Dining Out Restaurant Talk http://www.lunch.com/eatingout <![CDATA[Long John Silver's Quick Tip by RabidChihuahua]]> Long John Silver's is my ultimate "guilty pleasure" restaurant to dine at.  The fish, chicken, shrimp, and onion rings are deep fried in quite possibly the most decadent, greasy batter I've ever sunk my teeth into.  I also wouldn't be surprised that in the world of deep fried food, Long John Silver's is among the most unhealthy, thus why I rarely eat at this place (I only ate here 2-3 times since the beginning of this year).

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http://www.lunch.com/eatingout/reviews/d/UserReview-Long_John_Silver_s-589-1455647-240969.html http://www.lunch.com/eatingout/reviews/d/UserReview-Long_John_Silver_s-589-1455647-240969.html Mon, 30 Sep 2013 03:22:47 +0000
<![CDATA[Hooters Quick Tip by RabidChihuahua]]>
Hooters is an okay place to dine out, though while Titled Kilt is a little more expensive, you get much better food and hotter ladies serving you.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/eatingout/reviews/restaurant/UserReview-Hooters-589-1387614-239035.html http://www.lunch.com/eatingout/reviews/restaurant/UserReview-Hooters-589-1387614-239035.html Wed, 31 Jul 2013 03:59:31 +0000
<![CDATA[Tilted Kilt Quick Tip by RabidChihuahua]]>
Some of my favorite foods there are the chicken strip basket, calamari, garlic butter fries, "Kilt Burner" wings, and Brownie Guilt dessert.

If there's a Titled Kilt near you, take your friends with and you'll have a great time.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/eatingout/reviews/d/UserReview-Tilted_Kilt-589-1484110-239031.html http://www.lunch.com/eatingout/reviews/d/UserReview-Tilted_Kilt-589-1484110-239031.html Tue, 30 Jul 2013 21:42:36 +0000
<![CDATA[Denny's Quick Tip by RabidChihuahua]]> The thing I like the most about Denny's is that they're open all day, every day, even on holidays, and will even serve breakfast dishes at night.  My favorite thingss on Denny's menu are the chicken fried steak dinner, chicken strip dinner, buffalo chicken sandwich, loaded French fries, and French toast.

Denny's is a good place to go if you want a restaurant with decent food that you can dine at any time, any day.

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http://www.lunch.com/eatingout/reviews/d/UserReview-Denny_s-589-1334029-235587.html http://www.lunch.com/eatingout/reviews/d/UserReview-Denny_s-589-1334029-235587.html Wed, 17 Apr 2013 05:29:28 +0000
<![CDATA[Jimmy John's Quick Tip by RabidChihuahua]]>
If only the nearest Jimmy John's wasn't 13 miles away from my house.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/eatingout/reviews/restaurant/UserReview-Jimmy_John_s-589-1449747-235181.html http://www.lunch.com/eatingout/reviews/restaurant/UserReview-Jimmy_John_s-589-1449747-235181.html Fri, 5 Apr 2013 07:21:09 +0000
<![CDATA[Zuni's House of Pizza Quick Tip by RabidChihuahua]]> Here's a pizza chain in the Northwest Indiana/Chicago land area that serves great food at decent prices.  Aside from the usual toppings you can get on your pizza, there's plenty of specialty pizzas (like the BBQ chicken pizza) that you can choose as well, and best of all, the pizzas are really good.  Even the non-pizza dishes are superb.  The wings are some of the best wings I've ever sunk my teeth into, since the wings aren't breaded and have a perfect balance of crispy skin and juicy meat.

The prices are reasonable as well, since most of the items on the menu are in the $7-10 range, while the only "expensive" items are things like the ribeye steak dinner and the stuffed pizzas, and those prices are to be expected for such items.

If you live in Northwest Indiana or the Chicago area, you owe it to yourself, friends, and family to dine out at this place.

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http://www.lunch.com/eatingout/reviews/d/UserReview-Zuni_s_House_of_Pizza-589-1851035-232279.html http://www.lunch.com/eatingout/reviews/d/UserReview-Zuni_s_House_of_Pizza-589-1851035-232279.html Sat, 26 Jan 2013 06:04:07 +0000
<![CDATA[Jersey Mike's Subs Quick Tip by RabidChihuahua]]>
My favorite sub from Jersey Mike's would have to be the Kahuna cheese steak.

If there's a Jersey Mike's in your neck of the woods, go eat there, you won't regret it.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/eatingout/reviews/product/UserReview-Jersey_Mike_s_Subs-589-1629340-231498.html http://www.lunch.com/eatingout/reviews/product/UserReview-Jersey_Mike_s_Subs-589-1629340-231498.html Fri, 4 Jan 2013 01:27:23 +0000
<![CDATA[Chili's Grill and Bar Quick Tip by RabidChihuahua]]>
I just wish that the nearest Chili's locations weren't at least 15 miles away from my house.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/eatingout/reviews/d/UserReview-Chili_s_Grill_and_Bar-589-1333890-230860.html http://www.lunch.com/eatingout/reviews/d/UserReview-Chili_s_Grill_and_Bar-589-1333890-230860.html Wed, 19 Dec 2012 17:49:15 +0000
<![CDATA[Little Caesars Quick Tip by RabidChihuahua]]>
Little Caesar's is certainly good, but unless if you're short on money and time, I'd suggest you get yourself (and others, if you're feeding family and friends) some pizza from Pizza Hut, Papa John's, or a reputable local pizza parlor first.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/eatingout/reviews/d/UserReview-Little_Caesars-589-1378886-230326.html http://www.lunch.com/eatingout/reviews/d/UserReview-Little_Caesars-589-1378886-230326.html Tue, 4 Dec 2012 21:44:58 +0000
<![CDATA[Dairy Queen Quick Tip by RabidChihuahua]]> http://www.lunch.com/eatingout/reviews/restaurant/UserReview-Dairy_Queen-589-1010306-229996.html http://www.lunch.com/eatingout/reviews/restaurant/UserReview-Dairy_Queen-589-1010306-229996.html Tue, 20 Nov 2012 07:15:03 +0000 <![CDATA[Taco Bell Quick Tip by RabidChihuahua]]> http://www.lunch.com/eatingout/reviews/restaurant/UserReview-Taco_Bell-589-1010948-229995.html http://www.lunch.com/eatingout/reviews/restaurant/UserReview-Taco_Bell-589-1010948-229995.html Tue, 20 Nov 2012 07:11:32 +0000 <![CDATA[Taco Bell Quick Tip by BaronSamedi3]]> http://www.lunch.com/Gourmand/reviews/restaurant/UserReview-Taco_Bell-2-1010948-229762.html http://www.lunch.com/Gourmand/reviews/restaurant/UserReview-Taco_Bell-2-1010948-229762.html Fri, 9 Nov 2012 20:03:27 +0000 <![CDATA[KFC Quick Tip by RabidChihuahua]]>
I think the extra crispy legs and thighs are the best they have, and the Double Down sandwich is a delicious snack to sink your teeth into for special occasions (these are way unhealthy).  The chicken strips are good as well, though like everything else on the menu, you pay too much for what you get.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/eatingout/reviews/restaurant/UserReview-KFC-589-1010598-228959.html http://www.lunch.com/eatingout/reviews/restaurant/UserReview-KFC-589-1010598-228959.html Thu, 11 Oct 2012 04:29:37 +0000
<![CDATA[Goodfellas Quick Tip by RabidChihuahua]]> I think when you take everything into account (prices, food, service, atmosphere, and hygene), Goodfellas Bar and Grill in Cedar Lake, Indiana is one of the best restaurants to eat out at in the Northwest Indiana/Chicagoland region.

The food is marvelous.  I always dine on the "Forgetaboutit" ribeye steak sandwich, which I've always gotten the way I like it (medium rare, and it's loaded with flavor).  I've sampled other dishes from the menu (such as ribs, jalapeno poppers, fries, chicken wings, pizza), and like the steak sandwich, they're really good.

The prices are really good, too.  The most expensive items on the menu are signature pizzas and BBQ ribs ($23 for the largest pizza and $15.95 for a full slab of ribs), while everything else hovers around the $5-10 range (most items hover around $5-8).  It also helps that everyday, there's a special on something different each day of the week.  There's specials on different kinds of liquor as well each day.

Even when the place was busy, we got prompt, friendly service.  Everyone who works there has a friendly tone.

The atmosphere is fun.  As the name would imply, the restaurant is themed around early 20th century gangsters.  There's giant pictures of famous gangsters like Al Capone and Bugs Moran on the walls with biographies, and there's miscellaneous items and decor that fit with this aesthetic.  The waitresses wear clothing fitting for a 1920's/1930's gangster setting (complete with fedora hats).  Even on the outside, there's a manequin of Al Capone on a chair and a chalked body outline.

The hygene is high up as well, since I never sat at a filthy table or saw anything in the restaurant that was dirty.

If you live in the Northwest Indiana/Chicagoland area, you should take your friends and/or family out to Goodfellas because you'll get great food at reasonable prices with fun, friendly atmosphere and a clean place to eat.

This comes to show that Goodfellas is not just the name of a great movie, but also a great restaurant.

http://www.goodfellascedarlake.com/

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http://www.lunch.com/eatingout/reviews/d/UserReview-Goodfellas-589-1837020-228936.html http://www.lunch.com/eatingout/reviews/d/UserReview-Goodfellas-589-1837020-228936.html Wed, 10 Oct 2012 06:03:17 +0000
<![CDATA[ Happy Hour at Cafe Santorini]]> One does not just walk into Old Town Pasadena Happy Hour Week!
Dissection must be made; careful analysis of each and every one of the twenty participating restaurants' happy hour menus. Charts were draw. Lists were made. Itineraries were key! I take Happy Hour very seriously.

Opportunity to have the first Happy Hour Hop came with my friend Melissa's birthday celebration on Friday, March 9th, which coincided with the Pasadena Art Night. The plan was simple: Arrive to Old Town early enough to hit up two of the carefully selected restaurants, enjoy some art, and hit up one more happy hour spot. I drew up a list for Melissa the birthday girl/observant vegetarian to choose from, selecting only the restaurants that offered a variety of vegetarian items. With absolutely no influence whatsoever from myself and my own, humble opinions, Melissa just happened to select:
Cafe Santorini
Vertical Wine Bar
Sushi Roku

To make sure we got the most out of our time, I made sure we went from the restaurant with the least HH time (Cafe Santorini) to the greatest (Sushi Roku). That way we wouldn't feel rushed or avoid missing it altogether. Here is what we ordered from our first stop, Cafe Santorini.

Many restaurants have a rule about happy hour only being applicable in a designated area - a bar, lounge or patio - and though Cafe Santorini does have this rule they were not keen to strictly enforce it on us as their bar was full and they did not want to put us through the awkwardness of having to ask a number of female patrons to move their damn purses and open up some seats (ladies).
A restaurant like Cafe Santorini can be either very California casual, business casual or fancy pants, depending on the context, company and setting of your outing. However, I probably would advise against children younger than five. Bonus points for a fixed Happy Hour menu - all food is $5.00.
All of the menus on the Cafe Santorini website seem to be up to date, and yes a Happy Hour menu is included. Their cuisine is Mediterranean with a beautiful blend of Italian and Greek.


 

Complimentary Garlic Flatbread - Cafe Santorini
Parmesan Garlic Flatbread (complimentary)

This was delicious and a very welcome change from the standard bread.

 



Sangria - Cafe Santorini
Red Sangria ($5)



All four of us ordered a round of red sangria. It was boozy, fruity and delicious. I would order this again in a heartbeat.


 

Garlic & Feta Fries - Happy Hour - Cafe Santorini
Garlic, Parsley & Feta French Fries


Steffie ordered these. I only had a couple but they were very good.

 



Curry Shrimp - Happy Hour - Cafe Santorini
Curry Shrimp


"Tiger prawns in a creamy curry sauce." Mary took a chance with that description and was delightfully surprised to find that these prawns were not only not drowning in sauce but plump, succulent and cooked to perfection. Bonus fresh greens and tomatoes.

 



Zucchini and feta croquettes - Happy Hour - Cafe Santorini
Zucchini & Feta Croquettes


One of the most generous portions for happy hour, the croquettes are liberally seasoned with fresh dill and lemon, giving these a zingy depth that Melissa really enjoyed.


 

Mini flat bread with soujouk sausage - Cafe Santorini
Mini Flat Bread with Soujouk Sausage


"With onions, goat cheese and fresh mint." A harmonious and once again, a pretty generous portion, combination which Steffie proclaimed as very tasty.

So. I ordered clams because (a) they're magically delicious and (b) these clams did not come in a nasty chorizo sauce that seems to be the trend all over the blessed earth. This is what was put before me:
 

Accidental Clams - Cafe Santorini


Pretty sweet, especially that portion size, am I right? Except that it wasn't mine and once my friends received their orders mine was taken away, saying it was the wrong clam dish. Mistakes happen. This is what I was eventually given:


Clams - Happy Hour - Cafe Santorini
Preserved Lemon and Saffron Clams


That was roughly about 10-13 clams, with no less than three of them void of any actual clam meat. I made a polite remark to our waiter about it - saying it may be beneficial to give the chef a heads up to make sure the clams don't fall out and thus have a customer miss out on their already small portion. Mind, I'm not a jerk when I give feedback like this - in fact, I am acutely aware of my tone and the words I use so that I don't come off as a mega-bitch.
"Well, did you look around in the sauce? They sometimes fall out."
Of course I did. I didn't say that but, "Yes. It's just lemons."
Our waiter kind of deflated, gave a sneer and said,
"So, what, you just want another one?"
No, that is not what I was asking for. I explained I was just giving feedback and a new order was not necessary. His agitation was making me agitated and nervous.
"You should just get another order. I'll get you another order, okay?"
Okay, fine. He insisted. So my friends finished up their selections and we sipped what was left of our sangria and waited. And waited. And waited. And waited. Four empty goblets and fifteen-twenty minutes later I asked for the check. Our waiter look flabbergasted.
"You mean, you don't want your clams?"
I was taken aback, unsure whether to be annoyed or embarrassed. If the clams were right at the pass ready to be handed to me, I would have gladly accepted them and tipped extra for the effort he made. He made no mention and I just wanted to get the hell out of there before more awkwardness ensued.

Steffie concluded that the first screw up was theirs to reap and I should have been left the first order of clams because they sat in front of me for a good 5-10 minutes before being taken away. They probably would have had I began to dig in right away, but silly, polite me decided to patiently wait for my friends to receive their orders.

