Scala’s is like coming home – you know what to expect and it’s just what you want!

With tickets to see Napoli ( a period story set in the 40’s during the war years in Italy) at the the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco last week -we decided to make a night of it and grab dinner at Scala’s BistroIMG_9650Frank and Gram

Scala’s is a well known and beloved restraint in San Francisco at the Sir Francis Drake. The  Sir Francis will also have a special place

in my heart because it


was the first hotel my grandmotherand I went to on a trip when I was young after my grandfather had died. In fact if you have seen the play – this image isn’t far from what you would have seen!

But Scala serves up its own history and special place – because it continues to earn it.

Having been one of my favorite traditional style restaurants here in San Francisco for well over 15 years – I continue to go for celebrations and when I want memories to be made. Not only has it been home to some great chef’s over the years, it offer great servers who know how to work its menu to ensure a perfect dining experience to match any palette.  Much of the menu is solid, good prepared dishes that glen richness, texture and flavor – while leaving you feeling like you have been well fed.IMG_9647IMG_9640

This trip we opted for the Pork Loin with cabbage and the New York Strip

The risotto is some of the best, the meats all come with rich flavors and combinations you can want. Another must try is the cured meat starter – paired with some cheeses and toast. Its well done, nicely portioned, simple and yet has all the richness I like with cured meat plates. I think I have eaten one version of this almost every time – in fact the only dish that used to knock it off the pedestal for me was the watermelon, feta cheese salad that sadly is no longer on the menu for some years now.

Note: When crowded don’t overlook eating in the bar – you get seated and served often quickly and can usually get in that way with out a reservation.

432 Powell St

San Francisco, CA 94102

b/t Post St & Sutter St in Union Square

Phone number (415) 395-8555


The Daily Grill still serves up a good solid menu

Last week I was able to get a few hours off and Paul and I figured we would head downtown to pick up one of my computer systems that I had dropped off at Apple for some adjustments. While out – we decided to hit Macys (and managed to get in for a one day sale – SCORE!). While out were hungry so decided to grab lunch at one of the local “steak” houses that do a lot more than just steak.

The Daily Grill has been a constant in San Francisco and caters to a mix crowd of business folks, theater people and tourists. We’ve enjoyed the entrees and main dinner menus on a few occasions so this trip we went for lunch. The food and service is old school – lots of “al a carte” and all the amenities that go with that traditional professional server style of dining. This trip we opted for the Crabcake BLT – we while pretty good as is – personally I think that by using the peppery arugala as lettuce – it ended up falling flat against the other flavors and really needed a lemon vinaigrette to balance it with the rich crab and bacon. On  the other hand the grilled asparagus rocked the meal when paired with the chicken burger which was a clear winner for that day.

The Daily Grill still serves up a good solid menu
347 Geary St
San Francisco, CA 94102b/t Mason St & Powell St in Union Square, (415) 616-5000

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Ahh… Valentines day is a memory and Easter and the Peeps hit the shelves at Walgreens!

Spring must not be far behind – as the sticky, squishy, slightly crunchy Peeps have invaded the stores. Recently at Walgreens here in the Castro – I ran right in to not 1 but three shelves. I think along with cockroaches and some conservative politicians, Peeps my outlast us all.



According too Wikipedia and a a short visit the website for Just Born Peeps are produced by Just Born,[2] a candy manufacturer founded in BethlehemPennsylvania, by Russian immigrant Sam Born. In 1953, Just Born acquired the Rodda Candy Company and its marshmallow chick line, and replaced the painstaking process of hand-forming the chicks with mass production.[3] When founder Sam Born would display a sign for his freshly-made candy, he would title it “Just Born,” playing off of his last name and the fact that he made his candy fresh daily.[4]

I think what tickles me most – is how Peeps and Just Born has harnessed its Social Media – be it with Twitter under hashtag  #peepsLove,  Instagram, Facebook ( yes you can friend and follow), a counter and even a “show and share what can you create with peeps” and other promo that keep these little day glow monsters coming… and yes they even have a Pinterest following

Chow on Church Street

What are the nice things about having a few days by yourself is you get a chance to hit restaurants and just take your time. This weekend I got a chance to visit off-hours one of my old favorites on church street, Chow

Normally a pretty packed and bustling go-to spot. On Saturday mornings around 10:30 you can have a great easy meal where you don’t have to rush.

Since it had been a while since I had breakfast there- this visit I went with the Ricotta pancakes. They come with a tart-sweet fruit puree and an extra dollop of ricotta cheese.

While not as brightly flavored as say the way Cafe Mystyque does with its addition of citrus peel. Chow does a good job with them.

