I’ve had BBQ from a truck…and it is good.

“People want good food for less than 10 bucks.”

And with that, brothers Brett (a classically trained chef) and Nate (“front of the house”) Neibergall closed up their San Francisco restaurant, Frisee, and set up culinary shop in a food truck.  It’s less glamorous, yes, but the food is damn tasty and reaching much more of the masses.

These Texas born, Carolinas-raised boys know their BBQ.  But getting Southern Sandwich Co. up and running, as all food truck vendors know, has been a challenge.  The permits, repairs, and inspections to get their business going in San Francisco has been never-ending.  Which is why they decided to drive down to Redwood City to give their business a test run.

Their BBQ is distinctive in that the preparation and ingredients are gourmet, indeed.  The quality is evident and the flavors are very specific to their background.

The Carolina Pulled Pork Sandwich is tangy, vinegary and distinctively spiced.  I LOVE a tangy BBQ much more than a sweet sauce, so I was loving this.  And just like they do in the Carolinas, they threw some coleslaw onto the sandwich.  The added tang, freshness and crunch was perfect for this gourmet BBQ.

The Texas-style Beef Brisket had a lot going for it too.  The meat was tender, juicy, perfectly pink and had a nice smoky blackened crust and melt in your mouth buttery fat.  The meat-lover in me was in heaven.  Smoky caramelized onions rounded out the sandwich perfectly.

Add to that some spicy, peppery macaroni salad and some pork and beans (serious meat is in these beans and they’re fantastic), and you’ve got a sandwich and two sides for 8 bucks.  And trust me, you won’t be left hungry.

I know these guys have their sights set on San Francisco (they’re already at Off the Grid in Fort Mason every Friday), but I REALLY hope they stay true to Redwood City at least once a week.  This is going to become an addiction, I can tell.

And by the way, the pork and beans are Brett’s favorite.  “They’re made with love,” he says, and you can taste it.

Southern Sandwich Co. – @southrnsandwich for daily location updates – www.southernsandwich.com

Redwood City’s Michelin Recommendation

I’ve frequently complained that superior service and truly inventive cuisine just doesn’t exist on the Peninsula.  If you’re a career waiter and take it seriously, you’d end up somewhere higher profile in the city.  And the most ambitious chefs would want the glory of cooking in San Francisco.  It’s just my opinion, though I know I’m generalizing quite a bit.

Enter Donato Enoteca in Redwood City.  The location has seen a lot of turnover (right across the street from the RC Library), but it’s a seemingly perfect spot for a restaurant like this.  There’s lots of light bouncing off the clean white walls, white tablecloths, and very rustic accents and chairs.  The place is charming and actually feels like it’d be a neighborhood joint in the city if it weren’t for it’s large size.  There’s also ample space for al fresco dining here.

Though @istelleinad and I dined here only for lunch, I got a good feel for the kitchen’s potential.  It should also be noted that the restaurant is Michelin guide recommended (but not starred).

We started with the Proschutto plate.  It was heavenly with thin slices of salty tender meat, accompanied by two small baked cheese tarts mixed with egg that had the texture and taste of a quiche, and a tiny bowl of pickled spring veggies.  It was a thoughtful combination.

@istelleinad had the risotto special that sat in a large homemade parmesan cheese crisp “bowl”.  I had the housemade radicchio ravioli with grape tomatoes.  @istelleinad’s risotto was a bit heavy with the cheese crisp it was served with, but the risotto itself was flavorful, seasoned and prepared well.

My ravioli was also delicate and simple.  I appreciated that the ravioli tasted housemade and wasn’t overly heavy.

It was a well prepared, simple meal with delicate touches here and there.  The service was nothing special, but good.  For now, this restaurant fills a niche on the Peninsula.  It’s expertly prepared Italian food with a sophisticated (but not stuffy) vibe at a reasonable cost.  It’s not a chain, its cuisine isn’t generic, and its menu is more interesting than most.  This place has character.

Donato Enoteca on Urbanspoon

Off to the Lobster Shack

I’d had one too many days of Thanksgiving ham, potatoes, and creamed corn (no bird this year) and wanted something totally different.

How about seafood?

I’ve been wanting to try the Old Port Lobster Shack in Redwood City, anyway. And a couple of friends originally from New England had mentioned it wasn’t bad for this part of the country. So we loaded up the kid and headed over.

It’s an ‘order at the counter’ kinda joint, so it’s a good takeout option if that’s what you’re looking for. We ordered ourselves a side salad, a bowl of New England clam chowder, steamed littleneck clams, and the sauteed shrimp plate.

My chowder was good. Very creamy. Almost a little TOO much cream. It seemed to almost override the seafood flavor. Just a tad less would’ve done the chowder a lot of good.

Then I had my steamed clams. The flavor of the white wine, garlic, fennel seed, parsley and other seasonings were strong. The clams, themselves, were impressive. Meaty, big, juicy and delish. But again, they were a little heavy handed with the seasonings and salt. I would’ve loved a little more allowance to let the clams’ natural flavors come through.

My husband says his shrimp dish was clean and flavored well. The shrimp were fresh and plump. But the blueberry cole slaw was just plain weird. It was obvious they were trying too hard and it didn’t work. His salad, however, was pretty standard and the elements were all very fresh and melded together well.

I was impressed with the service and the quality and freshness of food. Big plus for being a family friendly joint that doesn’t compromise on food quality.

However, they really need to tone down the extras and let the seafood’s natural flavors shine through. A place like this needs to stick to the basics and do them well. Good quality seafood is already so flavorful that they do a big disservice to themselves by adding things it doesn’t need.

Old Port Lobster Shack on Urbanspoon