Was the happy hour a good deal? Yes, I'd say so. I am actually more in favor of everything (or food) being one fixed price. It makes budgeting as well as figuring out the bill a lot easier. We got some good bang for our buck with Steffie and Melissa's orders, while Mary and mine were more quality over quantity, which I'm ultimately okay with. The $5 sangria was just right too.

Did Happy Hour entice me to return? Despite the snafu with the waiter, absolutely! Their menu is chock full of good eats and just by sampling the happy hour fare alone I feel confident it would be worth my money.

Cafe Santorini
64 West Union Street
Pasadena, CA 91103
website
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http://www.lunch.com/eatingout/reviews/d/UserReview-Cafe_Santorini-589-1804834-222084-Happy_Hour_at_Cafe_Santorini.html http://www.lunch.com/eatingout/reviews/d/UserReview-Cafe_Santorini-589-1804834-222084-Happy_Hour_at_Cafe_Santorini.html Mon, 19 Mar 2012 21:26:18 +0000
<![CDATA[ Lunch at Julienne of San Marino]]> My boyfriend is obsessed with Julienne, a local bistro cafe that is never want for business. We know never to venture there on a weekend morning because the crowd is practically spilling into traffic. While breakfast is the real reason to head to Julienne and we have hit it up three times now - only I never brought my camera to document it. Finally I have, though this time we decided to give their lunch menu a shot.

Cheeseburger and Fries - Julienne
Angus Cheeseburger ($15)


J's first choice of the ham and cheese sandwich was already out so he went with plan B, a cheeseburger. This is the type of eatery that has so many other items to go for before ordering the burger but J is a picky eater and wasn't expecting them to be out. He omitted the caramelized onions and was horrified to discover they put mayonnaise on the inside of the bun. Enough people hate mayo that it ought to be written down on the menu. Once he scraped it off he said it was good, but nothing extraordinary. The fries were tasty with crispy exteriors and warm insides.


Chicken Tarragon Salad Sandwich & Soup - Julienne
Soup and Sandwich Combination ($14.5)


While the fancier entrees were very alluring, my French Onion Soup obsession found me ordering a soup and sandwich combination. I was thankfully warned that the soup was sweet because it is made with chicken stock and a sweet white wine. Added with sweet onions and alas, it was indeed too sweet. The sandwich was chicken tarragon salad between their signature rosemary current bread. It was a little too generous of a portion for me and could have used a tomato or cranberries in the mix but otherwise was pretty good and not dried out tasting at all.


Fruit Cobbler - Julienne
Pear Cobbler ($7)


J ordered this and loved it. I was in the powder room and he had wolfed it down by the time I returned so yeah, other than "awesome" that's all I can give you.


Lemon Bar & Strawberry - Julienne
Lemon Square


I wanted something simpler to compliment my simple lunch and this lemon square fit the bill. I took most of it home to enjoy later. It was tart but still a little too sugary and I wasn't terribly fond of the coconut crust atop it (under the powder sugar).


Would I return to/recommend Julienne for lunch? Oh, yes, it's a pretty regular stop for us and we both would like to give a few more items a try. We'll always say yes to their breakfast.


Tips
Try not to go on the weekends, the wait is astoundingly long
Only open for breakfast and lunch
The website menu is not kept up to date (a pet peeve of mine) but it is usually only seasonal items that are swapped out. If you see "pumpkin pancakes" in July I'd suggest giving them a call to double-check
Browse through their gourmet market and pick up some goodies! Great for presents.


Julienne
2649 Mission Street
San Marino, CA 91108
website
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http://www.lunch.com/eatingout/reviews/d/UserReview-Julienne-589-1801877-221747-Lunch_at_Julienne_of_San_Marino.html http://www.lunch.com/eatingout/reviews/d/UserReview-Julienne-589-1801877-221747-Lunch_at_Julienne_of_San_Marino.html Tue, 6 Mar 2012 18:29:59 +0000
<![CDATA[ Luna Park on Mid-Wilshire (Los Angeles)]]> When my friend Steffie Love loves something she will make damn sure everybody knows it and try to spread the infection of curiosity throughout her friends so that we will in turn learn to love whatever it is she loves - bar, book, movie, restaurant, a particular dish - and then lives in the hopes that we will one day indulge with her. Such is the case with Luna Park - a restaurant off Wilshire & La Brea with a very pokey entrance but impressive, quirky digs on the inside. Steffie fell head over heels for their mac and cheese and became such an advocate that despite having never made the trek out there myself I snatched up a Groupon to Luna Park months and months back.

First of all, regardless of everything else, mad props to Luna Park for having a long stretch of time to use said Groupon with an expiration of date of May, 2012. I bought this in May of 2011. Good on you, Luna Park.

I had intended to use this Groupon with Steffie but both of us going down that way just never seemed to come together and when I was driving home from one of my doctor appointments in Santa Monica I suggested LP to my mom, who gladly took me up on the offer.

I was a little disappointed with the sparseness of the menu, but to be fair it was between lunch and dinner. I asked for a dinner menu just to look but our server must have forgotten and I wasn't about to nag him. What was listed was a mix of brunch (which they recently started serving a partial list of for their weekday menu) and lunch items.


Fried Egg Sandwich - Innards
Fried Egg Sandwich ($12.5)


Though Steffie always recommended the mac and cheese I just couldn't tear myself away from the innards of the fried egg sandwich: cheddar cheese, bacon, two eggs over easy, avocado, tomato and arugula. It came with a big bed of luscious looking mixed greens which unfortunately I could not eat at the time due to intestinal issues. It should also be noted I do not go for egg or sandwich anything usually so when I order either, let alone a combination of the two, you know I've got a hankering that could rival any knocked-up chick's 3:00am pickle ice cream cravings. This tasted exactly like how I imagined and more. I really didn't need the bacon (I removed a few strips) but one layer of a thicker cut might suffice in the future. Still, this is the best of breakfast & lunch all in one happy, filling sandwich.



Macaroni & Cheese
Macaroni & Cheese side ($8)


All right, so I couldn't come all of this way and not order the macaroni and cheese because Steffie would just not forgive me. Luckily Luna Park offers a side order - though at a whopping $8.00 you be the judge if that is a side dish kind of price. Broccoli came with it and he offered ham, so I went with that as well. I haven't a clue if I was charged extra for the ham. It was...prettier than it tasted. The cheese separated, becoming a thin, oily sauce at the bottom of the tray rather than cheese that actually stuck to the pasta. The crust was probably the best I've seen & tasted on restaurant mac and cheese since James' Beach in Venice (which is still hands down the best restaurant mac and cheese I've had). The ham was good and I didn't taste the broccoli. After two bites I decided to box it up and give it to my brother.



Burger and Fries
Creekstone Natural Tasty Burger & Fries ($13.5, $15.5 with cheese & avocado)


Any burger over $10 that charges for cheese is a ripoff in my book but mom was in the burger mood so she went for it. The avocado I can sort of understand, and look at that hunk of satin greenery on the plate there. She had Gruyere cheese on it and said it was a damn fine burger. As I bandersnatched some of her fries I have good authority to say those were some DAMN tasty taters and would spring for a side of them if my (hypothetical future) meal did not come with them.


Sangria
Red Sangria ($9.5)


Their cocktail list is something I would like to revisit in the future, especially since we came in just as the bottomless deal ended (at 3:00pm). It was a sangria kind of day, our warmish winter days being the envy of at least 45 other states and appropriate for sangria. This had a bit of a peppery kick to it - the server attributed it to the Spanish wine it was made with. I enjoyed it a lot.

I have to say that our experience had a dark cloud on it due to parking enforcement that was just calling the tow truck on my mom's car. There are only 2 signs on the incredibly busy La Brea Avenue - one before the row of parking meters and one after - that give mention to the 4:00pm cut-off for street parking. She got slapped with a $158 ticket. There are no signs outside of the restaurant (or on the website) to indicate where an alternative parking area might be. Thank you to the lady server who alerted my mom about the meter maid!


Would I return to Luna Park? I would, there are a number of items I have my eye on trying, but the prices and location will keep me from going out of my way.

Would I recommend Luna Park? Yes! Though it is a bit steep, the prices do reflect a high standard of quality in the food. It's diner food done right.

Luna Park
672 S. La Brea (near Wilshire)
Los Angeles, CA 90036
323.934.2110
website
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http://www.lunch.com/eatingout/reviews/d/UserReview-Luna_Park-589-1801875-221746-Luna_Park_on_Mid_Wilshire_Los_Angeles_.html http://www.lunch.com/eatingout/reviews/d/UserReview-Luna_Park-589-1801875-221746-Luna_Park_on_Mid_Wilshire_Los_Angeles_.html Tue, 6 Mar 2012 18:19:43 +0000
<![CDATA[ Yummy Sushi on Coronado Island]]> My mom and I won a raffle at the ACHA (Adults with Congenital Heart Defects Association) conference last April. The original win was for a condo in Colorado but, as we're not ski/snow/cold people, we swapped it for a luxurious suite at the Coronado Beach Resort instead! My friend Annie and I went up on Sunday the 19th to check in ~ Steffie joined me on Tuesday and Mom on Wednesday. It was a fabulous time and there were some equally fabulous (and let's be real not so fab) food for me to share.

One of the nifty aspects of staying at the Coronado Beach Resort (other than the rooftop jacuzzi, holler!) is that numerous merchants and eateries offer a 10% discount to their guests. When Steffie came down from Los Angeles she was rather famished and we decided to take our 10% to Yummy Sushi, a well reviewed local favorite just cat-corner to where we were staying. It was just after the lunch hour so the restaurant was slow and empty. We sat at the sushi bar and settled on three rolls to split between us.

Seaweed and Cucumber Salad
Seaweed and Cucumber Salad


This was given to us as a complimentary mini starter. I wasn't a big fan of the cucumber but the seaweed was perfectly seasoned with the sweet tang of rice wine vinegar.


Mikko Roll - Yummy sushi
Mikko Roll ($11.95)


"Tuna and Crab in, Salmon top" was all the description said of this roll. Had we known about the sauces we would have opted out. Not that they were bad (eel sauce and spicy mayo) but they did detract from the already tastiness of the roll.



Rainbow Roll - Yummy Sushi
Rainbow Roll ($10.95)

I have really grown to love and appreciate a well made rainbow roll. Note the generous chunks of fresh and ripe avocado - not a brown spot in sight!


Red Dragon Roll - Yummy Sushi
Red Dragon Roll ($11.95)


In: eel, crab + avocado. Top: Spicy Tuna. Another roll drenched in spicy mayo. Sigh. This is the roll where the sauce really encumbered the fish. Spicy tuna on its own is magnificent; there is no reason to embellish it. It's like an outfit with too many accessories.



Would I return/recommend Yummy Sushi? Absolutely. I sort of wish I had gone back with my mother, really, especially since I am now aware that they're sauce happy and can just ask for it to be withheld. Now you know, too! Otherwise this place is very clean, spacious and has a moderately priced menu with good quality fish.

Yummy Sushi
1330 Orange Ave
Coronado, CA 92118

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http://www.lunch.com/eatingout/reviews/d/UserReview-Yummy_Sushi-589-1801874-221745-Yummy_Sushi_on_Coronado_Island.html http://www.lunch.com/eatingout/reviews/d/UserReview-Yummy_Sushi-589-1801874-221745-Yummy_Sushi_on_Coronado_Island.html Tue, 6 Mar 2012 18:12:09 +0000
<![CDATA[ Celestino Ristorante & Bar]]> Celestino brought all of my warm, fuzzy memories of delicious Italian meals to the foreground of my brain, making me fall in love with Italian food all over again.

Celestino had been in my peripherals for the better part of fifteen years and now that I have sampled its fare I cannot ever imagine my life without them. I had been thinking, no, fantasizing about Celestino since J and I went there in late summer. It was an impromptu decision to go there the first time around and I did not have my camera handy. Sadness because I really wanted this review to be in 2011 for my top 2011 eats list. Oh, well! Just one more reason to go back.

As I was feeling more and more restless over these last few weeks and more confident about my not giving a fuck what people think of how I look (it is visually obvious I have been going through some rough issues) I craved Celestino more and more. Finally I caught J off his athletic diet and planted the idea in his head too. We made our way back to Celestino and had another wonderful evening. I wound up ordering the same appetizer and entree as I did the first time.

Jumbo scallops with cannelini beans and sage
Jumbo Scallops with cannellini beans and sage ($13.5)

On both occasions my scallops were cooked perfectly, no small feat for lesser chefs (myself included, sadly). However, I found that this second time around my broth was a little over seasoned, a pinch too much salt maybe. I’d still recommend this appetizer though because the scallops are the focus and I have had it taste immaculately in the past.

 

Papardelle, Pheasant and Mushrooms
Pappardelle con Fagiano e Morelle ($15)

Wide Fettuccine with pheasant and Morels Mushrooms. Oh. My. Lord. I didn’t think anything could usurp Fettuccine Alfredo or a really awesome seafood spaghetti but this dish beats all. I know it isn’t the prettiest of dishes, but those supple homemade noodles married in mushroom sauce with the tenderest flakes of pheasant meat is probably the most harmonious Italian dish I’ve ever eaten in my life.

 

Shrimp Risotto
Risotto with rock shrimp & vegetables in white cream sauce & truffle oil

The risotto special of the evening. While J enjoyed this dish, it was as imaginative as it looks above – that is to say, not really much at all. We don’t remember what he had last time but we do recall he enjoyed it (and that it was also probably shrimp related).

 

Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta
Vanilla bean panna cotta with strawberries

This was my first panna cotta and I could not have had a more ideal first experience. Panna cotta always looked like flavorless white jello to me, but when J started talking it up and explained it was a kind of Italian custard, I grew interested. I’m glad J ordered this as our dessert – it was bursting with vanilla and the fact that it was fresh sliced strawberries rather than a nasty strawberry “sauce” immensely impressed and pleased us.


I also ordered a cocktail from the bar.

 

Lemon Drop
Lemon Drop with sugared rim ($9)


I’m shamed to say this was too strong for me and I could not finish it. Good to mention though because if you’re not a weakling like me you’ll be happy to know the drinks are stiff.

 

Celestino has ample indoor seating with private indoor and outdoor rooms for parties. A covered front outdoor dining area is where J and I sat the first time, warmed by ceiling-mounted heaters. I actually prefer this area to the main dining room. We’ve been there when it was packed and when it was quiet and both times we were received by friendly and attentive staff.

I look forward to further blogging of my affair with Celestino. If I can ever break away from ordering the pappardelle (not bloody likely).

