Lunch 5/25/12

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Lemongrass chicken tacos
Nom Nom truck
Stanford, CA

Vietnamese fusion tacos, made with lemongrass chicken, daikon radish, cucumber, carrot, cilantro and some sort of chipotle sauce, on corn tortillas. It’s a very nice idea, well executed. I put a little hot sauce on it, but I think I would have preferred a little more chipotle instead. But, I will probably get it again.

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Lunch 5/20/2012: the Great Patty Melt Challenge

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Patty Melt and Fries
Joanie’s Cafe
Palo Alto, CA

The Great Patty Melt Challenge

The bread, the bread, the bread was perfect. Yes, perfect. Crunchy until the last bits, grilled with butter, great quality rye. Wow. And the onions, sliced well, with a generous portion – the whole circle slice, actually, and grilled until soft but not burnt. But everything else about the sandwich was subpar. I asked for it medium, and it was well done. And, while the patty was seasoned nicely, I still couldn’t get over eating beef that hard. It was served with a tasteless cheddar (two slices, but not gooey). I even tried to taste the cheddar, but nada flavor. And the fries were the typical cafe fry, with that slight breaded flavor, but they were over cooked or they needed to change the oil. As for the overall experience, there were so many major factors that were bad, I’m not sure such good bread could make up for it. Good bread, though.

On a side note: my server, Susan was a doll. She even suggested another place for me to try. Good job, Joanie.

Patty: 2
Cheese: 1
Onions: 3.5 (still a little stringy)
Bread: 4.5
Side: 1
Experience: 2

Overall: 2.33

Lunch 5/7: the Great Patty Melt challenge

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Patty Melt with greens
The Palo Alto Creamery
Stanford Shopping Center
Stanford, CA

The Great Patty Melt Challenge

This one was classically good with good quality ingredients, but by my standards, it was not a home run. While the quality of the patty was wonderful, it was also quite thick and greasy which diminished from the overall experience – the thicker the patty the more bread is left over and soggy, and therefore is rendered inedible. But, it sure tasted good. The cheese was average American, two slices, and the onions were nicely grilled, cut to a nice bite size. I think they know how to do grilled onions, since a lot of menu items come with them. Besides absorbing the grease from the patty, the bread was toasted to a nice crunch. I should have ordered the fries, to go with the classic diner experience, but my friend ordered Caribbean French toast, and I didn’t want to destroy my calorie count for the day. So, I ordered the greens, which I know are boring, but they were extra boring: just romaine lettuce, not a shaving of carrot or red cabbage in sight!

Patty: 2.5 (tasty but not the right size for this sandwich)
Cheese: 2.5
Onions:4.5
Bread: 4
Side: 1
Experience: 2.5

Overall: 2.83

Lunch 4/23/2012

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Patty melt with hash browns
Ann’s Coffee Shop
Menlo Park, CA

The Great Patty Melt Challenge.
This sandwich was quite different from the one I had on Saturday. The onions were nearly whole, and just barely softened, there were two slices of cheese to make it extra melty, and it was served on a dark rye, which was a little soggy. I really did not like how I had to bite through the onions. Some lady was watching me eat them rather messily and I could tell it was not a pretty sight. I had my choice of sides, but they didn’t have fries so I had hash browns. Those were ok, but probably not the best choice.

Scoring:
Patty: 3.5
Cheese: 4 (for extra melty)
Onions: 2
Bread: 2.5
Side: 2.5
Experience: 3

Overall: 2.92

The Great Patty Melt Challenge

I had an incredible patty melt this weekend. This led to another patty melt craving today, so I figured that I’d make a game out of it. I am now determined to find the best patty melt in the SF Bay area, and I’m calling it “The Great Patty Melt Challenge”.

Ok, for those of you who do not know what a patty melt is, it is an ooey gooey concoction that’s a cross between a sandwich and a hamburger. It’s a cooked hamburger patty, with American cheese and grilled onions on rye bread, grilled so that the cheese melts. It’s pretty simple, but every place I go seems to make it just a little bit different. What kind of rye bread, how much cheese, the thickness of the patty and the quality of the onions all contribute to how good of experience you can have while eating it. And, by analyzing it in these terms, as well as what the restaurants serve it with by default, I will unlock the mysteries on how to make an incredible patty melt.

Scoring will be on 5 point scale for each of the individual components: patty, cheese, onions, bread, plus the side dish and the experience as a whole. The score will be averaged out, for an overall score, and will be rounded to two decimal places. In the event of a tie, whichever sandwich that has the highest experience as a whole will win.

So, follow me as I seek to find the best patty melt around. It won’t be every post, but hopefully in a few months I’ll know where to go for that crunchy, melty, meaty goodness. And, if you follow me, you will too!

Lunch 4/21/2012

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Patty melt with fruit and cottage cheese
Jim’s Resaurant
Mission district, San Francisco, CA

The Great Patty Melt Challenge
Wow, this was good. I was pleasantly surprised that this came with fruit and cottage cheese, it was not a substitution, but the sandwich itself was good. It was not too greasy, the onions were unpretentious, and it had a flat hamburger patty, which made both a smaller portion and easier to eat. Oh, and the bread had a nice crunch I like, but lacked a little sharpness in the rye. Served in a real diner, not some throwback. How hipster, how Mission, how tumblr. But oh so good.

Scoring:
Patty: 4
Cheese: 3
Onions: 3.5
Bread: 3
Side: 4.5 (loved the fruit combo and the cottage cheese!)
Experience: 4.25

Overall: 3.71

Dinner 4/19/2012 (and a little movie review)

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Movie popcorn with butter, Dreyers mint n’ chip and cookies n’ cream ice cream on a waffle cone
Cinemark theaters to see Blue Like Jazz
Mountain View, CA

This movie was not your average movie, and junk food is not your average dinner. But sometimes, I need a break from average, and both this dinner and movie, Blue Like Jazz, got me and my companion out of my rut of normalcy. While we talked at length about life, doing faith in Jesus at Stanford, community and ministry and love over our ice cream (which really hit the spot, BTW) I realized something about this movie: it reminded me very much of my ice cream. Both are unpretentious (no pinkberry or fancy gelato for me, thankyouverymuch) and familiar. I’m a decade older than those students and I still understand the internal conflict of the protagonist. Sometimes I feel like I’m a generic mint n’ chip lost in a sea of Ben and Jerry’s array of endless flavors. Do I try to add Oreos with my cookies n’ cream to become like a B&J flavor, or do I just stand on my own? And my answer lied in my waffle cone: if I did, I’d become messy and fall out and melt. Then, no one would be happy, not even my lesbian friend. So, maybe I should accept that I’m mint n ‘ chip – cool and sweet with a touch of something that people crave – and let that truth permeate what I do, rather than try to be some crazy concoction to become more popular, even if it’s just for a season. This movie is modest, and portrays a common struggle with a triumphant ending, one that I’ve never seen on film before. I will definitely be having movie night with it. And, I’ll bring a pint if mint n’ chip to share.

Lunch 4/16/2012

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Pasta Alfredo with chicken, caesar-ish salad, garlic bread
Olives Cafe, Stanford
Stanford, CA

I’ve started riding my bike to work, so I had a craving for pasta (highly unusual). I was excited to find that Olives was really close to my class, so I went for their Monday pasta special. I was envisioning creamy, buttery goodness and I got not that. I mean, pasta is pasta, but they need an added richness to the sauce. On the bright side, it was $9 for the plate with a coffee (not pictured). Maybe next time I’ll try the falafel.