Thursday, July 28, 2011

In Seafood Paradise

I love seafood, so what better place to be than on a bay? The problem is, how do I know which seafood restaurants are good and which ones overcook it so much that you can't even taste it? My solution, which is probably not the best one, was to go to a pretty expensive restaurant and hope for the best...

Last weekend I went to Sausalito, a small town on the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge. When it came time for lunch, I had plenty of options. Of course, most of them were Italian restaurants that served seafood items in creamy pasta dishes. However, I did find a place called Horizons that seemed different. First, the interior of the restaurant, which featured wood-paneled columns and arches, was very pretty and elegant. In addition, the restaurant was right on the bay, so it had glass walls on three sides for great views of the ocean. The tables were set on several different levels, so pretty much each table had a good view.

Apart from the atmosphere, the food menu also looked encouraging. Pretty much all of the dishes it offered contained some sort of seafood, so I was actually having a hard time deciding what I wanted to get. I followed the waiter's suggestion and ordered the Horizons Bouillabaisse. Knowing that this meal would be a treat, I also got the Cucumber Mellonball cocktail. The meal started with complementary French bread and butter, but there was nothing special about the bread. It wasn't even warm, which was a big disappointment for me :( The cocktail wasn't that great either. It was nice and strong, but it tasted a little like grapefruit, one of the few fruits I don't like at all. Well, I drank it anyway.

Thankfully, the bouillabaisse was amazing. It contained giant scallops, mussels, clams, tuna, salmon and humongous shrimp. Basically, all the types of seafood I love in one dish :D. They were all cooked well, and they were tender without being chewy. The broth was also very tasty. It reminded me a little of pho, but with tomatoes, onions and cilantro. Another good feature of the dish was the half lemon on the side that came with a little net to catch the seeds. How cute is that! Finally, the dish came with garlic herb toasted bread. Too bad I had filled up on the plain bread earlier because the garlic bread was incredible. I couldn't finish the bread, but I ate every last drop of the broth and the seafood! I knew that good seafood must exist in the San Francisco area, and I'm so glad that I found it :) Well, I ended up spending almost $40 on lunch, but it was totally worth it.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Along the Pacific coast

California might be best known for its cities like LA and San Francisco, but the culture of the state is best experienced in the small towns dotting the coast. They can be located on either precariously steep hills or on quiet bays, but they all have the same atmosphere. Sea life and organic local food are everywhere. Even popular tourist attraction like Monterey and Carmel-by-the-Sea still manage to retain their original California style. However, finding a place to eat in places where tourists need a quick and rich meal can prove to be hard.

That was the case again in Monterey. If you stay in the downtown area (Canary Row), which I had to do, all of your options are Italian restaurants or places like Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. So what should a person do when they want good seafood that's not slathered with Alfredo sause? The answer, surprisingly, is eat at the C Restaurant at the InterContinental hotel in downtown Monterey. It was located right at the bay, so I had a good view of the open ocean from my table. Plus, it was one of the few places where I didn't have to wait for a table. To start my meal, I was brought complementary warm rosemary bread and goat cheese butter. The bread was amazing. I love any type of warm bread, but the aroma from the rosemary made it so much better. I was also curious about the goat cheese butter. Was it supposed to taste like goat cheese? Sadly, it didn't. It tasted like regular butter to me.

For my brunch, I was trying to decide between two dishes with seafood: shrimp frittata and crab huevos rancheros. I finally decided to get the frittata, partly because it had that goat cheese that the butter made me crave. I was quite disappointed in the frittata. First, it didn't have as much shrimp as I was hoping it would. In addition, it came with a topping of chip strips. I assume they were house-made, but the strips tasted just like Lay's chips. On the bright side, the goat cheese had lemon zest in it and gave the whole dish a fresh citrus tang.

Later that day, we arrived in Carmel-by-the-Sea. Unlike Monterey, there was a large selection of restaurants that seemed nice in terms of both food and ambiance. My problem here, though, was that we didn't have much time. I ended up eating in a French bakery because the desserts at the counter looked too enticing to resist. I again was started off with warm bread, but this time it was simple white bread. The butter was not any different than butter you can get from a grocery store. Thankfully, I gad ordered the baked Brie with red onion and balsamic vinegar marinade which I used to pair with the good bread. The marinade was sweet and acidic at the same time. It had a unique taste that I really liked and that went great with the plain bread. The Brie was also good, but I think I prefer it fresh, not baked. As I mentioned, the desserts looked great, so I got a coconut creme pie to go (not pictured). It contained a thin custard layer, a much thicker meringue layer, and a top layer of toasted coconut. It was really rich tasting, and a great indulgence at the end of my tour of the California central coast.

