Check, Please! A Sneak Peek into the First Restaurant.

Last night we did a frenzy of drop-offs to make sure Siena was well taken care of (a.k.a. at the only place we truly trust: grandma’s). It is with comical irony that I ponder which is more unsettling as a parent — taking a 2-year-old to a restaurant or dropping the 2-year-old off to be with someone else and then driving on the freeway and through the streets of San Francisco on a Saturday night. Driving is done sensitively because there has been a deepening of initiative now. Luckily, CA-85 and CA-280 were mild last night!

We went to the first restaurant for KQED’s show, Check, Please! For those of you just tuning in, I was selected a few weeks ago to be a guest food critic on the show. The basic premise of the show is that three people choose their favorite restaurant, and the other two go to that restaurant and critique it on camera. What I didn’t know about the show was that all of the interactions are candid. Meaning — what you see on the screen is public scrutiny and civic reaction in true time! I like that psychological spin on it.

The first restaurant we were asked to go to was Mediterranean-themed. And, without giving it away…I wasn’t super thrilled on it. I started off really positive about it. The vibe was warm, the colors and decor were thoughtful. Staff was friendly and entertainingly knowledgeable. In the beginning, it was hard not to like the restaurant. Unfortunately, my personal restaurant hierarchy holds that food is king. And that was not the case with this restaurant.

We ordered soup for our first course, which was a parsnip soup. I wasn’t amped about the choice. Parsnip is a bit medicine-tasting to me. The problem with parsnip is you either love the taste or you hate it. It was a bold move for this restaurant to put it as the star of  a course. Overall, in all honesty I thoroughly enjoyed the soup. It was topped with dungeness crab which added just that little bit of salinity that my heart was calling for.

I can’t say the same about the other two courses. I ordered one seafood dish because our entrees were land games. Now, I’m no connoisseur when it comes to seafood, but it is my feeling that being a lover/consumer of seafood all of my life gives me some sense of credibility. In other words, I feel like I…sensibly know more than most when it comes to the preparation and variety of seafood available. I’m going to do be a little harsh here because I was thoroughly displeased with our appetizer course.

We had a clam/mussel dish. Three out of the 8 mussels were closed (translation: they were undercooked). 4 of the clams were completely wide open (translation: they were dead before they were cooked; for who knows how long). This was such an utter disregard for the diner’s health and reflected a certain carelessness of the establishment that did not bode well with me. Especially being so close to the bay, you would think that the restaurant would have access to fresh seafood. I think this was unacceptable. This place was also considerably pricey. I didn’t send it back because that’s against my personal ethics as a diner. I’m not going to cause a ruckus and bring that energy to the table. But I’m still contemplating whether or not I should bring it up on the show. What do you guys think?

You can see the rest of my meal on the show. There were some high notes and a memorable ending.

The drive back from San Francisco was a bit painful because we were exhausted and full — not a good combination! Luckily we got home at a decent hour and walked into the house with Siena screaming up and down, saying “HI MAMA!!!!! HI DA-DA!!!!”

She makes all of our days GREAT. Here is a picture from today at the beach. She’s growing up so fast.



Have a great Superbowl Sunday,










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