Tasting Table's San Francisco Lobster Rumble 2014 - Who Will Be Crowned Fan Favorite?

Lobster Rumble

The claws are about to come out and tickets are completely sold out for the most anticipated food event in San Francisco, Tasting Table’s first ever San Francisco Lobster RumbleOn November 11, I will be joining an event full of lobster lovers to feast on an unlimited amount of lobster rolls made by nine local restaurants, who all are competing to be crowned fan favorite.  

I've known about this event for a few years and have been tempted many times to fly out just to attend the event in LA or NYC, so when I was asked to attend as press to cover the event on my blog, I was beyond stoked.

The Restaurants & Purveyors

I've had three out of the six lobster rolls that will be in the competition. They haven't announced all the restaurants yet, but lobster lovers will get to taste rolls from Jack's Oyster Bar & Fish House (serving up Maine lobster on a house made pretzel bun with tarragon butter and hollandaise) and Farallon’s (serving warmed Maine Lobster on a buttery bun with zesty lemon garlic aioli, arugula, toasted fennel seed, and crispy fried shallots), along with Anchor & Hope, Willi’s Seafood and Raw Bar, Old Port Lobster Shack, Waterbar, and more. 

Just when you think that's a lot, the desserts line-up does not fail to impress. There will be five local purveyors, including Humphry Slocombe, Biscuit Bender, and Chocolatier Blue. To wash it all down, Santa Margherita wines, Stella Artois beers, and custom cocktails will be pouring at the open bars.

Lobster Rumble

I can't wait to feast and see which lobster roll gets crowned the winner. If you see me at the event, come up and say hello! I'll be sure to report back on the event shortly, so stay tuned and be sure to return after November 11, 2014. 

More Details: San Francisco Lobster Rumble 2014

Photo Credit: Tasting Table

Review: Papito West Takes a Creative Spin on Mexican Food - Hayes Valley, SF

Papito West

Walk in to almost any restaurant in Hayes Valley and you'll see a crowd full of people having dinner or drinking at the bar. Depending on what time you arrive, expect to wait a bit for a table to open up. Papito West is no different but what keeps people excited and coming back for more is their creative spin on Mexican food.

Patrick and I were invited to have dinner as guests of the house on a popular Friday evening and while the restaurant isn't exactly our ideal dining setting, there were two dishes that won us over that we'd come back for. 

Papito West in a Nutshell

Papito West is owned by restaurateur Jocelyn Bulow, known for Chez Papa Bistrot and Chez Maman, two restaurants that I enjoy dining at. This new Mexican spot is a follow-on to the Potrero Hill neighborhood Papito that he opened in 2010. David Alexander is the co-owner and manager of the Hayes Valley location.

The restaurant serves organic Mexican food and the menu, prepared by Chef Efren Villalobos (Mamacita's Restaurant), includes antojitos, tacos, burritos, quesadillas, platos fuertes, a raw bar with oysters and ceviche, desserts, beer, wine and six flavors of agua fresca.

Papito West - Inside

The Dining Space & Setting

We fell in love with the dia de los muertos-inspired mural by artist Matthew James McGowan. It was nice to see a lot of natural lighting shining through the front windows. The actual space inside of the restaurant is very cozy with little room for movement or privacy. While we enjoyed the casual nature of the restaurant, the noise level was pretty high for us, so if your experience is anything like ours, you can expect to hear your dining neighbors' conversations, which was hard to mute off. There are 32 seats in the dining room, 8 at the bar and, weather permitting, outside seating for 8.


The Food

Papito West - Crudo

Crudo ($12)

The crudo is made with striped bass, avocado mousse, jicama, mango, radish, fish chicharron & mexican sea salt. It was beautifully plated and many flavor components were at play, but the taste didn't match up to our expectations and the crudo lacked balance. The freshness of the fish was masked with too much acidity from the citrus marinade and salt.  

Papito West - Fish Tacos

Fish Baja Tacos (2 for $9, 4 for $15, 10 for $35)

The fish tacos were very dreamy. The fish was very plump and the Negra Modelo batter was fried to crispy perfection, not overly greasy. The purple cabbage slaw added a nice brightness to the tacos with a bit of smokiness from the chipotle remoulade.

Papito West - Duck Confit Tacos

Carnitas de Pato Tacos (2 for $9, 4 for $15, 10 for $35)

The duck confit carnitas tacos had an influence of Vietnamese flavors that we didn't expect using sweet and slightly-sour pickled daikon and carrots, garnished with some mint. The tamarind sauce contributed to a nice sweet and tangy taste. I was glad we tried this out but it's not something we'd get again. 

Papito West - Shrimp Tempura Quesadillas

Papito Quesadilla ($13.5)

If there's one thing you can't miss ordering at Papito West, this is it. The tempura shrimp quesadilla with chipotle remoulade and purple cabbage slaw is delicious. You get a lovely crunchy bite from the shrimp tempura and the flour tortilla. The flavors are nicely balanced between the bright slaw, cheese, and shrimp.