My goal for the day had been to get some great fresh seafood, hopefully caught close to where I was eating. At the end, I had just a few tiny shrimp in my frittata at lunch. I did enjoy what I ate, but my craving for seafood still remains to be sated.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Brunch the French way

French culture and cuisine seems to have a huge influence on San Francisco. There are countless of bakeries everywhere in town - from small neighborhood cafes to popular chains. Luckily, the majority of them serve delicious authentic food. The only bad thing is that I can't possibly try all the places I want to go to...

Well, the most obvious choice if you can go to only one bakery in San Francisco is La Boulange. It is a chain with several restaurants around the city, but the location I go to is the one in Cole Valley. This location offers typical bakery a-la-carte fare like croissants, quiches, turnovers and macarons, and it also has a made-to-order menu. I first tried La Boulange last year. On my last day there, I ordered the Fantastic French Toast. I was expecting a traditional French toast because nothing from the menu description suggests otherwise. But WOW! The French toast at La Boulange is seriously the best thing I have tasted in my life, at any restaurant, for any kind of meal. I couldn't go back there this year and taste it again.

So what makes the French toast so special? Well, it does comes in a round shape, but other than that it has a pretty much nondescript experience. But once you bite into it, you notice a flavor that's familiar, but yet it seems like it doesn't come from a traditional toast. After a little bit of thinking, you might realize that it tastes like creme brulee! Yes, that's right. And if you look carefully, you'll see that there is an egg custard layer beneath the toast itself. The combination of the creamy custard and the egg-soaked toast makes for a truly heavenly taste.

La Boulange is known for its macarons, which are supposedly the best macarons outside of France. I've tried several flavors so far, including chocolate, lemon, walnut, and raspberry mango (not pictured). They were fresh and did have just the perfect texture. However, the flavor wasn't as intense as I would have liked it to be. For example, I wish the lemon macarons were more lemony and that I could distinguish any kind of individual flavor rather than an overall fruity flavor in the mango raspberry macaron.

I'm a huge granola fan, so I also tried the granola at La Boulange (not pictured). I got mine with yogurt, which was the best part of the dish. It was very thick and sour, just like I like it. There are other items that I want to try, so I will definitely be going back there :)

Another French place that I had brunch at was La Terrasse at the Presidio park. The location of the restaurant was great. I had my brunch while looking at the Golden Gate Bridge on a sunny, warm day. I ordered the Brie, spinach and sun-dried tomatoes omelet, which was great. The cheese was perfectly melted, but not overpowering. There was a lot more spinach than I have seen in any omelet before, so I was able to get my daily serving of veggies :) My only disappointment is that the sun-dried tomatoes didn't stand out too much and were hard to find in the omelet.

You always wonder whether an international place here is as good as it would be in its country of origin. There were French people sitting close to me at both La Boulange and La Terrasse, and that to me is the best stamp of approval for a place.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Mexican in San Francisco

Wow, I've been on a roll recently with Latin American/Mexican food recently. After having some great meals in Atlanta, I came to San Francisco - one of the best places for Mexican.  Aside from quick meals I had my first few days here, my first real dinner was at Maya, a really nice place in SOMA. It had an upscale, yet non-pretentious interior and atmosphere. It was a great spot for both a date or a fun night with friends. Indeed, the table next to me and my roommate (Princess Jasmine) was taken by a small party who all wore the same shirt and carried a blow-up doll! I kept trying to read what their shirts said, but I didn't have any luck.

Princess Jasmine and I started the dinner by sharing Chiles Toreados guacamole and chips. It was served in a cute bowl that even featured a hummingbird that seemed like it wanted to eat the guacamole! The guacamole was supposed to have toasted pepita seeds. Well, it did have them, but I thought they would be incorporated into the dish a little better than simply sprinkling them on top... In addition, the guacamole was way too salty, even saltier than the chips. The chips, on the other hand, were perfect. They were very fresh and only lightly seasoned. I ended up eating most chips by themselves, without dipping them in the guacamole.

