L’Appart Resto


I decided to treat the husband last weekend to a tasty Sunday brunch (it was Father’s Day) so booked a reservation at a restaurant right in our downtown that we’d walked by many times but hadn’t tried. For some reason we thought it was too fancy or too expensive or too this or that.

We were wrong.

L’Appart Resto is welcoming, reasonably priced, and seriously kid-friendly. From the team that opened Le Garage in Sausalito, L’Appart Resto is a comfortable bistro-style restaurant that offers small plates, fresh salads, and substantial entrées that focus on showcasing simple French classics, big flavors, and seasonal and local ingredients. And the service is amazing. We enjoyed our brunch so much we decided to head there for dinner later in the week.

Along with having a well-rounded menu for brunch/lunch and dinner, L’Appart Resto also has a tasty kid’s menu that had our mouths drooling. Our daughter enjoyed her flaky ham and cheese pastry (we did too)…


The husband and I split the fresh melon soup studded with mint and other bright and fresh flavors…


My husband ordered the seasonal omelette, which was filled with goat cheese and savory fresh tomato basil concassé.

And I had soft-boiled eggs with toast points coated with decadent truffle cream.

It was amazing.


Later in the week there was a fun function downtown that I insisted the entire family attend, so we figured we’d head to L’Appart Resto for an early dinner. And once again we had an awesome dinning experience. We ordered the child-sized Kobe burger for our daughter, which was topped with ooey-gooey French cheese.

l-appart-restoInstead of ordering entrées, the hubs and I decided to taste test with a few small plates, including a bowl of luscious asparagus cream soup, along with a delicious beet salad that was studded with pistachios and French feta cheese.

l-appart-resto-beetsaladWe followed that with soft shell crab over a melon salad with smokey dressing…

l-appart-resto-softshellcrabAnd THE BEST Kobe beef tartar topped with a fresh quail egg.

l-appart-resto-kobetartarHere’s the deal — this is a kid-friendly restaurant that has phenomenal service, but that doesn’t mean the place is running with babes if you’re considering eating there for a romantic or kid-free meal. With indoor and outdoor seating, the restaurant is comfortable and welcoming. We didn’t feel rushed or pushed to try the specials or concerned our child was bothering others around us. The menu isn’t huge, but there are options for all tastes. From burgers to lobster, the prices run from $7 to $25 brunch/lunch and dinner.

Check out the menus before heading to L’Appart Resto, but both days we ate there, the specials sounded amazing — and were different (even in the same week). The most important thing? MAKE A RESERVATION.

Bon appétit!

*By the way, I wasn’t paid or bribed or enticed in any way to write this post by L’Appart Resto. I simply wanted to share my wonderful dining experience(s) at this restaurant with you. 

The Steakhouse Grill & Bar at Deer Park Villa

It was my husband’s birthday over a month ago and we just never really got around to doing anything about it. We were down south, and while enjoying some time with family, had hopes of going out for dinner on our own one night, but it just didn’t happen. So when we received a generous coupon from the Steakhouse Grill & Bar at Deer Park Villa in Fairfax, California (buy one entree, get one free!) in recognition of his special day, we wanted to make sure to take advantage of it. But, you know, life happens and, before we knew it, the expiration date was the next day. We called to make reservations, checked if they were kid-friendly, and decided to give it a try.

I’ve driven by this place several times and always thought it was a private club or hoity-toity steak house. But, upon arrival, we were drawn into the restaurant by the beautiful grove of redwoods and lovely landscaping.

Steakhouse Grill and Bar at Deer Park Villa1
Steakhouse Grill and Bar at Deer Park Villa2

We chose to sit out on the deck and were walked through the brightly-lit and jovial bar to the outdoor patio area, which was covered for the season. We sat under a wonderfully warm heat lamp and were then left to peruse the menu.

Steakhouse Grill and Bar at Deer Park Villa3

Since the place is a steak house we obviously opted for steak and then sat sipping adult drinks while the tot enjoyed some fresh bread and listened to a guy quietly playing acoustic guitar in the corner. Our waiter was attentive and friendly, even as the dinning area began to fill. We ordered macaroni and cheese for our daughter as soon as we sat down and it was delivered to the table within 10 minutes. And it was wonderfully homemade and seriously ooey-gooey. Our steaks arrived not long after she had become engrossed in her dinner.

I’d love to share pictures of our dinners, but I learned something very interesting while documenting this tasty meal.

Steaks don’t photograph well in low-light.

