Apr 19, 2004

Weekend Review
Haven't done this review thing in a while. That's not to say I haven't been out much. A while back, I finally got to go to Chez Panisse, which was great. Charlie Palmer's Dry Creek Kitchen was pretty good too.

It's funny how good food is a form of escapism in itself. For a little while, a period of a meal, you can forget about your stress. Or if not, it seems a little bit more manageable. The world seems a little more structured. Things actually go your way, you ask for food, and you get it. For a little while at least. I guess that's why it's escapism, because it's temporary.

This past Saturday, our whole crew went up to Raffles Cafe in Fremont. There were 12 of us. The food was decent, a little more homestyle than Banana Leaf, the other Malaysian/Singaporean restaurant we frequent. However, the service was abysmal. This restaurant seriously needs to rethink its service. It prepares a meal at a time, meaning that after we ordered, we had to wait an hour and a half, watching the food trickle out for our neighbouring table (which also happened to be a large group). Furthermore, the satay appetizers we ordered never appeared, we had to ask thrice before we were finally told that they were out. In the end, we cancelled about a quarter of the dishes because we were tired of waiting, and not having your food come out two and a half hours after ordering seemed rather ridiculous. Food wasn't bad, some dishes were pretty good. But the service gives this place a 2/5.

On Sunday, I had to swing by San Francisco on an errand, which seemed to be excuse enough to try out Cesar's tapas bar in Berkeley. I should have figured it'd be rather upscale since it was next door to Chez Panisse. Most patrons were well dressed, although it was casual enough for a few sweatshirt and jeans types, but most definitely not a college crowd as I was expecting. Food was quite good, but overpriced for the very small plates. I guess you're paying for ambience here.
morcilla & mushrooms: morcilla being a spanish blood sausage. real black and ugly looking, but good tasting.
batter-fried asparagus with lemon allioli: perfect texture, but rather bland, and way overpriced at $6.75 for 4 spears.
orange & avocado salad with orange-red wine vinaigrette: ugly looking green blob, but very good. recommended.
a plate of jamon serrano with almond stuffed olives: sliced dried ham, flavour reminiscent of the chinese ham they put in soups. quite good, but salty.
gambas a la plancha: salted and fried shrimp, like chinese pepper/salt shrimp. good, but way overpriced at $9.75 for six shrimp. Overall quite good, but only 3/5 given the price.

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