Friday, November 27, 2015

Firsts for me at Five Crowns

Five Crowns
3801 E. Coast Highway
Corona Del Mar, CA 92625

  Recently I was lucky enough to be invited for the fall menu tasting at Five Crown in Corona Del Mar. This was a limited seating event and sure to be a night filled with good food. I was excited and nervous at the same. If you have been reading PKE you will notice this is not my typical food to review. So I was hopeful to try food items I have never tried before.

  When you first walk into Five Crown it kind of reminds you of a English style pub. The lighting was dim, the people chatting and the hostesses were friendly. After a few minutes of waiting, we were directed up stairs to the Speak Easy for a few cocktails and appetizers. The drink of the night was the crown jewel, it was a very well made drink which included sage infused vodka. There were a few different options for appetizers and I started with the avocado smash on a pita chip. The avocado was very smooth and creamy while the pita had a nice crunch. Then the oysters came around, this is  my first of the night, I have never had oysters before and almost passed on them. But I went for it; and I was pleasantly surprised at how much I actually enjoyed it. The oyster it self was sweet and full of fresh ocean flavor. The green onions added some brightness to the oyster that really helped make it a composed bite.

  After the appetizers were completed we headed back downstairs to the green room. This room was amazingly well decorated and reminded me of something I would have seen in a movie. The tables were all laid out in neat order and everyone had a place card for their seat. Upon sitting down there was a copy of the tasting menu we would be enjoying tonight. 

  First course was butternut squash soup with maple glazed pancetta. This was my second first of the night, because I had tried butternut squash alone, so I was hoping that I would like it. Since I have no past experience with this I can say this was  the best butternut squash soup I have ever had. The soup was silky from the butter that was added at the end of the cooking process. The crispy pancetta added texture and the maple glaze brought in sweetness and hints of flavors we are all used to enjoying.

  The second course was Mediterranean sea bass with shrimp, cauliflower florets, caper brown butter and chervil. Yes, another first for me. I am not big a fan of seafood in general anyway, and the sea bass was new to me, and believe it or not the cauliflower was too. The sea bass it self was tender and moist with a crisp skin. The cauliflower was very good, it was roasted slightly and full of flavor from the brown butter sauce. The shrimp was tender and sweet. While both the proteins on the best were well executed I have to say my favorite on this plate was the cauliflower.

  The third course was fall lasagna with house-made pasta, braised kale, mushrooms, arugula and parmigiano. The top of this lasagna was golden brown, the pasta was tender and the mushrooms were plump. The sauce that accompanied the lasagna added a good amount of moisture without the dish getting watered down. The cheese was sharp and salty which helped to cut through some of the flavors. Another dish that you could taste the pride these chefs took in their ingredients and they were cooked amazingly well. 

  The fourth course was deckle steak, sweet potato coins, haricot vert and herb butter. If you are not sure what a deckle steak is, it comes from the cap of a rib eye steak. This cut of meat was fatty and full of flavor. The tender beef gave way with few stokes of the knife. The herb and salt rub on the outside of the deckle steak was crusted and seared nicely. The temperature of the beef was a nice medium which kept it juicy. The haricot vert were toothsome and buttery. This was by far the star of the meal. If I could have I would have eaten more of this but since it was only a tasting, my portion would have to do. However I will have to go back to Five Crowns for this steak.

  The last course was a dessert course which was warm apple crumble with Straus vanilla ice cream. The apple crumble was thinly sliced apples with some blueberries mixed in. The crumble topping was reminiscent of a granola. The crispy outside gave way to tender apples and blueberries that burst with flavor. The ice cream brought richness and a cooling to the warm dish. It was a flavor profile that brought back memories of my grandmother cooking desserts, by hand, during our holidays events when I was child.

  I left Five Crowns saying to myself and the other guests how impressed I was with the entire event. I had a a lot of firsts for me when it comes to food and certainly hope to continue this trend. The quality of food was above what I was expecting. The flavors in each dish truly did remind me of the fall season. The event staff and the rest of the employees I had encountered were very helpful and polite. I now know that I must return to Five Crowns and see what other treats they have on the menu.

Five Crowns

Five Crowns on Yelp

Make sure to follow me on Instagram @papakaster to see pictures before the reviews and pictures that did not make it to the review.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Burger Gluttony

The Pint House - Orange
1547 W Katella Ave
Ste. 102
Orange, CA 92867

  I was taken to The Pint House in Orange on a whim and have been craving the burgers ever since. I made it a point to take my foodie friend there so he too could try and crave these monstrous burgers. The burgers can be close to $15 each but they are well worth every penny. Plus the The Pint House in Orange has an awesome selection of beers on tap. So it is a win, win for me.

  On this visit it was a Monday evening dinner, and  we were able to be seated right away. The seating is tight so the less crowded the better for me. On a side note, The Pint House has Bottle Logic Brewing Co. Beers on tap which was an extra bonus for me. Looking over the menu at Pint House they have many so many other tasty sounding meal options, but the burgers, for me, are king of the hill here. So I ordered the pastrami burger with garlic, parmesan fries. My friend ordered the pulled pork burger with onion rings. With two pints of beer and a dessert I forgot to picture, bad me, the total for this meal was about $58.

