Sunday, December 16, 2007

Falafel Hut

I haven't had a falafel in about 20 years, I'm guessing. But DH has been wanting to check out Falafel Hut for a while and I finally gave in. I'm glad I tried it, but I wasn't really all that impressed. I mean, it was good, but not something I'd ever crave or anything. I ordered the Vegetarian Combo Plate which came with 2 good size balls of deep fried ground chickpeas (hence, the falafel), hummus, baba ghannoush, tahini, tebouleh, cucumber salad, warm pita bread and 2 small dolmas. I am kind of a expert when it comes to the hummus and baba ghannoush because I worked at a fabulous company for a few years and they made absolutely the best dips you'll ever taste. My husband thought Falafel Huts dips were better than my ex-clients stuff, but I totally disagree.

The falafel itself was good-really crispy on the outside softer on the inside. The dolmas were underneath the falafel, so they were warm, and that ruined it for me. I like my dolmas chilled. The cucumber salad was really good and so was the tebouleh. Everything was good, but it just wasn't my cup of tea. But it was a healthy choice and different than what I would usually eat. My husband tried the shawerma and he loved it. I put a link to the menu in case anyone needs definition's on any of this stuff! LOL

This stuff was quite filling! I don't think I was even able to finish half of my lunch--good size portions, though. I have gotten quite the assortment of good grains in my diet these past couple of days! :)


The husband and I have eaten at Noonans several times, but the last time we ate there, we got into a huge fight (over my weight!) and I have refused to return. Until last night. Sadly, I think last nights visit made me want to never return again. I always say that I'm happy as long as I get good service, good food, or obviously, both. In this case, it is true that the service was excellent, but the food just kind of sucked. No, thats not completely true. Some of it was pretty good, but the bad stuff overruled. No big deal for Noonans, though, because I will always frequent their other two excellent spots: Moylans and Marin Brewing Company. And not for the beer--their food is quite awesome. In fact, I don't believe I've done reviews on either before...? I know I've intended to do one on Moylans, so just consider this it. Moylans is awesome, good micro brews, and the best Reuben you can get at a non Jewish place.

Back to Noonans, though. BTW, I should have listened to Becks and Posh's review of Noonans form 2004, but I didn't. I ordered with the intention of writing this review, not that I compromised my taste at all, though.

I was intrigued by the Grilled Pancetta Wrapped Prawns. Molasses & cumin? Interesting. These little guys were good. They were presented in a bowl and were swimming in the sauce. I never did taste any cumin, but the molasses was apparent--not as sweet as I was afraid t would be.

I am sorry to say that the only salad that interested me was the Baby Iceberg salad! Still almost kind of a wedge, but not quite. It was beautiful! It looked like it was almost like an intact head of butter lettuce or frisee, but it was indeed iceberg. It had baby tomatoes, sliced red onion, and a delicious bleu cheese dressing, which was pleasantly on the creamy side. Not as many chunks of cheese, which was a nice change.

I ordered the crab cakes off of the appetizer menu as my entree. I really wanted a steak, but wanted to eat a little healthier. These were some of the worst crab cakes I've ever had. And I've had bad crab cakes. I really should learn that no one makes them better than I do! LOL But seriously, I do have a knack for crab cakes. I'm going to make them next week for the family Christmas gathering, so I'll have to post my recipe. Anyway, the presentation was beautiful-4 dots of green sauce of undetermined flavor, and a endive leave with what was supposed to be remoulade sauce, but tasted more like tartar sauce to me. And in the middle of that was two crab cakes the size of a silver dollar at most. Very tiny. But for the price, it was fine, and after all, it was just an appetizer. But still. I've had crab cakes from appetizer menus before and they were much larger. These crab cakes were just flavorless. Even the sauces couldn't save them.

The husband ordered the daily fish special which was Opaka Paka...which sounded great in theory, but it wasn't. Again, it was a tiny portion-and this was an entree. Beautiful presentation, but just not great. Now, I don't always review the husbands food, but since I was still hungry from only eating half of one of my tiny crab cakes, I tried some of his dish. So the fish was baked and a bit overdone. Neither one of us can remember the waiters description of what it was supposed to be, but we're going with an orange/citrus sauce that was drizzled on top of the fish. It was bland, but thats ok because I think they were trying to highlight the fish. As they should---assuming that they hadn't over cooked it, I bet it would have been better. Does that make sense? What I'm saying is that they had good intentions. On the side of this dish was something rarely seen: a pleasant surprise of a scoop of quinoa!! Unfortunately, it was also bland, but the sauteed bell peppers complimented it nicely enough.

