Saturday, July 21, 2012

Bluestem Brasserie

Dinner Date: July 14, 2012

Because of its proximity to hotels, Bluestem Brasserie caters to a certain type of clientele -- it is  frequented by conference attendees and tourists in "I Love SF" sweatshirts.

Despite our experience with one particular group of loud and obnoxious conference attendees, we had an enjoyable dinner at Bluestem Brasserie prior to seeing Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter at the Century Theatre. Bluestem is a great pre-movie dinner venue being just a five minute walk to the Century Theatre at Bloomingdale's.

Bluestem is sleek and contemporary with floor to ceiling glass walls, wood and dark leather.

For my drink I had the BLUEBERRY GIMLET ($10).   A little too tangy for me. I was not so happy with my drink but I never send my drink back. The prize of the blueberry  soaking in blueberry syrup in the bottom of the cocktail glass gave me the sweetness that I was craving for in my drinks.

We had LAMB SAUSAGE WITH YOGURT-MINT AND ROASTED EGGPLANT ($11.50) for our appetizer. It was a simple appetizer but the lamb sausage was surprisingly mellow yet flavorful. The freshness was very apparent which was not surprising because the sausage was made in house. The mint-yogurt and eggplant were equally tasty.

As my main meal, I ordered the DUCK CONFIT SALAD WITH POACHED DUCK EGG ($23). Not only this salad delicious, it was also very filling.  This salad was loaded with tender duck meat with perfectly poached duck egg on top that ran and mixed in with the greens and duck. The richness of this meal really satisfied me!

Enrique had the 12 OZ RIBEYE  $35 WITH BOURBON ESPRESSO SAUCE $3.75. Enrique reported that this was a disappointing steak. The steak was full of veins which made it chewy.

Our check was $104 with Iced Tea and tip

A delightful meal pre-movie date night dinner.  Service started out slow but turned out to be efficient. Our servers were friendly.  If given the chance I want that duck confit salad for lunch again one of these days.

Bluestem Brasserie on Urbanspoon

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Pa'ina Lounge


Pa'ina Lounge replaced the former Sundance Kitchen. When Enrique saw that a new Hawaiian-fusion was reincarnated right next to our favorite theatre, Sundance Kabuki, he literally did a happy dance!

Walking in, it was like going to a club with purple and blue lights illuminating the white walls. The place is bi-leveled, open and spacious: bar is on upper section then it drops to the lower section which is the dining area. Pa'ina is sleek, modern and loud. The stage is ready to receive entertainers that the managers talked to us about when they finally get the license and paperwork done. There will be performers on a nightly basis-- DRAG SHOWS, REGGAE, HAWAIIAN, BLUES, etc.

Sadly, Pa'ina was not what at all we anticipated.  This has not been the most horrible experience we'd ever had but the most annoying!

We go to dinner to chill and relax. This place was so disorganized that it actually stressed me out!

Service was lacking and disorganized. Although the managers and servers were friendly, it did not make up for the fact that we did not get our drinks until 40 minutes after we sat down -- despite hounding any servers we could find to remind them about my Mango Kamikaze. Our dishes were delivered to our tables about 20 minutes apart.

1. $5 Happy Hour Clam and Mussel Combo.

2. Spicy Hawaiian Poke $12 with a side of rice $3

3. Short Ribs with Macaroni Salad for Enrique $10

4. Mango Kamikaze $10

The poke and rice arrived first after about 20 minutes. Another ~ 20 minutes and then the short ribs and appetizer of clam and mussel combo arrived. Our drinks were nowhere to be seen.

Our server was literally running -- no, make that sprinting back and forth across the dining room looking very stressed.

Until Enrique verbally expressed his disatisfaction that I have not received my drink and that his Diet Coke has never been refilled,  then that was when things ran a little bit smoothly.

We took a chance of placing our second order for more food. This time I guess because they knew we were upset, that the service became more efficient. However, my glass was never taken away nor was I offered another drink.

We placed another order for ISLAND POKE $12 for me and KALUA PIG FRIES  for Enrique. 

VERDICT:~Sleek cool place to chill.
~Very disorganized service.
~Reasonable prices and adequate portions.
~Strong drink. (Mango Kamikaze was at least strong and good.)
~ Decent food: Spicy poke was seasoned enough but the Island Poke was bland. According to my guy, the ribs were tender but very sweet. The Kalua Pig Fries were tender, flavorful and came with lots of pig.

