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Jul 31, 2008 03:28 PM

Lastest visit worst and best experiences

On our recent trip to San Francisco, we had the opportunity to explore and eat in a few areas of the city.

I have to first share our worst meal to get it out of the way… We walked up and down Castro and stumbled onto “The Cove On Castro”. The specials they had posted were intriguing, but we were to meet friends that night at “Blue” (Had the Mac and Cheese… OMG). We ended up venturing back to The Cove the next night in hopes of finding specials also as interesting. I’d not read any reviews of this place on Chowhound to see that people mostly remarked on it being ok for breakfast service. I’m sorry I didn’t use the chowhound resource. It was the worst trip of our visit, if not that I have had all year.

First, let me disclose I’m a cheese addict and will freely admit I have no discerning taste when it comes to what cheese I’ll put in/with pasta… I grew up in Texas and I’m pretty sure Velveeta was listed as part of the food pyramid presented in the nutrition class. On the high of Blue’s Mac and Cheese visit the night before, I saw there multi-cheese Mac and Cheese on the menu and thought, live large, you’re on vacation… Plus, how could you go wrong with Mac and Cheese? I’m here to tell you… It’s possible to go very, very wrong…I received a plate of what looked and tasted like cooked pasta with a few kinds of cheese melted on top of it via a microwave. After taking a few bites, I sent it back to find a $5.00 charge for the dish on our bill. I definitely wouldn’t recommend this to friends living there or those visiting.

We had 2 wow experiences I wanted to share… First was “Café Gratitude” on Harrison and 20th. Our friends wanted to take us to this place and told us it was primarily raw and a vegan restaurant… That morning I was already plotting where I’d go to eat a few hours later certain I’d walk away hungry. That was the farthest thing from reality I could have imagined. Our group ordered a cup of the corn chowder they had on special. It was a hearty bowl of the best corn chowder I’ve had. It had a little kick of heat at the end that lingered like a warm hug. To avoid the lengthy description of all 4 of our meals, I’ll just share mine. I had the “I am Celebrating” which was the special of the day. It was biryani made with quinoa. I’m trying to figure out how to duplicate this once I return home. It was filling yet left me feeling full of energy for the long day to come. Our table ordered the pecan pie, key lime pie and strawberry cheesecake. All were amazing, but I have to vote for the strawberry cheesecake in the end.

We heard about “Mama’s“ on Washington Square through recommendations on Chowhound. We were Dottie loyalist and made our pilgrimage there each visit to the city. Now we are saying… Dottie who? This place was amazing. They were crazy busy, on both mornings we went… Our wait to order was only about 30 minutes. All I can say is luckily we found it toward the end of our time in the city otherwise I’d of needed a seatbelt extension for the plane ride home. The first morning I tried the omelet with Dungeness crab, avocado and brie and a blueberry coffee cake square. I thought the avocado would completely overpower the crab, but they found an amazing balance. The next morning I tried the other special of Dungeness crab benedict. This time our table shared a stack of the pancakes. We took the recommendation of other patrons and skipped the syrup, heading straight for the jam they make… Clouds parted… Angels wept… But in all seriousness, both these meals were more than we could have imagined. It was the perfect ending to our visit to the city.

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  1. I don't mean to laugh at your pain ... but the description of the mac and cheese at Cofe Cafe was funny ...sad, but funny. Thanks for taking the bullet and warning others. From what I read the food is average but the place is sort of a neighborhood institution. Seems to appeal to a lot of former midwesterners who are no longer in Kansas.

    I always forget how good that house-made jam is at Mama's. Another breakfast place I like in SF is Towns End.

    Mama's On Washington Square
    1701 Stockton St, San Francisco, CA 94133

    Cove Cafe
    434 Castro St, San Francisco, CA 94114

    2337 Market St, San Francisco, CA

    6 Replies
    1. re: rworange

      "former midwesterners who are no longer in Kansas"

      I'm pretty square, RW, it that some kind of code phrase?

      1. re: Xiao Yang

        Look at the menu and the yelp reviews. It is plain old diner food with stuff like meatloaf and basic breakfasts. It is funny how many people on yelp mentioned they were from the midwest and liked the joint because it reminded them of home. For a little background scroll through yelp. Looking at Blue it seemed like it took the same comfort food concept and updated and improved it.

        1. re: Xiao Yang

          I'm pretty sqaure too but amongst my people "not in Kansas" any more refers to extreme culture shock and/or dumb-founded wonder. For example, the kind that Dorothy experienced arriving in OZ or the kind someone might experience when arriving in SF and seeing some of our unique sights.

          So while I'm not sure of rworange's intent, I assumed it meant that food at Cove Cafe might appeal to people suffering from culture shock of the expensive, local, seasonal, fresh, chef-driven, worship-me-because-I-use-smoked-salt cuisine prevelant in the Bay Area.

          1. re: larochelle

            I thought maybe she was referring to "friends of Dorothy" in an elliptical manner.

        2. re: rworange

          Agreed, rworange. I suppose mostly what's sad about this post is that she was only visiting and won't be regularly posting to the San Francisco board.

          Yes, Blue is known for it's mac-and-cheese. I had it once a bazillion years ago and it was fine.

          When I lived in the Castro a few years ago I would pop into the Cove once in a while when I was too lazy to cook before work, or when I was out strolling with a friend some evening and we were in the mood for diner food, even if the food turned out to be so-so (which it often did). If it's an "institution", that's probably just because it's been around so long. (Honestly, don't you think this is true of all San Francisco neighborhoods? Such a high turnover in this city. Might be worth a separate thread.)

          1. re: weem

            Seriously. I moved to the East Bay from SF a few years ago and don't get into the city that often and it surpises me how fast things change. Some areas I don't even recognize anymore.