Celestino Ristorante & Bar
141 South Lake Avenue
Pasadena, CA 91101 website


 

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http://www.lunch.com/eatingout/reviews/d/UserReview-Celestino_Ristorante_Bar-589-1798428-220888-Celestino_Ristorante_Bar.html http://www.lunch.com/eatingout/reviews/d/UserReview-Celestino_Ristorante_Bar-589-1798428-220888-Celestino_Ristorante_Bar.html Tue, 7 Feb 2012 03:46:12 +0000
<![CDATA[ Best junk (food) in the world!]]> I like McDonald's especially when I crave for fried food. French fries is good but I only like them with chilli (especially the sweet and hot version; like Thai chilli) sauce and not ketchup. The only burger I eat is Filet-O-Fish and nothing else  (oh, may be once in a blue moon the McChicken). McDonald is also great to have when I'm broke! Other than that, I've no idea what the rest of McDonald means ;-)

Oh, I do love its hashbrowns! Matter of fact is, I love McDonald's for its grease (at least the oil is fresh, it could be worse!)! No one claims it's selling health food, do they? There was a time I liked its chicken nuggets but I haven't tasted it for years. No reason other than I've outgrown them, I suppose!



I do like its fast service, especially when I am about to catch a plane. And I found myself using its washroom more often than not when I was traveling about in a new city or country. I did enjoy its coffee from McCafe when I was in Budapest. That was one especially memorable coffee. 

So, yes, McDonald's has its value in more ways than one, LOL! At the very least, I can control my budget where McDonald is concerned, especially when one is on the road! Imagine going into restaurants and check their prices when you're low on cash! Rule of survival & McDonald's may be it for some!



For every single customer who hates McDonald's, I think there are at least three others who like it. Otherwise, you won't see the chain sprawling across the world, even more so than Starbucks and Walmart! Then again, other than Boeing's planes, this is one EXTREMELY successful American export! So why some Americans hate it is beyond me!

I do not think McDonald is "evil". I simply think one doesn't have to eat it every day and it serves its destiny for all of us once in awhile. Then again, don't take my word for it as I tend to be a junk food eater! Life is so lacking without junk food! Moderation is the key though, not isolation!]]>
http://www.lunch.com/eatingout/reviews/restaurant/UserReview-McDonald_s-589-1332086-219495-Best_junk_food_in_the_world_.html http://www.lunch.com/eatingout/reviews/restaurant/UserReview-McDonald_s-589-1332086-219495-Best_junk_food_in_the_world_.html Sat, 21 Jan 2012 13:13:05 +0000
<![CDATA[ Great Sandwiches for Cheap!]]> http://www.lunch.com/eatingout/reviews/restaurant/UserReview-Zelda_s_Corner-589-1790000-216671-Great_Sandwiches_for_Cheap_.html http://www.lunch.com/eatingout/reviews/restaurant/UserReview-Zelda_s_Corner-589-1790000-216671-Great_Sandwiches_for_Cheap_.html Wed, 28 Dec 2011 01:11:27 +0000 <![CDATA[ Fresh: gourmet vegetarian food in the heart of Toronto]]> Gosh I had a lot of Toronto eats. So many in fact I didn't even get to record all of them, like Stampede Burger, whose sweet potato fries were the best I've ever eaten, thanks in part to their amazing Stampede Sauce (which I must know the recipe of! Zuzu, it's been haunting me, go and use your womanly charms on the cooks there and get me the recipe for the stampede sauce! Posthaste!)

So after my friend Spice and I visited the Spadina House we walked down Bloor to meet up with Zuzu at Fresh, a well liked vegetarian restaurant. I had a rough time trying to decide on what to eat, and when I become this indecisive I usually make stupid choices - case in point: I ordered dosa, thinking my roti experience was isolated. Boy, was I wrong. But I'm getting ahead of myself.


Spinach Soup & multigrain cornbread
Spinach Soup and cornbread (Spice) $9


Spinach Soup - Fresh
Spinach Soup $6 (sans bread)
 
Spice loved the soup but hated the cornbread, which I ended up chowing down.


Grilled Veggies over Brown Rice
Baby Dragon Bowl (Zuzu) $10
 
Grilled vegetables, fresh sprouts on a bed of brown rice. It was refreshing, filling and delicious. Zuzu was sweet enough to swap out this with my dosa.


Coconut Curry Dosa
Coconut Curry Dosa (me) $9

 
Spiced pancakes filled with curried chickpeas and vegetables served with coconut curry sauce, cucumber and toasted coconut. What can I say, Canada? I do not like the way you do Indian food. The curry powder is overwhelming and I just don't get it. Maybe it's you, maybe it's me, let us just agree to disagree and we shall never meet again. At least Zuzu loved you, little dosa. Thank goodness for her unbridled love for coconut and heart of gold. I'm not going to let the dosa tarnish my opinion of Fresh, which I think is an apt name for this very health-conscious eatery. I look forward to returning to Toronto in the near future and giving Fresh another go.

Fresh
326 Bloor Street West
Toronto
website
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http://www.lunch.com/eatingout/reviews/d/UserReview-Fresh-589-1785985-216084-Fresh_gourmet_vegetarian_food_in_the_heart_of.html http://www.lunch.com/eatingout/reviews/d/UserReview-Fresh-589-1785985-216084-Fresh_gourmet_vegetarian_food_in_the_heart_of.html Mon, 5 Dec 2011 20:19:32 +0000
<![CDATA[ Sustainable Sushi in West Seattle: Mashiko]]>
Mashiko - West Seattle

My friend Liz has been talking up this little West Seattle joint for a while now; it's a favorite for her and her husband. The bar that separates Mashiko from any regular old sushi joint is the fact that owner Hajime Sato has worked very diligently to make Mashiko Seattle's first sustainable sushi restaurant. You're not going to find some of your favorite sushi here - either because its numbers are depleting or because fishing methods are less than humane. Fear not though - there is plenty of skillfully prepared seafood to go around. Bonus points for a well put together website that includes basic and in-depth information as well as an up to date menu.
Liz was careful to make reservations for the sushi bar - and reservations overall are a must as this place fills up fast. Though Hajime-san was not there we were catered to by Chef Mariah, whose deft hands could rival any Japanese-born sushi master.


Pour the Sake!


Art and Liz started the evening off by ordered a large drink of mu sake. It came in this adorable (pine? cedar?) box on a saucer and...that's what you drink it out of. I had a sip; it was the most amazing sake I've ever tasted. I had to order my own box. Between Art, Liz and Tori they ordered an array of sashimi and sushi rolls.


Skipjack Tuna - Mashiko
Skipjack Tuna


Temptation Island Roll - Mashiko
Temptation Island Roll albacore, tempura onions, scallions, and garlic sauce



Rainbow Roll - Mashiko
Rainbow Roll crab, cucumber, and avocado topped with assorted fish



Dragon Roll - Mashiko
Dragon Roll tempura namagi and cucumber topped with avocado & dynamite sauce



Goldeneye Roll
Goldeneye Roll (unsure what's in it)
 
Glutton that I am, I of course took any opportunity to taste whatever was offered to me. I must say, that Dragon Roll is lethally delicious. Order two or three, you won't regret it. Now, of course I had to go big because, well, who else was going to? With egging on from my companions, I ordered the Honkaku omakase course meal. Two hours of miniature courses until I am so full I beg for mercy. All chef's choice, all a surprise. Here is what was given to me:


Kinki Kobujime
Kinki Kobujime rock fish sashmi

Notes: Light and dainty, a very refreshing way to kick off the omakase.


Kumomoto Oyster
Kumomoto Oyster
Note: Heaven in a half shell. Oysters really do need their own food group.



Cherrystone Clam
Cherrystone Clam
Note: Not my favorite. In fact, I'll never eat a raw clam again.



Geoduck - Mashiko
Geoduck
Note: I wouldn't go out of my way for geoduck in the future, but the pink salt and masago helped.




Oregon Bay Shrimp Salad - Mashiko
Oregon Bay Shrimp Salad with sprouts and cherry tomatoes, ponzu & shio oil
Note: Very refreshing and light.



Sake Poached Oyster
Sake Poached Oyster with red onions
 
Note: Really amazing. I have limited experience with cooked oysters but this was absolutely delicious. The onions and sprouts really gave the oyster a tender depth I wouldn't have conceived of on my own. I'm pleased to say you can order this solo.



Poached Abalone
Poached Abalone
 
Note: I thought it was going to be a lot chewier than it was. Still not my favorite, but good to have tried anyway.




Albacore liver
Albacore liver (?)
Note: I didn't write down what part of the albacore this is, if it's part of the albacore at all. A liver? I don't recall, but it was pretty good.




Mu Sake
Sake in a Box
Note: Not part of the omakase but worth showing you. Delicious.



Uni - Mashiko
Uni
Note: I've only ever had good uni, but this uni takes the cake. Silky temptress of the sea...



Hawaiian Albacore Poke Salad
Hawaiian Albacore Poke Salad seaweed, sweet onions, garlic, and sesame oil

Note: This was good but I was happier to share it with Liz than eat it all myself.



Sashimi - Mashiko
Sashimi
 
Note: From far right to back left - Kibinago (blue sprat) with ume (least favorite), Washington coast ocean smelt, White King Salmon (favorite), Northwest albacore toro, spotted mackerel, seared black cod.


Chawamushi - Mashiko
Chawanmushi steamed egg custard with mushrooms
 
Note: I took one bite and handed this to Liz. I couldn't get into a hot, eggy custard dish with overly earthy fungi. Just not my thing.


Sauteed Geoduck
Sauteed Geoduck with matsutake mushrooms
 
Note: Now this I like! I can eat geoduck better when sauteed. Very tasty in a bath of garlic and butter, I believe.



Tuna Tartare - Mashiko
Tuna Tartare
 
Note: I was ready for one more course...and this is what Chef Mariah pulled out to finally keep my tummy still. Holy shit, I'm sorry this blurry picture does not do this piece justice. I had to share it with my friends because of the density and immense tuna-ness of it all. Amazing.



Green Tea Ice Cream - Mashiko
Coco-a-GoGo Bakery Nouveau brownie coated in panko & coconut, deep fried & topped with green tea ice cream
 
Note: I liked the green tea ice cream more than the deep fried brownie, but perhaps that is because I was up my eyeballs in food at this point. Shared by all.



Would I recommend Mashiko? Absolutely. Whether you're a daredevil glutton like me or perfectly content for a few rolls, this is a fantastic culinary experience that I'd encourage all visitors and residents of Seattle to enjoy.

Mashiko Japanese Restaurant + Sushi Bar
4725 California SW
Seattle WA 98116
206.935.4339
website

Hours
Sunday - Thursday: 5:03pm-9:00pm
Friday & Saturday: 5:03pm-10:00pm]]>
http://www.lunch.com/eatingout/reviews/d/UserReview-Mashiko_Japanese_restaurant_sushi_bar-589-1785027-216083-Sustainable_Sushi_in_West_Seattle_Mashiko.html http://www.lunch.com/eatingout/reviews/d/UserReview-Mashiko_Japanese_restaurant_sushi_bar-589-1785027-216083-Sustainable_Sushi_in_West_Seattle_Mashiko.html Mon, 5 Dec 2011 20:08:20 +0000
<![CDATA[ Mitzi's Sister: a step between generic and gourmet pub grub]]>
menu at mitzi's sister


It's my goal to get through all of my Toronto eats before the end of the year, so at least I can say it only took me 6 or so months. Ha. Anyway. Both Mitzi's Cafe and Mitzi's Sister was talked up greatly by Zuzu, who was very eager to make sure I got to try out everything she knew I'd enjoy. Wasting no time to whisk me off to their local favorites, G & Z took me to Mitzi's Sister on day two. Here is an excerpt from my travel journal on the day I ate at Mitzi's Sister:
 

3:30pm At Poutini's - trying very hard to resist poutine until I'm with Zooz. Having Boylan creme soda and trying not to listen to this bratty American girl bitch about Canada - weather, social services and how the government uses money. "Montreal is a dirty city." ( ... ) I'm going to steal their seats. OK, no. Lesbians did. And I don't thrown down with lesbians. All the Toronto chicks are smoking, and very unique in style. Z met up with me and we popped in and out of stores. There was a fab cheap store with cute clothes - I bought a long sleeve. We bought our Batman burlesque tix and then G picked up up to go to dinner.
 
Riveting stuff, this, don't you think Jack Keroauc would be pleased? Or am I not just not drinking enough?

fish 'n' chips
Beer battered fish and chips for Mr. G


sweet potato quesadilla
Sweet Potato Quesadilla for Zuzu


Hot roast beef sandwich
Hot roast beef sandwich for me

 
I'm usually a bit more daring, but for whatever reason I was just craving a classic. I think it was the promise of gravy; ever since I knew I was going to Canada I got a hankering for gravy (it goes with the lure of poutine). Whatever the case, this sandwich hit the comfort food spot just perfectly. The gravy on top of the sandwich? So simple a gesture absolutely made this. I appreciated the fresh steamed green beans & carrots and would not have complained if the garlic mashed potatoes had just a wee bit more garlic. Zuzu's sweet potato quesadilla equally frightened and intrigued me (as food ought to from time to time). It was sweet, savory and spicy all at once. Intensely delicious. G's beer battered Haddock was crispy and tasty and the Yukon gold potato fries were a nice change up from standard russet.

Would I recommend/return to Mitzi's Sister? Yes. It's a step up from standard pub grub but with a menu that has both challenging and familiar dishes. Doesn't push the envelop, just gently nudges it.

Mitzi's Sister
1554 Queen Street West
Toronto
website
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http://www.lunch.com/eatingout/reviews/d/UserReview-Mitzi_s_Sister-589-1780396-215051-Mitzi_s_Sister_a_step_between_generic_and_gourmet.html http://www.lunch.com/eatingout/reviews/d/UserReview-Mitzi_s_Sister-589-1780396-215051-Mitzi_s_Sister_a_step_between_generic_and_gourmet.html Sun, 6 Nov 2011 04:41:53 +0000
<![CDATA[ Review: R23 (Downtown Los Angeles)]]> R23

 

I’m not afraid to eat alone. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again, I’m always amazed to find that many people do not, cannot, will not venture out on their own, especially to restaurants, for fear of being pegged as lonely or without friends. For me, this is a foreign insecurity; I don’t give a shit what other diners think of me. I’m too busy eating.

