Eve Encinitas

eve sign

Review #70

Funny how when it’s time to blog tacos or pizza, the world shows up to join us.  Blog “Eve”, a vegan restaurant on the 101, and suddenly everyone is sick, swamped with work or has surgeries scheduled.  Uh huh.  Die hards Dave, Diane and Debbie stepped up to try Eve with us.  BP stayed home….No meat, no go.

I have to admit that Eve is one of the few places on the 101 that I have already tried.  I’ve had lunch here a handful of times and was eager to share this place with Hubby and friends.

Walking in, you will noticed Eve’s very cool vibe.  It’s the exact right kind of funky that Encinitas embraces.  You order at the counter, and then choose from either an odd shaped table or some saggy furniture to sit in.

eve cozy

The restaurant is super cute with tons of plants hanging everywhere.

eve plants

Eve has a beautiful living wall.  Just beware, if you choose to sit in one of the two tables next to that wall, those plants will become part of your experience.  Last time I sat there, I found vines tickling my neck and leaves scratching at my shins.  A bit too Little Shop of Horrors for my liking. You can appreciate Audrey without sitting within eating distance of her.

eve living wall

Eve has a back room that I have never seen before.  It was open tonight, and it’s huge!  It’s super cool with tables and chairs set up in fun little nooks, and tons more sofas to laze around on.  It’s very “Friends” except the “Chandlers” have dreadlocks and the “Rachels” don’t shave.eve back room

There were only a few people ahead of us in line, so we were a bit stunned that it took over 20 minutes to get to the counter and order.  VERY slow.

The sign on the counter reminder me of Debbie.  Although she is often the butt of my jokes (My GOD she just opens herself RIGHT UP for them!), I really do stay close to her for this reason:

eve sunshine

Since I always order the Legendary Hero bowl, I forced myself to branch out.  It wasn’t easy.  I was jonesing for those brussel sprouts and beets smothered in their incredible tahini sauce.  The woman behind the counter suggested the Veggie Burrito, so I went with it.   I ordered Hubby the Legendary Hero bowl with avocado, so I could nibble off it.  I scoffed at the “coconut bacon” offered as a topping.  I’m sure it tastes just like pork as coconut often does.  NOT!

Personally, I don’t like when vegans try to make plants taste like meat.  Embrace the vegetables! I’ve yet to taste a mock chicken that tastes anything like chicken.  Or even tastes good.  I prefer my veggie burger to taste like veggies, beans and nuts.  Fake meat is not my thing.   No to coconut bacon.  Just say no.

I was hoping to see a yummy dessert in the display case to share after our meal, something creamy like a key lime pie or mousse, but there were only over-baked muffins, scones and parfaits today.

eve display

Diane has laryngitis so she can only point and type her words on her phone.  I heard Hubby mutter something like “Lucky you” to her husband Dave.  He got my Evil Eye. Diane chose the only thing on the menu that didn’t come with kale.  The Aphrodite Salad.  It ain’t easy coming to a vegan restaurant as a kale hater!

We sat down and waited for our food.  And waited.  And waited.  After AN HOUR, food arrived, but only one item: Debbie’s Hawaii Five-0. We insisted she start, but it felt awkward for her while we all stared, which we did.  It is some kind of vegan patty with grilled organic pineapple, on a pretzel bun.  We all watched as she loved it.

eve hawaii 50
Hawaii Five-0 Burger

Although she ate slow, she was all but finished before the rest of our food finally came out.  It was seriously ridiculous how long we waited.  Oldest ordered the Kung Pao Bowl with a side of avocado and a side of falafel.

“Do you have any hot sauce” he asked the server.

“Sure, what kind do you want?” he answered.

“What do you have?” inquired Oldest.

“Not much.  Just one.”

“Ok” Oldest said confused, “I’ll take that one”.

His Kung Pao Bowl was quite bland and needed the hot sauce.  But when I tasted the hot sauce, my lips cried with burning pain.

“What’s in that hot sauce?” I asked the same server.

“Well, we usually mix the hot chili paste with bbq sauce.  But today we didn’t.” So it was just hot chili paste straight from the jar.

eve kung po
Kung Pao Bowl

Hubby’s Legendary Hero Bowl came, and it was as delicious as I remembered. Except the porportations were off tonight, and about 1/3 of the bowl was just beets.  That was a lot of beets. Hubby doesn’t even like beets so he was unimpressed with it. I still loved it.

eve legendary
Legendary Hero Bowl

My veggie burrito came, and it was huge.  I loved the pickled red cabbage that they also use in the Legendary Bowl.  They toast the tortilla/wrap and it’s delicious.  So colorful and healthy.  So good!  Dave ordered a breakfast burrito which was very similar to this one, but included cactus and roasted potatoes, and he loved it too.

eve vegetarian burrito
Veggie Burrito

Diane sat and quitedly glared at her Aphrodite Bowl.  It was covered in KALE!  And she had no voice to complain about it!  Here are the ingredients as listed on their menu: Aphrodite Bowl- Herbed quinoa, sunflower tzatziki, roasted broccolini, roasted mushrooms, housemade chickpea falafel, GF housemade pita, mediterranean olive mix.  No mention of kale.  Nothing that even rhymes with “kale”.  Yet it was filled with kale! How could they? She unloaded the kale onto Hubby’s bowl and ate what was underneath.  She was very underwhelmed.

eve salad
Aphrodite Bowl

The nice woman who took our order came by at the end to ask us how everything was.  I told her the truth.  Some things were good, but mistakes were made.  And the wait!  She offered to make Diane another Aphrodite without kale, but we just didn’t have another 90 minutes to wait for it.

