire piece and shove the food into your mouth.  Otherwise the rolls would crumble apart since they were not rolled properly. The flavors of the rolls were also somewhat bland which was a disappointment since the cost of the rolls ranged from $8 to $11.  Strike #4.

With four strikes into the meal, we decided to end our dining experience at the Sushi House and move on.  Even though both of us were still hunger, we were agitated enough with the service and the quality of the food.  I have to wonder why the large groups of Asians always keep on coming back for more.  The prices are not cheap and the noise inside the restaurant can be quite loud during peak times.   What am I missing? 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

East Buffet Closed on Webster

The Days Inn hotel on Webster Street is now called The Rodeway Inn.  I am hoping the new owner will do a complete renovation since the hotel was tired and sad looking.  The all you can eat buffet restaurant is also closed.  I was wondering how long the East Buffet could stay in business because who was going to that place?  I had a meal there and the food was horrible.  I understand that the buffet was all you can, which implies that if you are on a tight budget than one is loading up in that meal.  The food however, was not exactly healthy, most of the food was deep fried.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Style at Last...Spice I Am

Walking around Park Street on a warm evening, I stumbled over to the new Spice I Am Restaurant in the former Rolling Pin Donuts space.  The new space was gorgeous with modern lines and fixtures.  The restaurant can hold up to 47 people.  The art work was abstract Asian calligraphy with wide brush strokes.  The original canvas was one large piece that was cut into five works and spread out along one long wall.  The flooring was dark gray rectangular stones.  The lighting fixtures were large scaled hanging circular fixtures that balanced the room with the high ceilings.  There was a small bar with four chairs towards the back of the room.  The kitchen was closed when I had my visit, but the manager gave me free drink coupons for the next time I have a meal.  The restaurant has a wonderful vibe to the room with panache.  This place is the most sexy establishment going.

I will definitely be back. 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Hot Dawg for Hot Dogs

I can't resist eating hot dogs.  In the long run, consuming hot dogs over a lifetime, may not be healthy, but there is something magical about them.  A delicious hot dog will bring smiles.  That said, I finally went over to Doggy Style and had a hot dog.
The space was clean, neat and with a new coat of paint.  As I looked over the menu, my first gut reaction was that the menu was similar to a hot dog place in Hawaii. I was experiencing deja vu from an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. The menu had a decent selection of Asian inspired hot dogs of nori, kim chi and banh mi.  The hot dog I really wanted was the chili cheese dog with grilled onions.  The hot dog came with raw onions and the cook wouldn't grill the onions.  Grilled onions is something they just won't do.  I then opted for the plain beef hot dog. 

I went for the plain hot dog because I wanted to be able to taste a delicious hot dog instead of consuming a large pile of condiments that is all fluff.  The hot dog came in a warm french roll and I only added mustard and ketchup.   The hot dog was tasty on its own.  I was pleasantly surprised.  I know the owners ate several dozens of varied hot dogs before they chose the dogs they are now selling.  They made a good choice.

I would definitely come back to have another hot dog.  I am not sure if I am adventurous enough to have the Dogzilla with bratwurst, asian slaw, wasabi mayo, teriyaki sauce and nori.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Autumn is Here

Even though the weather may say Indian Summer, Autumn is here.  The leaves are changing color and the days are getting shorter. Halloween is coming in a few weeks, which means lots of bite sized chocolates. Yummy.  I love Halloween, so I am hoping lots of restaurant get into the spirit and show us the mischievous side of food.  Am I asking for too much? 

I am still looking for inspiration from Alameda establishments.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Not Much Luck at Fortune Cookie

Fortune Cookie on Webster Street is extremely sparse with no ambiance.  I was in a jam and wanted food to take home.  Because the kitchen at The Frog and the Fiddle was closed, I got desperate and ordered food at the Chinese food take out two doors down.  Even though the menu is decent and had lots of items to select from, I picked the Mongolian Beef and steamed white rice.  The dish was quite spicy and slightly burned my mouth.  I was so hungry that I didn't bother that the beef was chewy and over cooked.  The price was decent at $9.00 for one entree and one white rice.  I am on the fence on whether to return to this fast food take out. 

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Copy Cat

It was a busy Friday night at 1400.  The room was packed with customers and a live band set up at 10 pm.  The food at the new establishment was typical pub food.  What was interesting about the menu was that it reminded me of The Hob Nob.  They served the same exact menu items such as the Fish & Chips, Spaghetti & Meatballs, sandwiches and sliders. 

