San Francisco, California – BJ’s Restaurant & Brewery

Restaurant: BJ’s Restaurant & Brewery
Cuisine: Pizza/American/Pub Food/Desserts
Last visited: November 9, 2010
Location: San Francisco, CA (Bay Area/Newark)
Address: 5699 Mowry Ave
Price Range: $10-20USD

1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!

Food: 2.5-3 based on what I tried
Service: 2.5
Ambiance: 3
Overall: 3
Additional comments:

  • American chain
  • Famous for Chicago style pizzas
  • Popular for Pizookie dessert
  • Great for groups
  • American food/Extensive menu
  • Casual dining
  • Big portions
  • Affordable
  • Great for beer
  • Sports bar/energetic
  • Gluten free options
  • Kid friendly menu
  • Dine in/Take-out

**Recommendations: Chicago style pizza, Pizookie

I was still in San Francisco for the Foodbuzz Food Blogger Festival and I decided to stay a few extra days to partake on my own culinary adventures. BJ’s Restaurant & Brewery was not on my list and I wasn’t even aware of its existence. My cousin, a San Francisco local who loves to eat, but is not a foodie (her words, not mine) decided to take me to BJ’s Restaurant & Brewery. I love her dearly, but little did I know that BJ’s Restaurant & Brewery was a typical American chain restaurant. Now, there’s nothing wrong with a chain restaurant, but from a food blogger’s perspective I usually like to go for the more original and local eateries that I can’t find anywhere else.

BJ’s Restaurant & Brewery doesn’t only have a dirty name, but it has chain written all over it. The menu almost looked like a mock up of the Cheesecake Factory, mind you I do really like the Cheesecake Factory as an American chain. BJ’s is famous for Chicago style pizzas, which we pretty much have none of in Vancouver, BC; so that was actually the main reason for going. I was still excited to see what it had to offer and at least it was my first time dining here so there was still some curiosity. I looked this place up afterward and people seem to love it, but besides the pizza I thought it was quite mediocre but well priced for the generous portions. Overall I prefer the Cheesecake Factory if I’m comparing to similar options.

On the table:
Crispy Fried Artichokes –
2.5/6

  • Lightly breaded artichoke hearts fried crisp and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese. Served with lemon garlic aioli $2.95
  • This was cheap and it was under “BJ’s Snacks and Small Bites” which are individual appetizers or side. I really like this idea, but it makes you want to order everything because it’s so cheap. Smart BJ. Smart.
  • They were lightly battered crispy quarters of breaded artichokes which were quite tangy and soft on the inside. I couldn’t get the Parmesan taste and they were served with a lemon garlic aioli which tasted like a thin Ranch dip. Not bad, not really good, but easily enjoyed as an appetizer.

Avocado Egg Rolls – 2.5/6

  • Crispy golden wontons wrap a tantalizing blend of avocados, cream cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, red onions, cilantro, pine nuts, chipotle peppers and spices. Served with a
    sweet tamarind sauce $9.75
  • This was a very Californian appetizer. I’ve have one version of these in Vancouver, BC and I enjoyed them better at home. Well to be specific they were at U-Lounge in Surrey, BC.
  • It’s for major avocado lovers, which I do love, but this wasn’t executed so well.
  • It was crispy and very well filled, but just overindulgent for such a rich ingredient. It was just too heavy and one was enough.
  • It was very buttery and nutty chunky avocado mash. There’s a slight cheesy taste, tang from sun-dried tomatoes, and hint of spice from the peppers.
  • It has a very strange after taste that’s almost eggy and I wasn’t a fan of it. It’s not like guacamole, but just pure creamy avocado with too many subtle flavours from strong ingredients that weren’t fully developed. The flavours just didn’t merry as well.
  • I wanted some crunchy texture and perhaps some crunchy corn or bell peppers because I think it would be better as a Tex-Mex dish rather than an Asian-Mexican-Mediterranean one.
  • Originally they accidentally served it with a marinara sauce, which was awful.

They ended up fixing the error and brought us the sweet tamarind sauce which tasted like sweet and tangy honey plum sauce with a little ginger and chili kick. It really contrasted the flavour of the avocado filling and not really in a very good way either.

