Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Sashimi – Sushi in Mission Viejo really?


This is a hole in the wall sushi bar located next to Vons in Mission Viejo.  Blink and you will drive right by it.  I would say there are only 6 tables and a nice bar.  Of course they have a flat screen TV hanging on the wall.  Who doesn’t these days?  Call me old fashion but I like to relax with my Saki. 

The staff is very pleasant and ready to help you with anything you need.  The drinks are always full and the place is clean.  You are welcomed with a booming hello. 

Clean – Check

Good – Food Check

Friendly Atmosphere – Check

So what is the downside you may ask?  Well the prices are higher than I would expect from a shopping center location next to a Vons.  In fact, I was taken by complete surprise.  These were the prices I expect to see in Laguna Beach not Mission Viejo.

The Martini rolls was fresh and tempting.  Seared Albacore topped with a slice of jalapeno.  It was not hot and could use a little more of a kick.  The Crunch Roll was spot on tangy and sweet.  It was one of the better Crunch Rolls I have had in years.  The Cucumber Roll was rolled nicely tight, perfectly wrapped around yellow tail, salmon and tuna. 

My favorite by far was the Happy Roll.  Just thinking about it brings a smile to my face.  Once again Yellow Tail wrapped over spice tuna and avocado.  For some reason this sushi roll was light.  It did not feel heavy even though it was wrapped with rice.  There was just something about it that made it a delight!

Sashimi gets 3 Forks Up.  The price was too high.  The sushi was good don’t get me wrong but I just could not justify the price it blew me away and that’s hard to do.  The service was excellent and the atmosphere was welcoming but the price…..That’s what it comes down too.  If you are going to charge that much then I prefer a better location I just cannot justify it.

(949) 583-9103



Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Hobbit – The best hidden gem in Orange County.


This is hidden gem in Orange which was born before the movie came out.  It has nothing to do with the movie by the way. So do not expect to see a Hobbit or Dwarf.  But it will be an experience you will not forget. 

The Hobbit has been around since 1972 and has been family owned since its opening.  Today the Hobbit is run by the grandson and still adheres to the original traditions.  The style has not changed only the menu has been updated as the time dictates. The experience still remains.

The atmosphere is perfect for that special occasion.  The Hobbit can also be rented out for that perfect holiday party.  It is old school romantic with all the bells and whistles upstairs is an old 1920 style bar fully loaded for with Mint Juleps for that Southern Belle. 

Downstairs the romance is a blaze with 2 dining rooms sitting no more than a handful of tables.  This establishment of a throw back in time ONLY takes reservations which are confirmed 3 times prior to your scheduled dining experience.   For a Friday or Saturday night try to book well in advance.  A deposit is requested at the time of reservation but that is understandable given the small venue.

This is a chef’s 7 course menu venue.  That means that the chef prepares a full course dinner, upon the making of the reservations please inform the receptionist of any allergies however, the chef is more than happy to make some changes at the time of service.  For instance someone in my party was allergic to pork the chef was able to prepare a fabulous substitution.  But given the skill level of the chef and his wonderful staff there was no surprise.

The summer menu is one featuring the freshest ingredients.  The menu changes like the seasons. 

The evening starts in the wine cellar where Champagne and Hors d’oeuvres are served.  After guests have selected a wine accompaniment everyone proceeds upstairs to dinner.  Appetizer consists of Seared Pacific Halibut with assorted French fingerling potatoes, baby artichokes and blood orange and sweet beet emulsion.  Second course is an Allspice and Black Pepper Dusted Kurobuta Pork Loin with fresh Brussel sprouts and apple wood smoked bacon served with a bed of orzo rosemary scented natural jus.  Third course takes us in to the Mixed Heirloom Tomato Tartar with micro frisee lettuce, humbolt fog cheese, black pepper caramel vinaigrette and ciabatta bread crisp.  As you are already in heaven there is a brief intermission.  This is the perfect opportunity to meet the chef in the kitchen and observe a real working kitchen.

