Sheila and I have embarked on a 10 day trip to California. It's purely vacation, with the goal being to see some touristy stuff, but mostly to eat in great restaurants and just have a good time. We have set a large restaurant budget for the trip and will surely exceed it. Here's the breakdown: We are spending three nights in San Francisco, one night in Carmel, three nights in Los Angeles and two nights in San Diego.
I normally just focus on BBQ in my blog, but have decided to turn it into kind of a trip journal for the week. We plan to hit a few BBQ places along the way too.
Yesterday was a travel day. We flew out of Bradley International Airport on a 2PM flight to Philadelphia, where we caught a connecting flight to San Francisco. I have never flown first class before, but being crammed like sardines for a six hour flight makes the huge first class price tag seem more than worth it. Flight was ok, very little turbulence.
We landed at the San Francisco airport at around 7PM Pacific time. Taxi to our hotel was around $40. It was dark and rainy, so we have seen nothing of the city at this point.
We are staying at the Serrano Hotel, a restored Spanish revival boutique hotel (Thanks Zagat)on Taylor Street near Union Station. The hotel is nice, but like in most cities, the rooms are extremely small. Very nice though, with some interesting and odd appointments. There is a yo-yo and a mini Etch-a-Sketch in the minibar. If I get bored later maybe I'll try to walk the dog for the first time in two decades.
Also, the rooms have leopard print robes.
We made a reservation for 10PM Saturday night at Ponzu, which is an Asian fusion restaurant located in the lobby of the hotel. We went down a half-hour early, and they were able to accommodate us and seat us right away, even though the place was pretty packed.
I am fighting a cold and was a little hazy during dinner. The place was loud, but I liked the decor, definitely an old school restaurant with lots of nooks and banquettes.
We started with chicken spring rolls with sweet chile pepper sauce. The chicken was ground and bland, but the sauce stole the show here, very spicy.
For dinner, Sheila had the grilled pork chop with a ginger pineapple glaze. This was excellent, very juicy, tender and flavorful.
I had the duck breast, served with duck confit, lardons of bacon and what seemed to be broccoli rabe, along with chestnuts. The duck breast itself was ok, but what blew me away was the duck confit part of the dish. It just exploded with flavor.
Overall, a good start to what we expect to be a week of great food, despite what I would call average service at Ponzu.
Today, we're going to head up to the Ferry Market on the bay, then possibly try some dim sum in Chinatown. Tonight, we are going to Frascati, on the recommendation of Brendan and Julie of Transformer BBQ. Well, the sun is up, time to go see the sights!