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|March 6-12, 2008
• Heart-healthy replacements
Substitutions are key to transforming American diets
by Ana Veciana-Suarez
• Food Bites
Food Happening Around Town
Restaurant room service
Q’s has A’s for weary travelers and hungry locals alike
by Clay Fong
Hotel breakfasts can be a mixed bag. Staying at a Bay Area motel, I enjoyed an Asian-influenced breakfast with freshly cooked rice and briny, tiny dried fish. The little swimmers were tasty, although not without alarming qualities, as their desiccated eyes would unnervingly fall out of their heads and embed themselves between rice grains. Elsewhere I’ve suffered through oatmeal with a texture more suitable for masonry than human consumption and rubbery overcooked eggs presented in a Petri dish, unworthy even of Fawlty Towers. Another knock against many hotel breakfasts is their pricing — typically the cost is more appropriate for an exiled military strongman who’s just looted the national treasury than it is for a budget-minded family.
Walking into Q’s Restaurant at the Boulderado Hotel for an early morning repast with visiting family, I was less worried about errant eyeballs than extortionate prices. Certainly the tasteful contemporary oil paintings of heirloom produce (kabocha squash, anyone?), white tablecloths and generally elegant atmosphere made it abundantly clear we weren’t in Denny’s anymore.
I was pleasantly surprised when I examined the menu. Although the prices weren’t at the Grand Slam level, they still passed the straight face test, as one could still get a decent meal for about $10. One unique aspect of Q’s menu is the availability of non-traditional breakfast choices, such as quesadillas and clam chowder. One suspects these selections are targeting either the jet-lagged or the hedonistic reveler coming off an all-night bender.
Although my sister fits in neither one of those categories, she opted for a $9.50 plate of grilled asparagus accompanied by polenta, prosciutto and wild mushroom dressing. The earthy flavor of the dressing was pleasantly underscored by a vinegary bite. The ham’s creamy marbling, coupled with crisp, crusted polenta, complemented the al dente asparagus stalks with respect to both flavor and texture.
My niece, the 8-year old polymath and the world’s most finicky eater, had the $7 granola. Q’s version doesn’t scrimp on the good stuff as it was heavily laden with sliced almonds, dried fruit, fresh bananas and full-bodied plain yogurt. She devoured much of her bowl, paying special attention to the banana.
Slightly less successful was my brother-in-law’s $12 salmon eggs benedict. It was a studied mix of poached egg, smoked fish and lemon Tabasco hollandaise, which was indistinguishable from the unadorned version of this sauce. This entrée was competently executed, but nothing to write home about, especially since the salmon had an overly strong fishy flavor.
I faired better with a $11 spinach and goat cheese scramble. The not-too-tangy chevre had a puffy, cloud-like consistency and played off the tender texture of the eggs. The petite spinach leaves lightened things up and counterbalanced the slightly salty home fries. The surprise star of the show was the accompanying cherry cream cheese scone which combined the best attributes of the fruit with suave veins of cheese. Honey butter didn’t detract from the experience either.
Q’s offers up a solid breakfast at a fair price. Our experience was further enhanced by our pleasant and efficient server, who consistently kept our coffee topped off. Oddly enough, I discovered that she attended the same California elementary school that I did. This revelation was definitely a more pleasant surprise, than say, having fish eyes fall into one’s morning meal.
Clay’s obscurity corner
What are those dried fish anyway?
My first encounter with dried fish with loose eyeballs was yet another in a long line of childhood food-related traumas. My Mom offered them up over rice for dinner one night, and my sister and I, to put it clinically, freaked out. These were truly tiny fish, not much bigger than a matchstick. To this day, I can’t specifically identify what sort of fish they were — it’s possible they were iriko, Japanese dried anchovies. But I’m unconvinced these were Japanese fish, and I suspect they might be immature smelt or dace.
2115 13th St.,
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