On to Bella's dish! I took one bite of her delicious grilled cheese sandwich and I wanted to eat the rest! But I didn't. Of course, neither did she! When will restaurants learn that children generally do not like cheddar cheese? The french fries were really good, though.

This review ended up being more mixed than I thought it would have been. I went away unimpressed, but in thinking back and writing about it, I realize that it wasn't all bad. There is a lot of room for improvement, though.

A message to diners who insist on using their cell phone in restaurants: whether you realize it or not--and I'm guessing you don't---you are being extremely rude. There was this party of 3 in the same dining room as us last night. 2 very large black men and a cute black girl. One of the men was YELLING so loudly into his cell phone that I nearly got up and took the phone away from him and wanted to smack him so badly!! The only reason I didn't is because he would have mopped me up with the floor. Anyway, it's really rude to chat on your cell phone in restaurants--not only to the other patrons, but what about your table mates? Rude.

Bottom line is that I don't think we will go back to Noonans again. The service is really good, but the food is just too inconsistent.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

McCormick & Schmicks Seafood-DC

This place was awesome! It was bustling busy with lots of big Christmas parties, but even without a reservation, we were greeted and seated right away. Our table was set back in a little alcove with lush red velvet drapes so we felt semi private. There were coat hooks on either side so we could easily all fit our coats, scarves, & mittens. We were greeted right away by our waiter, who recommended a nice glass of wine to start out with. He was very attentive! I was very happy with the service!

We ordered 2 bowls of steamed clams for everyone to share and they were delicious. Not too small, not too big. The broth was delicious, not salty like it can be sometimes. It was served with a few toast points on the side. Yummy. I split a wedge of iceberg with my husband. The lettuce was cold and crisp, the bleu cheese was generous, and it was sprinkled with bacon bits and red onion slices. My only complaint would be that the dressing was too heavy, but thats not such a bad thing--unless you happen to be counting calories! ;) For my entree, I ordered the seared ahi tuna off of the appetizer menu. It was very deep red in color; I prefer mine more pink. But it was fresh and very good. It was served with soy sauce & wasabi for dipping, and a garnish of a really good seaweed & sprout salad.

McCormick and Schmicks are located all over the country, primarily on both coasts. I've eaten at the one in San Francisco many times and it is always delicious. The one in DC was equally as good, if not better. Delicious food, excellent service. What more could I ask for?

Sometimes I rate, sometimes I don't. I give this place 5 out of 5 stars!

Thank you Tracy for the great comment! I have a lot more to go! Next time I dine out, I'm going to remind myself that I'm getting tired of writing "I had the wedge and ahi tuna"!! LOL Maybe I ought to think outside the box next time! :)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Cosi-Washington DC

After walking in the freezing snow for miles, and miles, and miles (ok, 1/4 of a mile) we found a place called cosi. After perusing the huge menu above the cashiers head, I decided on the bagel sandwich. However, since it was 10:59, I was informed that breakfast was no longer available, so I had to resort to lunch. This was a flat bread sandwich type place, and since I was friggin' starving, I went for the Turkey, Cheddar, & Tomato with honey mustard. It was ok. The honey mustard had an unexpected "bite" to it, which was a pleasant surprise. But, it was drippy. The service was more than confusing, the food was mediocre, but hey, they had wi-fi! Too bad I left my laptop at the hotel!

I didn't eat much on our trip, but I do plan to do a review of McCormicks & Schmicks because they absolutely rocked! Thanks, Tracy, for the gentle kick in getting me to post on this blog! RBR----if you are reading----add my EP account to your friends list, ok? I'm out of the closet now LOL Love you guys!
PS Tracy--how do you do the swirly dash before your name? I don't have that...

Friday, November 16, 2007

Upcoming Reviews

I've let my blog go to the wayside because I've been too consumed by ExtraPounds lately. I did a copy/paste/edit job of the blog I posted there today, and my friend Tracy gave me a lovely compliment and I decided I'd better get cracking again. My readers demand it! LOL (I have zero readers on this site!)

