Danville Station Firehouse Bar & Grill

meter-bleh-okMy experience at Danville Station Firehouse Bar & Grill (henceforth abbreviated as DSFB&G) was ultimately not a very good one. It started out pleasantly and with much promise, but over the course of the meal it became clear that this place unfortunately sucks. It’s too bad too, because the location is prime and the wait people (wait persons?) are great, but I just couldn’t get past the terrible food.

“ Holy flavorless meatsticks, Batman! ”

On a typically lovely Saturday morning in July, my wife Shawn and I took our dogs to well-to-do Danville for a day of strolling about and shopping for random things. After a couple hours’ worth of browsing through old chandeliers and decorative concrete whatnots, we decided it was time for an early lunch. There are a lot of really great places to eat in Danville, so it was with much excitement that we took inventory of our food options along Danville’s main drag. We read through some good looking menus and peeked in a bunch of windows, but ultimately we decided on DSFB&G.

Downtown Danville is as cute as a button.

Downtown Danville is as cute as a button.

DSFB&G has a lovely shaded patio with cozy tables – mostly all filled with happy looking people – and so we figured it had to be pretty good. We were welcomed inside the patio, dogs and all, and were seated immediately. Our waitress quickly brought over a couple menus and a bowl of water for our dogs. Major bonus points there. The menu, as it turns out, was a bit on the short side and included only breakfast items. Strange for 11:30am, but that’s fine. We’ll go with breakfast. We asked our waitress about a couple items on the menu and as it turns out she hadn’t tried either of them, but she did make sure to mention the name of another restaurant where said menu items were really good. Curious. I shrugged it off as nothing and ordered the chicken and waffle with an iced tea, while Shawn opted for a banana buttermilk pancake short stack, side of chicken apple sausage, and a Diet Coke.

This is just like any other chicken and waffle dish you've had, except that it isn't good.

This is just like any other chicken and waffle dish you’ve ever had, except that it isn’t good.

Our food arrived shortly afterwards and it was very… ordinary. It didn’t look unappetizing per se, just ho hum. Upon closer inspection it turned out that the underside of my chicken was very dark, almost burned, and the waffle was dry and sad. At least the eggs were prepared correctly. Shawn’s banana buttermilk pancakes were literally only that – two ordinary buttermilk pancakes with sliced bananas on top. The pancakes, waffle, and chicken were all sub-average and tasted identical to one another. To add insult to injury, we then realized there was no butter anywhere to be found. What the heck, no butter?? If I was governor, I’d make that a class 2 misdemeanor.

Bananas on top of pancakes do not banana pancakes make.

Bananas on top of pancakes do not banana pancakes make.

Just as I was trying to figure out how to choke down my waffle without butter, Shawn said, “This is the worst chicken apple sausage I have ever had.” Being morbidly curious, I tried a piece. Holy flavorless meatsticks, Batman! She wasn’t kidding. Those sausages were the most offensively bland food I have accidentally touched with my tongue in the last 10 years, and I promise you that I’m not exaggerating. They seemed to be nothing more than week-old boiled rooster meat sprayed with apple-scented air freshener. Oh, and they were cold in the middle too. Quadruple yuck.

And what is one supposed to do with disgusting food when they don’t want to make a scene? That’s where the dogs come in. Our fluffy little mutts were thrilled to help and eagerly ate pieces of sausage, which they seemed to enjoy just fine. They also like bully sticks, though, so I guess there’s no accounting for taste.

If there is a Hell, this is what they serve for breakfast.

If there is a Hell, this is what they serve for breakfast.

When we had finished, our waitress brought our bill, commenting how she hadn’t tried the chicken and waffle but there’s this really good waffle joint down the street that is supposed to be killer. Now she tells us. We paid, tipping decently, and left DSFB&G forever with no intention of ever returning. As we walked away, Shawn produced another quotable: “The best part of that meal was the Diet Coke.” Ain’t that the truth.

