Saturday, August 29, 2015

My Quest Continues

Tartan Room
2652 N Tustin St.
Orange, CA 92865

  Wow look, quick a new post from PKE!! But this is of the most important nature, my quest to find a Monte Cristo sandwich that rivals the one inside of Disneyland. This time I was directed to the Tartan Room in Orange which serves a version of this iconic sandwich on the lunch menu. Once I heard about it being on the menu it was a must try for me.

  This Monte Cristo is definitely different then the one at Disneyland. The sandwich at Disneyland is encapsulated in deep fried goodness. The one from Tartan Room is served on more of French toast style bread. That being said this an excellent rendition of a Monte Cristo. The bread was eggy, soft and fluffy without being too sweet. The slices of meat were tender and the cheese was melted and gooey. My only criticism would be too much powdered sugar for my liking. I very much enjoyed my meal and could easily order this again. Did it beat Disneyland? The answer would have to be no. They are two different styles of the same sandwich and I guess I am partial to the golden brown, deliciousness that comes from Disneyland. However if you are craving such awesomeness and cannot make it to the Happiest Place on Earth then this would be a fantastic substitute.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Pizza Time in RSM

Pizza e Vino
31441 Santa Margarita Parkway
Suite M
Rancho Santa Margarita, CA 92688

  My wife and I were invited to visit Pizza e Vino by Niyaz of Knife and Spork which is a food PR company that reps Pizza e Vino. My wife and I were excited to visit Pizza e Vino because of all the good things we had heard from Niyaz and the excellent reviews Pizza e Vino has online. We arrived first thing when they opened and we were greeted by a very friendly waitress. She seated us, took our drink order then gave us the down low on the daily specials. Pizza e Vino has a social media special which includes two brunch sized pizzas from a selection of five, a caeser salad and a dessert burrata. This can all be had for thirty dollars and can only be ordered if specifically mentioned. With that knowledge Niyaz and I both ordered the brunch pizza from the selection of five we could choose from. My wife ordered the parma ham with house roasted mushrooms. We also ordered a starter of wood fired garlic bread. As for dessert we went a bit overboard but it was worth every calorie, not only did we get the dessert that came with the social media special but we also ordered a slice of tiramisu and a connoli. With drinks this entire meal would have cost around eighty dollars but because Niyaz invited us there, we were comped the social media special which saved us that thirty bucks.

  The meal stared off with a classic caeser salad and honestly I am not a huge fan of caeser salad but let me tell you this was by far the best caeser I have had to date. The lettuce was fresh and crisp. The dressing was creamy with the perfect amount of seasoning. The croutons were crunchy which added a great contrast in textures and the freshly grated parmesan cheese was salty in the perfect way. My taste buds were blown away and this was just the start of meal, my exceptions grew for the rest of our meal.

  Next came the garlic bread which is wood fired in the brick pizza oven. This made-to-order flat bread is covered in chopped garlic, olio and pecorino romano. Both Niyaz and my wife looked at me like I was crazy when I mentioned that I tasted a hint of toasted marshmallow when I first took a bite of this garlic bread. It must have been from the little bits of charred dough that are created from being cooked in an 850 degree pizza oven. After that hint of sweet went away you are treated to a garlic and cheese bonanza in your mouth. The soft and toothsome dough gives way to the fresh garlic and moister from the olio. This is a must order next time I visit Pizza e Vino, and there will be a next time!


  Going to hand the keyboard over to wife so she can explain her take on the pizza she had but let me say this, I hate mushrooms with a passion but I could have easily eaten this pie by myself.
    Howdy all! I'm the wife, AKA MamaKaster. I don't normally get into the writing side of Papa's blog, I'm more on the eating end, but let me tell you, I'm totally down to write about this place. When we drove out there and I saw the strip mall the place was in I was like.. " Oh Lord.. this is gunna be one of those places. " I was pleasantly surprised however. We got there right when it opened so we were the first ones in. The owner was rolling the fire up in the oven getting it all hot and bothered and Niyaz told him we wanted the Social Media special. I looked at the menu and I wanted the brunch pizza but we usually like to order something different and share so we can get a taste of what there is on the menu. I ordered what looked best to me. I'm kind of picky and this looked like something I could sink my teeth into. The crust was crispy on the outside with that fire roasted char and soo chewy on the inside I could eat only crust from there forever. There was a good mix of the tomato sauce and the mushrooms, which they saute in that brick oven before hand mind you, sooo good and the meat was so filled with flavor. I'll tell you what, I don't usually like a Neapolitan style pizza, but this just melted in my mouth. The combo of veggies, meat and cheese was just that perfect bite and covered with enough of all of those ingredients to make every bite just that. I'm telling you don't even wait until you are in the neighborhood take the drive down there and eat here!