As was the case when I purchased a Groupon to R23, a Japanese restaurant located in downtown Los Angeles. Blocks shy from being situated in Little Tokyo, in what is now I believe called the “warehouse district” I made my reservation as early as dinner could be made, simply for the fact that not too long ago the area in question was not somewhere I would venture to in broad daylight, let alone the evening. The Gold Line light rail that now travels into Little Tokyo allows me freedom and ease I could only hope for when I was a teenager and trekking out to Little Tokyo on a weekly basis.

R23 is three blocks in from Alameda, in an old brick building that was once a railroad loading dock that splits its space with an art gallery. The restaurant is modest but comfortable, with chairs constructed of what appeared to be upcycled cardboard. I sat at the sushi bar, situated along the back. There was no booming “IRASSHAI!” from the staff, but a very serene welcome in soothing tones reserved for upscale places. Not your usual sushi joint.

The sushi chef was reserved and kept to himself mostly, never really engaging with customers other than fulfilling their orders. He wasn’t unfriendly, he just didn’t initiate any conversation – again, I’m not quite used to this more quiet sushi chef. It was different.

 

Oyster Shot
Oyster Shooter $9

 

Easily the best oyster shooter I’ve had in my life. With sake, quail egg, masago, and scallion. I began my meal with this and it was the ideal ZING! to awaken my taste buds.

 

 

IMG_1135
R23 style Crispy Rice $15

 

Spicy tuna and avocado atop a bed of crispy rice with wasabi tartar sauce. A little heavy for one person, and I could do with thinner beds of rice, but otherwise very tasty.

 

 

Beef Sashimi
Beef Sashimi $15

 

Ever since I ate at Guu, I’ve been on the hunt for its Los Angeles equivalent in beef carpaccio/sashimi. I wouldn’t trust just any place, of course, to feed me properly prepared raw beef. R23 did not deliver in full; it was not thin or raw as I was expecting, but still good. Just not worthy of the name sashimi. It was plentiful with a tangy sweet sauce. Nice portion size and the onions, mixed greens and wedge of lemon were appreciated additions.

 

 

Conch & Asparagus
Tsubugai Conch + Asparagus $15

 

Sauteed with creamy soy sauce. Wow, warm. Who saw that coming? A very flavorful sauce, creamy but light. The asparagus was just the perfect green to pair with both sauce and conch. The conch is chewy in texture, definitely not for everyone but I enjoyed it. I would like to try conch cold next time.

 

 

Uni
Uni $12

 

My love for uni knows no bounds, save that I will only ever order it in a restaurant that has its sushi in order because I feel like this is something that can go horribly wrong in lesser hands. The uni was luxurious in both satin smooth texture and burst of flavor. Every time I eat uni, I swear I’ve been sexually harassed…just a bit.

 

 

Hamachi Sushi
Hamachi Sushi $7

 

A clean finish to a lovely meal.


My voucher was $25 for $50 worth of food, but a little quick math will tell you that I went over by $23.00. R23 is definitely not a cheap eat, but a place to spoil yourself or someone you love.

Would I return to R23? Possibly. The food is good, but due to the prices, I would likely return with someone to split the food and cost.

Would I recommend R23? Yes, a good spot for dates and small parties looking to treat themselves.

R23
923 E 2nd Street
Los Angeles, CA 90013
(213) 687-7178
website

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http://www.lunch.com/eatingout/reviews/d/UserReview-R23-589-1775459-214807-Review_R23_Downtown_Los_Angeles_.html http://www.lunch.com/eatingout/reviews/d/UserReview-R23-589-1775459-214807-Review_R23_Downtown_Los_Angeles_.html Sun, 30 Oct 2011 20:16:57 +0000
<![CDATA[ Review: Plate 38 (Pasadena)]]> Plate 38 - Pasadena


I think it’s difficult to review a place that doesn’t WOW you or make you filled with rage. It’s the eateries that hit the mark of just above mediocre, that B average student that tends to fall by the wayside for me. Such a place is Plate 38 – a clean, casual Pasadena joint that serves up breakfast, lunch and dinner. Between its wannabe hip menu and annoyingly “cool” (thus slow as it is bogged down with unnecessary effects) website, Plate 38 desperately wants to achieve what The Counter Burger has in success and other Pasadena eateries like Kings Row and Dog Haus already have in style and skill.

That’s not to say Plate 38 doesn’t have good food – it does – it just doesn’t leave a lasting impression (hence I forgot to even write about it, several months later).

 

 

Mushroom Burger - Plate 38
Mushroom Burger

 

With 1/3 patty, wild mushroom demi-glace, caramelized onion, arugula, provolone, blue cheese aioli on brioche. Would have swapped out the blue cheese aioli for standard garlic aioli as it drowned out the flavors of mushroom. The most negative comment I have is that the meat was well (overcooked) and I recall asking for medium rare.

 

 

Breakfast Cheeseburger - Plate 38
Breakfast Burger

 

With scrambled eggs, bacon, cheddar, avocado, and lettuce on brioche. Burger was a little overdone (not J’s complaint, mine) but lovely to have that much fresh lettuce on a burger.

 

 

Fries - Plate 38
Garlic Herb Fries

 

Served with ketchup and ranch, I believe. J didn’t like them because they were so thin all that was discernible was the crispy exterior and none of the garlic or herbs.

They have a nice beverage selection, including Hank’s root beer which I can drink because it does not contain caffeine. It should be noted, however, that J felt their lemonade was incredibly off, being too sour.

Would I recommend Plate 38? I would recommend it for the area. If you’re going across the street to Game Empire for some D&D and take a break for dinner, this is a place I’d name as a plausible choice. If you actually want to impress somebody with some serious Pasadena eats? No.

Would I return to Plate 38? Hm. I wouldn’t go out of my way to avoid it, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to patronize their establishment again, either. If someone suggests it with enthusiasm, I have no issue going along.

Plate 38
2361 East Colorado Boulevard
Pasadena, CA 91107
(626) 793-7100
website

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http://www.lunch.com/eatingout/reviews/d/UserReview-Plate_38-589-1775458-214806-Review_Plate_38_Pasadena_.html http://www.lunch.com/eatingout/reviews/d/UserReview-Plate_38-589-1775458-214806-Review_Plate_38_Pasadena_.html Sun, 30 Oct 2011 20:15:14 +0000
<![CDATA[ Review: Guu saka bar (Toronto)]]> IMG_7094


Ask around for the best Japanese restaurant in all of Toronto and many Toronto residents will point you at Guu saka bar – either from personal experience or word of mouth. Guu saka bar is a bizarre mix of hyper-fusion and rigid traditional Japanese izakaya (tapas), located in the West Annex neighborhood. The menu is ever changing (as Spicy had to find out the hard way, having her heart set on fried macaroni and cheese balls) and sharing is encouraged (though very hard to see through). There are three dining areas to pick from: a common, family style area with long tables and benches, the sushi bar or the very traditional area which requires customers to remove their shoes before sitting level with their table.

 

IMG_7069

 

Spicy was very wary about leaving her Fluevog shoes in a cubby, so she was permitted to take her shoes with her so long as they were off. The menu was extensive, with staples and specials. We were a little overwhelmed, unsure of what was what, but decided to just go for whatever sounded the tastiest.

 

Kimchi Udon
Kimchi Udon

 

Udon with spicy roe, kimchi, nori, scallion. I was intrigued by this odd dish. Ingredients I wouldn’t think to put together but that blend so beautifully I was kind of wishing I had more. Deliciously spicy with a mixture of textures to compliment one another. I must try this at home one day.

 


Negi Toro
Negi Toro

 

Chopped spicy tuna, nori to wrap it up. Pretty straight forward. It was spicy and tuna-y, what more could I want? Yum! Oh, and I didn’t need to bother with the soy (and definitely not the wasabi). My tuna was perfect just the way it was.

 


Magu Tata
Magu tata

 

Seared tuna, garlic chips, green onion, ponzu sauce. “The best tune I ever had,” said Spicy, and she knows her tuna. The texture was very nice, with melt in your mouth tenderness, and the tuna was well seasoned.


Okonomiyaki
Okonomiyaki

 

Yakisoba, tonkatsu, mayo. My first (I think) official okonomiyaki. It was spicy, sweet and savory. Spice wasn’t fond of the yakisoba’s flavoring and the sauce was a bit too abundant, but it was otherwise tasty. I don’t think I’d go out of my way for okonomiyaki but it was satisfying to finally try it.

 


Beef Carpaccio
Beef Carpaccio

 

My first ever beef carpaccio, thanks in part to Pixel, who had to bow out prematurely. Dear mother of meat, this was a treat! I don’t know if I will ever eat another of its likeness. Flavorful, tangy and juicy I just wanted to go behind a screen and have a private moment with this dish.

Would I recommend and return to to Guu? Hell to the yes. If anything, I wish I had gone back to Guu, with Zuzu and Mr. G in tow so they could experience the Japanese heaven that is Guu. Not only was it one of my best meals in Toronto, but I have yet to find its equal here in Los Angeles. Yet another reason (on my steadily growing list) to return to Toronto!

Guu
559 Bloor St W
Toronto, ON M5S 1Y6
(647) 343-1101
www.guu-izakaya.com

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http://www.lunch.com/eatingout/reviews/restaurant/UserReview-Guu_SakaBar-589-1773907-214568-Review_Guu_saka_bar_Toronto_.html http://www.lunch.com/eatingout/reviews/restaurant/UserReview-Guu_SakaBar-589-1773907-214568-Review_Guu_saka_bar_Toronto_.html Sun, 23 Oct 2011 19:47:26 +0000
<![CDATA[Pizza Hut Quick Tip by JadeLouiseDesigns]]> http://www.lunch.com/reviews/d/UserReview-Pizza_Hut-1010793-213844.html http://www.lunch.com/reviews/d/UserReview-Pizza_Hut-1010793-213844.html Fri, 30 Sep 2011 14:18:49 +0000 <![CDATA[ Affordable Farm Fresh Restaurant with an Amazing Wine Book in Downtown Napa]]> Old World Inn, Nando and I decided to head out to the "adventurous palette" dining establishment that our innkeeper had suggested, those were her exact words. We took the challenge gladly after she explained that they change the menus daily based on what's in season and in their garden. Sold!

We had originally reserved a spot in their outdoor plaza but, we had arrived early and decided to sit indoors, since it was ready. Their plaza is gorgeous and you should definitely sit out and enjoy it on a nice evening, we were just hungry. The restaurant is decorated in a purposefully and tastefully rustic manner, that may sound like an oxymoron but, it's the perfect description of Napa and of this restaurant's decor. There were succulents on wooden tables with simple cotton linen napkins and simple silverware. The kitchen is open to the public, so you can see the chefs making everything right there in front of you.

                                                   
We were seated at our comfy table right by the kitchen which would normally annoy me but, this time excited me since I'd be able to see all the action. First, we confronted the wine bible or book, there is no way that anyone would EVER call this a list, it's about 35 pages long! Not to worry, though, if you're the type that overwhelms easily with a lot of choices or you don't know what you like...exactly. There's an incredibly helpful Sommelier on hand to help you out. Tip: Look at the last page, it has a fantastic selection that's under $30 a bottle from local wineries. After all, isn't that what you're doing in Napa?

We browsed through the simple menu full of farm fresh goodness (just in case you don't believe them, they bold print anything that comes directly from their garden which included basil, rosemary, tomatoes, garden veggies, eggplant, and some others) and myriad of choices (there's first course pasta, wood-fired pizza, meat and seafood dishes).



As you can see above, the pasta dishes are quite small which we didn't know when we ordered two of some of the best pasta I've had in a long time. My suggestion to you is to also order one of their pizzas to share, they price around $10 and look so good. It's not going to kill your bill and it will leave you satiated.

Our total bill was a surprising $73, without tip. We had two pasta dishes, a nice bottle of Sangiovese and desert. I've had the same order in San Francisco and was charged upwards of $150. This is a definite must for those that enjoy farm fresh, gourmet meals and are looking for an enjoyable meal in downtown Napa.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/eatingout/reviews/restaurant/UserReview-Oenotri-589-1468728-213492-Affordable_Farm_Fresh_Restaurant_with_an_Amazing.html http://www.lunch.com/eatingout/reviews/restaurant/UserReview-Oenotri-589-1468728-213492-Affordable_Farm_Fresh_Restaurant_with_an_Amazing.html Mon, 19 Sep 2011 23:43:04 +0000
<![CDATA[ Review: Dog Haus (Pasadena)]]> Dog Haus - Pasadena

 

Ever since my mother came home positively raving about Dog Haus, I had been meaning to go there. Double that intention and desire once I found out that the creative minds behind Kings Row Gastropub were also the mad men slinging us these rave-worthy burgers and ‘best of the wurst’ dogs & sausages. When I first met the Kings Row/Dog Haus collective, we of course began to talk about our favorite kinds of dogs, burgers and sausage. I remember saying how much I love sauteed mushrooms, caramelized onions and cheddar – not American – cheese.
“That’s the Maria burger!” one of the owners exclaimed, pointing to his fiance, Maria, who designed the burger. Maria and I shared a high-five and I vowed that the Hail Maria would be my first meal at The Dog Haus.
I know these guys are on the right track when I checked out their menu online and saw “The Abe Froman” listed under their wurst menu. Google it if you’re not laughing.

Cut-to this week when I decide to treat my sister to a burger as she works long, unusual hours now and deserved a treat. First thing I’m going to say about Dog Haus is how pissed I am that it did not exist when I was attending Pasadena City College – as it’s a mere two blocks up from the school. Parking is behind the building, street or in the church parking lot next door (except for Sundays for obvious reasons and only in spaces clearly marked as reserved for the 105 building).

Inside is a spacious, clean counter-service with picnic-style tables and a dry marker board made to look like traditional chalkboard deli service. All burgers, dogs and sausages are listed with prices, plus drinks, desserts, side orders and the build-your-own feature for those who don’t want a premade burger.


The Ringer - Dog Haus, Pasadena
THE RINGER

My sister went for The Ringer – cheddar cheese, smoked bacon, bbq sauce, onion rings. She loved it, though she did omit the BBQ sauce. It was large, crunchy, meaty with just a bit of sweetness from the bun, which Annette was surprised to find out was Hawaiian bread.

 

 

Hail Maria Burger - Dog Haus
Hail Maria Burger

 

Hail Maria – sautéed mushrooms, caramelized onions, cheddar cheese, mayo. I swapped out the mayo for aioli and I advise Dog Haus to make that a permanent swap because it just added a whole new level of flavor and texture to an already delicious burger.

I gave up trying to eat the burger with my hands; as you can see, these are massive! 1/3 lb. patties generously stacked with their toppings with Hawaiian bread for a bun. My burger in particular was sweet, I think from the abundance of juicy caramelized onions, creamy aioli and the bun itself. I finally had to just go at it with a knife and fork.

