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?