Press Release: 7 Squared Project

I was recently contacted by Kyle Garrett from Seven Summits Productions and told about a neat new venture called the 7 Squared Project. This is a bold project by two film makers who want to use their prowess with the camera to highlight 7 non-profits and 7 businesses in San Francisco with a crowd-funded mini-documentary series. Many of the featured businesses/non-profits are doing work that is geared towards food — Four Barrel Coffee, Heart of the City Farmers’ Market, La Cocina, Mission Pie, and the San Francisco Food Bank, to name a few (hence the reason I was interested in featuring this on B&C). If you’re still scratching your head, watch their short video on Indie-Gogo site and you’ll understand a lot better. Plus, exponents are pretty awesome, so I was excited right away.

7 squared

7 Squared Project

Per their press release:

The 7 Squared Project is a community-based fundraising campaign that aims to produce a series of mini-documentaries for fourteen organizations that are doing purposeful, socially responsible work in San Francisco.  Some of the organizations involved are up-and-coming enterprises, while others are already established staples of the city.  The project will be funded by donations from members of the community who want to support such worthy organizations.  In return, the organizations are providing a variety of incredible prizes in exchange for donations to the project.

The funding goal to produce the fourteen mini-documentaries is $49,000, a carefully chosen amount that equates to $3,500 per video.  This will cover production costs and allow the filmmakers and project creators, Amber Crosby and Kyle Garrett, to produce two mini-documentaries per month, beginning in September 2011.  Whether the project falls short of its funding goal or exceeds it, one video will be produced for every $3,500 raised from the campaign.  The 7 Squared Project hopes to produce more than the targeted fourteen mini-documentaries.”

So, if you read well, you’ll notice that these nice folks are hoping to raise a bit of cash for this adventure… and they’re a bit short at the moment. If you feel so inclined to support local film makers and their quest to expose (in a good way) socially responsible businesses and non-profits (may of which feed us yummy food), feel free to donate a buck or two, and tell your friends, too. I hope they can make some cool videos because I know I’d enjoy watching them. Documentaries are the best.

B&C Donation: $25. Booya.

The American Grilled Cheese

Atmosphere: 4/5   ♦   Service: 4/5   ♦   Food Quality: 4/5   ♦   Value:4/5
Times Visited: A Few  ♦   Will I Return?:  Yes!

This super-cute, San Francisco-worthy restaurant can be found serving up gourmet grilled cheese every day of the week just next to South Park at 2nd Street in SOMA. When a friend of mine first heard that I was going to be working in SOMA and that I’m a veggo, he promptly took me to The American. And for that, I am grateful.

The American is in a cute homey place with framed photos adorning the walls, lots of counter stools, and outdoor seating. They specialize in grilled cheese and make ‘em better than mom used to (sorry mom, but they’ve got Gruyère cheese, you know?). I love specialty shops like this that serve one thing and serve it with pizazz. And I love the word pizazz, just to let you know.

The majority of the menu consists of about a half-dozen grilled cheese sandwiches of different varieties (traditional, with ham, Mediterranean style, etc.) and a few soups and salads. In many respects I love a small menu because it makes choosing easier and quicker, and it gives me a feeling that the food they do offer will be done right. At The American, this holds true.

Granted it’s difficult to screw up a grilled cheese, but still. Fresh sourdough, melted cheeses, and add tomatoes or pickles for 50 cents each. Each order includes a piece of fresh fruit that seems to change with the seasons (it was strawberries the first time I went, an orange the last) and you can add a side salad or yummy tomato soup to put a bit more oomph into your lunch if you so choose. And, they have fresh lemonade and, I believe, a “lemonade of the day” every day. Yum!

On my last visit with Sean and Ryan (who insisted on being mentioned; I nearly had to fight them out of the photos) there were three sandwiches at the table: mine was the Mousetrap, the most traditional menu item with cheddar, havarti, and jack, to which I added pickles and tomatoes. It was crispy, crunchy (almost too much actually; I had the familiar soreness on the roof of my mouth reminiscent of childhood club sandwiches…), and deliciously cheesy inside.

Sean’s Piglet sandwich is a twist on a traditional ham and cheese using Tillamook sharp cheddar, artisan cured ham, apple mustard, and rosemary butter. He only had good things to say… between bites.

Ryan was a man of few words (I was only just getting to know him), but he seemed to enjoy his Feta Fetish sandwich that bypasses the traditional grilled cheese for a bit of Mediterranean flair: Crumbled feta, fontina, roasted eggplant, zucchini, and red bell peppers, Italian spices, and garlic butter. Yeah, yum.

And while no one ordered it this trip, I feel I would be remiss not to mention the Mushroom Gruyère sandwich which is totally amazing: fontina, Gruyère, roasted wild mushrooms + gold potatoes, melted leeks, caramelized onions, and thyme butter. This was the first sandwich I had from The American, and it totally got me hooked. So go ahead everyone, eat cheese and be merry.

Here is The American on Zagat:

My writeup of The Mousetrap sandwich was also featured on HeardAbout.com

The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Minami Sushi

Atmosphere: 3/5   ♦   Service: 4/5   ♦   Food Quality: 4/5   ♦   Value:3/5
Times Visited: One  ♦   Will I Return?:  Sure.

Three words: Japanese power ballads. I should end my review there, right? I feel like that’s enough to get anyone over to this small sushi restaurant in the Greenhouse Marketplace Shopping Center at Washington and Lewelling in San Leandro.

But let’s consider that you maybe think of running out of restaurants that boast Japanese power ballads. In that case, there’s the food.

On a Saturday night Minami has decent patronage, which is always a good sign. The menu selection is good: there is a huge appetizer list, lots of donburi bowls, sashimi plates, sushi rolls, and a huge list of gourmet sushi rolls (I love these; think deep fried sushi rolls). This is, of course, in addition to dinner selections (tempura, teriyaki, katsu), udon noodle bowls, bento boxes and dinner combinations.

The menu was almost too large for such a small place, but one thing that did strike me on their menu (since most Japanese restaurants have a similar selection) was the half-and-half dinner combso. I love being able to have a taste of everything, and I often Mr. Burns Disease* when checking out Japanese menus because I just can’t decide. This combo helped me out, and the Boyfriend and I both ordered it.


Seaweed and green salad.

The half-half dinner combo includes seaweed salad, regular salad, a small bowl of udon soup and a small order (a half order, to be exact) of one of their sushi bowls. Brilliant. Not that this is wholly original, really, but it’s still nice to see a good combo available. K ordered the Spicy Donburi and I the assorted raw fish over rice (Chirashi, it’s called) for our final course; the remainder of our meals were the same.


Dueling udons.

sushi bowl

Spicy tuna sushi bowl.


Sashimi bowl.

Everything was great. I love whatever salad dressing they use at Japanese restaurants, so good. The udon was delicious and the tiny sushi bowls were yummm. K loves his spicy tuna, and this was a pretty good one (although he idealizes the one from Luna such that it’s always the basis of comparison). My sashimi was delicious and I was really struggling to finish.


Sashimi bowl and udon soup for half-half dinner combo at Minami.

Additional points were that the service was lightning quick and that Minami is next door to San Leandro’s Loard’s Ice Cream, which is a wholly different experience from my normal Castro Valley location. More on that another time.

*This is a phrase we use in our house to mean that there are too many options or things happening at once to make a decision or move forward. We verbified** a condition that has kept Mr. Burns from the Simpsons alive past any reasonable age — he has so many ailments that they are all fighting to kill him at once. See video clip below for further medical clarification.

**Case in point, I’m verbifying the word verb.

Minami Sushi on Urbanspoon