Thursday, February 28, 2013

Taqueria La Bamba - Mt Vernon, WA



Taqueria La Bamba - 2222 Riverside Dr., Ste 850, Mt Vernon, WA 98273

This place is just off Highway 5 in Mt. Vernon, Washington.  It was the perfect place to relax and grab a bit to eat while we continued our journey from Vancouver to Seattle.   Definitely a hole in the wall and I mean a virtual hole in the wall restaurant.  The staff speaks Spanish and the TV plays tela novas while you wait for your food.

Taqueria La Bamba is located in a small strip mall just a block from Stewart St. a major road paved with restaurants and shopping centers.  Do not be distracted by what you assume area is like.  It is quant and unassuming restaurant. 

The food is filling and cheap.  Our bill came to $13.00 and that included the tostada cerviche accompanied with rice and beans and chicken burrito.  The tostada was overfilling with scrumptious shrimp and white fish.  Unlike most eateries they did not skimp on the shrimp.  The cerviche was cut with just enough lime and plenty of onion and tomatoes.  The fish was fresh and light.

The burrito was a two hander stuffed with rice and marinated chicken.  Instead of a salsa bar they brought all four salsas in large containers to your table.  I must point out that this is a REAL Mexican establishment so every salsa was hot.  Not mild and medium just HOT. 

I made the mistake of thinking the orange garnish on my plate was a carrot.  As I bit into it and chewed my mouth started to burn.  My mouth had just been set on fire by a jalapeno.  This was not a regular jalapeno but one grown from the depths of … I thought my mouth would never cool off.  Drinking water just made the pain worse.  The only item at my disposal was the chips as long as did not dunk them in the salsa I was good.

Because of the price point and clearly authentic cuisine I give this place 4 forks up. It is a real hole in the wall but do not let that turn you off this is the place to go!
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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Mulberry Lemonade




 As the weather starts to warm up there is nothing as refreshing as a glass of lemonade. As Emeril would say we are going to kick it up a notch by making a drink Aunt Bee would be proud to serve to Andy after a hard day at the Jail House.  I can just see Barney helping himself to glass.    

4 lemons, sliced
1/2 cup mint leaves
1 cup sugar (or splenda)
1 pint berries (strawberries and blackberries preferable)
1 quart water
1 quart club soda
Directions:
1.                  Slice lemons and place in the bottom of the drink pitcher.
2.                  Add 1/2 cup fresh mint and 1 cup sugar on top of lemons. With wooden spoon mash the mixture for 1 minute.
3.                  Add the berries and mash lightly.
4.                  Add 1 quart water and refrigerate until chilled.
To serve: Fill a tall glass with ice and fill 3/4 with lemonade mixture, top with club soda and serve.https://www.facebook.com/https://twitter.com/

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Seattle – Much more than a village by the sea.


Seattle was settled in 1851 on a bank of mud between the Puget Sound and the fresh waters of Lake Washington.  Settle has been burned, gutted and sunk into the mud in which it was built upon.  The people are resilient and did not let the set backs which came at them discourage them from rebuilding.

Today Seattle is a hubbub of ecliptic music and food.  There are things to do where ever you turn from a strolling down Pioneer Square to charting a boat for a Whale watching tour.      

Jimmy Hendrix Grave site is place all musicians should visit at least once.  It took me a day to find the place due to misdirection. So to save you the time it’s located at Greenwood Memorial Park Address: 350 Monroe Avenue NE (3rd and Monroe) Greenwood Memorial Park, Renton, WA 98056.  It is only a 20 minute drive from downtown Seattle. 

Follow that up with the Experience Music Project (EMP) located at 325 5th Avenue N Seattle, WA 98109. EMP is dedicated to the history and exploration of popular music, science fiction and pop culture.  It was founded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. It holds rock memorabilia and technology-intensive multimedia displays.  It also houses a fantastic tribute to Jimmy Hendrix. 

