Last week, I got a chance to travel along the California coastline with one of my best friends. Along with taking in some of the amazing scenery that the state has to offer, we took on some culinary adventures as well. Check out some of the establishments where we satisfied our appetites between San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Harvey’s Restaurant & Bar, San Francisco
Harvey’s is a highly-rated, well-known restaurant and bar in San Francisco’s Castro District and serves as a tribute to politician and gay rights activist Harvey Milk. The restaurant has a modern yet laid-back atmosphere, and the staff were very courteous and welcoming.
I decided to order the Croque Monsieur panini, which came toasted with country pit ham, havarti and parmesan cheese, dijon and herbed aioli, a creamy sauce usually made with garlic, egg yolks, olive oil and lemon juice. I ordered fries as my side.
To me, panini is just a fancy name for grilled sandwich. But this was a very good, fancy grilled sandwich. The cheese tasted fresh and melted just right, and the aioli added a great flavor to the sandwich. I think I’m going to order anything that has aioli on it for now on.
I also ordered a cranberry & vodka (warning: Harvey’s makes their cranberry & vodkas strong), and the Outrageous cocktail, which was made with Absolut Citron and Mandrin, 7Up, fresh lime and cranberry juice on the rocks in a pint glass. I typically don’t like cocktails that have more than three ingredients because they tend to be too sweet. But the Outrageous cocktail was refreshing, and I didn’t feel like I was drinking a cup of syrup.
Altogether, my bill came out to about $26, including tax. Harvey’s is located at 500 Castro St. Call (415) 431-4278 or visit www.harveyssf.com for more information.
Splash Cafe, Pismo Beach
I love seafood, so I definitely wanted to stop by Splash Cafe in Pismo Beach, which touts its award-winning New England clam chowder. It also has received requests from Gourmet Magazine and Bon Appetit magazine for its clam chowder recipe, according to its website.
I can believe it because that was the best clam chowder I have ever had. The clams and potatoes were tender, and the broth was creamy and savory. Although it already came in a bread bowl, the chowder was also accompanied by two slices of buttery, grilled sourdough bread to dunk into it. They were a great complement to the dish. I was in a blissful state eating this chowder.
The chowder itself was enough for a meal, but since my eyes were bigger than my stomach that night, I also ordered the cafe’s fish and chips entree. The fish was fresh, flaky, lightly breaded and not overly seasoned. I also like that the fish came with a side of curly fries. I devoured my food so quickly that I forgot to take a photo of the spread (Oops!).
Along with a fountain drink, my meal came out to about $19, including tax. Splash Cafe is located at 197 Pomeroy Ave. Call (805) 773-4653 or visit splashcafe.com for more information.
Bottega Louie, Los Angeles
A friend we were visiting in Los Angeles said if we like dessert, then we needed to go to Bottega Louie. From the marble floors to the gold-trimmed tables, this restaurant was so upscale that I felt like I needed to be wearing a gown in order to dine there.
The patisserie staff members were standing behind the fancy glass displays, waiting to take our order. From the tiramisu to the creme brulee to macarons, there were so many delicious-looking desserts to choose from. Several of them were in the $10 to $15 range. I decided on the fruit tart, which was made with vanilla creme custard and fresh raspberries, blueberries and blackberries.
I’ll be honest. I went with the fruit tart because it was one of the more affordable desserts at $6. However, I wasn’t disappointed by my choice. The fruit tart brought the flavor. The custard was rich without being over-the-top decadent, and the fresh fruit was delicious and created a nice presentation. If I’m in the LA area again and I’m craving dessert, I will come back to Bottega Louie (this time, in a nicer outfit).
Bottega Louie is located at 700 S. Grand Ave. For more information, call (213) 802-1470 or visit www.bottegalouie.com.