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Restaurant Review – Bryndisi Italian Restaurant (San Francisco)

Published June 21, 2010 by Mary Jane

Evening Bloggy Friends, well I’ve had a productive day today thank goodness. Two days ago I was bed ridden sleeping 15+ hours and waking up to eat bland fish porridge and watching episode of Judge Judy & Ready Steady Cook. Today, I listened to my GP and had a day off from work to stay home to rest. Thank God, I am getting better – my tummy is less sore and my appetite is slowly coming back, I even sneakily ate alittle of my salt and pepper squid & cheese bake broccoli left overs from Pandabear’s last night’s dinner. Cos I had my usual fish porridge, I’m on light diet – which consists of plenty of fluid, soup, porridge, no dairy, no sugary food and no fat!! Life is boring without those categories of food, lunch time I found some left over cuts of pumpkin and made myself some pumpkin porridge. Tonight I said to Pandabear I’m so sick of my light diet food of 3 days. He said to me well, why don’t we get some Red Rooster for dinner tonight that way you don’t have to cook and rest more. I got excited my eyes lit up and I was ready for my mayo chicken roll along with some gravy mash potatoes along with a healthy drink of Vitamin Water.

After finishing my dinner, I was regretting it cos my tummy didn’t feel too well. Pandabear was like slow down with your eating you finished your dinner within 15 minutes that’s why your tummy is not feeling too well. So I decided to go upstairs and continue reading a book by Tow Siang Hwa – Foot Prints in the sands of time an autobiography of Dr Tow Siang Hwa’s life and watching an episode of Masterchef. So as I was saying I had a productive day today, feeling better than yesterday I’ve decided not to sleep for 15+ hours today but woke up around 11am and ate some brekkie, washed some loads of washing, contacted GP clinic to see how I can avoid queuing up at Medicare to claim the gap, contacted the Car insurance as the renewal is coming up and it’s so expensive – I saved myself an additional $70 bonus 🙂 and read through the whole book of Foot Prints in the sands of time by Dr Tow Siang Hwa- an inspiring book which I would recommend to all readers. My only questions is there’s not much mention of his kids? I wonder why, I shall ask him myself when he next visit Perth again. 🙂

Anyways, still in the mindset of San Francisco we decided to have a nice Italian meal for our dinner so asked the concierge which Authentic Italian Restaurant would he recommend, he suggested a few and advise us to rock up to this alley of little streets which consists of Italian, Greek and American Bar & Grill restaurants. I was so excited a whole street of Italian, Greek and American Bar & Grill restaurant – how exciting. So we decided to walk there cos it’s only a few blocks, when we got there it was fascinating – neon lights and signs displaying each little restaurants, there were at least 6 restaurants to choose from. So we decided to go through each restaurants to briefly look at their menus. Each restaurants had a staff standing outside giving customers a copy of their restaurant menu. Finally we got to the last restaurant called Bryndisi Cucina Di Mare, a nice lady was showing us their menu which consist of wood fired pizza, pasta and meat dishes. We decided let’s tried this Italian restaurant it was rather packed inside so they sat us down a table of two outside freezing cold. Fortunately they had a heater on outside.

Neon lights & signs

Neon lights & signs


Bryndisi Cucina Di Mare

Bryndisi Cucina Di Mare

okies, so we had a look through our menu, I suggested we must try their woodfire pizzas and grab a pasta to share that should fill our tummy. So the waiter came, he sounded italian so he got us some fresh warm bread rolls – complimentary that’s nice and we get to dip into this awesome spinach olive oil – I was sure there’s another herb in it but was too hungry so I scoffed it down.

bread rolls with spinach olive oil

bread rolls with spinach olive oil

Now when it came to ordering the waiter arrived and asked us what we should have. I went we want a woodfire pizza and a pasta dish, for the woodfired pizza I chose a pizza by the name of Capricciosa – which consists of artichokes, mushrooms, olives, mozzarella, prosciutto and tomato and I asked the waiter “is there a signature pasta dish that you could recommend to us?” he replied “certainly mam, if you like our pasta dish – Linguini Allo Scrigno – which is a pasta baked in a pizza crust which consists of tomatoes and seafood. I was really excited I’ve never had a pasta baked inside a pizza crust – really looking forward to it.