I ordered four different dishes based upon recommendations of the wait staff.  I started off with the Clam Chowder.  The soup tasted good, but it was runny and had very little clams and potatoes.  The soup had more bacon in it than any other ingredient.  The flavors were overwhelmed by the bacon. It's a good thing that I love bacon.  The second course was the Pulled Pork Sliders with slaw.  The slider was not successful because the potato bun was too mushy and the texture was off.  There also wasn't enough pork in the sandwich, the kitchen skimped on the meat. Lastly, the cole slaw was limp, and I had to question if it was fresh.  The third course was the Fish and Chips.  The batter on the fish was light and delicate.  The cod fish was fresh and delicious.  The fish tasted great with the malt vinegar and the home made tartar sauce.  The potatoes that came with the fish however, were a problem.  The potatoes were wedge cut and Dutch style meaning the portions were large cut fries.  The dish came with only four huge slices of potatoes. Unfortunately, the potatoes were over cooked.  It was difficult to eat them because the texture was hard.  For dessert, I had to ask the wait staff because she did not mention anything.  The dessert I selected was Oreo Cheesecake. The menu was quite deceiving because when the cheesecake came to the table, it was basically a slice of New York cheesecake with Oreo cookie crumbles and chocolate sauce on the side.  The dessert was a miss. 

I would come back to 1400 and order the Poblano Hamburger.  I was told that this burger is spectacular.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

What is the holdup?

Do construction workers take holidays while working on projects in Alameda?  It seems that renovation in a few spots are taking a life time to get completed.  Two places on Webster Street that are taking forever are Cafe Jolie and Greek Meze.   The other places on Park Street is Doggy Style and the new Thai restaurant in the former Rolling Pin Donut space.   I hope these long pauses are not indicative of the economy or the city trying to intervene and holding up economic commerce.  A good example is Crema Bakery, I waited and waited for this place to open and the business never came to fruition.  Such a bummer.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Shocking News!

The Quintero Family has sold the Acapulco Restaurant and the business is now closed.  The family has owned the restaurant for such a long time and I have to wonder what was the catalyst that caused the family to sell?  I thought they had a loyal following because many of the Mexican restaurants around Alameda are busy.

Ben who was barbecuing at The Frog and the Fiddle is now gone.  The kitchen is closed and a new business will move in next week.  I was informed by the bartender that the menu will be pub style food.

Can you believe that Boniere Bakery moved to Oakland.  After reading yesterday's article in the Alameda Journal, it seemed depressing since the bakery was the oldest running business in Alameda. Their former space is still empty.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Cafe Rio

Cafe Rio is the newest breakfast place on Main Street across from the former Navy base.  The location is a bit bleak and I am not certain if there is enough traffic to stir up business. No business in that space has historical done well. The fairly new housing development across the street has never given that small corner enough business to stay open.  Their morning competition is the donut joint two doors down.  The food is Brazilian and American food.  Are Alamedans ready for Brazilian food in the morning because the cafe closes early in the afternoon and they are not open for late dinners.  I was informed the owner has another location in Oakland.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Labor Day Weekend

The weather looks promising for the long weekend.  Where should one go to drink and dine in Alameda for a good time?  I enjoy listening to live music, so Speiskehammer could be the spot.  I also enjoy people watching so Pappo has potential. I think by now everyone knows that I love East End Pizza Co. for a great pizza pie.  For drinks, the Forbidden Island is a fun and whimsy place for umbrella drinks.  Maybe I will hang out at every place for a complete tour.  And of course I will be careful about drinking and driving around town due to possible check points.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Double Snap

After finding my love for pizza at the East End Pizza Company in The Marketplace, I decided to buy desserts and bread at the Feel Good Bakery.  I purchased two cupcakes and one baguette.  The price tag once again stung, the total was $10.50.  The size of the cupcakes were smaller than the usual size of the baking pan and a baguette maximum can cost $2.00. So after doing a few calculations in my head, the bakery charged me $4 per cupcake and $2.50 for the baguette.  I can't understand on how the Feel Good Bakery can charge more for bread compared to Acme in the San Francisco Ferry Terminal.  Acme produces far superior products.

For some reason I have to kick myself in the head for getting duped, not only once, but numerous times, for buying desserts at Feel Good.  I guess when I look at the delicious items in the glass shelves, I get hypnotized and buy goodies.  My stomach is temporarily happy, but my pocketbook hurts.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Cafe Jolie Coming Soon

Cafe Jolie on Webster should be opening up for business in the next week or so.  This will be the only French American Bistro and Specialty Coffee Bar.  I can't wait.  The location is 1500 Webster between Santa Clara and Haight.  Alamedans will know it by the former Tillie's space.  It has taken one year to fix the space.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Everyone Loves It Doggy Style

Out with the old and in with the new.  The second Cheese steak Sandwich shop from the Yo! Philly spot has gone out of business.  That person was in business for a brief moment of time and got out of the game already.  The new shop that is coming in is Doggy Style.  I am to assume that the shop will be selling gourmet hot dogs and not grooming products or services for canines.  I love hot dogs. 

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Tea Leaf Salad at Burma Superstar

I had a hunger for garlic noodles and went to Burma Superstar on Park Street.  The garlic noodles were okay, but the main highlight of the meal was the Tea Leaf Salad.  The salad had amazing ingredients and flavors.  It was super healthy with various seeds and vegetables.  The dressing was a mound of tea leaves in a wet sauce and lemon juice.  The salad was crunchy to eat and the jalapeno peppers were not hot because the seeds were removed. After the dressing was tossed, the look of the salad looked like grass a cow would eat, not very appealing, but great in taste.