For her entree, Princess Jasmine got the beer-marinated filet mignon tacos (not pictured). I didn't try them, but she said they were amazing. I was craving some fresh seafood, so I ordered the salmon and camaron (shrimp) ceviche combo. The salmon ceviche included mango and cucumbers in a habanero broth. I think in ate a slight piece of habanero on my very first bite because my mouth started burning with the heat right away. I was afraid that the whole dish would be as spicy, but it thankfully it wasn't. I really liked it, especially the mango/cucumber combination. The shrimp ceviche contained jicama, an interesting root vegetable that's pretty popular in California. It has a fibrous texture, but very light taste. Overall, it reminds me of a sweeter (but not sweet) version of a Granny Smith apple. It's great both fresh and pickled. I loved it in the ceviche as well. I loved both types of ceviche I tried, but to me the salmon one was slightly better.

To make the night even better, we paired the dinner with some great drinks. Princess Jasmine had a pomegranate mojito, while I had the lime margarita. The margarita was quite strong, not sweet at all, and with a nice refreshing taste. It was a perfect addition to the fresh seafood dinner.

My experience in Maya proved once again that not all Mexican food is heavy, and that you can enjoy it guilt-free. I wish there were more places like Maya in Atlanta...

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Gourmet Burgers

Little Richie and I met up for dinner on the 4th of July, my last night in Atlanta before leaving for San Francisco. He was smart enough to suggest celebrating the most American of holidays with the most American of foods - hamburgers. But we couldn't have any hamburgers on this nation's birthday, so we went to Flip Burger. I was really happy with the suggestion because I had wanted to try this place for a long time. It's owned by a former Top Chef contestant. I don't watch this show, but I know it's a big deal to even be selected to be on it.

While perusing the menu, I couldn't decide between two of the options: the local burger (traditional burger), and the raw tuna tartare burger. The solution was Little Richie getting the traditional burger and me getting the tuna burger. Not trying a real burger at Flip would have been like going to Rome and not seeing the Pope, as the saying goes. As expected, the burger was juicy and delicious. Plus, you knew it was a well crafted burger because all ingredients were well sized to fit on the bun. You could eat the burger without the patty or tomato or something else sliding out and the whole thing disintegrating. Little things like that make some burger places stand out. Well, creativity also helps. For example, the sweet potato tots that Little Richie got on the side seem like such an obvious thing to have at many places, but I don't think I've seen them anywhere else.

Being satisfied with the quality of traditional burgers at Flip, I can now talk about my tuna tartare creation. It contained four things I really love: tuna tartare, mango (in the form of mango spheres), avocado (as puree), and sesame (as sesame crispies). The whole thing was amazing. It was so fresh-tasting, I wouldn't have guessed I was eating at burger if I wasn't holding it. The tuna was really good, and Flip wasn't skimping on the amount they put on each burger. One minor complaint I have is that the tuna taste was overpowering the other ingredients, so I didn't even detect a hint of the mango or sesame crispies.

We ended dinner with another typically American food item - a milkshake. We shared the Nutella and burned marshmallows milkshake. It was sooo decadent and delicious. At one point I though there were real hazelnuts in the shake because the Nutella taste was so pronounced.

Well, that was a great way to say goodbye to Atlanta. Now I'm already in San Francisco, and will try to explore the food scene here. My little adventure today included more burgers. I walked 3.5 miles just to have In-N-Out burger. It was my first time there, so I couldn't wait to see what the hype was all about. I ordered a cheeseburger with onions and fries on the side (not pictured). I did love the burger, but my favorite things about it were the tomatoes and onions. The patty was delicious, but rather small, especially when compared to the amount of meat we got at Flip. Despite this, each bite that contained bun, veggies, and patty was amazing. It was really obvious that the veggies were fresh and that the burgers were assembled after ordering, which makes a huge difference. The fries were good as well, but nowhere as crispy as McDonald's fries. On the good side, they weren't as salty as McDonald's fries :)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Sun in My Belly

This is yet another place with a unique name that deserves to be the name of a post. Plus, the name exemplifies how you feel after you eat there :)

Sun in My Belly is a brunch spot in Decatur that is far away from the square and other popular spots, thus it had escaped my attention until now. I went there recently with Little Richie after he found out about my obsession with brunch food. Their menu featured all the standard brunch items, plus a good number of sandwiches. I didn’t even look at the sandwich list this time, but maybe I’ll try them some other time. My attention this time was grabbed by the omelet special: sun-dry tomato and cheddar cheese omelet. I ordered it with a side of hashed potatoes. The omelet was really good. First, it was the right size, so I was actually able to finish it. Second, there was just the right amount of gooey cheese in it. Finally, I loved the homestyle potatoes that were prepared with red and green bell peppers and onions. Plus, the potatoes held their shape well, rather than become disintegrated from overcooking which I’ve seen with other home fries.