So the pizza arrived first – wow it was huge and the presentation was fantastic, all the fresh ingredients and colour on a thin sliced woodfire pizza, the waiter layered it on top of a wire stand which made it look even more impressive.

Capricciosa Woodfire Pizza

Capricciosa Woodfire Pizza

The Linguini Allo Scrigno shortly followed, and the presentation was amazing. The waiter gently placed the dish on the table.

Linguini Allo Scrigno

Linguini Allo Scrigno

You may be amazed how I could remember the dishe’s names with my fish memory. Well, I wrote them down on my book that’s why! Ha there’s no way I could remember those names. Anyways, the waiter slowly made a cut and the moment he cut it open the steam of fresh seafood aroma rushes into us – it smelt delicious.

Linguini Allo Scrigno cut opened

Linguini Allo Scrigno cut opened

Now I asked the waiter whether we could eat the pizza crust on top, he said ofcourse you can dip them into the sauces and it taste great! So that’s exactly what I did, the pizza crust was crunchy and tasty – not doughy, thin and when you dip them into the pasta sauce it was very flavoursome. However, I had to remind myself not to be carry away with this pizza crust when I had a whole woodfire pizza to finish. So we must be pretty hungry cos both Pandabear and myself managed to finished the whole pizza and our pasta baked dish. The seafood was fantastic fresh, mussels, prawns, fish & scallops were tender not over cooked. I generally don’t like tomato based pasta but the tomato based sauce was infused with the seafood so it gave that extra bit of kick when you eat it. I loved it! Certainly was one of the best pasta dishes I’ve ever eaten. The food waiting time was great, we received our meal within 10-15 minutes. The staff were friendly.

Here’s my ratings:

Dining Experience: 4.5 star
Food Experience: 4.5 star
Would I recommend: Absolutely YES!

When the waiter came back to collect our empty plates he asked us how we went with our dishes – I said “Balisimo” he replied in some Italian I have no clue what it means maybe some where along the lines of ‘That’s great, we hope to see you again’ so before we left I told the girls we really enjoyed our meal and we found out the lady was the owner’s daughter and apparently they own another 2 Italian restaurant down the streets selling different dishes. How bizarre?? Wouldn’t they be competing against each other? Well, perhaps they all got their different signature dishes and specialties, I said I would come back to try another two if I have time and it turned out we didn’t have time…oh well, there’s always next time 🙂

The Bread Factory Cafe – New York

Published June 21, 2010 by Mary Jane

Well, it’s been great having brekkie in New York – cos everything is so cheap. So Pandabear and I decided every morning we’ll go out for brekkie apart from days where we sleep in then it will be a brunch 🙂 So we were walking around trying to spot a nice brekkie place and came across this Bread Factory Cafe – it was quite packed and let lots of crusty yummy bread near the window, so we decided to check this place out.

The place is structured so that one section sells drinks such as coffee/hot chocolate and one section which does hot meal and then you have the middle section which looks after cakes/pastries/muffins. For the hot items you need to queue up orderly in a queue and while you’re queuing up you get to see these display dishes infront of you which helps you in deciding what you want.

Here are the display dishes:

the display items looks great – I thought they were fake displays until I looked at them closer and realised they were proper dishes. I was drooling while I was queuing up. However, I’m a savory person so I decided to go with the works – Sausages, 2 x sunny side eggs, hash browns and two pieces of wholemeal toast. When I received my brekkie I was like this is a huge serving. Now with the hash browns it’s not like the usual ones which you get in Australia where it’s golden brown and in oval shaped, the US hashbrowns are just seasoned mashed potatoes pan fried. Oh and our brekkie came with a cup of tea.

My breakfast works

My breakfast works

And pandabear had similar to my except he had an omellete instead of sunny sided eggs and Bacon instead of sausages.

Bacon & eggs breakfast works

Bacon & eggs breakfast works

Our brekkie arrived pretty quickly and they were pretty cheap around $10 per dish. Really worth it, the service was pretty good as well. So here’s my rating:

Dining experience: 4 star
Food experience: 4 star
Would I recommend? YES

Madison Square Garden – New York

Published June 15, 2010 by Mary Jane

Madison Square Garden – The World’s Most Famous Arena in the heart of New York City. We were really excited when one of our friends came to New York to meet us. He managed to book a ticket around $100 to watch the New York Basketball game. I used to be a wildcats fan, but now that most of the older players have now retired. I don’t recognise any of the new members. So I’ll only go and watch a wildcats game when my physio gives me a free ticket – cos he’s the official physio of wildcats. so I was excited to watch the New York Basketball game, surely the NBA dudes are way better than our wildcats.