Even though I was on a quest for garlic noodles, the salad was better than I had anticipated and even better than the noodles. 

Monday, August 8, 2011

Best Burger in Town

I have consumed a lot of hamburgers over the decades.  Even though there are many hamburger places in Alameda, a majority of them are palatable and nothing beyond that.  I have been searching for a long time for a simple and delicious hamburger on the island, and I have finally landed on a eating place that serves the best hamburger in town at Scolari's.  Their cheeseburger was juicy and the meat flavor was heavenly.  It's important to be able to taste the meat and not be overwhelmed with toppings, which could hide inferior meat. The bun was able to absorb the meat juices without getting soggy and the sandwich kept intact the entire time I was eating it.  The burger comes with twice fried french fries, all for a total of $9.70.  The meal could feed two people. I would come back to Scolari's in a heartbeat.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Outdoor Dining

There are only a few places where you can dine outside for a meal.  Unfortunately, the summers in the bay area are really hot for a handful of days.  So when the heat wave is on, you must take advantage of the weather. 

Cera Una Volta is a great choice if you are seeking more than just fast food in the little alley way.  You can also people watch while sitting at your table.  Another great feature is that there are heat warmers coming down from the pergola, so it's makes your stay longer and comfortable. 

I wish Tomatina had good food to eat because they have outdoor dining in the back.  The space is quaint and cute, with a great view of the tall trees and old brick wall.

Pappo has an indoor-outdoor vibe along the front of the restaurant.  There is plenty of action going on in this spot due to the theatre and main thoroughfare of Central and Park streets.   The food is good and the dishes are safe.  Outdoor heating lamps also creates an ambiance of positive energy.

Pier 29 has a great marina view of the boats and water. The outdoor seating is at the back of the restaurant and can get breezy when the wind picks up after 3 pm daily.   If you stick to the seafood basics at this restaurant, you will be okay.

If you are short on time or need to study, go to Pauline's Cafe on Park Street and order a quick sandwich and eat in the outdoor garden in the back.  The space is quiet, spacious and you can relax.

I am not sure if 1400 is using the old beer garden that the New Zealander had for outdoor dining?

Speaking of beer garden, Speisekammer has a wonderful outdoor space in the front of the restaurant.  The atmosphere is casual, very relaxed and family friendly.  It relates to the casual German food it serves.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Disconnect at Mama's Noodle House

I was riding my bicycle around town for a stroll and I decided to go to Mama's Noodle House on Webster Street.  I had been riding for over an hour and I was famished. I went to the front counter and asked the sales person to give me what his favorite dish was.  For $7.60 I purchased the #3, Shredded Chicken Noodle Soup with rice noodles. The reason why the counter person liked the #3 more so than the other dishes is because he didn't like eating bones in a soup. 

I waited for the food to come to my table.  When I sat down  the room was half full. Everyone inside the eating area was Chinese and speaking Cantonese, there was not a native English speaking person in the place with the exception of me.  When the soup arrived, the bowl was huge and it was a large portion of soup. After stirring the bowl a few times, there wasn't a lot of chicken.  The noodles were plentiful as well as the broth, but not the meat.  I would say there was less than a third of a cup of meat in the bowl. The broth was simple and clean.  The soup was mainly comprised of rice noodles.  What made the soup was the side dish of fresh ginger, cilantro and garlic.  The sauce gave the meat a boost.

I didn't drink all of the broth in the bowl, but I did eat all of the chicken and noodles.  When I finished my soup, my stomach was full, but my brain wasn't really satisfied with the food that I ate.  I don't know how to describe the feeling, but the food didn't insatiate my appetite.  I wanted more food in the soup bowl and didn't get it.  What I got was a bowlful of noodles and some chicken.

The next time I will try a rice plate instead.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Love, Love, Love - East End Pizza Co.

I was happily surprised to try out the new pizza joint inside The Market Place.  What attracted me to try their pizza was the wood fire oven. East End Pizza Co. has a simple aesthetic with white walls and a brick front oven.  There is a counter that seats three and there are three or four tables in close proximity.  Pizzas come in one size only, 14 inches in diameter or by the slice.  I had the Farmer's Daughter slice with ricotta cheese, summer squash and sausage.  I totally loved the pizza.  The pizza was thin crust, you could taste the smokiness of the crust from the wood, and the ingredients were fresh and delicious.  The pizza had the perfect moisture level, it wasn't mushy or soggy in the middle.   This joint is the best place for pizza in Alameda.  The price of the slice was $3.25 and it was worth the value.  The slice was about 1/6 of the pie.  Prices for whole pies range from $18 and up.  I highly recommend coming to this place and having delicious pizza.  Thank goodness the owner has come to the island and is creating wonderful simple food.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Incredible Jams at Mona's Table