Recent Restaurants I've visited and plan to do reviews on are:

Deer Park Villa (thats where Kendall's Bat Mitzvah was last weekend!)
Flemings Walnut Creek
Gaspare's Pizza

Recent Restaurants I've visited that I do not plan to do ANOTHER REVIEW ON, but here is a quick update:

Seafood Peddler-we took Bella there on Wednesday for her birthday and we had good service again and the food was also good. I didn't care for my stuffed prawn that came with my surf n' turf, though. It was too bready and I couldn't even tell there was crab in there. Other than that, all was well.

Izzy's-We took Bella (have I already mentioned that Rory very rarely joins us out to dinner? Although we did force her to go to SP for B's b-day.) to Izzy's again 2 weeks ago and once again, this place just shines!! I love that we always have to wait in the bar because I don't get to do the whole bar thing too often now that I have kids! We waited in the bar just long enough to finish half of our drink, then we were happily seated at our favorite table, with our favorite waitress, Gabriella (say that in your best Mexican accent!)!! She is a sweetheart, Bella loves her, and we are going to always request her! OMG, the food, the service! I had my usual filet mignon with Izzy's Own Scalloped potatoes & creamed Spinach. (I'm sharing this blog for the first time---with an EP friend---so, Tracy, are you sitting there thinking to yourself, "no wonder Shelley isn't losing weight!! LOL I did go running that day, so it almost balanced out, but not quite!!)

Cheesecake Factory-someone please remind me not to go here anymore! Its always a long wait, the service sucks (although our server was really attentive in the beginning when I was still at Nordstrom trying to find a dress and my family was waiting patiently for me), and the food just is not good! I had a grilled chicken breast sandwich and it was just tasteless. I will say that they make a mean cheeseburger--Bella had one and I had a bite (or 2). The problem is that this is the only restaurant at this mall.

Man, I am rusty! I can't even figure out how to add a link to a blog, or anything else for that matter. Practice, Practice.

The Panama Hotel

I met my husband at the fabulous Panama Hotel for dinner. What an awesome place. It's a tiny little jewel of a place tucked away in a corner in a really cute neighborhood. We've been there once about 10 years ago and keep meaning to go back.

There was live music last night, which is always cool! The guys name was Mark Robinson and boy, can he croon! He's kinda cute, too, and I had first row seating status! We bought his CD. Have a listen! I liked some of the jazzy cat faster songs better than the ballads.

After finding the somewhat hidden entrance, we made our way to the front desk. We were seated right away at a deuce right in the front. I would have preferred the available 4 top by the window, but surprisingly, this place was hoppin' for a Thursday. After having a moment to peruse the menu, we were greeted by our waitress, and we ordered a glass of wine.

I'm an appetizer slut, thats for sure. I always have to have one! Last night we tried the Ahi Tuna Ceviche (w/avocado, red onion, Serrano chile, yellow cherry tomatoes, & cilantro), and it was just ok. It reminded me more of a tuna tartare than Ceviche. It was served in a low ball glass and homemade tortilla chips, which were delicious.

I couldn't decide on my entree, so I asked our server for a recommendation, and she suggested the daily special. So, my entree was a grilled Petrole Sole served over a cherry risotto cake and a bed of hericot vert salad with cherry tomatoes & Kalamata olives. It was very good--lots of flavors popping-- but it was too busy for me. The fish itself was very good, as it was firm, and simple. I was trying to behave and went for the fish, but I really wished I had gone for the pork chop. I mean, doesn't this sound delicious?: "Grilled Pork Chop--Organic double cut with ancho chile peach chutney, mashed sweet potatoes, & hericot vert. The man at the table next to us had it and it had a great presentation and he seemed to enjoy it. Oh, well, I got some fish in.

I also got dessert in!!! I was so bad!! I think I needed to make up for the lack of satisfaction with my dinner, because I never order dessert!! I had bread pudding with a caramel hazelnut sauce and a teeny glass of ruby port wine. Delish!

I look forward to retuning to the Panama Hotel soon. Their menu is a bit limited, but the food was very creative and overall delicious. Plus, the service was impeccable! And I'm all about excellent customer service!