Great lunch and light entree items keep me coming back. But be aware the volume when busy can be loud
215 Church St
(b/t 15th St & Market St)
San Francisco, CA 94114


Gluten Free goes mainstream – Safeway Castro Street

Over that last few years – we have all seen the increase in folks talking about the health benefits of moving towards a Gluten Free diet. We’ve several sets of friends who have switched over to it, so I am always on the look out for ways to edit my menus to accommodate them. Was nice to see how Safeway Castro  is figuring this out – especially with the new Whole Foods across the street. We have tried several of the new Safeway branded gluten free line and found them pretty good and reasonably priced.

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Meatloaf -its all in the mix!

It’s a “meatloaf” themed day it seems – with all the ways to make or ruin one trending! Maybe because for some of us – Meatloaf  is the perfect “feel good, home” meal It always gets a reaction from people. Of course the biggest complete is overworked meat – leaving the results crumbly.  I saw years ago an italian chef who swears that to not over mix it is the secrete- you mix it with your hand (and only one hand) shaped like a claw no more than 10 times. So it tends to allow for larger mix motions similar to folding.

My other fav tricks; include not adding salt and using grated parm reggiano cheese instead. It adds cheese and salt flavor but more subtle. I also have been using an adapted recipe from Rachel Ray that converts the meatloaf to “meat loaf muffins” cooking them in muffin pans. Cooks them in 20 -25 min at a high heat. Allows you to pull them out of any fat so it doesn’t have to sit in it and also portions them out better. For you folks who live and cook from your mini toaster overs – this works in them too

One of my fav ways is to adapt this version from Rachel Ray – because they are cooked as “muffins” takes a lot less time! Works great with gourd chicken and ground turkey. You can even prep them the night before and then pop them in the oven right after work. Hint – when removing form the oven – after a few minute – pop the “muffins” out and put on a warm rack to stay warm and out of the grease 

But my local pal who hosts Bob’s Cooking on his Facebook page; shared an even better looking version that I may have to explore!

February BirchBox Arrived!

My February BirchBox order arrived this week with a great assortment of new finds.  For those of you who don’t know what is – click here for your invitation to join. They offer a variety of new and trending products and for a monthly members fee – they send you a sample “box” of the month’s top hits. Essentially as they describe themselves – it’s a “discovery commerce platform”.

So while I am a pretty big techno geek – of late I have been enjoying the idea of old school communication techniques with the trending resurgence in notecards, custom journals and writing implements. So off the bat I loved that they included a 

box of blank note card and envelopes with a more masculine theme. Slightly retro-themed embossed imprints offer a nod towards old school male imagery. In fact BirchBox is promoting them as part of the “Art of Manliness Stationary”. In a warm sand/cream color, with a crisp embossed art-image – these cards will definitely be used over the next few months. Birchbox is selling the box of 15 cards for $24. 

Also included in the monthly box, were samples of facial products geared for men. This month the goodies included both a brushless shave cream and face wash by “apothecary-isque” looking Schullz & Malley. They definitely are offering a nod towards the vintage.

Now, not being someone who likes a lot of fragrance or heavy smells emanating from the skin and face products I use – I was less than hopeful when I saw the samples. But I was willing to give them a try. I was pleasantly surprised with my initial reaction on opening them. The scent is subtle – almost offering an echo-smell – one you get a wiff of then it sort or comes back a minute later in your mind. Immediately reminding me of being a kid and the smells associated with my Dad’s closet and his “man-cave” back then – the attic. I would describe the scent of  Schullz & Malley samples as a balance of smoky and earthy with just enough sweet to mellow it. It made me think of freshly aired wool sweaters, pipe tobacco, old wood and well used fireplaces.

The Cleansing Face Wash has pours out as a thick lotion, then mutates to nice creamy feel when rubbed and applied. It has a medium lather and being someone with a shaved head and beard, a nickel-sized amount was plenty for a solid coverage.  After rinsing my face had a nice clean feel and my beard responded nicely to the wash and even a few hours later felt softer than with other wash products I have used. The wash runs about $18 for 6 oz on BirchBox












Brushless Shave Cream is a semi-solid type cream. The kind that is thick and very “nozema” like – but rubbed on your neck & face spreads well but not at thick as for instance The Art of Shaving’s shave cream. (Ed. Note: I am a long time fan and devotee of the unscented version of the Art of Shaving product line and the brush and shave cream has saved me lots of cuts.  So they remain the standard by which I compare products against, which luckily BirchBox also sells!)