Ahi Poke – 2.5/6

  • Chopped sashimi-grade ahi and green and yellow onions are marinated in our signature poke sauce. Topped with diced avocados and served with crispy wonton chips $8.75
  • This was actually quite a literal translation, but I did like the well seasoned wonton chips.
  • When it comes to anything Japanese fusion I think Vancouver is tough to beat… so this was pretty subpar and typical for me.
  • The signature poke sauce was the only thing to be curious about, but it tasted just like a citrus soy ginger dressing.

**Mediterranean Deep Dish Pizza – 3.5/6

  • Fresh and delicious! Lightly sauced bakery crust pizza with BJ’s signature blend of five cheeses and unique combination of toppings and flavors to inspire all of your senses.
  • Mediterranean: Grilled chicken, basil pesto, roasted garlic, Kalamata olives, sun-dried tomatoes, feta cheese and sliced peperoncinis.
  • Individual $10.25 Small $14.50 Medium $20.25 Large $23.95
  • It was huge. As expected. Being from the West Coast, I haven’t tried many versions of this East Coast specialty, so I have nothing to really compare to.
  • It did have an ample amount of toppings and they were quite fresh. Except for the chicken which had a slightly rubbery texture, but hey, I’ m not expecting anything gourmet here.

  • It was a really heavy pizza with a thick, soft and fluffy bread like crust. It’s quite doughy and the bottom isn’t crispy but it did have a little crispy baked Cheddar cheese edge which I wanted more of.
  • I think I was expecting a really tall tender pie like crust for the edges, which is how a Chicago deep dish pizza is traditionally supposed to be.
  • I did want more of a buttery crust anyways, and usually deep dish pizzas are about 3 inches tall. This one was probably an inch high.
  • It did have a decent amount of cheese but it wasn’t loaded with it, which is a characteristic of typical Chicago deep dish pizzas. I should have been seeing the strings of ooey gooey cheese in the photo above.
  • I did enjoy the sharp salty Feta cheese, sweet and tangy peperoncinis and juicy plump tomatoes. I did want way more Basil pesto though, which was totally lost in the pizza.
  • I should have gone with BBQ chicken or something more generic because for some reason I think it would have been better with traditional pizza toppings.
  • Overall it was still good with generous toppings and I can see why people like it. I’m sure it can get better, but I won’t let this represent all Chicago style pizzas.

**Pizookie Trio – 4.5/6

  • Perfect for sharing! Three mini Pizookies® each served with one scoop of your choice of ice cream. Pick three from your choice of Chocolate Chunk, White Chocolate Macadamia Nut, Peanut Butter, Oatmeal Raisin Walnut, Cookies ’N Cream or Triple Chocolate made with Ghirardelli® $8.95 (Available individually)
  • Left to right: Peanut Butter, Chocolate Chunk, White Chocolate Macadamia Nut
  • Another must try at BJ’s Brewery. It’s their most popular item along with the deep dish pizzas.
  • If you’ve never had a pizookie, you’re missing out. This was great, but not the best I’ve had it. Authentically it should come out in a cast iron pan (So apparently BJ’s is the “inventor” of the pizookie, so this is the authentic way of serving it). However I think  The Hub in Vancouver, BC perfected it by serving it in a cast iron pan – see here. That is AMAZING.
  • It’s basically a half baked cookie topped with ice cream. It was a bit over baked and I did like the crispy top, but since the pans are shallow it could have come out earlier.
  • I wasn’t a fan of the quality ice cream. It was that ultra creamy ice cream that never tastes cold enough, like Breyers Ice Cream. There wasn’t enough cookie to finish it off either. Although I can’t complain about too much ice cream… just not enough cookie.

  • Peanut Butter5/6 – This was super nutty and baked in house. There was real toasted peanuts throughout.
  • Chocolate Chunk – 3/6 – This was a bit too sweet for me and pretty standard.
  • White chocolate Macadamia Nut – 4/6 – I’m a sucker for white chocolate Macadamia nut cookies, but the peanut butter one was the undeniable favourite.

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