I'm giving this place 4 stars. ****

Monday, July 16, 2007

Mary's Pizza Shack

Sorry I haven't been doing too many reviews ( all you zero readers out there! LOL), but I haven't really eaten out much. Well, I ate at a great place in Las Vegas last weekend, called Studio Cafe (Excellent!!!!) inside the MGM Grand, and at Wolfgang Puck (Good service, HORRIBLE FOOD), also at the MGM, but I try to keep my stuff somewhat local.

I will be doing a fabulous review of the highly anticipated and newly opened, Nick's Cafe soon, but first I wanted to write about Mary's Pizza Shack in Sonoma, CA.

We had to take a quick trip there on Saturday to pick up The Husbands registration packet for the Napa to Sonoma Half Marathon on Sunday. It was about 2:30 and I was starving! The only reason I tagged along is because I had hoped it would involve food! Well, it did. Mary's has been around forever and it's family owned and operated since 1959. This is the first time I ate in the new location; they just moved around the corner recently.

We were seating immediately even though all of Sonoma was packed with pre-racers. We had time to check out the menu and see a few new items before our server greeted us. I can't remember his name! Justin? Austin? Anyway, this was a bad sign because unfortunately, the service never really improved. I mean, it was just slooowwwww. But, like I said, they were very busy and he had tables out on the patio, too. When I was a server, I hated when I had the whole patio and then asked me to pick up another tend to forget about that table! Anyway.

Now to the food! It was delicious, as always. We tried the hot and spicy chicken wings, but it came solo-no bleu cheese or celery, which I thought was odd. So, we asked for the dressing and he actually brought it out somewhat quickly. The wings were hot, spicy, & sticky! Very good. Then I just had to have my favorite Mary's house salad: crisp lettuce, 3 bean salad, salami, eggs, red onion, & mozzarella w/ housemade bleu cheese dressing. Delicious as usual. I always, always get the fresh brewed iced tea and the house salad when I go.

We ordered 2 entree's and shared. The new Vinnie's Meatball Pizza was really good. It had small bits of meatball, pepperoni, onions, a ton of mozzarella cheese, and fresh garlic. Nice thin crust, too. Whole wheat, I think. Then we shared something I wouldn't normally order: a Southwestern Chicken Wrap. It was a tomato basil tortilla filled with BBQ glazed chicken, cheese, corn, & a huge amount of field greens w/a sweet vinaigrette sauce. Interesting, but in a really good way. Would I order again? No. The pizza is what you come to Mary's for! I can't wait to go back. I highly recommend Mary's Pizza Shack. And Mary? If you are reading this (LOL)...why don't you deliver to Marinwood??? Its only a few more exits down from your Novato location!! Just a suggestion.

BTW, The Husband finished 117 out of 1,016 at the marathon yesterday! He placed 9th in his age range out of 75 people. 1:40:06!!!!! Not too shabby! I just really need to get in on the action! This is was his second race and my first one isn't until October 14: San Jose Rock & Roll!! Which reminds me: wasn't I supposed to run 2 miles today???

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Sushi Boat

Bella requested dinner at Sushi Boat after swim team the other night. I wasn't really in the mood for sushi, but we all went. The staff is always so friendly and of course greeted and seated us immediately. We ordered california rolls and kappa rolls to start with, including a hot sake, a white wine, & 2 7-ups. What I love about this place is that even if you only order sushi, you still get a bowl of miso soup and a salad. I love their salads! Crisp lettuce, shredded carrots, a slice of cucumber & tomato, and just the right amount of ginger sesame dressing.

Bella ordered a bowl of tempura udon, Rori had the prawn & vegetable tempura. They were both done perfectly and were delicious. The prawns were huge! So were the servings. Da Husband and I just had tuna sashimi & a rainbow roll. Both were very good, generous portions and we were stuffed!

We had an orange cup, got our bill right away, and on we went. Its always a pleasant experience at the Sushi Boat!

Monday, May 14, 2007

The new Izzy's

I love Izzy's! This spot has changed hands so many times, but it has been Izzy's for quite awhile. It was bought out in October and everything is the same, but there are new additions to the menu.

We were told there would be a 20 minute wait, so we took a table in the bar and ordered a drink. Of course, as soon as our drink was served, our table was ready, so the cocktail waitress brought our appetizer-popcorn shrimp-to the table. The shrimp was really good, but my suggestion would be to offer one more ramekin of a different sauce to add some variety. Plus, the remoulade sauce ran out way before the shrimp did.