I had an amazing blueberry jam at Mona's Table.  The jam was delicious and not overly sweet.  You could really taste the berries and it was made with love and care.  I bought a jar of the jam and it was a little expensive, but it was well worth it.  Once I was finished with the jam jar, I rode my bike back to Mona's and returned the jar for them to reuse.  I will buy more jams in the future. I highly recommend tasting their homemade items.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Summer Fun

With long sunny days, take advantage of summer and hopefully the small plates of what Alameda has to offer.  I ate at the bar at Angela's right before a movie.  The kitchen didn't have the small burgers, so instead I ate the petite steak sandwiches. The sandwiches were tasty and delicious.  The grilled onions and the horseradish made the dish and the flavors were more complex.  The price was great at $7.   I also had the Chicken Parmesan strips.  The sauce was on the side and the chicken tenders had melted cheese on top.  What I liked about the appetizer was that the chicken was not soggy.  Yummy! 

The Hob Nob is always a safe and great choice for small plates.  My favorites are the fish and chips, the spaghetti and meatballs and the truffle french fries.  I am ecstatic that the chef is concerned about the consistency of her food as well as quality.  

If you are in a real bind and don't have a lot of cash, there is always Der Wienerschnitzel.  You can't go wrong with a chili cheese dog or a corn dog. 

Barceluna has a rich and creamy macaroni and cheese.  It is delicious when it's hot. 

Scolari's has great hamburgers and an awesome stromboli sandwich.  The food is great pre-hangover food or late night party food.  You can eat the food at Lucky 13 or inside.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


At the 4th of July parade, I noticed the new bar and restaurant 1400 was open.  I do not think they were serving food, but poured drinks instead.  I am curious about the new joint since they kept most of the architectural details of the former Croll's Place.  As I said a million times before, the west end of Alameda needs a home run for food places.  Whoever the owner is, they need to stay away from the menu and business plan of The New Zealander. 

Monday, July 11, 2011

Lots of changes along Park Street

As we all know, Crema Bakery never came to fruition.  The space is now seeking a new tenant. I wonder what happened.  The owners sold coupons on discount web sites and people purchased vouchers.  The intent was there, but the execution fell short.

Rolling Pin Donuts went out of business and a new Thai restaurant will be moving into the space.  Rolling Pin was once noted as the best donut joint on the island, and now no more.  Boo hoo!  I love donuts and I cannot believe the owners got out of the game.

Boniere Bakery is still closed and there is butcher paper on all the windows.  Park Street is still screaming for a bakery and when will this happen? 

A new Cambodian restaurant, The Angkor Grill, is now open for business.  I don't think many Alamedans are familiar with Cambodian food, but it is worth a try.

The Kabob House has a new owner and a new name.  The new name is The Kabob House and Afghan Tandoor.  I hope the food is better since the former owner could not make it work.

Alameda Taqueria has new owners and changed its name to Island Taqueria.  Thank goodness the cooks are the same, so I can continue to purchase my carne asada burritos that I love.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Jim's Place

Breakfast joints in Alameda are plenty.  Jim's Place is one of the top hot spots on the Island and has long lines and huge portions.    The menu is vast and there are too many choices for such an early meal.  The old standbys of pancakes, waffles and eggs are always a safe bet and you cannot go wrong with these orders.  This is the type of food that customers wait for in line.

I got adventurous the last time I ate there and ordered the chili and cheese omelet.  The portion could feed two, but the flavors were absent.  I did not enjoy the food.  I chewed my food and fed my body, but did not receive any pleasure from the meal.

Of course I would return to Jim's Place, but I would keep my order to what I like.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Extreme Coupons

The idea of on-line coupons has been around for at least a decade, but people have short memories. Groupon, LivingSocial and Buy Me Now all doing local daily coupons are making bank utilizing an old idea. The purchasing of on-line coupons is good and bad, just as long the buyer actually utilizes it. Business owners can jeopardize themselves if they don't cap out the number of sold coupons in the distribution chain. I know businesses are struggling all over the Bay Area and not just Alameda, but the idea of mass distribution of coupons also leads to non loyal customers. I wouldn't want my customer base to go to a competitor solely because their products happen to be 50% off for a day.
The bottom line is cheaper is not always better.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Ohana Hawaiian BBQ

The advertisements of Ohana Hawaiian BBQ in the Nob Hill Shopping Center looks professional and tasty. However, when I ordered food at this place, the result was horrible. I ordered the BBQ Hawaiian Pork that came with the rice and macaroni salad. I also ordered a side order of Spam Musubi. The musubi was good, the sauce was slightly sweet and the saltiness of the spam and seaweed was a good combo. The meal was another story. The texture of the pork was questionable, it was mushy. When I cut the meat with a knife and fork, it was tender, but I wondered if the meat was properly cooked.

There was a brown gravy covering the meat. The gravy was there to hide the taste and texture of the meat. It didn't help or save the meal. I had about one-third of the meal and stopped. Two hours after the meal, my stomach hurt. I did not vomit, but I felt ill. Luckily I felt better after a nap and the food passed through my body. I will never go back. Once is enough for me, especially after my stomach pains and short term illness.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

It's Baaaaack!

