Category Archives: Restaurants

All Spice, San Mateo

Photo from AllSpiceRestaurant.com

Since moving to California I’ve had a lot of Chinese food and pizza, neither of which have been spectacular.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve definitely had some great meals, but this weekend I realized I hadn’t really made a point to seek out a lot of good food proactively.  I’ve been making a lot of spur-of-the-moment food choices in the last few weeks.  After a great long hike in the San Bruno mountains, I worked up an appetite for a good meal.  Having not had Indian food since I’ve moved out here, I decided to make a reservation at a relatively new restaurant in San Mateo called All Spice.

All Spice opened in November under the co-ownership of husband and wife team, Sachin Chopra and Shoshanna Wolff.  Chopra has brought vast experience in modern Indian cuisine spanning from New York to Silicon Valley.  Wolff has also worked in catering companies and restaurants and her passion for wine led her to start her own vineyard, hoping to release her first wines in 2012.Fritter

All Spice was a surprise in more than one way.  Its own four walls were surprising, nestled in a small cottage hiding amongst taller, more modern buildings in a busy business area of San Mateo off El Camino Real.  It seemed as though you were stepping into a small family’s home that’s been preserved amongst the commercial real estate that’s blossomed all around it.  The walls were painted in warm jewel tones and the chandeliers adorned with dangling crystals.  They had a roaring fireplace and the small dining rooms glowed with candlelight.  I could see why reservations were recommended- they have only 11 tables.  It adds to the personal and warm dining experience.

The very welcoming and friendly waiter first offered us an amuse bouche of mushroom over cauliflower puree.  I have to say that I LOVE when restaurants offer an amuse-bouche.  It’s such a classy touch.  It’s like a gentleman opening the car door for you on the first date- it really sets the tone.  For the first course, we ordered Indian Bread Fritter “Ma Mere” stuffed with mushrooms, potatoes and ciligini over stewed chickpeas.  The food arrived quite quickly.  The fritter had a perfectly crispy, brown outside and a tender center reminiscent of mashed potatoes.

For main courses, I ordered the Poached Black Cod and my husband ordered the Shortrib Vindaloo.  The cod was perfectly tender and moist, falling apart with the fork.  It was accented by a subtle chili oil that added just the right touch of flavor.  The southern spiced greens gave it a balanced kick of heat.  The short rib was fall-off-the-bone tender, topped with goat cheese and served over greens.  I never would have guessed goat cheese could pair so well with beef but now I feel like it was a match meant to be.  Every bite was creamy and rich, but perfectly balanced. 

Thankfully, their portions are to my liking as well.  I love restaurants that don’t over do portion sizes to cater to our gluttonous nature.  The portions are perfect enough to feel fully satisfied…and feel like having dessert.  It was pretty much guaranteed that I would have to order the Dark Chocolate Kulfi for dessert.  This little dome of chocolate had a flavor and texture that I can only describe as a cross between pudding and fudge.  The passion fruit gastrique complimented the rich, velvety texture. 

I was quite impressed with All Spice.  It is a quaint and warm restaurant with extremely friendly and professional staff topped off with sophisticated and elegant modern Indian cuisine.  The prices are reasonable and the service outstanding.  The only thing I would recommend is calling ahead before your reservation to see if they’ve acquired their alcohol license yet.  As of now, it’s BYOWine. 

All Spice- Online Reservations
1602 S. El Camino Real
San Mateo, CA
650-627-4303

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Restaurant Weeks by City

For those of you not already familiar, restaurant weeks are a great way to try new restaurants you’ve had on your dining bucket list or restaurants that might be on the pricey side for anything other than a special-occasion dinner.  They usually offer at least 3 courses for a fixed price (normally around $30-$50.)  One caveat is they normally have a special menu for that week with limited options.  The bright side- it’s still the same chefs and bound to be just as good.

I don’t know about you, but these restaurant weeks always seem to sneak up on me and I don’t realize they are happening until it’s too late.  Don’t let that happen to you.  Here is a list of restaurant weeks for 7 major US cities.  Don’t hesitate to report back and let me know how your meals were!

Oakland, CA
Jan. 23-29 2011
List of participating restaurants and reservations

San Francisco, CA
Jan 15-31
List of participating restaurants and reservations

Los Angeles, CA
Jan 30-Feb 4
List of participating restaurants and reservations

Philadelphia, PA
Jan 23-28
List of participating restaurants and reservations

New York, NY
Jan 24-Feb 6
List of participating restaurants and reservations

Chicago, IL
Feb 18-27
List of participating restaurants and reservations

Denver, CO
Feb 26-Mar 11
List of participating restaurants and reservations

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Sunday Brunch at Christie’s- Burlingame, CA

egg white omelet at Christie's
One thing I haven’t really had since I moved here is brunch. Today we decided to check out a little place called Christie’s in Burlingame after seeing promising reviews on Yelp.

We arrived and saw people waiting outside. We put our name in and did the same. The hostess had a strange way about her- not particularly friendly or welcoming, but it was busy so I will cut her some slack. After about 15 minutes we got in and were seated. I ordered a mimosa and was carded, of course. Our waitress, too, was a bit less-than-charming, but I don’t really care. It’s a diner and it was busy. As long as I get food I’m happy.

About half an hour later and seconds before taking up knife-throwing and cannibalism, our food arrived. Of course, we ordered way too much, but that’s the fun of brunch. I ordered an egg white omelet with spinach, bacon and cheddar, a side of hash browns and yet another side of biscuits and gravy to share. It was heaven. (I tried not to let the starvation bias weigh my judgment.)

The omelet was cooked perfectly- no runny whites which is an immediate send-back in my book. The spinach was also perfect- bright green, not overcooked. The bacon was crispy inside as well. A perfect omelet. The hash browns were amazing. They had that great, crispy outside you can only get from a flat-top fry. The biscuits were soft, doughy and spot-on. The gravy was great, too. It was velvety and creamy. My husband doesn’t care for it. He says he doesn’t get it. That’s OK, more for me.

I have to say it was a pretty good brunch. It absolutely hit the spot, even if we had to wait awhile and had less than warm, fuzzy service. I would definitely go back.

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