Our waitress, Gabriella, was an angel! The service was excellent. It seems like Blake listened to Leslie on her review in the IJ about getting the staff up to speed. Gabriella was attentive, knowledgeable, and a self confessed foodie!

We split the "Wedge" and it was served on two seperate plates for us, which is always nice. The dressing was not your usual bleu cheese, but I can't put my finger on why. There was some tomato, red onion, and a nice kick was the pine nuts.

I ordered the 10 oz Filet Mignon-medium-for my entree, and had Izzy's Own Potatoes & Broccoli for my sides. My steak was perfection. So were the potatoes. The broccoli was a bit cold, but I never could figure out how restaurants keep it so hot...mine always gets cold when I serve it, too.

The Husband had New York strip, which he loved. I tried it, too, and it was good, but not as good as my filet. He got the creamed spinach, which was delicious, as usual.

We did not have dessert, but we did get our check in a timely manner and off we went. I know we will return. Izzy's gets 5 stars.

Monday, April 30, 2007

The Yankee Pier

This is one of Bradley Ogden's places. Its right next door to the Lark Creek Inn, which I think we need to check out again one of these days. Anyway, we were greeted and seated right away. Our server approached us in a timely manner, we ordered wine and fried calamari to start. The calimari was fine. Nothing to write home about, but one thing that I noticed about this place before is their portions are very small. It was served with cocktail sauce and a spicy remoulade sauce.

The Husband ordered a bleu cheese wedge and I ordered 4 grilled prawns for his salad. Wasn't that nice of me? The prawns were delicious, and of course, I've never had a wedge I didn't like. The dressing was on the mild side, though. I had a difficult time deciding on my entree, but I ended up with the Cioppino. Big mistake. For many reasons. The flavor was fine, but kind of mild. It didn't have the "kick" it usually has. I did not enjoy having to work so hard for my dinner...cracking the crab legs and picking it out was kind of disgusting, but at least my family found it hilarious! Unfortunately, by the time I was done picking everything out of their shells, the cioppino was cold and everyone else was done eating. I guess it was a good way to get me to eat slower! :)

The kids had pasta with butter and parmesan. Nothing new there! Again, not sure how I ended up with kids who won't even try fish and chips! Whats not to like? I almost ordered it!

I forgot to ask The Husband if his dish was any good. Can you put a comment here about that? Thanks! xoxo

We all did something we don't usually do. We ordered dessert. The kids had the kid sundae, which was vanilla bean ice cream, chocolate sauce, and whip cream. To Bella's dismay, no cherry on top. Not even for the shirley temples! She got sprite with strawberry syrup instead. The Husband got a chocolate shake with whip cream on top and he said it was just ok. Kind of weak. I had the Black and Tan Sundae. It was also vanilla bean ice cream, chocolate sauce, and whip cream, but it had a drizzle of carmel and some slivered almonds. It was good and the portion was so big I couldn't finish it.

The service was excellent. I didn't catch her name, but she attentive enough and everything came out on time, etc., including the check, which is one of my pet peeves. When I'm done, I want my check and I want out of there. Why most servers don't get this, is beyond me.

I didn't get to steal a bread plate, but I did write down the name of the manufacturer! We were right up front, so there was just no way I was gonna swing it. They are so cute, though. The have a little lobster with a fishing pole..adorable.

There you have it. The Yankee Pier gets a pretty decent review. A little more saffron in the cioppino would be my only suggestion, that and larger portions. I won't be ordering cioppino anytime soon---from anywhere! Too much work and too messy!!

I am behind on my reviews. I need to do Ricky's, and what else? The Husband? Can you remember? There are about 4....Maria Manso, Star...and one more.....?

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Flemings Steakhouse-Newport Beach

I've been here once before with the The Husband many years ago, and we fell in love with this place! We've talked about it ever since and have been dying to go back! Thankfully, they will be opening one in Walnut Creek this summer!

But, again, since I happened to be in Orange County this past weekend, and was meeting one of my best friends from high school, I decided to make a reservation at the one in Newport Beach. This place is friggin' amazing!! The decor is so rich and warm. Dark leather, wood chairs, dim lighting, red paint on the walls. Gorgeous! Of course, it didn't hurt that we showed up in my friends brand new 2007 Bentley GT Coupe! Nice!