You’ll just have to believe me. The steaks were delicious. Not just “good” delicious — they were the best-steak-you’ve-ever-eaten delicious. Perfectly seasoned, perfectly cooked, and not hidden under sauces, wrapped in bacon, or topped with butter. These steaks were simply the best.

So good.

The dinner was finished with a big scoop of ice cream that came with our tot’s meal, and, by the time the last bit was licked from the bowl, we had enjoyed a fantastic family dinner at a fancy restaurant that lasted just about an hour and a half!

I’ll be honest, if we hadn’t have received the buy-one get-one coupon, we probably wouldn’t have ever checked the restaurant out. The steaks are delicious and the service is awesome, and you’re looking at $10 to $30+ per person for dinner entrees, which means there’s something for every taste. The kid menu was priced very resonably and offered pastas, burgers, and grilled cheese. And what’s awesome is the Steakhouse Grill & Bar has a tasty half-pound Angus cheeseburger that is amazingly priced under $10.

We look forward to eating at the Steakhouse Grill & Bar again sometime soon — and not waiting for a special day as a reason. We’re saving up to head back simply because the food was awesome, the ambiance fantastic, and it’s totally worth it.

*Just so you know, I wasn’t compensated to write this review. I did it because I really enjoyed eating at this restaurant.

Lunch at Anchor & Hope in San Francisco


Yesterday we were treated to a holiday lunch at the Anchor & Hope by some wonderful friends. My husband’s known this couple for almost 20 years, and has been working with his buddy for over 10. It was a true treat for us to drop the tot off at preschool and then head into the city for this special gathering, and I was looking forward to a tasty lunch (and maybe a mid-day glass of wine — total indulgence!).

Known for their tasty fish dishes, the restaurant is tucked on Minna street and has an ample seating area and a bar for patrons. We had a noon reservation, and when we got there (after struggling to find parking!) the place was packed. Before I even had a moment to look at the menu, a beautiful selection of oysters, perfectly poached shrimp, fresh clams, crab and lobster salad, and a variety of house sauces was placed on our table.



From here we sampled more delicious oysters and also sipped an amazing bottle (or two) of wine.


While watching the food come out of the kitchen it looked like the lobster roll sandwich was the thing to order, and our party ordered their share — along with the seared salmon sandwich (which I ordered).


Then it was time for coffee and dessert, which was also absolutely delicious. In fact the cup of coffee that my husband ordered (that I sipped too) was one of the best cups of coffee I’ve had ever.




But the best thing about our lunch was the amazing service. Our waiter was wonderfully attentive without being overbearing and the rest of the staff filled water glasses and removed plates like silent serving ninjas, making us feel like we were the only table in the place, which we weren’t. The place was packed, and from the smiling and approving faces seen around the restaurant, everyone else was having an awesome time too.

While checking out the dinner menu, which wasn’t much different than the lunch offerings, I had no doubt that the restaurant would be packed again in only a few hours with patrons that would continue streaming in until closing. But, I would suggest hitting Anchor & Hope for lunch — with a reservation of course. You can sit and enjoy a leisurely mid-day meal, without feeling rushed, and not bust the bank. Sandwiches run around $15 to $24, with lunch entrees over $18. And you have to order a few oysters (starting at $2 each), which are shucked perfectly and seriously tasty.

Plan on parking at the garage on Howard and 2nd (which ran us $9) and metered parking is free after 6pm and on Sundays. You’ll love the energy of the restaurant, the fantastic staff, and the sensational fish.

Dinner at Terrapin Crossroads

So this place opened awhile ago and my husband is in love. Phil Lesh and an amazing team of people transformed what once was The Seafood Peddler into the new Terrapin Crossroads. Along with space for concerts, there’s a revamped bar, a new menu, and a nice and bright look in the restaurant. The hubs has been enjoying the shows (and I a few quiet nights to watch the movies that I want to watch) so it’s worked out pretty well. I’ll be honest — I kind of thought the place might be a big ol’ collection of Grateful Dead stuff with a loop of Terrapin Station playing over and over again.


I was wrong.

The husband offered to take the tot and I out for dinner the other night before he went to a show and I was blown away. The interior is just beautiful with a sweeping staircase and funky decor. A sitting area is right at the front with comfy couches and chairs along with a big collection of toys and stuff for the kids to play with. The bar was packed and the sun streamed through the glass back wall. Families were sitting in the oversized booths and others outside on the patio. We had a table overlooking the waterway and watched as boats lazily floated by.


I ordered a glass of wine and we realized it was the first time we had gone out to dinner with the tot (at least that we could remember) and we were prepared for things to go down hill fast. But then we were brought a fun coloring sheet, a small package of crayons, and water in a plastic cup. The servers were totally on top of the kid-freindly thing and we put in her food order first so she would be occupied when ours arrived. The menu isn’t huge, but we picked a couple of things to try…..

