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Posts tagged “American

D Bar

My first time at D Bar was with two lovely ladies from my old job – KF and LT, when LT who had left SD several years back, was coming back to visit.  I had to catch up with two wonderful and extremely driven ladies.  We had a great afternoon catching up and just seeing what everyone was up to since we were all tied up in life itself.  That day, we had sampled several dishes to just get an idea of what D Bar could do – just desserts or food as well?

d Bar collage

On the left hand side, from top to bottom:

Crue Fries – their signature starter of garlic parmesan fries (perfectly fried), mac sauce, melted cheddar jack, bacon, ranch, and chives.  This appetizer is salty but so addictive!

Naan-Burguesa – kobe burger, grilled naan, black bean hummus, chipotle mayo, havarti, avocado, and a side of chips.  Since I don’t eat beef, KF and LT both were a little underwhelm by this  burger.  In part, the use of a grilled naan didn’t hold everything together so when you bit down, everything tends to slide out.

Tahini Grilled Salmon – on a bed of mixed greens, grilled baby bok choy, tossed in a ginger soy vinaigrette, and topped with toasted almond and edamame.  This salad was again only ok and slightly underwhelming.

Now the real reason why we were here: desserts!

Molten Cake Thingy That Everyone Has – just the name itself made us want to order it.  Plus the three of us have had really good molten cake thingies before, so we had to try it and see where D Bar’s stacked up.  Their version is comes with raspberry compote and Sicilian pistachio ice cream, but we wanted to try their salted caramel ice cream and so we requested the swap.  Well we can say that their cake thingy was quite good.  Was it the best?  We were all hard press to jump up and exclaim this was the best version we’ve had to-date, but it is a darn good contender!

Ch Ch Ch Churros! – Made. To. Order.  Those are the three words that almost always ensures that you are going to have a great churro.  And boy, D Bar knows their churros alright! It was the best freaking plate of churros ever!!! And it comes with a little dish of melted dark chocolate for dipping which was more for scooping out and eating straight.

On my second visit with two other wonder ladies – LA and JW, I knew there were two items I couldn’t go without: crue fries and churros.  Except this time, it was for dinner so ordered more items to try in hopes that it would turn out better, but first…some drinks!

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Normally, I don’t drink so I wouldn’t be posting about drinks, but my gals do and one drink intrigued us all – the Fresca Picante (martini glass one).  This was a strawberry jalapeno infused tequila with agave and lime.  I had taken a sip and the jalapeno is this after kick that happens a few seconds after drinking.  It was such an interesting taste and experience that it had all three of us just inspecting it as we waited for food.

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Oh these wonderful babies again…come to mama! NOM NOM NOM!!!

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Bacon Mac & Cheese – because we were all feeling like mac n’ cheese.  Don’t question us! We wanted this ooey, gooey bowl of melted goodness.  It’s a four cheese mac, with bacon and cheese nips and panko crumb top.  It was as decadent as it sounded, but good for sharing!

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Lobster Risotto – grilled lobster tail with rosemary butter, served with roasted poblano risotto and broccolini and pea tendrils.  The lobster was sweet and tender and I could have eaten several more of that tail!  So good…

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And since we were ordering so many rich dishes, I felt we needed at least one salad to help balance it out a little.  The Grilled Caesar salad, drizzled with balsamic glaze  and topped with shaved parm, it help give us that fresh crunch we needed.

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Oh the desserts…delicious, delicious desserts…I pretty much dictated this order:

Chocolate Souffle – 65% chocolate souffle, nutella filled beignets with chocolate sauce, and praline ice cream.  The souffle was not as airy as I’ve had in some places, but still delicious and fluffy.  The beignets were too thick and not fluffy enough.  Beignets are suppose to be little pockets of fried heaven (as I have experienced before in NOLA), so I was a little sadden to eat these little guys here.  As for the chocolate, we learned from our waiter that they “pay more for the chocolate per pound than we do for the steak”.  Now that’s something to be proud of! If I do say so myself!