She was very apologetic and rushed a strawberry scone back to our table.  It was cold.  It was hard.  I haven’t had anything that dry since Thanksgiving turkey 2015. If you took small bites and rehydrated your mouth immediately after swallowing, the taste was very decent. It was a nice gesture, and didn’t go unnoticed.

eve scone
Strawberry Scone

We all agreed that we needed to go somewhere else to finish off this meal properly.  None of us felt satisfied.  Unfortunately there aren’t any late night bacon shops open, because that would have been first choice.  So we went over to where the new gourmet, vegan, cookie dough place is.  AND WALKED RIGHT PAST IT TO HANDEL’S ICE CREAM. Made from real cow animals.

Bottom line:

Our experience at Eve tonight was not the best.  Again, this comes down to inconsistency.  I think you have to know what to order as some things are way better than others.  The winners tonight were the Hawaii Five-0 burger, the Breakfast and Veggie Burritos and (usually) the Legendary Hero Bowl, though tonight’s wasn’t as good as usual.  Debbie’s berry Kombucha was also delicious.  I bet their acai bowls are great, and that is what I will try next time.  And there will be a next time, because in spite of tonight’s horrifically long wait, I really like Eve.  The place is totally worth seeing, just for the funkiness of it, especially when the back room is open.  You will feel like a better, more healthful version of yourself after eating a meal here, as long as you don’t blow it at Handel’s afterwards like we did.

Eve: Where Buddha is fabulous

eve buddah

and there’s a bathroom for everyone!

eve bathroom

***Since eating here, Eve Encinitas responded to Diane’s low-star YELP review with a gift card, apologies and a promise that her next experience there will be a good one.  Everyone makes mistakes, it’s how you handle them that counts.  Kudos here.


Next week’s blog will be on Sunday, January 20th at 6pm at

Death by Tequila

https://deathbytequila.com/

Solace & The Moonlight Lounge

solace sign

Review #69

Tonight some of our friends were in dire need of a blog night out. One friend just got out of a serious relationship unexpectedly and two friends have to put down a beloved pet.  Drinks, good food, live music and friendship were needed on the menu! I hoped the musician tonight, Nena Anderson, would play upbeat tunes.

Solace has lovely downstairs and outdoor seating, but we were sitting upstairs tonight.  I love local art, and they have it displayed everywhere.  Weird for your home, but works here at Solace. This one reminded me of a blooming clove of garlic.  I came up with this deep and meaningful interpretation all by myself.  And I studied ZERO art in college!

solace art

This one I call “Good Medusa” swapping her sinister snakes for birds and flowers, but still being a cold bitch inside.

solace art 1

This collaboration tells the story of two alcoholics falling in love out west.  They were married for 4 years when she got drunk and drowned while swimming somewhere in the east. Her widower bought a truck and remains a drunken, sad bird.

solace art 3

I love the name “Solace & the Moonlight Lounge”, it’s tres chic. Sounds like a good name for a band, with “Solace” being the beautiful and eccentric lead singer. The upstairs bar has the cool vibe to match.

solace decor

I really enjoyed the ambiance with the interesting art, twinkly lights and random photo of Jeff Bridges. NOT Chris Christopherson.  I had to ask.

solace art 2
Jeff Bridges

Pretty similar though, right?

chris chrisopherson.jpg
Chris Christopherson

I was looking forward to a drink tonight, for I have heard Solace has some great cocktail creations. I am a horse lover at heart so anything horse/mule/zebra/donkey related in any way will always win me over.  A Grapefruit Mule it is! Not liking sweet drinks, this one hit the mark.  In fact, the combination of vodka, bitters and ginger beer made my mouth pucker.

solace mule

Geoff was very excited to see WEIHENSTEPHANER on the menu. Say that 10 times fast.  Say it even one time and I’ll be impressed.  It is truly a wonderful tasting beer.

solace beer

We decided to start with some homemade biscuits.  These are not the light and fluffy kind.  These bad boys are dense and rich.  Asking why they taste so decadent isn’t the question one wants an answer to.  They are very good, especially smothered in sweet butter and the smokey, savory jam that accompanies them.  Winner!

solace biscuits

We also shared the Jerk Chicken Wings which had a perfect balance of sweet and spicy flavors.  They were super-duper crispy, sticky, and messy. They go really well with Mule.

solace wings

Rick ordered the Seared Ahi Starter over a Meyer Lemon Creme Fraiche.  Seared perfectly, but a pricey nibble with not so much to it.

solace ahi

He paired it with a Warmed Spinach Salad with bacon and a fried egg on top.

solace spinach salad

Debbie ordered the Fall Salad with added Salmon. She enjoyed the candied pecans, but wasn’t crazy about the creamy dressing. The salmon was cooked perfectly.

