Bread & Barley

B&B signReview #8

June 11, 2017B&B front

So a girl walks into this gastropub with her husband, a friend, a couple of cousins and one of her three mother in laws. Sounds like a good start, right?  It is!  Bread & Barley is in the third week of their soft opening, with the grand opening happening this Friday, June 16th.  It’s a small space with an open concept.  The bartender is waiting with a smile and the witty waiter is ready to please.

We were the only people there to start and made ourselves at home at the comfy bench table, large enough for our party of 6. The beer menu looked serious, but who could tell which ones were good?  There was only one thing to do: Sample the goods! This is one Jewish girl who likes a free sample!  Yes, I do have a large collection of hotel shampoo bottles.  Yes, I do go around to all of the cosmetic departments to hoard as many tiny perfume vials as they will give me.  And the beer samples at Bread & Barley did not disappoint!  The portions were huge!

B&B samples

Cousin Adam shared in my sampling joy, and ordered three of his own. Yes, these are just SAMPLES!  Ohhh, I knew I was going to like this place!

B&B Adam

Our waiter, Alonzo, was having such a good time with us, he brought us out samples we didn’t even ask for.  We finally picked “real” beers to drink.

B&B Alonzo with beer

 

I settled on the #12, and it was just delicious!  It wasn’t peppery at all, and had just the right amount of peachiness without being sweet or overly fruity.  It was GOOD.  It was STRONG! They will offer even more beers on their menu after the grand opening.

B&B beer list

We were having such a good time, that one of the chefs came out to check on us.  He was so cute and jolly!  He let us know that they hand pick many top beers from the LA brewery scene and drive them from their LA restaurant to this one, such as the #12.

B&B chef

We started our meal with some appetizers.  The bruschetta came out first and was as delicious as it was beautiful.  Chef Aldon explained that he goes to the local farmer’s market, picks out whatever seasonal vegetables look good, and uses them on the brushetta that day/night. Tonight, we got ours topped with lightly roasted beets and carrots, just picked from the farm.

B&B bruschetta

Next, we ordered Sambal Cauliflower.  It sounded good with ingredients like lemon and garlic.  What we didn’t know is that “sambal” is the ingredient that gives Siraccha sauce its kick in the ass.  Needless to say, it was very spicy!  But, OMG, so good! It was cooked perfectly with the cauliflower inside staying crisp, yet tender.

B&B cauliflower

We also ordered a plate of beer battered Portobello Mushroom Fries topped with crisp bacon, Parmesan and truffle aioli.  Because if we were going down, we were going down HARD! This was beyond decadent! I’m talking, death row, last-thing-you-will-ever-want-to-eat-good here.

B&B portobello fries

For main courses, my cousins shared a Hanger Steak Salad and a Pork Belly Banh Mi sandwich.

B&B Steak salad

They loved the salad, but thought the sandwich wasn’t quite as good as everything else we ordered.  Except for one thing.  The Sweet Potato Tater Tots!  It is very hard to get sweet potatoes crispy without burning them , yet these tots were crunchy on the outside and creamy sweet goodness in the middle.  There was a lot of, “Adam, look over there, I think someone is calling you” (five hands reach in and snag tots off his plate). The hand in the photo?  Not Adam’s.

B&B Bon mi

Really, everything served at Bread & Barley should have a side of these sweet potato tater tots with it.  Even the desserts.

I didn’t know what to order so Alonzo told me to let the chef pick something out.  He brought out a bacony monster burger with my favorite, a side of Brussel sprouts!  How did he know? These were crispy, but surprisingly not greasy.

B&B mystery

By the end of our meal, we were all drunk, full, and singing full out, top of our lungs to all of the 80’s songs they were playing.  We were hugging (poor) Alonzo and blowing kisses to all of the staff as we left.

B&B Alonzo with Sally

I am seeing the DALAI LAMA speak next week, but nothing he will say can be as profound or will touch me as deeply as Alonzo The Waiter’s parting words to us: “Thanks for coming guys, and remember….Always be happy.”

Bottom Line:  Go.  Just go.

Prioroity Public House

Review #7

June 4, 2017Public front

I didn’t realize that Priority Public House was the name of this establishment until we decided to go there tonight.  The sign above looks nice and prestigious in this photo, but is faded and very hard to see in real light.  Especially with beer goggles on. I always drove by it seeing a sign for Eats & Drinks. I thought Eats & Drinks was the perfect name too.  You knew exactly what to expect and what you could get there.