The food was out of control. HUGE portions, amazing flavor, homemade and local or organic, and served by an amazing waiter.

We sat and leisurely enjoyed a dinner while the tot ate every last bite of her meal. It was awesome.

Terrapin Crossroads

Terrapin Crossroads

Terrapin Crossroads

Terrapin Crossroads

Terrapin Crossroads

Terrapin Crossroads

Terrapin Crossroads

Terrapin Crossroads

Terrapin Crossroads

*Wondering what we ate? We started with beet salad and stuffed squash blossoms and then had the roasted shrimp and a tasty burger. The tot had homemade cheese sticks and big bites of everything else.




Drakes Bay Oysters

For the last couple of days we’ve had guests. Friends of ours, from while we lived outside of Philadelphia, made a trek to the great state of California to visit with people from south to north. We’ve had a wonderful few days packed with sharing our favorite things – and Drakes Bay Oysters are at the top of the list. Tucked in West Marin, Drakes Bay Oysters is just off winding Sir Francis Drake Boulevard in Point Reyes National Seashore and offers fresh, sustainably farmed oysters to take home or fresh shuck and enjoy at one of their many picnic tables. There’s been a bit of drama over the last year with concerns the spot could be  shut down due to its location on national park land. Anyone who’s ever had one of these delectable goodies fully understands how this cannot be allowed to happen…

No, the tot didn’t toss one back – but we did catch her sucking down some yummy oyster juice…

Do you know the way to San Jose…..

Today has been a day. After waking with the sun (and the tot), the hubs and I did some research hunting for a fun and tasty restaurant near the San Jose airport. Why? Let’s just say we had a good friend flying in from the east coast and had a few hours to hang in San Jose.

Being from a bit more north than San Jose, we had no idea where to start.

When I did the initial search, In-N-Out, Chevron, and Mc D’s popped up, which aren’t the best locations for a leisurely and flavorful lunch, and introduction to the (extended) Bay Area for our friend.

As we headed out, I channeled my inner positivity and super-duper wished for something amazing to be hiding around-and-about the San Jose International (yeah, that’s right, International) airport.

And, then, there it was. Lillie Mae’s House of Soul Food.

Smoke was billowing in the sky and you could smell it. SMELL IT.

A hut of a place on the side of the airport beckoned us off the road. Sure, you could still see the air traffic control tower from the parking lot. Yes, the planes were just barely buzzing over the roof of the restaurant. Yup, the place looked like it might fall over…

But, in the time we waited for our friend to get himself off the plane and into his rental car, the parking lot over-loaded with cars and people and families and more cars of people continuously charging into the place. With a bit of outdoor seating, Lillie Mae’s has enough space to maybe sit 75 (and a staff that has no clue what’s going on) and food that will leave you thinking about it days later.

The guys out back were basting and turning the ribs, the bustling staff behind the tall bar (in front of the awesomely big fish tank) fresh-fryed the crispy cornmeal coated catfish by order, and someone somewhere was making the most amazing mac-n-cheese you will ever have ever – just ethereal. Because it was one of their first Sunday buffet seatings (and half of the restaurant was reserved for a private birthday party) no one really seemed to know what was happening, but it all worked out.

Fried chicken. BBQ ribs. Corn on the cob. Mac-n-cheese. CORNBREAD. Biscuits and gravy. Fried catfish. FRIED CATFISH. And more. Yes, I know. You are wondering why I don’t have pictures of the food to share. (I totally forgot because I was in food nirvana.)

The place was packed beyond packed.  You can get a beer or a soda at the House of Soul Food, order at the counter for take-out or eat-in, or watch the game on the big-screen TV. This place is literally next-door to the airport and it kicks In-N-Out’s ass any day.

So the next time you fly into the San Jose International airport, are picking someone up, or in the area for any reason, stop in to Lillie Mae’s House of Soul Food and try a brisket platter or sample some biscuits and gravy. Make it a Sunday destination for the ($20 a plate but worth it) Sunday Brunch Buffet. Get some ribs that will make your hands smell all day…

This place is out of control.

For reals.

Sunday spectacular: Oxbow Market, Napa

This week has been pretty crazy at our house. I had a couple of free days and decided to completely dedicate myself to the tot and potty training. It was time – but she needed me to put the darn computer down and pay attention.

So I did.

And we had a great time going to the potty every 20-minutes.