solace salad salmon

I order the Seared Scallops with Crispy pork belly over a celery root puree. I am a sucker for scallops.  Scallops are one of my favorite things.  Not favorite foods.  Favorite things in life.  I’m not putting them in front of my kids and pets or anything, but not far after. To call these scallops heavenly is to do them a disservice.  I don’t know how the chef was able to get them so crispy on the outside, while leaving the inside so soft and creamy. There’s a genius at work in that kitchen.

solace scallops

Hubby wasn’t too hungry (and didn’t care for the menu prices) so he just ordered the Fall Salad. Hubby hates spending money on “fancy food” and is perfectly happy supplementing a turkey sandwich from the fridge when he gets home.  But he’s a good sport in taking me out, because he knows that I love it.  I forced my fork into one of my sacred scallop treasures and tried to put it on Hubby’s plate.  But my other hand refused to part with it! I love my Hubby, but is he really worth an entire precious scallop?  One hand clearly thought “no”!  But the good hand won, and Hubby quickly grabbed it before the evil hand came back for it. He did not need to tell me his thoughts on the scallop, his face said it all. He was in love too. I would have liked to add another scallop to his salad, but Evil Hand would have none of it.

solace salad
Hubby’s scallop-less Fall Salad

At 7pm the band started.  Nena has a beautiful voice and the band started with some folky original songs.

solace band

But when they started singing “Another Long Goodbye”, I realized that this was going from folky Joni Mitchell into country music territory.  A place I do not visit often.  By “not often”, I mean never.  And country music isn’t exactly known for its light and cheery lyrics. The next song was literally about a break up and “needing to kiss you one more time but you’re gone.” This one was hitting a wee bit too close to home for our recently single friend.  I was worried that the next song may be called “Seeing you, Fluffy, on the other side”, so I suggested we head out.  I stuck a nice tip in their jar, the band has talent, just not exactly the cheer-up-our-sad-friends kind of thing we needed this night.

Bottom Line:

I really liked my Solace & Moonlight Lounge experience.  Too pricey to come here often, but just right for a special occasion, which can just be cheering up your friends.  I thought the prices adequately matched the upscale restaurant and quality of the food served.  Plus, there’s free live music for your entertainment every Sunday night!   They have dollar oysters from 4-6 every night, and a Taco Tuesday Debs and I will be back for.  Especially when the weather warms up and we can sit outside on their beautiful deck.   If you love scallops the way I love scallops, then you should have scallops too! Order them here.  Would you part with one for your loved one?  I’m not so sure!


Join us next week, Sunday, January 13th at 6pm while the blog goes VEGAN at

EVE Encinitas

http://www.eveencinitas.com/

Culture Brewery & Napizza

culture_brewing_sign

Review #67

My sister and I started on Sunday Ubering over to The Kraken to see a friend’s band play.  The only other time I have been there was to blog it last July, and I was ready to go back.  Plus I thought we should have a drink before heading over to Culture Brewery to prime the pump.  Here’s a link to that review if you are so inclined: The Kraken

Raymond, our Uber driver, asked us our plans and I mentioned my blog.  He proceeded to tell us his opinion about the problems with all of the restaurants on the 101, and boy did he have one!

“Inconsistency” he said. “If you are only going to each place one time, it will be a totally different experience the next.  None of these places have any motivation for producing consistently good dishes.” I pondered this and found that it’s probably true.  Many people have disagreed with my opinion on certain dishes or restaurants that I have reviewed.  Knowing that I can’t possibly be wrong, this must be due to the inconsistency of the establishment.

I asked Raymond how he knew so much about restaurants.  He told me that he has his masters degree in the culinary arts in Classic French Country and owned a restaurant in The Napa Valley.  I asked in awe, “Have you been to The French Laundry”?  For those who don’t know, The French Laundry is one of California’s finest restaurants located in the wine country. The Chef and owner is The One, The ONLY, Thomas Keller.  My idol.  Although I have never been, it is on my bucket list.

“Sure, it’s right down the street from my restaurant.  Sometimes when it’s busy, Tommy will call me to help out in his kitchen.”  TOMMY!!!

“I don’t mean to sound rude” I said. “But how….why…..HOW are you driving UBER??”

“I sold everything and am saving to open up a new restaurant in Costa Rico. ” Best of luck to Raymond, our ridiculously over qualified Uber driver.

When we arrived at The Kraken, I went out back to visit The Tip Of Cardiff food trailer.  BC, a tattooed, bald, handle-barred mustache, large, bouncer type of guy was working.  He scared me.  I asked if he had a chance to read the blog I wrote about them.

“I only get on the internet for two things” he said unsmiling. “Auto parts and porn.” Sooo, no then. I told him about the blog and he told me the problem with all of these fancy restaurants on the 101 is that they are not held accountable for their INCONSISTENCY.  I am not kidding, those were his exact words!

“Wait, do you know Raymond, the Uber driver?? Never mind.”

He told us that he has worked at 7 different upscale restaurants in the area and the food was so inconsistent depending on who was in the kitchen, he got frustrated and opened up Tip.  “I’ll take this f-ing dive bar any f-ing day of the f-ing week over working those places again.  Look at this f-ing view!” Pure ocean, not bad.  But again, a ridiculously over qualified food-trailer guy!