One cannot miss the Seattle Space Needle.  Just look in the sky and you will see a magnificent piece of architecture.  The 605-foot tall Space Needle was completed in December 1961.  It officially opened on April 21, 1962 the first day of the World's Fair.  It has weathered storms and earthquake and stands today as it did in 1962.

Sky City Restaurant located on top of the Space Needle was a treat. I was expecting pricey food lacking substance but I was amazed. Not only was the food reasonably priced but it was full of flavor.  This place has some of the best oysters on the half shell I had ever eaten. The view was amazing.  Although it is considered by many as a tourist trap I do recommend that you visit it once just for the experience.

Pike Place Market is an open market to delight the young and old.  It houses restaurants, shops, fresh caught fish and produce.  Pike Place Market attracts 10 million visitors a year.  It holds approximately 190 craftspeople, 100 farmers who rent space, 240 street performers/musicians and 300 apartment units for the low income elderly. There is also an area where the locals sell there arts and crafts.  May I suggest indulging in a crepe and hot cup of coffee as you stroll through discovering the local art work?  There is lady there who carves statues and holiday ornaments for the ash of St. Helen.  Her work is fabulous.  There are scarves, mirrors, jewelry and beautiful photography to choose from.  There is also a haunted tour given daily.  There are many ghost tours throughout Seattle

Some local attractions you might want to put on your must do list are:

1.                  Underground Tour of Seattle – remember the city was built on mud.
2.                  Original Starbucks
3.                  Seattle Great Wheel
4.                  Pioneer Square
5.                  Seattle Monorail
6.                  Seattle Asian Art Museum
7.                  Japanese Garden
8.                  Washington Park Arboretum

Although the list maybe your typical fare sometimes you just have to go to say you did.  The experience is worth it.  But the one place I highly recommend is Chihuly Garden and Glass.  Dale Chihuly is a brilliant artist.  He specializes in glass blowing but it is not your typical glass.  Mr. Chihuly’s glass takes on life of its own.  His pieces are 100s of feet high.  Each piece of glass is intricately woven into another making for colorful displays of light. It is located adjacent to the Space Needle so plan to spend the day in that area.  There is even a café rest and enjoy the art.  His works of art are displayed in 8 galleries and in the garden area.

There is not just one place to eat in Seattle. The local eateries are on every street corner.  You have your choice of pasta, Creole, urban and fish.  Whatever you are craving Seattle has it.  Do not be afraid to take a trip in a Taxi to the outskirts of Seattle.  Some of the finest eateries are located on the perimeter of the city.

Ristorante Machiavelli is a hidden gem.  It is a family owned Italian restaurant on the outskirts of the city.  The do not take reservations as the place is small in comparison to most establishments but it is worth the wait.  Note that it is closed on Sundays so the family can have some rest.  The Penne with Roasted Red Peppers is spicy but not overwhelming.  It has a touch of walnuts and cream.
  • Seafood -  Elliot’s Oyster House. 1201 Alaskan Way Pier 56, Seattle, WA 98101
  • Crepes – Crepes De France at Pike Market Place
  • Cajun and Jazz Music -  The New Orleans Restaurant  114 First Avenue South, Seattle, WA 98104 
  • Urban – Café Fonte  5412 6th Ave S  Seattle, WA 98108

There are many reasons to visit Seattle.  My favorite is that it is only a 2 hour drive from Vancouver. 






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Monday, February 25, 2013

Kickin it Creole Style



 Kickin Crab – at Diamond Jamboree Center, 2740 Alton Pkwy, Irvine, CA 92606
 
A seafood restaurant with Creole flare located in an Asian shopping center, who would have thought?   Well the owner did and he was a smart man.  Definitely come early as this place packs in the crowd after 6pm.  The fish is fresh but I warn you do not wear nice clothes to this establishment.  You will get messy.  However, this is the first restaurant that actually offered me gloves for my hands.  That is an A+ in my book.
 
