A while back, I watched an episode of “Throwdown with Bobby Flay” where Bobby challenges the owners of A Salt and Battery to a “fish and chips Throwdown”. The concept behind Throwdown is that Bobby Flay travels the country to challenge experts in a certain dish, but they don’t know they’re being challenged until halfway through the cooking process (Bobby Flay usually pops up and asks if they want to compete). Bobby usually has some sort of flare to add to the dish or he uses really great ingredients (lobster in the clam chowder Throwdown that he won!). Anyway, I watched the A Salt and Battery throwdown and was immediately in the mood for fish and chips from the small West Village restaurant. Since I watched around 11 at night, I was out of luck (nighttime is really the worst time to watch food shows because it always seems to make me hungry). In the morning, I headed to A Salt and Battery for a late breakfast to satisfy my craving.
On the episode of Throwdown, the cooks at A Salt and Battery prepare cod, but when I got to A Salt and Battery, they were out (so I settled for haddock):
The fish is freshly fried with a light batter right when you order it and comes with a little side of tartar sauce. I’m not a big fan of tartar sauce (sometimes it’s too chunky), but the tartar sauce that came with the fish completed the dish. The fish was crispy, flakey, and amazing.
I also ordered chips, which I were a little too fried and greasy, so I wasn’t a huge fan, but I did end up eating a big chunk of them because I was still a tad hungry after my fish.
A Salt and Battery also has a bunch of interesting drinks:
The place is very small and only has a couple of bar stools, but it’s definitely worth checking out. My friend, Justin, went there recently and loved it as well.
One sunny afternoon, I walked to Elephant and Castle by myself for a big, juicy burger (by the way, the Elephant and Castle in New York isn’t the same as the one I went to in Chicago). I’ve heard Elephant and Castle has a lot of great food, so I decided to try it myself before bringing Chris along. I ordered the elephant burger with bacon, cheese, and curry sour cream:
The combination of curry sour cream, bacon, and cheese may sound a little off-putting, but in reality, the burger is absolutely AMAZING. It also comes with red union and tomatoes (no ketchup or mustard). The sour cream curry also has chopped scallions and really gives the burger a wonderful kick. Also, I’m usually not a fan of bacon in my cheeseburgers (something about having TOO much fat in a burger), but I ate absolutely everything. A close-up shot of the burger:
The burgers at Elephant and Castle are pretty amazing (I’ve tried a couple others since this review and my favorite is still the Elephant burger). I tried ordering fries, but there was something wrong with their fryer (it had to do with Con Edison), and it was still broken when I took Chris there two weeks later. Elephant and Castle is a great place to eat by yourself (they don’t bother you that much) and their burgers AND desserts are amazing!
Chris and I are huge fans of Pearl Oyster Bar, but we decided to branch out and try Mermaid Inn’s lobster rolls to see whether or not they were any good. We didn’t have reservations, but the hostess said it would be 15 minutes (although we ended up waiting at least 45). Since we were already there, we decided to stick it out after the 30 minute mark. When we were finally seated, we told the waitress we were ready to order (she said she wasn’t ready to take our order and made us wait another 10 minutes before she came back). I ordered the lobster roll and Chris ordered the spaghetti with scallops, vegetables, and breadcrumbs.
The lobster roll is more of a lobster sandwich; it’s lobster with light mayo between a brioche bun:
The brioche bun made the lobster taste much sweeter, but the lobster chunks were tiny compared to the stuff they put in the lobster rolls at Pearl’s. The fries were thickly cut and crunchy that would’ve been great with a burger, but I would’ve preferred shoestring fries with the lobster sandwich (the regular fries were a little heavy).
Chris ordered the spaghetti with scallops, vegetables, and breadcrumbs:
The spaghetti was well cooked, the scallops were tender, and the vegetables were good, but we didn’t like the breadcrumbs (it made the dish too dry).
For dessert, the Mermaid Inn gives you a free cup of chocolate pudding with a miracle fish fortune teller:
I love free stuff, but the pudding hadn’t been made properly and we didn’t even bother finishing it because it was too chunky.
Overall, the Mermaid Inn didn’t impress me; the waitress that served us was rude, the lobster roll wasn’t that good, and the spaghetti was very forgettable. Pearl Oyster Bar is still the go-to place for lobster rolls in my book!