We finally found our way up the coast to Culture Brewery.  It’s in a great location with tons of foot traffic and has a nice open-air feel.  On the other hand, the inside is pretty sparse with some basic barrels and uncomfortable chairs to sit in.  It’s mostly just a big open box with beer. Since we are only blogging establishments with food, they do in fact qualify.

culture pretzels

Culture has some unusual beers to choose from and will gladly give you a taster or two if you can’t decide.  Getting a flight is also a good way to go.  I tried the Ginger Snap Red and was surprised at the true ginger snap taste.  It was delicious and I ordered a glass.

culture taps

As more of our people arrived, we put three beers on the barrel for them to try.  They loved the Vanilla Cream Ale.  They thought the Brown was really good, but when they tasted my Ginger Snap, every single person thought it was the worst beer they have ever tried.  Amatures!

culture beers

The culture at Culture is “anything goes.”  You can bring your pets, your own food, whatever.  There were lots of dogs and babies tonight.  Since dogs are cool, and babies are just babies, I focused on the canines. As does Culture.

culture bones

culture dogs

Brindy, a recently rescued Pitty was happy to be in pictures.  Be very careful of the ferociously mean Pit Bulls hanging out here.

culture dog hat

Very mean.

culture mean pit

Brindy has taught her parents tricks.  She will take a pretzel right out of their mouth whilst leaving their face in tact.

culture dog kisses

Her owner didn’t look at all stupid doing this trick over and over either.

culture people trick 1

Nor did her other owner.

cultrue dog 4

Bottom Line:

Culture Brewery is a fine place to have a beer with friends and dogs.  It’s a bit stark and not cozy, but serves its purpose.  I may be alone in liking the Ginger Snap Red, but I’m sure there are others out there who enjoy good beer.  They just weren’t in my group.

culture crew


Napizza

napizza_sign

Review #68

Napizza is conveniently located two doors down from Culture.  Although you can bring food into Culture, we decided to get the full Napizza experience by dining there.  Plus there were too many of us to crowd around a barrel.  Napizza is small, but there were real tables for all of us.

The wall decor tells you all the good stuff about them. “Cage free, wild caught, locally sourced” all of the trendy catch phrases you want to hear in eating out these days.  But the best part was that they CARE.  And I really believe they do!

napizza decor

I like their arty box display.

napizza boxes

It’s an order-by-the-slice kinda thing, and you get to look at all of the lovely creations in the display case before you order. The “Bapo” had Tracy at “potato”.

napizza bapo

We shared some slices including the Truffle Porcini Mushroom, which was heavenly.  Napizza has a focaccia bread style crust that sets them apart from the others.  It’s fluffy, but not too bready.  The squares are cut into triangles for easy sharing which is nice.  (Please ignore the large head shadow in the picture below.  Remember, there were beers involved tonight!)napizza slices

The BBQ Chicken pizza is rarely my thing, but this one was actually very good.  The Margarita had huge chunks of tomatoes which made it hard to eat, but was still delicious.

napizza bbq

We shared a Thai Crunch Chicken half salad.  At $10, this was a disappointment.  Although it was filled with some interesting things, the chicken was dry, tasteless and hacked thoughtlessly into giant hunks.  The tomatoes were slightly wrinkled, not as perky as they should be. Much like me. Thumbs down on a small, over priced salad.

napizza salad

But we came here for pizza and the La Lasagna was memory-making good!  Fantastico!

napizza lasagna

Sis said the beer here was better than at The Kraken or at Culture.  I asked what she liked about this one. “It’s served in a mason jar, and it tastes yummier this way.”  She’s actually a wine connoisseur.

napizza jodi

Bottom Line:

Napizza’s pizza rocks! What I love most is the focaccia crust that is a nice change from all of the other’s crust around town.  They offer unique creations, all of them good.  Eating local and green is always a plus.  If you haven’t been yet, GO!

**Props to both Culture Brewery and Napizza!  Wednesday, January 16 –  They are collaborating to donate a portion of their proceeds to SDA Theatre.  We love places that support our community!

**For a wonderful and very easy recipe, try Thomas Keller’s Roast Chicken, I make it for my family all the time. https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/my-favorite-simple-roast-chicken-231348

**Shout out to our new blog joiners Ron, Loretta and family!  They found Dining on The 101 on “Nextdoor” and joined us.  We hope they will come again soon!  We love making new friends along our journey!


Our next blog is happening TONIGHT!!  Join us in a few hours, 6pm at

Solace & The Moonlight Lounge

http://www.eatatsolace.com/

Biergarden of Encinitas

Biergarten sign

Review #66

I’ve been in a foul mood.  I’ve been sick for 10 days, I don’t feel great and I’m not really fit for public display.  But I am tired of being couped up in the house, and I can’t leave my faithful readers hanging, so the blog must go on!

I did a little research into the Biergarden of Encinitas before we went and what I saw wasn’t good.  First of all, I found multiple complaints about the service.  Second, the menu looked really expensive. I just wasn’t in the mood for these shenanigans.  Or maybe I was.  Hubby was right there with me, ready to pounce. Either way, this place was going down, and we were taking no prisoners!

Hubby and I got there early to assure a table for the 7 of us.  Our hostess eyed my camera and I let her know that I am writing a food blog about them tonight.

“What’s the name of it?” she asked.

“Dining on the 101”

“Huh, never heard of it.”

“Really?” I replied in my most superior voice.  “I mean I do have like 10-12 people who regularly read it every week.” What rock has she been hiding under?