Public eats and drinks

Walking in to Eats & Drinks, er, Priority Public House, the sign out front let us know that they mean beer business.

Public sign

Seeing the taps inside made me giddy!

Public tap

Their beer menu was prominent and framed as it should be.  This was something to be proud of!

Public menu

I remember a friend recommending the Lost Abbey, and on the menu it said it was a “Dubbel” which is a fancy German way of saying, “your beer will be small, but double the strength”.

B&B samples

 

Bottom Line: Priority Public House is the perfect watering hole with upscale bar food.  With organic, grass-fed meat and fresh, locally sourced ingredients, it is worth the price. Come for the burgers which are crispy, juicy and totally worthy.  There is a beer for everyone here and they offer live music many nights of the week. Play Battleship or Connect Four while you wait for your grub.

La Especial Norte

 

 

Review #6

May 28, 2017

Before my review, I must first complain about La Especial Norte’s margaritas.  We ordered some pitchers and I had 3 or 5 glasses and can say they definitely don’t put any alcohol in them!  What’s up with that Special Norte?  They tasted really nice, especially after letting my eldest drive me around all day on only the second day of having his permit.  But surely there was not so much alcohol in the margaritas but they tasted so good and I liked them a lot.  Now I’m going to lie down and finish blogging later  good night.


 

Let me start by saying that Steve and I are the biggest, most pathetic losers in the history of Encinitas when it comes to trying local restaurants, until now.  Really, who is lamer than us for not trying places like La Especial Norte, which are the bones that make up the city we have been living in for 16 years? We’ve driven by it a gazillion times and have heard lots of people rave about their soup, but have never gone until now.

Being a bigger restaurant compared to the places we have been to thus far, we had a slew of friends meet us there.  La Especial Norte has their own parking lot, how nice!  We got a large table crammed into the middle of the place where we could all eat together.  We started off with chips and guac.  And margaritas.  I kind of remember mentioning something about those, but my memory is a bit fuzzy.

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The guac and chips were pretty standard, and the salsa was nice and spicy.  Too spicy for me, but my eldest seemed to be drinking it.  I was drinking something else.  Did I mention margaritas?

I started with a cup of chicken pozole that was recommended to me by someone on Facebook.  Now remember, if I am a food snob, then I am a soup….nazi?  Well, I need a word snobbier than snob.

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I want to say I loved it, but it really wasn’t anything more than a bowl of thinned out enchilada sauce with some hominy and scant pieces of chicken.  And where were the corn tortillas usually served with pozole?  Apparently they were uninvited to our table.  My son ordered the chicken soup.

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This soup was pretty good, definitely better than the pozole.  Honestly, I like my own Mexican soups better than anything here, if I’m being perfectly honest.

My friend’s young son ordered some rolled tacos that looked pretty good.

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My son ordered “Pulpo a la diabla” which translates to “Octopus with red sauce so spicy it will burn your balls off”.  I think.

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My husband ordered the three grilled fish taco plate.  The tacos were overpowered by the white sauce, and the fish flavor was a bit lost at sea.  But notice the double corn tortilla vessel?  Remember from my Review #1 how this is an important feature?

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I ordered a combination shrimp taco and shrimp enchilada plate.  NOTICE SOMETHING FISHY WITH MY TACO?

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Just one tortilla!  Why does the fish taco deserve a double vessel but the shrimp only a singular, flimsy single layer?  And guess what folks?  It didn’t work!  My (smallish) shrimps swam away from my bite and ended up in a pile on my plate.  They needed that second layer! I will say that swapping out my rice for Mexican cabbage salad was a good call. It was yummy.

The memory of the rest of my meal gets blurry along with my pictures.  The reason rhymes with Nargapitas.

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Bottom line:  La Especial Norte is a nice place to eat Mexican food with friends and family.  Personally, I didn’t find it so “especial” but I’m a tough taco to crack.  Everyone else in my group raved about their meals.  The service was slow, and the price was high.  And their margaritas need real alcohol.


 

 

Mozy Cafe

Review #5IMG_2056An ode to the Plantain

Oh plantain, you kooky non-banana

You are here in Encinitas, as well as Havana!

Vitamins A, B and C to boot,

you act more like a vegetable than just mere fruit

You are a starchy being, who’s not too sweet

your potassium count has your sister beat.

You are prominent in my Mozy burrito

I would like to find you in my next Mojito.

You are a Caribbean memory with steel drums at night

you are soft and sweet with every bite.