 


Tots and Fries
Tots and Fries

 

The tater tots were good, but the burgers were so filling that my sister and I could not finish them. The fries, unfortunately, left much to be desired. They look amazing, but tasted as if they had been precooked and warmed up. Easily remedied, which I am sure they will eventually.

The burgers shined in this outing and at half the cost of a burger from The Counter, my other favorite burger joint, I know I will be back. I can’t wait to go back and report on the hot dogs!

Would I recommend Dog Haus? Absolutely. Affordable, filling and delicious, how can these burgers go wrong when they are so very, very right!

Would I return to Dog Haus? Already in the works to go back and have a taste of them hot dogs! I’m sure my family will insist on tagging along with me, too. Expect a follow-up review!

Dog Haus
105 North Hill Avenue
Pasadena, CA 91106-1916
(626) 577-4287
website

Open 11am-10pm daily
 

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<![CDATA[ Review: Inn of the Seventh Ray (Topanga Canyon)]]> IMG_0517


It’s been a few years since my mom and I made the summer trek to Topanga Canyon. We usually eat at Froggy’s, but my love has waned with their quality and menu. Having heard of Inn of the Seventh Ray from a family friend, mom has been hankering to splurge and when Living Social offered a half-price ticket to the Will Greer Theatricum Bontanicum, we snatched up tickets and decided to go for an early dinner before hopping off to the famous outdoor theatre of the canyons to see The Merry Wives of Windsor.

As soon as we were taken to the seating area, I stopped and told my mom, “This is the place I want to get married at.” Surrounded by the beauty of mother nature, wispy white canopies, faerie lights and lavender trim with stone booths and white tables – it was picture perfect. With all of the breathtaking natural beauty and painstaking planned out seating area, there are no bad seats. We were sat on the lower deck overlooking a small brook and sandy grove.


IMG_0525

We did not have too much time to spare, seeing as we had to be at the theater 30 minutes prior to the show, so no tasting menu or desserts this time. Appetizers were so tempting, though, that mom and I both had to order them. She went with the soup of the day (not pictured) while I went for Seared Diver Scallops Corn Emulsion, Brussel Sprout, Bonito Salt Popcorn, Puffed Squid Powder and Chorizo Oil.

IMG_0523
Seared Driver Scallops – $19

 

Just when you thought scallops couldn’t get fancier, eh? Yes, indeed, I was able to taste each element and enjoyed every twist and turn my taste buds took. The popcorn was easily the most surprising part of this unique appetizer, but oddly fit perfectly like a jigsaw piece, and would not be complete without it.
The chef was able to capture salty, sweet, spicy along with texture combos like soft, chewy, crunchy and smooth. If this were an entree, I would have ordered it straight away.

As Inn of the Seventh Ray is known for the superb vegetarian food, mom went for Farmers Market Melange Du Jour Delicata Squash, Grilled Asparagus, Tofu Cheese and Herb Cous Cous, Sunchoke Puree and Lemon Oil.


IMG_0530
Melange du Jour – $27

 

Between her soup (which I believe was a roasted cauliflower and pepper soup) and this dish, my mom was deeply satisfied and full. Everything was fresh, tender and minimally seasoned so that every bite stood out on its own. I do believe that the description on the menu is inaccurate though, as there was a beet puree and bok choy along with baby zucchini and carrots.

Just to be contradictory, as daughters are wont to do, I ordered Prime Hanger Steak Huiltacoche Potato, Morel Mushroom Duck Bacon and Napa Cabbage Slaw, Whole Grain Mustard Yogurt


Hanger Steak
Hanger Steak – $34

 

In a word, wow. The meat was tender, juicy and exactly what every slab of beef should taste like (but sadly does not). The potato was directly under it in layers not unlike gratin, and just enough to not make me feel like I gorged on a box of starch. The duck bacon was just the pinch of extra meaty saltiness to compliment the steak and napa cabbage slaw was crispy and refreshing to almost cool the salt of the bacon (which wasn’t overwhelming at all). The mustard yogurt was miniscule dots on either side of the steak, cool and slightly tangy like horseradish but really unnecessary as the steak was gorgeous with just the light morel sauce and its own juices.

Service was attentive, informative and friendly. We were bothered by two bees and I could not eat for a solid ten minutes until a bowl of powdered cloves was set out to naturally ward off the insects. My one complaint is that when the waitress went to split the bill she accidentally charged the entire bill to me, nixed it out, charged me again for the proper amount. She did not tell me and I was very upset to find out that my credit union had to hold that money until it was processed and properly cancelled – which took three days as it was over a Sunday. This was a hassle because I could not access that money and I needed it.

Sanfu aside, I would definitely recommend Inn of the Seventh Ray and I would return. It’s a lovely experience with healthy, Eco-conscience food.

Info
- Take kids at your own discretion; I see this as a special treat.
- Bring a cardigans/shawl as it gets cool in the evenings all year round.
- Valet parking only on Friday/Saturday evenings and all day/evening Sundays.

Inn of the Seventh Ray
128 Old Topanga Canyon Road
Topanga, California 90290
310.455.1311
website

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http://www.lunch.com/eatingout/reviews/d/UserReview-Inn_of_the_Seventh_Ray-589-1763593-213116-Review_Inn_of_the_Seventh_Ray_Topanga_Canyon_.html http://www.lunch.com/eatingout/reviews/d/UserReview-Inn_of_the_Seventh_Ray-589-1763593-213116-Review_Inn_of_the_Seventh_Ray_Topanga_Canyon_.html Fri, 9 Sep 2011 20:22:37 +0000
<![CDATA[ Review: Gobo Sushi (Toronto)]]> humid and stormy late afternoon/early evening in June. Toronto. I just had my first all-day adventure on the TTC (that’s the Toronto public transit system), walked through Chinatown to Kensington Market, shopped, got my hair done and finally made it to my friend Spice’s casita just as the sky looked like it was about to give way to an army of winged beasts and hellfire. Zuzu was to follow and the three of us would be watching the film that brought us together: The Dark Knight. It was going be a momentous evening for us. That a film brought me two awesome girl-friends such as Spice and Zuzu is profound and this was something I’d been looking forward to since my trip was initially planned.

 

It had been a good day, but I had eaten some gnarly roti and did not think I would ever find the desire or strength to eat again. Spice was hungry, though, and, being a gracious (see: Canadian) hostess, was kind and asked her guest (me) what I felt like eating. NOTHING. EVER! was what I wanted to cry before guzzling down a bottle of TUMS, but I resisted. Knowing she kept kosher as well as no land-meat, I shrugged and said the simplest, most refreshing, non-roti thing that came to mind: “Sushi?”
Her eyes lit up and maybe it was my imagination but she seemed pleased that our minds melded to the same conclusion. Gleefully, she whipped out a take-out menu to Gobo Sushi, a place she and her husband had only ordered from once before but with stellar results.
“They deliver!” she told me.
My mind was blown. Figuratively speaking, of course, because I know the difference between figuratively and literally.
Sushi that delivers? As in, to your doorstep? Such a miraculous thing exists in North America?

See, this is the drawback to living in a region where it does not have apocalyptic weather: no sushi delivery. I would gladly trade off my arid, desert heat for some of that humid, cauldron-black storm shit to get better options when it comes to delivery.

We drooled over the inexpensive and tasty-sounding options as we waited for Zuzu to arrive. Once she does, we place our order and it arrives around 40 minutes later. I actually took the menu back home with me but for the life of me I cannot figure out where I put it, so I’m just going off of memory here, folks.

 


White Chicken Bento
White Meat Chicken Bento

Sushi Pizza
Sushi Pizza


IMG_7731
Spicy Tuna Roll + Tuna Avocado Spring Roll


IMG_7734
Tuna Crunch Roll + Salmon Avocado Roll


Soybeans
Edamame


IMG_7736
California Roll


 


I don’t know why but I get hell-bent on these tuna kicks (must be all of the mercury) and I kept going, “Oh, how about such-and-such tuna roll?” Everything tasted marvelous. There was no “fishy” smell that permeated our senses; all of the sushi tasted fresh and clean. Surprisingly enough, my favorite item ended up being the “sushi pizza” – salmon sashimi atop triangular “pizza” slices made up of crispy rice. YUM.

Gobo Sushi can be enjoyed on its own premise, but why not take advantage of one of the highest-ranked delivery sushi joints in all of Toronto and save your order for a stormy summer evening? Trust me, it’ll be worth it!

Gobo Sushi
256 Christie St
Toronto, ON M6G 3B8
(647) 352-6688

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<![CDATA[ Review: ‘lette macarons (Pasadena)]]> Lette Macaroons


I’ll be honest and confess that I always thought macarons were too expensive to get very excited about, but after tasting a really superb macaron I came around and decided that you know, if it’s that good, it’s worth a little extra change.
So, while on the bus heading to Kings Row, I spotted ‘lette (named after owner Paulette Koumetz) where once a Mrs. Beasley cookie shop occupied. The hell-? A whole shop dedicated to macarons? Must try!
The store is small, but clean and bright with only a rainbow of macarons to reel in your attention.


A rainbow of macaroons


Twelve standard flavors: caramel, Caribbean chocolate, coconut, Columbian coffee, earl grey tea, lemon, Madagascar vanilla, raspberry, rose, Sicilian pistachio, sweet wedding almond and violet cassis.
Current seasonal flavors: lychee and passion fruit.

Though they were all tempting, I did not want a repeat of my harsh lesson with Frances Bakery, and erred on the side of caution with a modest purchase of three macarons:


Lychee, Rose and Earl Grey
Lychee, Rose, Earl Grey Tea


I couldn’t even tell you which one my favorite was because all three were baked to refined, delicate French perfection. They all tasted as they should have without a remote trace of artificiality. Lychee stood out the most, with that lovely refreshing zing! lychee has, while the rose was delicate but firmly present, and the Earl Grey soft at first but deeper as I continued to eat it. Crisp exterior with flavored ganache on the inside.

Price Range:
individual macarons $1.70
giftbox of 12 macarons $19.50 | 24 macarons $38
minibox of 6 macarons $10.50 | 2 macarons $4

Would I return to ‘lette? Absolutely. I want to snatch up another (few!) lychee macarons before they go out of season and try out the violet and salted caramel.

‘lette
14 S. Fair Oaks Ave.
Pasadena, CA 91105
website
Hours of Operation
Sunday – Thursday | 11am – 8pm
Friday – Saturday | 11am – 10pm

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<![CDATA[ Review: Roxolana Ukrainian Restaurant (Pasadena)]]> IMG_8547
On a warm day in Pasadena my mom, two aunts and I stopped in at Roxolana before going on the semi-annual tour of Castle Green. Roxolana has been around for a couple of months now and, to my knowledge, is the only Ukrainian restaurant in the area. Ukrainian food is not wholly unfamiliar to us, as we are of Polish decent and have had similar dishes routinely prepared for us for older matriarchs of our family. Nothing is ever exactly the same, not even in the same country, so we were eager to try out Roxolana.

 

The interior is exactly a kind of medieval revival look, but still too modern to warrant a picture here. We were served bread with a homemade pesto dipping sauce, but as the bread was just store bought thin, grossly soggy wheat slices, they really should not have bothered. Plus, this is seriously heavy food. No fillers, please.

 


Pierogi
Ukrainian style Pierogi

Pierogi – bread pastry stuffed with meat (one order) and cabbage (another order). Served with a olive oil and herb dipping sauce.
These were just okay, as I prefer the dumpling style and filled with potatoes or mushrooms. My family loved these, though. Mom really dug the cabbage pierogi.

 

 

Julienne
Julienne

I ordered the appetizer Julienne, chicken and mushrooms in a rich sour cream sauce. Why this is an appetizer I will never know; I was nearly full by the time I finished this overwhelmingly rich dish. This is not for anyone with any adverse side effects to dairy! It was gooey, stringing and thick like cheese and filled with savory chunks of chicken and mushrooms.

 

 

Zrazy
Zrazy

This was a special of the day on a separate menu. It is a potato cake stuffed with mix meat in a mushroom cream sauce. They messed up my order and gave me cabbage and had to remake the whole dish. It was really worth the trouble, though. Rich, stick-to-your-bones good. I could only handle one, though, and saved the rest for another day.

 

 

Cabbage and Mushroom Crepe
Cabbage and Mushroom Crepe

European Salad
European Salad
My aunt C. ordered a cabbage and mushroom crepe and European salad (tomato, cucumber, bell pepper, olives, tuna, croutons, olive oil). She really enjoyed both.

 

 


Golubty
Golubty

My aunt N. ordered Golubty – meat and rice stewed in tomato sauce and stuffed in cabbage. She had nothing but praise for it.

 

 

Vareniki - meat
Vareniki

Mom ordered Vereniki, one of the signature dishes. Dumplings stuffed with meat and fried onions. Served with sour cream. She thought it was out of this world.

 

The service was slow and disjointed. There were some miscommunications and questions were met with blank stares before answered with limited English. Prices of some entrees were a little more than I would pay, but the majority was decently priced. While the food went down deliciously, it sat a bit heavily in our stomachs, though this was also due in part to the heat of the day. Next time, I’ll keep the weather in mind and go during the cooler months.
Ultimately, I would return to Roxolana because the food is comforting, unique and, most of all, damn good.

Roxolana
34 S Raymond Ave
Pasadena, CA 91105
website

 
Related Posts with Thumbnails]]>
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<![CDATA[ Review: Greg's Ice Cream (Toronto)]]> Greg's Ice Cream - Toronto


Why is all of the good stuff in Toronto? Huh? Polish food, Portuguese pastries, customized cookies and now this – this! – the tastiest ice cream I ever did taste. OK, did that totally ruin the surprise for you? I hope not. Let’s proceed.

Greg’s Ice Cream is situated in the heart of Toronto in the Annex district. It is an assuming, no-frills storefront on a busy-ass street in the middle of a noisy city. From looks alone, there is nothing special about Greg’s Ice Cream. OH! Except for that gigantic line winding out the door and down the sidewalk. Yeah, there must be something special about this place after all.


IMG_7113
The fanart that decorates Greg’s Ice Cream store

The line was a little insane, but it wasn’t as if Spice and I hadn’t already had dinner (review coming soon!) so we patiently waited as the one-man on duty slung cone after cone for the dozen+ customers. As we got nearer, I could make out the flavors and prayed to the Supernatural Forces of Nature and All that is Good in Food that my top picks would not run out by the time it was my turn to order. Luckily, my prayers were answered.

