Check Please 3/27/09: Shanghai Dumpling King, Farmerbrown, & Caesar's Italian Restaurant, SF
Warning these places will be pretty busy since it aired. The show was very good. I loved watching the chef make the xlb at Shanghai Dumpling King. Farmerbrown for $15 Sun brunch. Caesar's 7-course meal. Sounds good. Any recent reports?
You can watch the video & read the reviews on their website:
25 Mason Street, San Francisco, CA 94102
Shanghai Dumpling King
3319 Balboa St, San Francisco, CA 94121
Caesar's Italian Restaurant
2299 Powell St, San Francisco, CA 94133
re: Robert Lauriston
We went to Caesar's before Beach Blanket Babylon a year or two ago with relatives from the East Coast ....... it definitely had a nice old school feel to it but I remember being disappointed with the food. And I love old fashioned Italian places but we all went away a bit mystified with the crowds that frequent here. Enjoy the feel and the vibe but don't expect too much from the food and you'll be OK. Nostalgia ain't what it used to be.
Regarding Farmer Brown - if you can get there tomorrow you can try some of Bryant Terry's food. Some of his recipes are actually quite good.
"For the month of March, we are featuring recipes from Bryant Terry's new cookbook, Vegan Soul Kitchen. You won't want to miss these delicious recipes including an outstanding all-vegan Gumbo."
We tried Caesar's out of curiosity, seemed really dubious that the place could be as good as it came off on the show (especially given that the guy who chose Shanghai Dumpling King was considerably less enthusiastic in his written review).
It isn't. Some of the food, in particular the antipasti, was good, especially given the relatively low prices. Some was OK but bland, e.g. the vegetable soup and osso buco. The spaghetti that came with the 7-course dinner was the worst I've had in years, mushy pasta in a bland, watery meat sauce. The fried squid entree was soggy and underseasoned, just gross. Whoever was running the fryer did not know what they were doing.
The $5 house-made cannolo was surprisingly good. Dense ricotta, not too sweet, crisp and crunchy fried pastry shell. I prefer the lighter Sicilian style like they make at Pizzeria Delfina, but this is a good version of the New York style.
Nice atmosphere and service. I think it's the kind of place where you could have a good meal or an awful one depending on what you order. The canelloni are probably a safe bet. There's a second dining room that's pretty charmless.
Big fans of Shanghai Dumpling King - go at least every other week for Saturday dumplings. Wife likes them, 3 and 5 year old kids like them. In fact, we were real disappointed the other week as they were on vacation. Either way, we generally stick with the xlb, perhaps some noodles and a soup. Have ventured into the fish head soup a while back but do not recall. The cucumber salad seems to have too much garlic for my taste but stick with the dumplings and cannot go wrong. Have never had a problem with the service.
Farmerbrown - I want to like the place, have been at least dozen times, but the food is always mediocre and the help at the bar could not slower and pay less attention. It is a great scene at the bar - good mix of people, eclectic crowd, one of the better places in SF in this regard. However, I have tried the fried chicken on multiple occasions and while it is acceptable, it is hardly exciting. The downside is that the bartenders seem more into their own world rather than paying attention to their trade.
Caesars - no thoughts. Sounds like Original Joe's gone wrong.
I like Farmerbrown's Sunday brunch. All you can eat fried goodness? Yum! Last I went was a few days before Thanksgiving.