Oh amazing plantain, you lovely, weird thing

shoved in my burrito, happiness you bring.


You know when you are trying to plan a family vacation and the parents are like, “let’s go to Jamaica!” but the kids are all, “No!  We want to go to Cabo!” and no one can agree so you just end up on a stay-cation in Encinitas?  Mozy Cafe is the place you’d find yourself.  It’s hippie Rastafarian meets health nut muchacho and they have a restaurant, no, a beachy food shack together. It’s Mexican-Caribbean food.  Mexibbean.  Carixican. Whatever.

We walked into the shack and saw a huge chalkboard menu of interesting, unique and delicious sounding options.  I would like to tell you Jimmy Cliff was playing upon arrival, but it was Pink Floyd- darn it, they missed that one!

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There are a bunch of pictures of random people by the vegan, gluten–free cookie jars, and I was kind of hoping to get asked to join the wall.

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We ordered a Cuban burrito, Acai bowl and The Insanity Bowl, because my hubby was just feeling WILD!

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We sat at a table at the adjacent room which is painted Caribbean yellow and has an open air feeling with large windows.  Good, because it was HOT out!

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The acai bowl came out first and it looked so good and refreshing!

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It was for my son’s friend, but I had to take a bite for the blog’s sake.  But really, how much can you taste in one small spoonful?  I’m sure he understood when I went back in for more.  This is not because I wanted to eat more of that icy sweet goodness, bursting with bananas and blueberries, covered with yummy crunchy things on top.  It’s for THE BLOG! Once he wrestled it back to his side of the table, I tried the Cuban burrito I ordered.

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Was it the best burrito I ever had?  No, but mmmm, plantains!  Being a bit sweet, it needed a touch of something spicy to balance it out.  There was a bottle of Tapatio and another of generic “Louisianna” sauce.  I went for the latter and dribbled a bit onto the checkered paper.  I dipped my burrito, and ay caramba was it spicy!  But so good!  I downed a glass of water and did it again.  Dip, bite, down the water.  Repeat.  Repeat.  You get it.

You know how there is like five minutes to get the perfect avocado?  You may have only had one or two in your whole life.  A minute sooner and it’s too hard.  A minute later and it’s on the train to Mushville.  There is really only a five minute window to get one perfect, and Mozy hit it.  Firm, not hard.  Soft, not mushy.  It was the highlight of The Insanity Bowl.  Lots of fresh veggies and tasty hummus.  VERY SPICY.  More water, more water.

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Bottom Line:

I recommend hitting Mozy Cafe on a hot day like we did and to smother your food in the Louisiana hot sauce to fully enjoy this Mexibbean experience like you would if you were in Mexico.  Or Jamaica.   It is a great place to eat after the beach.  Grab an acai bowl or smoothie to cool down, or get your plantain fix on.  They have a cool vibe with vegan & GF options making this a quintessential Encinitas stop if you like to eat healthy.  They never did ask me to join their photo wall.  Their loss.

Peace Pies

REVIEW #4

peace pies

When Steve and I told our boys that the next stop down the 101 is a raw vegan restaurant, I realized we lost them at the word “raw”.  Our youngest just stared at me waiting for me to speak English.  The other one started stuttering, ” wh wh why?  Why?  WHY don’t they cook their food???”.  After explaining to them that nutrients are destroyed when food is heated, I quickly understood that tonight’s dinner would be without the kids.  Fine by us- they would have taken the peace out of our pie anyway!

I had a preconceived notion as to what this raw, organic cafe would be like, and I wasn’t far off.  I grew up with hippie parents.  We ate at Good For Your Heart in LA.  Neil Young and Bob Dylan were constants on the stereo.  And the leafy greens growing in our yard, well, they weren’t for salad.  I was ready for this place. I got this.

Peace Pies is off the beaten path from 101, so you really have to want to go there to be able to find it.  It has a cute patio and cozy inside seating as many of these darling places along the 101 have.  We were greeted by friends following this blog, and we all ordered different things to share.

They have an apothecary of unusual healthy take out food.  I’m pretty sure that no one can ever really have too much hempnola, am I right?

grocery

Our Pesto Stuffed Tomatoes came out first, and they were beautiful!  They got mixed reviews from our crew, some thinking they were too bland.  Honestly, I liked them very much. pesto tomatoesI ordered the Mystical Mushroom Quesadilla with walnut meat.  It came on a house made coconut wrap.  Again, the meal looked like it came from a 5 star restaurant.  It was quite tasty. The kale chips were the bomb! Yowza!  More please!!