Toasted Marshmallow and Chocolate Covered Strawberries
Behold, all that is good in life.

To the untrained eye, that looks a lot like vanilla and chocolate ice cream, doesn’t it? FOOLED YOU because it’s actually toasted marshmallow and strawberry chocolate! I don’t know enough about the food sciences to figure it out, but the toasted marshmallow actually tasted like a marshmallow that had been medium-toasted over an open flame. HOW WAS THIS ACHIEVED? I will never know. The strawberry chocolate genuinely tasted like fresh, plump and juicy strawberries dipped in a creamy, thick chocolate milkshake. It was ice cream heaven.

 

My friend Spice was thoroughly impressed with her choice, pistachio:

Pistachio Ice Cream

 

Notice the lack of sickly colored fake green? Yeah, that’s fresh, that is. Spice loved the juxtapose of the creamy texture of the ice cream and the crunch of the pistachios, which had just a pinch of salt to really give it depth.

Doing a little homework I found out that Greg’s has not only been around for roughly 30 years, but is the first of its kind to serve premium, all-natural ice cream in Toronto. I have no doubt it will continue to thrive for many more decades to come.

Would I return to Greg’s Ice Cream? Yes! I actually regret not making the effort to return to Greg’s before I left. Next time I’m in Toronto, though, I’ll definitely be swinging by. Thoroughly recommended!

The Glass of Win Non-Patent Pie Rating System gives Greg’s Ice Cream five out of five pies!

Greg’s Ice Cream
750 Spadina Avenue,
Toronto, Ontario Canada
website

 

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<![CDATA[ Review: Cafe Polonez (Toronto)]]> Come in for Polish food


I put off writing about this neighborhood restaurant because I knew it would bring back Meal Memories and I would get sad because I can’t just go there anytime I want. This place is in Toronto and I am quite envious of my friends Zuzu, G and Spice for having such a wonderful, family run go-to Polish restaurant so near to them. Not that I don’t – I have Polka, thank goodness – but still. Polonez was just special. It is special.

As soon as Zuz told me there was a significant Polish population in Toronto I made it my goal to go to THE best Polish restaurant. Having recently found out that my maternal family is indeed Polish (don’t ask why I wouldn’t simply know that) I’ve become a bit nutty about eating authentic Polish food. Zuz decided to do the homework for me and found Polonez, just over a mile from her house in Roncesvalles Village. We made plans to dine there on the Friday before my departure.

Everything on their menu sounded tasty, but my first order of business was Kumpot (compote) – a kind of homemade fruit punch made by soft boiling fruit. Sounds easy but I managed to screw it up when I tried to make it a few weeks ago. I wrote the following in my travel journal about kumpot (compote): Exactly what fruit punch should taste like. Chunks of pear and raspberries in the drink. Light, sweet but not sugary or fake tasting, which is the downfall of soda pop.

Kumpot


Zuzu started off her meal with beet root soup with mushroom dumplings. The smell – oh, gods the smell of that soup was unlike any other aroma I have ever smelled before. I will never forget the smell of that soup. It was so rich and inviting. So inviting in fact that directly after Zuzu let me have a taste I said to the waitress, “I need to have this soup in my life.” and ordered a bowl for myself.
 

Beet Soup with mushroom dumplings

Though vegetarian, there is something almost meaty about this consommé. I think it’s the depth of the beet, which I am only starting to appreciate. The soup was brothy and undeniably savory. The mushrooms were hearty with almost a light dough around them. The dill was surprisingly refreshing. This is a dish I must replicate and I expect a lot of trial and error going on in my kitchen this fall.

For her entree, Zuzu ordered the potato pancakes. She enjoyed them immensely, saying they were clean, thin with crisped edges and not at all greasy.

 

Potato Pancakes

 

For myself, I decided on the potato dumplings with goulash accompanied by a trio of salad bouquet. I had the option of two styles of potato dumplings: cooked or raw. I did not quite understand, so the waitress suggested getting both. Well, OK, then! The balls were definitely made from the uncooked potato. They were denser while the wedge/chevron shaped dumplings were softer, doughier and, to be honest, my preference. They also reheated well whereas the circular dumplings did not. The goulash was seasoned well with the meat (pork) diced so finely. All three of the salad bouquets – carrots, beets and pickled cabbage – were just the right crunch and bite I needed to juxtapose the texture and taste of the potato dumplings.


IMG_7999

 

Zuzu declared, “This is the best thing that ever happened to me.” and really, at that exact moment of time in our lives, it really was the best thing ever.

Would I return to Cafe Polonez? Oh, yes. I think the next time I go to Toronto I might have to insist on heading straight from the airport to another bowl of beet root soup.

Cafe Polonez
95 Roncesvalles Avenue
Toronto, ON M6R 2L5

(website)
Open Daily 11:00am – 10:00pm

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<![CDATA[ Review: Sweet Flour Bake Shop (Toronto)]]> IMG_7057


First there was boba (that’s bubble tea for some of you).
Then there was crepes.
Next came the CUPCAKE boom.
Followed by Frozen Yogurt.
One bake shop is a step ahead of the game, already serving up the next sweet treat trend: Fresh baked cookies.

Sweet Flour takes what the mix-in frozen yogurt trend has done and gives a warm, fresh baked spin on it.

Step One: Pick your cookie batter. (Original, Peanut Butter and Oatmeal)

Step Two: Pick two mix-ins (Over 20 options, including 5 spreads like maple icing and ganache)

Additional mix-ins are twenty-five cents.

Hang out for about 5-10 minutes (depending on how big the line is) and you will soon be treated to a warm, decadent dessert.

Coconut and Rainbow Sprinkles!
Zuzu: Original (sugar?) cookie base. Coconut & Rainbow sprinkle mix-ins

Snickers and Pecans!
Mr.G: Original cookie. Pecan + Snickers mix-ins.

Chocolate Chip & Chocolate Ganache
Me: Original dough. Semi-sweet chocolate chips + chocolate ganache.

Peanut Butter, chocolate chip with salted caramel
Me: Peanut Butter cookie. Semi-sweet chips inside, salted caramel spread.
 


My lone quibble with Sweet Flour is that they messed up my order and reversed the kind of cookie I was supposed to have. I would have really liked to have tasted the peanut butter with the double chocolate lovin’, but oh well. It still tasted fabulous! All of the cookies were scrumptious; just a hint of crisp around the edge while remaining soft, warm and chewy on the inside.
I am crossing my fingers someone here in Los Angeles will open a similar bake shop or franchise.

Each cookie cost $2.75 Canadian. I consider this a fair price as the cookies are large and customizable.

Also available: custom muffin tops, cookie sandwiches, frozen yogurt and Sweet Flour raw cookie dough to take home and bake (or, if you’re anything like me, gorge on while watching bad reality TV or B-movies).

Sweet Flour Bake Shop
2352 Bloor Street West
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
(website)

 

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<![CDATA[ Review: The Cadillac Lounge (Toronto)]]> The Cadillac Lounge


Everybody wants to have a neighborhood joint where they know your name. Someplace with a great atmosphere, superb staff that become like family, and of course, great food. My friends Zuzu and G have such a place in The Cadillac Lounge (affectionately known as The Caddy). It’s where they go to chill out with some drinks after work, people watch over the course of a lazy Sunday, listen to some great live music – hell, it’s the place they got hitched at! I’d love to have a place like this in my neighborhood. It was a pretty unanimous decision that this is where I’d be dining out my first night in Toronto.

A new chef was in charge and the menu had been revamped from simple diner food to gourmet diner food. Don’t mess with classics is what I say, but I still had to give it a go. I best be happy with what I get, though as rumor had it that the new chef is a bit on the didactic side and would not permit any substitutions with his food.

Zuzu: Vegetarian Burger. Vegetable patty, grilled vegetables, tomato, red onion, artisan bread. Side salad.


Even Vegetarians like burgers!


Mister G: Three Cheese Grill with Fries. Swiss, smoked cheddar, provolone, tomatoes (he got it without tomatoes), onion, bacon, artisan bread.

IMG_6998


Myself: Baked Crabby Mac n’ Cheese. Crab, roasted grape tomato, broccoli, and macaroni in a rich creamy cheese sauce.
Verdict: I would have swapped tomatoes/broccoli for mushrooms/peas or mushrooms/asparagus. The tomatoes are too close to the texture of macaroni and cheese to be complimentary. Otherwise, I loved it.


Baked Crab Macaroni & Cheese


Spice was there with us and ordered a veggie wrap. They gave her poutine, which went against her no-land-meat & Kosher diet, so it had to be returned. Our server was not the best of listeners and was painfully slow. As neither Zuzu nor G recognized her, we assumed she was new and in training.

The following Sunday, G and I returned to the Caddy for the famous Sunday brunch. The Cadillac Lounge patio is something to marvel at. It’s a split-level deck nearly as large as my apartment. Unfortunately I was unable to obtain really good shots of it, but this is the ideal space for people watching on a lazy weekend day.

 

Pink Cadilac


G went with The Standard – which I don’t know if it’s called this all over North America or strictly Canada but it’s your basic two eggs, toast, bacon and potatoes kind of breakfast.


G's standard


For myself, I had a tough time deciding (as I usually do when it comes to breakfast food) but finally settled on the Eggs Benny Hill: Two poached eggs with grilled back bacon on an English muffin, drizzled with Hollandaise, served with home fries and fruit. It was the “back bacon” that reeled me in; though I don’t consider myself a bacon connoisseur, I do love to try the various cuts of meat different countries have. Plus, the whole “what the hell really is Canadian bacon?” Well, it’s this hunk of meat:


Eggs Benny Hill


Just look at those slabs! They’re thick and meaty, almost like a pork chop and definitely not at all what we refer to as bacon (streaky bacon) here in the USA. Crazy bad for you and even crazier delicious. The home fries were yummy as well.

Would I return to the Cadillac Lounge? Yes! There just wasn’t enough time to enjoy the other menu items that caught my eye (Andre the Giant French Toast, Fat Elvis’ Favourite, chicken wings)

Would I recommend the Cadillac Lounge? Absolutely. It’s a great place to have a cold drink, an above average meal and either hang out and relax or enjoy one of the many live entertainment options they have on any given night. The serve may be a little slow going at times, but it’s all definitely worth the wait.

The Cadillac Lounge
1296 Queens Street West
Toronto, Canada
416-536-7717
(website)

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<![CDATA[ Review: The Greasy Wiener & The Nacho Food Trucks]]> Los Angeles County Museum of Art) is going there on a weekday afternoon and being greeted by a dozen or so of L.A.’s finest food trucks. I’ve blogged and video blogged about some of my samplings from this group before, but this post is unique in that I not only decided to try out a new food truck, but introduce my mother to the wonderful world of food trucks as well! Now if I can only get her to stop calling them “garbage trucks” (she means well).


It was a lovely late May day when Steffie, mum and myself headed to LACMA to partake on a sojourn to LACMA where we had 1:00pm reservation to view the Tim Burton exhibit. Before that – lunch! After much deliberation, mom and Steffie went with the Nacho Truck.

 

IMG_6946


Steffie’s Order – California Love: Marinated chicken, Chipotle corn, Cotija cheese, Black beans, Pico de gallo, Salsa verde, Citrus sour cream & Jalapeños. Added: Guacamole.

Mom’s Order – Veggified: Spicy Soyrizo, Black beans, Chipotle corn, Pico de Gallo, Tillamook Cheddar, Salsa verde & Citrus sour cream

IMG_6957

 

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They were both very pleased with their orders, though mom was definitely sweating out the spicy soyrizo. Steffie liked the lightness of the chicken, but found the portion satisfactorily filling. We all enjoyed their use of flour tortilla chips, though I think I was the only one who was very enthusiastic about the additional flour tortilla (in non-chip form) at the bottom of the plate. Perfect for scooping up any leftovers and rolling them into an impromptu burrito!

My quibbles are that there is no non-soy based no-meat option for people like me who just like bean, cheese, pico de gallo & guacamole nachos and that guacamole is $1.50 extra. I feel that guacamole should be a staple rather than a luxury item when it comes to nachos. Charging extra for it is certainly not news and it might be an avocado-farmer-prices-in-season situation that I am simply not educated on.

As for myself, for whatever reason, I got a hankering for a hot dog.

 

IMG_6950

 

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I ordered the traditional greasy wiener, which came with grilled onions, mustard and my choice of a premium topping. I had my dog doused in “Truck Made” cheese sauce. A dill pickle spear was included. $4.00
What is unique about the wieners from the Greasy Wiener is that they are double fried, which is noted as being New Jersey style.
The dog was golden going down but sat a little heavily in me. I have no one to blame but myself, and as I said, it was damn tasty. The flavor combo was perfect, though I think I could have used more cheese (who doesn’t want more cheese, I ask you?) The pickle was the ideal companion, giving my taste buds a much needed crunch of sour after all of that savory.

 


IMG_6953

 

Additional menu items include Angus sliders (called Iggy’s), specialty curly fries, a veggie dog, a chicken apple dog and wieners that feature standard hot dog flair such as bacon and/or sauerkraut.

Next time I have a free Friday to attend the Friday Food Fair and Artisanal Marketplace in Pasadena and GWT will be there, I’ll be getting me some of them Iggy’s and curly fries!

The Nacho Truck L.A. | Twitter

The Greasy Wiener | Twitter

 
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<![CDATA[ Review: Antica Pizzeria – Niagara Falls, Canada]]>  

IMG_7631

 

We ate a hearty breakfast on the morning we embarked on our Niagara Falls journey so it wasn’t until mid-afternoon that my friends Zuzu, Mr. G and I finally started talking about our next meal. We’d already hit up the falls and Clifton Hill, which is where we decided to sit off to the side on a grassy knoll and use a little Google-Fu to find out where a decent place to eat might be at. In big tacky, tourist towns like Niagara Falls it is difficult to know what’s worth your money so a little research might be necessary.

Our efforts were rewarded with Antica Pizzeria, which I had spotted just beyond where we were sitting. It had some pretty great reviews and was looking to be an affordable, delicious investment. We opted to dine alfresco as it was a nice, sunny day with a slight breeze. Had the weather been unfavorable, though, there was plenty of room with four dining areas to pick from, including traditional red and white checkerboard topped tables:

IMG_7651

To private dining room for events:

IMG_7649


 


Though the menu had everything from pasta dishes to panini sandwiches, all three of us went for our own napoletane wood fired pizza.