We were seating immediately...and in not only my favorite room, the library, but at my favorite table! Perfect. Our server, Belinda, was a sweetheart! Let me just start right off by saying that this was the best service I have every had. She was so attentive...not too attentive, just right. I ordered a Merlot Wine Flight, and my friend ordered a Cabernet Sauvignon Wine Flight. She had never heard of them before, and I was astonished! I love, love, love the wine flight! You get 3 (or 6) glasses of 2oz servings of 3 different wines. You can do a white, a red, and a port, or 3 whites, 3 get the idea. This allows you to decide which one you really like in case you want to order a bottle. Well, I was really interested in some of the reserve wines, but we ended up getting a bottle of BR Cohn Cabernet for $60.00. Not the $800.00 bottle of ZD, Abacus that we really loved!!

I was inclined to try the Wicked Cajun BBQ Prawns to try and get away from my boring addiction to Ahi, but my friend wanted the Seared Ahi Tuna, which, of course, I was fine with! :) And boy, am I glad I did! This was the best tuna I've ever had!! It was tender and juicy, seared to perfection! It was served on a bed of julienned veggies such as zucchini and daikon radish, and a spicy mustard sauce. I do prefer wasabi and ponzu, but this was a nice twist.

My salad was incredible!! After much discussion several weeks ago, The Husband and I determined that the very first Iceberg Wedge we've ever had was here at Flemings and it was also the best one we've ever had. Well, Saturday night, I had the absolute best salad in my entire friggin' life! The Wedge. Surprise! Crisp Iceberg lettuce, grape tomatoes, red onions, crumbled bleu cheese, and just the right amount of bleu cheese dressing. My friend had her fair share of this salad and I still couldn't finish it...thats how huge it was! To be fair, she had the Flemings Salad which was seasonal greens, candied walnuts, dried cranberries, tomatoes, and croutons. This is not my cup of tea, so I didn't try it, be she seemed to enjoy it.

Because I am a creature of habit, I ordered the 8 oz Filet Mignon, without butter. I really wanted to try some fish since I'm trying to stay away from red meat, but since none of their seafood selections appealed to me and this was, however, a STEAKHOUSE, I went for the filet. OMG YUM!! I ordered it Medium and it was perfect! I also had the most perfect order of steamed spinach, which I shared with my friend. She had the special, which was a Potato and Pecan encrusted Halibut served over a bed of broccolini. I meant to taste it, but she had already scraped off the potato and I kind of lost interest. She said that it was just too thick, as far as the potato was concerned. It was a huge portion, by the way. She had that, and my leftover spinach and filet mignon for lunch the next day. Since I was out of town, I couldn't take my steak home to my dogs. I need to start eating ALL of my steak, especially when its this good!

We ended our meal with one final glass of cabernet, received our check when we asked for it, chatted with Belinda some more, and headed out. In her Bentley. Nice.

Del Taco-Costa Mesa

Ha Ha Ha! LOL

Ok, I just couldn't resist a review of Del Taco! I love this stuff! Thank God there is only one around here (Market and 3rd), otherwise I might be tempted to reinstating Taco Bell Tuesday but changing it to Del Taco Tuesday. Anyway, since I was down in Orange County last weekend, and KNEW that there was a Del Taco right across the Unity Bridge from my hotel to South Coast Plaza, I figured I would indulge.

I ordered a Del Combo Burrito. OMG Yum. I took it to go and scarfed it down in my hotel room. I barely had a chance to enjoy it; I was so hungry. So, the next day I just knew I had to try it again...and since I ordered it incorrectly, this time I got it right.

I have to remember to order the Deluxe Combo Burrito! It is the same as the Combo, beans, seasoned ground beef, red sauce, onion, and cheddar cheese...but with lettuce, tomato, and sour cream. Now, that is a good burrito! Add some El Scorcho sauce and you are set!! Unless you have a few extra calories left and are super hungry, then the Macho Combo burrito is the way to go!

I also ordered a plain cheeseburger with lettuce and tomato added on, but I was way too full to eat it! I ended up having to toss it. Bummer. I was also bummed that I didn't order the fries. They have such great fries!!! Crinkley and perfect. Next time!