 

quesidilla

I started thinking.  If they aren’t cooking their food with heat, are they really even cooking at all?  Aren’t they just assembling?  I think the chef is really just a brilliant assembler.  So is he still a chef? Do you have to cook food with heat to be a chef? Hmm. Next was the Loving Lasagna.

lasagna

By this point I was cocky.  There was no reason to be frightened, this raw stuff was actually really good! Sure, some if sounds a bit out there, with hemp based this and cashew cheese that.  But it all tasted great. That is until…..Mushroom Stroganoff.   It wasn’t fair, my guard was down.  It wasn’t a good moment. I took a huge fork full of kelp noodles and once in my mouth, there was no going back.  This was WRONG!  My mind was screaming, “RETREAT!  RETREAT!” but there was nothing I could do but chew.  And chew.  And chew those vile “noodles”.  The “Alfredo sauce” was nothing more than a milky liquid that the “noodles” were swimming in.

stroganoff

“Quick, someone pass me something good to get rid of the kelp that is poisoning my taste buds!”.  I was passed the Magical Mango Curry Wrap, and life was good again. Let’s be honest, I went straight for more of those kale chips!

mango curry wrap

Meanwhile I watched in horror when the woman at the next table over was served the Mushroom Stroganoff!  Should I warn her?  OMG, what do I do?  Do I have a moral obligation to stop this before it happens?  Sure, I was able to finish my bite, but I’m pretty positive her first bite is coming straight back up and I am in regurgitating proximity!  I ducked my head and waited for the inevitable kelp shower.  But it didn’t happen.  I carefully looked up to see what was going on, and this lady was going in for a second bite of that kelp-tastrophe!  Could she actually like it?

After eating so healthfully for dinner, I thought we deserved a little dessert and chose their cinnamon rolls.

cinnamon rolls

Considering how stunning the rest of their food looked, these tiny little things fell short visually.  They actually looked rather sad sitting in their plastic take out box.  I took a small bite and that was enough.  Under no stretch of my imagination did I envision cinnamon rolls.  They tasted like carob protein excuses.  Not what I was hoping for dessert.

Be prepared folks, for your peace will come at a price here. With all of the organic ingredients, and feelings of health you are left with, it’s probably worth the price for peace.  Upon check out, the waitress asked if everything tasted ok and I was honest.  Most was very good, some not so much.  Not only did they take the Stroganoff off the bill, a slice of Strawberry Pie was given to us on our way out, no charge.  Nice touch Peace Pie Peeps!

Bottom Line:  The food is beautiful, most of it is surprisingly delicious and the staff was attentive and nice as pie.  But look, this place isn’t for everyone.  Would I bring my conservative meat and potato eating father here?  No.  Would my yoga teaching, health nut mother like it?  Yes, she would.   If you love someone, please come in and buy them a box of kale chips.  Yah, yah, I make my own too.  But nothing like these.  Trust me here.

It is not easy making organic, vegan, gluten-free and soy-free food look and taste good.  I give high kudos to Peace Pies for doing such a great job with something so difficult. But I do like some heat with my food.  To melt the non-cashew cheese.

Peace (pie) out!

Due to extreme Mother’s Day brunching, we will postpone Mozy Cafe until next Sunday, May 21st-  628 N. Coast HWY 101 

Moto Deli

Review #3

Moto Deli retired it’s food truck and nestled into a nook at 810 N. Coast Hwy- Leucadia, serving up-scale sandwiches using high quality, local ingredients.   I didn’t know what to expect from the name”Moto”.  Was this someone’s name?  Is it a cell phone reference, Hello Motto? But after walking into this cute, beachy deli, I saw motorcycle references everywhere.  It has a nice indoor/outdoor feel with a large patio and breeze flowing through.  The Counting Crows was coming through the speakers and I immediately got the vibe to this place.  It was cool!

My husband met me there with the kids, and had ordered us a hamachi sandwich to share.  I know he got excited reading the word “hamachi” on the menu, with the vision of a beautiful piece of lightly seared sushi-style fish in between their homemade squaw bread.  But this wasn’t the case.  It was a hamachi SALAD sandwich. Much more like a tuna fish sandwich that is not something he would normally order.  It had too much mayo, and the yellowtail flavor wasn’t received.  But you can’t blame Moto for my hubby’s inability to read a menu.  He didn’t bring his glasses, and many of us can relate.  The homemade bread and chips were very good, and the sandwich was big enough to share.

