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Vibrant combinations of bruschetta please the eyes and palate at San Mateo wine cafe

The bruschetta appetizer at B Street and Vine in San Mateo.

The Bruschetta appetizer at B Street and Vine in San Mateo.

Up until last Saturday, I thought of bruschetta as a relatively plain dish – tomatoes and basil on top of bite-sized pieces of toast.

San Mateo’s B Street and Vine proved me wrong and helped me gain a better appreciation for the classic Italian appetizer.

The quaint wine cafe has more than 15 combinations of bruschetta to choose from, including Gorgonzola cheese & honey and ricotta with dates & pistachios. Bruschetta lovers should be pleased by what B Street & Vine has to offer.

The Autostrada Panini at B Street and Vine in San Mateo.

The Autostrada Panini at B Street and Vine in San Mateo.

Dish of Choice

My friends and I ordered the bruschetta to split. Diners can choose four combinations, so we ordered the following: salami with feta and pesto; olive tapenade, cucumbers, tomato and feta; red pepper remoulade with tomato, feta and basil (I obviously enjoy the strong, salty taste of feta); and mango, tomato, cilantro and avocado. A plate of bruschetta ranges from $12 to $16, depending on if you want some the restaurant’s more premium ingredients or gluten-free bread when available.

For dinner, I ordered the Autostrada Panini, made with four Italian meats: soppresata, prosciutto, salami and mortadella. It was dressed with tomatoes, provolone and pesto and served on grilled ciabatta roll.

Guests can also choose sliced sour bread, or gluten-free bread, when available, for $2 extra, according to the cafe’s website. The panini came with a side salad or kettle chips. Trying to be somewhat healthy, I went with the side salad. My entree cost $8.50. Our table also split a bottle of Riesling Kabinett from Germany for $25.

The Autostrada Panini at B Street and Vine in San Mateo.

The Autostrada Panini at B Street and Vine in San Mateo.

The Taste

The bruschetta was the standout item of the night. The bread was cut into shareable pieces, was perfectly toasted on the edges and soft and hearty on the inside.

My favorite combination was the salami, feta and pesto. I love Italian meats like salami because they typically have a more distinct bite and peppery taste than regular cold cuts. The pungent taste of feta paired well with the pesto, which was smooth and rich in flavor.

I also enjoyed the mango, tomato, cilantro and avocado. I’ve always liked the creamy texture of avocado, and the mango was sweet and juicy without making the bread soggy.

The Riesling Kabinett at B Street and Vine in San Mateo.

The Riesling Kabinett at B Street and Vine in San Mateo.

As for the panini, I thought having four different Italian meats on one sandwich would bog it down, make it messy and be over-the-top in saltiness. But the meats were cut in manageable, thin slices and placed neatly on the sandwich, and there was just enough ingredients without feeling stuffed or dehydrated. Just like the bruschetta, the bread was soft on the inside with just the perfect amount of grilling on the outside.

The Riesling was light and sweet, and the honey and apricot flavors were prominent. It wasn’t quite sugary enough to be a dessert wine, but it was close. If you like your wines more on the sweeter side, this wine is worth a try.

Other Details

For those who enjoy wine but are also looking for a bargain, B Street & Vine has some good specials throughout the week. Any glass of wine is half-off from noon to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, according to its website. Diners can also get wine by the glass for half-off on Monday nights with a purchase of any entree.

B Street & Vine also has patio dining and live music from 7 to 10 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and 6 to 9 p.m. Sunday. I will admit that the seating we got was a bit tight, but that might be to create more of an intimate atmosphere. Plus, it was a Saturday, which is a popular dining night. The live music was also at the right volume, so I didn’t have to shout in order to talk to my friends. Overall, it was an enjoyable night.

B Street & Vine is located at 320 S. B Street in San Mateo. For hours, music schedule and more information, call (650) 347-8463 or visit bstreetandvine.com or www.facebook.com/bstreetandvine.

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Posted by on June 11, 2015 in Italian, sandwiches, wine

 

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Flamin’ Rocket burger brings some heat at Hayward’s Red Rocket Char Grill

The Flamin' Rocket burger at Red Rocket Char Grill in Hayward.