Claim Jumper-Costa Mesa

I hadn't been to a Claim Jumper in oh, I'd say about 20 years. But, I was to meet some of my EP friends there and I was excited! I had already looked at the menu ahead of time and knew what I was going to get.

The service was good, but way too attentive. I felt bad for the girl, because she kept coming up to our table to see if we were ready to order, but we were too busy talking to look at the menu. Finally, one of my new friends said, Look, how about if you come take our order when our menus are all closed. Sounds pretty obvious to me. Anyway, once we ordered, it was all good. They arrived before me, so I don't know if they were seated promptly or not. It was 1:00 on a Friday afternoon and they didn't seem too packed.

I ordered the Seared Ahi. I need to stop ordering this for blog/review purposes! Its getting old, even to me, but I love the stuff. The Ahi was horrible. It was dry and overcooked, but not only that, it was really peppery. I could barely keep the first bite down, and felt obligated to try a second piece. Ugh. I should have sent it back, but I was nice and said I just wasn't in the mood afterall. Its too bad, too, because it was a very generous portion, as is all of their dishes.

For my lunch entree, I ordered the Fresh Mozzarella and Tomato salad. It was very good, a little too much balsamic vinaigrette, but otherwise pretty tasty. Of course, I expected it to be stacked like the picture on the menu, but it wasn't even close. I tried to add a link here, but it didn't work.

We got our check in a timely biggest pet peeve...and we were on our way! Next time I will order something a little more safe, like a hamburger or a sandwich. I'm not sure Claim Jumper is the place to expect quality fish.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Cheesecake Factory

This is my first review after having been diagnosed with prediabetes. But, after having pretty much behaving for 4 days, did that stop me from dining at this place? Nope. I've had some really great experiences at other locations, but for some reason, most of my experiences at the Corte Madera location haven't been all that great. Sometimes its the service, sometimes its the food. The service is definitely inconsistant, as is their staff. The reason I say this is because every time I've been there, the server has indicated to me that they are new. When a restaurant can't keep their staff, it makes me wonder whats going on in the back of the house...

Anyway, today I was craving something I shouldn't have and we needed to go shopping for shorts for The Husband at the Village, and I had some returns/exchanges to do.

Our wait was just a few minutes, which was nice. We were seated in that horrible round room in the back, which I hate, but it was a booth with a view of Nordstrom. Our server was fine. We were involved in a heated conversation and she seemed to respect that, so there wasn't a whole lot of diner/server interaction.

We ordered the chicken potstickers as an appetizer because that is what Bella wanted. I'm not a fan of chicken anything, unless it's a chicken breast. The presentation was 5 potstickers in a bowl of dipping sauce, which was quite thin. The wonton wrappr was soggy, and when I cut my peice in half, it pretty much fell apart. The filling was basically just chopped and mushed up tasteless chicken. Not a fan of this dish.

TH (the husband) and I shared the Steakhouse Salad, which was sliced mozzarella cheese, tomato slices, chunks of bleu cheese, red onion, sundried tomatoes, and a bed of greens tossed in vinaigrette on the side. I enjoyed this dish and wanted more!

My entree was the Cuban Sandwich. What a disappointment! In their defense, it was my first one ever, but I'd heard of them and have been wanting to try one. It had slow roasted pork, ham, swiss cheese, pickles, and mustard and
was served on a "pressed cuban style roll". The pork was really dry and tough, so I took it out, but with it went the swiss cheese. So I was left with the ham, which was fine, pickles, a roll, and if there was any mustard, I didn't taste any. I had a few french fries, and I have to say, they were actually pretty good.

TH had the Spicy Chicken Chipotle Pasta, which I didn't get to taste until I reheated it at home. It was very good. I like a lot of spice, but I doubted this dish would come close to being considered "spicy", but it proved me wrong. It had a nice zap to it. Penne pasta was served with honey glazed chicken medallions, asparagus, peppers, peas, garlic, and onion in a spicy parmesan cream sauce. It was topped with some (unnecessary) tortilla strips. I've never been a fan of those. Overall, this dish was delicious.