When we arrived at the Madison Square Garden, it was packed with people – large flashing neon lights billboards showing the game time and advertisements. It’s New York Knicks vs 76ers – I have no idea who they are all I know I’m going with New York Knicks and apparently they don’t play that well. Nevermind…

Just before the game, we had the national anthem and there were a school that performed instrumental music of the national anthem – that was kinda nice. They did a good job. Even though New York Knicks isn’t a great team the whole place was still packed with people…

Now we were sitting quite far back, fortunately they had a huge Plasma display at the centre of the court and you could see what was going on…

Up until 2nd quarters, Knicks were losing and we were starting to lose hope and thought it was time to grab some snacks. Pandabear bought us some Hagen dusk icecream, a hot dog that came with crispy cross shaped fries. The hot dog was kind of cold so it wasn’t really tasty but the crispy cross shaped fries were delicious, we wish we had more of it. Then Knicks started picking up and in the end they won the game. We were so stoked. The whole atmosphere were really amazing we had a cool DJ that played awesome music and there were cheers and in between prize winning stunts so it was well worth our $100. I would highly recommend everyone going.

New York City Night life

Published June 15, 2010 by Mary Jane

Well, if you’re one of those party animals – you would love New York Night life. People don’t seem to sleep there and even on a week night you see heaps of people roaming around the streets. There’s heaps of bright Neon lights, hot dogs & Pretzel stands around every corner of the street. People selling some tickets to a comedy show. We even bumped into a guy dressed in an Elmo from sesame street suit who would take pictures with you but you’ll have to tip him. Now I’m a morning person usually when it hits around 10.30pm – I need to go to bed already, but for some reason I was really awake – it might be with the crowds and neon lights. I was so awake that we ended up at a Havana Central Restaurant Bar which sells awesome Cuban Food and this was like around 11.30pm and the place was still packed with people.

Our friend took us to Havana Central Restaurant, it had a band playing some Cuban music and the whole atmosphere was great. We were told this restaurant was one of the popular Cuban restaurants and they’ve got great food and they also serve awesome cheap mojitos. So we decided to try their lemon & mint mojitos and some passion fruit mojitos and they both came with long sticks of sugar cane. I was wondering what the sugar canes were for and they said it’s to make the drink sweeter. Anyways, I started munching on those sugar canes and asked Pandabear whether I could have their ones as well cos it was quite tasty.

Lemon & mint mojitos with sugar cane

Lemon & mint mojitos with sugar cane

Passion Fruit Mojitos with sugar cane

Passion Fruit Mojitos with sugar cane

We ordered some of their popular dishes – shredded beef served with lentils and salsa. We also ordered their salmon dish which also served with some black lentil dipping sauce. They both came with a bit of salad.

Shredded beef with rice

Shredded beef with rice

Salmon pieces with prawns & lentils

Salmon pieces with prawns & lentils

black lentil sauces

black lentil sauces

It was dark and the shredded beef just looks mushy. But it tasted great, nice flavouring and I love their lentil sauces. It was delicious. The serving size was huge and we had 2 dishes shared amongst 3 of us. The waiter was really friendly,and if you get the chance to go to their toilets. They have a person standing there handing you out hand towels and mints. Thats what you call great service. I wouldn’t want that to be my job though standing in front of the mirror and handing out paper towels out to guests. Even though the place was packed, we still received our dishes pretty quickly and the waiters were pretty friendly. So I would definitely recommend people going to this place. 🙂

Restaurant Review – Brasserie Ruhlmann

Published June 15, 2010 by Mary Jane

Hiya Bloggy friends, well – I’m currently in the mindset of New York. So my goal is to finish writing up posts for food in New York. This particular restaurant was recommended by a friend of ours, and as it’s in Rockefeller directly opposite to the ice rink it’s quite popular – they have indoor tables and outdoor tables. When we arrived at the place you had to wait to be seated there was a waitress at a stand and she was quite friendly. We waited for a little while before we were usher off to an outside table. It was quite packed, and you see all these waiters walking around quite busy.