As you return for Act 2 you are presented with a Clementine Orange Sorbet to clean your palate.  Next is the famous entrée portion as if the above items were not enough.  There is a selection between Filet Mignon with Spice Cured Foie Gras and New Zealand Blue Nose Bass with Beluga Lentils.  The Filet Mignon was so moist and tender you could cut it with a butter knife.  The Bass was light and moist.  It is so easy to mess up fish that sometimes I just don’t even order it anymore.  I hate to be disappointed but his time that was not the case.  Perhaps the sorbet did clean the palate but all I can remember is delicious flavor that left me wanting more. 

Dessert was a different world.  You are not presented with just one taste of erotica but two.  A beautiful Lace Almond Cookie Cup with Mocha Espresso Mousse and Sweet Chandler Strawberries with mint tops.  No you will not go home wanting.  You will go home wanting to come back.

The service was impeccable.  Besides Emeril’s in New Orleans and various places in Indiana The Hobbit by far has the best restaurant service in Orange County to date.  So place your reservation now for those special occasions because this gem will not be forgotten but will shine on.
 
This place is all the way a FOUR FORKS UP!  Price reasonable for what you receive, the service excellent and the atmosphere like no other. 

http://www.hobbitrestaurant.com

2932 E. Chapman Ave., Orange, CA 92869




Wednesday, July 9, 2014

PATACHOU ON THE PARK – A little street Café


Only not so little located on Washington Street in Downtown Indianapolis across from the Capitol.  Sundays are the busiest so expect a wait up to 30 – 45 minutes for a table.  It has been serving healthy selections since it opened which was a nice surprise for this health conscious individual who is known to frequent tofu restaurants just to compare the firmness.   

This quant establishment is known for its Broken Yolk Sandwiches.  What is a broken yoke sandwich you ask?  Well, it is something that you need to experience I my description will never do it justice.  It is rich and runny.  The newest endeavor is the Broken Yolk Sandwich with Smoking Goose Apple Chicken.  It consists of 2 fried eggs, white cheddar cheese and Smoking Goose Apple Chicken Sausage patties served as a sandwich.  Once you bite into eat the ooze goodness of the yolk spills forth onto your taste buds.  Yes, there is nothing like it unfortunately it was so good I forgot to take a picture and the next thing you know it was in tummy.

If a fried egg sandwich fails to make you turn cartwheels than they have more delights to choose from including various omelets.  Try the Hippie with a Benz made with fresh spinach, vine ripened tomatoes, mushrooms and feta.  It was a Hippie with a beat.  The Overachiever is made with famous Indiana Bacon, white cheddar cheese, sour cream and horseradish it’s sure to make you ask for glass of water.  It has a spicy kick to it.  As with every breakfast menu they always have to mention the word California and Patachou is no exception with its California Dreamer made with avocado, white cheddar cheese, sour cream and jalapenos.  Oh those hot summer California nights. 

If you are more a traditional type of person yes they do serve Fresh House made Waffles and Croissant French Toast.  Add a cup of fruit and breakfast is served.

Lunch is also served and you have your choice of sandwiches or fresh made salads.  A special flavor for vegetarians is the Lentil Pate which consists of a curried vegetarian pate with cubes of blue cheese mayonnaise.  But if meat is what you want then may I suggest the Fresh House Roasted Turkey with herbed cream cheese, lettuce and mayonnaise. 

Patachou serves the typical Chopped and Greek Salads however they do have few surprises.  The Winter Ensalada Fresca is chopped romaine, roasted butternut squash, red onion, cumbers, garbanzo beans, black beans and feta tossed with Buttermilk Herb dressing.  Or how about a throwback to time?  The Green Goddess Salad is one I would highly recommend if for the name alone.  However you will be pleasantly surprised.  This salad has all the goodies made with avocado, hardboiled egg, bacon, chopped tomatoes, apples, and natural poached chicken over lettuce tossed with their own version of creamy Green Goddess dressing.  Quick where is my fork?