“Yah, but it’s mostly your family” piped up Hubby.  “Your mom, your sister.  There’s your dad….” he received an elbow in the gut.

Other than being ignorant of high quality food blogs about Encinitas restaurants, she was actually very nice and had a table fixed up for us out back like we wanted.

Although I was out for blood tonight, I have to admit that this place has a very nice set up.  There’s a long patio out front perfect for day drinkers to literally hang out on the 101 while still being legally part of the establishment.  Can’t get busted for being drunk in public this way.  The inside was nice too with a cool tree decorated in the entrance.

Biergarten tree

There’s also ample seating out back which is what we chose for tonight.

Biergarten back patio

Our friends arrived and we all ordered drinks and some appetizers.  They have a great beer selection, but what else would you expect at the Biergarden?  I’m not giving them much credit on that one, it’s a no brainer. The appetizers ranged in price from $9 (just plain ole edamame) to a cheese board for $19.  For perspective, I recently reviewed Third Corner Bistro, a very posh, upscale restaurant, much fancier than Biergarden.  They have a meat and cheese board for $16.

One thing I will give them points for is their dinnerware.  I’m a sucker for pottery, and these plates and bowls were really pretty.

Biergarten pottery

We ordered the $14 Artichoke Dip, or should I say Fourteen like it’s written out in words in a color so light, you can barely read it.  But that’s their trick! Hubby was pissed.  When looking for prices, he wants a hard number in black ink.  He doesn’t want to take the effort to read it in a word.  A number, just a number!  Huge pet peeve of his.

When the dip arrived, just like I expected, there was a disproportionate quantity of chips per size of dip to accompany it.  There should be enough chips to support every bit of dip.  Chips are cheap.  Why can’t any place be generous with them?  This is a real problem happening all over the 101 and something must be done. The dip was really good though.  Ok fine, it was outstanding.  If I must be honest, it was the best artichoke dip I’ve ever had, ok? Instead of pulverizing those poor delicate artichokes into a mushy dip, the chef left them large, full of integrity and it was awesome. The fresh tomatoes on top added the perfect touch.  I was impressed.

Biergarten artichoke

Just  moments later, to my surprise, out came the Bier Pretzels.  They’re served with mustard and cheese sauce all for $12, I mean twelve.  Sure, they were good, but at $2 a bite, I would much rather have been eating sushi.  Not pretzels.  Jennifer and Greg said the mustard was very delicious, but that’s just mustard.

Biergarten pretzels

Here’s another thing I noticed online about their menu that really turned me off.  All of their chicken salads use dark meat instead of breast.  I’m sorry, but if you are at a gastropub ordering a salad with a menu full of fried food and burgers, you probably want it with white meat!  Who puts dark meat on a salad?  Biergarden!  Of course I’m sure they will switch it for white meat for an astronomical fee if you ask though.  Which is just what I did.

“It’s a dollar more for white meat” our server kindly told me.  Ok, one dollar more isn’t so bad, but still.  On an already-overpriced salad that’s the only healthy option on the menu, they should just know to use white meat.  Hubby and I decided to add white meat chicken to a vegetarian Quinoa Salad, hoping it would be enough to share.  That turned a sixteen dollar salad into a twenty-one dollar one.  Ouch.

“I was looking at the Quinoa Salad too but pickled cucumbers don’t sound good to me” noticed Debbie.  Sweet Debbie.  Pretty Debbie.  “Pickled cucumbers are just pickles” whispered Mary gently to her.

Biergarten quinoa menu

While waiting for our meal I thought it was very handy that they put a Wells Fargo right across the way.  That’s no accident.  You will most definitely need to grab some extra cash for your dinner.  Maybe even get a loan.

Biergarten wells fargo

Our Quinoa Salad with white meat chicken arrived, and it sure was nice looking.
“The chicken is dry” said Hubby poking it with his fork.  But he was reaching.  When eaten with a bite of salad, it really was delicious, and not dry.  Those “pickled cucumbers” were mighty spicy and added another layer of flavor to the salad that was unique.  Was it worth twenty-one dollars?  Um, NO!

Biergarten quinoa salad

Jen and Greg shared a Portabello Sandwich with sweet potato fries.  They said the Ciabatta bread and fig jam brought the sandwich to a new level.  They loved it.

Biergarten burger

 

Bottom Line:

My inner bitch was in full force tonight.  It’s actually not so much as “inner” as it is hanging out right there on the surface at all times.  But I had a bee in my bonnet, and it was time for someone other than Hubby and my boys to get my wrath tonight.

Prepare to pay $16-$17 for a burger at Biergarden.  For comparison, one of the best burgers I’ve had doing this blog was at another upscale gastropub, Priority Public House.  An equivalent burger there runs $14 and that’s with ORGANIC GRASS-FED BEEF!

I don’t want to dwell on the negatives, so here are the positives:  Optimal location.  Really nice atmosphere.  Killer front and back patios.  A great place to hang with a friend or two over beers.  The food is very good and the dishes they serve it on are pretty.  Service was all around terrific.

If you’re the kind of person that has a buck or two in your pocket and you don’t mind paying a bit more than you should for good food, this may be your place.  And if you want to hang out in this trendy establishment but you don’t have a buck or two in your pocket, Wells Fargo is right there.