And those churros, I ordered it knowing what I would get, but my friends were both skeptical.  I told them that I swear by them and upon their first bites, I just ruined their ideas of churros forever.  LA was just peeved at me for making her taste a damn good churro and now other churros will never be the same.  Job. Well. Done.

D Bar as a whole, I love – from the food, atmosphere, venue and the people working there.  It’s a great place to gather, enjoy a few dishes and drinks.  Although I did not have pictures of my take out desserts from D Bar, I did try their macarons and chocolates.  The macarons were much too dry!  I was quite disappointed, but at least their chocolates were superb!  I really hope the restaurant will continue to do well, so that I may keep coming back and try everything on the menu (but always with the churros).

D Bar
3930 Fifth Ave
San Diego, CA 92103

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Philly Frank’s in San Marcos

Ok, so I don’t normally track up to the San Marcos area for food.  Or at all since it is never “on my way” to anything!  However, my coworker introduced me to a place up in San Marcos about three weeks ago and my world has been forever changed.  (And the realization dawned on me that San Marcos is actually NOT that far away from our office in Rancho Bernardo!)

CB started talking about getting Philly cheesesteaks one day and that got me really hungry.  Then he proceeded to tell me the name of the restaurant – Philly Frank’s.  Of course, the moment he gave me the name of the restaurant, I went hunting for the place online to see if it was worth my saliva (because I was drooling already at the thought of it).  Upon browsing through Yelp’s comments, reviews, and the pictures, I was completely sold!

Since I don’t eat beef, the only “Philly cheesesteak” that I’m familiar with is of the chicken variety.  There were good reviews for Philly Frank’s chicken variety and hence, there was an immediate need to make a lunch trip up.  Fortunately, for us, the managers were all gone for training during the week and so, it was time to schedule a “long” lunch!

There were four of us who made the trip that one fateful afternoon – CB (the culprit), PY, XP, and myself.  Between the four of us, we ordered the following: Cheese Steak, The Works (with peppers, mushrooms, and onions) – Beef  (3), and The Work (with everything) – Chicken, two orders of seasoned fries and an order of the onion rings.

Up close shot of my chicken philly

Needless to say, we had a LOT of food for the four of us that afternoon.  We thought that we could tackle it without any problems-no that is actually a lie.  Once we saw everything in front of us, we knew it would be a challenge that we had willingly accepted!

Unfortunately, I forgot to take an aerial shot of the table, but trust me, put all those sandwiches together and our sides and you’ll get the idea.  And by the end, I ended up eating more than 80% of the fries, some of the onion rings, and half of my sandwich.  There were definitely some food coma issues for the four of us upon our return to the office.  Was it all worth it?  HECK YES!!!!

It was so worthwhile, that CB and I made another trip last week with three other coworkers – MW, MB and RC.  They too understood why we would risk falling asleep during work hours for this sandwich!  Results were just the same as the first time – lots of food, happy eaters, and very tired workers.

Though the sad ending for our second trip, my leftover half of the sandwich was accidently left at the office fridge.  It was over the weekend, but there were no notices that the fridge was going to be cleaned out, which is done every now and then.  I come back to work on Monday morning, and was going to put my side salad I brought from home to eat with the sandwich, only to find my sandwich was GONE.  Seriously, I don’t get people who take other people’s food!  Sadly, that meant that I didn’t have the protein I needed for lunch that day and was starving soon after lunch.

This just means that I need to make another trip up to Philly Frank’s so I can have my other half of the sandwich!

Philly Frank’s
151 South Rancho Santa Fe Road
San Marcos, CA 92069


Stacked

There days (or nights) when I want something simple to eat, but if the restaurant can make it entertaining for me too…I can love it even more.  It makes me wonder why don’t more restaurants get this??? A distinguishing factor can help a restaurant stick out from the sea of options for patrons.