FINAL THOUGHTS:We are frequent flyers at the Sundance Kabuki. In fact this theatre is where we watch our movies 98% of the time. Enrique is such a movie buff  that  we go to the movies quite a bit. We would often grab a quick bite at the Sundance Kitchen in the past and liked it for the convenience.

However, we will wait until Pa'ina iron out the kinks and hoping they would before we go back again.

TOTAL: $81 with generous tip despite the poor service.

Pa'Ina on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Rudy's Can't Fail Cafe (Oakland)

DATE NIGHT: JULY 4, 2012 @ 5:30 PM

Dinner Fail?  Hardly!

On a Sunday afternoon, Enrique and I just wanted a lazy, casual and tasty dinner that is also not far from the hood. Gotta support Oaktown!

Rudy's seems to be the perfect spot. At the very least, Rudy's is fun! It is a diner in the trendier-by-the-minute Uptown Oakland.

Rudy's is spacious, airy, metallic with high ceilings.

 The spinning Rudy's flat "statue" indoors is a unique work of art. Rows and rows of  Kens and Barbies sporting "I am Rudy" nametags; with some random doll morped into Joker/Zombie wannabe made Rudy unique and funky, and slightly creepy.

Think 50s diner that got lost and time travelled to 2012 and decided to stay instead of finding its way back to be-bop era.

Oh, if only! The big IF! If only I were not watching the scale I would park my behind at Rudy's for few hours and go through its sinful list of cocktails. Or at least have the ALCOHOLIC CHOCOLATE SHAKE.

So, for the sake of the waistline, I opted for BLOODY RUDY ($7.25).This drink was okay and not the best Bloody Mary that I've had and a little bit on the bitter side. But it was also strong and almost knocked the fat girl out of me.

The Carnivore  ordered ONION RINGS $5.95 and CHEESE BURGER $9.25: The onion rings were enough to feed the planet. Enrique devoured the whole thing and had the mind to leave 2 onion rings and then declared "Everything's good!"

Being an occasional pescetarian, I ordered the BUFFALO TOFU $6.95: Vegetarian version of Buffalo Wings. Instead of chicken I got a generous plate of thick-cut tofu doused with savory buffalo sauce, a side of Ranch and celery sticks. I passed up on the dressing but devoured the medium-soft tofu. I loved it and it could have been a meal in itself.

I had the CAJUN CATFISH (BLACKENED CATFISH W/ BLACK BEANS, RICE,  MANGO SALSA and AVOCADO) $12.95 as my main dish.  I usually stay away from "blackened" because what I have gotten instead in the past was "burnt." Not RDCF's version of this dish. The catfish was sweet and fresh. The crust was well-seasoned providing a nice crispy outside but juicy fish on the inside. The mango salsa was sweet but complimented the fish. The black beans were tasty but slightly oily that I did not eat it. Instead of rice, I asked for steamed veggies which were simple but crisp. A delighful meal with leftover for lunch the next day.

TOTAL: $56 including Arnold Palmer and tip

Rudy's Can't Fail Cafe is a fun modern diner. A great place for not-so-greasy diner food with inventive booze to quench your thirst. Generously portioned and reasonably priced.  Service was friendly and attentive. Our drinks were refilled like clockwork. A great place to grab a pre-show meal at the Fox Theatre next door.

Rudy's Can't Fail Cafe is a new Oakland resident but with its fun and funky atmosphere, it fits right in and should be allowed to stay.

It was not such a shabby ending for me and Enrique but I will return for my Happy Endings. All I have to do is go back for the BOOZE-IN-IT, SHAKE AND FLOATS. Here are some of the items:

- Shakin' Jesse: Guinness Stout, Chocolate Ice Cream & Espresso Milkshake
- Jesse James: Our signature Shakin' Jesse Milkshake with a shot of Jameson
- The Malt Liquor: Makers Mark, Bailey's, Vanilla Ice Cream & Malt Powder
- Dr. Zenzero: Fernet, Vanilla Ice Cream & Ginger Ale Float

(Otherwise, I will just be dreaming of Rudy's until then.........)

Rudy's Can't Fail Cafe on Urbanspoon


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