I also decided I wasn’t going to change our daily routine to work around the whole potty training thing. I just assumed my tot would go on the potty no matter where we were.

I had no idea that public restrooms are the total scariest things ever to a toddler. All those people, so much noise, and that whole being-confined-in-a-small-space thing.

Today the husband was going a bit bonkers hanging around the house and suggested a drive. I gave him a look, and he reminded me we made it out and about for a couple of hours the other day without any accidents…..

We loaded up and headed out to the Oxbow Market in Napa. It’s kind of a mini-mall for foodies. There’s a spice shop, specialty coffee, bakeries, a fish monger, oysters, cheese, ice cream, chocolates, and RESTAURANTS.

While strolling around and waiting for our tasty lunch, we headed to the bathroom – with no success.

I figured a little bribery was in order.

To the delight of any other’s ears in that public restroom I yelled out…

“If you want one of those super yummy cupcakes I better hear some potty right now!”

Let’s just say someone got that cupcake.

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

© Sarah Lipoff 2011



Sunday spectacular: Anniversary

It just so happens it was our anniversary this week. And when there’s some sort of special occasion, we jump in the car and head to one of our most-favorite-fancy-smancy-celebration restaurants.


We headed off with tot in tow and hoped for the best.

Amazingly the babe was fairly well behaved and enjoyed her fabulous macaroni gratin while the hubs and I stuffed our faces.

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

Sunday spectacular: Addendum

I got a bit of good news late Friday afternoon, and to celebrate, the husband offered to take me to a fancy-schmancy lunch. We both had been wanting to try out Thomas Keller‘s latest addition to his takeover of Yountville – Addendum. There’s not much to say other than it was out of this world amazing. There are only two menu items to pick from, you’re nestled in a little grove of redwood trees amongst the gardens full of veggies and herbs the restaurants use for artfully creating the food, and it’s totally kid friendly.


© Sarah Lipoff 2011

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

After we placed our order and found a nice redwood picnic table to sit, the tot and I wandered the gardens. Within 10-minutes, our food was delivered to us by some of the happiest servers around. The husband and I couldn’t decide which we liked better, the fried chicken or the brisket, but I’m going to have to lean just a bit more toward that savory, tangy, succulent beef. The chicken had obviously been soaked for days and days in the best buttermilk around, because the texture… the FLAVOR…. the juiciness! And everything had a wonderful fresh touch with the addition of rosemary.

Sure, it might be the most cash you ever toss down for fried chicken in your life, but it’s totally worth it. And to be able to kick back and watch your tot happily run about the gardens and grass makes things even better.

If you are in the area, or planning a visit to Napa, check out Addendum. It’s a great way to have a taste of what Thomas Keller has to offer without really paying the big bucks at the French Laundry or waiting in the always-there-line at the Bouchon Bakery.



Monday spectacular: What to do on a holiday

My husband had the day off today, as did many others in the out-of-home work world. As a mostly stay at home (work from home) mama, there are never days off. So, when the husband said he was ready for an adventure, we loaded up the car and made the decision to drive toward the water in hopes of clear skies and empty roads.

That’s a big wish for where we live.

You see the weather around Northern California can be interesting. While one area is nice and toasty with sun, 5 miles in any direction can lead to fog, cold, and drizzle – especially near the ocean. And, we all forget that fog is there, so the minute our little microclimate is cloud-free, we load up in our cars and head to the beach, only to find it’s cold and windy.

Not beach weather.

We opted for skirting the beach and heading up curvalicious Highway 1 to a spot we’d driven by a couple of times in the past to check it out.


Sure, the prices were a bit steep ($8 and up – average about $15 per person for lunch and $20+ for dinner), and pretty much everything is fried, but the oysters are amazing. I ordered the hot oyster sandwich and when it arrived, was a bit disappointed by the buttered toasted white bread and skimp-o leaf of lettuce holding five plump and fried oysters topped with another toasted slice of white bread.

But simplicity won on this one.

There was barely any coating on those barely fried oysters resulting in an amazing pop and slurp of fresh oyster flavor in every bite. We also opted to sit in the back of the restaurant right next to the stack of fresh oysters and the grill master who filled the orders as he got them and delivering the steaming goodies on paper plates.

The clam chowder was really tasty and we had to wrestle it away from the tot to even get a few spoonfuls for ourselves. I would’ve gotten some pics of the food, but really, it wasn’t much to look at – and we were too busy savoring every bite.

Just as we finished lunch the fog burned off and we found the perfect spot to sit and enjoy the sun before driving back home.

How was your Labor Day?

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

© Sarah Lipoff 2011