Mister G: Pizza Bianco: no tomato sauce, cheese, bacon, pineapple, olive oil. $11.99

Zuzu: Grilled vegetable and goat cheese – Grilled eggplant, peppers, zucchini mixed with garlic, olive oil and topped with goat cheese. $14.99

Myself: Quattro Stagioni – Tomato sauce, cheese, mushroom, prosciutto (I replaced the ham), anchovies, oregano, olive oil. $13.99


Pizza Bianco:


IMG_7641

IMG_7639


Vegetable & Goat Cheese:
IMG_7635

IMG_7633


Quattro Stagioni:


IMG_7645

 

IMG_7647

IMG_7648

 

 

Can you guess why I didn’t review these individually? Yes, that’s right.

Verdict: Unanimously, universally, unequivocally delicious! All three of us could not stop talking about how wonderful our individual pizzas were. I never had a pizza that divvied up its sections for one specific topping, letting that topping be the star of its own show. It made being able to order a pizza with anchovies on it very accessible as they are usually too salty to tolerate all over a pizza. The Quattro Stagioni is easily in the top seven of my favorite pizza’s ever consumed.

The service was fairly quick and attentive, though we were having a lazy Niagara Falls adventure day so I can’t really be considered a valuable source if you’re under a strict time crunch.

Would I return to Antica Pizzeria? Yes! In fact, I’m determined to try the Antica Pizzeria here in Los Angeles (Marina del Ray) and see if it’s on par with its Canadian sister.

Would I recommend Antica Pizzeria? Yes, because I believe Antica appeals to the variety of clientele that Niagara Falls sees – families with kids of all ages, vegetarians, couples, groups such as wedding rehearsal parties or birthdays, friends and budget diners.

Antica Pizzeria
5785 Victoria Avenue
Niagara Falls, ON L2G 3L6, Canada
(905) 356-3844

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<![CDATA[ Review: Bacchus Roti Shop (Toronto)]]> especially the cuisine from a variety of cultures and ethnicity’s. Indian food is all over Toronto, but for whatever reason roti took off in Toronto like tikka masala did in the other 9/10ths of the world. This boggles my mind because here in Los Angeles I have only known roti as a sort of Indian tortilla. As I understand roti, it’s a flat, thin, round bread and sometimes I see it at the Farmer’s Market and eateries thinly stuffed, quesadilla-style with items like spinach. I like it toasted with raita. Anyway – you can understand my curiosity as to how this traditional snack/side dish got so hugely popular in Toronto that entire restaurants are dedicated to it.

 

Bacchus Roti Shop


Bacchus Roti is situated around the corner from where I was staying in Toronto and came highly recommended by the Internet as well as my hosts. The day before I was set to try it out, I popped into the restaurant to see if they had a to-go menu I could look at and get an idea of what I might order. The only menu in their modest facility was a blackboard fixated on the wall. Patrons order at the counter and can either get their roti to go or they can eat in the posh, post-modern designed dining area.

Though there was no to-go menus, I spied “shrimp curry roti” on the blackboard menu and as I walked out I took a leisure glance at the diners. Behemoth looking square tortilla things were being torn at with knives and forks – giving me a clear image but still mentally dumbfounded idea on the Canadian interpretation of roti. OK. It’s an Indian burrito? Yes, my friends told me, like an Indian burrito.

I returned to Bacchus the next day, ready to gorge on the roti-burrito-monstrosity. It was a humid day and I had many errands to attend to, so I’d need a meal to keep me going but not knock me out cold. I was already prepared to only eat half of what I ordered and take the rest back home before starting out my big day. It was the same menu from the previous day (as near as I could tell) and shrimp curry & potato roti still sounded good, so I ordered that (medium on the spice scale) along with a glass of tap water. I’m gestured at to have a seat.
This is what is brought to me:

Toronto Roti
Mystery meal in paper!


Roti

 


The exterior has a crepe-like texture, very delicate and savory. The shrimp was plentiful and tender but that is where my good opinion stops. The potatoes were so overcooked they’re positively mush and the curry was so overwhelming there was no other discernible flavor. This is the most heartbreaking because Indian food should be a freaking Bollywood movie happening to your taste buds; they are all about the spice (and I don’t mean “heat” I mean “flavor”). There was just nothing but curried mush. I would have loved if there were a vegetable or two thrown in and the seasoning had been better managed. Sadness, considering how delicious the shrimp was!
Also, my water never showed up.

 

Shrimp Curry Roti


I took half of this back to my friends place where I let them have free range over the leftovers. It could have been the humidity, but the roti left a heavy, gross feeling in my stomach all day long and it wasn’t until I forced myself to eat some dinner (delivered sushi) at my friend Spice’s apartment that I felt better again.

Would I eat at Bacchus Roti Shop again? No. Though I’d love to say it was all Bacchus, I did try another Indian related dish (coconut curry dosa) at a totally separate restaurant later that week and found it inedible as well. It was the overuse of curry and not enough variety of spices that I’m used to eating. As my friend Zuzu was able to eat both the other half of the roti and this curry dosa dish, I am theorizing that it is a regional palate difference more than inadequate cooking (though those mushy potatoes were really sad).

 


Bacchus Roti Shop
1376 Queen St W.
Toronto, ON
M6K 1L7

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<![CDATA[ Cupcakes by For the Love of Cake (Toronto, Canada)]]> For the Love of Cake bakery for a long while now. She had the good fortune of being a judge for their last Iron Cupcake Competition. She knew I was not easily persuaded by cupcakes as they’re not high on my list of go-to sweets, which is why she insisted I try a range of cupcakes from For the Love of Cake. By the time cupcake tasting was brought up it was already Friday, two days before I was going back home. I had munched on half a cannoli for breakfast (don’t you judge me) and could not really get into the mood for any more sweets. Still, it was insisted that I at least go buy some and try them out. I had to, of course. I have journalistic integrity.

 

For the Love of Cake is the brain child of Genevieve Griffin who sought out to achieve the 4 Dimensional Cupcake and push the envelope on creativity and taste buds. Her Toronto bakery not only serves cupcakes but is a popular spot for custom event cakes, gluten-free cupcakes, cakeballs, and mancakes (Probably my only quibble is this name. I know more girls who would devour those bacon and booze based treats).

Right off the bat I went for the Salted Caramel Chocolate Cupcake and the Peanut butter banana chocolate mini cupcake. I was waffling over my third cupcake, debating between the strawberry shortcake cupcake and the pumpkin pie cupcake. They tried to persuade me to buy the maple bacon cupcake with a blueberry filling) but I wasn’t in the mood for anything too funky. The former looked very impressive while the latter looked very boring. However, when I wisely asked the employee which she recommended she said if I was a true pumpkin fan I could not pass up the pumpkin pie cupcake because – drum roll, please – the inside of the cupcake was the same texture as pumpkin pie.
I nearly fainted.
Instead I ordered it.

G ordered an entire 6-pack of cupcakes that included two pecan pie cupcakes, a coconut cupcake, a lemon cupcake a cookie dough cupcake and two others that may or may not have been PB & J or peanut butter and chocolate. His clear favorite is the pecan pie cupcake, as he even talked a customer in front of us out of trying it out so he could greedily purchase the remaining two for himself. I don’t blame him in the least.

After taxes cupcakes are roughly $3.00 each (cheaper by about fifty cents for the minis) – which is about average for high-end cupcakes. I’d rather pay a little more for something made with high quality ingredients, especially if it’s an occasional indulgence like cupcakes. Their website is fun and tidy, but could use an update on prices and selection as not all cupcake flavors are featured yet. If they are on a rotating cupcake flavor schedule, I would suggest for them to put it online.

 


Peanut Butter Banana Chocolate Jr. Cupcake
Peanut Butter Banana Chocolate Jr. Cupcake


I ate the Peanut Butter Banana Chocolate Jr. Cupcake first. The peanut butter flavor was subtle, like it had been baked into the chocolate cupcake base. The banana flavor was mostly (and probably exclusively) in the frosting. I like the crunch of the peanuts on top, it was a favorable contrast to the cupcake. I’m glad I bought this in a mini size because I think it would have been too rich as a big cupcake. I realize that I am contradicting myself since I ordered a salted caramel chocolate cupcake but…shush.

After Zuzu and I had dinner and returned home we decided to try more cupcakes. She split her cookie dough cupcake with me.

 


IMG_8004


I wasn’t very impressed with it, but Zuzu seemed to enjoy it immensely. I decided to have my pumpkin pie cupcake. Here is the description from For the Love of Cake:

A perfectly spiced pumpkin cupcake topped with a dollop of real whipped cream and sprinkled with fresh ground nutmeg. Just like biting into pumpkin pie!

 

 

The guts of a pumpkin pie cupcake


Holy. Mother. Of. Jeebus.
OK. If you promise not to tell my local cupcake bakery, I am going to share a secret with you: This was the best pumpkin flavored cake-related-product I have ever tasted in my whole life. Do not be deceived by its mundane appearance: this little cupcake packs a powerful pumpkin flavor! The inside truly is rich, creamy and 100% pie-like. The fact that they use real whipped cream makes a world of difference and I appreciate it. As soon as I was finished I wanted another. Sadly, I did not get to For the Love of Cake again.

I was enjoying my pumpkin pie cupcake high too much to indulge further that evening and waited until breakfast to eat my salted Caramel Chocolate Cupcake. This is how For the Love of Cake describes this confection:

Our moist chocolate cupcake filled with our homemade caramel and topped with chocolate butter cream, a pinch of sea salt and a caramel chew.

 

 


Chocolate Salted Caramel Cupcake
Chocolate Salted Caramel Cupcake

It was a chocolate caramel lovers dream. The salt was just the right bite I needed to take the edge off the sweetness. It was soft, gooey and just the perfect morning pick-me-up before I ate something healthy and boring.


Overall, I enjoyed For the Love Cake cupcakes and would have definitely returned had time permitted. That pumpkin pie cupcake is the stuff of dreams and I must unlock its mysterious perfection and copy it for my own nefarious, sweet tooth indulgences.


For the Love of Cake
171 East Liberty Street
Unit 117
Toronto, Canada
website

Hours of Operation
Wed-Fri: 12-7
Sat-Sun: 11-5
Mon-Tues – By Appt only

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<![CDATA[ Review: Poutini's House of Poutine (Toronto)]]>  

Poutini's House of Poutine


When I knew I was set for Toronto there was one word in my mind: poutine.
For the unenlightened: Poutine is a Canadian invention consisting of a layer of fries topped with cheese curds and gravy. The dish originated in Quebec but is now considered a Canadian staple of pub grub. I first saw poutine on the Quebec episode of No Reservations and instantly fell into epicurean obsession. Psst: this is your go-to hangover cure!

Knowing I’d be demanding the best poutine, my friend Zuzu set off to hunt down the best of the best in preparation for my arrival. She kept going back to Poutini’s and Stampede, both in her neighborhood. After browsing Poutini’s menu a couple of weeks before my trip, I knew this would be the first place I would patronize.

 


IMG_7129


As you can see from above, their menu caters to a variety of tastes and diet lifestyles. My friend Zuzu praised their vegetarian gravy poutine.

Mentally I had my order down and ready to go weeks before taking that first step into their establishment, so on one sunny day in early June I sounded confident like I was already a poutine pro.

My Order: Traditional poutine with beef gravy (teeny weeny size) and Boylan’s Root Beer

 

IMG_7136


I must dissect this concoction bit by bit.

French Fries: Top class. Skin-on, crispy exterior with hot, soft but not mush innards.

Cheese Curds: First of all, white cheddar = automatic bonus. However, they were so creamy I just wanted to melt them and drizzle them on top of the fries instead. I almost feel like they hinder themselves because they don’t quite taste like they’ve reached their full potential (which would be cheese sauce). Don’t listen to me, though – these are top of the line curds that are shipped in every other day from Mapledale Farm in New York.

Gravy: Now, what I am about to say is purely personal preference but I have unfortunately come to realize that I do not like brown gravy. As far as smooth brown beef gravy’s go, this was superb gravy. But it’s definitely not for me. Perhaps I would have enjoyed their vegetarian gravy, though, as Zuzu did talk that up quite a bit. I’m one for sawmill (white country) gravy and thick, meaty and mushroom-y brown gravy.

Boylan’s root beer is amazing and the perfect beverage to wash down this sinful treat. We’re talking poutine; water is for pussies.

 

IMG_7135

 

Would I eat at House of Poutine again? Yes, but I’d probably order fries with the roasted garlic mayo dip in lieu of poutine. I would also give their vegetarian gravy a go.

Would I recommend House of Poutine? Absolutely! The folks at Poutini’s put a lot of love and quality control in their ingredients and that counts for a LOT. Just because I did not enjoy poutine overall doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate it or want others to avoid it. It’s part of the mosaic that is Canadian food culture.

Poutini’s is located on the bustling Queen Street West in an area of Toronto that has seen some serious gentrification and hip injections in the last five years. It’s counter service only with very limited bar stool seating (You will probably be standing as you eat or waiting in the shadows to pounce on any stool that opens up).

They get bonus points for using biodegradable containers, napkins and utensils – all of which can be easily disposed of using the in-house receptacles.

And don’t worry, House of Poutine, it is me, not you. After giving poutine another go at another yummy place I realized that (insert tearful confession here) poutine just isn’t for me.


Poutini’s House of Poutine
1112 Queen Street West
Toronto
M6J 1H9
(website)

 
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<![CDATA[ Review: Tudor House (Santa Monica)]]>  

Since my favorite tearoom in Whittier closed (Grandma is rolling in her grave) and the tearoom in Pasadena is managed by a man with a serious attitude, the hunt to find a fabulous tearoom has never been more urgent. OK, not with the same urgency that I would use, say, if I burned my face in a flash oven fire, but you know, the kind of urgency in finding any new genre restaurant to have on call in case of serious cravings. For tea sandwiches and clotted cream. Hey, I get them.
Enter: Tudor House.

 

Tudor House


Tudor House is the main establishment in a plethora of British-centric downtown Santa Monica that range from Union Jack laden pubs to import shops. Reading the opening paragraph on their website never fails to procure a giggle from me:

“Tudor House is proudly celebrating over forty years of service. Boasting to be possibly the oldest and best known tearoom in America where hospitality abounds in a warm and friendly setting. Offering a a full lunch and afternoon tea menu prepared with fresh and home baked items.”

Is that the British way of basically saying, “We’re way too lazy to do our homework to back this up, but a quick Google search showed us to be pretty freaking old. By American standards anyway.”

