Mar 28 2011

Eat, Drink and Help Japan! (Haven4Japan)

TODAY – Monday March 28, Haven Gastropub in Old Towne Orange is hosting a fundraising event! They will donate 100% of profits to a relief fund set up through Mercy Corps to help families affected by the disaster in Japan.

If you haven’t been to Haven yet, this is your perfect opportunity to try out their great food and contribute to a worthwhile cause!

What is a Gastropub anyway? It’s a pub with a focus on great food.

In Haven’s case it’s a focus on elevated comfort food. Old familiars we all love with a fresh twist. Mac and Cheese – They have it, but here it’s a creamy dream with black truffle. Other favorites include a juicy Haven burger with earthy blue cheese, spicy arugula, and pickled onions or their Chicken and waffles with homemade hot sauce. Along with these old favorites Chef Greg Daniels has also served up some new classics like their cabernet crusted escolar with wine powder, chilled lobster salad, popcorn shoots, duck fat roasted fingerling or the bucatini carbonara with guanciale (basically bacon), arugula, black pepper, chile flakes, poached egg. The egg by the way is a wonderful lighter flavor that is a surprisingly good substitute for the traditional cream sauce.

The folks at Haven have also sought out unique beer, wine and cocktails to enjoy alone or to pair with their dishes.

Another huge draw, for me anyway, are their hours 11am – 2am! This means open late for GOOD FOOD! Their happy hour is also pretty fab.

Small note from my soapbox – The Haven Kitchen takes every reasonable step to ensure that their produce selections are either local or organic, and that the meat and seafood they purchase is sustainable and humanely raised.

Anyway, I urge you to stop in to Haven, eat, drink and most importantly – Help Japan.

Haven Gastropub is located at 190 South Glassell Street Old Towne Orange, CA 92866

Phone: 714 221 0680

Follow them on Facebook or Twitter (@havengastropub)

 


Mar 25 2011

Bruxie Waffles

Hi All, Tuesday was a perfect day to be outside and grab a quick bite at Bruxie where all sorts of deliciousness would greet us. The lunch crowd was still in full swing when we arrived around 1:30, good thing too because I couldn’t decide what I wanted. After perusing the menu for a few minutes I decided on one of their seasonal offerings – The Guinness soaked short rib with crispy potatoes, caramelized onions, blue cheese, and horseradish. Matt ordered the same, and Jason chose the traditional chicken and waffle.

Waffle sandwiches are so warm and comforting, a nice little food hug if you will (and I will).

The short rib was meaty and rich in flavor. I was pleasantly surprised at the huge amount of meat in the sandwich! The caramelized onions gave it a nice sweet (but not to sweet) flavor with the blue cheese adding an earthy creaminess (earthy creaminess?? Yeah I make up descriptions).  I couldn’t really taste the horseradish and I would have liked to, so that was the only bummer. Since the short rib sandwich is seasonal, I recommend heading over there sooner rather then later if you are interested on trying it because I don’t know how long they will serve it.

Bruxie is a fun little place to grab a bite to eat on a nice day. The seating is all outside consisting of a few tables and a stand up counter.

The 3 of us ate at the stand up counter which I would actually recommend if you are the type of person I am, which basically means you cant get through a meal without dropping something on the shirt you just bought.

My sandwich was falling apart all over the place (not a bad thing) and if I hadn’t been standing on the outside of the counter that almost came to my chin then my shirt would have been a goner. But maybe you are more coordinated then I, and can handle yourself at a table ;-)

Bruxie has a nice assortment of sandwiches both sweet and savory. Along with the short rib I ordered, and the classic fried chicken that Jason ordered they also have a PB&J, Prosciutto & Gruyere, Bruxie Burger, a bacon egg and cheddar to name a few from the savory side. As for the sweet a few of their offerings include Nutella and bananas, lemon crème and berries, and Ogura Bruxie, which has red bean paste! Red bean paste is an Asian dessert that traditionally comes in a steamed or fried sweet bun.

They also offer fries, shakes, natural sodas, floats, and custard! The fries are fine, nothing to write home about. I’d actually skip them and order a shake.

Next time you have a sunny afternoon free visit Bruxie for lunch or dessert then take a stroll through Old Towne Orange.

Bruxie is located in Old Towne Orange 292 North Glassell Street Orange, CA 92866 (Across from Chapman University)

Open 9am – 9pm Daily

Check them out on the Web at http://bruxie.com

Give them a call at 888-9-Bruxie (888-927-8943) or Follow them on Facebook or Twitter (@bruxiewaffles)


Mar 21 2011

Wood and Vine

I think I found my new “go to” restaurant in LA. I really have to thank Tasting Table for pointing me in the direction (www.tastingtable.com) – Tasting Table is a daily email for people who like to eat. Check them out if you get a chance.

