Category Archives: Spirits/Cocktails/Beer

Brewski Time at Steins Beer Garden & Restaurant in Mountain View

There's a new beer joint in downtown Mountain View.

There’s a new beer joint in downtown Mountain View.

A temple to stir-frying has morphed into a bona fide beer garden in downtown Mountain View.

The former Golden Wok on Villa Street has been transformed into Steins Beer Garden & Restaurant, which opened late last month.

The large space has been broken up into several that includes a beer hall with flat screens, main dining room, two private dining rooms, a main beer garden with a glass two-way fireplace, and a private beer garden.

Owner Ted Kim has helped open Paris Baguette branches in the Bay Area. But Steins is the first restaurant Kim, a beer aficionado who even brews his own at home, has owned. Executive Chef Colby M. Reade has worked in the past at such landmark San Francisco restaurants as Square One and Hawthorne Lane.

Last month, I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant to a pre-opening dinner. Some of the dishes noted here may have been tweaked since then, as Reade said he was still fine-tuning a couple of them.

Hitachino White Ale with pickled veggies for nibbling.

Hitachino White Ale with pickled veggies for nibbling.

House-made pretzels.

House-made pretzels.

The public beer garden.

The public beer garden.

The beer list is extensive with offerings from around the world, including 30 on tap. A fun one to try is the Wells Banana Bread Beer ($7 per glass), which, yes, does smell and taste like a baked loaf of banana bread.

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The Big, Bold Flavors of Namu Gaji

Pickled, seared beef tongue at Namu Gaji.

Pickled, seared beef tongue at Namu Gaji.

 

As my friend Mark and I sat down at the slender bar at the equally shoebox-like Namu Gaji in San Francisco, he started to look nervous.

When I heard that beef tongue was a special that night, I asked if he was game to try the restaurant’s rather unique preparation of it. Mark hemmed and hawed, squirmed a bit, and recounted the times he had tongue at other restaurants, only to find the rather toothsome, pebbly texture thoroughly unappealing.

Then, he looked me straight in the eyes, and said, “But if you really want to order it….”

So, we did. And when Mark speared a chunk, and took his first bite, I watched his trepidation turn to surprise and awe. It was the first tongue dish he’d ever relished.

Namu Gaji’s food will do that to you. It’s familiar yet not. It’s full of big, bold, sometimes fiery flavors — the kind you find yourself craving again and again after just one encounter, as I found after being invited in a as a guest of the restaurant a few weeks ago.

The restaurant also operates a food stand at the farmers market on Thursdays and Saturdays at the San Francisco Ferry Building Marketplace, as well as at the market at the Marin Country Mart in Larkspur on Saturdays. Later this year, it also plans to start selling its own line of kimchee at the restaurant and Bi-Rite Market.

The award on the bar.

The award on the bar.

The chef's counter/bar may be bare bones, but it has the best seats in the house.

The chef’s counter/bar may be bare bones, but it has the best seats in the house.

Founded by three Korean-American brothers, Dennis Lee (the chef), Daniel Lee and David Lee, the restaurant (Korean for “tree branch”) serves Korean fare. But also, Japanese-inspired ones and pan-Asian ones all their own like the beef tongue dish that is not Korean at all. Dennis Lee just decided to try pickling the meat for a week, then searing it to order. The pickling breaks down the tough cut, making it as tender as short ribs. It also adds an unexpected tang to the rich meat. The composed dish is beautiful to behold, looking like a zen garden of sorts.

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Steins Beer Garden & Restaurant to Open in Mountain View, Recchiuti Giant Chocolate Egg Raffle & More

House-made pretzels, pickles and corn nuts at Steins Beer Garden & Restaurant. (Photo by Michele Min)

House-made pretzels, pickles and corn nuts at Steins Beer Garden & Restaurant. (Photo by Michele Min)

Steins Beer Garden & Restaurant to Debut in Downtown Mountain View

March 28, the doors will open to a world of brewski at Steins Beer Garden & Restaurant at 895 Villa St. in downtown Mountain View.

The 300-seat restaurant, on the site of the former Golden Wok, will serve import and craft beers from around the world, including 30 on tap. Look for such unusual ones as Fruli Strawberry Beer from Brouwerij Huyghe brewery, Chocolate Porter from Hangar One brewery and Hitachino Nest White Ale from Kiuichi brewery.