One criticism I just cannot get out of my mind is the fact that if you coffee you have to get up and help yourself.  They have a coffee station directly in the middle of the restaurant which is not easy to get to as you have to weave your way through various tables.  If I am paying for service I do not want to get up to get myself a cup of coffee.  Call me old fashioned but that’s what I pay for and I do tip graciously as I was once a server myself.  The service is also a bit lax.  The manager just doesn’t have control as I witnessed him cleaning tables as patrons waited to be seated.  The water glasses were never refilled and there is no water shortage in Indiana last time I checked.  The food was good but a bit overpriced from what I experienced elsewhere.  Food was good but if you compare it to the service and prices elsewhere it just seemed to be lacking.  So sorry to say I can only give it 2.5 Forks Up.  With a little help I know it can do better.  The food was good and healthy.  The establishment had a great vibe and that is always a plus.

225 W. Washington St. Indianapolis, Indiana
(317) 632-0765
Cafepatachou.com

 

 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

GRANITE CITY FOOD & BREWERY - Fun place to eat and drink and just be merry.


Where can you find lively conversation, high energy and good food?  Granite City Food & Brewery that’s where to go for a fun time and good meal in Indianapolis.  I only wish there was a location somewhere in California.  It would be worth the drive.

Granite City’s atmosphere is fun and relaxing.  There is even a smaller restaurant at the Indianapolis International Airport.  The food at the airport venue is freshly made but utilizes a condensed menu.  If you are in the airport looking for food and spirits before that long flight definitely grab a snack before boarding at Granite City’s Airport Location.  But on to the really thing….

The staff is honest with its opinions of food served at the establishment.  The small plates very from Asian Grilled Shrimp, Vodka Mussels, Pretzels with Cheese Sauce or Boneless Buffalo Wings.  The wings can give Santora’s in Mission Viejo, California a run for their money.  The wings are spicy but sweet.  A mix between a BBQ and an authentic wing sauce.  You will not be disappointed, these are not synthetic like Buffalo Wild Wings.
 

Try the Idaho Nachos made with waffle-cut fries topped with Colby jack cheese, The Northern queso, bacon, tomatoes, and sour cream and green onions.  It’s a party in your mouth.  Full of flavor but I warn you if you eat this you will not eat “that”.  Pair it with one of their custom made Ale’s and you are in for a treat.

The menu is as diverse as our great nation but remember it is a brewery so there is plenty of hearty meat dishes, after all we are still in Indiana.  The Grilled Garlic Butter Sirloin is tender and moist.  The Candied Pecan Pork Chops are never overdone and finished with a caramel sauce.  Sweet but delicious.  The BBQ Ribs are slow roasted with Granite’s own BBQ sauce.  Juicy sweet and the meat falls off the bone.  It gives Weber’s Grill a run for their money.  It is a must paired with The Northern an American handcrafted golden pale ale.  Granite even serves up its version of Meatloaf on ciabatta bread with a bourbon onion sauce.

If you are in the mood for a taco try the Crispy Shrimp Taco Trio glazed with a spicy Asian sauce topped with lettuce, pico de gallo, cilantro and Santa Fe cream sauce.  Again another spicy sweet treat.  The shrimp is cooked to perfection.  There is so much flavor in just one little bite.  They also serve a Fish Taco Trio which includes blackened Tilapia if shrimp is not your bag.  The Tilapia is topped with a sriracha ranch sauce, a bit hot a bit cool.

The Granite City Food & Brewery was one of my favorite restaurants’ in Indianapolis. Again inexpensive.  You do get your money’s worth.  Great for a cold or hot day just pair with a drink and you are ready to go.

 
 
The service friendly and spot on.  My drink was never empty my service was always with a smile.  There were no dumb questions, just a lot of facts. This place rates 3.5 Forks Up.  I cannot wait for one to open on the West Coast.

49 West Maryland St., Indianapolis, IN (317) 803-2025

 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

THE EAGLE’S NEST – Perched on top a building looking below to the streets, what a view!


