November 2007

Part of the GangIt’s that Meatapalooza Friday Following That Eatapalooza Thursday.Thanks to the six other hungry souls (with one missing in action) who braved that nasty freezing wind and those other unpleasant coldnesses to join me in eating fatty BBQed meaties a day after everyone’s favorite November holiday for gorging (unless you are really big on Veteran’s Day, of course.) It was certainly the highlight of my extended weekend.

And thank you Russell St. gang for listening to me endlessly prattle on about my new digital camera, which I had braved intense shopper insanity to purchase that very Black Friday in hopes of regularly livening up this blog with pithy photography. I know I probably got a tad carried away, frantically prancing around the table forcing my camera in front of your food, and taking those pictures of the gum under the table and the server’s ear hair, but you just never know what will become that special shot. So thanks for putting up with me, especially since I barely know how to use this contraption and had only taken about eight photos before I unleashed myself at Russell Street. It was nice hearing peoplMore of the Gange’s holiday stories, Brian and his dinner of multitudes with the free flowing liquor, Grace getting up at 2:00 am to brave mall craziness with her two under age five daughters, (Daddy Frank still cozily asleep at home in bed,) and Tori and Dave, often our most colorful couple, with their enchanting tale of seeing their host’s holiday table start to burn up before their eyes, and everyone frantically pounding out the flames with spoons. I just hope these fire fighting implements weren’t part of the “good silverware.” Unfortunately, my only noteworthy story to contribute was how I had been hobbled for two days when I tweaked my back picking up some doggie poo from the yard Thanksgiving afternoon. And happy holidays to you all! (And now no one will doubt I have a maximum strength canine. I guess I need to switch her back to that light food.) (more…)

Pok Pok – A little microcosm of tasty and exotic chaos.


I’ve known since the earliest days of Restaurant Roulette, that someday, I would eventually have to find a way to take the group for a dinner at Pok Pok. From its humble beginnings in the little shack, it’s hard to think of a restaurant that has gotten the good press that Pok Pok has (and how many restaurants in shacks really get those glowing reviews?) But after all, it was just a shack, so how could I take people to a regular dinner there? Then the Whiskey Soda Lounge opened in the house next door, and although there were still no reservations, and the largest table was for four people, at least now I could go there for a lunch to check it out. The decor in WSL really didn’t do much for me, too woody and windowless (after all, it’s a basement) but the menu was intriguing, although quite simplified from what was offered at dinner. There were still issues with having a dinner there, however, it was always so crowded, every night of the week, people lined up out the door.


The owner of Pok Pok, Andy Richter, seems like a smart and savvy guy, and he obviously figured out that he had to find a way to expend his facilities to seat more eager dinners without breaking the bank financially. So he decided to open a dining room in his modest bungalow a couple of floors above the WSL, this taking reservations and seating groups of six or larger. This was a pretty modest venture, however, only improving his seating capacity with four tables which seat six (that’s a mere 24 more places.) 


This was finally my chance, a way to take RR to PP/WSL. So the dinner was announced, the reservation was made, and the cut-off was placed at 12, as we basically needed to work in increments of six. It was a cloudy, somewhat mild, and at this point rainless evening when we all gathered for our dinner at PP/WSL, which was a good thing, because despite our month old reservation, we still had to stand outside and wait just like everyone else, as our table was still being cleared of people, dishes, money, and everything else, probably not too surprising, after all, we were taking up half their “dining room.”


Having stood outside this place for 20-30 minutes, one thing is painfully obvious, Pok Pok still only has about 1/2 – 2/3rds of the seating capacity it needs, this place is bursting at the seams. You know a restaurant is having space issues when the reservation desk is outside, by the sidewalk, in the winter. PP has tried to make the most of the space it has, everywhere you look they’ve made some little plastic dining enclosure, including on the second floor porch, and next to the shack, at the picnic tables under the roof, people are in every conceivable space huddled under the outdoor heaters, not caring that they are dining outside in the winter (I think Pambiche started this weird outside even in the winter eating trend) just happy to be experiencing a meal at Pok Pok. The little candlelit enclosures were cute though, and festive (providing you dressed suitably, of course) so I was anxious to see what Mr. Richter had come up with for his upstairs dining area.


Last year, when my birthday rolled around, it was an off-week for Restaurant Roulette, so Pam, my friend from work whom many of you know from the dinners, and I went to Roux for our shared birthday festivities on a Friday night (before and after our birthdays). Pam and I have worked together for quite a few years now in often stressful times, and since our birthdays fall within a week of one another, we try to have a nice meal together to celebrate, since we both love food and dining out.

This year, I decided that when the RR dinner closest to our birthdays rolled around, I would pick a restaurant I really wanted to try out, and which I also thought Pam would enjoy. We both love Toro Bravo (like almost everyone else) but that place is just too difficult to get into with more than two or four people at a normal dining hour, so I decided an intriguing choice would be to try the other new tapas place in town, Lolo, the second restaurant by the owner of the always well regarded Giorgios in the P. District.

The crewI guess my enthusiasm for checking out Lolo wasn’t shared by the majority of RR, as we had a relatively small (but extremely select) turnout of six. I suspect at this time of year, you have to expect many people are running around having pre-Halloween fun on a Friday night, so that might explain why our last RR dinner had a record setting 15, but this time we could eek out merely six. Whatever the reason, all of those who couldn’t join us missed a great (but somewhat spendy) dinner. So thank you Sara, Glenda, and especially our always wonderful Marnie and Leo, (making their first joint appearance since late Spring) for making Pam’s and my shared birthday event at Lolo a night to remember, and one I will look back on fondly for years to come. (Special thanks also to RR members Aruna and Sara for their special kindness in acknowledging my birthday in their fun individual ways. As a person lacking in the family department, such acts go a very long way, and make me really happy that I started this group 15 months ago, I’ve met some really nice people along the way.)