Stacked in Fashion Valley Mall occupies where the UNO Pizzeria used to be many ages ago.  This restaurant is a burger, salad, pizza, sandwich joint.  What makes this place different than say, a Burger King or Chili’s?…….It’s self-service, to an extent.  There are still servers and cooks, however the servers do not take your orders.  You put in your own order on your table’s personal tablet:

I know it seems so trivial and some may even find this annoying that they have to put in their own orders.  However, for today’s generation and the current technological culture, this is a welcomed addition for restaurant goers.  You can check out their website and see what their menu looks like.  And since you place your own orders, you can customize it as much or as little as you want.  The control is ALL yours!

With that control, I created this sandwich for myself:

What you see before you is CP’s burger: Brioche bun + Angus Burger + Romain Lettuce + Bacon + Onion Straws + BBQ Sauce + Side of Jalapenos (for me).

My sandwich: Whole Wheat Bun + Blackened Grilled Chicken + Romaine Lettuce + Caramelized Onions + Roasted Red Peppers + Sides of Garlic Aioli and Chipotle Mayo.

And to accompany our sandwiches – a combo of half fresh cut fries and housemade chips.  Ketchup for CP and ranch for me!

All of this did not come cheap, so don’t expect this restaurant to be your run of the mill place.  With each customization, it’ll cost you – yes, even the sauces which does include the ketchup.  However, I will say the idea of having a perfectly created sandwich, cooked to our liking to our exact order is empowering.  Also, the housemade chips are just ridiculously addicting, but I would recommend that you request for “less salt”.

To wrap up the evening, I ordered a dessert (another “stacked” item): Scoop of vanilla ice cream sandwiched between chocolate chip and snicker doodle cookies.  The chocolate chip cookie was a little over baked, but the whole dessert was still delicious because you can’t go wrong with ice cream and cookies!

The second time CP and I went, he ordered a customized pizza and it was good too.  Not outstanding, nor best pizza ever.  At the end of the day, Stacked is fun and good for a simple (or not so simple if you’re technologically illiterate) meal.  I think the novelty factor makes it worthwhile to warrant a visit.  Go ahead, stack your own meal!

Stacked (Multiple Locations)
Fashion Valley
7007 Friars Road
San Diego, CA 92108
Suite #356


Best of Park Ridge, NJ

While traveling for work the last two weeks in Park Ridge, New Jersey, wasn’t exactly the most thrilling and exciting trip ever, it wasn’t the worst.  There were some real gems in the surrounding area (especially Ridgewood) and here were my best of Northern New Jersey!

Best List / Must Eats

Fire & Oak – come Monday night and you can get $1 oysters and I’m talking about BIG, good oysters.  However, skip the sushi and the seafood entrees.  The sushi was terrible and the entrees were so bland that my coworker were passing the salt between us throughout the meal.  So after you down as many oysters as you can, order yourself a slab of their chocolate peanut butter pie.  It comes ala mode (but you can’t see it due to the mountain of whipped cream) and it is ridiculous how rich this dessert was.  I had to pull myself away because it was just that good, yet I knew I shouldn’t polish it off on my own.

Sushi Village – Do NOT be alarmed by the fact this restaurant is in a strip mall, nor it’s exterior outlooks.  Once inside, you’ll be completely transported to a modern, fresh feeling restaurant.  The reason this place made it on my list is not because it was the best sushi I’ve ever had.  The sushi was good (far, far better than Fire & Oak’s), but there were two things that got me:

  1. All you can eat sushi dinner for $19.99!  It is a freaking deal no matter how you swing it.
  2. The “Spicy Seaweed Salad” – this concoction is pure genius! Take the usual seaweed salad, but add spicy krab and mix it in with some tempura crunchies…it becomes a mouth of happiness.  So simple, yet so addicting and delicious.

