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Check, Please! Bay Area reviews: Dad's Luncheonette, Marzano, East Bay Spice Company

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Check, Please! Bay Area Season 14 episode 1 airs Thursday, April 11 at 7:30pm on KQED 9. See other television airtimes. And never miss an episode by subscribing to the video podcast.

In this episode, we visit a red caboose in Half Moon Bay housing a restaurant helmed by a Michelin-starred chef called Dad’s Luncheonette where the menu is small but has a large heart. Next, we’re off to a neighborhood destination in the Glenview neighborhood of Oakland, a cozy spot named after Italy’s most famous tomato, Marzano. Finally, we end in Berkeley at East Bay Spice Company, a college-town bar with intriguing cocktails, hot Indian food and a cool vibe.

Host Leslie Sbrocco and guests on the set of season 14 episode 1.
Host Leslie Sbrocco and guests on the set of season 14 episode 1. (Grace Cheung)

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Host Leslie Sbrocco sipping wine on set
Host Leslie Sbrocco sipping wine on set (Wendy Goodfriend)

My name is Leslie Sbrocco and I'm the host of Check, Please! Bay Area. Each week, I will be sharing my tasting notes about the wine, beer, and spirits the guests and I drank on set during the taping of the show.

NV Palmer & Co Blanc de Blancs, Champagne, France $60
Champagne is one of the world’s finest pleasures. I find I’m a much happier person with bubbles in hand. This Chardonnay-based sparkling is elegant and full of finesse. Citrus-scented with underlying aromas of freshly-baked bread, the stylish Champagne is supported by a ping of palate-pleasing minerality. It’s a wine to drink now or will benefit from a few years of aging.


If you haven’t heard of this Champagne producer, it’s one to seek out when splurging on sparkling. Palmer & Co has more than 415 hectares of sustainably-grown vineyards with nearly half of those classified as Grands and Premiers Cru from the Montagne de Reims area of Champagne, France. A true classic.

2017 Kim Crawford ‘Signature Reserve’ Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand $25
Popular with Sauv-Savvie Americans, Kim Crawford is a recognized and much-loved brand. (It was actually started by a winemaker named Kim and his wife Erica Crawford, though no longer owned by them.) This bottling, however, is more powerful than its familiar Kim Crawford brethren. It takes Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc to the next level. Intensely fruit-driven with layers of tangy lemon/lime freshness, it also sports full-bodied flair and a mouthwatering finish.

Serve with shellfish and salads, of course, but don’t forget it has enough stuffing to take on roast chicken with mustard sauce or even grilled pork chops with mango salsa. Highly recommended with a serious “wow” factor.

2016 Early Mountain Foothills, Virginia $27
I have been impressed by the quality of the wines coming from Virginia for the past few years. After visiting the region to explore its history and plethora of stunning properties, I believe Virginia ranks among the best places in the country to taste wine. And it’s not just me. The Early Mountain winery—located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains—was even voted the best winery tasting room nationwide in 2016, according to a USA Today Reader’s Choice poll.

This supple blend of mostly Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Syrah and a smattering of other grapes, is succulently juicy with dark berry notes. It’s easy to indulge in with all that forward fruit, but the red blend is supported by bright acidity and a lush mouthfeel. A wine to unscrew and enjoy while unwinding after a long day’s work.

Roku Japanese Craft Gin, Japan $40
I’m going out on a limb here, but this is my favorite gin. Period. I buy multiple bottles of it at a time because I drink it so quickly…it’s just that delicious. Hailing from Japan (watch out Japanese whiskey!), it is the most subtle yet flavorful smooth gin I’ve ever sipped. With botanicals of sencha green tea, Yuzu peel, Sakura flower and more, the aromas and flavors are delicate and unique.

Pour a taste by itself to get a sense of the gin’s dry finish and silky texture. Splash Roku with top-notch tonic and a peel of yuzu or tangerine for the perfect G & T. See if it doesn’t land on your favorite list, too.

Thirsty for more beverage advice? You can find some of my wine, beer and spirits tips for you here

Wine that guests drank on the set of season 14 episode 1.
Wine that guests drank on the set of season 14 episode 1. (Grace Cheung)

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