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

 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Weber Grill Restaurant – Big taste in a little city.

Do you like barbeque? Do you like steak, ribs and chicken?  Well there is a place in Indianapolis that you can get a mouthwatering meal with full flavor.   Where is this place you ask?  A place where the meat is so tender it falls off the bone.   It is in Indianapolis!  The name you ask? Weber Grill Restaurant is the name and meat is the game.
The atmosphere let’s simply call casual.  Jeans are strongly recommended as you do not want to be out of place.  You cannot miss the door as a Weber Grill hangs outside ready to usher you in to a world of old school BBQ.   As you enter a life size bronze statue of your father working over a charcoal grills welcomes you.  This brings back memories of summer’s past.  If the food is not enough to entice you then just the memories this place brings back should.
The prices are inexpensive compared to other establishments in other cities.  This place will not break your wallet.  So sit back and enjoy.
The BBQ Combo is recommend so you can sample a huge bit of everything.  You have your choice of 2 succulent entrees including, Hickory BBQ Ribs, Grilled BBQ Quarter Chicken, Pulled Pork , Black Angus Meatloaf, House Smoked Sausage.   The rib meat fell off the bone.  The chicken was moist and plump like it took a bath in water.  The BBQ sauce is a party in my mouth.  Truly an exceptional experience.  The cornbread is top notch.
If you prefer something different the Tuscan Brick Chicken was a combustion of flavor.  A semi-boneless half chicken with lemon thyme jus served with sautéed spinach and roasted garlic mashed potatoes.  The lemon thyme jus sauce had a tang that was addicting.  The chicken required more sauce but it was juicy inside where it needed to be.  I do not typically eat roasted garlic mashed potatoes but I could literally not stop eating them, they were that fabulous.  “Fabulous” a strange word to describe potatoes but hey go with it.
The service in Indianapolis was the best service that I have had in a long time.  My water glass was always full.  My server had a constant smile on his face.  He was honest about what to order off the menu when I asked for recommendations. 
This establishment was wonderful surprise.  With a name like Weber Grill I expected prepared food reheated with an overprice menu.  This was far from the case.  Weber Grill was exceptionally priced, friendly service, and a comfortable atmosphere.  The food was spot on tender and juicy which is hard to do when grilling.  This place is definitely a 3.5 Fork Up.  When in Indianapolis do give this grilling establishment a chance you will not be disappointed even the locals hang out at the bar.
10 N. Illinois Street
Indianapolis IN 46204
317-636-7600
 



Monday, June 9, 2014

Indianapolis – The biggest small town in America.


Indianapolis, Indiana is one city you can view from your hotel window.  The whole city can literally be fit in the palm of your hand.  Although small the people have the biggest heart in America. 

You can see the whole town in just a few days but you cannot taste all the differences in town in just that short time.  This town is an active town filled with sports.  From football to basketball the town vibe is one filled with activity.  Act lively you are part of something bigger here even the children love there sports.





Don’t walk run to the nearest event.  The Indianapolis 500 held in May is the car event of the year. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum is a walk through a time machine.  The original Hall of Fame Museum opened in 1956.  There are approximately 75 vehicles on display at one time.  There are more than 30 winning cars from the Indianapolis 500 throughout the years.  Some cars on display are:

  • The four cars driven to victory by A.J. Foyt Jr., including his 1977 machine that represents his record-setting fourth Indy 500 win.
  • The Duesenberg #12 Murphy Special, the only car ever to win both the Indianapolis 500 (1922) and the French Grand Prix at Le Mans (1921).
  • Dave Evans' #8 Cummins Diesel Special, the first car to complete the Indy 500 without a pit stop in 1931.
  • The 1965 Le Mans-winning Ferrari 250 LM.
  • A 1954/55 Mercedes-Benz Formula One car.
  • A 1957 SSI Corvette.
  • A 1998 Stewart-Ford SF-2 Formula One car.
  • A rare 1935 Duesenberg Model JN four-door convertible passenger car, of which only three were built.
  • An equally rare 1925 McFarlan TV6 passenger roadster.

The people are some of the friendliest I have met and I am comparing them to the Canadians who have always had my heart.  So be warned do not come with an attitude as you will not be welcome. They may be friendly but they do have pride.  Pride you will experience in your walk about town.  But for now I will just leave you with this thought….”Indianapolis the biggest little small town in America.”

 

 

 






Monday, April 21, 2014

THE FLYING PIG – Sounds like something out of a fairy tale only Vancouver style.



The Flying Pig is one of Gastown’s best establishments comfortable and causal a perfect place for a first date.  Although sometimes it may get a little loud the atmosphere lends itself to make a good first impression.  It has a loft appearance with cloth napkins and excellent service.