The former Yo! Philly's Cheesesteak is now called Philly Cheesesteak Express. I wonder if the owner is the same person, but with a different name. Does anyone know?

Friday, April 22, 2011

Alameda Towne Centre Sold to Highest Bidder

Is everyone shocked as much as I am for the amount of money the Germans purchased Alameda Towne Centre for? $181 million dollars. Holy cow! Harsh Investment Properties sold the shopping mall. They must be ecstatic and what a smooth operator. I bet the Germans are not as content when they purchased it in January 2011. Borders and Nine West Shoes are vacant and I didn't even mention the other stores that came and gone. The Germans should know better. You never buy a property in January when tenant vacancy rates are low due to holiday shopping.

The up and coming tenants are small shops, which is great for the community, but bad if they don't have a lot of capital to wait out the weak economy to keep their doors open. Let's hope the Easter Bunny brings prosperity and good fortune to the mall. We still need a rockin' eating place since Pearl's and Zeytini's are not doing it for me. Applebee's is Applebee's, need I say more.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tuesday Taco Night

The waiting line for tacos at Calafia Tacqueria was long for a Tuesday night. There were plenty of people ordering food and taking it home for dinner. When I finally got to the counter, I ordered a Small Super Quesadilla with carnitas to go. The dish came with guacamole and sour cream for $5.20. The quesadilla tasted good, slightly greasy, and had ample guac and sour cream with a few green leaves and a slice of tomato. The meal was filling. I was satisfied for a $5 meal.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Earth Day

In observance of Earth Day, I decided to ride my bicycle to Washington Park. There were booths, a children's section and one food stand. I am not sure why the City of Alameda only allowed one food vendor to serve a city wide event, but nonetheless, it was only Croll's. The menu was limited with a hot grill in the back cooking hot links, sausages and wieners. I ordered a hot dog for $2.00. The hot dog had grill marks on the wiener, but the dog was barely warm. The bun was cold and I had to wonder how long the wiener sat in a tray waiting for a customer. The popular items were the slices of pizza, but the time I got to the window, pizza was sold out. Many people behind me were upset that they had to wait in line for twenty minutes for nothing.


There is a big wide world out there when it comes to innovative food. Places are popping up in San Francisco and Oakland, and unfortunately Alameda is being left behind in the dust. I am not sure why Alameda restaurants are too conservative. Is this island a dead zone? It is the people who live here or it is because it's the people who come onto the island and order the low level food. I feel at times the demand for the type of food people want in Alameda is "food on a plate". There is no creativity, there is no thought process, people put food in their mouths and chew.

Some may think Angela's is innovative and great food. I don't think their food is creative, but they make food they are comfortable in making and can produce on a consistent basis. Their food is simple and not technically sophisticated. You will notice a rush of customers during the happy hour time for discount deals.

Pappo use to be bad ass and now they have lost their luster. They can make a mean steak, but how difficult it is to grill a steak. I do have to say they make the best french fries on the island. Yummy!

I just remembered that there is one woman in Alameda who makes great, creative food and that person is Mona of Mona's Table. She is probably the most forward thinking chef in this town. Her food is tasty and she gets inspired from various ethnic foods and makes them her own. Her hours are limited, so be aware of the clock when you drive to Fernside.

For some reason Otaez is getting tired or perhaps lazy in their cooking. The last few times I had a meal there, I could not eat a regular entree. I ordered food from the appetizer menu because everything was heavy. Even the deep fried fish, which is usually a crowd pleaser was difficult to eat. The diabla sauce was off and it didn't taste good.

For a low key night with decent pub food, The Hob Nob is always a good place for me. I do enjoy their fish and chips, blue cheese wedge salad and their spaghetti and meatballs. I stay away from the cuban sandwich. When I go to The Hob Nob, it always surprises me to see people playing games in the dark. How are they able to read the board and the cards? With enough alcohol, I don't think anyone is checking for accuracy.

With everything being the same in Alameda, I feel that I get the most inspiration from watching cooking shows, Top Chef Masters or reading food magazines. Surfing the web for recipes also peaks my interest.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

My New Default ...