And just when we thought our disappointing meal experience was wrapped up for the day, one of our dogs barfed up the chicken apple sausage on the drive home. Sigh. It’s a fitting end I suppose. DSFB&G has good ambience and friendly employees, but whoever is running the kitchen has pretty much ruined everything. I’m sad to say that I rate this place a dismal 1 out of 12 bottles of floor mat shampoo, Randomly Edible’s lowest score ever. If you’re considering visiting this restaurant, don’t.

Danville Station Firehouse Bar & Grill
340-348 Hartz Avenue
Danville, CA 94526
(925) 838-8800
www.firehousebarandgrille.com
Danville Station Firehouse Bar and Grill on Urbanspoon


Standard Restaurant Review Disclaimer
The ambiguous and illogical rating system used in this review is not intended to be pinpoint accurate. It’s only there to give you a general idea of how much I like or dislike an establishment, and it also gives me an excuse to write silly things. If my rating system angers and distracts you, there’s a good chance you have control issues. I would also like to point out that I am not a highly qualified restaurant reviewer person, nor do I particularly care what that job is called. If you were under the impression that perhaps I was one of those people, consider your hopes dashed. Lastly, wow! You read the entire disclaimer. You get a gold star on your chart toy.


Stan’s Donut Shop

meter-haIf donuts are a religion, Stan’s Donut Shop is the Vatican. It’s as simple as that. This tiny hole in the wall has people lining up out the door just about every day of the week, and once you’ve been here you will understand why. Be warned: A single Stan’s donut will spoil you for life.

As far as I’m concerned, every single Friday is Official Donut Day. What better way to kick off the weekend than with a sugary hunk of fried calories? Unfortunately, you can’t really eat donuts every week; it’s what medical professionals refer to as “unhealthy”. Party poopers. The best way to justify a donut fix is to invent an excuse to buy some for somebody else, and that’s exactly what I did.

” It’s everything a donut shop should be and nothing it shouldn’t “

My wife and I are having a new house built in Sunnyvale. Lately I’ve been bothering the dickens out of the construction crew with helpful bits of advice like “Don’t forget to install the front door” and “Please stop screwing things up”. They must love it when I visit. I want them to do a good job on the house, though, and because I’m not above petty bribery I decided to bring the guys some Stan’s. Win-win.

This is one of those places you'd never visit unless someone told you to.

This is one of those places you’d never visit unless someone told you to.

If you look up “hole in the wall” in the dictionary, you will see a picture of Stan’s Donut Shop. I wouldn’t quite call it a dive, but it’s close. Everything is clean and relatively well maintained, but exactly zero effort has gone into decor. That’s fine by me though – screw the ambiance, focus on the eats. The whole shop is barely wider than the doorway to get inside, and there is a simple glass case with a cash register immediately to the left of the entrance. There is also a bar to sit at; there you can ponder how many donuts to order and whether you’d like decaf or regular coffee. And that’s it.

1974 called. They want their leatherette and wood-like veneer back.

1974 called. They want their leatherette and wood-like veneer back.

Alright, forget about the decor and everything else. First impressions are what matter most, and the first impression you’re going to get is that lovely, lovely display case I mentioned earlier. Just look at it. Ssshh, don’t say a word. Just… look.

Cue the Barry White music.

Cue the Barry White music.

Ahh yeah.

Can’t decide what to try first? I’ll help you choose. What you’re really looking for is whatever it is that they’ve just dragged out of the fryer, and chances are that it’s a batch of plain glazed donuts. Stan’s glazed are so wickedly, incredibly, absurdly good that you really have no choice in the matter but to dump the contents of your wallet onto the counter and plead shamelessly for the nice people to hand you one.

A hot glazed donut from Stan’s is, without question, a bucket list item. They simply melt when you bite into them, and they are… Well, they’re perfect really. Even the very best Krispy Kreme donut you’ve ever had will seem like a distant, disappointing memory after experiencing a Stan’s plain glazed. Remember how I said earlier you’d be spoiled for life? I meant it.