I wanted to finish my San Francisco round up, but I’m in Detroit for the week and I don’t have the Gary Danko menu and I want to properly describe a raspberry dessert I had. For the time being, I’ll post some entries I’ve written but have been saving for a rainy day (actually, I have 46 restaurants that I have yet to post about…I am seriously behind!). Anyway, based on a MetroDad recommendation, Chris and I headed to Upstairs at Bouley for a light brunch. We wanted a soft shell crab sandwich from the bakery (below the Upstairs at Bouley restaurant) but we also wanted to try their burgers (from Upstairs at Bouley) but they wouldn’t let us bring a soft shell crab sandwich upstairs (and who would want a burger to go?) Initially, the waiter said we couldn’t bring up food from the bakery (restaurant rules or something), but it was late and he eventually gave in (and let us bring the sandwich upstairs). The soft shell crab sandwich:
The soft shell crab sandwich is lightly fried and placed inside a baguette with lettuce and avocado slices. Chris and I had a couple bites and couldn’t really taste the crab; the soft shell crab wasn’t seasoned enough to have enough flavor come through the sandwich. We weren’t very impressed (and it was $12 so it wasn’t a cheap sandwich!).
Luckily, we ordered a burger (so we could try a little bit of everything). The burger is a huge chunk of meat placed on a large English muffin with cheese, tomatoes, Boston lettuce, and tomatoes:
The burger was incredibly juicy – there wasn’t a lot of bun, just meat and veggies (perfect for an Atkin’s dieter!); the burger was seasoned well (although Chris thought it was a tad on the salty side), and it was cooked to a perfect medium rare. Upstairs at Bouley’s burger is definitely on my top 5 list of best burgers in the city.
The restaurant is very small and the kitchen is near the entrance:
You can see the chef putting everything together (the broiler for the burgers is on the left). There’s also a sushi bar for dinner:
For brunch, they have a lot of the pastries from the market (they looked delicious but we were stuffed from the burger and the soft shell crab sandwich). Downstairs at the market, we walked past lots of bread and pastries:
And tons of cakes and macaroons:
Overall, our burger was spectacular. The atmosphere at Upstairs at Bouley is really relaxing and on a nice warm day, they open the windows so there’s a nice breeze coming in during lunch.
After visiting so many wineries, eating at Ad Hoc and The French Laundry, Chris and I needed to get our burger fix. What better place than Taylor’s Refresher:
There are three locations – one in San Francisco (in the Ferry Building), one in St. Helena (pictured above), and one in Napa (at the Oxbow Public Market). Initially, I was going to visit in Taylor’s Refresher in San Francisco, but I decided to wait until Chris was with me so we could enjoy the burgers together. I was more than excited to try their food, especially since everyone that sent me recommendations said that Taylor’s was a place that I should definitely check out (thanks guys!).
The Taylor’s Refresher in St. Helena is the original and definitely family oriented (there are picnic tables and grass in the back where families hang out and picnic). We ordered our burgers at the walk-up window:
After we ordered, Chris and I headed to the backyard area that looked like it was straight from a 1950′s magazine:
A lot of families with younger children were enjoying the pleasant weather and lawn area (in fact, some kids were running around like they were raised by wolves). We didn’t have to wait long before our food was ready (everything is prepared once you order it so it doesn’t sit around and get soggy):
I decided to go with Taylor’s cheeseburger:
The cheeseburger is topped with sliced American cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickles and a secret sauce (which was kind of similar to In-N-Out’s sauce). It was absolutely AMAZING! All of their meat is antibiotic and hormone free and tastes incredibly fresh.
Chris ordered the Wisconsin sourdough burger:
The burger was topped with grilled mushrooms, bacon, cheddar cheese, mayo and BBQ sauce. Chris and I liked the burger, but neither of us liked the sourdough bread (the burger to bun ratio was skewed).
We also ordered French fries:
Very similar to Goodburger’s French fries (or McDonald’s).
Lastly, we ordered a strawberry shake:
This was the most AMAZING strawberry shake I’ve EVER had. It was reallllllly creamy, tasted like it had fresh strawberries blended in, and was the perfect consistency so you could drink it with a straw OR scoop it up with a spoon. We were impressed! (A similarly tasty strawberry shake can be found at Goodburger in Manhattan!).
I absolutely LOVED Taylor’s and can definitely see myself going back with my family (so my kids can run around and throw footballs at people’s heads).