Anyway back to the delicious matter at hand – Wood & Vine.

Basically the concept is small plates to share with your group. Although a totally wonderful place to take a date, as a person who loves to over order I suggest a party of 3 or 4 to really be able to enjoy more then a few things.

I really try to introduce you all to local non-chain (unless its a small local chain) restaurants that emphasize utilizing local, sustainable and or organic practices – Wood & Vine is no exception.  Their chef (Gavin Mills) sources fresh
produce directly from local farms and farmers’ markets. Their cattle are grass fed and graze with a maximum of two-head per acre – totally awesome because “free range” can mean anything from out of cages or pens for an hour a day all the way to free roaming as they please. All charcuterie (cured meats) is cured and smoked in house. Their seafood comes to us from local fishermen and is selected
for sustainability as well as low mercury levels.

You really know what you are eating here. Our waitress told us that the pork we were eating had been butchered the day before – how many places do you go to that the wait staff can tell you where the food came from and how fresh it is?

Not only does it follow practices that I really value, the food is pretty excellent too. Mari and Matt indulged me in out trip to LA to try Wood & Vine and we were all super stoked we went.

The restaurant is pretty nondescript from the outside, simple windows with “Wood & Vine” etched in the glass of one of the windows. Good thing they have Valet or we might have driven right past. I loved that – no flashy “HERE WE ARE”. The dining room is two-story with the second level open to the first. We were shown to a small table overlooking the bar. The walls are dark wood and exposed brick, it reminded me of a super cool study, side tables with magnifier glasses that have horn handles, books – really cool looking almost “east coast”.

Matt, Mari and I decided to try and sample a little bit of everything. We started with 5 items from the charcuterie and cheese selection, munched on some fries with homemade ketchup (watch out Haven Gastropub, this stuff gives you a run for your money), then moved onto the shared plates.

The meat selections were tasty. We ordered the artichoke & lemon terrine, the spring garlic and bacon terrine, and the sopressata. The artichoke and lemon terrine was light and had a freshness abut it that I very much enjoyed. I paired that with a bit of the roncal cheese and a touch of their mustard on the toasted toasts they brought us (yum, I could have almost eaten just that).

A “terrine” by the way is sort of like a pate, not spreadable though and no heavy liver taste. I guess its like the love child of a meatloaf and pate…I make things sound so appetizing ;-)

Moving on to shared plates – baby beet salad, leek risotto, grilled scallops, fried chicken & waffle, duroc pork duo and oxtail lasagna. Yes we ordered all that. Keep in mind these are shared plates so the portion size is pretty small (I’m just covering up the fact that we still ordered a ton)

The three of us agreed everything was delicious. For Mari it was a tossup between the chicken & waffle and the scallops, for Matt it was the lasagna and the chicken & waffle, for me it was the scallops and the risotto (not including the meat and cheese plate from earlier).

The risotto was a little on the runny side and I was afraid the poached egg would make it more so, but actually the poached egg gave the risotto an interesting sort of creaminess that gave the dish a lot more depth. The pecorino cheese added a nice mild saltiness and the leeks although faint rounded out the rich flavor of the dish. If you think the egg made the risotto taste like breakfast, never you mind dear reader a poached egg is super mild and not “eggy” tasting.

Then the scallops, oh scallops how do I love thee! Perfectly grilled they just melted in my mouth and the truffled grits were smooth and were just heavenly. If Wood & Vine has this on the menu, please do yourselves a favor and order it.

All of the other dishes we ordered were enjoyable as well, I’d have to say that the pork duo was my least favorite of the plates we chose, well cooked but a little salty for me, mostly from the pea and bacon ragu I’m guessing. I ate the rest of it this morning over some quinoa I had made and that subdued the salty flavor for me.

If you think we finished there, you’re WRONG! Onwards to dessert!

In true “us” fashion 3 desserts were tried. Butterscotch pot de creme with salted caramel ice cream, profiteroles with chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream, and an ice cream trio (salted caramel, vanilla, and Bailey’s & whiskey). The butterscotch pot de cream with the salted caramel ice cream was the table favorite, and I don’t even LIKE butterscotch. Pot de cream is basically custard, in this case, butterscotch custard. Creamy and rich with a mild natural butterscotch flavor, it paired perfectly with the salted caramel ice cream. I will think of this pot de creme in days to come. When asked how I liked it, I think I actually told our waitress “nom nom nom”. Something I wish I hadn’t said. Oh well, I’m classy what can I say.