Our youngest ordered an Italian sandwich with meat, cheese, bread but NOTHING ELSE ON IT.  He liked it so much, I had to wrestle him to the ground, have my husband hogtie and sit on him long enough to grab this photo.

My eldest ordered their most popular: The Turketta which had smoked turkey breast, aged cheddar, crispy bacon and arugula.  There was a hint of sweet chutney on the homemade bread, and all in all it was turkey-ific!  (Though he and I both agree that the sweet jam would be better left off.)  I was excited to try their quinoa salad, but they were already out by the time we got there, at 11:15 am. How many people are coming in to eat quinoa salad for breakfast?  Who are these early quinoa eating people?  So I settled on a side of potato salad because it looked colorful and not mayonaissey.  It had a bright, vinegar flavor and was well seasoned with fresh dill.

Can we please stop and take a minute to appreciate that I have learned not only how to insert pictures, but, as opposed to the previous weeks, now have them in the right place?  Huh?  Not bad for a novice blogger!

Bottom line:  Moto Deli is a place I would definitely come back to.  Their breakfast menu, though small, looked really good.   In the words of my 15 year old son, “This is a dope choice to bring a lunch date too”.  Word out.

Pandora’s Pizza

REVIEW #2

Tonight we visited Pandora’s Pizza located at 828 N. Coast Hwy, Leucadia.  Low and behold, my FB announcement worked because friends showed up making us a party of 11.

Walking up to the restaurant, I noticed two very cool lounge areas for large parties to sit, chill and eat pie with friends.  Of course these were already taken by the time we arrived.  The rest of the out door seating was fine, just average tables, but none of which would seat a large group comfortably.  After inspecting the situation of the two lounges, I realized one of them had only a party of three using it, and their plates were dirty and empty.  They must be ready to leave!  But to my horror, the hoarding creatures sitting there weren’t regular humans, they were….dum..dum.,.DUMMMM……TEENAGERS!  Self-centered, phone-staring, too-cool-to-be-bothered, teenagers.  I not so subtly had my friends and I hang a little too close and wait for them to notice that it was time to vacate.  I coughed, I spoke loudly “I THINK WE WILL BE GETTING THIS LOUNGE VERY SOON GUYS!” I even gave them The Evil Eye.  Just when I was about to break out in the 80’s Oingo Boingo song “Goodbye-Goodbye” (click on the link below, it’s a great song, just not when sung by me), they hauled their useless carcasses up and left.  SCORE!  The lounge was tres cool, and perfect for our party of 11!

The menu includes a variety of delicious sounding salads and specialty pizzas named after Greek Gods that are laden with unusual ingredients like pear, figs, candied pecans, goat cheese and Sriracha sauce among others.  If you buy a large, you can split it having two different Gods on the same pizza which we chose to do. We ordered half Prometheus and half Vulcan.  The salad came first filled with fresh greens, mixed berries, feta cheese with a light dressing.  It was a hit!   Now when it comes to pizza, I hold everything in comparison to the Holy Grail of pizzas which, for me, is at Buona Forchetta.  Since I am only blogging about dining on the 101 in Encinitas, and Buona Forchetta is located at 3001 Beech St. (South Park) San Diego, I can’t tell you about the amazing homemade authentic pizzas they make using recipes of their ancestors from Italy.  It wouldn’t be right to mention their pizza “Marisa” with their luscious pesto, fresh, crisp, grape tomatoes and pine nuts toasted to perfection. So good, that you have to rethink if it is even worth eating any other pizza for the rest of your life.  So I will stick to Pandora’s, which was in fact, very good.

As a bacon-loving-Jew, the Prometheus had an excellent combo of gourmet ingredients that worked well together, crispy bacon, of course, being the high-light.  The sriracha cream on top was just the right amount of spicy.  The Vulcan side of our pizza held her own to the Prometheus half with yummy things like candied pecans and an arugula salad on top.  How can pizza be bad for you with all of those leafy greens just sitting there, waiting to make you healthy?  Our friends loved the pizzas they ordered as well.

Bottom Line:  Pandora’s Pizza is a superb place to come for great salads and unique, tasty pizza. Come prepared for battle to get one of the lounges, because that is the place you want to hang.  And if you do make it down to Buona Forchetta, say hello to Sofia for me (their handmade pizza oven with clay that comes straight from the Sorrento region in Italy.  Yes, she’s named Sofia.)

Good-bye, Good-Bye by Oingo Boingo