Post-Bar Exam Celebration – Brooklyn Girl Eatery

After three months studying for the bar exam, and existing primarily on coffee shop sandwiches, I am back…Kathleen and I have several posts to share with you. Enjoy!

The evening after the bar exam, Kathleen took me to the new Brooklyn Girl Eatery in Mission Hills. Brooklyn Girl has only been open a couple of months, but is already doing a booming business. There are several communal eating tables for which you do not need reservations, plus a bar area, and a dining room.

Our first court was clams casino. The clams were prepared wonderfully, and the broth was delicious. We did however get a small  amount of grit.

For our main course we shared the Roasted Duck for Two in a Ginger and Honey glaze. Even with a roasted preparation the fat was rendered pretty nicely. The glaze was delicious.

Perhaps the most successful dish (and I never say this) was dessert. Kathleen had the Key Lime Pie in a Jar, and I had the Brooklyn Bomb Shell Brownie with Salted Caramel and Creme.

All in all a very tasty first meal back from the bar.

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Mission Cheese – San Francisco, CA

The last stop on our anniversary trip was the perfect spot for the proverbial cherry on top. We went to Mission Cheese in San Francisco where we tried a selection of excellent domestic cheeses, wines, beers, and salumi. The duck and pork pâté with cherries and pistachios was an excellent salty-sweet treat. However, by far the best part was the service by our incredible waitress Sarah. She was knowledgeable, thoughtful…and oh yeah, she is family.

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Crab at the Franciscan

We made it into San Francisco this morning and stopped at The Franciscan for some delicious fresh crab for lunch.

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Glen Ellen Inn Grill and Oyster Bar

Glen Ellen Inn is a very special place for us. This is where I proposed to Kathleen two-and-a-half years ago. The place remains a remarkable family-run hidden treasure. Nestled is sleepy Glen Ellen the Inn has hidden cottages overlooking a creek behind the restaurant. The restaurant serves the best of fresh seasonal local cuisine with a homey touch.

For our appetizers we had a roasted garlic fondue and dungeness crab pot stickers.

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Next we had some incredible grilled oysters in a lemon dill cream. For the main course Kathleen had a mustard crusted duck breast with wild rice and I had the cioppino. For anyone that doesn’t believe that love is an essential ingredient in great food…please come try this cioppino broth. It is perfection. The best cioppino in northern california is not is San Francisco…you need to drive about an hour and a half north to Glen Ellen.

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Although we hardly had room left, we forced ourselves to have dessert since we were celebrating a special occasion. Kathleen had Glen Ellen Inn’s famous sundae with toasted coconut. I had the buttered popcorn ice cream. Well worth the extra calories.

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Cyrus Restaurant

Ever wondered how regular people could afford to eat at a Michelin Two-star restaurant? Cyrus restaurant in Healdsburg, often cited as one of the top foodie destinations in the US allows diners to eat In their bar off the a la carte menu instead of forking out $180 for their 8-course tasting menu. It is a terrific deal, and an incredible way to taste some of the best food in the world without breaking the bank.

Friday night, Kathleen and I probably the best meal we have had in the US.

The meal started with a chef’s treat tower (complimentary to all diners) of a beautiful yuzu and miso broth cooked down for hours, homemade mango pixy sticks, and deliciously crunchy bread. We had these with two delicious seasonal cocktails.

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Next we shared a ridiculous “carrot and peas” dish. This was followed by the lightest foie gras dish I have ever had. It was a foie mousse topped with a cherry blossom gelee, sea beans and cherry blossom powder.

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Next we had a lamb hot pot. The lamb was sliced thin and rare and finished cooking in a beautiful miso broth. Our last savory course was one of those dishes that you never forget. Titled crispy chicken and fondue, it was a chicken thigh with perfectly crispy skin served over a whit onion and ginger purée. The chef directs you to cut the thigh with a knife he coats in togarashi spices, and then dip the chicken in a fondue of perfectly cooked down mushrooms and spices. Without a doubt one of the best dishes I have eaten anywhere.

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Just when we thought it could not get any better…dessert. Kathleen had a flawless goat’s milk panna cotta topped with rhubarb and diced apples and a parsley ice. Absurdly good. I had a yuzu cremeaux topped with orange meringues and shattered cream cheese ice cream. Phenomenal.

Kudos to Chef Douglas Keane and partner Nick Peyton for making one of the best meals we have ever eaten accessible to everyone by offering a bar menu.

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Best Coffee Shops at which to Study – San Diego

There is dearth of internet postings on the best coffee shops at which to study in San Diego. So, in honor of my last day of law school classes ever, I have decided to post on something in which I have a great deal of expertise.