 Now back to your regularly scheduled writer.

  My brunch pizza was covered with guanciale, thinly sliced potato, fresh mozzarella and an egg placed in the center before being cooked. I love all things breakfast, so taking pizza dough, placing a heaping helping of breakfast ingredients on top of it and then cooking it all until piping hot, what could go wrong? Nothing went wrong with this pizza the guancial was crispy like bacon but sliced paper thin, the potatoes were present and added to the whole breakfast feel. The dough was  charred and crisp on the edges while the center was thin and chewy. The egg yolk added a nice richness to each bite and really complemented all the toppings. Breakfast is by far my favorite meal of the day and this pizza was my first experience with breakfast toppings. Without a doubt this is now my favorite way to have bacon and eggs.

  The media special comes with a dessert burrata which is fresh burrata cheese, drizzled honey, and candied walnuts. This was the perfect combination of salty, and sweet with soft and crunchy. The cheese was soft and salty while the honey was sweet and the candied walnuts added that crunch. This was a great way to end the meal but oh no we didn't stop there.

  While eating the burrata dessert it was mentioned that Pizza e Vino had the best tiramisu. I love all kinds of desserts but tiramisu is not my favorite because most have way too much coffee in them. Let me tell you this is by far the best tiramisu I have ever had. The tiramisu is so well balanced that not one flavor over powers the other but all flavors are present on your pallet. When I took my first bite the chocolate got me first then the subtle hint of coffee on the background. The soft cake like layers of this dessert were soaked with liquid that was reminiscent of tres leche. I cannot say enough good things about this slice of dessert heaven.

  As if we needed more food, I made a comment about cannoli and shortly after that we had one on our table. We got the cannoli that allowed us to try both versions they offer. The chocolate side was smooth with a hint of chocolate and the pistachio nuts were crunchy. The other side was just sweetened and topped with chocolate chips. Nothing bad to say about that side. The cannoli shell was crispy and had some cinnamon and nutmeg flavors. This too was a well executed version of a classic dessert.

  Pizza e Vino went past any expectations I had walking into the establishment. The waitress was super helpful and very courteous. The atmosphere was fun and inviting. Being able to watch your food being made from your table was cool. The food was amazing! I wouldn't be surprised if other patrons were looking at us strangely from all the moans of deliciousness coming from our table. I can easily say this was by far one of the best restaurant experiences I have had in a long while. Do not hesitate to try Pizza e Vino because you will not be disappointed.

Pizza E Vino on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Moreno's Mexican Restaurant

Moreno's Mexican Restaurant
4328 E. Chapman Ave.
Orange, CA 92869

  My wife has encouraging me to check out Moreno's Mexican Restaurant for weeks now. Her description of this place made it sound like an authentic Mexican restaurant with outstanding food. We showed up earlier on a Friday evening so the place was not busy and we were seated right away. The staff was super friendly and the menu had a nice selection to pick from. When my family decided what to eat, my daughter ordered the kids cheese quesadilla, my son ordered the all meat burrito, my wife ordered the chicken enchiladas with green sauce and I ordered the beef machaca. With drinks this meal was about $68.

  After the food was ordered it was brought out to out table fairly quick and my daughter enjoyed her quesadilla. Nothing special there nor did I expect much more then she got. It was your basic cheese quesadilla.

  My son got the all meat burrito which came with a little bit of all the different meats Moreno's offers. He got the burrito dry with just cheese on top. The burrito was large, full of meat, beans and cheese. I tried a few bites for myself and I found some of the meat to be a bit dry and chewy. The flavors were okay but it kinda of felt like something I could have made at home. My son was not impressed with the burrito and simply said that it was "alright".

  When my wife got her plate of food she had to question whether it had green sauce on it or not and even called the waiter whom assured us there was in fact green sauce. I had a hard time finding it and so did my wife, so she ended up getting a side of green sauce. My wife enjoyed her enchiladas saying that her meal was good. I had a small bite of the chicken, maybe not enough to form an opinion but I thought the chicken it self was bland and lacking any kind of flavoring.

  As for my beef machaca it was a generous portion and served with four flour tortillas. The beef was tender but very greasy. After eating a few bites of the beef my lips had a slick coating of grease that felt like I had just applied a large dollop of chap stick. Not an appetizing feeling at all, Again the meat was lacking any kind of distinct flavor and simply tasted like shredded beef and eggs. The side of rice though, was moist and cooked well but again lacking any kind of flavor or even any kind of simple seasoning. The beans were creamy and just fine.