Little Richie’s breakfast was the Kirkwood Special which included scrambled eggs, ­­­­­­­­­­a biscuit, and bacon. The scrambled eggs were infused with onion/chives flavor without any discernible pieces of onions/chives. In addition, they were quite creamy without you seeing stretchy cheese when you got a piece. Overall, they were really tasty. The bacon was much thicker than any other bacon I’ve seen. (I must admit, though, I don’t usually order bacon and don’t have much experience with it.) On the negative side, it wasn’t as crispy as I like my bacon to be. I didn’t try the biscuit, but it looked delicious as well.

The food at Sun in My Belly definitely made my belly happy. But there were other little things that put my mind in a good mood as well. First of all, I already mentioned that I love the name. In addition, each table had a little vase with a live carnation in it. Having live flowers around me always makes me happy. Finally, I liked the laid-back atmosphere of the place and that it was away from the bustle of most other brunch spots. I will definitely be going back there.

Mexican in Atlanta

Atlanta has a significant Latin American population and a correspondingly large number of Latin American restaurants. However, so many of these spots cater to Americans who like “Mexican” food, and offer Americanized versions of traditional dishes. Well, I have to admit, I do get cravings for cheese-laden nachos and quesadillas, especially after a few drinks :P But for the last few years, I’ve been trying to find places that serve authentic cuisine.

After not even eating any Latin American food for a long time, I have been on something like a rampage recently. First, Little Richie introduced me to Cuban food by taking me to Havana restaurant at the intersection of Buford Hwy and Clairmont Rd. Of course, I had to have the Cuban sandwich (not pictured). I got yucca fries on the side, thinking that they were sweet potato fries… Stupid me… After trying them, I figured out that yucca is a root vegetable. I ended up really liking the fries. They are a lot more fibrous and “stringy” than regular potato fries, but I like that. It gives them a more interesting texture, rather than the soft mush of regular fries. (Although, soft mush inside a crispy shell is great :)

I continued my exposure to Cuban food at Las Palmeras. This time I ordered lemon pork with steamed yucca and fried plantains (not pictured). The pork was lean and very moist. I ordered the dish because I was hoping for an intense lemon flavor, but instead I got only a hint of lemon. Well, that didn’t take much away from the taste. As to the yucca, I wanted to see how it tastes when steamed when compared to fried. The texture didn’t appeal to me much; it was very mushy. It reminded me a little of poached pears, which I am not a fan of. In addition, I thought it tasted rather bland. I think I’ll stick to fried yucca from now on.

Finally, Cashew, Little Richie and I recently had dinner at Zocalo. I had passed this place countless times, always assuming that it’s one of those Americanized Mexican spots. The only reason I decided to go there was the generous review and description that it received by Scoutmob. The atmosphere is typical of a margarita bar, but the food was different. While reading the menu, I was surprised to see many unfamiliar words signifying traditional Mexican dishes. There were many things we wanted to try, but Cashew and I ended up sharing the molcajete carmelitas. Honestly, the major attractive factor of the dish was the lava rock bowl and the cactus it supposedly contained… Well, the dish delivered on both counts. It did come in a warm lava rock bowl, and it had a huge cactus leaf in it. The other ingredients included chicken, tomato, onions, corn tortillas, and chorizo and refried beans on the side. I loved the flavor of the tortillas. I could have eaten them by themselves. The molcajete mixture was much lighter than anything else Mexican I have tasted. It also had a pretty subtle taste that was just a notch above bland. I wonder if that’s what authentic Mexican tastes like. It wasn’t bad, though, and I think I can get used to it if I have more of it.

That seems like a good start for my search for good Latin American food. I know that there are a ton of Mexican places on Buford Hwy, and I’m sure that many of them will have traditional food. I just have to try all of them to find the good ones ;)

Monday, July 4, 2011

Light French Food?

