It’s Sunday night (obv). Hook is scanning his CD collection, looking for absences to be included as wishes on his Xmas list. I’m straight bummin’, sipping some Two-Buck Chuck, halfheartedly watching an ueberrerun of “Forensic Files.” (Note: You Know You Watch Too Much Forensic Files When…) Indeed, it was an utterly satisfying weekend, one containing the perfect balance of activity and inactivity, barhopping and philanthropic goings-on. This week/weekend, Hook’s friend Carlos was visiting from St. Louis and we showed him a rollickingly good time (I hope! Carlos, if you’re reading this, I hope you had a kick-ass visit!).
A main facet of hosting is taking one’s guest to the best eateries one can think of*, and Hook’s Friday night plan was outstanding. H brought our merry group to Schroeder’s in the Financial District, one of the oldest beer halls on the West Coast. (Note: I’m not sure how many West Coast beer halls are currently in existence, and consequently I’m not able to validate the “impressiveness” of this claim.) H. and I visited Schroeder’s our first (and only) time before seeing a movie at Embarcadero Center; the restaurant’s proximity to the theater and my strong, nostalgia-driven preference for German food made Schroeder’s an obvious choice.
I’m sad to say that Schroeder’s food wasn’t as good as my memory led me to believe it would be. I ordered Kaesespaetzle, which came with a side of green salad (Grunensalat) and a small order of German potato salad and coleslaw. The potato salad, though lacking in acidity, hit the spot (the carb spot, that is); the coleslaw was bland but mercifully underdressed. Green salad was basic: crisp, garnished with a few out-of-season tomatoes, and lightly dressed with a pleasantly tangy vinaigrette. What of the spaetzle, you ask? Ehhhhhhh. The spaetzle proper — house made — would have been tasty, had it not been slathered in freaking American cheese food product. Seriously? Oh, seriously. Here’s an overexposed pic of the spaetzle, lest you doubt my recounting of the meal:
That said, others enjoyed their meals. Hook got the Kielbasa with Rotkohl and potatoes; the Kielbasa was juicy and flavorful (and awesome with horseradish). Tarak enjoyed his Currywurst, and Carlos expressed neither delight for nor disdain toward his meal. Bottom line: Schroeder’s is excellent for imported beers, less-than-excellent for spaetzle, and flat-out awful for anyone on Atkins/counting calories/avoiding animal products.
After a late night in North Beach, waking at 11:00 the next morning to an empty fridge, Hook and I were hungry and virtually optionless! OK, I’m exaggerating — we weren’t totally without options, but our 1) extreme hunger; 2) lack of a car; and 3) pressing afternoon obligations (I was volunteering for the Bike Coalition, H. had some Bubble Bobble to play) required that we get food — and fast. Enter McDonald’s. I’m not a fan and Hook has a guilty, semi-secret love for the Chicken Selects. I’m sad to say that on Saturday, December 5th, I ate McDonald’s for the first time in approximately one year, three months. (Note: I last ate McDonald’s on August 24, 2009, upon leaving Winnemucca, NV. It was the last day of my x-country drive to California and McDonald’s was the only restaurant I encountered in 50 miles of driving. So.)
What to order? At BK, at Taco Bell, at Waffle House, I have a go-to dish. At McDonald’s? No such luck. I so rarely visit Mickey D’s (and hold the restaurant in such low esteem compared to other fast food joints) that I don’t have a regular order. Saturday, I got the Quarter Pounder Meal (or “QPC” with fries). The fries were surprisingly tasty — uniformly golden, crisp, and ultra salty! The burger, I think, had spent a little too long in the warming tray. It had the texture of heat-fused industrial carpet.
On the whole, my McDo’s meal rated 2.1 out of 5.0 stars. The Diet Coke was fizzy and cold, the fries were pretty damn good (I admit with reluctance), and the burger was edible in that I ate it and didn’t get sick. Like Morgan Spurlock in his documentary that propelled him to quasi-stardom, I felt nauseated after consuming my Super Value Meal; unlike Spurlock, I did not crave more McDo’s after initial consumption.
Sunday brought a far classier dining experience in the form of Burma Superstar, where we had a late dinner after spending two hours at House of Air. Our trampolining left us exuberant, sweaty, and famished; I readily shared a pitcher of Burma Coolers with Hook and Drew. Hook got his all-time favorite dish (chili lamb) with a side of cardamom rice. Feeling adventurous — especially after all those mid-air almost-splits! — I tried something new: the fiery tofu with lamb. Holy god, was it good. Atop a flattened bed of cardamom-infused rice, the lamb and tofu left a slow burn at the back of my mouth. The string beans and red peppers sautéed with the proteins had just enough crunch left to make their inclusion pleasant.
Still a bit hongry after our chowdown, H and I split a slice of flourless chocolate cake topped with candied ginger. My thoughts? Meh — and that’s a fighting word coming from a self-admitted chocolate lover. The cake’s flavor was pale — hardly chocolately — and its crumb was dry! Hook and I agreed that our slice would have benefited from a scoop of ginger ice cream. (Note: Our mild disappointment with said cake didn’t prevent us from eating it all. Hey! We’d just done an hour and a half of moderate-to-difficult cardio: what can I say?)
Were I to classify the narrative arc of this weekend’s meals, I’d classify it as “bachelor eating.” The prominence of alcohol, highly processed meats [er, meat products], salt, and other, um, macronutrients seems fitting for a group who perhaps doesn’t cook often, who craves a “stable base” for long nights at the bar, and so on. But you know what? I enjoy a weekend of bachelor eating once in a while — it reminds me of my own bachelor days.
*Well, mostly. Hook tried to provide ‘Los a diverse and tasty cross-section of SF’s dining scene, but certain eateries were rendered “out of the picture” due to time and geographic constraints, as is typically the case.