It bills itself as “nouveau Canadian Bistro” what that means I really do not know. I call it casual with an upscale vibe and a down home BBQ flare.  So relax its all good from this point on.  The only way you can really screw up is to be pretensions as this restaurant does not lend itself to that type.  So if you are from Toronto or Beverly Hills this is not a place you will fit in.  But if you are of the type that less is more than this place is definitely someplace to see and be seen.

The amount of food can be ridiculous so if you are eating light I recommend the appetizer menu.   I indulged in mussels in white wine and garlic served with a side of frits.  Yes this is what is considered an appetizer.  The menu is season so it does change but I have noticed that the main staple is pork and some form of it remains on the menu.

The mussels were nothing less than fresh and although I am trying to cut back I eat the frits.  Unfortunately for my waist line they were addicting so I could not just stop at one.

Ah…the pork.  The Red Wine Braised Beef Short Rib served with roasted bone marrow and aged white cheddar mash was rich and tender.  It melts in your mouth. In case you have been living under a rock roasted bone marrow is all the rage.  It appears that every cooking show is featuring some version of it.  It is not an easy recipe to follow but if you have technique then it is a winner on any cooking show. 

Do not be scared to bring your date as there is something for everyone from Pan Seared Queen Charlotte Halibut to Wild Seafood Pappardella.  The sides are exceptionally appetizing and “different” but in a good way.  Try the Bone Marrow Cheezy Bread, yes I said the bone marrow again, or how about the Lobster and Prawn Risotto.  Canada’s specialty dish is also available Andrew’s Pulled Pork Poutine.  Yes this dish is catching on in the US. 

The service is exceptional as they are always ready to ply you with alcohol or any drink of your choice.  The only draw back is the price it might seem a little high if you’re a tourist but for the locals it is spot on.  The dessert is served but I prefer to walk down the street and order a crepe.  This place is 3 ½ Forks Up.  Ready set go!



Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Cardero's in Coal Harbour – The sea, the view, the food.



Just when you thought it could not get any better it does.  The view from the restaurant is amazing.  The locals will tell you that it’s a fabulous restaurant and one of the best which would leave you to believe you must be dressed to the 9’s to enter the establishment but that is simply not true.  This place is casual and relaxing located in the Harbor itself. 

The one thing about Cadero’s is it is not a local secret.  Tourist and locals dine here together.  It is not my local hole in the wall that first attracts me to a restaurant but it is the atmosphere and location that hooked me.  As I sat by the window I had an impressive view of the Harbor with its ships coming in and out.  Nothing better than a glass of red wine as enjoyed the moment and with that thought I ordered the oysters on the half shell which were simply put delicious.

 It was lobster season so what better dishes to order than Lobster Fettuccini with Saffron.  There was just a dash of saffron not to overwhelm the buttery flavor of the lobster which was done to perfection. It has always been my father’s contention that you never order fish unless you are at a fish restaurant by the sea.  I could not argue with that logic as the lobster was fabulous. 

The fish so fresh that it jumps out of the ocean is not your taste then they also cater to those who prefer a land.  The pork chops and chicken are a treat for those not of the sailor type. 

Finish the meal with a dessert and you will not be disappointed. I always rate my desserts as to whether or not they are worth the calories.  Unfortunately for me the answer was yes.  Thus my diet when I got back to the States.  That is what I get for asking the waiter what he suggested.  Of course the answer was a brownie sundae.  So good but yet so bad for you so I went straight to my hotel room and did 50 sit ups like that was really going to help.  But it did ease my conscious a little bit.

This establishment is casual, relaxing and well staffed.  The food was good but it was a little pricey for my empty wallet.  I recommend a definite trip for cocktails and appetizers in the bar area.  It will not break the bank but it is fabulous to sit in the middle of the Harbor and just relax.  Three Forks Up because my wallet did not match my appetite.

Located at: 1583 Coal Harbour Quay, Coal Harbour, Vancouver, BC. 

Reservations recommended 604-669-7666

Reservations are strongly recommended and encouraged.  However, if you fail do not despair as there is a fantastic bar area to warm up in with a wide arrange of selections. 

 





Monday, March 31, 2014

The Templeton Restaurant – Breakfast served Tammy style.



Vancouver has so much to offer from its organic fruits and vegetables to its laid back artistic atmosphere.  The Templeton is not located on the prettiest street or in the best neighborhood but maybe that’s what makes it all the more charming. Located in the heart of the entertainment district The Templeton brings back memories of sock hops and rock n’roll that your parents thought was the devils music.  But The Templeton is so much more it is a reminder of a simpler time when there were no Iphones to interrupt your dinner.  There are no microwaves here to cook with only a good old fashioned stove and grill.  