Now, we were handed down some menus and then the waiters rushed off – we waited for a while and nobody came to take our food orders. Was getting rather annoyed thinking they are not serving us cos the waiter went straight to a group of table that came after us. When we grabbed the attention of another waiter he said he’s not allowed to take food orders and that he’ll get someone for us. We waited for another 10 minutes and finally a waiter came and took our order. Pandabear and I were contemplating which meal to order as there were lots of variety. The waiter wasn’t really helpful, he just went along with yeah that’s not too bad, oh yup the other dishes are quite good too. So Pandabear decided to go for some steam mussels & french fries. I warned him that if they didn’t cook the steam mussels probably it would have that strong mussel foul taste in your mouth and he didn’t want to go for the chilli mussels. I went for their renowned hamburgers with french fries.

Steam mussels with french fries

Steam mussels with french fries

hamburgers with french fries

hamburgers with french fries

When our meal came, the presentation was quite nice, I love how they arrange the fries on a cone shape container and the fries are all sitting straight up – they were tasty and crunchy. However, I tried Pandabear’s steamed mussels and yup it had the foul steamed mussel taste, the sauce was not strong enough to cover the mussel taste. So the mussel were pretty average we didn’t finish it. My hamburger was ok, the patty was dry and to be honest it was pretty average. I’ve had better burgers before. So overall, our meals were pretty average, the service was pretty average. When the waiters came back to collect our plates he asked how was the meal – I said it was pretty average. He didn’t care, just walked off.

Here’s my ratings:

Dining Experience: 3 star
Food Experience: 3 star
Would I recommend it: Not really

Statue of Liberty Gastronomical Food – New York

Published June 12, 2010 by Mary Jane

Now, we all know that New York is a fantastic place to be – you see it on TV shows – there’s statue of liberty which is a landmark in New York and let’s face it there’s supersize everything and in particular FOOD. So Pandabear and I decided to catch a ferry and head towards Statue of Liberty. We were told there was an option of climbing more than 300+ steps just to get to the top of statue of liberty. So way before we were there, Pandabear and I started our climbing few flight of stairs for a month or so to keep us fit and ready for the 300+ steps.

Statue of Liberty

Statue of Liberty

There were high security check prior to boarding the ferry, but why no healthy check? Cos to be honest if you weren’t fit enough I don’t think you’ll be able to climb 300+ worth of stairs. Anyways, they tagged both of us with a pink tag kinda reminds me when I receive hospital tags while I was staying in the hospital. We were led through a short orientation by this American guy with a sense of humor. We had to be orientated in groups of about 10. Both Pandabear and I ended up in a group full of young kids. We’re like that’s great I’m sure the kids won’t go to fast through the 300+ stairs.

The narrow stairs

The narrow stairs

Now we all started to climb those nasty stairs – seriously they’ve built the stairs so narrow and steep that I don’t think people that are slightly obese won’t be able to fit into them. We got through few flights of stairs fine, however we soon realised the kids were tail gating us – I was even starting to think that they were thinking ‘hurry up, you guys are blocking us’ so when we finally reached 10th flights of stairs I said to the kids you guys can go ahead of us, because we’ll be taking our time and at that stage I was huffing and puffing already. I know all that flight of stairs preparation in Perth didn’t really help. My face was going hot and bright red and I was starting to sweat like a pig,

We finally made it to the top and the kids have beat us to it – they looked rather relaxed and me, well I was huffing and puffing trying to control my loud burst of breathing. There stood a guide there explaining to us that you can see the statue of liberty’s hair line and it was amazing we could star through the windows and see the whole view of New York. It was well worth the pain and exercise of climbing to the top but we made it 🙂

Now it came lunch time, since we both believe we’ve worked so hard in conquering the climb of statue of liberty – we were allowed some gastronomical food – yup that’s right fast food. We arrived at this cafe and it was so packed with queues of people. We stared at the menu and there were so many varieties to choose from…

What caught my attention was all these cooks deep frying fries, drum sticks and fish and chips. The whole place smelt so greasy and oily but oh so tasty too. So I decided to order some chilli cheese fries – I love chillies and cheese and ofcourse fries, these 3 combination sounds fantastic. Now Pandabear went for a healthier option – so he thought it was loaded organic fries. We both decided we also need to order a hot dog along with it. Now when we receive both of our order we were both so shocked our fries serving size was huge, should have stick to 1 order – never mind…mine was covered with hot chilli sauce and a dob of sour cream and my hot dog was huge too. When Pandabear received his loaded organic fries – he was shocked too, it also had the hot chilli sauce, heaps of deep fried bacons, onions and a dob of sour cream. He was complaining and said he wouldn’t be able to eat the fries with the hot chilli sauce. I reassured him the chilli sauce aint that spicy.