Bella once again ordered a 20 dollar dish, which needs to stop! She wanted the beef ribs, which were served with french fries and onion stings. She loved it. I'm not a fan of beef ribs; I prefer pork, so I didn't try them, but I trust her judgement. Besides, my dogs benefitted from them being beef since they can eat bones from beef! :) I don't think any of us had a chance to try the onion strings, but I was eyeing them! I'm sure they were delish. I guess my only question was: where was the vegetable? Ya know, some steamed veggies or a salad? For me, a meal is not complete unless it has a fresh, green vegetable.

My biggest pet peeve is when I'm ready to go and I can't get the bill or I get the bill and I can't get the server to take it and process it. This was not a problem today; we got our bill, payed it, and went on our way to get some shopping done.

I have a question for The Cheesecake Factory people: where is the Southern Fried Chicken Salad? That was the best salad I've ever had!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Giving The Seafood Peddler another chance

We have eaten at The Seafood Peddler on several occasions, but we either got bad service or the food sucked, or both. Since we are more into seafood now, we are always looking for a good place. Saturday night, my husband suggested The Seafood Peddler, so I agreed and decided to see if they can redeem themselves.

I'm happy to say that they did. Upon entering, we were hesitantly greeted by 2 hostesses who kind of ignored us at first, but then told us there would be a short wait. No problem, we were seated by the window in the main room and I don't believe we've ever been in the main room before, so I was happy. Our waitress, who's name I didn't get (pre-blog idea) was very friendly and attentive...always a plus for me since I used to waitress my way through college and believe in good service.

We ordered the Crispy Fried Calamari and Steamed Littleneck Clams for our appetizers. Our daughter, Bella, was with us and she loves this stuff. The clams were good-not too big, not too small. The broth was good, not too salty like I've had before, and it came with 2 garlic toast points, which were also good. The Calamari was served with "marinara fra' diavolo" sauce and tartar sauce. Also good, not greasy at all.

I ordered the Iceberg Wedge, which was more like half of a head, and it was served with bacon crumbles, red onion, some diced hard boiled egg, and way too much bleu cheese dressing, which was also on the watery side. I could have done without the bacon and egg, but the ingredients were fresh and I ate my fair share. My perfect idea of an Iceberg Wedge is the wedge, crumbly bleu cheese dressing-not too much-, some red onion slices, maybe a little tomato, and then I like to add a lot of pepper. Ruths Chris makes a perfect wedge. So does Flemings (coming this summer to Walnut Creek and I can't wait!!).

For my entree, I ordered the Sesame Seared Ahi Tuna from the appetizer section of the menu. The fish was fresh and very tender, and was served with avocado and mango slices fanned out on top of a bed of greens and a lite vinaigrette. Very delicious! I'm not a fan of mango, but my husband is and he loved the dish as well.

Speaking of my husband, he ordered the nut (macadamia? pecan? we can't remember!) encrusted Mahi Mahi off of their daily specials menu, which they seem to update frequently on their website, which is appreciated. His fish was light and moist, and was served on top of very yummy Wasabi Mashed Potatoes.

I have no idea how we ended up doing such a dis-service to our daughters, but neither one of them has ever had Fish and Chips. Nor have they had a fish stick! But they eat clams and calamari. Go figure. Anyway, because Bella refused to try the Fish and Chips or anything else on the kids menu, and because I wanted to try it, we allowed her to order the Petrale Sole Picatta. It was sauteed in butter, lemon, and capers--as it should be!--and served over a bed of garlic mashed potatoes. It was equally delish.

It's kind of funny that I am doing my first official review on The Seafood Peddler and I'm very surprised at what a good experience it was. I'm glad I gave it another chance and it didn't let me down. It isn't every day that you get good food AND very good service, but on Saturday, that is what we got!

Coming Soon...

Seafood Peddler!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

My new blog!

Hello there! My name is Shelley and I am a restaurant junkie living in Marin, CA! I love going out to dinner/lunch and I have a lot of opinions. I found that when I'm trying to decide where to eat, there aren't many sites that offer up to date information and opinions. Yea, there's Yelp (lots of places that are closed) and Open Table (very few listings) and B&P--which I love, but seems to have given up as of August 2005. So, I thought I would come up with my own place to post reviews or acknowledgments of restaurants. I needed a new hobby anyway! Thanks for reading and please feel free to give me your honest opinions, ok?