You order off the menu per pound.  The price of shrimp is $9.99 a pound and although it does not seem like much food it was plenty for me.  The menu states market price so do not be shy to ask the staff they are more than happy to answer any questions you may have.
 
Each order is made to taste.  I had the “kickin style” blend which includes garlic butter, lemon pepper, Louisiana, and Cajun spices.  You also have your choice of hotness. Unless you want to have your nose run I do not recommend having this medium.  I was drinking down the water like there was no tomorrow. Next time I think I will try the mild.
 
Remember everything served in the buckets is shell on that includes the lobster.  They give you crap crackers for the larger shellfish. So unless you want to work for your food I would think twice about ordering anything larger than a crawfish.
 
The shrimp was delicious and although the seasoning was “hot” I definitely would order it again.  You can order corn on the crab to accompany your meal but I am not a big corn on the cob person.  There are also potatoes or French fries you can have on the side.  I would have preferred if they had a nice side salad but grass was not part of the menu.
 
The shrimp tacos are palate pleasing and priced as if everyday is taco Tuesday.  They make a great appetizer or pair a few of them with beer and you are good to go.
 
The staff was spectacular.  I know I have said this before but the staff was extremely efficient.  Every time my drink was empty they were right there to refill and since my mouth was burning I was in heaven.  It is not like other establishments where if it is not their table they will not pitch in.  I honestly believe I had a team of servers for my table only.  So please respect the staff and tip them well. If you had seen the mess I left at my table you would not want that job. 
 
The atmosphere is staged like a Mardi Gras party.  There were strands of beads hanging from the bar.  It was family and date night oriented. So no matter if you are coming with family or that special someone for a bite and beer it was a perfect place to take them.  I give it 3 ½ forks up.  I definitely will be coming back for more.

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Low Calorie Summer Salmon Pasta




As the weather begins to turn and warm up it is time to get ready for swimsuit weather.  As I look down at my tummy and all the winter eating I notice a substantial amount of winter warmth surrounding my mid-section.  It is time to lose the freshman five and show off your bikini body.  Eating healthy is now the new “motto”.   This delicious low calorie salmon dish is just what the doctor ordered.  It makes a great lunchtime treat sitting out on the patio.  It is great chilled.




Salmon and Tarragon Pasta

1 salmon fillet

40-50g (when uncooked) penne pasta

1/3 cup of chopped red onion

1 clove of garlic crushed

5 Asparagus spears cut diagonally in half

1 large handful plum cherry tomatoes sliced lengthways

1 tbsp pine nuts (toast for 2 minute in a dry pan first)

1 lemon zest

1/2 lemon juice
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2 tbsp olive oil

1/3 cup of fresh tarragon


Prepare as follows:


1. Season salmon with salt and pepper, and bake in a pre-heated oven at 200C for 15-20mins.

2. While the salmon is baking, chop up the garlic, onion and tomatoes and toast the pine nuts – stir repeatedly to keep from burning.

3. Add pasta to a pot of salted boiling water

4. Fry up the garlic, onion and tomato in a little olive oil. Drain cooked pasta and add to the pan.

5.  Add in Tarragon

6. Take salmon out of oven and flake into the pasta. Squeeze in 1/2 lemon juice and stir in lemon zest and 1 tbsp olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

7. Stir together and serve.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Pizza Anyone?




Pizzeria Ortica -  650 Anton Blvd., Costa Mesa, CA is presented by the David Myers Group. 

The pizza dough is hand stretched and fired in a brick oven.  The staff will warn you that the crust around the pizza is burnt but that is the way it is done in a brick oven.  It is not overly burnt and is perfectly done the way I remember in Florence, Italy so no harm no foul.  I must admit that the pizza’s dough to filling ratio is perfect.  It is not doughy.  I recommend the Pizza Margherita made with crushed San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil.   Pizza di Banderas had too much cheese and Kalamata olives were too salty which overwhelmed the flavor.   For those with fancier tastes I recommend the Guanciale, ricotta e cipollotto.  It is made with fresh ricotta, house-cured pork cheek, scallions, and fennel pollen. 
 