  I do not like writing negative reviews but I have said from day one if I do not like a restaurant then I will be honest with my readers. Unfortunately Moreno's Mexican Restaurant left me in a limbo kind of state. There was nothing glaringly wrong with the food, expect for my plate of grease but at the same time there was nothing that caught any members of my family's attention. The plating of the food seemed sloppy and the the flavors were just okay. I have had much better food for the cost of this meal and would recommend you find somewhere else to spend your money. Sorry Moreno's.

Moreno's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Dogs in the Haus

Dog Haus - Santa Ana
2800 N. Main St.
Ste. 197
Santa Ana, CA 92705

   So I have been in a real writing funk when it comes to this blog. I just have not been feeling it lately and really not wanting to do it very  much. So what got me out of this funk? A little encouragement from a reader, who also hooked me up with a free meal coupon and my wife constantly asking if we could try Dog Haus in Santa Ana. Well we finally made it and let me just start by saying, damn why the hell did I wait so long!?

  The menu is not large but there are enough choices for someone to find something. Not only do they have hot dogs but they also have sausages and burgers to choose from. My daughter got the kids meal which allowed her to pick two sliders and it came with fries and a drink. My wife ordered the Ava Maria, added bacon and she also got a combo with fries. Lastly I got the Scott Baioli but upgraded my dog to a pastrami snap dog. I also got a combo, but got chili cheese tots instead of just fries. The meal would have been around 30 bucks but because of the one free meal coupon it cost me around 18.

  The kids meal has the option to pick two different sliders but my daughter picked two burger sliders. She got her burgers with just cheese, ketchup and a bit of mayo. My daughter loved the fact that the sliders were served on Hawaiian sweet rolls and that they were square. She gobbled down her burgers and continued to munch down her fries. She was a happy little monkey after she finished her entire meal.

  My wife was a bit indecisive at first, then decided to get the Ava Maria which is a black angus beef patty smothered with sauteed mushrooms, white american cheese, garlic aioli and caramelized onions. She added bacon for an additional charge. The burgers are also severed on Hawaiian sweet rolls but the large burgers come on four rolls. My wife sectioned the burger according to the four rolls which allowed me to snag a bite. The burger was moist and full of beefy flavor. The bacon was crisp and the onions were sweet. The garlic was present but not over powering. A very well made burger that any burger enthusiast would enjoy. The fries were a bit under cooked for my liking but the season on fries was good.

  I was torn between the different choices, but I knew I wanted to try a dog or a sausage. Then I saw the Scott Baioli which is a dog with smoked bacon, white american cheese, garlic aioli and caramelized onions. I also upgraded my dog from an all beef dog to a pastrami snap dog. The pastrami snap dog is easily my newest food obsession. This had the spices and flavor of killer pastrami but it was in hot dog form. The peppery spice from the dog went perfectly with the sweet onions and kick from the garlic aioli. Surprisingly the sweetness from the Hawaiian rolls was not lost. However I think the bacon might have been missing from my dog because I got no crunch or smokiness while eating the dog. That did not ruin the experience for me but it would have been a nice texture contrast and bacon would have added a nice bit of salinity to each bite to give a sweet, and salty combination. My chili cheese tots were excellent. The tots were crispy on the outside and fluffy on this inside. The chili had a hint of heat that got you in the back of the throat. The cheese was gooey and stringy. These chili cheese tots are something I could easily order again.

  The service at Dog Haus Santa Ana was very helpful and willing to answer any questions we had. They even pointed us in the right direction for trying to find these pastrami snap dogs that have taken over my food craze. The prices at Dog Haus were fair for the quality and quantity of food you receive. There are a few different locations of Dog Haus so I would recommend checking out the web site, finding the closest location and getting over there to try a dog or burger. On a side note I also love their tag line, The Absolute Wurst.

Dog Haus on Urbanspoon

Saturday, August 23, 2014

My Search Continues

Belgian Waffle Works
28200 Highway 189, Bldg. E150
Lake Arrowhead, CA 92352

  My search for a Monte Cristo as good or better then the Disneyland version continues. The family was in Lake Arrowhead visiting with some friends. After a morning on the boat and lake we were all hungry and ready to eat lunch. Belgian Waffle House was our destination, being a lover of waffles that was perfectly fine with me. The restaurant it self was busy so reservations are a good idea. Upon getting there and looking over the menu the selection of waffles was some what limited, in my opinion. Most of the waffles had some form of ice cream on them and that was not for me. Until I saw the Brussels Belgian which is prepared Monte-Cristo style, stuffed with ham, Swiss cheese and turkey baked to perfection and dusted with powdered sugar and served with strawberry preserves and cream cheese. A full portion sandwich will set up back $11.75.