The Flamin’ Rocket burger at Red Rocket Char Grill in Hayward.

If grilled food is your passion, you might be a fan of what Hayward’s Red Rocket Char Grill has to offer.

The new restaurant, which held its grand opening in July, is focused on its love of grilled food. “The highest quality beef, pork, chicken and sausage cooked the way we love, for people we love,” according to its Facebook page.

Red Rocket has the feel of an old-school diner with a modern twist and has a good variety of burgers and sandwiches to choose from.

The Dish of Choice

I ordered the Flamin’ Rocket burger, which is dressed with jalapenos, avocado and pepper jack cheese and is accompanied with all the fixings like tomatoes, lettuce and onions. All burgers are cooked medium well, unless otherwise specified.

I also ordered a side of fries and a small fountain drink. With tax, my bill came out to about $14.

The Flamin' Rocket burger at Red Rocket Char Grill in Hayward.

The Flamin’ Rocket burger at Red Rocket Char Grill in Hayward.

The Taste

I had to press down on the burger a bit to be able to fit it into my mouth. The burger had a generous amount of sliced avocado on top, and the cheese was melted just right, covering all sides of the burger. The jalapenos obviously added spice to the meal, but I think someone who prefers mild foods could handle it.

Although I prefer my beef cooked medium rare — I think it’s more juicy and flavorful this way — the burger did not lose its succulence. It had a nice char-grilled flavor, like a burger you would eat at an outdoor BBQ. Beware: you might get some condiment drippings on your shirt, like I did (I’m a messy eater, admittedly).

Red Rocket served a large portion of fries, which were fresh and cut close to steak-fry size. They easily could have been split with another person. I restrained myself to only eating half my meal and saving the other half for later.

Other Details

I had good customer service at Red Rocket. The staff was very attentive and made sure to come by my table and ask about my meal.

The diner has a modern feel, from the metallic-tiled backsplash on the walls and counter to the large flat-screen televisions that show a digital version of the menu and live programming.

Along with burgers, the restaurant also offers chicken, fish, steak and sausage sandwiches, as well as salads. It also serves up milkshakes, desserts, beer and wine.

Red Rocket is located at 1057 B St. in downtown Hayward. For hours and more information, visit www.redrocketchargrill.comwww.facebook.com/redrocketchargrill or call (510) 885-8999.

 
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Posted by on April 16, 2015 in burgers, sandwiches

 

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Curry Up Now’s unique flatbread sandwich brings the spice at Off The Grid food-truck event

The Kathi Roll with chickent from San Mateo's Curry Up Now.

The Kathi Roll with chicken from San Mateo’s Curry Up Now.

I’ve always been curious to stop by one of those food trucks that serves up tacos and Indian food as I drive down El Camino Real every week. So I was happy to discover that a local event — Off The Grid — hosts a number of food trucks with diverse cuisine in one setting on a weekly basis in Sunnyvale.

Since food trucks have hit mainstream popularity in the last five or so years — Food Network even has a show called “The Great Food Truck Race” — I figured I might not be able to find a parking spot near the event. It turns out Off The Grid was not that busy Thursday evening, which was good for the diners because it allowed us to sample a variety of food without having to wait in long lines.

Dish of Choice

I made my way to two food trucks that evening (I had to restrain myself for the sake of my wallet and stomach): I ventured to San Mateo’s Curry Up Now, which offers Indian street food, and San Francisco-based We Sushi, which serves Japanese cuisine.

At Curry Up Now, I ordered the Kathi Roll, which was made with mughlai paratha (flatbread prepared with a pan-fried egg), sliced onions and chutney, rolled with your choice of beef, chicken, paneer (cheese) or vegan style. I went with chicken. With tax, my Kathi Roll came out to about $9.

The Crispy California Roll from San Francisco's We Sushi.

The Crispy California Roll from San Francisco’s We Sushi.

At We Sushi, I ordered the Crispy California Roll, which was made with crab and avocado wrapped in seaweed and rice, then fried in a tempura breading and drizzled with a spicy aioli. With tax, the Crispy California Roll cost about $8.