Papito West - Churros

Churros ($7)

Our dinner ended nicely with a few churros filled with dulce de leche and a side of whipped cream and chocolate dipping sauce. It was very satisfying and we loved the crispy sugary texture of the churros.


Final Thoughts

Papito West is a fun restaurant to dine at if you don't mind the crowd and high noise-levels. While the restaurant setting wasn't ideal to our dining preference, we enjoyed their creative spin on Mexican food and loved the fish baja tacos and shrimp tempura quesadilla. If we're in the area and there are empty seats, we'd go back to check out some of the other dishes we had our eyes on.

Thanks so much for dinner, Papito West! 


Visiting Papito West 

Location

425 A Hayes Street in San Francisco, CA 

Website

www.papitosf.com

Phone

(415) 554-0541.

Hours

  • Mon - Fri: 11:30am - 11pm
  • Sat - Sun: 10am - 4pm (brunch), 4pm - 11pm
Papito West on Urbanspoon

Review: Desserts to Fall in Love with at Jack's Oyster Bar & Fish House - Fall Season 2014 (Jack London Square, Oakland)

Jack's Oyster Bar & Fish House - Fall 2014 Desserts

When we first checked out Jack London Square's newest seafood restaurant Jack's Oyster Bar & Fish House in August, we had the dreamiest soft-serve ice cream with salted caramel topped with cornflakes. We recently went back for dinner and were invited to try out some of Jack's Fall desserts thanks to Executive Pastry Chef Paul Conte, who also runs the pastry program next door at Bocanova

The Man Behind the Desserts

Pastry Chef Paul Conte really knocks it out of the park when it comes to desserts. He formerly worked at MarketBar and Chaya Brasserie in San Francisco before starting his career at Bocanova and Jack's. In addition to having worked at many known establishments in New York and developing artistic talents through music and photography, Paul combines both his artistic and culinary skills into creating terrific warm and savory desserts that will keep you coming back for more. 

Jack's Oyster Bar & Fish House Dessert Tasting Review

The desserts are priced from $6 to $9. I would recommend getting a dessert per person because after having a bite, you'll regret sharing instead of eating it all yourself. Paul was out that day, so Sous Chef Daryl Johnson played the role of dessert maker for us. Here's a look at the desserts we tried: 

Jack's Oyster Bar & Fish House - Fall 2014 Desserts

Chocolate Malted Fudge Cake with Caramelized Bananas and Toasted Marshmallow

This dessert deserves a round of applause. It's delicious and makes me want to sit outside near a campfire and toast marshmallows all day. You get the perfect combination of gooey marshmallows, rich chocolate cake, and sweet caramelized bananas. If that's not enough, there's a heavenly layer of malted cream underneath the cake that adds an extra depth of flavor and sophistication. Lastly, it's finished with a sprinkle of pink peppercorns. 

Jack's Oyster Bar & Fish House - Fall 2014 Desserts

Carrot Cake with Caramel Popcorn and Popcorn Ice Cream

The carrot cake was our favorite out of the three tastings. Imagine fluffy and moist, yet buttery and rich - packed with carrots in each bite. The caramel popcorn created a wonderful sweet and salty combination with some crunch. The popcorn ice cream brings the entire dessert together to perfection; loved the unique flavor. It was a very well-balanced dessert. 

Jack's Oyster Bar & Fish House - Fall 2014 Desserts

Ginger Cake with Bananas, Figs and Ice Cream

This was a limited-run dessert created by Jack's Sous Chef, Daryl Johnson, so it may no longer be available. The ginger cake was very enjoyable; dark, rich, and gingery. The spices of the cake go nicely with the bananas, figs and candied nuts. The ice cream was a nice touch, allowing your mouth to take a break and cool off from all the spices.


Final Thoughts

I am a huge fan of Jack's and think it's a great addition to Jack London Square/Oakland. It is one of my favorite restaurants in Oakland for good reason. From cocktails to seafood to desserts, everything we've devoured has been wonderful, making it a great place to dine.

The desserts are creative, comforting and satisfying that it's probably worth the visit alone. Who says you can't skip dinner and go straight to dessert?

If you missed my recap post from the preview party, click here to check it out: First Look: Delicious & Thoughtful Seafood Fare at Jack's Oyster Bar and Fish House Review.

Thanks for the desserts, Paul, Daryl and Jack's Oyster Bar and Fish House!


VISITING JACK'S OYSTER BAR & FISH HOUSE

Location

336 Water St. Oakland, California 94607

Phone

415.362.8887

Website

http://jacksoakland.com/

Hours

Opens Everyday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Reservations

They take reservations only at 5:30 p.m. on OpenTable

During other times, guests are seated on a first-come, first-served basis

Jack's Oyster Bar & Fish House on Urbanspoon