There are also different pastas to choose from including the Ricotta Gnocchi made with fresh tomato marinara, Parmigiano Reggiano or the Roasted Kabocha Squash Tortelli sautéed with brown butter, pistachio pesto, and biscotti.  The Roasted Kabocha Squash Tortelli is more a ravioli then a tortelli.  The portions are small so I suggest a complementing the meal with a pizza to share.  The upside is that the pastas are all handmade on premise.  The pasta I done perfectly al-andante as any good Italian would do at home.   

The appetizers and salads are a bit small for the price.  If you are looking to be filled up then family style would be the way to order from the menu.  Order many and share.  This will allow you take part in a little bit of everything.  It also opens you wide up for dessert.  Unfortunately they ran out of Tiramisu so I left a little disappointed.
  
Parking is located at the Plaza Tower behind the restaurant.  The restaurant does provide 2 hour validations.  Remember to tell the parking attendants that you are there for the restaurant NOT the theater otherwise you will have to cough up $10.00 to park. 

Service was good however the bartender was fabulous she came to our table herself to refresh our cocktails.  The drinks she concocted were EXCELLENT.  This place would be perfect for appetizers and drinks after work or before the show.  Not sure I would go back for dinner as it was a little pricey for what you get and I can order that anywhere. All in all 3 forks for effort and the bartender made it a pleasant experience for everyone.

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Springtime Mojito



Winter is finally turning to spring and with that come out the drinks to relax and enjoy in your hammock.   Recently I visited a Pizzeria and I discovered the Virgin Mojito.  It was refreshing and reminded me of those lazy spring days, a time when we skip work and attend a few baseball games soaking in the sun with beer in hand.  I am not particularly fond of beer it is a little bloating one might say but I do enjoy a refresher.  The Mojito is just what the doctor ordered.  It can be made with or without rum.
  
Virgin Mojito

15 mint leaves
1 teaspoon raw sugar
1 ounce fresh lime juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup
ice
4 ounces chilled club soda
                                                                2 lime wedges

Directions:

1.         In a glass, muddle/crush the mint, sugar, lime juice and Simple Syrup.
2          Add ice.
3 .        Pour in the club soda
4.         Garnish with the lime wedges

If you prefer the Rum I suggest adding in 2 ounces of white rum. Stir in the rum then pour in the club soda.

If you are watching your weight to get ready for swim suit weather then I suggest substituting the sugar for Splenda.  Use 2 teaspoons of Splenda. Enjoy!
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Friday, February 22, 2013

Lone Star River Cafe - River Walk, San Antonio, TX




Lone Star River Café – 237 Losoya St., San Antonio, Texas located upstairs on the beautiful River Walk.  I recommend going on the weekend and grabbing a seat over the River Walk. Watching the tourists go by and locals is a real treat.  During October at night the weather can be brisk but the atmosphere is fabulous.  The locals are strolling around the River Walk with their families in tow.  The college students can get a little wild but its all in fun and nothing like Fort Lauderdale during spring break.  Nobody went swimming in the river.  The locals are friendly the way only a true Texan can be so if you assistance finding the joint just ask any stranger in a cowboy hat.  Yes there are a few.  

This is your typical steak and bar-b-que restaurant but it’s the location and friendliness that makes it a place to see. 

Just about all the appetizers are fried however I do recommend Charlie’s Famous Fried Onion Rings served with house made ketchup.  Make sure you do not forget a glass of beer with it as you need it to calm down the spiciness of the ketchup. Typically they have marguerites on special so feel free to indulge.

All you can eat specials for $5.00 are served Monday through Friday.  Wednesday is Pork Riblettes and if that does not appeal to you try Thursday’s King Ranch Casserole and Sloppy Joes.  Sloppy Joes just like mama use to make on Friday nights when I was growing up. The messier the better as mama would say.