I have never been able to force myself to study at home, and I cannot stand the law library come finals time (due to the stress level of others and general odor), so I have always done my studying at coffee shops. I am constantly looking for new places to set up my books for the day (and often the night). I have probably studied in more coffee shops over the last three years than just about anyone in San Diego.

First, the criteria. I will rate on a scale of 1-10 (10 being a perfect score) the five things most important to me: Seating and Table Size (S&T), Hours and Location (H&L), Menu and Coffee (M), Crowd and Noise Level (C), and Other (O).

This list is, of course as is any list I make fluid, and I retain the right to change it on a daily basis. Additionally, this is based on my subjective likes and dislikes. For example, I do not like absolute silence and I weight table size as extremely important. So here is my list of the Top Five Coffee Shops at which to study:

1. The Living Room (Point Loma – 1018 Rosecrans Street)

S&T: 8 – Good tables downstairs, even better upstairs seating. The downstairs area has the best chairs around.

H&L: 8 – The Living Room is open until midnight, but will often stay open later, or even let you close the door behind you.

M: 6 – Food is just okay, coffee is decent. Great selection of teas!

C: 7 – If they did not play the music quite so loud downstairs they might get a 10. Upstairs is perfect. Crowd is mostly students.

O: 9 – I really like the feel here. Staff is very friendly (unlike the staff at the Old Town Location). Outdoor seating is great. Bathrooms are clean.

Total: 38 points

2. Lestat’s (University Heights – 4496 Park Ave)

S&T: 9 – Terrific tables. Great couches. Huge area.

H&L: 8 – 24 hours. Can’t beat that. Minus one point because sometimes you have to park around the corner. 2 minutes from the 163 Washington Exit.

M: 9 – Great lunch menu for studying. Fun selection of oddball beverage including Blueberry Soda and Chai Tea Soda.

C: 7 – It gets awfully busy. Sometimes you might wait 30 minutes for a decent-size table.

O: 2 – Would probably be my #1 selection if their internet was not so spotty. Bathrooms could be cleaner as well.

Total: 35 Points

3. Caffe Calabria (North Park – 3933 30th Street)

S&T: 7 – Great booths towards the back. If you don’t get one of those the table size gets much smaller.

H&L: 5 – It is in North Park and parking is very tough. It is also a bit of a hike from the 163 and 805.

M: 10 – Maybe the best coffee I have had in San Diego. The food is awesome. After 5 pm Wednesday-Sunday they have excellent woodfired pizza.

C: 6 – Busy. A bit loud. They play international soccer games on the televisions – and the fans get a bit loud. Bring headphones.

O: 6 – The main area is a bit small. There is a back room but it is cold. Staff is friendly, but the line for coffee gets long.

Total Points: 34

4. Filter (Hillcrest – 1295 University Ave)

S&T: 7 – Great tables. Lack of outlets. Chairs are clearly salvaged, some are much better than others.

H&L: 9 – 24 hours. They have a parking garage. Easy to get to.

M: 7 – The Ginger Tea is delicious. The food does the job.

C: 6 – People are there to study which is great. But about half the time there are no available tables.

O: 4 – The unisex bathroom is dirty. They leave the sliding doors open even on cold nights.

Total Points: 33

5. Milano Coffee Co. (Mission Valley – 8685 Rio San Diego Dr.)

S&T: 5 – This used to be a 10, but they moved the big long tables out of the way. Now they are smaller.

H&L: 6 – Mission Valley can be a traffic nightmare, but they will give you a parking pass to stay as long as you like.

M: 5 – Coffee is good. Food isn’t bad. Other restaurants across the street as well.

C: 7 – Its usually pretty empty. Its pretty quiet.

O: 9 – The owners are terrific. A really nice couple. Staff is very friendly.

Total Points: 32

 

(Other Spots Considered: The Living Room/SDSU, Panera/Liberty Station, Village 631/East Village, Influx/Little Italy, Cafe Italia/Little Italy, Twiggs/University Heights)

(Special Note: My vote for the best Starbuck’s at which to study is the Starbucks at 691 Lomas Santa Fe Drive in Solana Beach)

Pizza Port – Ocean Beach

Saturday night Gabe joined us at Pizza Port in Ocean Beach. We had Beer Buddies to start of course, and then had the Pizza Carlsbad (pesto, mequite grilled chicken, sundried tomatoes, artichoke hearts and feta). We may have sampled a half-dozen or so Pizza Port original brews as well…Image