In a nut shell (a long review sort of nut shell) Eat at Wood & Vine. It’s located directly across from the Pantages Theater – so that means no more overpriced sushi, or struggling to find a decent restaurant before the theater. They participate in local, organic, and sustainable practices, the decor is cool but comfortable, and the food is excellent.

Lastly, if great food and awesome decor wasn’t enough -
Wood & Vine has an ongoing partnership with the Los Angeles Youth Network, a local non-for-profit organization that provides outreach, shelter, and educational support for abused and homeless adolescents. Their involvement includes hosting a group of kids from LAYN on a regular basis to teach them about cooking,
nutrition, and restaurant management. They also participate in the LAYN internship program.

Wood & Vine is located at The Taft Building ~ 6280 Hollywood Boulevard at Vine Street

Online reservations (highly recommend) can be found on their website http://www.woodandvine.com/

Follow them on Facebook or Twitter (@woodandvine)


Feb 19 2011

Music for a Springtime’s eve

I’m going to take a step away from actual food and talk about music for a post. Here is a play list I made the other day. I think I’d like to listen to it on a cool late spring evening outside on a garden patio eating some good food family style with friends, sharing a bottle (or 2) of wine talking the night away.

Enjoy.

It’s Only a Paper Moon – Ella Fitzgerald &  The Delta Rhythm Boys

One More Time With Feeling – Regina Spector

Don’t be Afraid, You Have Just Got Your Eyes Closed – Mum

The Dress Looks Nice on You – Sufjan Stevens

Ooh-Shoo-Be-Doo-Bee – Stacy Kent

Singin’ In The Rain – Gene Kelly

Blue Rain – Glenn Miller

Free Ride – Nick Drake

Slang Tang – Discovery

Lights Inside My Head – Cloud Cult

Man of a Thousand Faces – Regina Spektor

Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries – Lisa Loeb

Peggy, the Pin-up Girl – Glenn Miller

Asinn – Amiina

Violin – Amos Lee

Osaka Loop Line – Discovery

Moon River – Audrey Hepburn

Lucky – Kat Edmonson

Cut my Wings – Seasick Steve

Pennsylvania 6-5000 – Glenn Miller

You’re the Top – Cole Porter


Feb 18 2011

East-Borough

Yum, I love having a food blog. What a great excuse to eat out. This afternoon Matt and I grabbed sandwiches at East-Borough so I could write abut it.

“East Borough is a casual place that makes classic and French Vietnamese food accessible. Our aim is to deliver the balance of complex flavors and freshness onto a simplified menu.”

I love the atmosphere of this place. It’s located in a little corner patio of The CAMP very simple, distressed wood tables with folding chairs. I also really liked the light fixtures above the cash register. It was a relaxed nice place to stop in for lunch.

Want to know what else was cool about East-Borough? Matt and I both ate (and were full), got a beverage and it cost us under $20.00.

Their sandwiches are in the classic Vietnamese style – pickled daikon and carrots, cilantro, cucumbers, and jalepenos, then a filling of your choice all served up on a freshly baked baguette. I got the grilled pork, and Matt got the pork jicama meatballs.

The sandwiches come in an 8” or 12” version. I choose a 8” and I couldn’t even finish it. My pork was peppery, and savory. I thought it blended well with all of the veggies. The baguette was warm and crusty with a soft center.

Matt’s meatball sandwich was interesting. I think I’d order it next time so I can try more of it. I find the flavor hard to describe. The meatballs were simmered in a marinara sauce and it was a unique paring with the traditional veggies. Matt really enjoyed it and I was happy about it since he had originally requested we eat tacos for lunch.

Both sandwiches were brought to us in simple brown paper with a rubber band to hold it together.

The girls across the patio both ordered Vermicelli noodles. One got the tofu and the other ordered it with the pork. Both looked pretty tasty. The noodles come with fresh greens, crispy shallots, peanuts and an eggroll. Served with citrus vinaigrette.

I’d recommend East Borough if you wanted something elevated from Lee’s Sandwiches but don’t want to spend a ton.

Have I mentioned that I love The CAMP? LOVE IT. Go there. Eat. Be Happy!

East-Borough is located at The CAMP – 2937 Bristol St D102, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

They’re open Mon – Fri 11- 8 Sat – Sun 11 – 5

Visit their website for a full menu: www.east-borough.com

Or follow them on twitter at @eastborough