Street/26th St., SF
hearing at Clooney's
Man, I'm hungry.
Feels like a couple years since I had a decent bite to eat, so it's
a good thing my fellow judges were up for a dine-out adventure. We
decided on a place called Toad's. I don't know why it's called Toads,
don't care, I know it's located near the end of the road, a few blocks
from the south end of Valencia, you know where Taco Bell used to be,
oh how I hate to lose a Taco Bell -- but that's another story. I've
been to Toad's more than a dozen times, so my rating may be based as
much on consistency -- which can be a good thing -- as on quality.
For starters we
had potato skins, which were lame but what can you expect? Well, more
junk on 'em, that's what. But at $6.95 there's not enough
stuff to make the skin of a potato very desirable. The buffalo chicken
strips ($7.95) we got were really, really good: large portions of tender
tasty chicken with a bit of crispness, cooked up with a nice spicy
sauce. They have a little heat that can be cooled with a dip in bleu
dressing and a bite of celery. One person could make a meal of them
or ask to have some put on a bun.
($7.95 including regular fries or green salad) was a good burger, fresh
tasty meat grilled up just the way I requested.
recommend the side of curly fries, if'n you lean that way, for an
additional $1: very good seasoning and a large portion to fill the
are six variations on each "burger": Angus beef, chicken
breast, turkey patty, garden, portobello, and Boca -- pick a winner.
The night we went
the service was poor. The bartender who substitutes as a waiter does
not make the best food server. But more often than
not the service has been very good -- the regular waitress is wonderful.
Toad's is a burger
and beer place in my book. They do serve other items but who wants
a salad, maybe a bacon-onion hotdog, maybe. Toad's
less expensive than some burger places as well as being tastier
Toad's does not have the best burger in town but for a neighborhood
joint it's darn good. As far as pub grub I'm not sure of any right
that compares, although we did notice that Clooney's down the block
serves up some hot food. Hmmm…
Reunited. And it
feels so good.
Um, it feels alright,
I guess. Thing is, I wish we three judges had reunited at a more outstanding
eatery. But what can you do? That's the food-judging
game for you.
Toad's doesn't suck. Which reminds me, I've got family in Arkansas
near the "town" of Toad
But, on the other hand, Toad's doesn't exactly rock. It's good, it's
fine. They've got a good burger going, pretty good bar food, maybe
a bit pricey.
But let's start
at the beginning, with the apps. Potato skins (a perennial bar fave,
$6.95) were light on toppings, which is pretty much key for
potato skins that cost seven dollars because otherwise you've just
got some hot, er, skins of potato. Kick down with the cheese, bacon,
The Buffalo Strips
($7.95), on the other hand, were quite good. A large portion of well-fried
and spicy chicken strips, with tasty
bleu cheese dippin' sauce. One could make an entree out of that
and I suggest you do. We're talking breaded and
crispy here, not just fried and sauced bird meat. Maybe not all
that authentic compared to the traditional Buffalo Wing, but good
and a good value. I think the photo here is missing a strip, due
to Judge McC's voraciousness.
I went for the freaking
Cobb Burger ($9.95), because Cobb Salad is pretty much my favorite
salad. But, hoo-wee,
10 clams for a
I know, you got extras on there – cheese, bacon, avocado
-- but Hell's Bells, man. Let's break it down, shall we? The bun
some kind of premium burger bun that held up to the massive contents,
didn't get in the way, and wasn't some stupid focaccia bread or
other abomination. The patty itself, also solid – good
1/3 pound of juicy beef, apparently a hand-formed patty, grilled
as I requested.
The Cobb toppings: Good bleu cheese on there, but a bit skimpy
for my tastes. I know it's strong cheese, but it IS a Cobb burger
and I know
what I'm getting into. Couple of bacon strips, which were fine.
Half an avocado, sliced. Come to think of it, that is an insane
crap to put on a burger. Especially considering you've got tomato,
lettuce, and onion on the side to boot. What was I thinking?
Oh, and I "upgraded" to
onion rings, so that cost me another dollar. They were alright, I guess.
Same deal for curly fries. Not sure
why curly fries cost more. Expensive potato curling machine?
So, yeah, my plate
was 11 bucks right there. If I had stuck with a simple cheeseburger
and normal fries, it would have
I've made. Keep it simple. Get in, get a relatively plain
burger and limited sides (if any) and get out. You'll be fine.
the statute of limitations on a hiatus? When does a sabbatical become
retirement? I do not have answers. But I'm pretty sure 2 1⁄4
years is pushing the limits on both, which is my newest way of saying, "Sorry
we have strayed." When will you stop accepting our apologies?
When will we be all out of sorry's?
these vexing questions in the air, the Füd Court reconvened
after three years to eat at Toad's. Once we recognized each other, things
flowed pretty much the same as always. I'm a sucker for boneless buffalo
chicken strips, and will order them from any menu. We got them here and
were not disappointed, although $7.95 may be a bit steep. (I went as
far as looking up the item on the Denny's site, but they list no prices.
I did learn that they now offer an entrée called Lemon Pepper
Grilled Tilapia.) We also started with an uninspired platter of potato
skins. Short on cheese, short on bacon, short on flavor.
not, during our sham sabbatical, spend time crafting new ways to say, "I
liked the burger." As evidence, I am going to tell
you right now: I liked the burger. Angus beef, 1/3 pound, charbroiled
nicely and adorned with bacon and cheddar cheese ($8.95). Fries included
in the price (hear that, Joe's Cable Car?), but these thin-cut shoe-stringers
were only decent. I much preferred Judge McC's curly fries (a dollar
bill -- $68 before tip -- was startling. Probably one of the biggest
tabs in Court history. Sure, a couple appetizers, and
each had two
beers. But still, is that a standard burger joint bill? We considered
blaming our sticker shock on the years of inflation since we last
ate together. This theory holds water only if we'd not eaten any
outside our homes during that time. We had, just not as judges.
So all I know
is we walked out of there a lot lighter in the wallet than usual,
feeling sheepish about our tagline, "San Francisco Dining for
the Average Eater."
not, during our farce of a hiatus, do any Professional Development
coursework. My ability to mete out justice in the form of corn dogs
and roaches has surely
eroded. But I feel pretty confident banging the rusty gavel this way: