My kids’ spring break was earlier this month and although we would’ve love to travel, we didn’t feel comfortable with it yet, so decided to do day trips instead. Luckily we live in the bay area and are surrounded by beautiful nature and have amazing food choices.
My main purpose to go to Napa/Yountville was to capture the beauty of the mustard fields. In the previous years, I was always too late to capture their full blooms. To entice my husband to go, I suggested we grab some of Thomas Keller’s fried chicken while we were in the area. The bucket of chicken from Ad-hoc was juicy and had a great crunch. I ordered about 20 minutes before arriving and curbside pickup was easy peasy. The Addendum outdoor seating area was not open so we devoured the chicken while parked in their lot.
Since we were already in Yountville, I thought we should go to Bouchon Bakery for some baked goods. Not sure this was a good idea because we waited in line for over an hour in the hot baking sun. Yes, their baked goods are good but not amazing–definitely not worth the 1+ hour wait. I only suggested it because I thought we could do online ordering, but unfortunately, they didn’t offer it that day.
We headed to Oakland for the sole purpose of eating at Brown Sugar Kitchen. I didn’t know they had moved to a new location (Yes, it’s been that long since we were last there). I was salivating just thinking of their cornmeal waffles with apple cider syrup. I was disappointed to learn they were not serving it. Their menu was pared down due to the pandemic. They were open for take-out and outdoor dining. Their chicken was not how I remembered it but their biscuits were the highlight.
We had to quickly finish our meal because we were sitting outdoors and there was no overhead canopy to offer us reprieve from the hot sun. Also, there was a man across the street shouting all sorts of profanity as customers were dining. I do look forward to coming back to dine in their new space.
If you want to try their food and are not in the area, you can always try making it at home. Their recipes can be found here. I’ve tried the recipes for cornmeal waffles and apple cider syrup and they’re excellent.
Afterward, we stopped by one of my favorite Oakland bakeries for inexpensive traditional Chinese baked goodies. This place used to have a crazy, chaotic system (or rather, no system at all) where customers would push themselves to the front of the counter and shout their orders at the cashier. It was a bit stressful and I always wonder why the bakery couldn’t just create a better-organized ordering system. Since the pandemic, they’ve limited the number of customers indoors and it’s actually easier to navigate since there is only a single line to order now.
We took the baked goods and went to Oakland Morcom Rose Garden. The garden was not busy and we had a nice pleasant stroll. The roses were not in bloom yet, but the garden was lush and tranquil. The kids had fun roaming through here.
Before we left Oakland, I had also wanted to visit the Bonsai Garden but we got there too late and we only had 10 minutes to walk around before the park closed.
Afterward, we strolled along Lake Merritt and the girls were getting really antsy and irritated. They were tired and ready to head home. You would think from this photo that I was torturing them. This is the most outdoor time they’ve had in a long time. They’ve been stuck in their rooms playing mobile games and remote learning so this is the most exercise they’ve gotten in over a year.
We started with lunch at Hon’s Wun Tun House. It was a nice satisfying meal. My husband likes how it’s a simple no-frills won ton noodle restaurant. It was quick and efficient.
After lunch, we walked over to get some fortune cookies. We got a kick out of opening our fortune cookies and sharing our fortunes with each other.
We drove to Land’s End to kill some time before our dinner reservation for 5pm at Chili House SF. The trail wasn’t too crowded and the weather was brisk but the sun was out so it was really nice.
When we arrived at the restaurant, I realized that I should’ve pre-ordered the Peking duck. I wasn’t sure if we would be able to secure one then. We went there specifically for the duck so we would’ve been very disappointed if we didn’t get it. I was relieved when the waiter said it would only take them 20 minutes to prepare it. The restaurant was not busy, unlike the last time we were there. Everything we ordered was delicious, but I forgot to take pictures of our meal.
These pictures were taken from January 2020, pre-pandemic when operation was still normal. The food is still just as good, but the atmosphere (understandably) was not the same, with no Kung Fu tea service.
If you made it this far, thanks for reading. This post is getting long so I’ll post part 2 soon.