If you’re lucky, you might even manage to get your hands on one of Stan’s legendary cinnamon rolls. They go fast, so you’ll need to get up early if you want a shot at one. They are very similar in texture to the glazed donuts, only curled into a spiral and cinnamon-y. Apparently, because the dough needs to rise overnight, only one batch a day is made – when they’re out, they’re out. You need to be super duper lottery-lucky to snag a cinnamon roll right out of the fryer, but let me tell you… It’s worth the chase, it truly is.

A Stan's cinnamon roll can beat up your cinnamon roll.

A Stan’s cinnamon roll can beat up your cinnamon roll.

Lady Luck must have been more than just smiling on me on this particular Friday, because I somehow managed to obtain a dozen glazed donuts straight from the fryer AND a hot cinnamon roll. Double score! I also picked up some additional assorted donuts, as well as my own personal favorite: A plain buttermilk.

No, this buttermilk donut is mine. You can't have it.

No, this buttermilk donut is mine. You can’t have it.

If you’ve never had a buttermilk donut before, you’re missing out. It’s like a cake donut, only a bit more substantial. Stan’s buttermilks are somehow both denser and fluffier at the same time, and the perfectly golden brown exterior is delicate and ever so slightly crispy and crunchy. Mine was absolute heaven, just as I knew it would be.

I pulled up to the construction site with my bounty, and there didn’t seem to be anybody around. Strange. I got out of my car and grabbed the donut boxes, and suddenly the crew started coming out of the woodwork. Literally, I suppose. They were like a swarm of cats that had just discovered a crashed sardine truck – I was fortunate to escape with my life. I drove away to a chorus of thank yous and many gracious waves; I had done my good deed for the day, and I had ended up with a couple Stan’s donuts for myself to boot. I strained my arm a little patting myself on the back.

As much as I hesitate to hand out a perfect rating, Stan’s Donut Shop deserves one. I give it exactly 471 glazed donuts out of 471; it’s everything a donut shop should be and nothing it shouldn’t. Stan’s has taken a single, humble food and elevated it to a level you’d hardly believe was possible. If your travels land you somewhere vaguely in the western hemisphere, you absolutely must, must, must go here.

Stan’s Donut Shop
2628 Homestead Road
Santa Clara, CA 95051
(408) 296-5982
Stan's Donut Shop on Urbanspoon


A dozen doughy little angels, living in a box.

A dozen doughy little angels, living in a box.


The Gazebo

meter-great-haI’ve been to The Gazebo before, so I was excited to have an opportunity to write it up. Well, actually, I was way more excited to eat there – this whole blog thing is more like a side effect.

This restaurant is tucked away back behind the business end of a motel-y looking resort in Napili. To find it, you’ll need to poke around the back roads in the area a bit, keeping your eyes peeled for a teeny little wooden sign sporting the magical words “The Gazebo”. Find a parking spot as quickly as you can or, if there aren’t any (which is likely), just plow your rental car into the middle of a hibiscus bush and climb out of a back window. Start walking through the motel … sorry, “resort” grounds and head vaguely towards the ocean. When you see a line of people waiting near a swimming pool, you have discovered breakfast nirvana.

It is literally a gazebo. No bonus points for having a creative restaurant name.

It is literally a gazebo. No bonus points for having a creative restaurant name.

The wait for a table is rarely less than 15 minutes, and it’s often quite a bit more – that’s the bad news. The good news is that it will be the most pleasant wait you’ve ever experienced. You’re in Hawaii for crying out loud, who cares how long the wait is? Just remember not to wander aimlessly out of line while you gape at the postcard-perfect scenery and bask in the toasty sun.