Next week we have a double blog!  Starting at 5:30pm on Sunday, December 30th we will be at

Culture Brewing Company

https://culturebrewingco.com/

ending up at

Napizza

https://www.na-pizza.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kim’s Vietnamese

Kim's sign

Review #65

Kim’s Vietnamese Restaurant is a small, casual, unassuming little stop in the Lumberyard.  In fact, I never even knew it was there! Upon entering, we were greeted by the cutest little lady I’ve ever seen.  Our friend Sue introduced us to the owner Kim.

“It’s so nice to meet you!” she said, with the enthusiasm of a child’s first trip to Disneyland.  The hugs and joy she got out of seeing Sue almost brought a tear to my eye.  “How long has it been since you’ve seen each other?” I asked.

“About 2 weeks” said Sue.  “That’s just Kim.”

I mentioned that I was writing a blog (since I was the only person in the place taking pictures) and Kim sprang into action.  “I have something for you to try!” and she scurried off.

She brought back an exquisite Shrimp and Sugarcane Platter for the table to share. The way she presented it to us was as if she was giving us a part of her soul.

“I hope you like this” she said with an immeasurable amount of worry and uncertainty in her voice.

 

Kim's shrimp platter

She had nothing to fear and when we told her how good it was, you would think it was the first time she has ever received a compliment in her life.  “Oh, I am so glad!” and her shining face showed you just how glad she was.

I’m a huge fan of kitchen gadgets and here is one I don’t have!  It’s a rice paper soaker! This thing is great! When I make spring rolls at home, I use a shallow dish filled with water, but this thing is way cooler!  I know Hanukkah has past and all, but just in case Santa wants to visit a Jew this year, see here.

 

Kim's rice paperG_3152

I ordered a small Sweet & Sour Coconut Soup because Hubby hates coconut and I wasn’t in the mood to share.  Actually, word on the street is this is The Thing to get.  I thought $9.95 was steep for a small bowl of soup, but I found out “small” refers to sharing with a small group of people, not a small bowl of soup.

Kim's soup

Umami is a fancy word used by fancy food snobs and the writers at Food and Wine Magazine to describe a taste that none of us common folk really know what it means.  We know it’s considered a 5th taste along with sweet, sour, bitter and salty.  It’s Japanese.  It’s savory and it’s good.  I’m going to describe this Sweet and Sour Coconut Soup as having being containing  Umami. (My spell check doesn’t even recognize the word).  I could be wrong.  Umami to me means “super yummy with Asian flare and a sweet-sour-salty flavor that makes your lips pucker but in a good way”.  Umami.

Oldest and Girlfriend shared the Ginger Shrimp with Mixed Vegetables.  This dish was outstanding and packed with flavor.

Kim's shrimp

They also shared a Vietnamese Crepe.  It was ripped into so fast, I can’t even tell you what was inside.  But the verdict was a combined, “Mmmm”.

Kim's crepe

Sue and Dan shared the Salmon Pho served with a jungle of greens to add-in (not shown in picture).  I have never been a huge fan of Pho because I find the broth lacks flavor.  I’ve tried it 3-4 times and have written it off.  But this Pho is different!  The broth was a carnival of flavors doing the happy dance in my mouth!  Best Pho I’ve had, but still second to that Coconut Soup IMO.

kim's salmon pho

Hubby’s Ginger Chicken with Mixed Vegetables with a side of sticky brown rice was scrumptious.  Kim checked in on us and could see how much we were enjoying our meal.  She couldn’t have been more pleased. Thrilled.  She was thrilled.

Kim's Chicken veg

I have had Green Papaya Salad before, and was excited to try it at Kim’s, this time with shrimp.  The amount of shrimp on the plate was outrageous!  Although the salad looked beautiful, it lacked the umami flavor I remember.  It was a bit blah and not on the level that everything else was tonight.

Kim's shrimp papaya

When we were done Kim asked me how everything was.  I was torn.  Do I tell her the truth about the Green Papaya Salad?  Normally, I wouldn’t say anything.  But knowing I would tell the truth to my readers in the blog, I didn’t want her to be blindsided.  I decided to tell her the truth, you know, honesty being the best policy and all.

“Kim, everything was absolutely delicious!  Truly, the best Vietnamese food I have ever had! ” I saw her eyeing the mounds of Green Papaya Salad sitting next to all of the other empty plates. I started to sweat.

“Um, the Green Papaya Salad wasn’t my favorite.” THUMP, kicked Hubby’s foot into my shin.  “HOW COULD YOU?” he mouthed to me across the table, his face saturated in disapproval.

“Er, what I mean is….” but I instantly regretted this decision.  Honesty is NOT always the best policy!   How can I crush this sweet, lovely woman’s heart?  Who does that? I tried to be as gentle as I could, though I am not known to exactly have the delicate tact that some of my much sweeter friends have.

“The salad was just a little bit bland compared to everything else” I blurted out, too far off the plank not to hit water now. I stammered on,  ” but the shrimp!  So much shrimp!  And the salad ! So wonderfully crunchy!  The vegetables are so fresh and flavorful!” I watched as Kim’s lower lip quivered and she bowed her head in shame.  She quickly cleared the damaged goods from our table and I felt about 2 feet tall.  Nice move me, way to go.