With the New Zealander, Yo! Philly's Cheesesteak, and Everett & Jones Barbecue all closed, I have come to realize that I have a new restaurant that I go to for a quick meal in a pinch or if I am too tired to prepare a meal after work. The food establishment is The Frog and the Fiddle. Since I am a huge fan of BBQ and meat, my usual order is the pulled pork sandwich. The sandwich is fairly priced and the meat is juicy with lots of flavor. The onion rings rule and they are much better than the french fries. I don't eat at the restaurant and take my food home. I want to eat my food in peace.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Mama's Noodle House

In the former Kentucky Fried Chicken space on Webster Street, a new business is coming in...Mama's Noodle House. The colors are bright green and red, but one cannot tell if the noodle house will be Southern style or American. All of us have to wait and stay tuned.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Lunch at Scolari's is a treat. The cook takes pride in his products and they serve tasty food. I ordered three items for lunch: the Classic Stromboli, french fries with cheese and brown gravy and fresh limeade. The fresh limeade was light, refreshing and not full of sugar. The wait for my sandwich and french fries was a bit long. Scolari's makes food for the bar next door at Lucky 13, so lots of people were taking their food and eating it at the bar. By the time, I was served, I was hungry. The sandwich was huge and good to serve for two. The meat and cheese was all stuffed inside the bread, very similar to a calzone. The red sauce was on the side, but I thought the sandwich tasted better without it. The bread was nice and warm. The sandwich was more delicate than I thought it would be. You could taste every layer of meat and cheese. The amount of the french fries were too large for one order. The fries were good when it was hot and the cheese melted and oozed. When it got cool, the fries were slightly mushy and the cheese was cold and clumpy. Overall, the food was tasty, but I am not sure if the food was healthy. The price of lunch was $23, slightly expensive for one, but good enough for two. I would return for a casual meal or for a late night run. Scolari's stays open until 3 am!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Pearl's Deluxe Burger

I went to Pearl's Deluxe Burger on a Friday night to check it out. To my surprise, the place was packed. There were many families, elderly couples and everyone in between was having a burger. The one-half pound burgers were large enough for two adults, otherwise it could be a heart attack waiting to happen. The prices for the half-pound burgers were great for two. The french fries however, were a bit expensive. I ordered a half-pound mushroom burger with a mixture of sweet potatoes and onion rings. The meal was over $15 for the burger, fries and a soda, which I thought was slightly expensive.

The mushroom burger was good, but not fantastic. It tasted as I thought it would be. There were no surprises. The sweet potato french fries were decent. The onion rings were a bit greasy.

I am wondering what burger people were eating when they voted Pearl's the best burger joint in the Bay Area because I want to taste that burger.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Daphne's Greek Cafe

Was at the mall (AKA Alameda Towne Centre) and had a hunger for Greek food. I was short on time and cash and I decided to go to Daphne's instead of Zeytini's.

I ordered the lamb gyro that came with a greek salad and roasted vegetables. The meal was moderately priced at $8.99 that came with a drink. Beware of the super size upgrades for a higher price and french fries. it's not worth it. The greek salad was the best food of the meal. The lettuce was fresh and crunchy and the dressing was tasty. The lamb gyro had problems. The meat was thinly sliced, but the meat was bland. The tzatziki sauce masked the blandness of the meat and tasted good with the lettuce and tomatoes in the gyro. The roasted vegetables were a mess. There was a great selection of varied vegetables, but they were over cooked and limp. The veggies also had a heavy dressing of herbs on them that did not help with the flavors. I would second guess on ordering the lamb gyro again.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Burma Super Star ... Hot, Hot, Hot

Recently I had dinner at the San Francisco Burma Super Star location on Clement Avenue and noticed that SF and Alameda locations had very different results. The chefs at the San Francisco location is light handed when it comes to spice levels of their food. Four of us ordered hot spicy food on a few dishes. When the food came out of the kitchen, the food was not spicy. I usually cannot handle spicy food, but even I was able to eat all of the entrees, which came to be a big surprise.

A few weeks later I went to the Alameda location and ordered the same dishes with identical spice level. The food was hot, hot, hot. The food was too spicy for me. All of the flavors were great, but the heat was a fire in my mouth. It's been my experience at the Alameda Burma Super Star to order food mild or medium. For some reason, I got adventurous thinking that two locations of the same owner would not be much difference. I was wrong. I have to remember to go back to my original spice level for Alameda and spicy for SF.

What is amazing about both locations is the quickness of the food that comes out of the kitchen. When you order four entrees, the food comes out fast and furious. And the best part is that the flavor profiles are not compromised.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Opening Soon...Greek Meze

A new Greek Restaurant is opening on Webster Street called the Greek Meze. The space was the southern storefront of the former Alameda Pharmacy. I hope the construction will not take as long as Tillie's. I first wrote that Tillie's was under construction in July of 2010, the diner has yet to open.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Academy Awards Night

What to do, or what to serve for the Oscars? Instead of going to a restaurant and trying to listen to the winners' speeches, I cooked at home instead. A team of us made pizzas that represented the ten best picture nominations.

Black Swan - vegetarian pizza with tomatoes, red pepper, mushrooms and garlic. A health conscious pizza.

The Fighter/Winter's Bone - bacon and pineapple. Both movies dealt in addiction and I figured everyone has a secret obsession with bacon.

Inception - eggplant, feta cheese, tomatoes, roasted pine nuts and garlic. I planted the idea in the guests thoughts that eggplant should be a staple topping on pizzas.

The Kids Are All Right - a green salad. I could not create a pizza that embodied the movie.

The King's Speech - sausage and potatoes. What else would a Englishman want on his pizza.