” Before we could say ‘sugar shock’ our food had arrived “

Once seated, you will find yourself reviewing a lengthy and reasonably-priced menu filled to the brim with just about everything you can imagine and quite a few things you can’t. If this is your first visit to The Gazebo, skip straight to the “Our Specialties” section and try not to giggle with sheer schoolgirlish delight. The white chocolate macadamia nut pancakes are as drool-worthy as they sound. I also highly recommend the banana macadamia nut version, and pineapple is available as well. In a final stroke of tropical genius, you’re provided with coconut syrup to top it all off. Yeah, wow is right.

The only thing that could possibly be any better than that is a little gem I discovered on the specials board: Peanut butter banana french toast. Hot dang do I love peanut butter! I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned that before, but no matter. I ordered up the french toast; my wife opted for a banana mac nut short stack and a side of bacon for us to share. Baaaaacccoooooooonnnnnnnnn.

The peanut butter banana french toast special. I am still having dreams about this.

The peanut butter banana french toast special. I am still having dreams about this.

Before we could say “sugar shock” our food had arrived, just as fresh and amazing as I remembered from a few years ago. The waitstaff at The Gazebo are great folks; they’re fast, personable, they get their orders correct, and they keep your iced tea filled. I tried to think of something mean to say about them but I came up with nothing, curse the wily charlatans.

The Gazebo earns an easy 28 out of 30 fluffy golden tropical pancakes; really its only downside is that you have to travel all the way to Maui to visit it. Wait, maybe that’s an upside. Doesn’t matter. Just go there!

The Gazebo
5315 Lower Honoapiilani Road
Lahaina, HI 96761
(808) 669-5621
www.mauihawaii.org

Gazebo on Urbanspoon

UPDATE
This restaurant is so nice I reviewed it twice: Random Revisit: The Gazebo

Banana macadamia nut pancakes with juuuuuuuust a dab of whipped cream.

Banana macadamia nut pancakes with juuuuuuuust a dab of whipped cream.



Nutella French toast with strawberries

I give my wife full credit for coming up with this one. She was browsing around for breakfast recipes and spotted the word “Nutella”, followed shortly by “strawberries”. She proclaimed that we needed to make some sort of French toast sandwich thing using those ingredients, and that sounded like a splendid idea to me. Here’s what we came up with.

Skip to the short version


Ingredients:

  • some kind of bread (we used King’s Hawaiian)
  • Nutella
  • fresh strawberries
  • sugar
  • eggs
  • milk
  • vanilla extract
  • butter (salted or unsalted)


Directions:

” You’ll know you’re close to done when the Nutella starts to get melty “

Wash and cut up the strawberries into cubes or slices or whatever you like and set aside. If you prefer your strawberries a little sweeter and slightly more syrupy, mix the strawberry bits with a couple of tablespoons of sugar first.

Spread some Nutella on a slice of bread and stick a second piece of bread on top to make a sandwich. A little Nutella goes a long way, but if you’re in the mood for gooey chocolate overload then by all means pile it on. Mix up some French toast dredge (a few eggs, a few tablespoons of milk, and a dash of vanilla) and you’re ready for breakfast magic.

Warm up a skillet to medium heat and melt a pat of butter in it. The skillet should be hot enough to sizzle the butter, but not much more than that. Put a Nutella sandwich into the egg mixture, making sure to coat both sides, and carefully place it in the skillet. Cook slowly, flipping once when the bottom is toasty and delish looking. You’ll know you’re close to done when the Nutella starts to get melty. Remove from skillet, top with strawberries, and nom.

Epic breakfast win.

Epic breakfast win.



tl;dr

Nutella French toast with strawberries

Ingredients:

  • some kind of bread (we used King’s Hawaiian)
  • Nutella
  • fresh strawberries
  • sugar
  • eggs
  • milk
  • vanilla extract
  • butter (salted or unsalted)


Directions:

Whisk together eggs with a few tablespoons of milk and vanilla extract. Spead Nutella on one slice on one slice of bread and cover with a second slice to make a sandwich. Dredge sandwich in egg mixture for 20 seconds per side or until moderately saturated. Place in a skillet over medium-low heat and cook slowly until browned, flip and repeat. Serve with sliced strawberries.



See also