As the table was cleared and we waited for our check, a brand new Green Papaya Salad arrived.

“Like this” said Kim and she gently mixed the dressing on the bottom of the plate into the salad.  Ohhh, so that’s where all the flavor was hiding!  I didn’t know I needed to toss it!  Although we were all stuffed, we had to have a serving of the new and delicious Green Papaya Salad filled with umami! Kim was pleased and the world was good again.

Bottom Line:

If you want to not only have the best Vietnamese food but you would also like to meet the nicest lady in Encinitas, come to Kim’s Vietnamese.  Come once, and you will be treated like a celebrity guest.  Come again, and you will be treated like family.  And don’t worry if you eat too much and need your trousers let out.  That’s because this Kim is the same Kim at Kim’s Alterations across the 101!  And ladies, trust me.  Kim is exactly the person you want to trust with your wedding dress!  I want to come back soon for more of this delicious and healthy food Vietnamese food.  I want to come back for a hug.


Next blog is Sunday, December 16th at 6:30pm at

Bier Garden Encinitas

http://biergardenencinitas.com/

Lobster West

Lobster sign

Review # 64

Hubby is originally from New England but when he heard we were going out for lobster rolls tonight, he wasn’t thrilled.  “It’s lobster all mashed up with mayonnaise in a roll.  Like tuna fish salad, but with lobster.  Blech.” He explained to me since I’ve never had one.  Regardless, I was up for trying anything and was looking forward to going out.

A close friend with discerning taste buds declined on joining us tonight because she finds all lobster other than Maine lobster unbearable to eat.  Guess what?  Lobster West serves fresh Maine lobster! It’s caught in the cold New England waters, flown in fresh the next day and served to you immediately.  Boom!  One who is a snob about lobster should be called a “snobster”.

Lobster West is small and quaint, but adorably decorated with a seaside Cape Cod decor, perfect for this kind of place.  You order at the counter and eat on paper plates.  No need for reservation to enjoy these great crustacean!  Hubby loves when he doesn’t have to “dress up” for going out.  Which usually means jeans instead of shorts.

Lobster seating

One tasteful wreath and the soothing sound of Bing Crosby let us know that it’s Christmas time, but they didn’t shove it down our throats.  Which is good because they have much better things ready to go down our pipes! An underwater scene is playing while you wait so you can look for your dinner’s relatives.

Lobster ocean

Darius behind the counter couldn’t have been nicer and our group placed our orders with hungry bellies.

The menu here is short and to the point.  Much easier to navigate than the monstrosity of options they had last week at Lotus Cafe and Juice Bar!

Lobster menu

Lobster roll optionsWe started with a flight of soups.  The Lobster Bisque and Maryland Crab were rich, creamy and decadent.  I make healthy soup all the time.  Heck, I even make an organic cauliflower based clam chowder.  But when I go out to eat, I want to live a little!  And trust me, these bowls of creamy heaven is what it’s all about my friends.  The Maryland Crab soup was the only tomato based soup, but it was full of flavor and just as delicious as the creamy others.  This was the perfect start for the 6 of us to share.  We tried keeping our spoons clean between bites, but I think we are all a little bit closer to each other now.  The trio of soups were all so good, I wouldn’t be able to tell you which one to choose.  So when, not if, you come, order the flight!

Lobster flight

Not only had I never heard of a “flight” of soup before tonight, I have never heard of “craft” soda.  Tonight was a lot of firsts for me.

Lobster soda

With so much bad press about farmed raised fish, my poor beloved salmon in particular, it’s nice to know these “bugs” are sustainably fished.  I know the end result is the same for them, but I feel better macking down this way.

Lobster sustainHubby and I also shared a crab cake because CRAB CAKE!!!  This crab cake was exquisite.  It’s a bunch of fresh crab barely held together with a small amount of tasty complimentary ingredients that don’t steal the show.  And the aioli with lemon and tarragon is to die for!  Only complaint is that we wished it were bigger.  The only thing better than CRAB CAKE is more CRAB CAKE!

Lobster W crab cake

Our oldest and his girlfriend (who brought her epi pen this time, thank goodness!) shared a clam chowder bread bowl.  Yes, they had just partaken in the shared flight of soups, but with chowder this good, they needed to order a whole bread bowl of it. I had to frantically ask Darius 13 times if there were any nuts in the soup or bread, because Girlfriend is allergic to all nuts.  And I really want to send her home in the same shape she came to us in, just to be respectful to her parents and all.  Darius made some phone calls to be super-duper sure, and confidently told us that although the bakery is not nut-free, the menu items we ordered are.  Good enough!  I still watched her like a hawk out of the corner of my eye every time she took a bite.

Lobster chowder bowl

And here comes my lobster roll combo!  I don’t like baked beans or chips, so double coleslaw for me.  Wait, look at all this huge, chunky lobster meat.  Not mixed up in a sea of mayo at all, Hubby.  On the contrary, quite pure and true to it’s form!  The lobster sits proudly on top of the roll so you can appreciate it in it’s full glory, but you need to shove it inside to properly eat it.  For someone who “poo-poos” lobster rolls, Hubby had no problem helping me out with mine bite after bite

Lobster roll sides

The buttery toasted bun is off the charts.  Yes, it really is as good as it looks.  And so was the coleslaw, outstanding!