  The sandwich it self was a house made waffle that was then cut in half and filled with the meats and cheese. It also comes with maple syrup along with the other sides. I preferred to use the maple syrup with my meal. Like most places the description of the dish sounds better then the actual plated dish. Some slices of turkey and a few cuts of ham and the Swiss cheese was barely present. The waffle it self was crunchy on the outside but dry on the inside. The turkey was also dry but the ham added a nice salinity to each bite to give you that salty, sweet combination. The sandwich was okay, there can definitely be improvement made. I think part of the problem is my expectations are so high it will be hard to find a Monte Cristo the meets or exceeds them.

  Belgian Waffle Works was not a bad place to eat at, the rest of the family and our friends enjoyed thier meals. Everyone was clearly stuffed and satisfied with what they ordered. My advise would be, if you have had a Disneyland Monte Cristo then stay away from this version, you will be disappointed. However if you are a Monte Cristo noob and this is your first venture into the sandwich then I would recommend it as is it a great way to be introduced to this concoction.

Belgian Waffle Works on Urbanspoon

Monday, July 14, 2014

Another Show, Another Burger

The Burger House
171 W. 2nd St.
Pomona, CA 91766

  The family headed out to the Glass House in Pomona to see a family friend's band play. We had some time to kill and conveniently across the street is The Burger House. Everyone in the family loves a good burger, we were hungry and it was close so the The Burger House was the easy choice. The Burger House is quite loud inside so be prepared  but the noise level is worth the meal.

  My daughter got the kids cheese burger, my son got the salmon burger, my wife got the bacon burger and I got the big easy burger, all burgers come with fries and we also got drinks. The total bill for this meal was about $51. But if you check in on Yelp you get a free milk shake and of course I took advantage of that offer.

My daughter's kid's burger was single slider sized patty covered in cheese. My daughter was very happy with her burger and fries. No complaints from her and seemed satisfied with her meal when we left.

  The Grilled Salmon Bun as it is called on the menu consists of a salmon burger grilled or Blackened, topped with lettuce, tomato, red onion and finished with a remoulade spread. My son's looked like a piece of Blackened salmon but now that I think about it, I don't think he was offered the option when he ordered. My son did mention his was a little spicy but he thought it was because of the sauce. Either way for the most part my son did enjoy his "burger" his only negative was that it was a little too charred. Which would have been caused by the Blackened process.

The Bacon Burger my wife ordered was piled high w/ apple wood smoked bacon, tomato, caramelized onion, pickles and green leaf lettuce and 1,000 island spread. My wife 86'ed the lettuce and 1,000 island spread. This burger looked like a bacon lovers dream and I almost ordered it myself being the bacon connoisseur that I am. My wife said the burger was delicious and she really liked the fries, however she did mention that she thought the onions were a bit too caramelized and almost tasted burnt. She too was pleased with her meal.

  The Big Easy Burger is breakfast in a bun with a twist, this patty is topped with an over easy egg. apple wood smoked bacon, Swiss, laid on a bed of fries, which are like hash browns. Before I even bit into this breakfast burger the yolk from the egg was pouring out the bottom. The burger it self was cooked to a perfect medium which left the beef full of flavor and super juicy. The bacon was thick and extra crispy, the egg was runny and fries were crispy. The mixture of egg yolk and burger juice made awesome drippings on my plate which were sopped up before each bite. The bun held up well and did not turn into a soggy mess which made eating this burger much easier. I was very happy with the burger, the combinations of flavors was reminiscent of classic breakfast. My only complaint was the amount of fries that came with the burger. We only got around twenty fries each, that is a problem because these fries were fantastic. Some of the best fries I have had recently. They were the perfect blend of crisp outside and fluffy inside while being seasoned with the right amount of salt. I could have eaten around forty fries without a problem.

  The Burger House did not disappoint me, the family walked out happy and full. The smallest critiques do not take from everything else that was done right. I felt the prices were fair for the quality of food we received and the service was courteous and prompt. I can easily recommend The Burger House and would say next time you are going to the Glass House to see a show make sure you carve out time to stop by The Burger House before the show. You will be glad you do so!

The Burger House on Urbanspoon