This place is strictly meat, meat and more meat. There is fried catfish served the traditional way with coleslaw and fries.  The La Grange Chicken Breast topped with mushrooms was rather dry but again I did not go for the food but for the atmosphere. 

Lone Star Café is not typical steak fare nothing special.  The reason to visit this Steak House is simple the staff is friendly and the atmosphere is wonderful above the famous San Antonio River Walk.  I give it a 2 ½ stars.  You need to go just to see the action below you as you enjoy a cool beverage on a hot night.
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Cooking Tip – Low Fat Dressings



To make a low fat dressing instead of using mayo replace it with Greek yogurt.  To cut carbs and fat try a vinaigrette.  A good dressing that will add spice and kick to your salad and vegetables is Chili Lime Vinaigrette.

Follow the directions as follows:

3 tablespoons of FRESH lime juice
1 ½ teaspoons of minced seeded jalapeno chili
1 teaspoon of minced fresh ginger
1 pressed garlic clove
½ teaspoons of sugar
3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon oriental sesame oil

Whisk together lime juice, jalapeno chili, ginger, garlic and sugar in a small bowl.  Gradually whisk in olive and sesame oils.  The key word is “gradually”.  If you like add in salt and pepper for taste.  Let stand at room temperature and serve over salad or vegetables.  You can substitute splenda for the sugar. 

The dressing is spicy so be careful when using.  It adds a kick to grilled vegetables.  https://www.facebook.com/

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Lucca Cafe




Lucca Café, 6507 Quail Hill Parkway, Irvine, CA 92603

Lucca Café is it a deli?  Is it a restaurant? Is it a wine bar?  The answer is all of the above.  Lucca serves up a different menu between lunch and dinner.  It is a blend of Euro bistro and wine bar with a wide selection of cheese charcuterie offerings.  Charcuterie was originally intended as a way to preserve meat before invention of refrigeration.  Today they are prepared derived from the preservation processes. 

Its lunch menu consists of specialty sandwiches, salads and pasta dishes.  All the food is prepared fresh.  Lucca’s All Natural Crispy Parmesan Chicken Breast Salad is served over Romaine lettuce, with market tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, avocado, and applewood-smoked bacon.  The salad is topped off with homemade Buttermilk-Gorgonzola Blue Cheese Dressing.  If salads are not enough to fill you up try one of their specialty sandwiches for instance the Grilled Portobello Mushroom made with fresh mozzarella cheese, baby spinach, market tomatoes, red onions, basil pesto aioli.  You can make it heartier by adding a grilled chicken breast.  I personally am partial to the Mushroom Melt as its bursting with flavor.  You can actually taste the fresh market tomatoes.  The basil pesto aioli adds another dimension to the flavor.  Lunch is served Monday thru Friday 11 am to 2pm.  So don’t be late as they will not serve you past 2pm.
Dinner is served Sunday thru Thursday 5pm – 9pm and Fridays and Saturdays 5pm to 9pm. They make several skewers Natural Spicy Chicken Breast with grilled onions, mint yogurt dipping sauce; Pork Tenderloin with port wine apple sauce; and Center Cut Swordfish made with lemon garlic dipping sauce with fennel pollen.  You also have your choice of pastas, seafood such as John Dory with capers, spinach, new potatoes, white wine sauce or beef short ribs with red wine and balsamic vinegar braised Yukon Gold mash, baby spinach, horseradish crème fraiche, Cabernet reduction.
The only negative is the price.  Although the atmosphere is comforting with a fire place and wine placed throughout the bar the menu prices can be a little on the high side especially for the daily specials.  Daily specials are meant to be a “deal” I did not find that to be the case.  The sandwiches do come with choice of soup or salad so that was nice price breaker.  It gets 3 Forks Up – based on price.  Food was good just not enough to break the 4 Fork limit.
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Cooking tip for the day - Preparation


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It is the preparation of cooking which is the hardest part, the slicing, dicing and measuring.  I always like to prep first – measure everything out in small containers.  Read your recipe a few times before you start preparing this will help you get familiar with the ingredients.   I tend to misread teaspoon and tablespoon so this has helped me from miss-measuring. 