Brooklyn’s Pizzeria – straight up good, wood burning oven, pizza in the area.  I personally enjoyed our pie and I know how strongly people feel about pizza in that state and it’s neighboring one too.  However, I found it to be delicious and I had to stop myself from devouring the whole thing. (Note: it’s cash only business)

Bricklane Curry House – my gawd…this place was the place that gave me one of those food-awe-haze moments.  The Butter Masala was incredible to the point where I would say it comes close to my fave at Punjabi Tandoor’s Makhani.  And their paneer pakora (which my friend has coined as “pan-pak”) was amazing too.  I don’t know if I like Village Indian’s pan-pak or Bricklane’s more!  AHHHHHH THE DILEMMA!  (Oh! Don’t forget to order yourself a mango lassi – thick, creamy, and packed with mango goodness!)

Organic Tofu House – when I think of middle of nowhere cities in the woods…I don’t automatically think amazing Korean tofu stew.  Who would??  However, this Korean tofu house was a real diamond in the rough.  It’s in a strip mall and on the other side of the main street through Ridgewood.  Complete unassuming and yet, for those who venture in, they are met with a quaint little restaurant that whips out a pot of bubbling, scathing hot, organic tofu stew!  Man oh man…my coworker and I dove into our bubbly pots with little care for our tongues because we wanted the stew!!

Fire & Oak
2 locations in New Jersey

Sushi Village
700-90 Broadway
Westwood, NJ 07642

Brooklyn’s Pizzeria
15 Oak St
Ridgewood, NJ 07450

Bricklane Curry House
Multiple Locations – NJ and NY

Organic Tofu House
88 Godwin Ave
Ridgewood, NJ 07450


Restaurant Week – The Red Door

Restaurant Week has all of San Diego out and dining about the city.  CP and I was part of the Sunday evening crowd, for the first day of Restaurant Week.  Although we both have been to this establishment, I wanted to return because I thought that our first visit was not the best representation of what the restaurant could offer.  Therefore, our first restaurant was a return trip to The Red Door in Mission Hills.

Appetizers

So CP did not go with the pre-fixe menu, but still had a starter.  His choice – the Crab Cake, with fresh lump crab and no fillers.  It is paired with roasted red bell peppers, kalamata olives and sun dried tomato with sweet basil dressing.  Now the order actually comes with TWO crab cakes, and as you can see that was not the case.  However, they quickly realized their mistake and added the additional cake (with all the fixings) immediately.  They also took off this order on the receipt because of the mistake, which I found to be a nice touch of customer service.  Kudos!

My first choice in my three course meal was the Shrimp Creole, which I had the first time I came here and fell head over heals for it.  The dish was presented in a skillet rather than a composed plate, but still as delicious as I recalled.  I couldn’t get enough of the sauce again!!

Entrée

CP’s entree of choice: the Red Door Burger – char grilled ½ lb meyer natural ground beef, buttermilk bun, American cheese (but CP didn’t want it), caramelized onions, lettuce, tomato, and house burger sauce (aka thousand island).  The shoestring fries were crispy, just the way I like it.

My entree, my second choice, was the Lamb Meatballs – ground Colorado lamb with roasted garlic, feta, pine nuts, home made gnocchi, tomato, spring raab, and chimichurri sauce.  Um…how could I describe my thoughts?  Let’s see…THIS is one of the MANY reasons why I am finding my personal desire to give up lamb to be SO hard!  It was great dish as a whole, but one area of improvement – the meatballs could be a little more tender.  After that, you have achieved perfection my SD friend.

Dessert

Last time, I tried their fruit cobbler (which is one of two choices on the RW menu) and it was not that good.  So I tried something different this time!

For my finale, I chose their signature dessert: the Banana Cream Pie with graham cracker-walnut crust, and chocolate & caramel sauces.  I think this could be a good dessert if: 1. tone down the whip cream a little, and 2. increase the pastry cream filling.

I still love the restaurant and this time around, the service was much better.  It’s a perfect time for you to try The Red Door during Restaurant Week to sample some of their signature items.  The menu will be available through the end of the week on Friday (1/20).  Bon Appetit!