Processed food no, good food yes from its natural free run, non-medicated eggs to its handmade specialty turkey sausage The Templeton is all “real”.  May I recommend the Tofu Scramble made with medium tofu sautéed with veggies, lightly seasoned with curry and nutritional yeast, rosemary potatoes and toast?   The taste is orgasmic and the price will not burn a whole through your wallet.  If your more in touch you’re your manliness then try the Truckers Breakfast  made with 3 eggs, turkey sausage or bacon or veggie bacon, delightfully seasoned rosemary potatoes and toast.  Even truckers need to watch what they eat sometimes.  This little one of a kind gem has everything from smoked salmon omelet to blueberry banana pancakes.  There is always something for everyone.

I recommend starting off your visit in Vancouver with breakfast at The Templeton it will feel you up and keep you going.  However do not be sad, they serve lunch and dinner.   Remember this place is old school with a twist on today’s flavor profile.  You can order from grill cheese sandwich to veggie chili dog.  They have a wide choice of specialty salads including Asian Noodle Salad organic buckwheat soba noodles, fresh cilantro, carrots and peppers in peanut lime vinaigrette dressing.  Plenty of hamburgers to fill your belly combined with a good old milkshake.   

The Templeton is open late Thursday – Sunday and serves liquor and beer.  It is a great place to kick back after a show and grab a drink to unwind. 

Its exterior may seem harsh buy today’s standards but the inside resembles days’ gone bye with its 50’s interior still in tack.  Each booth has mini juke box ready to play at your request.  No the waitresses do not dress up as if going to a soc hop but they are extremely friendly and helpful.  The place is small so expect a little wait but I assure you it is well worth it.  The prices are not from a time when…but they are quite inexpensive compared to today’s standards.

This little whole in the wall deserves your attention.   Best for breakfast or a late night snack with its inviting drink options including its spiked milkshakes and floats.  Shh…don’t tell anyone.  So let’s see a strong 3.5 Forks Up – just because.  Food, fun, friendliness. 

Located at 1087 Graville St., Vancouver, British Columbia V6Z 1L2

604-685-4612

9am – 11pm (except Thurs-Sun 1am)



Monday, February 17, 2014

GYPSY DEN – An electric surprise in Santa Ana, California.



The menu is stirred to taste.  The ingredients are prepared fresh.  The bread and pastries and baked in house.  The atmosphere is coffee shop with a rather hip vibe taking you back to the hippy era. 

The menu caters those health conscious with a selection of food cooked fresh from the garden.  For those more into meatless delights there are several entrees that meet your dietary requirements.

Personally the difference between the Adobe Stew and the Veggie Chili is minuscule but that will not stop you from trying both.  The Adobe Stew is a vegetable stew with corn, zucchini, tomato, onion and green bean, topped with cheese.  The Classic Gypsy Chili is a vegetarian chili with soy meat, beans, onion, tomato and corn and topped with cheese.  The difference in preparation is only the vegetables used but the difference in taste is amazing. 

Yes there is meat on the menu The French mean is a twist on the classic Roast Beef Sandwich.  The seasoned melt in your mouth roast beef is sliced and heaped on a fresh based pretzel bun smeared with horseradish mustard. It is served with a side of au jus for dipping.

Did some one ask for Tuna?  The tuna is prepared with the sweetest green apples, crisp celery, sliced tomatoes and cheese.  You can ask for the tuna to be mixed lightly with mayo as every tuna sandwich is prepared from scratch. 

If you want something different and are weaning off the meat then try the Goat Melt.  Fresh baked wheat flatbread with melted goat cheese, red bell peppers, spinach and Greek olives.  It is a Mediterranean delight.

Using my logical I ordered the Carrot Cake for dessert.  What logic you ask?  Well since this place caters to the health conscious and all ingredients are made fresh I analogized that the desserts must be healthy too.  So on to the Carrot Cake made with REAL carrots, spices and light cream cheese frosting.  Yes Heaven is a dessert. 

The staff is always friendly and patient with me because I never know what I want to gobble down next.  The atmosphere is so under dressed although you might catch a glimpse of a judge or attorneys do not be dissuaded this place is more artsy than sterile.  The art work hanging on the walls are from local artists.  The Anaheim location has an open mic every Wednesday night.  Each location is different and I am particular to the Santa Ana location.

For atmosphere, fresh ingredients, friendly staff this rates 3.5 Forks Up.  But if you have high expectations of a romantic location or anything more than what it is then this place is NOT for you. It is what it is – comfortable.

Locations:

The Gypsy Den Grand Central Cafe
125 N. Broadway Ave. Santa Ana, CA 92701
(714) 835-8840

The Gypsy Den Cafe @ the L.A.B.
2930 Bristol St. Costa Mesa, CA 92626
(714) 549-7012

The Gypsy Den Anaheim Arts District
211 W Center St Promenade Anaheim CA 92805
(714) 956-4400