I really hate it when my plans fall through, like when Cashew and I couldn't go to Amuse because they're closed on Mondays. Of course, we had to go back. Interestingly, one night both of us wanted to eat something light, but we both wanted to go to Amuse. Well, when I think of French food, I usually think of decadent chocolate desserts, bread, butter and heavy sauces, but we decided to go there anyway and try our luck with the menu.

Lucky for us, they started us off with warm bread and butter. Warm bread is one of my favorite things in the world, even on a hot summer night. We enjoyed it so much, we had to ask for more of it. After so much bread, we were happy to order items only from the appetizer and salad menus. I have to admit though, some of their entrees did look tempting and I might try them some other time. Anyway, we settled on the goat cheese on a bed of tomatoes and their specialty salad for the night: avocado and crab meat. The avocado and crab salad was unexpected (but in a good way), made with real crab meat, and delicious. Unfortunately, I can't say the same for the tomato salad. I guess I thought it would come up with diced fresh tomatoes. Instead, it consisted of crushed tomatoes with some cheese sprinkled on top of it. And honestly, the crushed tomatoes tasted like canned crushed tomatoes... It was very disappointing. I ended up spreading the tomatoes and cheese on the bread, which did make them more edible. (An aside: I actually love cooking with canned crushed tomatoes, but they are too bland to serve them raw...)

Finally Cashew and I got the obligatory French dish - escargot. They came in garlic and parsley butter, which I prefer to breaded escargot. I liked the melted butter, especially with the warm bread :) However, the escargot didn't seem very fresh, and were a little chewy.

Overall, I wasn't impressed with the food we got that night at Amuse. Additionally, the service wasn't the best. We had to wait for some items, and the waiters almost seemed rude. The only thing that redeemed the place was the bread, but this is something I can get at any good bakery...

Southern comfort

Despite living in Atlanta for nice years now, I haven't been to many places that serve traditional Southern food. I've been to Murphy's numerous times, but only for brunch and lunch. I've also been to Wisteria once. I think that's pretty much my whole experience with nice southern food... Now I can add the Parish to the list. I went there recently for brunch with Miss Chriss. This time Ems and I got the chance to try the dinner as well.

The menu at Parish does have Southern classics like fried chicken with collard greens, but also Cajun-influenced dishes featuring seafood. The appetizer list included a really interesting item: mushroom cheesecake with pecan crust. Ems and I were very excited to try this, but they were out of it. I think this is such a creative idea! I might need to go back just to try this savory cheesecake.

We were so disappointed with the unavailability of the mushroom cheesecake that we couldn't find any other appetizer to pique our interest. So, we simply ordered entrees. I got the cornmeal crusted catfish. The crust was perfectly crispy. The fish itself was very juicy and delicious. Plus, the piece of fish I got was HUGE! The dish came with a side of cole slaw and a side of baked beans. I loved the cole slaw because it was vinegar based AND it contained carrots. The beans were supposedly baked for 12 hours, and maybe that's their secret because they were sooooo incredible. They were sweet and sticky and rich, and almost like dessert. The menu mentioned that the dish also came with gribiche. I actually had no idea what this meant. Well, it's simply tartar sauce. I don't like it when places try to be pretentious by using unknown words for common ingredients, but I'm willing to overlook it here.

Ems ordered the spring pea ravioli. I was a little nervous about this dish, but it tasted really really good. The ravioli stuffing contained mostly mashed peas and a little bit of cheese, so the pea flavor was very intense inside the ravioli. The cream-based sauce was also much lighter than I expected it to be. It was interesting to taste something that had rich ingredients but tasted light. I really liked the flavor.

I have now been to the Parish twice, and it's becoming one of my favorite places. I like the food there, but also the little things. For example, the menus were printed on what looked like brown paper bags. We also got complementary bread and butter before dinner. The bread was served in yet another brown bad. The decor is also attractive - rustic but sophisticated. And finally, there is a market downstairs that serves a variety of Cajun items and pastries. Unfortunately, we went there too late to enjoy fresh pastries, but I'd love to try them some other time.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Seafood extravaganza

I loooove seafood. I love all types of seafood: fish, shrimp, crab meat, etc. I have to admit, I've never had octopus, but I am pretty sure I won't hate it. Anyway, Cashew and I like to go on seafood "splurges" when we eat a ton of seafood for dinner. We've been to Fontaine's Oyster House a couple of times and shared their steamed seafood platter (meant to be shared by 4 people...). Every time we've been there, we have a coupon for $25 off our check, so we end up paying only about $15 each for huuuge amounts of seafood. Sadly, we hadn't been there in a few months, so we were going through seafood withdrawal...

