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Uncle Jack

Nov 30, 1919, 12:00 AM

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Some random thoughts about restaurants

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In the last month or so, there have been several posts about good or great restaurants in or around Lakeside. Having grown up around restaurants, and having owned one, and having traveled on business for most of my adult life, I have some thoughts on the subject.<p>Good restaurants can be found everywhere. They usually reflect the tastes of the area and are limited only by the moment and the meal. I have had some wonderful meals in some unlikely places; stone crabs in Coral Gables, FL, a juicy cheeseburger and an icy cold Lone Star in Laredo, TX, the best ribs I ever eat were in Killeen, TX, ham and eggs and hash browns and pan cakes in Scotia, CA, a carnitas burrito with beans and rice and fresh salsa in the outer Mission District of San Francisco, CA, fresh bratwurst on a homemade bun with sauerkraut in Sheboygan, WI, Carne Asado in Buenos Aires, Argentina, stir fried chicken with hot peppers and basil in Bangkok, Thailand, a rack of lamb with garlic crust and fresh vegetables in Bucharest, Rumania, and the best Filet Mignons (Kobi beef) I ever eat was in a little French restaurant on the island of Guam. None of these places that are so memorable to me could be called great restaurants. Most of them were good, but a couple were downright dumps. For whatever reason, for at least one meal, and for at least one moment in time, they were pretty damned good.<p>Great restaurants exist primarily where there is sufficient demand for them. Great restaurants are by their very nature expensive, and usually exclusive. You can not operate a “Great” restaurant without the finest ingredients, an excellent chef, and skilled and well trained wait staff. The economics and logistics for such an undertaking are just not feasible anywhere but in an area frequented by large numbers of people who are willing to pay the tariff. That is why so many “Great” restaurants are found in, or near, “Great” hotels in large cities. How many people around Lakeside are willing to pay for a “Great” restaurant on a regular basis?<p>Lakeside has many “Good” restaurants and I have not eaten in every one of them. In my personal opinion, I think that Lorraine Russo over at the Nuevo Posada runs about as good a kitchen and pleasant dining room as there is in the area. However, if you want a really “Great” restaurant, you better grab your wallet, get in the car, and go look around Guadalajara or Mexico City.



John R

Nov 30, 1919, 12:00 AM

Post #2 of 13 (3000 views)

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Great posts

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Calvin Trillin would be proud.
Great reply by Rolly too.
I've never been blessed with a visit to Killeen, but Flints in Oakland, CA., wasn't bad as far as ribs go. White bread and paper plates and a LOOOOONG time in the smoker.<p>The most memorable wine I ever had was from a remarkable shop in Reno, Nevada, located in an old Victorian-style house. The owner tended to sit in the entry beside a Hammarlund radio. Each room was dedicate to a separate nation, the wines in opened boxes stacked around. He sold me a white burgundy that made me realize why people dedicate their lives to wines, and a 1964 Barolo with almost overpowering fruit after it was decanted overnight. And those German wines! Ever tried to get a decent German wine in Mexico?<p>Best Vietnamese restaurant? A place I stumbled into in Houston.<p>Best Chinese? Several in San Francisco.<p>Best burrito? There was this place in LaVerne. . .<p>Best Mexican barbecue? I'm sure there were better, but Mama Bocanega's on Holt Avenue in Ontario, Ca., little hole-in-the-wall joint, served astonishing pit-barbecue every week when I used to live nearby. It was home style. Best restaurant stuff probably from Arroyo in southern Mexico City (as close to a factory restaurant as you'll ever want to come).<p>I've had some lovely, lovely meals in Mexico, too.<p>If you ever come to Mexico City, and somebody hauls you to the Condesa (Fondesa), a suggestion: for atmosphere and pretty good food (stuff like pork in greens, huazontle, etc., as well as tongue and osso buco), try Tio Luis on Montes de Oca. Not great. But very good at a good price and great, old fashioned atmosphere in an excessively trendy neighborhood.<p><p><p>


Uncle Jack

Nov 30, 1919, 12:00 AM

Post #3 of 13 (3000 views)

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Oh yea, Flint's!

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John;<p>Thanks for reminding me. While Flint's will never replace Texas barbeque ribs in my mind, they were pretty darned good. Whenever my soundman and I had an opportunity, we would stop in Oakland for a couple of slabs, then cross the bridge and proceed to the Marina Green for a gut-buster picnic. We usually stopped at the Marina Safeway for a six pack and a lot of napkins or a roll of paper towels. Flint's was most generous with the sauce.


