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Katz's Deli, New York

This restaurant is located at 205 East Houston St in NY.  After hearing so much about this deli that locals claim is the best jewish deli (better than Carnegie) we were anxious to give it a shot.  It's an experience just to dine here with the cafeteria style ordering line and no B.S. attitude of the wait staff.  The Pastrami sandwich that I had was probably the best that I've ever had.  The meat is unlike any Pastrami I've ever had - very tasty and not dry.  The menu jokes about asking for mayo on your sandwich "at your own peril" - and I discovered that indeed there's no need to add anything to the sandwich - it's perfect as is.  Rachel ordered the blueberry and cheese blintzes and she liked them.  Pickles were in full effect too which made Rachel happy.  The nice thing is that Katz's deli is about two blocks from the hotel where we are staying which made for a convenient brunch meal after awaking from a jet lagged slumber.


'inoteca Restaurant, New York

This restaurant is located at 98 Rivington St (on the corner of Ludlow and Rivington) in the Lower East side in New York.  Based on referrals from friends and the listing in Zagat, we decided to give it a shot.  From what we heard and experienced it seems like the best thing about this place is the wine list more than the food.  Rachel and I were underwhelmed by the food as well as the service.

I started off with a sliced meat plate of Coppa, which came with small toasted bread slices and Rachel started with a grilled mushroom, watercress, piave vecchio & shallots salad (minus the piave vecchio ~ cheese).  The salad was tasty but Rachel said it was a little unwieldy with the large pieces of watercress.  My plate of Coppa was as advertised - a tasty plate of sliced meat.  The glass of 2005 Aglianico del Taburno, inoteca Rosso helped bring this dish to life for me - a great tasting red wine that was a bit spicy with a smooth finish.

For our main dishes, I ordered the Polenta with Cauliflower Alla Siciliana w/Prosciutto and Rachel had the Lasagnette di Melanzane  (Lasagne with Eggplant).  My dish was ok - the Polenta was the tastiest part but the Cauliflower and other vegetables were a bit overcooked.  Rachel's lasagne seemed a bit overcooked as well and she thought it may have been heated up in the microwave since the edges were more cooked than the center - and the center was a little mushy with dull flavor.

The highlight of the meal came at the end and we joked that maybe we should have just skipped to the dessert which was a moist cake with pear and marscapone frosting.  It was so good.

I'm not usually one to care much about the atmoshphere in a restaurant when the food speaks for itself but at 'inoteca I noticed that they were playing Top 40 type Rock music in the same establishment that provides a glossary menu to help translate the menu which is mostly in Italian.  Just didn't seem to go together.  Our server also seemed disinterested and possibly burnt out on translating menus to patrons.


Golden Era Vegetarian Restaurant, San Francisco

This restaurant is located at 572 O'farrell St at Leavenworth and is worth the trek into what can be a sketchy neighborhood depending on the time of day.  From the outside of the restaurant you would not expect the inside to be as aesthetically as it is - Everything on the menu is completely vegetarian and some of the 'meat' dishes will fool even the heartiest of meat eaters.  For example, the Drumsticks (which we tried as an appetizer) tasted just like 'chicken' and came with a great dipping sauce.  My mother actually thought it was chicken when she first tried it.  We also ordered the Vietnamese Crepe which is mushu filled with tofu, mushroom, bean sprout, jicama, onion and comes with a plate of lettuce, cilantro and a vinegard dipping sauce.  It was really delicious and was quite a large serving.  In addition to the above starters, we ordered the Eggplant Claypot (#63 on the menu), Steamed Broccoli, Vietnamese Spicy Sweet & Sour Soup and Curry Vermicelli Soup.  We ordered white rice on the side as well.  Everyone was pleasantly surpised by how tasty evertyhing was.  My favorite was the Eggplant dish I ordered which was perfectly cooked with tofu triangles and imitation Lamb.   All in all - a great meal and great discovery - we will definitely be going back


LuLu Restaurant, San Francisco

We celebrated two birthdays in our family at LuLu last night and everyone walked away very pleased with yet another great meal at LuLu.  We started off with a round of vegetables as appetizers that included Orange and White Cauliflower, Tuscan Kale, Brussel Sprouts and Squash - all were very tasty and my favorite was the Squash and Brussel Sprouts. 

Meals here are served family style - which gives everyone an opportunity to sample a little of everything.  The main dishes that we ordered were: Fennel Scented Pork Loin with Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes, Spicy Prawn Pizza with Sun Dried Tomatoes, Pesto and Chili Flakes, Seared Sea Scallops with cabbage and small onions, a Lobster and Rissotto dish and Roasted Garlic and Goat Cheese Ravioli with Sun Dried Tomatoes and Pine Nuts.  Everyone was pleased with what they ordered and there was plenty of food for the five of us.  The pork was very tender and you could really taste the fennel.  The prawn pizza was really good - as is most of the pizzas at LuLu that come out of their wood fired ovens.

Rachel had plenty to eat as a vegetarian starting with all the vegetable sides we ate as appetizers and the Garlic and Goat Cheese Ravioli which I tried and enjoyed as well.

The dinner was finished off by a platter of select desserts that was a big hit of the night.  The plate included warmed chocolate cake with ice cream, profiteroles, apple cake, a dessert with banana and coconut - with plenty of ice cream around the plate to go with each.  Because of Rachel's relationship with some of the event organizers at LuLu - the dessert dish was complimentary - yay!


Luna Park, San Francisco

We were finally able to use the Groupon that Rachel purchased for Luna Park.  The Groupon offer was $50 off a meal for two people - which brought our total bill to $6 and change that included appetizers, entrees and drinks.  We were pleasantly treated to a parking spot directly in front of the restaurant when I pulled up to drop Rachel off to start my parking search.  If you're not familiar with the Mission district and the parking situation - finding a parking spot - especially in front of where you are going just doesn't happen.  Needless to say, we were thrilled.

The wait for dinner went from a 45 min wait to 1 hr - but the time went by rather quickly since a former co-worker of mine and her boyfriend showed up at the restaurant - with the same Groupon in hand!  It was great chatting with them and sharing what was a long wait before eating.

I ordered the 'Carnival Dogs' (aka corn dogs) with 3 different mustards (honey mustard, dijon and seeded/champagne tasting mustard) as an appetizer which were pretty good.  The corn dogs were made up of different sausages inside - and as far as corn dogs go - they raised the bar.  Rachel ordered the Grilled Artichoke with Lemon Aioli - which she really enjoyed.  Rachel sure does like her artichokes.   For our entrees, I ordered the Herb and Summer Squash Risotto with Sweet Corn, Cherry Tomatoes and Gypsy Pepper Puree with barbecued shrimp.  To be honest, I was a bit underwhelmed and mentioned to Rachel that it felt more like a side dish than a main dish.  The only reward found in the dish for me was the occasional cherry tomato I found hidden in the risotto.  I probably wont order that dish again but instead will try one of the meat dishes when I go back.

Rachel ordered the Vegan Cassoulet with Braised Gigante Beans, Zucchini, Oregano, Cherry Tomatoes and Fried Bread Crumbs and she really enjoyed it.  Apparently this dish gets high marks at the restaurant from vegetarians.

All in all a good dining experience at an incredible value albeit on a very crowded night.