If you are cooking for that very special someone do NOT try out a new recipe.  No matter how hard you try it will never turn out perfect.  Always test out that new recipe at least once. It will save you time and embarrassment.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

L’Abattoir - Gastown Vancouver


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Vancouver will delight you with L’Abattoir located in Gastown.  This urban upscale eatery is located on the site of the first jail in Vancouver.  Do not let the tales of the ghosts scare you as this establishment is set in Classical French style with industrial fixtures blending the old with the new.  

The menu is a combination of urban and classical from the Dungeness crab chickpea toast for an appetizer to the Pork shoulder cooked in milk.  You have to be a true foodie to appreciate the dishes which are geared more for the meat minded and than the vegetarian but do not let that put you off as L’Abattoir also serves up a few fish dishes.  If pork is not your protein of choice try the fillet of cod with parsley crust combined with mussels, potato and artichoke.  If heaven was a place on Earth it would be L’Abattoir.

The downside to this establishment is that it is a little on the pricey end.  Although the place was packed it seemed to be mostly out of town guests.  This establishment is more geared for tourists and business guests.  The staff was nice and attentive.  I would not expect anything less from Vancouver.   They were not stuffy as you may find at an upscale urban eatery in Los Angeles.  So for that I would give L’Abattoir 3 forks up. I just was not prepared to pay that high a cost for what was served.   The portions were on the small side but the food had great flavor.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Jerry's Dog - Southern California Fare



Remember the days when you would go to the ball park to watch a game and indulge in a good old fashioned hot dog.  Those days are not gone or forgotten just few and in between.  I finally found a place that reminds of the ball park hot dog.

Jerry’s Dog is a hot dog franchise located throughout California and Dallas, Texas.    There signature dog is an all beef hot dog in natural casing.  It makes that snapping sound when you bite into it.  But for the health concisions they also feature turkey and vegetarian dogs.   There is something for everyone from healthy salads to juicy all American burgers. Do not let the name of the restaurant fool you expect more and at reasonable prices.

The turkey dog is plump and juicy one of the better ones I have tasted in a long time.  Make it a combo with fresh homemade potato chips that are addicting or traditional with fries.  I prefer mine old school with mustard, sauerkraut and grilled onions. 

Be daring and go for Uncle Frank’s Hot Italian Sausage.  Made with mild Italian pork sausage, cracked fennel, garlic, Romano cheese and red wine.  It is delicious and will want you coming back for more.

All salads, hot dogs and burgers are made to order.  The sauces are more than just ketchup and relish.  You choose from Frank’s sauce, ranch dressing, Thousand Island, Cleveland stadium relish, Chipotle Mayo and many more selections.  Top it off with jalapeños, relish, sauerkraut, pickles, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, coleslaw, hot pastrami and bacon. 

This place rates 3 forks with me for keeping it real.  Just a tip if the staff fails to pile on the toppings just keeping asking, they will do it.  The owner is very hands on and customer orientated. 

South of Nick’s Mexican Kitchen and Bar, San Clemente, CA



South of Nick’s Mexican Kitchen and Bar was an ultra modern spot in a beach local.  The service was above par.  Each salsa was homemade with bite of peppers to measure the palate.  The ultra hot had a smoky flavor but the show stopper was the hibiscus pomegranate ice tea.  It was a home run. 

The seafood enchiladas were covered in salsa Verde with a hit of cream to soften the texture and flavor.  It was prepared not only with shrimp but scallops and real crab not “krab”.  Bell peppers where blended in the seafood mixture along with green chilies.  However, a touch of cream was added just to mellow out the flavors.  Nothing was lost on the preparation or plating of the dish.  It was a true masterpiece of flavor. 