127 Hours - cheese. Pure and simple.

Social Network - olive oil, garlic, mushrooms, prosciutto, black olives and spinach. The new up and comers don't require a sauce.

Toy Story 3 - pepperoni. What child does not like pepperoni.

True Grit - chicken, prosciutto, sausage and pepperoni. Cowboys love their meat.

The best pizza of the evening was the addiction pizza, everyone loved bacon.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Measure A

Voters beware!

I read in the Editorial section of the Alameda Journal one Friday to find out that Angela's and the Bladium are exempt from paying the proposed Measure A tax assessment if passed. My question is, how did Angela's get to be exempt? Which committee made them God? I am sure every business owner in Alameda would jump at the opportunity to avoid higher taxes, especially at a time when stores and restaurants are closing on Park and Webster Streets. Has this secret committee enlisted more businesses who are exempt and unknown to the public.

Of course our Alameda children need the support and education that increased funds will bring. However, businesses who are exempt should not be able to solicit in favor of Measure A. Is this fair?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day Updated

It was a surprise to me when my partner decided he wanted to listen to fado music at Cera Una Volta on Sunday evening. We went out with another couple and attended the second seating at the restaurant at 7 pm. When we got there, the band and performer had already played for one and a half hours. Everyone in the room appeared happy and content with the music and songs. Our group paid for the more expensive seating at $55 per person. The first seating was $45 per person, well knowing they were to leave the premise at 7 pm for the second seating.

Our group waited patiently for our table to clear since the second seating was suppose to occur at 7 pm. Unfortunately, the hostess/owner of the restaurant could not manage the guests for the first seating and people were not leaving the room. The performers did not stop playing at 7 pm and so people stayed and continued to sit at their tables.

Our table of four waited for one hour before we were seated, which was a huge gaffe. When we finally made it to our table, the wait service was not attentive. The other mistake was that the employees circulated two different food menus and we asked the waiter which one was the correct version.

The prix fixe meal of $55 per person was for a three-course meal, an antipasta dish, secondi and a dessert. By the time we finally got to order, it was close to 8:30 pm and the wait staff knew our group was upset due to their own mismanagement. Thus, they gave our table a break and we ended up with a four-course meal, the added dish was a primi. With all of the drama happening at our table, the wait staff forgot to give our table our complimentary glass of asti spumati that was somehow delivered to all of the tables with the exception of ours.

The saving grace for the evening was the great music. My friends were knowledgeable in fado music and hoped for more somber music, but the band kept on performing happy, gay songs due to Valentine's Day. The singer sang most of her songs in English instead of the native Portuguese. The band stopped playing around 8:45 pm which was a total bummer since we barely had our first course. If the restaurant was on their game, we could have enjoyed all of our courses with the lovely music. However, we felt somewhat neglected and had the singer perform a Portuguese song at our table. That was the most fabulous part of the entire evening.

Luckily, the four courses were palatable and our friends enjoyed the food. My first course was the spiedini. The shrimp was slightly overcooked, but the flavors were spot on. My friend had six oysters, three raw and three barbecued. Both were equally delicious. The mushroom ravioli was a big success since the cream sauce was perfect. The lobster ravioli was a miss since the sauce and pasta were both bland. The lobster ravioli was heart shaped and was cute, but the flavors did not live up to the presentation of the food. Three people at the table had filet mignon and mash potatoes for their main courses. They all enjoyed their food. I ordered the stuffed pepper with a vegetable souffle with brussel sprouts. The dish did not work. The pepper was flattened out like a pancake, where I envisioned the pepper to be up right. The texture was mushy, which was not acceptable for a main course. The brussel sprouts had a very bitter taste and it did not compliment the other vegetables of asparagus and grilled red peppers. I ate about half the food on the plate and stopped.

We had two different desserts at the table. One dish was the panna cotta and the other was the hazelnut chocolate cake. These desserts were the favorites of the waiter. My friends enjoyed their panna cotta desserts. However, I did not care for the hazelnut chocolate dessert. The flavor was boring and did not stand out. I left half on the plate.

I enjoyed the music and the company, but the hostess/owner did not have the courage to come over to our table and ask how the meal was. She knew she was part of the problem and not the solution.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Valentine's Day is Approaching

What to do and where to go on Valentine's Day? What a dilemma for most people who do not want to venture into San Francisco for a romantic evening. I would be perfectly happy with a beef corn dog with mustard at the Alameda Theatre watching a show. (I only wish the theatre sold corn dogs.) I know that doesn't sound like a romantic evening for most, but at least I would be satisfied with my food and avoiding crowds. The ultimate romantic dinner would be a home-made gourmet meal with a hearty main course and a delicious and sexy dessert. My only problem is that I cannot get out of the office in time for making a scrumptious meal. Sunday could be the day instead.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Ripper Dog Long Gone...