Chef Colby M. Reade will oversee the menu, which includes house-made charcuterie, along with  breads, pretzels and other baked goods. He’ll be cooking up beer-friendly dishes such as pork belly poutine ($12), mini corn dogs with caraway beer mustard ($8), the Steins burger (house-ground blend of dry aged short rib, brisket and sirloin; $11), fried chicken and waffle sandwich ($12), grilled black sea bass with herbed lentils ($18), and caramel apple crisp with bourbon pecan ice cream ($7).

Roasted beet and watercress salad. (Photo by Michele Min)

Roasted beet and watercress salad. (Photo by Michele Min)

The restaurant features a main dining room, beer garden, two private rooms and another private beer garden for parties. The keg room is outfitted with reclaimed wood and tempered glass windows.

Steins will be open daily from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and until 11:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights.

La Luna Cupcakes Opens This Week in San Francisco

Elvia Buendia started baking cupcakes through La Cocina’s incubator program, which provides affordable commercial kitchen space and technical assistance to low-income entrepreneurs in San Francisco.

She did so well that after three years in the program she’s graduated to opening her own brick-and-mortar store. La Luna Cupcakes opens its doors March 21 in San Francisco’s Crocker Galleria.

Banana cupcake. (Photo courtesy of La Luna Cupcakes)

Banana cupcake. (Photo courtesy of La Luna Cupcakes)

Buendia’s sweet and savory cupcakes will be available in flavors such as: Red Velvet; Carrot Cake; Tres Leches; bacon and eggs; and beef with cheese and salsa.

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Aida Mollenkamp’s Shrimp Simmered in Garlicky Beer Sauce

Pour yourself a cold beer to enjoy this easy shrimp dish heady with your favorite bar food-flavors.

Does the thought of noshing on handful after handful of honey-mustard pretzels chased with a frosty beer sound like bliss?

Then, you’re sure to go wild for this dish from Food Network host Aida Mollenkamp that boasts all of those favorite bar-food flavors.

“Shrimp Simmered in Garlicky Beer Sauce” is from her cookbook, “Keys to the Kitchen” (Chronicle Books), of which I received a review copy. The host of “Ask Aida,” who studied at Le Cordon Bleu Paris, has created a reference book to put you at ease in the kitchen. The book includes 305 recipes for straightforward dishes that will take you through morning, noon and night.  Also included are primers on various cuts of protein, cooking equipment, spices to keep on hand, and illustrations on how to expertly cut up a chicken and fillet a whole fish.

This shrimp dish is simple enough to make on a weeknight as it cooks up in less than half an hour. Large shrimp are simmered in butter, loads of garlic, a pinch of cayenne pepper, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, a drizzle of honey and some lager beer. Mollenkamp calls for light lager, but I just used regular lager.

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Chef Daniel Humm to Visit San Francisco, Beer Tuesdays at Boxing Room, and More

Daniel Humm (right) and Will Guidara (right). (Photo by Francesco Tonelli)

Meet Chef Daniel Humm at A Book-Signing

Daniel Humm, acclaimed chef of New York’s Eleven Madison Park, will be appearing at 7 p.m. April 3 at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco.

Humm will be in conversation with the restaurant’s General Manager Will Guidara, with whom he collaborated on the cookbook, “I Love New York: Ingredients and Recipes” (Ten Speed Press). The cookbook, which will be released in April, fuses innovative dishes with New York classics like smoked fish, egg cream, and black and white cookies.

A culinary treat is promised to attendees at the reception and book-signing afterward.

Tickets are $15 to $25, and available by calling the box office at (415) 292-1233.

DIY Dinner Kits at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market

San Francisco’s Ferry Plaza has introduced weekly Farmers Market Chef Baskets, which come complete with recipes to make dinner, along with all the fresh ingredients needed as sourced from the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market.

Each basket has been curated by a particular chef. For instance, Chef Joanne Weir’s market basket dinner includes the makings for fennel soup with Meyer lemon creme fraiche, and fresh spinach and shaved root vegetable salad. The $29 basket serves 2 to 3. All the recipes are gluten free, and can be made vegan, too. If you have hungrier appetites at home, you can opt for the Joanne Weir basket that adds a 1/2 chicken from Mountain Ranch Organically Grown to the mix for a total of $39.

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