Recent First Visits, Exciting and Not

While I've often been too busy to stop and write about our seeings and doings of late, I have been quietly checking things off the list. Though belied by some of my past exuberance, I have often felt a bit uncomfortable writing a review after only one visit. There can be value in capturing an experience tied to a single point in time -- that may be one of the true advantages of food blogs vis a vis professional reivews -- but so much depends on the day and the company and the moods of all involved that those impressions can be misleading. With that in mind, I'm moving towards answering just one simple (and conveniently short for catching up) question after a first visit: how much do I want to go back?In the case of the frequently-recommended Burma Superstar, which we finally visited with Oren's sister last night, the answer is quite a bit. We barely had to wait after calling to put on our name on the list before leaving Palo Alto. I only wish we had more left over for today.Bar Tartine in SF is another must-visit-again-soon. I would be quite happy to eat at the bar or the communal table (on a less blustery night -- it's right by the door) if I forget to plan a few days in advance for a table during prime hours.Though surprising given my Italo-file leanings and much chastizing by my friend Cecilia, as an infrequent coffee drinker it took me awhile to make it to Caffè del Doge, the first US outpost of the famous Venetian shop. Though pricier than I expected, I'll definitely be going back for coffee, wine, snacks, or the nice selection of chocolates again soon.Though it will be awhile before I'm ready for any place that specializes in nose-to-tail cooking, Oren is eager to return to the "surprisingly good" St. John Bread and Wine. I partially crossed Redd off the to-visit list recently with brunch there the morning after a private wine dinner for ten prepared by former Mets player Rusty Staub at the gorgeous home of the Staglins, of Staglin Family Vineyard. That's a whole other story. Brunch didn't blow me away, but I'm still interested in trying dinner there.Lucques, of recent cookbook fame, made a positive first impression with solidly good fare and service, a nicely edited wine list, and a charming covered patio, but the food wasn't the most memorable in that category and, with my overnights in the LA area being relatively infrequent and so many places still to try, I'm not sure how soon I'll be back.If I lived in the Pasadena area, I would definitely be a take-out regular at Lebanese Kitchen. Very clean, delicious, and an exceptional value.Sushi Roku has the benefit of an elegant atmosphere right next to our Pasadena office, but the food seemed hit or miss. The fish was good quality though and I'd be happy to give it another shot after trying some of many other places nearby.In general, it is actually hard not to say "this dish is outstanding" or "don't bother getting that," even after just one visit. I guess I'll just have to put those judgements to the test at the places I plan on visiting again soon. And for the rest, if you think my first impression isn't respresentative, I hope you'll let me know.