  This pastrami burger is loaded with a grilled beef patty, sliced pastrami, melted swiss, caramelized onions, garlic aioli mayo and the rest of the classic fixings. When this behemoth was placed in front of me it took me a few turns of the plate to figure where I was going to attack this burger. I opted to slice it in half and attempt to conquer this burger one half at a time. The first bite of this bad boy was loaded with flavor. I was getting smokey from the grilled beef, fatty from the pastrami, sour from the pickles and slight kick from the mustard. The patty it self was moist while the pastrami was tender. The veggies were super fresh and the cheese was gooey good, just the way I like it. I only managed to eat half of this burger and picked at the meat and pastrami on the second half. The fries on the side were crispy and full of garlic parmesan sprinkles. 

  Here is a picture of the pulled pork burger that I had to share with you guys just to show how enormous each burger from The Pint House. As you can see, it is totally worth the menu price. Also I have to say that these onion rings were bomb. Crunchy outside batter that sticks to the sweet onion. These definitely gave my love of the garlic parmesan fries a run for the money.

  I have and will continue to recommend The Pint House in Orange to any burger connoisseur. These are easily some of the best burgers I have had to date. I will continue coming to The Pint House so I can try every burger they offer on the menu. Thanks again EK for the introduction and introducing me to this burger heaven! 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Hooray for Wiener Wednesday

Otis Dogs
580 S Brea Blvd.
Unit A
Brea, CA 92821

  Move over Taco Tuesday and make room for Wiener Wednesday at Otis Dogs in Brea. My best bud suggested we try this place out after he had gone there and found himself pretty impressed. I am always down for a good wiener so it was a no brainer to go check Otis Dogs out.

  Otis Dogs is just south of Imperial Highway on Brea Blvd, if you pass Guitar Center then you have gone too far. Why the specific directions? Because I want to ensure you find this place and enjoy one of their wieners. Plus on Wednesdays they have a Wiener Wednesday which puts one of their wieners on special. My friend and I did show up on Wednesday and the chili cheese was the deal of the day. I did want to try more then one hot dog however and my picks where the chili cheese dog and a pastrami dog. You can get your dogs on Hawaiian buns but I stuck with the old school style buns. The two dogs, a drink and chips set me back a bit less then $13.

  I went after the chili cheese dog first. Good thing they provided a plastic fork and knife because there was no way I was going to be able to pick this monstrous dog up. The wiener was all beef, plump, juicy and full of that classic American hot dog flavor. The chili was all meat and sans any type of beans. This is a classic dog that was done very well. The chili was a tad bit too sweet for my liking but that could have been easily fixed. I was pretty full after I was done with this dog but still had one more wiener to chow down.

  Same dog in this bun except this one was loaded with pastrami then squirted with mayo and mustard. I really liked the pastrami on this dog. It was tender but sliced a little too thin, full of peppery spice and little bit of fat that all good pastrami needs. The mayo added a bit of creaminess to each bite while the mustard brought the vinegar which helped to cut through some of richness of the meat on meat tastes. I did like the chili cheese dog but today the pastrami dog was the winner in my eyes.

  Either one of these dogs could have easily been a meal by themselves but being the wiener hound that I am I had to stuff two of them in my pie hole. I was thoroughly content and was ready to take a nap from the food induced coma that was hitting me. I cannot wait to get back to Otis Dogs and try one of the other concoctions they have available. Hooray for Wiener Wednesday!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Tustin's newest BBQ Pit

Dickey's Barbecue Pit
17245 E. 17th Street, Ste. A
Tustin, CA 92780

  I have been waiting for Dickey's Barbecue Pit in Tustin to open since I saw the coming soon signs. I caught a glimpse of the opening date and made sure to get there soon after. So, my daughter, my wife and I decided to have dinner there one night. We walked in and there was no line, lucky us because it filled up quickly afterwards. My daughter ordered the kids meat plate with ribs, my wife ordered the three meat plate as did I. With one drink  for my wife and I to share, this meal was just over $41.

  The kids meat plate comes with a choice of meat, a side, a bread and a drink. My daughter got the ribs which comes with two. My daughter liked her ribs, she said there were good. She had nothing to say about the sauce other than she liked it. She did eat both ribs without any complaints. I stole a fry from her plate and was disappointed to find out that they were under cooked, which made them very soft and slightly soggy.

  My wife got sausage, brisket and ribs for her three choices of meat. I had to try my wife's sausage since I didn't get any. This was by far my favorite piece on my wife's plate and my wife felt the same way. She also said the brisket was dry but tender, and that she really liked the spice rub on the ribs. But overall my wife was neither happy or dissatisfied with her meal.

  For my three choices I got pulled pork, brisket and chicken breast. I too felt the brisket was dry but tender. The addition of the sauce helped moisten the meat up. The chicken breast could easily be cut with the plastic silverware provided. It too was on the dry side but like the brisket, that was handled by using some sauce. My favorite meat on my plate was the pulled pork. It was moist and had a nice smokey flavor to it. The mac and cheese was good but resembled something that could be made at home from a box. The beans were tasty and had a slight kick to them which I liked.

  My real issue with Dickey's is the portion sizes compared to the price. When I ordered the brisket the worker pulled this big slab of plastic wrapped meat from a warmer. He then slit the plastic, sliced off one piece of brisket, weighed it and placed it on my plate. The plastic wrapped items from the warmer was also where my pulled pork and chicken came from. Now I understand portion control and needing to make money on your food but come on Dickey's those portion sizes where ridiculous. Unfortunately I do not think we will be returning to Dickey's Barbecue Pit anytime soon. Bummer.

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.