Lake Chalet

Atmosphere: 4/5   ♦   Service: 4/5   ♦   Food Quality: 4/5   ♦   Value:3/5
Times Visited: A Few  ♦   Will I Return?:  Yes!

Happy Birthday to me… this is where I chose to spend my birthday this year with my family. Where’s a nice place that’s close to Hayward (my fam lives in Hayward), not too terribly expensive (I’m not that kind of birthday girl) and has food that all four of my super picky fams will enjoy (sorry guys, you know it’s kinda true)? The Lake Chalet.

For Mom: Lake Chalet is classy and upscale with nice views of the lake and outdoor seating. For Dad: It’s got a “normal” seafood/steak menu with things that are just short of the “art food” he so dreads. For Sister: The bar is nice and serves cutesy drinks, and the delicious-sounding choices on the menu make it difficult for her to choose though she’ll probably be happy with whatever she gets.

And for me: it’s a nice place with good service and good food. There. Birthday done.

This particular Tuesday evening in July was one of the very few “hot” days we’ve gotten here in the SF Bay this year. The outdoor seating was in full swing, and while we had reservations, there was still going to be a 45 minute wait to be seated outside. Between the prospect of evening mosquitoes and suspecting that the cold would creep in as the night went on, I choose to sit inside at our reserved table (much to mom’s dismay I’m sure, but she kept on smiling since it was my birthday*).

Still with lake views, we took our seats at one of the many inside tables — the Lake Chalet is a huge facility with multiple dining areas, banquet facilities, a gondola dock, a gift shop, and two full bars (three if the outdoor seating is in effect). Perusing the menu, mom insisted that we order an appetizer. Who am I to object? We enjoyed their calamari which was crispy and delicious, along with a few of their signature cocktails.

For dinner, we had a variety of foods at the table. Mom went with Luis’ Chopped Chicken Salad, Dad had the Red Wine Braised Beef Short Rib, Sister got the Whole Roasted Cracked Crab, Boyfriend got an Ahi Tuna Burger with Fries, and I ordered the Roasted Sea Bass. It was quite a feast, please, enjoy with us:

Everyone enjoyed their meal thoroughly… I heard some rumblings from Dad regarding the short rib, but I don’t remember the issue. Perhaps the polenta wasn’t very flavorful? Sister’s crab was good but hardly “deconstructed to help with ease of eating” per the menu’s promises; there was still much wrenching and shiny-fingered picking to be had. My sea bass was wonderful, and Boyfriend’s ahi burger was great.

For dessert Mom grabbed some creme brulee and sister and I split a chocolate molten cake that was as heavenly as a birthday dessert should be. If nothing else, go for the molten cake.

Overall the evening was merry, the service was attentive (they even catered to our repeated whimsical moves back and forth from the patio to the indoor seating area), and the food was really good. I love the Lake Chalet and I’d highly recommend it.

*Which is funny, shouldn’t it be the mom who gets what they want on their kids’ birthday? I mean, she was really doing all the work that day. Although I guess I didn’t really have a choice in the matter.

Find Lake Chalet on here

Lake Chalet on Urbanspoon

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