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Archive for December, 2009

carnelian room

“After 40 years of serving outstanding fine dining cuisine with stunning San Francisco views, Carnelian Room will close forever on Friday, January 1, 2010. ”

I’ve never really eaten at the Carnelian Room, so when I heard that one of the premier San Francisco dining establishments was closing, I booked a reservation.

The Carnelian Room of 2009 is a place where you’re really just paying more for the ambiance than the elegant food. Warm low light, fantastic night time cityscape, and luxurious table linens. Yes, I did say table linens. They weren’t the starchy, typical restaurant table linens. These were beautiful, ivory table linens with a smooth, silky texture.  I had high hopes for the meal.

The service was interminably slow. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a dine-and-dash kinda gal. From our travels in Europe, I’ve gotten used to savoring your meal over the course of 3 hours. But we haven’t even ordered our meals and the place wasn’t completely packed! Even when we finally ordered our meals, there was a very looooong wait in between courses.

First course: Shrimp and seared scallops for me, Thai Lobster bisque for Jim. Scallops and shrimp were well prepared and flavorful. Not sure where the Thai or the bisque was in Jim’s Thai Lobster bisque. There were also little parts of what looked like lobster in Jim’s soup.

<long wait>

At this point, the waiter comes by and says to us in aside, “Could you do me a favor? Could you complain to the Maitre’d that there was a very long gap between your entrees? They keep packing people in here and the kitchen can’t keep up!”  Wow, I’ve never had a waiter say THAT to me before.

</longwait>

Next Course: Oxtail Ravioli for Jim. The ravioli skin was very well made. There were a couple bits of some type of meat inside. I think they were oxtail….

The waiter comes back and without even asking, fills Jim’s glass to the brim with the rest of the wine bottle. Jim is very pleased….and we both agree that he’s trying to save face.

Sorbet: Excellent, fresh, apple sorbet. Real pleaser.

Main Course: Duck breast for me, Wagyu Culotte Steak for Jim. The best part about the duck breast was the pureed parsnips that came with the dish. The duck breast….was really like eating Donald Duck’s grandfather. The entire dish seemed that it was waiting under the heat lamp for an interminably long time (there’s that word again!). Jim took one bite of his Wagyu, which the waiter assured me was A5 grade, and assured me that it wasn’t A5 grade.

Dessert: Grand Marnier Souffle for me, Chocolate Blackberry mousse for Jim. Both very good. After the main course, we were hoping that the pastry chef would save the day and they did.

All in all, can’t say that we’ll ever go back….but since its closing I guess we don’t have to worry about that do we. And, no, I didn’t say anything to the Maitre’D on the way out… they were no where to be found. I did pass a couple on the way out who were talking to their friend on the phone, “….awful. We screamed at the waiter and the maitre’d….so we’re leaving….” Yikes.  Too bad that’s the impression that the Carnelian Room is leaving.

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santouka ramen

Ramen….mmmmm. I was first introduced to the non-dried packet version when I visited my brother in Tokyo several years ago. Now it seems whatever city we go to, we try to locate a ramen shop to sample the wares.
On our way back from an errand, Jim and I decided to hit up the Santouka Ramen shop / booth at the Mitsuwa Marketplace in San Jose. This isn’t really a standalone shop, its actually built inside of the Mitsuwa market place. When you enter the store, its the first little store front on the right (past the first glass counter). Jim got a combo with shoyu ramen. Normally, I order a some type of shio ramen with extra menma (bamboo shoots), and I end up giving the pork slices to Jim. But this time I got the ramen with the “special” pork. I was intrigued when the receipt called it “Toro Shio” ramen.
Wow. The special pork really is special: buttery, smooth, slightly salty. The broth was exquisite. Creamy, milky white goodness with perfectly cooked noodles. I ate the entire large bowl myself.
Mitsuwa Marketplace
675 Saratoga Ave
San Jose, CA 95129
(408) 255-6699

http://www.mitsuwa.com/tenant/santouka/eindex.php

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