The Eagle’s Nest is Indianapolis’ 360 degree view of the city restaurant perched on top of the Hyatt Regency Hotel.    One can view the whole city as it turns 360 degrees.  Every table allows a view of the sky line, most romantic time is as the sun sets over the horizon.  This place is famous as you never know who you might see.  This is Indianapolis’ see or be seen place to be.  However it is not pretentious as so many places where the city celebrity hangs out often is.  The word to describe The Eagle’s Nest is simply comfortable.  Everyone is treated like they are someone.  You are not left feeling inadequate.  So sit back, relax and enjoy the view.

Appetizers range from Shrimp Cocktail Two Ways – grilled jumbo shrimp or spicy cocktail sauce.   However, if you are more adventurous try the Baked Peaches prepared wrapped in prosciutto with basil, salted walnuts and a balsamic glaze.  The chef likes to experiment with flavors that just seem odd but work.

The French Onion Soup is traditional with a rich aroma broth.  Slightly crusted on top with provolone and gruyere gratin adds that little something special.  Forget a salad have the soup it will please your palette.

The entrees are ecliptic as they range from beef, poultry to vegetarian.  The Crab Crusted Halibut melts in your mouth.  The crab is rich and sweet.  The halibut is served our baby spinach and roasted potato with a Lemon Beurre Blanc sauce.  The halibut was a little overdone and lacked in sauce.  If halibut is not for you try the Cajun Spiced Grouper with shrimp and crayfish sweet potato chowder.

The Paella and Marinated Pan Seared Quail is done just right.  It is prepared with shrimp, clams, lobster claw meat, chorizo sausage, peppers and onions with Saffron Rice.   I must say I was impressed with the amount of seafood.  Most Paella’s are more rice than seafood.  It’s a definite must try.

Do not be discouraged there is plenty of meat dishes.  For the meat eater in you try the Herb Crusted Prime Rib, or if Lamb is more to your liking try the Seared Lamb Rib Eye is tender and moist.   The Eagle’s Nest has Sous Vide Bison Short Ribs with Red Wine and Molasses Glaze.  I will say though that the Bison Short Ribs were a little too tough.  The sauce is delectable perhaps it was a bad night. 

 Once again the service was outstanding and friendly.  The prices were reasonable and less then I budgeted.        The food was not exceptional but you need to go if for anything the view is worth it.   2.5 Forks Up.

One South Capitol Ave., Indianapolis, IN (317) 632-1234






Friday, June 13, 2014

Pearl Street Pizzeria and Pub – Dorothy we are not in New York but….


 Nope you are not but you are in the taste of New York.  The inside is set up like a relaxing pub.  Dark tables, flat screen TVs and a dart board.   The staff is friendly like everyone I met in Indianapolis.  The waitress stopped and chit chatted for a time without hesitation offering her points of interest for the city.  She was proud of her Indianapolis heritage and the fact that all the sporting venues where in walking of distance of each other. 

The location is hard to find.  At first you feel like you are walking down a “mugger’s alley” but that is not the case.  It is an alley but it is safe.  It is right in the heart of the restaurant district.  During the weekend this place can get packed but it’s well worth the trek to find it.  The drinks flow and the food is good.

My recommendation is the BBQ Chicken Pizza made with tender grilled chicken, red onions, mozzarella, fresh cilantro and zesty BBQ sauce.  Warning, warning Will Robinson….the zesty BBQ sauce is not “zesty” it is HOT!  I did not know any better and ordered it the Ghost Pepper Jack Cheese.  That was my mistake for you add the Ghost Pepper Jack on their version of zesty marina sauce and my mouth was burning.  Those of you whole like jalapeno peppers will not be deterred but the rest of mankind will need something to numb the pain.  This pizza defiantly needs to be paired with a smooth logger. 

Do not waste your time ordering a salad it is just not worth it.  Spend the money on the alcohol. 