Lobser roll

Although we would love to come and try your second location in Coronado, we still have a lot of work to do here on the 101 in Encinitas.

Lobster net

Bottom Line:

This quaint, authentic, family owned restaurant is adorable.  The food inside knocked our socks off.  The amount of succulent lobster pieces in my lobster roll impressed the hell out of me.  Everything we ate was excellent, and the staff was so warm and inviting, it was hard not to like our food even before we got it.

We started our journey on the 101 to get out of our comfort zone.  We found ourselves eating at the same 3-4 restaurants in town for years.  Now it’s your turn.  Lobster West is exactly what the 101 needs for some variety.  Instead of placing your Grubhub order for more burritos, pizza or burgers, branch out and have some lobster, shrimp or crab rolls delivered!  You won’t be sorry.  Next time I come, it will be for the scallop roll and Whoopie Pie.  Want to join me? Even you snobsters will love it here!


Next week’s blog will be on Sunday, December 9th at 6:30pm

Kim’s Restaurant

https://www.kimsvietnamese.com/

Lotus Cafe and Juice Bar

Lotus signReview #63

I must confess that I hate yoga. Maybe it’s because of the rods and screws in my fused back from too many falls during my equestrian show jumping days.  Good times.  Or maybe that’s just been my excuse.  I really hate yoga because I am just so bad at it.  “Keep at it” you all say. “Find the right class” you encourage.  Let me tell you that if the white-haired participants at the YMCA’ s “Gentle Yoga” class (G-d bless them) look like Gumby next to me, I’m pretty sure there is no class beginner enough.  There was nothing “gentle” about it.  I moaned and tortured myself through the whole 90 minutes with a patient instructor explaining that there just aren’t enough blocks to help someone like me.  And I’m tired of being yoga-shamed on Facebook by the “Julies” who are in their 50’s and can contort their rock hard bodies into a freaking infinity signs while balancing only on their thumb and third fingers!

Lotus is where the yogi’s come.  I had no business being here.  I am not one of them.

Lotus has a large wrap around deck with lots of seating, and a spacious inside area as well.  You will be welcomed by Ganesha. Of course you will.

Lotus ganesh

There are pretty photos and oil paintings of India inside.

Lotus pics

When I picked up the menu, my eyeballs buggled out.  There are a LOT of choices here!  I expected many Indian dishes, but what I found was all sorts of tacos, burgers, sandwiches, pasta, stir-fry and nachos, smoothies along with like one curry dish.  I think Lotus doesn’t know what it wants to be when it grows up and is trying everything, and I mean everything to see what sticks!

In addition to offering every food that ever was, you need a key to decipher the hieroglyphic symbols next to each menu item.

Lotus key

You’re probably wondering if they have any add-on items .  For instance, maybe you want to add-on some sauteed fish with ranchero sauce to your salad.  Yup, you can for just $4.95!

Lotus add-ons

Our boys didn’t want to join us tonight, but asked that we bring them back “a burger or something”.  You won’t find anything made with sacred cow at Lotus, and I’m pretty sure this plant-based patty wasn’t what they were hoping for.  “We should really tick them off and bring them back some vegan Tempeh Tacos” I told Hubby.  Although they are good eaters, they have limits.  “Do people really like tempeh?” Hubby chuckled.  I doubt it.

I needed help.  This ridiculously inclusive menu makes it impossible to choose from.  The kind yogi-looking young man taking our order couldn’t have been sweeter and thought I would enjoy the popular Chicken Pesto and Artichoke sandwich offered for us non-vegan Muggles.  For just $.50 you can upgrade your chips and salsa to a fresh vegetable stir-fry.  Which I did.  Which they forgot.  But fixed right away.

Lotus chicken pesto

Lotus veggies
upgraded side of stir-fry veggies- yum

The sandwich was huge and really good.  Lots of artichokes which I love, but a little light on the pesto.  They use chicken fingers instead of a patty which means that every time you take a bite, a finger slips out.  (Don’t go there, please) Minor details, it was really good, and the veggies were delish.

Mary and Geoff shared a Portobello Sandwich.  They said it was good, but not spectacular.

Lotus portobello

Hubby ordered Black Bean Enchiladas.  I thought they were only ok, too ricey for my taste.

Lotus black bean ench

Debbie brought her two teens late to the game and they had just ordered as we were finishing up.  Emme and Geneva, both vegans,  frequent Lotus.  When I asked  what they ordered tonight Geneva chimed in “Tempeh Tacos, they’re the best!”.  So there you go.

Bottom Line:

If you are vegan, Encinitas is the right town to live in.  There are a plethora of restaurants that will cater to your dietary needs.  Lotus is  great because of their extensive menu loaded with vegan options.  And if you aren’t vegan but your friends are, this is perfect as they cater to everyone except the beef-eaters. Lotus’ prices are reasonable and the service is excellent.  The few menu items we tried were pretty good, but we didn’t even come close to trying most of what they offer.  I hear breakfast here is really good and we didn’t even touch the juice bar,  so this is a very limited review.  The restaurant is spacious and authentic looking, even if lasagna is on the menu.

Image may contain: one or more people, shoes, living room and indoor
My mom at age 73- the truest Yogi I know

Next week’s blog is Sunday, December 2nd 6pm at

Lobster West

http://lobsterwest.com