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Stellar dishes at ordinary restaurants

raghu813 Jun 27, 2006 04:13 PM

Sometimes an inexpensive place will have one dish they do exceptionally well. (the spinach ravioli at Fillipo's original
restaurant on College in Oakland qualifies)Can people think of others?

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  1. Melanie Wong RE: raghu813 Jun 28, 2006 05:15 AM

    Not much of a restaurant, but I'll nominate the baked pork buns from Cafe Bakery on Noriega in SF as a one-trick pony. I've tried the various things that others have recommended there and not been interested in ordering any of them again. However, the pork buns are the standard for measuring all other comers. The price for them has gone up to a buck apiece.

    Cafe Bakery thread -

    1. w
      wbfey RE: raghu813 Jun 28, 2006 11:42 PM

      Chow, on Church at Market St. Great food, great menu, great service, and lunch tab for two persons was very reasonable. Pork chops, pasta, seafood, you name it.

      7 Replies
      1. re: wbfey
        Melanie Wong RE: wbfey Jun 28, 2006 11:45 PM

        What dish do you think Chow does exceptionally well? Not sure it's that terrific across the board.

        1. re: Melanie Wong
          jupiter RE: Melanie Wong Jun 28, 2006 11:51 PM

          The Cobb Salad.

          1. re: jupiter
            chaddict RE: jupiter Jun 30, 2006 12:24 AM

            I use to love the cobb salad there but then it seems they changed a few things and now I don't love it as much.

            1. re: chaddict
              jupiter RE: chaddict Jun 30, 2006 12:46 AM

              what did they change?
              i have been eating the cobb salad there for the last 6 years, and it actually seems to be the only consistent thing on the menu that doesn't fluctuate between terrible and terrific (aside from the special lemonades...)
              one small qualification: i hate blue cheese so i always have them substitute the blue with goat.

          2. re: Melanie Wong
            Meredith RE: Melanie Wong Jun 29, 2006 04:49 PM

            Oddly, the pepperoni pizza. They have a wood-fire oven (at least at the Church location) and the proportion of sauce and cheese suit me. To my bf's horror, I prefer it to Delfina Pizza.

            1. re: Meredith
              Robert Lauriston RE: Meredith Jun 29, 2006 05:10 PM

              Delfina does about as well as anybody can with a gas deck oven, but you can't beat wood for pizza.

            2. re: Melanie Wong
              Jacquilynne RE: Melanie Wong Jul 20, 2006 03:42 AM

              I had the ginger cake twice in one week while I was in town a couple of weeks back. I'm not sure about the rest of the menu, but that, at least, was a delight.

          3. Robert Lauriston RE: raghu813 Jun 29, 2006 12:02 AM

            I think it's rare for a restaurant to make only one thing well. If there's a good cook in the kitchen and good ingredients, there's going to be more than one good dish.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Robert Lauriston
              Melanie Wong RE: Robert Lauriston Jun 29, 2006 08:01 AM

              Don't you think your two preconditions --- good cook and good ingredients --- are rather rare themselves?

              1. re: Melanie Wong
                Robert Lauriston RE: Melanie Wong Jun 29, 2006 03:58 PM

                Sure. There are lots of restaurants where nothing's good.

            2. s
              sailorbuoys RE: raghu813 Jun 29, 2006 02:08 AM

              I think Chow is permanantly mediocre, or worse. I go there on Thursdays only for their sandwich of the day: steak sauteed with peppers and onions.

              Blue Plate has an amazing roasted hearts of romaine salad.

              Ti Couz's (non organic) house salad is the best in the city. Nice dressing and ecclectic greens.

              Soizic in Oakland has an outstanding ginger custard. So good you shouldn't share!

              3 Replies
              1. re: sailorbuoys
                heidipie RE: sailorbuoys Jun 29, 2006 08:43 PM

                I wholeheartedly agree about the Ti Couz salad.

                1. re: heidipie
                  chaddict RE: heidipie Jun 30, 2006 12:26 AM

                  And I agree about Soizic's ginger custard. I would add their BELGIAN ENDIVE SALAD with pears, gorgonzola cheese and spiced walnuts. Freakin' addictive.

                  1. re: heidipie
                    Sixy RE: heidipie Jul 20, 2006 03:27 AM

                    But I don't agree that Ti Couz is a one trick pony.

                    I always love their complete or mushroom|cheese crepe.
                    And their Ti Couz 10 (both the alcholic and the non-alcoholic versions) is one of my absolute favourite cocktails in town.

                    So I would say they certainly do more than the one thing well.

                2. Melanie Wong RE: raghu813 Jun 29, 2006 08:07 AM

                  Ricky's Corner in Rodeo, which is mostly a bar/lounge, does pretty good fried chicken. It becomes exceptional when you factor in the $7 price. That's what everyone orders, and you stray from that at your peril.

                  More about Ricky's -

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Melanie Wong
                    Scrapironchef RE: Melanie Wong Jun 30, 2006 01:21 AM

                    Second. Even at weekend full meal prices.

                  2. k
                    katya RE: raghu813 Jun 30, 2006 12:16 AM

                    Giovanni (or Caffe Giovanni) in Berkeley. Their free house-made (I assume) focaccia is super delicious. It arrives hot, tasting of olive oil (but not oily), and it's different from all the other focaccia I've had. When I used to go to Giovanni I'd always make sure to get another batch before we left so I'd be able to sneak some home.

                    When it came to their entrees, however, if you looked up "Eh" in the dictionary, there would be a picture of their ravioli.

                    1. g
                      ggchickapee RE: raghu813 Jun 30, 2006 12:24 AM

                      The salt and pepper crab at Thanh Long is a one hit wonder. Even the garlic noodls that everyone orders with the crab are overcooked and edible only for tradition's sake.

                      1. anna RE: raghu813 Jun 30, 2006 04:38 AM

                        Mr. Chan's at Daly City is the ultimate cheap eats place with some really good dishes. The fried tofu is excellent, but only if you're eating at the restaurant. I got it to go before and they got soggy when I got home. It also has a surprisingly good version of general's chicken. The chow fun is also really good, with some nice charred flavors. Oh yeah, all the dishes I mentioned are less than $5 and can easily feed two.

                        1. psb RE: raghu813 Jul 20, 2006 02:56 AM

                          Assuming we're not being overly strict about the "one thing only" ...

                          Chow: short ribs ($13ish for a lot of food)

                          Caffe DeLucchi: panna cotta $6

                          I wouldnt say those place dont have anything else worth
                          eating, but I always get the same thing at either of those
                          places now.

                          1. s
                            Sixy RE: raghu813 Jul 20, 2006 05:50 AM

                            Moshi Moshi pork chops

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