This establishment carries, pastas, sandwiches and wraps.  Again do not waste your time with a sandwich or wrap.  Choose wisely and choose the pasta or pizza.  This place is known for its sauces and that is where all the flavor is so give it a try.  I promise you will not be disappointed.  The price is reasonable.  In fact, all the food prices in Indianapolis are reasonable and the service is superior. 

This place gets a 3 Forks Up. The price, the service and the atmosphere.  I only wish that the location was easier to find.  Even the cab drivers needs to be directed. 

65 East Pearl Street, Indianapolis, IN
317-638-3110

 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Palomino’s Restaurant and Bar - I do not mean the track.




 Food and a throw back in time.  Remember the velvet booths and dark mood lighting? Of course not you were not even born then and for the record neither do I. But I do remember I Love Lucy and the night clubs that were featured on the show.  Then you will know what I mean about nostalgic and a simpler time. A time of big bands and nights out on the town.  That is the atmosphere you will experience when you walk into the Palomino. 

The menu invites a sample of everything although if you log onto Yelp it says Medititrraen flare which I disagree.  It has something to tame everyone’s taste buds.

Try the Pumpkin Seed Pesto for an appetizer it is well worth the fantasy it invites in your mind.  Prepared with granny smith apples, fresh basil, clover honey, jalapeño, and served with grilled pita.  Its fruity but not over whelming with a hint of spicy.  It is a must.  I never had anything quite like it before and mind you I have been Turkey and throughout Europe.    However, if it is not for you then they always have the “old” staples of Crispy Calamari, Crab Cakes or French Onion Soup.  I must give a thumb up for the French Onion Soup full of flavor and little oil which is a feat in itself.  The melted cheese is gooey and gives the impression that the cheese was made on premises it is that fresh.

Entrée’s range from small plates typical of a Spanish style restaurant to Pizzas and Pastas.  But don’t forget what the name implies this place is a meat lover’s dream come true from the tender Braised Lamb Shank to the Roasted Prime Rib In Rock Salt.  Nothing is left off the menu for you discriminating palate.   

There was a toss-up between Chicken Marsala and Tuna Puttanesca so again I deferred to the waiter for his expertise after all restaurants that want to succeed have the staff taste everything.  His suggestion was the Chicken Marsala as the Tuna Puttanesca was a little too fishy for his liking.  I will be forever grateful for his recommendation it was by far the best Chicken Marsala.  The chicken was tender and moist full of flavor.  The roasted mushrooms and sauce was just sweet enough not to be overbearing. 

I looked around and everyone was enjoying the pizza so of course I had to give it try.  There is nothing like eating to experience life.  The Salsiccia Fresca was prepared with marinara, housemade mozzarella, caramelized onions, and hot Italian sausage.  Again the mozzarella was superb.  You can always taste fresh mozzarella once you have experienced it you will never buy cheap store bought again.  Fresh mozzarella is with the drive to your local Italian Deli.

The dessert menu is a creation by itself.   The Sicilian Donuts are the “bomb” I have not had them since Nana was alive.  They are served with mascarpone cream and warm nutella chocolate sauce.  Simply incredible.  Palomino’s also serves Warm Pear Bread Pudding, Palomino Tiramisu and Crème Brûlée.

There is a full bar with specialty drinks that include good old fashioned martinis that include Elderflower Lemon Drop, Ginger-pear, and Lavender Cosmopolitan.  It’s a throwback to times past and a welcome change to today’s constant commotion. 

The Palomino’s prices are not expensive not compared to some other fancy establishments.  The service is excellent and staff are always egar to help each other out.  I can honestly say that the service is on par to Emeril’s restuarants in New Orleans it is that GOOD!  This throwback in time rates a 4 Four Forks Up just because it made me smile without hurting my wallet. 

Although I experienced the Palomino in Indianapolis they have locations in Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angles which I will be experiencing in the near future.  Mind you there are others so log on to Palomino’s website at http://www.palomino.com/locations.php and give one a try.

Indianapolis – 49 West Maryland St. (317) 974-0400