Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Do a Beach Barrel roll

The Beach Barrel
3305 Newport Blvd.
Newport Beach, CA 92663

  Another PR event allowed me to try The Beach Barrel. I scanned the menu before hand and decided I wanted to to try the Playa Cubano but when I arrived I was delighted to learn that I would be able to try more then just one item on the menu. I was able to enjoy the Playa Cubano, the BBQ chicken flat bread, the barrel burger, the street dog and finally the sticky buns.

  I started with the BBQ chicken flat bread which is house made sriracha BBQ sauce, shredded chicken, apple wood bacon, mozzarella cheese, red onion and cilantro. The flat bread was crisp while the BBQ sauce brought a spice to the party, but it wasn't so spicy that your taste bud are screaming for water. The chicken was tender and the cheese was stringy, melted goodness. This was definitely a good BBQ chicken flat bread and I really liked the heat from the BBQ sauce.

  Next I dove into the sammy I came for, the Playa Cubano. This sandwich is citrus glazed pork, smoked ham, Swiss cheese, house made pickles and dijonaise which is all placed on french bread that is then grill pressed. My first bite was such a burst of flavors. The citrus from pork comes through first and comes on heavy. Then the sour pickles and the tart dijonaise kick in and balance everything out. The pork it self was moist and tender. I could not contain the juices running down my hand from this sandwich. I can easily say this is by far one of the best three Cuban sandwiches I have had to date.

  The street dog was next in my sights. This is a 1/4 pound all beef dog that is then covered in apple wood bacon, caramelized onions, and grilled jalapenos. Then come in with mayo, mustard and a mix of chedder and mozzarella cheese. This is not my typical choice for dogs but I was diggin' this dog. The crunchy bacon, spicy jalapenos and creamy toppings all blended well together and made an awesome bite of food. My only suggestion to make this better would be that they should look into getting a different type of dog, something with a natural casing to give you a snap with each bite.

  Burger time! This is the only burger Beach Barrel does and they do it well. This seasoned beef patty is loaded with grilled bell peppers, Romaine lettuce, tomato, red onions, avocado, house made thousand island dressing and cheddar cheese. This is all stuffed between a toasted brioche bun. The beef patty was luscious, the bell peppers where soft and the lettuce was crisp. The avocado added a velvety consistency that helped to cut some of the richness from the beef. The other thing I noticed is that the bun was toasted perfectly, just enough to add some bite to the bun but not enough to kill the roof of your mouth.

  Lastly I finished with the Hawaiian sticky buns and scoop of ice cream. These were your standard Hawaiian buns but done up like you have never had before. The buns are layered with marshmallows and smothered in the homemade pecan caramel sauce. The bun is toastey on the outside and stays soft on the inside. The caramel sauce is gooey and sweet with the ice cream adding a coldness to each bite. If you follow food trends Hawaiian buns have been used in a myriad of ways. I must say this is by far the best way I have seen them used. The sweet buns are complimented perfectly with the rest of the ingredients.

  The Beach Barrel is a bit of drive for me to visit all the time but what I do know is that I will be back for that Playa Cubano sandwich. For me this sandwich was the highlight of my visit. Everything I tried was excellent and I had zero complaints. The Beach Barrel chefs know what they are doing and they do it well. I can easily recommend The Beach Barrel and suggest you take the time to check them out. Make sure to visit the website because if you are within the delivery range you can get all this awesomeness delivered right to your door!

The Beach Barrel

The Beach Barrel on Yelp

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Blake's Place Revisted

Blake's Place
2905 E Miraloma Ave
Ste 3
Anaheim, CA 92806

 I took advantage of another opportunity to try Blake's Place BBQ in Anaheim. I have been there before and even posted a review on here. But I am sucker for good BBQ and figured what the heck, why not? The last time I ate at Blake's Place was years ago but I remember it being okay, not bad by any means but nothing that rocked my socks. Well let me tell you, this time I was pleasantly surprised with my visit and thought there was a clear improvement over my last meal.

  I do have to say this was a PR event so my kids and I got our meals comped to us. My daughter ordered the kids baby rack ribs. Like almost every other time she tries something new, she was hesitant but went ahead with that order. My son ordered the Blake's One Pound Bomber. I ordered the three meat plate and for sweet treat we got some bread pudding.

  My daughter picked up her first rib and messed around with it for a bit before taking her first bite. Once that bite was taken she was in BBQ heaven, she just kept saying how good the ribs were and how much she liked the sauce. She chowed down all her ribs without any complaining which I was fully stoked about. In fact she had a BBQ sauce "smile" from ear to ear from her lacking of caring what she looked like and simply enjoyed the meat on bone goodness.

  Blakes's one pound bomber consists of beef brisket, pork, turkey, Swiss cheese, pickles, red onion and BBQ sauce on a French roll. This sandwich is loaded to the brim with smoked meats and requires you to unlock your jaw like some kind of serpent. My son said the meat was tender and had a good amount of smoke to it. He felt like the meat was a little dry but nothing some of Blake's house made BBQ sauce couldn't fix. My son was able to easily take down one and half of the second half. As we were leaving Blake's I asked my son if he remembered his last trip and how it compared to this trip. He felt like there was clear improvement in the quality, taste and overall tastyness of the food.

 I went with the three meat plate so I could try and bit of everything. I ordered beef brisket, turkey, and pork loin. The beef brisket was tender enough to be easily cut with a plastic fork. The turkey was smoked in such a way that is almost had a ham kind of flavor to it. It too was super tender. The pork loin was my favorite of all three meats. The smoke on the pork was just enough to let you it was there but not overpowering at all. It was like eating BBQ sauce covered thick sliced bacon. Who wouldn't love that? The beans and potato salad did not get as much of my attention as they should have. I picked at them not because they were bad, in fact the potato salad was really good and the bean were very well made. Just too much meat for me and that's all I was about. Plus I had to save room for the bread pudding.

  I chose to have my bread pudding cold. I had already eaten enough hot foot with the three meats plate so I went for the cooler desert. This bread pudding was dense but in like the best possible way. The custard had soaked through all the bread which brought plenty of cinnamon flavor to the party. The raisins added tiny pockets of sweet that really helped to break through some of that cinnamon spice. I could only image how awesome this would be hot with a bit of bourbon sauce on it. I don't actually know if Blake's does it that way but they should if they don't.

  I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed my meal at Blake's Place and my kids had a great BBQ experience too. It may be a bit out of the way but you should definately take the time to seek out and try Blake's Place.

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