The Red Door
741 W. Washington St
San Diego, CA 92103


Trip to New Orleans

I think there has been enough time since we came back from New Orleans that I can look at my pictures again.  A little more than a week ago, CP and I headed off to New Orleans for the Bowl game.  We had our hopes high and we were excited for not only our first visit to this infamous city, but for the game.  Let’s just say…it still hurts to think about the game itself.

Instead, I’ll focus on telling you about the food we had.  Shall we start?

Cajun Cabin

Our first stop was off of Bourbon Street.  CP and I had been traveling practically all day and we hadn’t gotten lunch thus, we were famished.  This dinner was a little later than we would have liked because we wanted to go to the “pep rally” for the Bowl game!  Hence, we practically walked into the first decent looking place off the street.

CP and I both wanted Jambalaya and Red Beans n’ Rice.  Hence, I suggested we both order each and split our dishes, welcoming us to this great city.  Though the restaurant isn’t the well-known type and those that get hyped up, but it was delicious.  Both dishes were flavorful and made you wanted to lick the plates clean.  Also, the Red Beans n’ Rice at the Cajun Cabin was my favorite from the entire trip.

Nola

The next morning, we had a late start and went to one of Emeril Lagasse’s restaurants – Nola, for lunch!

The space was modern industrial and gorgeous, with an open kitchen and woodfire oven where they made their pizza appetizer. However, we weren’t here for the pizzas…

To start – warm herbed roll and bell pepper cornbread, served with room temperature butter.  This was a great start!

CP and I both had the gumbo of the day as our appetizers.  It was pretty chilly outside and this warmed us right up.  The gumbo that day was andouille and smoked pork.  I could use some right now!

Our entrees: Grilled Atlantic Salmon with black bean-sweet corn succotash, chimichurri butter sauce and tomatillo salsa (top), was CP’s choice.  My entree was the Shrimp & Grits – grilled green onions, smoked cheddar grits, apple smoked bacon, crimini mushrooms and red chili-abita butter sauce.

The salmon was cooked wonderfully to the point where even I liked it!  Cooked salmon is not my choice of fish most of the time (unless it is sashimi grade) since it tends to be a little “fish” for me.  However, Nola’s was just perfect and we both loved it.  The shrimps in my dish were huge and perfectly sauteed, keeping its juicy and tenderness.

You see that?  You see it?!  ‘Cuz I did!!!  Pumpkin Bread Pudding!!!!

Mmmm…this bread pudding, though small, was packed with the flavors of the season!  It was moist, spiced, warm, and melts in your mouth.  The gingerbread-molasses ice cream that was paired with it, complemented it so well.  Oh man…so good!

After our lunch, we walked along the river walk, did some shopping, and made our way to Mardi Gras World!  We took the tour of their warehouse, looking at all the floats that had been used and will be used for Mardi Gras parades!

As part of the tour, they also serve you some King Cake!

Unfortunately, neither CP nor I got the baby so we were not royalty after all :(.  Oh well, still had a delicious piece of cinnamon swirl pastry.

After the tour, CP and I just walked more around town sightseeing, before going back to the hotel to rest up for the game!  Now…just looking through a few pictures, I feel immense sadness still, but I must continue!

The Mercedes-Benz Superdome is truly an amazing venue.  The place was enormous and just trying to imagine the conditions of the place during Katrina…it was hard.  Anyway because I had to give the food vendors a little nod because they didn’t just serve the standard stadium fare:

Food choices included Jambalaya with hush puppies (which were dry as rocks…sadly) and alligator sausage with some remoulade sauce.  The best of the two?…Alligator Sausage by a LONG shot!  However, to make it better – ditch the cold bun and mix with the rice…perfection.

After the game…CP needed some more food…as part of our “drown out the sorrows and frustration”.  Therefore, we found ourselves in a quite little bar at the end of the hub of downtown – Coop’s Place.

Simple order of Red Beans n’ Rice with smoked sausage, plus a side order of fries.  Worst plate of food from our trip.  The beans were cold and tasteless.  However, we were both so tired and dejected that I didn’t even bother voicing the fact it was cold.  Saving grace – sausage was good and the fries were good too.