Chicken mole’ enchilada was truly from Mexico City.  The mole’ was made with bitter chocolate as it should be with a hint of spices and touch of jalapeños.  The chef took liberties by adding a touch of cinnamon to kick it up a notch.  Yes you can re-event the wheel.  I have looked high and low from California to Texas to find old Mexico and I found it at South of Nick’s.

The shrimp cocktail was old school served with saladitas, crackers to those of you unfamiliar with the traditional saltine.  The shrimp was juicy and tender mixed with lime and cilantro.  It seemed be well thought out however I am still on the fence of what appeared to taste like clamato, a reconstituted tomato juice.  The flavor was there just a little bit of texture was missing as I do not usually like my cocktail sauce so watery.

In total South of Nick’s I would give 4 forks up.  Service was excellent but the spin on Old Mexico could not be beat.

Fig Tree Café



Fig Tree Café is located at 416 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92103.  It is in the urban area of Hillcrest.  It is surrounded by quaint shops and local eateries.   My mission was not to eat at Fig Tree Café but to try another local eatery down the street.  However I was meeting my cousins from Pleasanton, California breakfast and our original destination had over an hour wait.  I do not know about you but an hour wait usually means 1.5 hours and we were starved for substance.  So I hit my Yelp App and found Fig Tree Café about 200 feet around the corner.  The yelpers gave it high marks so it could not be too bad.  Usually you do tend to find a yelper with an attitude but this was not the case as all marks were 3 stars and above and 5 for service. 

My backup plan is always to look at the pictures if there are no pictures then chances are you do NOT want to dine there.  All pictures made my mouth water.  For me the proof is whether or not the establishment actually serves something I can eat.  If it is all boars’ head then you can count me out.  I need some veggies to go with my protein.

The menu was haven to my senses.  Upon walking through the door sent of fresh baked apples had my stomach churning.  I could smell the cinnamon.  The setting was “industrial wine”.  Steel and wood but it was not sterile by any means.  We were greeted by super friendly staff, and good looking at that.  The warm smile we received from the staff was not faked like you might find in some Hollywood eateries.  All the staff was warm and genuine.  In fact they would off up how much they liked working there and the fabulous owner.  Honestly, you do not find that in kind of compliments in most establishments.  It is always about how the man is trying to put one over on you.

Although the espresso machine was not working the waiter offered to make me a Chai Tea Latte by heating up the milk himself.  He then went over the menu with us and told us his favorites.  He also tried to dissuade us from ordering a meal you could by at any eatery.  Service was definitely an A+.

The men in my group opted for the Pancakes with Cinnamon Brown Sugar, Sautéed Apples served with Orange Segment Syrup.  The women went for the Eggs Benedict Tuscan Style.  The Eggs Benedict was made with sun dried tomato, spinach, basil and recommended with prosciutto.  It was served with house baked focaccia and house made potatoes. 

The Pancakes were so delicate that no syrup was needed.  Each bite was a bursting with flavor from the apples and cinnamon to the brown sugar.  I was lucky to obtain a bite before it was gone.  The pancakes were huge and you definitely did get your money’s worth.  Even in Paso Robles or Julian you would not find apple pancakes made as good.

The Eggs Benedict were the best I have tasted.   The spinach was sautéed with a hint of garlic and basil that did not overwhelm but added to the flavor.  The Hollandaise sauce was light and airy not heavy and creamy.  The Hollandaise sauce itself was flavorful and was a great combination with the basil.  Sometimes you can have a sauce that overwhelms the dish and takes over but this was not the case. 

Not only would I recommend Fig Tree Café for breakfast but I would try it for dinner.  The service and food was that good that I will be back to try dinner.  The breakfast and lunch menu is the same so you have choice of “brunch” if you so prefer.

This place deserves 4 shiny silver forks up.  Good Job!!! My mouth is watering just thinking about the food.