Chilli cheese fries with hot dog

Chilli cheese fries with hot dog

Organic Loaded Fries

Organic Loaded Fries

Now I’m a big eater and I usually finish my plate of food. But really the serving size for the chilli cheese fries were so rich and huge and I only end up eating 1/2 of it, I even considered taking some home but Pandabear talked me out of it. We stare at other people and they all finished their meal, now we know why there’s obesity in America – the serving size is definitely a supersize!!! The meal was tasty and rather cheap, we were very satisfied probably gained 2 kg and our arteries are more blocked with cholesterol oh well we don’t eat this type of food all the time…

Restaurant Review – Andrews Coffee shop (New York)

Published May 26, 2010 by Mary Jane

Evening bloggy friends, hope this post finds you all well. What can I say?? Time is really going so quick the other way I was thinking well there’s still around 6 months till I move..but now I’ve got around 9 weeks till I move to Melbourne – argh!!!! I’m just trying to my contain myself and not get carried away. Thankfully, with juggling between Church activities and meeting up with friends & family have made me forget about my move. Not sure whether that’s a good sign or not. Anyways, this Saturday I’m meeting my girl friends for a baking session and I’m still wondering what we should bake???

Okies, so I’ve moved on from San Francisco to New York – a fantastic city which never sleeps. I love New York totally opposite to what I think it was going to be – the hustle & bustle of busy city lifestyle seems have faded away by it’s full on neon lights, friendly Americans, food was divine and theater – it was just an amazing experience. I shall write a post on New York activities…but for now, here’s a restaurant review on this lovely casual brekkie restaurant which was recommended by our hotel concierge. It was walking distance from our hotel and we were starving when we arrived early in the morning and had to wait till arvo to check into our hotel. What’s best then to dine at a place for yummy brekkie??

So we arrived at Andrews coffee shop – it was packed with people, straight away we were greeted with a waitress who sat us down with some menu. The place reminds me of a show on TV either from NCIS or Law and Order place where the cops will be at this casual restaurant having brekkie & coffee. There’s the colourful walls, TVs and you could see through the kitchen area.

We were staring through the menu, there were lots of varieties – so hard to choose from an extensive menu. Pandabear ended up ordering sausage & eggs with hash brown. Now as I’ve mentioned before, hash brown = mashed potatoes pan fried…and my choice was a greedy choice of the works – which had the eggs, bacon, sausages, & pancakes…that’s right..I had savoury & sweet I was starving and would love to try a bit of everything!!! We waited for our food which seemed to be taking for a long time. We waited and every time the waitress walked closer to our table she ended up rocking to another table to serve it’s as if she was avoiding us hehehehe….then finally she came, she was looking pretty exhausted – I don’t blame her, it was a packed restaurant and to be working at brekkie time – waking up early in the morning to serve these hungry mob brekkie is definitely not an easy task.

eggs, sausages and hash brown

eggs, sausages and hash brown

I had to wait for mine to arrive for quite sometime, I was starting to regret perhaps of being too greedy in ordering too much stuff. So I started picking food off Pandabear’s plate cos I was hungry!! Eventually my brekkie arrived. I was really surprised, the reason was because I was expecting them to separate my savoury brekkie from my sweet pancakes – but instead I get my eggs piling on top of my pancakes and mixed with sausages & bacon. But that’s ok, cos I ate all my savoury part first and then put some blue berry jam onto my pancakes and finished that off. The brekkie was delicious, both Pandabear and I were pretty happy with our brekkie – tummy satisfied. I must admit the sausages were quite different – I’ve never tasted this kind of sausage before – it’s kinda minced meat.

eggs, bacon, sausage and pancake

eggs, bacon, sausage and pancake

So overall, we were happy with our food – just the service & food waiting time was a let down but then again you kinda expect it from a casual dining restaurant. We left the restaurant with some tips on the table and walked off feeling full & happy.

Here’s my rating:

Dining experience: 3 star
Food experience: 4 star
Would I recommend it? Yes!