Anyone who lives in or near Menlo Park has more than likely been to (or at least heard of or driven by) Cafe Borrone. It’s a family-owned restaurant doing everything from waffles to open-face turkey melts to salads, soups, pasta and more. This year, they opened a sister restaurant called Borrone MarketBar in a smaller space next door. The verdict: delicious, unique and hard to believe it’s a Menlo Park restaurant. It’s a little fancier than Cafe Borrone (I.M.H.O.) and more of a special occasion dinner, though the prices are pretty good for what you get. Solid portions and very, very well done food. They also have various prepared foods available for take out (housemade pasta, salads, marinated meats, desserts, etc.). To top it all off, they have a beautiful oyster bar, lovely outdoor seating (well set back from El Camino and near the train station so it’s its own quiet haven) and a full liquor license.
I particularly enjoyed a proscuitto/burrata/grilled leeks appetizer plate, crab spaghetti and a gin fizz, but everything was excellent. Make sure you save room for dessert; the bombolone are out of control (see below).
Hollow is the definition of a hidden gem. It’s the tiniest of cafes, nestled on Irving and 15th in the Sunset where all you think you might find is authentic dim sum and Vietnamese food. But then there’s Hollow, which after visiting I might say is the cutest cafe in all of San Francisco. It’s postage-stamp sized but manages to pack a lot to its punch: coffee, tea, homemade vanilla marshmallows, cinnamon bun biscuits, Guinness cupcakes, candles, trinkets and a perfect Saturday or Sunday morning vibe.
The classic chocolate chip cookie gets so much less credit than it deserves. So does Anthony’s Cookies, a low-key, under-the-radar cookie shop in the Mission. Whoever Anthony is, he’s doing something right.
Anthony’s Cookies // 1417 Valencia St., San Francisco
In my city, mouth and digestive system. Needless to say, I was immediately infected by the cronut craze that started with Dominique Ansel’s magical pastry hybrid creation a few months ago and have been dying to try the thing itself. I was encouraged by the knockoffs popping up everywhere – on the East Coast, in the South, and finally, in San Francisco two weeks ago. And then I heard Paris Baguette in downtown Palo Alto was making their own version, called the NYC Croissant Donut.
I don’t particularly like Paris Baguette (that’s a nice way of putting it) but I knew I had to see what all the hype was about. It wasn’t going to be any Dominique Ansel product, but how bad can any deep-fried sweet be?
Not bad. After dropping in yesterday (silly me) to pick up a cronut and being told that Paris Baguette only sells these puppies at 11:30 a.m. at 2 p.m. and, not only that, you have to call to pre-order a minimum of two before those times. They were obviously already sold out for the day, so I called this morning and placed my order.
The verdict: Delicious, but way, way too rich. There’s not only that custard squiggle on top, but also lots o’ custard inside (see oozing above). The custard was too sweet and took away from the rest of the pastry. But otherwise, it was pretty great. Quite the indulgence, needless to say.