However old, my mom was the one who ended up bringing Tudor House to my attention after a day trip to Santa Monica with her friend. Situated on the far more quieter 2nd Street, Tudor House is not just a tearoom but a full on British restaurant, mini market filled with UK imports and bakery. It is operated by a British family and many patrons are indeed British. A good sign.

The first time my mom took me here I was starving and did not think the afternoon tea for two would adequately satiate my hunger. Instead, I opted for the fish chips.

 

 

Fish and Chips - Tudor House


Certainly not the worst fish and chips, but this is definitely not a signature dish at Tudor House. I wouldn’t order it again or even recommend it. Baking and tearoom specialties are definitely their forte and I was a dolt to bypass all of their pasty and savory pie options in favor for something familiar.

Smart as ever, mom went for the Tudor House Afternoon Tea. Proving once again that mothers knows best. I can’t wait to have a smart ass daughter to continually show up with a knowing smile and grace. I mean, just look at this spread she got:

 


Tea for One - Tudor House


On paper it didn’t seem like much to me but when I did a double-take between her meal and mine I didn’t need to take a bite of my food to know who won here. The picture above doesn’t even include her individual teapot she received with her meal. I was jealous and kept trying to sneak a bite. She let me have half of her heavenly custard.

In a couple of weeks we were back, lesson learned and ready to listen to mom. Time for Afternoon Tea for Two. Included was our own teapot of tea of our choosing, salad, two scones each with cream and jam, a sampling of four tea sandwiches each, and two sweets each for dessert.

 


Afternoon Tea


Scones
I didn’t mind the raisins.


Tea Sandwiches
Curried chicken salad, herbs & walnuts, cucumber, cream cheese with and tuna salad. I loved the former two best.


Dessert
Cream Slice (Napoleon) and a chocolate cream biscuit (cookie)


 


You don’t see the salad because I gobbled it up too fast…or just couldn’t get a picture, but it’s the same salad you see pictured from my mother’s order. The salad introduced us to Salad Cream from Heinz and we bought some from the adjacent market. I don’t like a lot of dressing on my salad (defeats the purpose of salad) but a small teaspoon on a large salad can go a long way for me. I dig it.

Speaking of the bakery/store, here is a sampling of what you can find there:

 


Teapot Meledy - Tudor House


Savory Pies - Tudor House


Raisin Scones - Tudor House

 

Some interior shots:

 


Tudor House Tea Room


Antique Buffet


 


In short, from the salad to the scones to that insanely simple but delicious chocolate biscuit-cookie dessert, everything was exactly what had been missing in my life since my Gran died. She would have really enjoyed this place, and that is the highest compliment I can pay to any tearoom. I’ll definitely be back.
Five out of five pies for Tudor House!


Tudor House
1403 2nd Street
Santa Monica, CA
90401

 
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<![CDATA[ Applebee's (Wilmington, DE) has great happy hour & after hours specials]]> Applebee’s has a happy hour which runs daily from 3pm-6pm, and for the late night crowd, they have many specials which all occur after 9pm, but beware…the specials after 9pm change from day to day,  but not to fret…it’s been broken down for your reading pleasure below. Enjoy and feel free to share your experience.

 

1600 Rocky Run Parkway
Wilmington, DE 19803
(302) 479-5207

 

Hours of Operation:

Monday –Thursday & Sunday: 11am-12am

Friday & Saturday: 11am-1am

Happy Hour: Daily from 3pm-6pm

Drinks Included:

$3 Brewtus’- Selected Drafts

$3 Barefoot Wines

$5 Pitchers- Selected Drafts

$4 Appetizer Menu

Now for the folks who don’t get off work until after 6pm, they still have many drink/food specials after 9pm (Note: You must be seated in the bar area)

 Monday (Burgers & Brews):

$5 Burgers

$5 Selected Pitchers

 Tuesday (Two's Days):

$2 Well Drinks (i.e. bottom shelf)

2 for 1 appetizer

 Wednesday (Yuengs & Wings):

$2 Yuengling Pints

$3 Boneless Wings (if you prefer the bone in, add $1)

 Thursday (Throwback Night):

$1 Beers (cans)

$1 Sliders

 Friday & Saturday:

$3 Brewtus

$3 Selected Drafts

$3 LIT

$3 House Rita S.I.N.

 Sundays:

$1 Sliders

$2 Heinekens

$3 Three-O Vodka

 

 

 

]]>
http://www.lunch.com/eatingout/reviews/d/UserReview-Applebee_s_Happy_Hour_and_After_Hours_Specials-589-1733729-207036-Applebee_s_Wilmington_DE_has_great_happy_hour_.html http://www.lunch.com/eatingout/reviews/d/UserReview-Applebee_s_Happy_Hour_and_After_Hours_Specials-589-1733729-207036-Applebee_s_Wilmington_DE_has_great_happy_hour_.html Fri, 6 May 2011 16:32:42 +0000
<![CDATA[ What's not to like?]]> Texas Roadhouse opened its very first Rhode Island location just a stones throw from where I grew up in Cranston. The restaurant was an immediate success with cars jamming the parking lot each weekday evening and all day Saturday and Sunday as well. Word on the street was that the food was terrific.  My wife and I figured we would wait until the novelty wore off and the crowds subsided before giving it a try.  Then a friend told us that it was really loud in there and a short time later I heard the same thing from someone else. Since we don't generally do "loud" Molly and I crossed Texas Roadhouse off our list.   Several weeks ago we were given a Texas Roadhouse gift certificate.  We were grateful for the gift and felt obligated to check it out.  And what a pleasant surprise it turned out to be!

First of all the reports we had heard about the atmosphere being "loud" turned out to be greatly exaggerated.  I really expected to find the music to be so loud that you could not conduct a conversation with the person next to you.  I hate that!  This was not the case at all.  We really enjoyed the "classic" country music they play and found the volume to be not a whole lot louder than many of the restaurants we frequent.  Furthermore the food was out of this world.  Molly and I both opted for Texas Roadhouse's signature "Fall-Off The Bone Ribs".   These ribs really do live up to their name.  Outstanding!   The meat was tender and succulent on the inside and done to a turn on the outside.....just the way we like it!  The unique blend of seasonings they employ really do bring out all of the flavor in the meat.  We were also knocked out by the all-you-can-eat freshly baked sweet rolls served with honey cinnamon butterA taste sensation to be sure!  And all of the sides available at Texas Roadhouse are made from scratch.  Our server was an enthusiastic young man name Charles who tended to our every need.  All in all, we had a really great time!   Lots of fun and a great place to share a meal with the family or catch up with an old friend. 

As you might have guessed we will definitely be returning to Texas Roadhouse in the future.  There are so many items we are itching to try including the hand-cut Fort Worth Ribeye Steak, the Pulled Pork, and the Grilled BBQ Chicken.  The Roadhouse also features Fried Catfish which is hard to find here in the Northeast but I think I will pass on that one.  In the future Molly and I intend to visit Texas Roadhouse every few months.  Understand that this food is extremely rich and is not something we would want to partake of on a regular basis.  But for us a trip to Texas Roadhouse is something we will really look forward to.  This is some of the tastiest food either one of us have ever had.  I urge you to check it out.   There are more than 350 Texas Roadhouse locations in 46 states so chances are there is one near you.    Very highly recommended!    ]]>
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<![CDATA[ Enter: The Umami Burger (Los Feliz)]]>  

Umami Burger - Los Feliz


When Alex Franzen, the genius behind Unicorns for Socialism, suggested Umami Burger as the place to dine for our luncheon catch-up, I decided to swear off all burgers until the day came when I would be able to try Umami.

Umami has a unique schtick going on, and while I could attempt to try and explain it myself, I want to finish up this review in time to watch some Price is Right. So I’ll just nab the info from the UMAMI Information Center and quote it for you:

 

What exactly is umami?

Taking its name from Japanese, umami is a pleasant savoury taste imparted by glutamate, a type of amino acid, and ribonucleotides, including inosinate and guanylate, which occur naturally in many foods including meat, fish, vegetables and dairy products. As the taste of umami itself is subtle and blends well with other tastes to expand and round out flavors, most people don’t recognize umami when they encounter it, but it plays an important role making food taste delicious.


‘ Food Acceptability’ and ‘ UMAMI ’

When humans eat, they use all of their senses (sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste) to form general judgments about their food, but it is taste that is the most influential in determining how delicious a food is. Conventionally, it has been thought that our sense of taste is comprised of four basic, or ‘primary’, tastes, which cannot be replicated by mixing together any of the other primaries: sweet, sour, salt and bitter. However, it is now known that there is actually a fifth primary taste: umami.

They even have a food taste chart, no lie. Now, it was my understanding that each Umami Burger joint scattered around the Los Angeles area was different, but checking out each of their menus proves otherwise, so either I’m insane or they are. You be the judge. OK, after doing a so-quick-you-didn’t-even-notice Google search I discovered that there are secret off-the-menu specialties at each location and it’s too late for me to order the Smash Burger (available at happy hour only at the Los Feliz location for only $5.00).

Alex Ordered: The Greenbird Burger and sweet potato fries
I Ordered: The Umami Burger (and a vanilla soda which I did not particularly care for but it’s not their brand so it doesn’t matter)

 


Umami at Umami
Umami Burger – $10.00

The Umami Burger - Innards
The Umami Burger – Innards



Umami Burger: Their signature burger with ketchup, grilled shitake mushrooms, grilled (or possibly sun-dried) tomatoes, and a kind of onion wafer. The bun was lightly toasted (and branded!).

Verdict: I like that there are burger places like this in existence where I don’t have to worry if they know how to cook a burger properly. Anyway. This was a truly unique and exceptional burger. It was juicy and very difficult to put down, savor, and go back to. I felt like Pac-Man gobbling up his little virtual pellets while the ghosts were enchanted. Wah-Om-Om-Om.

 


Greenbird Burger - Umami
Greenbird Burger – $12.00


Greenbird Burger: Shelton farms turkey, crushed avocado, green cheese, butter lettuce, sprouts, green goddess.

Verdict: Alex conveyed that not only was this an exceptional burger, but easily the best turkey burger she has ever eaten. I believe it – since Shelton Farms is roughly one hour away from where we were sitting that day and has a strict no-antibiotics, free-range only policy.

 

Sweet Potato Fries
Sweet Potato Fries – $4.00


Admittedly, I’m not big on sweet potato fries. Nothing can top the regular ol’ potato fry for me – but these Umami brand sweet potato fries amazed my taste buds. Sweet, crispy on the outside, slightly soft on the inside topped with a mystery crumble I can only guess is some sort of bewitching pixie dust. Highly recommended to further your journey with the fifth taste.


Umami Burger in Los Feliz is spacious and friendly, with a number of tables outside to dine al fresco and an adjacent bar with an extensive list of alcohol to help you get through your workday lunch hour.
 


Umami Burger Bar
Bottoms Up


Would I try Umami again? Probably, just out of curiosity for their port and Stilton burger (and maybe Carnitas burger, depending on how saucy I’m feeling). Otherwise, I wouldn’t make it a habit since the menu is limited, the price kind of steep and alterations are a big no-no. The whole experience is about trusting their food scientists to combine certain flavors and textures into one, mystical conglomerate of taste bud bliss. Asking them to hold the shitake is not going to fly and it spoils the experience.


Umami Burger
4655 Hollywood Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90027
(323) 669.3922

Sun–Thu: 11:30 – 11
Fri–Sat: 11:30 – 12

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<![CDATA[ Pupusas in Grand Central Market (Downtown L.A.)]]>
Grand Central Market is a landmark in downtown L.A..  Not as widely known as the L.A. Farmers Market, it is a bustling gem of an open air market set amidst historic architecture.  Each aisle seemingly teleports you to a different region of the world.  My pioneering visit got me caught up in Central America, specifically El Salvador.

One of the busiest stalls in the market was Sarita's Pupuseria.  The prevailing smell was that of wonderfully lard-y corn masa.  I've never had El Salvadorean food, so ordering was a bit of a shot in the dark.  Given the name, I knew I had to get a Pupusa.  But I also ordered a tamale as a safety net, and added a fried plantain ball to live on the edge (bungee jumping is next).

I watched as the uni-lingual cook stuffed pork and cheese into a corn masa dough ball (and it wasn't English she was speaking, a great sign, if you ask me).  It was flattened and griddled on the flat top.  The result was a crispy exterior that yielded to a soft dough with an explosion of savory pork and cheese to complete the package.  Sarita's Pupusas are complimented well by a side of tangy cabbage slaw.  Awesome!

The fried plantain was a nice surpise.  When plantains are deep fried, they mysteriously form a crispy exterior that resembles a batter.  They are naturally tangy and are, more often than not, served in savory applications.  The one I ordered had a creamy filling that was just sweet enough to make it a very pleasant dessert.  I would definitely order it again.  The safety net was completely unnecessary.  It was a nice tamale, with a slightly different texture than the Mexican version, but nothing special.  Next time I would skip the tamale and order an extra Pupusa.  Or two.
  • Pupusa hot off the grill!
  • Deep fried plantain goodness!
  • Sarita's Pupuseria on Urbanspoon]]>
    http://www.lunch.com/eatingout/reviews/d/UserReview-Sarita_s_Pupuseria-589-1724393-204958-Pupusas_in_Grand_Central_Market_Downtown_L_A_.html http://www.lunch.com/eatingout/reviews/d/UserReview-Sarita_s_Pupuseria-589-1724393-204958-Pupusas_in_Grand_Central_Market_Downtown_L_A_.html Thu, 31 Mar 2011 02:42:06 +0000
    <![CDATA[ Andaluz-Tapas, Wine and More in Salem, Oregon]]> Real Estate Salem Oregon-Andaluz.]]> http://www.lunch.com/eatingout/reviews/d/UserReview-Andaluz_Tapas_Wine_and_More-589-1722640-204739-Andaluz_Tapas_Wine_and_More_in_Salem_Oregon.html http://www.lunch.com/eatingout/reviews/d/UserReview-Andaluz_Tapas_Wine_and_More-589-1722640-204739-Andaluz_Tapas_Wine_and_More_in_Salem_Oregon.html Mon, 28 Mar 2011 00:19:31 +0000 <![CDATA[ Orupa-Salem Oregon Restaurants and Lounges]]> Real Estate Salem Oregon - Orupa.]]> http://www.lunch.com/eatingout/reviews/d/UserReview-Orupa-589-1722638-204738-Orupa_Salem_Oregon_Restaurants_and_Lounges.html http://www.lunch.com/eatingout/reviews/d/UserReview-Orupa-589-1722638-204738-Orupa_Salem_Oregon_Restaurants_and_Lounges.html Sun, 27 Mar 2011 23:40:32 +0000