That is part one of New Orleans, part deux will be later this week! :).

Cajun Cabin
503 Bourbon St.
New Orleans, LA 70195

NOLA Restaurant
534 St Louis St
New Orleans, LA 70130

Coop’s Place
1109 Decatur St
New Orleans, LA 70116

Mardi Gras World


The Red Door

Seemingly appropriate given the holidays are in full swing right now!  It has been the first time in the last three years, that I have truly felt the holidays.  The past three years had been so ridiculously hectic due to my old job, that I rarely got into that holiday spirit.  I have to be honest, I think my spirit was plainly exhausted and maybe even a little jaded.  The work before was not only mentally draining, but physically and most of all – emotionally draining, that when it was time to take some “time off”, all I wanted was to sleep.

This year however, it is totally a different story!  I can FEEL the holidays growing in my bones and I am LOVING IT!! 🙂

Anyways, the reason why I missed last Sunday’s post was because I was celebrating with friends and family all weekend long.  “For what?” You may ask.  Well, it was for my birthday!  Another year older, maybe another year wiser?  Who knows, but I looked back and thought to myself, “Man…what a f***ing year!”

To celebrate with my family, we had a very nice dinner at The Red Door in Mission Hills.

The restaurant is small and cozy.  The decor very much a wine country setup and the main dining room has a full wine rack wall.  Dim lighting really sets the mood for an intimate evening.  I can imagine that during the mornings and afternoons, it is bright and cheery and perfect for a nice, cozy get together.

Now that is enough about the restaurant, let’s get to the real matter of things: the food!

Appetizers:

Signature Cornbread Muffins

Shrimp Creole

I do believe appetizers are suppose to wet your appetite for the main course, but the first course was my absolute favorite part of the meal.  The cornbread muffins are made to order, so the waiter will warn you it takes about 15 minutes for the prep.  Trust me – it’s worth it.  The cornbread is light, fluffy even, with a touch of creaminess from the white cheddar.  The muffins also come with a honey-rosemary butter which just helps the muffin to melt more in your mouth.

Then comes the Shrimp Creole in a white wine and cream sauce, spiced with the flavors of the “Big Easy”.  Though the portion size is small, the flavors are HUGE!!!  A thick tomato sauce filled with smokey, spicy, tang goodness.  I used the fried polenta to mop up more of the sauce, then when there was no more polenta, the cornbread went so well with it.  Man…this place knows how to start off a good meal.

Wild Mushroom Scallop Risotto

Pork "Schnitzel"

Red Door Burger

Garden Vegetable Plate

Red Door Chicken Roulade

The entrees on the other hand…was not memorable.  The scallops were nothing extraordinary.  The Schnitzel was not quite what I knew Schnitzel to be (more like fried pork chops to me).  CP’s burger though looked juicy enough.  My sister’s vegetable plate was as advertised and she liked it.  And the roulade was dry…=\.

I feel like the appetizers set my expectations higher than it should have been because the delivery was there in the beginning!  Yet, Red Door’s entrees barely raised above an “inside voice” level.  The appetizers would be like an opera singer – belting out beautiful notes.  Perhaps the encore would help save a poorly performing middle?

Brownie Sundae

Apple Walnut Cobbler

Well…how should I start off?  The brownie was probably the winner of the two.  It was a DENSE chocolate brownie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, drenched in fudge.  Definitely quite delicious.  I had a bite and loved it.  The cobbler on the other hand…it was nothing specially about it.  I’ve had much better cobblers and given that my ice cream was FROZEN solid turned me completely off.   One of two, 50/50, those aren’t bad odds at all.  I’ll take that any day!

Red Door is definitely worth a revisit, with different orders.  I would stick with my appetizer choices, but I would try something else on the menu for my entree.  Would I recommend this restaurant?  Yes – I would just stay away from the chicken and scallops…you can get much better elsewhere.

The Red Door Restaurant & Wine Bar
741 West Washington St
San Diego, CA 92103