The Taste

Let me start with the Kathi Roll: My stepmom says you know a meal is good if you end up wearing it. Well, I was definitely wearing the juice from the wrap sandwich on my shirt, but I didn’t mind. The chicken was tender with a spicy marinade, and I liked how the egg was soft on the inside but crispy on the edges. The flatbread was toasted just enough without being crunchy, and the chutney brought some heat without burning your mouth. I would describe it as medium spicy. This was a sandwich that I would definitely get again.

The Crispy California Roll did not wow me as much as the Kathi Roll, but it was still tasty. The tempura breading had a nice crispiness on the outside without being heavy or greasy. The aioli reminded me of a Thousand Island dressing, but with a little more kick. The dish came with eight pieces of sushi roll, so there was enough there to walk away satisfied.

Off The Grid's weekly Thursday market at 1177 Kern Ave. in Sunnyvale, CA, next door to Sports Basement.

Off The Grid’s weekly Thursday market at 1177 Kern Ave. in Sunnyvale, CA, next door to Sports Basement.

The Ambiance

Off The Grid had a laidback vibe and was located in a lot next to a local sports equipment store. People could easily walk from truck to truck without feeling like they were bumping into each other. There were plenty of seats for people to enjoy their food and have a casual conversation with other diners. I wish there were tables because it was kind of hard to juggle all that food on your lap. Other than that, it was a great event to get outdoors and try some outside-the-box cuisine.

Other Details

Off The Grid was started in 2010 and currently operates 35 weekly public markets throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, according to its website. It works with more than 200 food, bar and amenities vendors weekly and offers catering for groups ranging from 100 to 10,000 people. To check out its market schedules and vendors, visit offthegridsf.com.

 
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Posted by on March 15, 2015 in Indian, sandwiches, sushi

 

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More prime rib! Adamson’s French Dip in Sunnyvale is generous with the meat

The Prime Rib French Dip sandwich with Au Jus and Onion Rings at Adamson's French Dip in Sunnyvale.

The Prime Rib French Dip sandwich with Au Jus and Onion Rings at Adamson’s French Dip in Sunnyvale.

The reputation at Adamson’s French Dip precedes itself. I have read good things about the Sunnyvale restaurant, which is known for serving slow-roasted beef cooked in a wood-fired oven. The place has a rating of four out of five stars with more than 800 reviews on Yelp.com, so people are obviously talking.

However, I heard it’s hard to get in there during lunch rush hour. After seeing the size of the place, I can see why. It’s small. But what the restaurant lacks in size, it makes up for in the quality of the food.

Dish of Choice

I ordered the Prime Rib French Dip sandwich, which comes with thinly sliced, wood-oven roasted prime rib on a sweet French roll with a side of Au Jus. I added cheese and grilled onions to my sandwich. I also ordered a fountain drink and a side of onion rings, which are made with sweet Vidalia onions and dipped in beer batter. My meal cost about $16, including tax.

The Taste

You can tell the restaurant takes time roasting its prime rib because the meat was juicy, tender and was not lacking in portions. I hate when you order a sandwich and there is more bread than meat. That was not the issue at Adamson’s. The bread was soft and was lightly toasted to give the sandwich a subtle crunch. The onions for the onion rings were cut thick, and the batter was crispy without being greasy.

I wanted to finish my sandwich, but I would have had to be rolled out in a wheelbarrow if I did. So I opted to take half of my sandwich and some onion rings home.

The Ambiance

Like I mentioned before, Adamson’s is a small restaurant, seating about 30 people in total with indoor and outdoor patio seating. However, I like the look of the place. You can see the wood-fired oven and the employees slicing the meat and preparing the sandwiches from the brick order counter. I also like the vintage gas station and Coca-Cola signs on the walls and the traffic light on the side.

Other Details

Adamson’s French Dip is located at 806 W. El Camino Real in Sunnyvale. Hours are 11 a.m. until the food runs out Monday through Saturday. To order online or for more information, call (408) 830-9024 or visit www.adamsonsfrenchdip.com.

 
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Posted by on February 11, 2015 in French, sandwiches

 

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