Monthly Archives: October 2011

Laili Restaurant Review

On Friday night Andrew and I ventured into downtown Santa Cruz to catch a movie at the Riverfront Twin. We were planning on seeing 50/50 since we’re Joseph Gordon Levitt fans and Seth Rogen is generally amusing. We eschewed the typical pizza, taqueria, or falafel choices that we usually make and decided to check out a restaurant that’s been around for about a year: Laili. It is located on Cooper Street where I believe there used to be an apothecary, but I’m not certain. They have indoor and outdoor space; we chose to sit outdoors since the weather was nice and indoors was fairly noisy and dark. The patio area is beautiful: ivy growing everywhere, tea lights, etc. The only way you were reminded that you were next to Pacific Ave were the drummers outside of O’Neil’s which quieted down about fifteen minutes after being seated.

 

Afghan Chai

The waitress got our drinks ordered quickly: Andrew ordered a beer (typical) and I ordered a chai (also typical). Our drinks came quickly and then we ordered our appetizers and entrees. The chai was an Afghan chai, sweeter and not as spicy as Indian chai. It was also pinkish in color. I really enjoyed it and it had these beautiful bubbles on top that I really wanted to photograph.

While we were enjoying our beverages, a waitress came by and tried to give us someone else’s entrees. Then another waitress came by and dropped off an appetizer that we didn’t order, but we couldn’t exactly remember the names of what we ordered so we started eating it anyway. The Pumpkin Boranee is stewed pumpkin, qurut yogurt, mint, and garlic. It was a very pretty dish that sounded good, but the texture of the stewed pumpkin was slimy and stringy.

Pumpkin Boranee

Next came the appetizers that we did order: the Silk Road Plate and the Pumpkin Bolani. The Silk Road Plate was a selection of hummus, tabbouleh, babaghanoush, and cucumber yogurt dip with “naan”. Their idea of naan was not typical of the naan that I’ve had: it was simply a flour tortilla grilled, completely tasteless and not naan. The hummus was good and the pumpkin bolani was absolutely delicious, crispy on the outside and sweet, spicy pumpkin on the inside. Along with our appetizers, we ordered a prawn salad with arugula, fennel, seasonal fruits, and pomegranate vinaigrette. This was a completely overpriced salad with (18 dollars) with about six prawns, the pomegranate vinaigrette that did not taste of pomegranate at all, and maybe about three strawberries. ¬†Total disappointment.

 

For our entrees, I ordered Chicken Kabob and Andrew ordered Anar Chicken. The chicken kabob was moist and tender unlike a lot of chicken kabobs that I’ve had. It was served with saffron rice, steamed vegetables that were overcooked and undercooked (a definite low point in the meal), and several different chutneys that really helped add flavor to the meat which was slightly bland. The Anar Chicken was a half roasted chicken with pomegranate sauce, roasted potatoes, and mixed vegetables. Andrew said it was very good.
 Anar Chicken with Roasted Potatoes

Chicken Kabob with Saffron Rice

The service was definitely off. They tried to serve us food that wasn’t ours, served us food that wasn’t ours which we ate anyway, and there was nearly forty-five minutes between being served our apps and being served our entrees. The staff were friendly when they did stop by, but they were simultaneously overattentive and not attentive enough. Overall, the food was good, the service mediocre, and definitely overpriced for the amount of food and quality of that food.

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Breakfast at the Eagle Cafe, Pier 39

Despite a rather close proximity to the city, I hardly ever venture up to San Francisco. This weekend however afforded me with the time, opportunity, and motivation to to go the city. My sister was at a geographer’s conference near the Fishermen’s Wharf and I decided I would go up to have breakfast with her.

We walked around the area, which is the most tourist driven part of the city in a city that is a tourist magnet, trying to find a place that did not look like it belonged in Disneyland. Unfortunately, this was a mission impossible and we ended up at the Eagle Cafe on Pier 39, which is like main street at Disneyland, but instead of the nauseating smells of cotton candy and fried food, it smells of fish guts and horse manure.

The restaurant is on the second floor of one of the first buildings. It claims to be historic. I’m not sure how historic it is, but many of the buildings in San Francisco are. Perhaps some of the seats have great views of the bay, ours did not.

I ordered the Crab Cake Eggs Benedict, something I would not normally order, but this was a special event: my sister was “in town” and it was part of my birthday weekend. Denise ordered the Griddled Banana Pancakes topped with pecans and brown sugar.

The crab cakes were piping hot, crunchy on the outside, and smooth on the inside with excellent seasoning and a uniform texture. I hate crab cakes that are dry or have crunchy raw onion bits in them. These were neither of those things. The eggs had the largest yolks I have ever seen and our waitress even asked how hard I wanted them. They were perfectly cooked. I could not have asked for a better poached egg. The consistency of the hollandaise was spot on, not too thin and not too thick. The English muffins were huge, but were the correct size to support the crab cake and poached egg. In addition, there were home fries, which were good, and watermelon with a couple slices of orange. There was some strange fried spaghetti garnish that really had no place on the plate, but otherwise it was a wonderful meal.

Denise enjoyed her pancakes and said that they had a hint of orange that helped cut through the fattiness of the bananas.

In all it was a very good trip to San Francisco. I got to see my sister for the first time in months, the weather was great, and the ride to the city was beautiful and short. I took highway 1 up from Santa Cruz through Half Moon Bay, barely hitting any traffic on the way up. On the way back, I encountered a traffic jam in HMB, doubling the amount of time it took me to get to San Francisco.