The coverage was great and the shave smooth. With two scented products layered I was worried that I was going to smell them all day (even a good scent is too much for me after a while) – but again I was pleasantly surprised that by the time I had dried off and dressed – the fragrance with pretty much well I the background and dissipated nicely.  The Shave cream is $18 for 8oz on Birchbox

Now also included in this months box were:

  • A sample fragrance from English Laundry’s Signature line – which I prompting gave to a younger colleague at work who sniffed and liked depth and fresh smell. But at $84 for 3.4 oz not sure he would buy it.
  • A sampler of dr. brandt® pores no more® pore refiner. This one didn’t get tied yet – but once I do – I will share my thoughts. Not cheap at $45 for 1 oz – I am not sure its one that I would invest in on a regular basis.


Vietnamese at PPQ, 2/8/14

On Saturday I got the urge that Vietnamese was in order. I put the call out on Facebook to see who my peeps thought were venues worth checking out.

Keeping in mind a few variables – 1) the place needed to offer more than just Pho, 2) it couldn’t be too exotic (not everyone in my dinner family is adventurous – and some have “food issues” I won’t go into) and 3) as much as I like the TL in SF – with the crappy weather last night – I wanted to stay out of the downtown and TL or new my office (those places I can get to for lunch)

So the trending recommendations are listed below- with PPQ being our choice for the night. (note – I will most likely try all them on the list eventually!)

  • PPQ: 2332 Clement St (between 24th Ave & 25th Ave)   San Francisco, CA 94121


Of course, without thinking – we arrived around 6:45 with-out reservations – – the place was hopping but the very efficient host, once we asked, put us on the list and we were seated about 30 min later. Hint – there seemed to be an early crowd then a around 8:30/8:45 lull in the crowd, with another hit coming soon after. 

The place has a great casual faced-paced vibe – this is not the place you go to be chatty with the wait staff unless you happen to be fluent in Vietnamese and even then – the side talk we brief. But once seated they pretty much leave you be while you eat – so we weren’t feeling rushed which I liked. We were hungry, so sat and ordered the fried calamari and the fried spring rolls right off. While debating our main meal options – we devided and went with Lemongrass chicken (which has a little spice/heat to it), the 5-spice chicken (which is more deeper flavor but not hot spicy) and the Roasted Crab. We also ordered the garlic noodles (of course) and the string beans  – which were rocken. We had ordered the crab fried rice – but the kitchen never sent it out – so thats on the next try. Oh and we gilded the dining lily and also order the fried Banana’s with the ice cream to share.

The food comes out pretty fast – and is very hot. The Calamari was some of the best I have had. They use the Calamari steaks with the breading – quick fried – they were tender and melted at the bite. The Springs rolls  were dense and chewy  – when dipped in the sauce with the basil and lettuce was a great start. As the main courses came out, we dug in. They weren’t sent out in any order or all out at once – so it was good that we had lots of options. Both chicken dishes were good. Rich in flavor and a nice sized portion. The Crab –  which came out last, was we heard while waiting in line – one of the crowd favorites. Hot, messy, packed with a garlic butter sauce, and just enough of the innards left in that you got the flavors of crab. It comes partially prepped – but you will still need to be prepared to get “as one” with your food to get to the meat.  (FYI -the drunken crab is the version with the white wine). Oh –  there is a reason they call the place PPQ – Dungeness Island – they offer the crab 6 ways. The garlic noodles were good as well – but make sure you specify how many to order -if you are getting lots of dishes start with one order to share – you will find a little goes a long way unless its your primary meal. Over all a good time – the place does well with couples, to groups and is deceptively large with a back room and second floor. While we were standing there at least 5 calls came in for reservations on  valentines day.. hint hint. The prices are moderate – entrees running $10 – $14, the Crab around $38. But we also had enough food to bring home for lunch  – our average price of the meal was about $50 each.

  • Tu Lan:  8 6th St (at Stevenson St)  San Francisco, CA 94103 Neighborhood: SoMa (415) 626-0927
  • PPQ: 2332 Clement St (between 24th Ave & 25th Ave)   San Francisco, CA 94121
  • Hai Ky Mi Gia: 707 Ellis St (between Larkin St & Polk St) San Francisco, CA 94109 Neighborhood: Tenderloin (415) 771-2577
  • Sunflower in Potrero Hill or Mission:  3111 16th St (at Valencia St)  San Francisco, CA 94103 Neighborhood: Mission (415) 626-5022,  288 Connecticut St San Francisco, CA 94107 Phone number(415) 861-2336
  • Jasmine Garden:  708 14th St San Francisco, CA 94114 Phone number(415) 861-2682
  • Tin Vietnamese
  • Mau:  665 Valencia St (between Sycamore St & 18th St)  San Francisco, CA 94110 Neighborhood: Mission (415) 934-8889
  • Vietnam Cafe ( Recommended for late night)
  • Evergreen Garden: 3100 18th St (between Treat Ave & Harrison St)  San Francisco, CA 94110 Neighborhood: Mission (415) 864-1657