Thankfully, Cashew found out about another deal in town: $5 for a dozen oysters at Steamhouse Lounge. This deal seemed too good to be true, but it is real and it is going on every Wednesday. The oysters were surprisingly huge for the amount of money we were paying. Yes, there were some smaller ones, but overall I was very satisfied with what we got. Well, they could have been scrubbed a little better, but I guess that's what distinguishes a nicer restaurant from a bar.

Of course, a dozen oysters is not enough to fill us up, so Cashew and I shared the crab legs platter as well. We got 1.5 lb of crab with sides of cole slaw and corn on the cob. The good news is, the majority of the crab tasted fresh and delicious. The bad news was that there were definitely pieces from old crab legs mixed in with the good crab. This is a really bad idea actually because the bad crab stands out so easily when you eat it right after a piece of fresh crab... Another negative about the meal was the overly-buttery corn. I love my corn on the cob to be simply boiled in salted water, nothing else added. I can eat corn with a little butter, but when the butter is dripping off the cob and makes your whole mouth feel as if you ate a solid piece of butter, it's not enjoyable. Well, I guess many people in the South are used to get their corn on the cob prepared in this buttery way, so it was just personal preference.

The amount of seafood we consumed that night did satisfy the craving, but I think it's smarter to stick to food that doesn't rely on seafood freshness when at Steamhouse Lounge.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Tantric dinner

One of the things I love about Atlanta is how international it is. Well, and all the food deals available :) So one Monday night Cashew and I felt like having French food without paying exorbitant amounts of money. The solution was Amuse, a French bistro with a 50% off deal on Scoutmob. Unfortunately, on the way there, we discovered that it's closed on Mondays :( A couple of minutes of scrolling through the Scoutmob restaurant list yielded another attractive dinner option: Tantra. Granted, it's not French, but it sounded really interesting with its fusion cuisine that combined Indian, Asian and European influences.

As soon as we walked in the restaurant, we were impressed with the environment. It featured Indian-style lanterns, leather chairs and leather benches, and cute lantern-like candle holders on the tables. Adding to the good impression of the place, we were started off with complementary flatbread crackers and some kind of spread that I have never had before. The crackers were really crispy, but they were coated with a little too much sea salt. The spread, however, was incredible.  It was very grainy, so I think it contained whole grain mustard. I could also discern a little bit of the mustard taste, but most of what I tasted was olives. So, my best guess is that it was a mixture of mustard and olives :P

The menu itself was heavily influenced by Middle Eastern, lamb- or hummus-containing dishes. Case in point, original hummus with lamb and lamb tartare "pizza." We actually ordered the hummus tasting platter, but they brought out the lamb-containing hummus. I am very picky about how my lamb tastes, and I didn't care too much for the one at Tantra. Thankfully, they did bring us the other hummus options on the tasting platter: truffle and edamame (not pictured). Honestly, I loved the original chickpea flavor the best. The truffle hummus was too oily, the edamame did taste like edamame, but I found that a weird taste combination. In contrast, I did love the flavors of the lamb pizza. It was a very original dish. Instead or a regular pizza crust, it had flatbread for crust. What looks like it might be tomato sauce on the picture is actually the lamb tartare. And the white sauce is shallot yogurt.

We also ordered the crab cake based on the suggestion of our waiter, and it was worth it. It was what a crab cake should taste like: lots of crab and little other stuffing material. The salad that the cake rested on was also great. It also had an interesting yogurt sauce, this time containing orange and verjuice (type of grape juice).

After three appetizers and a complementary snack, we needed only one entree. Our first choice was the chili seared bigeye tuna, but they were out of it. We settled for the braised beef short rib with goat cheese polenta. Unfortunately, both Cashew and I were too stuffed at this point to enjoy the short rib properly. Each of us had a bite to taste it, but we ended up taking it to go. All I can remember about it is that the goat cheese taste was really strong. I do love goat cheese and can even eat it by myself, but it didn't impart a good flavor to the polenta in this case. Somehow, it made the polenta taste as if it contained lamb... The meat was very tender, and I can say that it was good even when reheated on the next day. Too bad I couldn't eat more when it was still fresh at the restaurant.

Well, despite not getting the French food we wanted, Tantra served as a great substitute for the international flare I was craving.