John R

Nov 30, 1919, 12:00 AM

Post #4 of 13 (2998 views)

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And while in the area.... Top Dog... and tortillas

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I think there was one year of my life when most of my vitamin C intake came from the sauerkraut the Berkeley libertarians at Top Dog let me load on the bratwurst dogs. I don't think I've ever seen a better hot dog place (and I ate a lot of hot dogs in New York, too). Of course, the UC campus area also provides a cosmopolitan cornucopia of mediocre food from around the world: bad Thai, mediocre Vietnamese, tasteless Mexican, odd vegetarian, dull German....<p>More on Mexico: I've always thought that one of the agricultural problems here was the decades of near-total commoditization of tortilla corn. It is a bit like selling all grapes from anywhere in France for the same low price.<p>That seems to be breaking down in recent years, and people will pay more for good tortillas from interesting corn. In Oaxaca, in fact, there's even a gourmet tortillerila.<p>I've always thought the government should sponsor regional and nationwide contests for tortillas, perhaps distinguishing between different sorts, so that the winners could establish a reputation for quality and there would be a price incentive for producing top-quality corn, a touch of wine-style origin denominations.<p>There are an awful lot of people who whine about imports of lousy tortilla corn from the U.S. who keep buying it for lack of convenient, publicized alternatives.<p>


no neck

Nov 30, 1919, 12:00 AM

Post #5 of 13 (2998 views)

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Some random thoughts about restaurants

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I prefer White Castle & Courtesy Diner


Rolly

Nov 30, 1919, 12:00 AM

Post #6 of 13 (2999 views)

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My 'best' places

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Here’s my list of the best I ever ate – meals worth remembering:<p>Borsch – Moscow
Bouillabaisse –a small walk-down half basement place in Montreal
Catfish – my sister’s house in Lampasas, Texas
Chicken and dumplings – a home cooking place in a lady’s home in Del Rio, Texas
Chinese, general – Canton, China
Chinese, spicy shrimp – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Chocolate fondue – San Francisco
Enchiladas – my landlady in Lerdo, Durango
Fish and chips – a hole in the wall place in Inverness, Nova Scotia
Hamburger – a street stall in Lerdo, Durango
Lemon pound cake – Sydney, Nova Scotia
Peach cobbler – my mother’s
Pizza – a little store front across from the U of Denver
Salmon – in my kitchen
Scones, deep fried, made with yeast dough – Boston, Mass
Snapper Veracruz – outside of Lerdo, Durango (but they play the jukebox so damn loud!)
Sushi – Tarzana, California
White Wine – in Moscow of all places; runner up – an Australian wine in Vancouver, BC<p>Over all best eating cities – Montreal and Canton
<p>


LJ

Nov 30, 1919, 12:00 AM

Post #7 of 13 (2998 views)

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My 'best' places

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Hey Rolly,
While in Montreal, ever have breakfast at Beauty's on St. Urbain & Mt. Royale?? How about desert at a place that used to be in the Alcan building ... Tulip Noire??


Gary Anderson

Nov 30, 1919, 12:00 AM

Post #8 of 13 (2998 views)

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Some random thoughts about restaurants

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I agree, "great" is a word often used to loosely when it comes to restaurants.<p>How about the oysters-on-the-half-shell at Jake's in Portland, OR? Ever had a combination pizza at the Northlake Tavern in Seattle? And if the best ribs are in Kileen, TX, it makes me think that you may not have been to the Rendezvous in Memphis.<p>Just my $.02.


Gary Anderson

Nov 30, 1919, 12:00 AM

Post #9 of 13 (2997 views)

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A few others, while we're on the subject

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Best Deli: Molinari's on Broadway in San Francisco.<p>Best Chinese: Hung Far Low (the name itself makes it worth it to go there) in Portland, OR. Been operated by the same family in the same location for 80 years, I'm told.<p>Best (and biggest) Filet Mignon, and an incredible blueberry strada for dessert: the Cooper Spur Inn on the slopes of Mt. Hood in Oregon.<p>Best Beer Selection: the Produce Row Cafe in Portland, OR.<p>Best Chili (Texas style): My house. Also for spaghetti.


Uncle Jack

Nov 30, 1919, 12:00 AM

Post #10 of 13 (2999 views)

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Hey! I like Jake's

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If you will recall, I reminded you or someone else who left Jake's of their fond memories list about a month or so ago. Whenever we went to Portland we always stayed at the Benson so we could have lunch at Jake's and dinner downstairs in the hotel. George was a "Great" wine steward and NBC was paying the tab. I never had a bad meal at Jake's. I just never had one that made the earth move for me.<p>As far as ribs go, I have never met a pork rib that I didn't like. Yes, Memphis and Little Rock and Kansas City have some wonderful rib joints and it's all in the slow cooking and the sauce. I just remember that Maurice's near the main gate of Fort Hood was some of the best I've ever had.


Gary Anderson

Nov 30, 1919, 12:00 AM

Post #11 of 13 (2997 views)

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I remember &; wondered why you left it off your list, is all. nmsg

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:


Rolly

Nov 30, 1919, 12:00 AM

Post #12 of 13 (2998 views)

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I'm with Jack on ribs

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I grew up near Killen (Fort Hood), and dearly love the BBQ from that area of Texas. I have also eaten at the Rendezvous in Memphis many times in the nine years I lived there, but the Central Texas style is better for me.


big john

Nov 30, 1919, 12:00 AM

Post #13 of 13 (2998 views)

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I'm with Jack on ribs

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I like the riblets at Appleby's
 
 
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