Culina removed the Ripper Dog from the menu. Who doesn't love a deep fried hot dog in a bun! But guess who has a similar version of the deep fried dog...The Hob Nob.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Yo! Philly's Cheesesteak is Mysteriously Closed

Okay Philly Cheesesteak fans, and you know who you are! For some reason Yo! Philly Cheesesteaks is closed. There was a sign on the door that said the store will be closed until a random date in February. Is this code for, not opening again until the owner finds a new buyer? I thought that place was making money.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Crema Bakery

I have to wonder what is happening to Crema Bakery on Park Street. The grand opening was supposed to have taken place Winter 2010. Well that date is long gone and the bakery still has not opened. I have a hunger for Crema cupcakes.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

La Pinata Gift Certificates

For Christmas I received two gift cards for La Pinata. My sibling did not realize the family split the business and renamed the two La Pinata restaurants in Alameda to La Penca Azul. I went to La Penca Azul hoping they would honor my gift certificates because I am too lazy to go to San Leandro for Mexican food. As I walked into the La Penca Azul, I inquired with the host if I could use my La Pinata gift card. The man said yes. Of course I was elated that I could use my Christmas gift for dinner.

When I paid for the dinner with the gift certificates, I then inquired with the waiter if the La Pinata gift cards had an expiration date due to the name change. I was told no. Another hurray since I was not able to use all of the money on the gift card.

Another positive note that I observed at La Penca Azul was that the service is now better than ever. For the first time, many of the varied staff had come to the table asking if everything was fine, if I needed more drinks or had questions. The staff prior to the name change was never that attentive. I have to wonder if the family break up has motivated the family owners of retaining customers and not having defectors go to the other locations.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Mushy Texture for Bowzer's Meatballs

I ordered the all-beef meatballs at Bowzer's Pizza. I served them in a red, marinara sauce. The sauce was good, but the texture of the meatballs were soft. My first thought was mushy. Who wants to eat mushy meatballs. Unfortunately, this will be the first and last time, I order the all-beef meatballs.

FYI - Santoro's also makes homemade meatballs every Friday. I was informed by the owner that he takes orders a few days in advance because he sells out each week. He must be doing something right to be selling out every Friday. His meatballs are made with beef and chicken. I wonder what his secret ingredients are?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

West End Slowly Dying...

The recession has caused much grief to the bay area and Alameda is not immune to the weak economy. The west end of Alameda is on the brink of a real disaster if the city does not promote and support small business. More amenities are going out of business on Webster Street. Everett and Jones is gone and now The New Zealander is closed for the second time. And still there isn't a new proprietor for the newly renovated Fireside Lounge. If nothing is done quite soon, the west end will become a dead zone.

It is difficult to believe that while Alameda may have peaked on Park Street, Webster is waning, and now Oakland is the new and vibrant area of bars, restaurants and clubs. The reason why Oakland is booming is because City Hall has relaxed permits on dining and entertainment, which Alameda has not. The City of Alameda is stagnant and for some reason does not have the foresight to watch all of the activity around and promote similar permits.

The City of Alameda has a problem of allowing tax dollars to go off island due to strict restrictions. In the end, it hurts the city instead of emphasizing growth and keeping Alamedans in Alameda.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Dim Sum Weekends

I enjoy dim sum as much as the average person. I go to Hong Kong East Ocean to have a dim sum brunch or lunch from time to time. However, if you go around 11:30 am to 1:30 pm on weekends, the traffic on Webster Street is absolutely horrible. Chef's Wok and Hong Kong East Ocean are in close proximity to each other and there aren't proper parking lots for their customers. Their customers love to double park and clog up traffic for a few blocks. I find the lack of parking annoying.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Call Me a Traitor

Even though this blog is about eating establishments in Alameda, CA, I had a fabulous meal at Plum in Oakland that was magnificent. Plum is probably one of the best new restaurants in the East Bay. The owner is Daniel Patterson, who was once co-owner of Elizabeth Daniel Restaurant in San Francisco for those of you who have been living in San Francisco for a decade or so. That restaurant closed when the husband and wife team got divorced and went their separate ways. Mr. Patterson currently owns Coi Restaurant and now Plum is his newest and lower end restaurant. Plum is in close proximity to Alameda on Broadway, just across the street from Ozumo.

The food at Plum is creative, moderately priced and the kitchen uses the freshest ingredients. There is no bad dish at this restaurant. The ginger and pear soda was refreshing and tasty. Wine can be a bit pricey dependent upon the region and year. My friends and I ordered everything family style and had four appetizers of: cauliflower, carrots, red beets and chick pea fritters. All of the small plates were fantastic. Our main courses were: two pork dishes and one babbette steak. The steak was a classic meal, but the pork dish utilized interesting ingredients that at first did not appear to compliment the meat. However, when the pork came to the table, the food was great. The flavors worked and it enhanced the meal. At the end of the night, we all shared one dessert of a white chocolate parfait with fennel. The portion was a little small, however the bites were bursting with flavor.

Another great attraction about Plum is that the restaurant stops serving at 1 am. This restaurant is getting all the buzz, so getting a reservation may be a 10 pm dinner slot.